"I think it's rather decent of you to come here and help me like this," Figs says, petting his cat, Ochre.
You sit at the edge of an uncomfortable and creaky hassock in Figs's cramped artist's garret in Woodland Centre's high street. The whitewashed walls bristle with hideous abstract paintings at different stages of completion, and the floor is bespattered with a thick layer of dried paint.
"I'm not the tidiest painter," Figs says. "That's because I paint with passion. I let out what is inside of me." He points to a particularly large canvas in progress, which depicts a series of brightly clashing zigzags and question marks with a…balloon or a lollipop atop them? The painting is titled Our Present State of Government. "As you see, I am not above social commentary."
"Getting to the point at hand," you say, "Mopsie said that you are in need of assistance."
Mopsie had been absolutely insistent, in fact, and she enlisted Rory's aid in persuading you that you simply had to head into town and do whatever Figs needed you to do.
You think back to that moment, just a few hours ago, when Rory and Frankincense had returned to the crowd after having their talk.
*A Brief Flashback*
"My good friends," Frankincense had said, tapping on a glass with a fork. "Rory and I have a very exciting announcement to make. We are officially announcing that we are engaged to be married, and that we have set a date. We will be married in three months, here at Ritornello."
She paused for Rory to chime in.
"Yes, rather," added Rory. "Just as she said. Can't really add much to that. So, cheers!" Rory looked happy, the weight of the decision finally lifted from his mind.
There was applause and congratulations all around. Aunt Primrose looked quite pleased, and told Rory that he had done the right thing.
It was in the context of this fraught emotional moment that Mopsie collared Rory and told him to order you to help Figs.
"Go on, Pennyworth," Rory said. "Do what Mopsie entreats. She and Figs deserve a little happiness."
Why did you agree?
1. I did it solely because Rory asked me to—but I did it under protest.
2. I specifically wanted to help Mopsie and Figs.
3. I thought that getting involved in Mopsie and Figs's scheme directly would be the best way to keep things from getting out of hand.
Don't reply to this
Soothing: 34%/Abrasive: 66%
Aunt Primrose: 46%
Col. Firesnuff: 26%
Ready Monies: 15
Reply to this one.
3. Pennyworth is incredibly self-confident and bold, so he would think that is the best plan. And hey, he already has a secret map! (I think we kept that, right?)
3. the others would be blatantly out of character at this point
I thought that getting involved in Mopsie and Figs's scheme directly would be the best way to keep things from getting out of hand.
Although you do not think that smuggling Figs into Ritornello is a wise notion, you recognized immediately how much chaos Mopsie could cause if you were not there on the spot to minimize it.
And so you have come to try to complete this business as quickly and painlessly as possible.
**Back to Figs's studio**
"…and so that is our plan," Figs concludes. "What do you think?"
"I'm sorry, sir. Could you say that one more time? I was lost in a reverie."
Figs paces back and forth in front of you, hands clasped behind his back. "I was saying that you need to help me prepare a disguise so that I can stroll into Ritornello unchallenged. Rory always speaks of your knowledge of clothing and fashion, and so naturally I assumed…" He trails off.
"But disguised as what?"
Figs brightens. "That's the genius part of the plan. As you may know, one Professor Clarence Q. Hickory was scheduled to join the throng at Primrose's. But, according to local gossip, he had to cancel his travel plans at the last moment. Sent his apologies and so forth. My notion is that I simply disguise myself as this Dr. Clarence Q. Hickory, and saunter in."
"That's your plan?"
"Well, it's Mopsie's plan. She's very clever. Told her aunt that she needed to place a call in order to purchase some bicarbonate of soda, but instead she had a telegram sent to me. Clever girl. See here."
He holds out the telegram for you to read.
DISGUISE AS PROFESSOR CLARENCE Q HICKORY STOP WILL SEND PENNYWORTH TO HELP YOU STOP COME TO DINNER STOP BUTTERSCOTCH STOP
"What is that 'butterscotch' at the end?"
Figs chortles. "We have many private little jokes that only we understand. It's like our own secret language. For example, if she says, "Butterscotch," that means, "I love you, my sweet and cuddly yum-yum. She calls me her yum-yum."
1. "That's quite enough about you being her 'yum-yum'. Let us pass to practical matters and discuss the issue of disguise."
2. "I can see your eyes practically sparkle with love when you speak of her."
3. "I wonder if you would tell me: Why 'Butterscotch?'"
3, just on the off chance it does have some inportance. Plus, 1 might decrease our friendship stat with Figs. I guess we don't have a relationship stat with Figs. But maybe we can get Mopsie to stop hating us.
Option 3- on the off chance that it means something else. It's unlikely that Figs would actually tell us if it does, but I guess it doesn't hurt to try.
"I wonder if you would tell me: Why 'Butterscotch?'"
"It's rather a personal story."
"I'm keen to hear it."
Figs laughs. "Oh, very well. Once we were sharing a butterscotch sundae, and I exclaimed, 'Yum-yum!' You know, as people do when they eat something tasty."
"Yes, I'm familiar with the situation you describe."
"And so she said that I was as delicious as that butterscotch sundae, and then I said, no, she was as delicious as the aforementioned sundae, and so on and so on. And so when we say 'butterscotch,'' it is a reminder of that blessed moment of love."
Figs strokes his chin and looks around his room. "I have…let me see…I have this Dr. Hickory's book somewhere around here. Ah! There it is. He pulls a hardcover book out from under a glass of water on his windowsill, tipping the glass out the window. "Here. Releasing the Hidden Potential of Your Hitherto-Unawakened Mind in 12 Easy Steps. Sounds pretty brainy."
"Did you say Releasing the Hidden Potential of Your Hitherto-Unawakened Mind in 12 Easy Steps?"
Figs looks at the cover of the book. "Yes."
"That's the book that Aunt Primrose gave Rory to read."
"I'm not surprised. She's been reading a good deal of him. People say he's the second coming of Isaac Newton and, ah, some other famous smart person, all rolled into one, and she's keen to see what all the fuss is about. She's never met him; the man is practically a recluse. But there's a photo of him on the back. That's what we need."
He shows you the back of the book, which has a rather blurry photo of a fellow with a big, bushy ginger mustache and beard. "You see?" Figs says. "You can't see too much of him. If we just get the whiskers right, and dress like a genius professor, I should be fine."
"I assume you have the elements of a costume? We'll need a wig, a false beard and mustache, and appropriate clothing," you say.
"I rather thought you'd take care of that," Figs said, looking surprised. "Rory always says you are a miracle worker."
"Do you have any money with which to purchase a costume?"
"I have nothing." Figs shrugs. "That is the nature of the struggling artist's life. Mopsie said that you would take care of all that."
You sigh slowly. "Did she indeed? All right. Let us get started."
"Make haste, Pennyworth. I am in agony until I behold my Mopsie."
You will need to decide how to disguise Figs. You could try to assemble something from whatever odds and ends Figs has lying around his house. That has the advantage of being free, but the quality would likely be poor. There is a theatrical supply store a few blocks away, which would probably have exactly what you need, but they are rather expensive. The middle ground would be to rummage through the thrift shop below Figs's building. The thrift shop is cheap, but probably won't have anything perfect. But maybe they'll have something you can use.
1. I will search Figs's studio and see what I can find.
2. I go to the thrift shop. (Requires at least 6 readies.)
3. I go to the theatrical supply shop. (Requires at least 12 readies.)
3. This seems an endeavor we can't skimp on - Figs needs all the help he can get.
Option 3- there's no way it's going to work unless we actually get a good costume, and the best chance is at the shop. Plus we have the money to do it.
I go to the theatrical supply shop. (Requires at least 12 readies.)
"Hurry back, Pennyworth," Figs says, picking up a full tube of orange paint and squeezing most of its contents onto a pigment-encrusted palette. "I can't wait much longer. The days are like years, and vice versa."
Elite Theatrical Whatnots and More is just a few blocks away, and you head there with purpose. A silvery bell tinkles, announcing your entrance into the well-stocked and festive-looking costumes in every imaginable size and shape. Fairy princess outfits, Sinbad the Sailor suits, and ogre costumes all mingle on well-kept racks.
"Good evening! I'm Polly. May I help you?" chirps the middle-aged woman atop a ladder, stowing some hatboxes. She wears the costume of a pirate queen, complete with a hat adorned with skull and crossbones.
"What do you have in a sort of professorial look?" you ask. "I need an outfit, and a wig, and a false mustache and beard."
She hops down from the ladder and sizes you up with a practiced eye. "For you?"
"No, for a friend. About this tall and wide. I need something that will make people say, 'Ah, this must be a well-educated gentleman.'" you say.
"Of course, of course. Let's see. Ah, here we are." Polly removes a costume from a rack and drapes it over her arm in one practiced motion. "This is our top of our finest line of costumery. We call this suit 'The Sultan.'"
She presents to you a dark gray, wide-lapelled, linen-silk jacket in a tasteful herringbone, with buttery soft leather patches on the elbow. It comes with a fine white linen shirt and ivory trousers with two pleats. It is magnificent. There is a moment where you are convinced light is emanating from it, and a heavenly choir starts to sing as you gaze upon the perfect outfit.
"You're lucky we have this. It was only worn once, in a production of one of Bernard Shaw's lesser works for the community theater."
"How much is it?"
Polly writes on a pad the words "The Sultan" and then under it, a number. She pushes the pad over to you. It says "45" on it, an absurd amount of money.
1. I denigrate the quality of the costume to try to get the price down.
2. I try to act sympathetic to get her to agree to a better price.
3. I ask what else she has to offer me.
A tough one, since that is all our cash and we need the rest of the outfit.
#1, since that's what bold, abrasive, observant Pennyworth would do. If it backfires we risk her raising all her prices or kicking us out, but I don't think Pennyworth can carry off sympathetic. And this is, obviously, the best outfit.
I denigrate the quality of the costume to try to get the price down.
"Oh, I don't think I care much for this," you say, thumbing the material.
"What's wrong with The Sultan?"
"It's low quality, I'm afraid. The stitching is rather inexpertly done."
"This is not a tailor. It's a costume shop. It is perfectly fine for the stage."
"Hm!" you say, distastefully. "I don't think so. And it is stained by theatrical makeup, as well." You point to a nonexistent spot.
"Oh, very well," she says, and crosses out her first price, writing "30" beneath it. "What do you say?"
1. "Sold," you say, and pay her for what is, after all, an excellent disguise. (-30 readies)
2. "I'm afraid not. What else do you have?"
1. risky because we still need the wig and mustache and beard, though. Hmm.
I imagine he'll either get paint on it or refuse to wear it for some reason or another
Will update this in an hour, but just in case anyone on this thread hasn't seen it, I put up a new game yesterday!
Sabbatical Report Presentation
Oh, Gower! Didn't want to tarnish the game comments page with something like this. On the "who are you?!" page, fulfill is spelt as fufli or something. I don't know if you're a stickler for that sort of think or not.
(Also the game is wonder, but since it's from you that's just your standard~)
I want to say a wig and such is more important than the suit itself... Maybe skimp on the clothes and get some really good glasses and a fake beard?
So I'm voting 2
"Sold," you say, and pay her for what is, after all, an excellent disguise. (-30 readies)
"Now, you mentioned a wig, and beard and mustache," Polly says. "It so happens that we are having a special offer at the moment that I have just decided on instituting at this exact moment. Buy one costume, get one professional set of hair-related accoutrements for free. How can you go wrong? What color hair?"
She goes through the bin. "We have a lot of options. Do you want Blinding Auburn? Ruby Red? Strawberry Saffron?"
"Metallic Bronze? Rich Mahogany? Burgundy Stain? Chestnut Praline? Aubergine?"
"Just medium ginger," you say.
"I don't think we have that," she says.
Finally, you are forced to accept a wig, beard, and mustache in a rather fanciful and vibrant shade called "Robin Red-Breast," and make your way out of the costume shop, and back to Figs's place.
"I really appreciate everything you've done, Pennyworth," Figs says. "It's all just as I hoped."
"It is?" you say, surprised.
Figs takes the outfit and steps behind a dressing screen to change into it, and you take a moment to collect yourself.
Figs emerges, wearing The Sultan, as if in a daze. "I didn't realize clothes could be like this," he says.
"It suits you very well, sir," you say. Indeed, The Sultan's understated, yet perfectly flattering lines serve to make Figs look halfway respectable.
"How do I look, Pennyworth? Could I pass for this professor chap in this getup?"
"If you are lucky, yes."
"Oh. I'm not lucky, though." He broods a bit, then brightens. "But I have you. And you are about the luckiest person I've ever met. How should I comport myself in there, Pennyworth? What do you recommend as a strategy? What is the secret of your own success at handling difficult situations?"
"Above all, I would advise you to…"
1. "…be unafraid to offer bald-faced lies without hesitation. One is usually more successful being wildly deceitful than by being careful."
2. "…act in a dignified and reserved manner with attention to manners and proper behavior. You don't want to stand out too much and attract attention."
3. "…be as silent as possible. Be attentive, but not talkative."
4. "…just go with your instincts. Throw caution to the wind."
5. "…try to speak intelligently, as a scholarly professor might, but keep a low profile. Don't engage in intimate conversation."
6. "…attempt to convince people that you are a professor without actually telling too many lies. They will be difficult for you to keep track of. And don't discuss sophisticated issues, either."
Achievement: The Sultan: You purchased The Sultan.
Chesnut Praline might have been a safer choice, or Strawberry saffron - but regardless, luck! The hair set was free. I think the lady was having difficulty offloading the reds.
5. Seems the safest advice.
We've been doing points as the tiebreaker when we tie, so infinite points carries the vote!
"…act in a dignified and reserved manner with attention to manners and proper behavior. You don't want to stand out too much and attract attention."
"And that's your secret to success?"
"That is what I might do if I were in your position. And if I had your, ah, particular gifts."
"All right, Pennyworth. Let's see about this wig and beard."
"What a bright color," he says, putting the wig on, and holding the beard and mustache up to his face. "Vibrant."
"They didn't have a more natural color, I fear," you say.
"I think this will do," Figs says at last. "I have, here, a few different types of adhesive, left over from an old project I was working on. Which should I use?" He indicates the options, sitting on a low stool.
There is some of that new Sellotape you've been seeing advertisements for—that would have the advantage of being the most comfortable for Figs. But it will probably not look quite as natural as other adhesives.
There is a very old and dusty bottle of spirit gum, which will look best of all, but can be rather uncomfortable to wear, and the age of the bottle gives you pause.
Finally, there is also some strong glue, which is reasonably comfortable to wear, and would look fine. However, there is the problem of the unpleasant odor of glue, which will certainly linger on your person.
"Clearly," you say, "a situation like this calls for…"
2. "…spirit gum."
3. Spirit gum would be great if not expired. But with glue, Figs cannot accidentally brush his mustache off while eating or something. The odor might even be a plus - people won't want to get too close.
Poor Figs though - it's going to hurt coming off.
Option 3- it would look reasonably natural and it's not likely to cause the wig to fall off.
Sounds like consensus. Let's go with glue, then.
"Glue will afford us a happy medium," you say.
"It smells like turpentine," Figs says.
"Freshly applied, it does have an odor," you admit with false confidence. "But it will fade."
You squeeze some glue in thin lines across the back of the false facial hair, and then press it onto Figs's face, holding firmly.
"Stop squirming," you say.
"You're pressing too hard," he says, peeling it off and pressing it on his own face.
"It's askew. Here, allow me to..." You press it down correctly. This glue really is quite strong smelling.
"Let me take it onf. Is that word? Onf?"
"No, sir." You shake your head. You are almost certain.
"I feel a little woozy," says Figs. "I had better sit down."
"You are already sitting, sir," you say.
"Oh," Figs says.
"Do you think you can manage?"
"I can manage anything, actually," Figs says. "I actually feel very good. Like I'm floating."
As you feared, you smell a bit like glue now. In fact, you feel fairly good yourself. Yes, you feel marvelous.
Figs inspects himself in the mirror.
"Not bad!" Figs says. "I think we'll be able to do this, Pennyworth. Won't we?"
"We really have to leave now, sir, or we will miss the start of dinner," you say, a bit more chipper than you expected it to come out.
It is hard to peel Figs away from the mirror, so taken is he with his appearance. You summon a cab and tell the driver to drive to Ritornello with all speed.
In the cab, Figs chatters away about true love, and the delights it brings, and you look out the window, his voice fading out as you allow your thoughts to wander. Who or what do you daydream about?
1. Rory, whom I love.
2. Frankincense, for whom I have very deep feelings.
3. Haze, to whom I have become quite attracted.
4. Valentine, whom I find rather compelling.
5. My desire for a vacation.
6. My desire to be named to the Inner Circle of the Cadbury Club.
7. Nothing at all. A good servant does not daydream.
6. Pennyworth does seem pretty gung ho about getting that invite.
My desire to be named to the Inner Circle of the Cadbury Club.
You imagine the ceremony, and the engraved plaque, and the oohs and ahhs as all around you recognize your years of service. And, you ponder, now you realize that the Inner Circle is so much more. You could do real good for the nation. Adventure and derring-do lie before you. Possibly.
You shake yourself out of your reverie and back to reality, where Figs is still droning on.
As you arrive, the cab is stopped by Fielding, one of Aunt Primrose's men, assigned to greet vehicles and be a presence at the front gate. Fielding, a stout and jovial chap, all sandy-blond hair and freckles, jumps up from the chair he was leaning back in and puts the book he was examining down on the seat.
"Hello, Pennyworth," Fielding says, grinning, peering into the cab. He waves to the driver, whom he appears to know from around town. "And who are you?" He peers at Figs.
"Oh, ah…" says Figs.
1. I try to smoothly respond for Figs so that he doesn't make a mistake.
2. Let Figs respond, as it will give him confidence.
3. Come up with an distracting lie to make Fielding upset and thus divert attention away from Figs.
What are the odds the book he was reading is "Releasing the Hidden Potential of Your Hitherto-Unawakened Mind in 12 Easy Steps?"
2. If Pennyworth were a better smooth-talker, 1 might be an option. But there is no guarantee he can cover better than Figs. Also, Figs does need to get confident with his introduction; we can't go around introducing him to everyone.
3 just seems like a bad plan all around.
Let Figs respond, as it will give him confidence.
"Oh, ah, I'm ah, Professor Clarence Q. Hickory?" Figs says, or rather asks.
"You don't sound too sure of yourself," Fielding says, coming around to Figs's side of the cab.
Figs looks down and murmurs something.
"Sorry, didn't quite catch that," Fielding says.
Figs says it again, into his beard.
"What is he saying?"
"He's a bit shy," you say, at last.
"Is he? I heard he was a world-renowned intellectual. He's shy?"
"Something is not quite right here," Fielding says, pointing to Figs. "You've got sort of a suspicious way about you. Are you sure you're supposed to be here?"
"Of course," Figs says. "I'm Professor Clarence Q. Hickory."
"Of course you are. It so happens that Mrs. Patterson gave me one of your books to read in my leisure time. She thought it would educate me. There's a bit of a biographical blurb on the back." He retrieves the hardcover book from the chair he was sitting on.
"That's very interesting," you say.
"So I just have one question for you," Fielding says, ominously. "What does the Q stand for in 'Clarence Q. Hickory'?"
What little you can see of Figs's face through his whiskers goes red, and you realize you will need to rescue him.
"Well?" Fielding says, arms crossed, tapping his foot.
1. I try to recollect the answer.
2. I explain to Fielding that we are in a terrible hurry.
3. I open the cab door vigorously, knocking the book out of Fielding's hand, and then peek at the dust jacket of the book to see the answer.
3. It's the most Pennyworth solution.
I open the cab door vigorously, knocking the book out of Fielding's hand, and then peek at the dust jacket of the book to see the answer.
"Could you step a bit closer to the cab, Fielding?" you say. "We can't quite hear you."
Fielding smirks and steps a bit closer. When he is close enough, you quickly open the cab door directly into him, slamming his hand. He drops the book and howls in pain.
You pluck the book from the ground and look at the back. Qualtaugh. You don't think you would have guessed that, you muse, whispering the name to Figs and then holding the book out for Fielding.
He doesn't take it, instead holding his injured hand to his chest. "I think you've broken my hand!" he cries.
"It's 'Qualtaugh,'" says Figs, proudly.
"It's 'Qualtaugh.' My middle name."
"I don't care about that anymore," Fielding says, face white. "I think it's broken in several places."
"I can run you over to the hospital after I let these folks out," offers the cab driver, and Fielding agrees, climbing into the cab.
"That's a shame," you say, as the driver lets you out in front of the house. "Hope you get well soon."
At last, you pull up to the front entrance of the house and step out of the cab with Figs.
"I can't believe I'm about to see her," Figs says. "I'm shaking."
"Remember. Stay in character."
Together, you walk through the front hall, and towards the dining room, where you can hear the guests are already taking their seats for dinner.
The dining room's long, rectangular dark walnut table is spread with vibrant autumnal floral centerpieces and silver candelabra with three white candles flickering in each. Swags of powder-blue, rose, and parchment hydrangeas and eucalyptus adorn the crystal chandelier, matching the colors of the charger plates.
Aunt Primrose sits at one head of the table, directing footmen to bring out the first course. Across from her, at the other end of the table, sits Col. Firesnuff, who is delivering a lecture to one of the underfootmen regarding the way boots are made these days.
Haze and Mopsie sit next to one another on the near side of the table as you enter. They are bickering over the salt cellar. Near them sits Inspector Ambrose, examining his silverware and impassively regarding you.
Rory and Frankincense are sitting companionably close to each other on one side of the table, facing you as you come into the dining room. Rory lifts his glass to you as you approach. "Good to see you, Pennyworth," he says.
"Hallo, Pennyworth," says Aunt Primrose, looking critically at a fork.
Figs stops just behind you, gulping audibly. "Er…" he says.
1. "Go on, sir," I whisper. "I'm here to help."
2. I step to the side, revealing the purported professor.
3. "Look who I found during my walk!" I cry.
Pennyworth is definitely living up to his codename! I didn't expect him to break the guy's hand.
3 is nice and bold, but we don't want to draw extra attention. And we don't want Figs relying on Pennyworth's poor intellect to save the day. And perhaps, just perhaps, Primrose will suggest who he is for him, and Figs won't have to make the first claim, just nod or something.
I step to the side, revealing the purported professor.
You take a step to the side and clear your throat meaningfully.
"It's Professor Hickory!" shouts Aunt Primrose, clapping her hands, and jumping up to take his hands. "I had been under the impression that you had decided to cancel your trip! Welcome, welcome! You are just in time for dinner."
"Yes, I am Professor Hickory," says Figs. "And I am here at your invitation, Mrs. Patterson. Thank you for your hospitality."
Inspector Ambrose clears his throat. "That is a fascinating outfit you have on, Professor. I make it something of a study to determine what a person is like based solely on small details about their appearance."
Figs gulps audibly.
"For example, I can see that you are a man of distinction. You…half a moment. Is that…The Sultan?"
"Yes, it is," Figs says.
"But how would you afford The Sultan on a university salary?" Inspector Ambrose ponders. "The only reasonable explanation is that you are an impostor, here disguised in The Sultan in order to appear respectable."
"I'm only joking," says Inspector Ambrose, but with a face that suggests that he is not joking at all.
"That is quite enough," says Aunt Primrose. "Do not play guessing games with my honored guest. Just look at him. You are making him feel self-conscious."
Figs takes a big step backward, and looks back at you.
1. I nod supportively at Figs and whisper a word of encouragement.
2. "Good luck," I whisper, and then I go stand next to Rory.
3. I hold out a seat next to Mopsie for Figs to sit down in.
I have new respect for the competency of this inspector. Although, the professor did write a popular book, so presumably could afford and would need a nice suit.
Edit: changing my vote to 3, mizal makes a strong case. We need the dinner to proceed. Plus, if we don't seat him, Primrose will choose the location.
And there doesn't seem to be a good option that involves not drawing attention to ourselves and linking us with the professor in Ambrose's mind. So 2, I guess. Standing by Rory is far less suspicious than pulling out a chair next to Mopsie for him. Although, 3 doesn't require talking, so that might be better - I don't know.
To clarify, you say "changing your vote to 3" but then you say "2, I guess"--should I assume you want 3, or are you still deciding?
Either way, I won't be able to update till way later today. It's an all-day class and meetings fest for me.
Oh, sorry, 3.
Option 3- it would look strange if we are seen to be whispering to "the professor", and it would just further raise the inspector's suspicions. The inspector has been more insightful that I first expected, so we need to be careful around him.
I hold out a seat next to Mopsie for Figs to sit down in.
"If you would like to take a seat, sir?" you say, holding out the chair next to Mopsie. "You might take this one, which I have chosen at random from the ones available."
"Oh, I suppose that's all right," says Aunt Primrose, disappointed. "I thought you might sit next to me. But sit wherever you like. We are all one big, happy family here."
Figs, as if he cannot believe his luck, sits next to Mopsie.
"Pennyworth," says Aunt Primrose, "If you don't mind, would you please help serve tonight? I hate to ask it of you, but I need one more well-trained server for such a large party. Thank you ever so."
Mopsie turns from her annoyed conversation with Haze to focus on Figs. She puts down her wineglass a bit harder than necessary.
"Are you quite all right, Mopsie, dear?" Aunt Primrose says. "You seem beside yourself."
Mopsie stands up, and you see she has changed into a flattering black dinner dress. She wears two long knotted strands of pearls, which she fiddles with as she speaks, making an annoying clicking sound. She holds out a cream-colored envelope to Aunt Primrose. "I have here a letter for you." There is a defiant note in her voice, and she looks towards Figs, who is dumbstruck with adoration of her every movement.
"A letter for me?" Aunt Primrose says, taking it. "What do you think, Pennyworth? Is it really proper to read one's correspondence at the dinner table?"
1. "It is considered somewhat gauche, madam."
2. "Among close friends and family, it might be permitted in extreme circumstances."
3. "I would hardly dictate to you what is proper at your own table, madam."
3. Hopefully Primrose is not upset we dodged the question, though.
2, wasn't she upset with us for not being bold earlier?
I forgot to update it earlier, but Mopsie is back at 100% after seating Figs with her.
"I would hardly dictate to you what is proper at your own table, madam."
"Thank you, Pennyworth. That is most thoughtful of you. I can't imagine my mother opening her letters at the table. We were required to sit at attention at all times, and if we dared to offer a single word, aside from in response to a direct question, we would be rapped on the knuckles with the fish fork. Children now don't know how easy they have it."
"Easy indeed," snorts Mopsie. "I insist that you open it."
"Oh, you insist? says Aunt Primrose, looking for a fish fork.
"Yes," Mopsie says, clicking her pearls. "You'll find inside it an important document. That I wrote, in which I express my deepest thoughts." Click. She beams at Figs, and then at you.
Aunt Primrose opens the letter and removes the pale pink piece of stationery inside. She clears her throat and reads the letter, her voice growing louder and higher-pitched as she reads:
Dear Aunt Primrose,
I have something to declare
You won't like it so be aware
Can you hear my nightly cries
From hearing all your dirty lies?
How can you treat me the way you do?
You grind me underneath your shoe
I'm feeling like a raw cashew!
I know you're hearing nothing new
And so I bid to you adieu.
"What is the meaning of this, Mopsie?!" yells Aunt Primrose. "How dare you write such an impertinent poem to me!"
"It's the truth!" says Mopsie. "And I have the courage to show it to you now. You will never separate me from my love!"
"I already have, and will continue to do so," fumes Aunt Primrose, but Mopsie just smiles at Figs, who seems in awe of Mopsie's lyric.
"I am more determined than ever," says Aunt Primrose, "to keep you from that ghastly man. If he should dare to set foot on my property, I will string him up from the rafters. I cannot understand why that man holds such an attraction for you."
Figs looks horrified, and begins chewing anxiously on his beard until you make a subtle motion to cease.
The conversation becomes general for a few moments, but you consider Aunt Primrose's words. If you had to guess, you suspect that she will soon ask the supposed Professor Hickory his professional opinion about Mopsie's love for Figs, to demonstrate to Mopsie that her overwhelming passion is not wholly rational. Figs, of course, will have no idea how to respond, and will likely be flustered by the question, hitting home as it does.
You look again at Aunt Primrose. Yes, the question is definitely coming. What will you do about it?
You could help Figs come up with an answer that would be in character for Professor Hickory, which would help Figs maintain his disguise. Or you could devise an answer that might sway Aunt Primrose's opinion about the possibility of marriage between Figs and Mopsie. Or, you can simply try to maintain the dignity and decorum of dinner, which would probably improve Aunt Primrose's mood.
1. I come up with an answer that would be in character for Professor Hickory, which is not very optimistic about young love. I jot it on a napkin, and put it in front of Figs.
2. I must think of an answer that supports young untamed hearts, which should please Mopsie. I shall then jot the answer on a napkin, and put it in front of Figs.
3. I refrain from assisting, instead serving the table and maintaining dignity and decorum.
1. Time to put Figs awesome disguise (not so awesome since the Inspector saw through it..) to use. Though Pennyworth isn't skilled at this sort of thing, and Figs might not be able to read it.
But if Figs reads an impassioned speech, he might declare his love for Mopsie right then and there. And the inspector is already suspicious.
Our intelligence isn't so high so I'm not sure we could think up a convincing argument. And I don't think Figs could sell it even if we did. I'm going for option 1
I come up with an answer that would be in character for Professor Hickory, which is not very optimistic about young love. I jot it on a napkin, and put it in front of Figs.
You try to remember Prof. Hickory's scholarly work on romantic attachment, Your Maturing Mind, which you flipped through several years ago.
Hm. It was…something about vile urges and the ever-whirling nature of the mind. You can't quite hit the acidic tone of it all. But it will have to do. You whip Figs's napkin away, and under the pretense of giving him a fresh one, you jot the phrase on it. You then replace Figs's now-written-upon napkin in front of him as he listens to Col. Firesnuff correct Frankincense regarding a matter of sport.
"Ah, yes, how interesting," Figs says, trying to participate in the conversation. "I agree." He is doing all right now, but it will surely be only a matter of seconds before Aunt Primrose asks him a question about psychology that he cannot answer.
Aunt Primrose turns to Figs. "Professor, you have written a good deal about human psychology. What do you make of a young woman who had become obsessed with a man that most people see as something of a buffoon? I speak here, of course, of a fellow known colloquially as 'Figs.' You would not know the gentleman. He keeps low company, no doubt. Not like you. At any rate, what is your professional opinion of my niece?"
"Auntie!" screams Mopsie.
"I am merely asking what science has to say on the subject. It is not personal," Aunt Primrose says. "Well, Professor?"
Figs glances at you. "You have a bit of food on your upper lip," you say, sotto voce. "You may wish to use your napkin."
"Is this any time to wipe my face?" Figs hisses at you.
1. I aggressively point to the words on the napkin so there is no chance of Figs failing to notice them.
2. I suggest once again that Figs use the napkin, but a touch less subtly.
3. Rory may be able to pick up on my nonverbal cues. It is a long shot, but I try signaling to him to tell Figs to use the napkin.
2. Pointing and gesturing seem too likely to attract the Inspector's attention.
Option 2- not sure if it'll work but choosing the other options would make the inspector and everyone else even more suspicious
I suggest once again that Figs use the napkin, but a touch less subtly.
"If I might once again implore you to address the small bit of food on your face, sir. It is on your eye. You might apply your eye to your napkin, as it were."
"That is a very strange way of speaking," says Aunt Primrose.
"Eh? Oh. Oh!" Figs says. "Oooh." He pretends to wipe his face, reading the napkin carefully.
"Do go on, Professor Hickory," Aunt Primrose says. "I would like to hear your answer."
"You ask an excellent question," Figs says, contentedly, now supplied with a useful phrase. "The fact of the matter is that this young woman is likely an inchoate morass of illogical urges and ill-considered desires. Her immature romantic urges may seem to her as real as if she actually loved, but it is merely an illusion produced by chemicals in the neural pathways."
"Ha!" snorts Mopsie, a smirk creeping over her face.
"Why, that's a brilliant observation, Professor," Aunt Primrose says. "And one very much in keeping with my own feelings about the subject. Clearly, you don't know your own mind, Mopsie. This gives me food for thought."
Mopsie glares at Figs, while Aunt Primrose pats Figs's arm approvingly. "I knew you were brilliant," she says. "Now I see why you have earned the laurels you have."
There is a blessed lull in the conversation as the guests feast on the jambon au jus and pommes de terre avec poireaux et romarin.
Figs seems to be doing well; he converses with Aunt Primrose confidently, and even deals well with some queries from Frankincense and Col. Firesnuff. Mopsie looks at him with adoring eyes and passes him a series of notes under the table.
"You know what the professor would enjoy?" Frankincense says, suddenly, putting down her fork.
Aunt Primrose looks at Frankincense, and then at Frankincense's plate, which has some food that Frankincense brought for herself—a stew of grains, escarole, and mushrooms. Aunt Primrose wrinkles her nose. "What do you have in mind?"
"Perhaps the good professor would like to take a turn through your art gallery before we have our dessert? You do like fine art, don't you, Professor? And this house has such a lovely collection."
"What a fine idea!" says Aunt Primrose.
"Yes!" says Figs. "I would be very interested to see your artwork." Here, Figs turns to you. "I would especially be interested in seeing any new acquisitions." He winks at you several times.
"Wonderful," says Aunt Primrose. "Pennyworth, why don't you accompany us and teach Mopsie something about art? Or anything at all, really."
1. "I don't know if that's such a good idea, madam," I say to Aunt Primrose. "It may be bad for the digestion if we got up in the middle of the meal."
2. "A fine suggestion," I say to Aunt Primrose.
3. "But surely Professor Hickory will be much happier here," I say, making an imploring expression at Mopsie and Rory.
1. Let's skip the art. Figs already said he wants to go, so 3 would just be suspicious and desperate.
Option 1- it's not overly desperate, like option 3. Also, it's probably not a good idea for him to know that the painting's been destroyed. He'll probably completely break character, and all our efforts would have been for naught.
Mizal's points break the tie.
"But surely Professor Hickory will be much happier here," I say, making an imploring expression at Mopsie and Rory.
"Oh, ah—" begins Rory, but Frankincense cuts in.
"No, not at all!" she says. "There are wonderful pieces in Primrose's collection. You should take the opportunity to examine them if you are an art lover."
"I just collect the things," says Aunt Primrose, "I never know what to say about them when guests ask penetrating questions about art. Come along now."
"No, I rather think--"
"Oh dear," Haze says, with a malicious smirk on her face. "I think Pennyworth for some reason doesn't want Professor Hickory to go to the art gallery. Did you note that, Inspector?" She taps his arm lightly.
"I am noting a number of things; however, there are a surprising small number of them that I care to share with you at this time," Inspector Ambrose says, removing her hand from his. He looks up at you, narrowing his eyes.
"Good heavens, come along, Pennyworth!"
Rory slowly nods and sighs.
You follow Aunt Primrose and Figs into the art gallery, with Mopsie close behind, writing in her diary as she walks.
"As you can see, Professor, I collect mainly landscapes and seascapes from the olden times. Dutch, Flemish. Some still lifes. I like to go to auctions," she says. "It's a rush of energy, holding up that paddle. Sometimes the art dealer comes by and gives me a good deal on a half dozen at a time. It provides a touch of class to the house. My mother and father, God rest their souls, collected them like mad, and I suppose I'm doing my part to keep up the dignity of the household by collecting some fine art."
Figs is not listening. "Are…are these all of the paintings?" he asks. "Or is this merely the section with the paintings of lower quality?"
Aunt Primrose whips around to face the professor.
1. "I think what Professor Hickory meant is to ask whether this is the section with the paintings of high quality. Isn't that right, Professor Hickory?"
2. I distract everyone with a disquisition on the merits of a particular still life.
3. I take Figs's arm and attempt to forcefully guide him back to the dining room. "Well, I think that's quite enough art for one day!"
3 It seems the safest
2. It will likely fail, but it seems safer than trying to get Figs to course correct or trying to drag him out. Besides, Primrose did just admit to buying them at bulk discount. She might be mad, but potentially impressed that the professor uncovered an art dealing scheme.
I distract everyone with a disquisition on the merits of a particular still life.
"But consider this interesting piece!" you cry, pointing to a painting at random. It turns out to be a still life of a bowl of pears with a fly on one of the pears. "This is a very intriguing piece."
"Do you really think so?" asks Aunt Primrose.
"I like pears," Mopsie says. "But it's not very interesting."
"I think it speaks well of you, Mrs. Patterson. You have a good eye for quality. The way the light is painted here, reflecting off the glossy pears is subtle and affecting. And the fly provides a memento mori, here in the midst of bounty. It is an elegant piece."
"Yes, but…" starts Figs.
"…but," you continue. "It is also conventional. There is a place in a gallery for pieces like this, but also a place for experimentation. Artists on the cutting edge, as it were. We must value their contributions as well."
"Just what I was going to say," Figs says.
Aunt Primrose grins at your praise of her painting, and Figs has been distracted momentarily.
As Aunt Primrose heads out of the gallery, she calls out to a passing chambermaid. "You, there! Mauve! Come here this instant!"
A sturdy maid, wearing much-mended and soot-covered work clothes, puts down the heavy bucket she was lugging and wipes her hands on her dirty apron. She looks down, not daring to look at Aunt Primrose directly.
"Mauve, I am surprised at you, carrying those—What are those? Ashes, fireplace sweepings?—through the hall while I am entertaining. I gave strict orders that the fireplaces be cleaned well this morning, then lit and tended throughout the day."
"Yes, I did that, ma'am. It's just…"
"Well? Let me hear your excuse. More than likely you shirked your work this morning."
"No, I never, ma'am. It's just that the fire in the library was smelling so strange and made a terrible black smoke, so me and t'others thought maybe someone had burned something that warn't supposed to be burned. That's all, ma'am."
She holds up the bucket of ashes as evidence.
"But why?" Aunt Primrose demands.
"Why someone might've gone up to the library to burn something, I really can't say, ma'am."
You glance at Figs, who is listening glumly to Mopsie chirping something at him about a play she wants to see.
I don't believe a word of it, Mauve," says Aunt Primrose. "I gave you one last chance. You've been lollygagging again, and now you've been caught."
Mauve burst out into tears. "No, ma'am, no! I've been saving every penny so that someday, maybe someday, I could take a course so I can work in a dress shop. Please don't sack me, ma'am."
"You should have thought of that before dragging a bucket of ashes through my main hall."
1. I step forward and take the blame.
2. I claim that a mysterious masked stranger was responsible.
3. I stay silent and let Mauve get sacked by Aunt Primrose.
2. Though I suppose 3 would be more in character, surely Pennyworth would have compassion on a fellow servant. This is far worse than merely breaking a hand, after all.
Butlers do nice things
Option 2- because Mauve hasn't done anything wrong
I claim that a mysterious masked stranger was responsible.
"As a matter of fact, Mrs. Patterson," you say, clearing your throat. "I must inform you that it was not, in fact, this maid who is responsible for the business in the library."
She turns to you. "Oh, really? And who, pray tell, was it?" she demands, rolling the r in "pray."
"I was on the upper floor earlier and saw a mysterious masked figure run into the library and throw something in the fireplace."
"What's that you say, Pennyworth? I thought you said 'a mysterious masked stranger,' but that can't be right."
"That is what I said. Clearly up to no good."
"But why would a mysterious masked stranger come in here, and throw something in the fireplace?
"That is just the question I asked myself, and I am none the wiser. But there is a term used often in discussion of crime. Perhaps they were 'casing the joint.'"
"Testing the waters, you mean, for a crime to be committed later? Well, one thing is perfectly clear. We will need to improve security around here."
"Improve security?" Mopsie says, slamming her diary shut. "This place is a veritable fortress as it is."
"Yes, I have made it a standing order to have my finest hunting hounds out at night to prevent that Figs person from entering onto the premises. The hounds were Pennyworth's idea, incidentally, Mopsie."
Mopsie sticks out her tongue at you.
"But I suspect that having patrolling guards would be a good idea, as well, if there are masked strangers about. I will see to it. Mauve, you are off the hook. Back to work, if you please. Now, everyone, back to dinner!"
---Back at the Table---
"What do you think of my chef, Professor?" asks Aunt Primrose, grandly sweeping an arm over the table to indicate the bounty there, laden with yet more food.
"Jolly good!" says Figs.
"Yes, quite a feast, dear Aunt," says Rory, mouth full.
"Sample the soupe d'tomate," Aunt Primrose says to Figs, motioning to indicate the steaming bowl in front of him. "Go on, take a good, long whiff. My chef is a wizard with tomatoes."
"It smells just like tomatoes," Figs says, after inhaling the aroma long enough to please Aunt Primrose. "You know, that reminds me of a humorous anecdote which happened to me just the other day. I was talking to some of the, ah, the professors at that prestigious university where I teach…"
"Could you remind me which university that is?" Haze asks.
"Oh, you wouldn't have heard of it. As I was saying, I was talking about psychology and the brain and…"
"I don't care much for our nation's institutions of higher learning," says Col. Firesnuff. "As for me, I say, it's best to learn from life. You learn more in a hunting blind for one hour than you do in a whole year of university. I'd like to hear what you have to say to that, Professor."
As everyone turns to Col. Firesnuff, you notice Figs slapping both hands to his face, over his false beard. You can see from your position that the beard has started to detach itself from Figs's face, no doubt aided by the steam from the tomato soup.
Figs holds on to his beard in a blind panic, then yelps as the whole thing begins to dangle off his face at an oblique angle. Nobody has noticed yet.
1. I create a loud and raucous diversion by announcing that I will now provide some entertainment for all with some juggling and singing.
2. I reattach Figs's beard under the pretense of admiring his thick facial hair.
3. I distract everyone by starting an argument with Col. Firesnuff while Figs fixes it.
3. because we still need to have our fight.
2 would probably be better, but 3 is more fun.
Option 3, just because 1 would be totally out of character and I don't see how option 2 is physically possible. I mean, if anything, option 2 would just be drawing more attention to the beard falling off. 3 is going to damage our stat with Firesnuff and might backfire if Figs doesn't manage to stick it on, but it's the best option out of the three.
Did you get this beard scene when you played ch. 5 before, Mizal? I know you didn't get the scene in the gallery with Mauve, since you hung the painting.
I distract everyone by starting an argument with Col. Firesnuff while Figs fixes it.
"Colonel Firesnuff!" you say, in what you hope is a suitably snide tone. "I have a bone to pick with you!"
"Is that so?" he says, slamming a fist on the table.
What would you like to start a fight about?
1. His knowledge of Roman history.
2. His table manners.
3. His physical strength.
On second thought, 2 would be better. It might be the most fun just because of the absurdity of having a fight over manners.
3, it's the most fun. What's the use of a background in fisticuffs if we never get to use it? And 2 could go either way. Obviously his table manners are bad (fist on the table) but so are ours (picking a fight at dinner, not letting the hostess pick where her guest will sit, insisting a guest use a napkin, etc.)
And considering Firesnuff name drops Greek characters from the Illiad in casual conversation, his knowledge of history is probably pretty good.
Option 2- it's the only one with a chance of working
His table manners.
"I believe I am not alone in noticing that you insist on putting your elbows on the table," you say.
"That is considered quite proper in many cultures, as you would know if you had a lick of polish," he returns.
You and Colonel Firesnuff debate back and forth vigorously, even aggressively. You note several moments where you have observed him behaving with less-than-perfect table manners over the course of the evening, including wiping his hands on the tablecloth, and he responds that he was merely following the customs of a little-known tribe in Papua New Guinea.
All in all, you manage to provide the perfect cover for Figs, who manages to reattach his beard without anyone being the wiser. Indeed, he has managed to secure it a bit better than before. But there is one additional matter of importance that you must consider: Do you let Col. Firesnuff win the argument?
1. Absolutely not!
2. I agree to call it a draw.
3. I concede the victory to him.
I guess we'll call it a draw.
If we concede to him, he'll gloat and I'll hate it.
If we claim victory, he might clock Pennyworth, which might be entertaining, but I slightly care about Pennyworth.
Also, he's a butler, after all, so he's supposed to be polite or something.
I agree to call it a draw.
"Why don't we just agree to disagree," you say. "Let's call it a draw."
"I don't agree to that," says Col. Firesnuff, but the argument is clearly at an end.
"Blessed are the peacemakers," says Frankincense.
"Blessed and boring," laughs Haze, which doesn't amuse Frankincense at all.
"Thank goodness," says Mopsie. "That was the most tedious argument I ever heard."
After dinner has been successfully eaten by all, Aunt Primrose claps her hands to announce that dessert will be served in ten minutes, and that everyone should take the opportunity to stretch their legs and "make room," as she puts it, for a slice of rich and decadent banana-walnut pie, a specialty of her chef's.
The guests mill around, some wandering into the main hall, drinking cocktails and chatting with each other. Aunt Primrose and Inspector Ambrose approach Figs and begin to pepper him with questions. Unfortunately, they are speaking to him so closely that you are unable to listen in or assist him. You find, then, that you have a few minutes to yourself, and so you stroll into the main hall.
Mopsie bounces over to you, takes your hand, and leads you into a small study, quivering with excitement.
"You've done so well, Pennyworth," she says. "I knew Figaro could do it; I just knew it. And I'm so smart for thinking up the plan. Aren't I smart, Pennyworth? Say I'm smart."
1. "You are very smart."
2. "What's on your mind, Mopsie? You look positively jubilant."
3. "Really, I'm the smart one here, if you think about it. I've done everything difficult so far."
Achievement Unlocked: Made it through the Main Course: Dinner has proceeded through the main course, and you are still wearing your clothes.
2. We need to know what she's planning so we can prepare for it.
Option 2- we need to know what she's planning
"What's on your mind, Mopsie? You look positively jubilant."
"Mopsie, we probably should get back to dinner."
"You are a spoilsport, but I know that you know I'm smart, so I will not protest."
"I appreciate it."
"Listen closely. I need to tell you something. It is highly important and confidential."
Mopsie sits on a chaise longue and picks up an art book, thumbing through it idly as she speaks. "Thanks to our combined efforts, mostly mine, I have had the opportunity to have a crucial têtê-à-têtê with dear Figaro. We have a plan of action."
"Of course, Aunt Primrose doesn't know that's not really Professor Hickory, and therefore, Figaro's charm and wit don't end up earning him any points with her. I will have to tell her afterwards that that was him, and it is possible that she may be slightly irritated at me. And Rory. We will keep your name out of it, of course."
"It doesn't matter. We can weather the storm. Even if she does get angry, I have a wonderful plan brewing, but you'll need to help us. Rory is in serious trouble with money, as you surely know, and Aunt Primrose could easily help him. We need to encourage Aunt Primrose to give Rory heaps of money at once. And I have a secret plan to help him. It's so secret and it's so clever."
"What do you have in mind?"
"First tell me if you will help me, right now, without even knowing what I am going to ask of you, so that I can breathe a sigh of relief that you are fully committed to helping Rory, no matter what. It will be a plan that will require you and Rory to do a good deal of derring-do."
"Before you tell me what it is?"
"Yes. As a show of good faith. Also it will relax me, allowing me to focus all my efforts on Figaro right now."
1. "Absolutely not," I say cheerily, turning to leave.
2. "I will be more than happy to help."
3. "I don't know Rory ought to be doing derring-do, to be perfectly honest. I don't know if I can commit to your plan at this time."
Kinda curious, but Mopsie's schemes are not the thing to commit to. Of course, I don't really wish to commit to anything, really.
On second thought, 3. Her plan might be (is probably) stupid and illegal.
"I don't know Rory ought to be doing derring-do, to be perfectly honest. I don't know if I can commit to your plan at this time."
"What, don't you think Rory has derring-do?!" protests Mopsie. "He dares to do more daring derring-do than two true daredevils do."
The statement doesn't seem to require a response, so you remain silent.
"And anyway," Mopsie goes on, clicking her pearl strands like mad, "it will only be the appearance of derring-do. It will be a performance meant for Aunt Primrose. He will seem to be a hero. And you will be a key component, Pennyworth."
"I'm not sure I can commit to it before I know all the details."
"Just trust me, Pennyworth."
"I'm afraid I must know the details."
"Oh, fine," Mopsie says. "We will hash out the details later between you, me, and Rory. I had just hoped for a bit of trust."
"I apologize, madam."
"Hmph. Well, there's nothing else to say then."
You head back to the dining room for dessert.
Several minutes pass, and the servers bring out the banana-walnut pie, setting a slice before each guest. You assist in refilling the glasses, some with water, and some with a bit of port.
As the pie is distributed, a footman hands you a sealed note.
"From Mrs. Regina Wilhelmina, begging your pardon," says the footman. "She says it's rather important."
You take a moment and step away from the party. The note reads:
Do not evince any sign that you have been alerted, but I have some reason to believe that there is something suspicious about this so-called Professor Clarence Q. Hickory.
Call it a hunch.
Therefore, I have applied a liberal amount of truth serum to the slice of banana-walnut pie that will be served to the professor. Please ensure that he eats it.
You look up. Figs has just picked up his dessert fork and is about to enjoy a hearty bite of his banana-walnut pie. Regina is peeking out from a side door, watching him intently.
1. I shout out, "Professor Hickory, don't eat that pie!"
2. I slap the pie off of Figs's plate.
3. I nod slightly to Regina, who nods back, while Figs eats the pie.
Except part of the truth is that we helped, and bought his costume....but maybe we can let him eat it, then knock him out?
This is a quandary. We could slap the pie away and hope we can talk to Regina later - she might let us explain. Or we can pass her a note. Shouting is just likely to raise suspicion. Slapping it might go so fast that we can pretend it's a mistake. Letting him eat it is risky because he could mention we helped him. To get invited, we need to make 'problems for our master disappear' - so the primary goal has to be protecting Rory, I would assume, more than doing exactly as Regina says. Either way, this seems disastrous no matter what we pick.
Also, it could be her truth serum is a lie or doesn't work. Just happening to have 'truth serum' seems a bit suspicious. Maybe it's a test?
It's too bad there isn't an option to trade slices of pie. I wonder if there will be a way to control the questioning? To ask him things that he can answer safely, like "do you like the pie?" Or to whisk him away entirely.
Anyway, a lot of unknowns and no good out. #2, since it is the least suspicious if we do it right and come up with a fast excuse (like, "there was a fly!") and *hopefully* Regina will let us clarify it to her later. She should know lacing something is a terrible plan, anyway.
Option 3- his identity will be revealed sooner or later, no need to annoy Regina
I nod slightly to Regina, who nods back, while Figs eats the pie.
"Mmmm, this is delicious," Figs says, chewing a big mouthful.
Regina steps fully into the dining room. "Excuse me, madam," she says. "I just have one question for this so-called Professor Hickory."
"Mrs. Regina Wilhelmina, what are you doing here?"
"Trust me, Mrs. Patterson." She turns back to Figs. "Who are you?"
"I'm Figs," he says. Then he clamps his hands over his mouth and looks to you in a panic.
1. I grab Figs and escort him out the front door before anything worse happens.
2. I point at him and yell, "Imposter!"
3. I say, "I'm Figs," to cover for him.
3 seems pretty counter-productive at this point since we deliberately let him eat the truth serum. 2 risks making it an even larger scene and Figs admitting we helped him - although it does seem pretty funny. So, 1, I guess?
I say, "I'm Figs," to cover for him.
Aunt Primrose turns to you. "What did you say?"
"I'm Figs," you say again.
"I'm Figs," says Rory, catching on.
Figs goggles at you all and holds his hands over his mouth.
"I'm Figs," says Mopsie.
"No, I'm Figs," says Rory.
"Well, I'm Figs, then. Why not?" says Haze.
"Is this one of those new parlor games?" says Frankincense.
"But how does one play?" asks Aunt Primrose, bemused.
"I'm sorry, Auntie, you've lost," says Rory.
"Well, I don't really appreciate not being told the rules," she says, gruffly. "In my day, we played charades and tableaux vivant. This game seems rather arbitrary."
"It's all the rage these days," says Mopsie.
"No it's not," says Figs, and then clamps his hands over his mouth again.
"I think you'd best get going," you say to Figs, grasping him by the arm and shoving him out the front door.
When you turn around, Regina is there, hands on hips. "So," she says, "you've helped uncover an imposter. At the same time, you've helped him escape. What's your angle, Savage Wendigo?"
"There are no excuses. I will simply mark your mixed success on your record. It's a bit of a shame, really. But there will be an opportunity to redeem yourself. I fear there is more mischief afoot. I will see you again late tonight for your next mission."
"Your most difficult yet. This will be the true test. Now, we have a bit of business down in the servants' dining room to conduct. Won't you join me there in a few minutes?"
While Aunt Primrose tries to figure out the rules of "I'm Figs," you decide that Regina is right: you should probably excuse yourself for now.
A few minutes later, you seat yourself at the servants' dining table, adjacent to the kitchen. The servants' dining area has little to attract the eye, the only decoration an old devotional painting rejected from upstairs, the subject barely visible through layers of cracked and yellowed varnish. Most of the furnishings, like the plain oak table or the rough-hewn chairs, are refurbished pieces from secondhand shops. But while the room is plain, it is filled with laughter and lively conversation. Many of the household workers are enjoying a well-deserved meal and a moment's rest after the dinner service, and the footmen hang their jackets over their chairs in a striking display of relaxed casualness.
Chef Beauregard serves the leftover food from dinner upstairs, as well as some rustic ham, carrot, spinach, and pea quiches with chèvre.
Valentine pulls up a chair next to yours, and she helps herself a very large slice of quiche. Then she takes another large slice and puts it next to the first one.
Valentine nods to you, and then begins chatting with some of the second-floor maids about the events of the day, telling a few off-color jokes. She gobbles up several helpings until finally defeated by a goblet of chocolate mousse. "Uuugh," says Valentine, leaning back and putting two hands on her belly.
Chef Beauregard, on your other side, pours himself a glass of wine and takes out a leather portfolio caked with flour. "So," he says, in a French accent so thick it is difficult to make out without full attention, although you know for a fact that he has lived in England for over twenty-five years. "Ze boat race at ze Harvest Festival, she ees to be taking place tomorrow, no? Who would like to make ze race plus intéressant--ah, more interesting? Who would like to place le wager?" He pronounces "wager" as if it rhymes with "dagger."
He pulls out a chart from his portfolio which indicates a number of people from the environs who have placed bets for the upcoming race; several of the servants make a small wager with Chef Beauregard, who notes down their bets carefully. "Ah, Pennyworth," he says, wagging a finger at you. "You are looking forward to the boat race, yes?"
"It is always a highlight of the festival," you say.
"And I hear from—what ees ze word—ze vine of ze grapes that Mrs. Patterson has put together a strong team. I hear Scrubs will be coxswain of ze team. She will be extraordinary."
"A neekname, only. Beatrice Scrubbers…non? Well, perhaps you don't often have cause to go visit our fine laundress." He says "laundress" as if it rhymes with "undress." "With her experience, our team will be…" He can only express how the team will be by kissing his bunched fingertips. "But Col. Firesnuff's team ees always strong, and we must not discount ze police boat, led, as usual, by Deputy Hardcastle. Then, there ees the Cordwainers' team, who are all quite aged and long bearded. They might safely be discounted. They have never come in other than last place in decades of racing. They are rather a confused lot."
He leans forward conspiratorially. "I even heard eet claimed zat you might be asked to row as well."
"Eet ees ze rumor going about. But tell me. Purely out of la curiosity, what ees your rowing technique?"
1. "I think of rowing as more an intellectual pursuit than one of strength."
2. "Rowing is a game of dirty tricks and deception," I say. "There is no place for finesse or manners in the cutthroat world of rowing."
3. "My raw strength will carry the day. In rowing, one must pay attention to nothing but pulling the oars through the water."
4. "Rowing is a noble sport, and its traditions and regulations should be abided by in the spirit of elegance and fair play."
I'm Spartacus: At least three people were willing to play along with your new party game at dinner.
3. If Pennyworth were to cheat, he would never admit that. And our suspicion stat is high enough as it is.
Option 3- it seems to fit Pennyworth's character the best.
"My raw strength will carry the day. In rowing, one must pay attention to nothing but pulling the oars through the water."
Beauregard looks impressed with your claim.
"Might I touch your arm muscles?" he asks.
"Briefly," you say.
"I'd like to change my bet," says one maid.
"No, no changing your wagger. Wait a moment. Zis may affect ze odds." Beauregard starts doing sums on a piece of scrap paper.
"What is going on here?" The imposing voice of Carlington, the butler, rings out from the doorway. "Beauregard, are you taking bets? I distinctly asked you not to do so in this house." He steps forward into the room followed by Regina Wilhelmina, her housekeeper's keys jingling at her side.
"I am most certainly not," says Beauregard in an affronted tone, clearing his flour-dusted portfolio off the table with a practiced sweep.
"I hope you all have had the decency to refrain from gambling in Mrs. Patterson's virtuous house." Carlington fixes you all with a steely gaze. "Now, all of you, please find somewhere else to be. I have some important business to conduct with Pennyworth—and with you—Valentine, is it? Yes. You both stay. Everyone else, back to work, if you please."
He makes a motion of dismissal, and everyone besides you and Valentine takes their leave. He stands at the head of the table, hands on the back of his chair, with Regina flanking him.
Valentine looks absolutely terrified. What is your attitude?
1. I put a hand on her shoulder comfortingly and whisper a word of comfort.
2. I give Carlington my full attention and have a respectful demeanor.
3. I nod solemnly at Regina, letting her know that she can count on me to work for the interest of the Inner Circle.
2. Not because 3 isn't true, but because nodding is too overtly obvious and odd.
I give Carlington my full attention and have a respectful demeanor.
You sit at attention, letting Carlington know that you are aware that something serious has happened. Regina keeps trying to catch your eye, but you look steadfastly at Carlington.
Carlington nods slightly at you; Valentine, on the other hand, keeps looking towards you, clearly wanting to talk to you.
"Pennyworth, I appreciate your attentiveness and understanding of the gravity of the situation. I will be sure to mention your gravity to Mrs. Patterson in this trying situation. Now to the matter at hand. You and Valentine arrived at Ritornello together, and so you may be able to shed some light on the subject."
"What is this about?" blurts out Valentine.
Carlington gives Valentine his stern butler look, a look that has historically unnerved strong men and women and made them run crying from the room. "I understand, Valentine, that you claim to have been hired by this household. My records, however, show no such hire."
"That can't be right," says Valentine.
"I have examined all of the records in great detail, and your claim that Mrs. Patterson hired you is false. You are here under false pretenses. What do you have to say for yourself?" Carlington asks.
"It's a mistake!" says Valentine. "I was hired. I was!"
Carlington takes a step back and clasps his hands together in thought. "I would not wish to dismiss an employee without cause if this is simply a matter of misplaced paperwork," he says. "Nevertheless, I would have heard of any new hire. I did not hire you. You must admit the situation is rather suspicious, especially considering that the sneak thief known as 'Light-Fingered Lou' has been known to be burglarizing estates in the area. I ought to dismiss you at once and summon the police."
"Yes. We will alert the proper authorities," says Regina. She gives you an arch look that lets you know that "the proper authorities" certainly means the Inner Circle, not the police.
Valentine looks horrified and sinks low in her chair.
"I want to be clear that it is thanks in part to Pennyworth's timely informing me of certain deceptions on the part of Valentine that alerted me to the issue," Regina says. "I don't wish to claim all of the credit."
Valentine fires a crushed look at you and you can see that she is starting to cry.
"You are obviously a dangerous and treacherous individual," says Regina to Valentine.
"Putting that kind of inflammatory characterization aside," says Carlington, darting a look at Regina, "our course is clear."
"But…but haven't I been doing a good job?" Valentine squeaks.
"Your service has been somewhat lower than adequate. But you have only been in service for a single day. At any rate, this is not about your service," says Carlington.
"It is about justice," says Regina.
"No, it is about the proper paperwork," says Carlington, clearly frustrated at Regina.
You look at Carlington and Regina and then at the quietly weeping Valentine.
1. I pledge to Carlington on my honor that Valentine is innocent and should be kept on. (Requires 55 renown.)
2. I make an appeal to Regina to trust me that there is no harm in keeping Valentine. (Requires 55 invitation.)
3. I acknowledge that Carlington and Regina are doing the right thing in rooting out this interloper.
4. My face clearly shows my displeasure with their judgment, but I say nothing.
3. If there was an option like, "She might be here under false pretenses but there is a chance she might just be a method actress and not a thief' I might go for that, but as it stands Valentine has been caught in several lies and she's very incompetent as a servant. Pennyworth should not stake his reputation on her.
I acknowledge that Carlington and Regina are doing the right thing in rooting out this interloper.
"Thank you for your vigilance," you say. "Thanks to you both, this house is safer. I feel duped by Valentine's deception as much as any of us."
"Thank you, Pennyworth," says Carlington. "Your opinion means a good deal to us, and I will take that into account."
The big clock ticks in the servants' dining room, each second seeming to echo shatteringly through the room.
"After weighing this situation quite carefully, I have come to a decision," says Carlington, at last, clasping his hands behind his back.
Valentine wipes her eyes and waits.
"Valentine, it gives me no pleasure to tell you that you are fired. I will have the police escort you from the house for questioning regarding your presence here. Good evening. Regina, if you would kindly summon Inspector Ambrose, we can complete this unpleasant business as quickly as possible. Thank you, Pennyworth. That will be all."
"Pennyworth!" cries Valentine, as you leave the dining room. Several things you could say to Valentine flick through your mind, but Valentine has already been escorted to a different room, and when you turn back, she is gone.
You walk up the steps back to the ground floor, passing as you do, Inspector Ambrose, who acknowledges you with a cool regard as he descends to question Valentine.
Making an attempt to clear your mind, you focus only on slowly climbing stairs, back up to Rory's room.
End of Chapter Five
Valentine is Sacked!: Valentine has been sacked.