"But why did Mrs. Patterson become so angry?" you say to Rory, who sits at the end of his bed with one shoe off, rubbing his foot.
It has grown late, perhaps ten thirty, and the house is quiet now. Quieter, at any rate, than Aunt Primrose was when you returned to Rory's room. She had just finished giving Rory a piece of her mind, and had just concluded with a final, "Hmph!" and stormed out of the room past you, leaving Rory stunned.
"Who can say what lurks in the deepest recesses of an aunt's mind, Pennyworth?" Rory says, voice slightly quavering.
"But what was the argument about?"
Rory takes off his other shoe, and then lies flat back on the bed. "It seems that Mopsie informed Aunt Primrose about the nature of the false Figs in hopes of showing her that Figs could be trusted in civilized society, and Auntie hit the roof. She turned her vengeance on me."
"Why on you, sir?"
"Because, like an ass, I shouldered much of the responsibility. I kept your name out of it. But she is most unhappy. She made it very clear to me that she had been intending to invite Professor Hickory to speak at her Ladies of Quality Intellectual Society Salon as a figure who would really pack in the crowds. Then she said—'hollered' would be more accurate—that she was going to cut off my monthly allowance entirely as a punishment for my part in the whole Professor Hickory episode."
"Oh no, sir."
"Then I said, 'What about you helping me with my gambling debt? Perhaps you could sell some art?' You, of course, remember Surefire in the third race, Pennyworth?"
"I do indeed."
"And she replied that, far from helping with my gambling debt, that I was lucky she didn't bodily pitch me out the window. It was about then that you entered stage left, just in time to see her exit stage right."
"What was it that she said about Frankincense as she left?"
"Oh, that. It was probably just uttered in the heat of the moment. She said to me that 'you and Frankincense deserve each other.' I thought it was pretty bitter stuff. I think that Frankincense said something to her about the possibility of serving a wholly vegetarian meal tomorrow, and Aunt Primrose was in no mood to hear it. Unfortunately, Frankincense persisted long after anyone who knew Auntie well would have known to stop. I fear that Frankincense, too, is not in Aunt Primrose's good graces anymore."
Rory heaves a long, soul-shattering sigh.
"What do you think of this whole wretched situation, Pennyworth?"
What is your response?
1. I am furious at Mopsie and say so.
2. I suggest that I knew better all along.
3. I act implacably neutral, the ideal servant.
4. I am laughing at how ridiculous the Professor Hickory costume was.
Don't reply to this post
Soothing: 34% / Abrasive: 66%
Aunt Primrose: 51%
Col. Firesnuff: 26%
Ready Monies: 15
Reply to this post.
Option 3- at this point, it just seems better to say nothing
3. Tempted towards 1, since Rory seems like he could use some commiseration, but Mopsie might be hiding in the closet for all we know.
I act implacably neutral, the ideal servant.
"Yes. Hard to believe that she would act in such a manner. But there we are. What do you make of it all?"
"Make of it all, sir?"
"Yes, your opinion. Permission granted to speak freely."
"I have no particular opinion on the subject, sir."
"Well, I suppose that's the end of this interesting conversation then," chuckles Rory ruefully. "I suppose I should simply not rehash the whole mess. Let it go. Cast it to the winds."
"A wise idea, sir."
It is at this moment that Mopsie strolls in, without knocking.
Rory stretches out on the bed, resting his head on both hands. "Ah, Mopsie. Your timing is impeccable. Did Auntie chew you out just now?"
"Pretty thoroughly," Mopsie says. "You?"
"Indeed. And my allowance is cut off until further notice."
"That's a shame." She plops into a chair. "Luckily, I have a plan to fix that. And Pennyworth is instrumental to it."
1. "I may have mentioned earlier that I did not know if I can commit to your scheme."
2. I narrow my eyes one-sixtieth of an inch.
3. I begin to shake my head preemptively.
Choices, choices. To be a good servant or to be a cautious soul, that is the question. As potentially risky as Mopsie's plan might be, I think it would be best to be a well-rounded neutral servant.
2, displeasure but not an end to the conversation
2. No need to repeat what we have already said, and it is Rory's decision, now.
I narrow my eyes one-sixtieth of an inch.
"I can see your mixture of fascination and wonder from here," says Mopsie rapturously. "And your excitement is well-founded."
"Let's hear it," Rory says. "I like the sound of a plan that will get me my allowance back."
Mopsie smiles a small, superior smile, and she begins to explain her plan.
"It seems that Aunt Primrose had been hoping to invite Professor Hickory to address her High-Minded Intellectual Society. Well, his not actually being Professor Hickory put a damper on that. She has decided to break the news to the other members tonight over a game of high-stakes baccarat hosted by Mrs. Mudwasp, who lives just nearby. She is most unhappy at having to do it, and to cheer herself up, she has determined that, at the very least, she intends to win a great sum of money at baccarat. Winning money will make her happy."
"Yes, Mopsie," says Rory, frowning. "But what you fail to perceive is that if she wins, that hardly seems to solve our problem. She'll still be furious at us. And, of course, she might lose."
"I'm coming to that. Pennyworth, are you familiar with the well-known sneak thief, Light-Fingered Lou?"
1. "Not really."
2. "As a regular reader of several different news periodicals, I daresay that I am well-informed."
3. "I wouldn't say 'familiar.' I may have heard the name in casual conversation."
2. Let's ret-con Pennyworth some information.
It's the most neutral.
"As a regular reader of several different news periodicals, I daresay that I am well-informed."
"Good," says Mopsie. "Then you probably already know exactly what I have planned and already foresee the sheer genius of it. You know, then, how feared and notorious Light-Fingered Lou is, a master criminal of great renown and daring."
Mopsie points out the window. "That is the estate of Mr. and Mrs. Ivor Mudwasp, where Auntie will be gambling tonight into the wee hours. My plan is simple. You, Pennyworth, will rob the game of baccarat, pretending to be Light-Fingered Lou by wearing a black mask. They will be terrified. You will scoop all of the money into a canvas bag and then abscond with it."
"Did you say, 'rob the game of baccarat'? Me?"
"Then," Mopsie says, ignoring you, "you will sneak back into Ritornello, give the bag of money to Rory, who will claim to have nearly captured Light-Fingered Lou and retrieved the loot. You, Pennyworth, will remove the mask at some point, and nobody will be the wiser. Aunt Primrose will be so proud of you, Rory, that she will forgive everything."
"It's very clever," says Rory. "And it's difficult to imagine how anything could go wrong with it."
"It's foolproof," Mopsie says. "So what do you say, Pennyworth? Are you willing to engage in this very minor affair to help Rory? If you don't do it, Rory is already determined to disguise himself and commit the fake robbery himself. So, really, you owe it to Rory to help out."
"Let me think," you say, weighing the options.
1. "Of course. Count me in."
2. I say nothing, distracted by a flashing light outside the window. Is that…Morse code?
3. "I'm afraid that I must decline. In fact, I think I'll just step outside and get a bit of air and then turn in for the evening."
2. It's probably Regina with a scheme of her own, but could be interesting.
And Mopsie's scheme is terrible, as expected.
I say nothing, distracted by a flashing light outside the window. Is that…Morse code?
You look out the window as Mopsie chatters away. Yes, Aunt Primrose's conservatory in the east wing tower seems to have a light flashing on and off.
It repeats several times, and so you are able to piece together the simple message: "COME QUICKLY, SAVAGE WENDIGO. URGENT INNER CIRCLE MISSION."
"Pennyworth, you are not saying anything," Mopsie pouts. "You're going to help us, surely?"
1. I shut the shade, blocking out the flashing light, deciding to ignore the coded message and focus on helping Rory and Mopsie. "Of course I will help, Mopsie."
2. I don't want any part of Mopsie's or Regina's schemes. I'm just going to step outside for a bit of air to clear my head before turning in.
3. I will go help Regina and the Inner Circle.
3. Regina is an odd-duck, too, but Mopsie's plan seems like it could actually land us in jail. Rory, if caught, will be excused by an (angry) Primrose. If we get caught, the Inspector would likely mistake us for the real Lou.
Option 3- Mopsie's plan looks like it'll land us in jail, whatever Regina wants won't be that bad, I hope.
I will go help Regina and the Inner Circle.
"I'm terribly sorry, but I am not feeling quite able to participate in what is sure to be a fascinating adventure," you say. "If you will excuse me, I must take care of a touch of business elsewhere. I shall return shortly."
"Oh, come now," Rory says. "Think of my reputation. My honor. My bank account."
"I'm terribly sorry, sir."
"You are a rotter, Pennyworth," says Mopsie. "I can't believe I ever thought of you as a dear friend and trusted confidant. You once salved and bandaged my hands when I got blisters on them when I was small and played for too long on the monkey bars. I was crying, and you helped me. What has changed, Pennyworth? You have grown so cold."
"I don't believe that was me," you say. "I have only known you since you were fifteen, as you remember, and I do not recall you swinging from monkey bars, but rather trying on Parisian hats and making copious annotations in fashion magazines."
"So very cold," Mopsie repeats. "You have learned to loathe me. Won't you help?"
1. "I have a headache, Mopsie. I'm so sorry that I cannot help. I just need a breath of fresh air and then I'm off to bed."
2. "If I remember the story correctly, you got those blisters while tying Rory to a tree with a piece of coarse hempen rope."
3. "As you know, the code of conduct for a valet specifically precludes thefts at card games."
3. It seems the one most likely to get Rory to understand without making it seem 'personal' with Mopsie (although it definitely is.) 2 is tempting, though.
Option 3- it's the option that means we don't have to lie or cause potential friction between Rory and Mopsie, though option 2 would be really funny
"As you know, the code of conduct for a valet specifically precludes thefts at card games."
"I know, Pennyworth," says Rory. "And we've had this discussion before."
"Three times before, if you recall," you remind him.
"So you refuse utterly?" Rory says.
"I'm afraid my hands are tied. I must issue a nolle prosequi on this particular request."
"That means he won't do it no matter how much we ask," Rory explains to Mopsie.
"Well, I don't know about that, but if those are the rules, then I suppose we'll have to do this ourselves," Mopsie says, shrugging helplessly.
"We'll just do it on our own, then," Rory says. "See you shortly, Pennyworth."
You leave Rory and Mopsie, and try to remember how to get to the East Tower. You have very rarely had cause to visit Aunt Primrose's tower garden, except for that one summer when Rory decided that he was going to be a still life painter and spent several days trying to capture the likeness of a jug of roses in the conservatory. Ah yes, that's right. One takes the spiral staircase up from the cigar lounge that had once been the haunt of the late Mr. Patterson. You ascend the elegant wrought iron staircase, holding on to the shiny brass handrail.
It is highly inconvenient to have a garden in a tower, as all of the materials to maintain it, including the soil and the water and tools, have to be carried up here—and via a spiral staircase, no less. But it is one of the treasures of Ritornello, and as you enter the conservatory, it is like entering a hidden, enchanted forest. The walls are covered with creeping vines and leaves, and autumn blossoms fill the air with a heavy sweet scent.
In a wicker chair, sits Regina, facing you, a grave expression on her face. A single strand of hair has come loose from her tight, white bun, suggesting that all is not well.
"Glad you could make it, Savage Wendigo," Regina says, without preface. "Some very serious news was communicated to me recently, and I am still processing it. It seems that the enemies of this house are moving swiftly, and I am afraid that I have to call on you to aid me. You are, of course, still being evaluated, and I would not normally ask this of you. But you have demonstrated a willingness to work with me. That is worth a good deal. I think—I hope—you will be able to help."
She taps one finger on the armrest of the chair and looks past you moodily, shaking her head. "There was a time when there was respect for the old families and the great houses. But the old ways are dying, I fear. We, at least, will fight with every last breath and do our part to protect Mrs. Patterson from the swirling intrigue that surrounds her daily. And most importantly, we in the Inner Circle work in the shadows. She must have her peace of mind."
1. I stay silent and attentive.
2. "But what do you want me to do?"
3. "You can count on me."
Option 2- before we jump into something, it's probably best to know what we're jumping into.
3. It's going to be awkward if this is a "someone plans to rob the game, you must stop them!" though. Although Rory probably should be stopped anyway, for his own good, before he gets himself arrested.
"You can count on me."
"Good," she says. "I like your can-do attitude. You will need every bit of that heroic spirit this evening."
She leans forward in her chair, her hand unconsciously reaching down to prevent her heavy keys from ringing against each other. "Your briefing, then, Savage Wendigo. I have received solid intelligence that Colonel Firesnuff will be leaving the house shortly for a secret meeting at Miavaldi Manor, some ten minutes' drive away. He will have a briefcase with him. Colonel Firesnuff intends to rendezvous with Mrs. Patterson's chauffeur in the garage and then proceed to Miavaldi Manor. I will ensure that the chauffeur is asleep. You will find the chauffeur's cap in the car. You will pose as the chauffeur and drive Colonel Firesnuff to Miavaldi Manor. Once there, determine the nature of the threat he poses and prevent it, if at all possible."
"This sounds a difficult task," you say, pondering.
"Indeed. We do not know precisely what he intends to do there. But we have learned that he is planning something with the capacity to greatly harm Mrs. Patterson."
"Harm her how?" you ask.
"We don't know. That is where you come in. You must disrupt whatever plans Colonel Firesnuff has. I do not think we can rule anything out at this point. My source—who has since fallen silent, and I am afraid has been eliminated—implied strongly that Colonel Firesnuff is in the concluding phase of a long-term scheme with potentially devastating effects. You will have to make the tough call, Savage Wendigo. I would take care of this myself, but unfortunately, there is an equally urgent matter brewing tonight. I understand that the desperate criminal Light-Fingered Lou plans to strike tonight nearby. I must protect the house. I will be lurking and watching. If anyone is creeping around tonight wearing a mask, you can be certain that I will subdue them. I will pause here to ask if you have any questions or comments so far."
1. I tell her about Rory and Mopsie's plan to fake-rob the baccarat game at the neighbors' house.
2. I strongly advise her to be sure that the masked person she subdues is, in fact, Light-Fingered Lou.
3. "No, no questions or comments."
Tough one. We shouldn't blab about our employers, and it is very possible that Lou does plan to strike at the same time. But if she doesn't know of the plan, she might go after the wrong masked person. We don't want Rory getting embarrassed or the actual robbery to happen.
2. Bilbo makes a good point.
1. While tattling is a faux paus, Regina seems the sort to simply believe I might be hinting that there are two nefarious criminals about vs. understanding that one is a fake.
2 No options are ideal, but 1 has the potential to upset Mopsie, Rory, and the Inner Circle's privacy sensibilities
I strongly advise her to be sure that the masked person she subdues is, in fact, Light-Fingered Lou.
"What a strange thing to say. Who else would a masked person on the property be?"
"Nobody in particular. Just verify. One never knows when the whim to wear a mask might come over a person."
"I think you know more than you are saying," she remarks. "I will have to make a note about that in my Inner Circle report about you. Now, to continue, we have one significant advantage. There will be an asset at Miavaldi Manor who will meet you when you arrive."
"An asset? You mean a member of the Inner Circle?"
"No, not…not exactly a member. She helps me out from time to time when we are stretched thin. She works in the shadows—you will know her when you see her, and she has been advised to look out for you. Make contact with her as soon as possible. She will assist you in your mission."
"All right. I'm ready."
"Good. As you know, Carlington has given strict orders that nobody is to go outside tonight. We are going to flout that order. It is imperative, however, that we maintain the secrecy of the Inner Circle. Do not alert anyone. Do not wake anyone up. Slip out of the house and sneak across the property silently. That is how we do things in the Inner Circle. If you alarm the household or attract the notice of Carlington or the police, we shall disavow you. Most importantly, you must not alert Inspector Ambrose. He believes that the Inner Circle is a lawless and extra-legal organization, and he will not hesitate to arrest you with the least provocation."
"I do want to let you know that Mrs. Patterson has ordered both dogs and patrolling guards on the grounds this evening to deal with intruders, and so you will need to evade them. Should be relatively simple for an aspiring agent of your caliber." Regina sizes you up. "I think we have just enough time for me to demonstrate a secret Inner Circle technique. Something that I suspect will come in handy on this most dangerous mission from which you are quite likely never to return."
"What would you like me to teach you?" She runs through the options, and after careful consideration, you make your choice.
1. A highly uncomfortable and special posture for appearing more polished.
2. A new method of raising a single eyebrow that makes me appear much more clever, even though it is a bit off-putting.
3. A way of being more discreet, and more prone to fading into the background.
4. An ancient technique for sharpening one's senses through meditative focus, which enhances one's moral fiber to a high pitch.
5. A dismissive hand gesture which can serve as an effective rhetorical flourish in an argument, but which can be less than conducive to having a productive discussion.
6. A way of summoning up repressed rage, tuning out the rest of the world, and channeling that anger into a single extraordinary physical action.
3 Hopefully it will make us less suspicious
3. Pennyworth does need to acquire a bit more stealth and avoid raising any more suspicion.
A way of being more discreet, and more prone to fading into the background.
"You simply look off into the middle distance like this," she says, letting her face go totally neutral and keeping very still. "Watch me closely."
You startle as you realize that you have gotten bored listening to her and tuned her out entirely as you examined one of the creeping vines. You refocus on her.
"It has its pros and cons," she admits. "But I find it an effective technique even it can make one a bit boring if overused."
"Thank you," you say, stifling a yawn.
"I hope that helps you," says Regina. "You will need to use every bit of skill you can muster if you hope to be successful on this most desperate mission. Now go ahead. Do your best to sneak downstairs and make your way to the garage without alerting anyone."
Trying your very best to be silent, you descend from the tower garden. You quietly skulk across the hall, where snores and deep breathing audible through the bedroom doors clearly indicate that most of the guests are sound asleep. Creeping down the main staircase to the first floor, ever so slowly, you are faced with a significant challenge: the squeaky steps. You recall that there are three steps that have a pronounced squeak in them. You and Rory have likened them to the mating call of a seal singing in falsetto, and you stand by that analogy. While one gets used to the squeaks by day, by night one runs the risk of stirring the guests. Notably, you do not wish to awaken Inspector Ambrose, who might emerge and start asking you awkward questions.
How should you deal with the squeaky steps?
1. I remember quite well which ones they are, and I step carefully over them.
2. I don't remember which steps are squeaky, so I will simply have to step as lightly as a feather as I descend.
3. I suppose I will have to slide down the banister.
3. It seems bold and daring while also being silent. Pennyworth is decently observant, so he might remember them as well. But 3 sounds more fun.
Option 1- it's less likely to cause noise, though option 3 would be fun too
Berka's desire to ride the fence has deadlocked us utterly.
I suppose I will have to slide down the banister.
You do not make this decision lightly. There is simply no other alternative.
Mounting the banister is the easy part. The difficult part is keeping one's balance and dismounting just before you come into contact with the finial at the end of the banister, which unfortunately is a carved image of Perseus holding a very pointy spear. The business end of the spear, for some reason, points right along your trajectory as you descend the banister.
You slide down, maintaining control and balance, and keeping a wary eye on that spear point. You feel it would be most undignified if, in the morning, you were found impaled on Perseus's spear. People would talk.
There is a crucial question here—perhaps the most crucial decision that you have made or will make on a day filled with decisions. As you descend the banister, picking up speed, your hair whipping back, thinking back to your carefree days as a child, are you able to refrain from shouting, "Whoopee!"?
1. I manage to restrain my exuberance.
2. I say it quietly.
3. I can't help myself. I shout "Whoopee!" with gusto.
A crucial question, indeed.
2. Might as well have some fun with our derring-do. And if anyone catches us, at least we can pretend we rode the banister for the fun of it vs. because we are sneaking downstairs...
I really thought I was going to get outvoted with a swarm of sensible 1's on this one. But I'm glad it was only Mopsie who caught us. She even helped us, and doesn't hate us, which is an achievement in itself.
Also, the banister ride was every bit as contemplative and dramatic as I'd hoped.
I say it quietly.
"Whoopee," you murmur. It just isn't the same, but you suppose it is better than nothing. You ponder, as you slide, how making compromises can be unsatisfying. That when one attempts to split the difference, as it were, one is left hungry for conviction. But, you realize with a sigh, maybe that's what maturity is: realizing that the appetites of the young must be left to childhood, and that one must learn to be satisfied with a bit of pleasure, like a nibble of a fine chocolate, rather than greedily devouring a chocolate bar.
Mopsie, already downstairs, observes you with a curious expression.
At the last moment, you pull yourself out of your thoughts, hop off the banister and onto the floor lightly. It's as easy as that.
Mopsie silently applauds you. "Kudos," she whispers. "That's what I did, too."
Mopsie looks in the mirror, smooths her hair, turns away, and then turns back again to the mirror for one last look before regarding you.
"I'm choosing to be mature about your betrayal," she says.
There doesn't seem to be anything to say to that.
"I am just going out for a brief walk," you say.
"I see," Mopsie says, clearly rather skeptical.
You open the door, which has a large sign on it written by Carlington, the butler. It states that, due to rumors of sneak thievery in the area, nobody is permitted to walk the grounds after ten o'clock in the evening without the express permission of Mrs. Patterson.
"If you're going out, you may as well take the spare key," Mopsie says, motioning to where it hangs on a hook near the door. "The door locks when it closes, and this way you can just let yourself back in after your walk. Not that I care what you do or if you have to sleep all night under a bush, but I don't want you making all sorts of noise when you return, which might alert people and mess up Rory's adventure tonight. I'm counting on him to really impress Aunt Primrose and get my allowance restored."
"And his allowance, too," you say.
"Sure," Mopsie says.
Taking the key, you slip out, onto the grounds. The night is lit by a large full moon, but luckily, it is cloudy, and there are a good deal of shadows to flit between as you make your way across the property to the garage, where Regina told you that Col. Firesnuff will be headed.
Sneaking around is easy, you reflect. Everyone is asleep, and the world is quiet. You even begin to fantasize that you will encounter no problems at all when you hear something alarming.
You turn to see the awful sight of three of Aunt Primrose's hunting hounds, clearly having caught your scent, charging at your position.
This, then, is the situation. You have a mere moment to react. At worst, the hounds may tear you to shreds. But even if they are not in a ferocious mood, if they begin to bay and bark, they will certainly wake up the whole house, and you will be in a very sticky position.
Luckily, you are familiar with a number of common solutions to being pursued by hounds. The easiest solution is to remove an article of your clothing and throw it at them. They will be distracted by the scent and cease pursuit. That, of course, leaves you without some of your clothes, which could prove awkward.
You could raise your arms and roar at them, pretending to be a large predator. That is more difficult to accomplish, but has the advantage of not leaving any of your clothing lying around. Of course, it requires you roaring a bit to accomplish.
Most difficult of all, but most subtle, is you approaching the dogs while crooning at them softly to calm them. This, if done well, will be quite silent. Done poorly…well, it could have bloody results.
What brilliant plan do you choose?
1. I take my scarf off and throw it at them.
2. I roar at them.
3. I approach the dogs, singing and cooing to them.
2. A bit noisy, but hopefully not as bad as continually braying hounds. I don't think Pennyworth is soothing enough to succeed with three. And 1 sounds like a short term gain, long term loss. If the dogs get our scarf, then that's a material object tied to us. And then if the guards get a hold of it, they could sic every dog on us.
Option 2- pretty much agree with everything Camelon said, hopefully our boldness is high enough for this to work
I roar at them.
A quick and frightening roar will do the trick and scare them off. You lift your jacket up over your head to make yourself look as big as possible and advance menacingly on the dogs as they charge you.
You roar sharply once, and once proves to be enough.
The dogs take one look at your commanding presence and come to a halt, skidding slightly on the grass. They put their tails down and whimper, ever so slightly.
"Good dogs," you say to the unsettled pooches. "Now go patrol somewhere else."
They lap at your hand and then bound away, heeding your words without delay. Satisfied, you continue on your way.
Having managed to survive the dogs, you continue along, thankful to be alive.
Just a few minutes later...
Swiftly drawing near are two of Aunt Primrose's servants. The lead servant is holding a flashlight. You recognize him as Fielding, the fellow who challenged you and Figs as you drove up to Ritornello for dinner this evening. The other one is Caithness, one of the gardeners.
They chat as they walk, and Fielding looks back to hear what his companion has to say; thus, they do not immediately notice you. You have just a moment to do something extraordinary, because you very much do not wish to be apprehended out of the house without permission.
You could circle around them and knock them out from behind. It would be somewhat challenging, but they would never see it coming and would probably not be able to cry out if you did it well, but on the other hand, you suppose that two servants lying in the middle of the lawn could lead to some questions if anyone were to stumble upon them.
You could also throw something, to distract them. Then you could sneak away while their backs were turned. It seems a simple enough plan, but it could very well raise the general state of alarm on the property for them to hear unexplained noises.
Finally, you could simply approach them and try to convince them that you are perfectly harmless, an innocent out for a stroll or something like that. That would be rather difficult, you imagine, but if it worked, it would not raise any alarm at all.
1. I knock them out from behind.
2. I throw something to distract them.
3. I approach them and use my silver tongue and charismatic ways to solve this problem.
1. We broke the guy's hand, we can knock him out. Plus, Pennyworth is Savage Wendigo. Admittedly, it will be a problem when they are found - but if there is nothing of ours lying about to link us to it, then perhaps it will be blamed on Light Fingered Lou.
Plus, throwing something they could potentially find and have dogs sniff seems a worse idea. And Pennyworth is lousy at persuasion.
I'd rather persuade, but those stats don't make that look promising. 1
I knock them out from behind.
The first step in knocking people out from behind is to get behind them. Therefore, you crawl on your belly to a position just behind them. Slowly, you work yourself to just the right spot.
"Hey!" says Caithness, and you freeze. Then you realize he is talking to Fielding. "I'm going to the Bear Garden this weekend. You want to come with?"
Fielding snorts. "What, the toy store in Guildford? Couldn't pay me enough."
"I'm just going to see the new line of teddy bears that have come in. The bears have these new outfits."
"Listen, it makes me sick. Let me tell you, when I was a kid…" Fielding begins.
Just one more step, and you'll be precisely where you need to be.
You work your way right behind Fielding and Caithness and strike precisely.
"Oooh," says Caithness, crumpling to the ground.
"What was that? Speak up." Fielding turns around a little faster than you had hoped. "Pennyworth, what are you doing…help!" cries Fielding, as you dispatch him as well with a swift blow. That was unfortunate, but you can't worry about that now. You have a job to do. And maybe he won't remember you when he wakes up.
----- To the Garage -----
The large garage has its door open, and you peek inside the dim space.
At first you think that there is nobody here, but after a minute, you notice, off in the back of the garage, Toynbee the chauffeur, sitting in a chair in the corner of the garage, head slumped to his chest. A well-thumbed copy of the American periodical Weird Tales with an improbably proportioned barbarian on the cover sits on the floor near his hand, and he holds an unlit cigarette in his other hand. He sleeps deeply and noiselessly, clearly having nodded off while waiting to rendezvous with Col. Firesnuff. He sits just behind the old jalopy that belonged to Aunt Primrose's late husband. It is a rather aged, rust-colored vehicle that sits with its bonnet open.
Now, of course, she never uses the jalopy. You look to the center of the garage, where Aunt Primrose's main automobile sits.
The 1931 duPont Model H Merrimac Sport Phaeton, in black, with leather cream-colored interior, dual cowls, and optional soft top installed. It is grace personified. Well, car-sonified. This auto, acquired only recently, is her pride, which she takes on trips to Wimbledon or the seaside to see and be seen. It has four seats and a roomy boot, or "trunk" as Americans amusingly call it. A chauffeur's cap, with a shiny black brim, sits in the middle of the driver's seat.
Regina mentioned that the plan was to pose as the chauffeur, and sticking to plans has its virtues. On the other hand, she did say that you had the authority to make tough calls. You ponder whether posing as the chauffeur will prove the best strategy, or whether there is some other, better way to do get this done.
1. I slide into the driver's seat and put the chauffeur's cap on.
2. I open the boot of the car and conceal myself therein, leaving it slightly ajar.
3. I wait until they depart, and then I borrow the old jalopy and follow them.
2. Firesnuff is decently observant (caught that the paper we were holding was wet) and he doesn't like us much.
I don't think Pennyworth has the knowledge to fix the jalopy if it breaks down, either.
I open the boot of the car and conceal myself therein, leaving it slightly ajar.
You get into the boot, admiring the ample storage space, and nestle yourself between a blanket and some assorted car repair materials. You leave the boot slightly open for air, and then you wait.
"Now then, now then," comes a familiar voice. "Let's get a move on. Toynbee! Toynbee!" Col. Firesnuff bellows. You can see a bit of him from your hiding space. He is fiddling with his briefcase—perhaps putting something in it, but you cannot tell what, annoyingly enough.
You hear the sound of Toynbee startling awake. "Sorry, sir!" he says. Toynbee was an infantryman in the war and returned with a distinctive slurring speech impediment, which makes it difficult for you to hear what he says to the colonel. Whatever he says makes Colonel Firesnuff chuckle a bit and say, "Don't you worry, Toynbee. After tonight, you won't have to worry about that. You can trust me there."
You feel them both get in the car and slam the doors. Toynbee is a bit of a speedy driver, and you are jounced around the boot quite a bit as Toynbee pulls away from the garage.
Then the car stops. You've only been driving for a minute. You can't even be off the grounds of Ritornello yet.
"I'm just going to check, Toynbee. No, no, you stay there. I just hear something rolling around in the boot. It's annoying. Probably some unnecessary tool or other."
What do you do?
1. I hide under the blanket.
2. I say, trying to mimic Toynbee's voice, "No need, Colonel!"
3. I close the boot and hold it closed.
3 of course.
3 is pretty much the only option that isn't going to immediately fail. We'll have to figure out how to get it open again, or trust Regina's contact to free us, but we are at least delaying our doom.
3 I suppose:/ Hope he doesn't shoot the car or anything like that
Option 3- seems to be the only one that might work.
I close the boot and hold it closed.
You close the boot as Col. Firesnuff emerges from the car.
"Now, let me see here, he says. "Just flick this lever and…"
You resist his tugging, and the boot remains firmly closed.
"Hmmm!" he grunts. "It's stuck, Toynbee. Probably defective. Made overseas, you know. I don't much care for that. Shoddy workmanship. Rusted shut, no doubt. Well, nothing to be done."
He gets back into the car, harrumphing all the while about factory workers. They begin to drive again.
As the car passes out of the gates of Ritornello, and onto the open roads of Woodland Centre, the car begins to seriously speed up, and you are jounced around the boot as Toynbee takes curves at outrageously high speeds.
Finally, the car parks, and you hear Col. Firesnuff get out. It sounds like Toynbee has left the car as well.
You made it. You open the boot. Or rather, you try to. It doesn't seem to open from the inside.
It is very dark, and suddenly rather airless in here. You are supposed to be doing important surveillance in Miavaldi Manor, and it strikes you that you can't do that efficiently from in here.
1. I bang and scream a lot.
2. I try to break the lock from the inside, as difficult as that will be from the inside.
3. I try to wait patiently, hoping that the 'asset' that Regina promised would be here will realize that you need help.
2. Hopefully its more an observe/strength check than an intelligence one. Besides, if Regina's asset will be along she would still come if we fail.
Also, our clothes are going to be a wreck.
I try to break the lock from the inside, as difficult as that will be from the inside.
You grab the wrench and try to pry off the lock mechanism. It is quite hard to do in the dark, but you finally manage to break something, and the boot cover opens, letting in some air. You step out, thankfully, taking a deep breath. "Over here," comes a soft voice from the shadows. You look carefully, and see a small, dark shape lurking near the car.
1. "Come out here where I can see you."
2. "Who are you?"
3. I say nothing, but I approach the shape.
3. This is likely our contact, so why be rude or redundant?
I say nothing, but I approach the shape.
"Very trusting," says the voice, as you approach. "That's going to get you in trouble someday." The moon breaks forth from some clouds, illuminating her.
A girl, about twelve years old, you would guess, stands before you. She wears a plain, dark dress with a cameo at her throat. She wears roller skates, and her roller skate key hangs on a delicate chain attached to her waist. But what you notice most of all is her white hair, cut in a pageboy style. To complete the outfit, she wears what appear to be darkened glasses, of the sort one associates with Hollywood stars at the beach.
"I'm supposed to help you, Savage Wendigo," she says. "I'm Trina Wilhelmina. You know my Aunt Regina. She phoned me and told me to come here and see to it that you had the support you needed. I know the briefing."
She puts her hands on her hips and looks at you with supreme seriousness and poise, eyes sweeping over the currently rather untidy state of your clothing.
"Regina didn't mention that I'd be meeting her niece. Are you a member of the Inner Circle of the Cadbury Club?" you say.
"Hardly. I'm not old enough. But I am the founding member and president of the Cadbury Club Irregulars, a highly secretive organization whose sole purpose is to train people to one day want to join. So far it's just me and my friend Rebecca Macintosh, but she is far more enamored of going to the picture show of late. But we needn't talk about her. At any rate, I am required to exchange codenames with you. I go by the code name Pixie, but I will end you if you call me that. Just call me Trina."
1. "I don't understand why Regina would send me a child. This is a serious and probably dangerous mission."
2. I laugh. "I like your moxie."
3. "Glad to make your acquaintance, Pixie."
4. "Good. I could use a competent partner. Let's break into this house."
2. Possibly 4, but 2 sounds more interesting. And hopefully we get a chance to freshen up before entering.
I laugh. "I like your moxie."
She narrows her eyes at you. "Was that sarcastic?"
"Not at all."
She fidgets with the roller skate key at her waist. "It better not have been."
She points towards the house. "So this very unpleasant Colonel Firesnuff person is in there already, and he has some sort of briefcase with something nasty in it. Something that my aunt said has the potential for great devastation. Is it…a weapon?"
"Your guess is as good as mine," you say.
She shrugs and then screws up her face in thought. "There was one thing I really wanted to ask you. Oh, right! When you get captured, I mean, if you get captured, what do you want me to do? I find it's sort of something that happens a lot."
"I don't intend to get captured," you say.
"People rarely intend to get captured," she says. "I was doing a scouting mission on one of the river islands the other day with a former partner, where there is a wild gang of youths who follow a charismatic baker. They call themselves the 'Ragamuffins.' Highly dangerous. My partner was caught by one of their patrols. Like I said, you never expect it. She's gone now. So I want to know what you want me to do."
"If I get captured, you should…"
1. "…fight tooth and nail to rescue me."
2. "…flee and save yourself at all costs."
3. "…hide and wait for an opportunity to help me."
Option 3- it makes the most amount of sense strategy wise, as option 1 is likely to get them both captured and option 2 would mean wasting a potential source of help.
3. 1 seems like it could backfire and raise suspicion, while 3 seems to be ignoring a potential resource,
"…hide and wait for an opportunity to help me."
"That sounds like the least glorious option of all. No fighting, and no running at top speed while being pursued by foes. Just stuffing myself into a broom closet. You know this is the choice they always pick."
"My past temporary teammates. I've been assigned numerous times to help out with prospective Inner Circle members, like you. They always want me to hide and wait."
"How have they fared? Did any make it into the Inner Circle?"
"Not yet," she says. "I haven't much cared for any of my past matches, so far. Although I like what I've seen of you so far. Hiding in a car boot...excellent. Top notch. Come on. Let's break in."
Trina motions to the house with a quick jerk of her head. A tuxedoed man, roughly the size and demeanor of a brutal silverback gorilla, stands in front of the door. He questions would-be entrants to the mansion with an air that tells you that when it comes to security, he means business.
"I've been watching him for a while. Guests seem to have invitations, and that lummox is collecting them. So here's what I'm thinking. I'll go over to him and talk to him and steal two invitations from his pocket. Then you join me, and we can walk in without fear."
"You can do that?"
"I think so. I can be kind of sneaky."
You look at the small Trina and then you look at the brutish fellow, cracking his knuckles. It…seems dangerous.
1. "All right, we'll go with your plan. Good luck."
2. "I like the idea, but I'll do it. You wait here."
3. "Let's double-team. I'll talk to him; you steal the invitations."
4. "Let's double team. You talk to him, I'll steal the invitations."
1. 4 is tempting, but I'm not quite sure Pennyworth is up to swiping invites. He definitely isn't up to talking, unless it's picking a fight.
I *think* the worst that could happen is he shoes her away. Regardless, let's show some confidence in her skill (in hopes she has it) and not implicate ourselves if things go wrong.
Oh, I forgot you chose this adventure too. In case it's not obvious, there are three chapter six adventures you can have—this one, doing Mopsie's plan, and the one you have if you do neither.
"All right, we'll go with your plan. Good luck."
Trina actually jumps for joy, tricky in roller skates. "Here I go. Wait here."
She skates over to the stairs, and then shucks them off, holding the skates over her shoulder as she approaches the brawny bouncer.
From your distant perspective, it is as good as a pantomime show. She cajoles him, wheedles, asks a question, and then points to the chimney of the house.
When he turns to see what she is pointing to, she lifts two invitations from his back pocket, and then puts her hands behind his back when he turns around.
She's pretty good, you realize.
But the bouncer is no slouch, either, and you can see that he is starting to piece together that not all is at it appears. You'd better get moving.
You trot up the stairs and accept the stolen invitations that Trina passes you, and then you hand them, with a flourish, to the bouncer.
"I think you'll find everything is in order," you say.
"Yeah, but I don't remember no little kid invited."
"Well, I am invited," Trina says.
He makes an confused and guttural sound as he takes a long look at Trina. Then he capitulates, and lets you past. You both brush past him, and into the house, and he can't figure out why he ought to stop you.
Trina looks pretty pleased with herself as you enter the house.
The house you and Trina enter is filled with the sound of brisk music, laughter, the tinkling of cocktail glasses, and the low buzz of dozens of people having sophisticated conversations. A cocktail party is clearly in full swing, you note, as you look into the ballroom off the foyer. Guests in black tie and colorful cocktail dresses with lots of fringe and sequins sashay across the middle of the ballroom while exhausted-looking liveried servants holding trays of asparagus in puff pastry and miniature quiches weave their way around the perimeter of the dazzling ballroom.
Guests flow between the foyer and the ballroom, and between the ballroom and the parlor for more intimate, quieter conversation.
But what immediately arrests your attention is a desk in an alcove in the ballroom.
You nudge Trina and motion to it. "What is it?" she says.
"Can't you see it?"
"Uh, not yet. Brighter in here. Give me a second," she says.
Sitting at the desk, fingertips lightly drumming against each other, is a portly gentleman wearing a blood-red tie and a blood-red cummerbund. A goon holding a thick book, with an obviously concealed firearm in a shoulder holster, stands at his side. Col. Firesnuff is nowhere in sight, but his briefcase sits on the desk, unopened.
All the energy of the room seems to swirl around the man at the desk.
He is speaking to a desperate-looking man and woman, who seem to be imploring the portly gentleman urgently. He hears them out, and then dismisses them with a slight tilt of his hand. They walk away, weeping, and holding each other for comfort.
"Dr. X is not in a good mood," says a tipsy woman sitting at a table nearby, motioning with her martini glass to the portly gentleman. "I wouldn't want to ask him for a favor tonight." The portly gentleman rests his hands on the briefcase as an elderly, pinched-looking woman sits at the desk across from him and begins to speak. You see now that there is something of a line of people waiting to talk to him, all of them looking quite anxious.
"Is that Dr. X?" you say.
"Oh yes," she says. "And that's Joey Knuckles, with the book, next to him." She shivers. "Say, if you see one of those servers, tell them to send around some more of those cucumber sandwiches, would you, and another double martooni."
"What's the plan?" Trina says, removing her dark glasses for a moment to rub her eyes. As she does, you glimpse her pinkish irises; she squints against the lights in the ballroom and replaces her glasses with a satisfied noise. "How do we get that briefcase if it's on Dr. X's desk, there?"
You think for a moment. Although there's a festive atmosphere, there's a certain tension in the air as well. Something big is about to happen. But not quite yet, as Dr. X seems deep in negotiations with the elderly woman. You have a bit of time to gather information before trying to get that briefcase.
It seems to you that there are four main avenues of investigation. The servers here seem shorthanded, and you can tell that most of them are hired help from a caterer. You could probably pass yourself off as one of them and eavesdrop on the guests under the guise of serving. That could be a good way to learn more about Dr. X.
You could search for Col. Firesnuff—he must be around here—and try to talk to him directly. Maybe you could get some crucial information from him about the nature of the contents of the briefcase—although it could be risky for you to reveal your presence here.
Riskiest of all, perhaps, would be trying to eavesdrop on Dr. X himself, by lingering around his desk. You very much would not want to be caught, but perhaps you could gain valuable intelligence or learn more about what's going on here.
Finally, you could snoop around the house, looking for useful hiding places, alternative exits in case you need to make a quick getaway, and incriminating clues.
You can't do it all, however. You figure that you will have time to do one of these things, and then Trina can do another.
1. I will search for Col. Firesnuff.
2. I will help the servers and chat with the guests.
3. I will eavesdrop on Dr. X.
4. I will snoop around the house.
Our boy is not built for stealth... 2 is probably our best bet
2. It will allow us to change out of our dishelved clothes, and our butler skills should make us a good server.
I will help the servers and chat with the guests.
"I'm going to see if I can take on the persona of one of the servers here and listen in on the guests as I serve them."
"Pretty clever," Trina says. "What should I do?"
1. "You eavesdrop on Dr. X."
2. "You snoop around the house and see what you can find."
3. "You try to find Col. Firesnuff and see what he knows."
2. does seem best. We don't know how Firesnuff might react to a child hovering around, or even the guests in general. She won't exactly blend in. But if she gets caught exploring, her excuses (lost, restroom, visiting grandkid, etc.) are more likely to be bought since she's a kid. And if that doesn't work, she can clobber people with her skates and hope they are too embarassed about being beaten by a little girl to mention it.
Option 2- option 1 seems really dangerous, and option 3 seems really unpredictable.
"You snoop around the house and see what you can find."
"Will do. I'm reasonably good at snooping."
She roller-skates off.
You approach one of the servers and nod respectfully. "I'm supposed to help out, but I'm not quite dressed for…"
"Thank heaven," the slender young man says, shoving a half-full tray of tiny fruit tortes at you. "When Zeinrich called in sick, I didn't know how we would do it. It took you long enough to get here. Don't worry about the clothes. Just circulate and pick up new trays from the kitchen. These folks are voracious."
You hoist the tray and make yourself available to the guests. You proffer the tray, and the guests help themselves to several at a time as if they have never seen food before. One of the guests wraps a torte in a napkin and stuffs it into her pocket. Although they are engaged in general conversation, their mood is tense, even slightly combative towards each other, as if an argument may break out at any moment.
They are all aggressively, almost violently, debating current trends in literature and trading hostile anecdotes about people you don't know, and so you make an attempt to gently nudge the conversation as you work your way through the party, while still retaining your demeanor of elegant service, so as not to alarm them.
You circulate around the party, trying to spread goodwill and cheer in your inimitable manner, but receive only dark looks and instructions to fetch forth miniature coconut custard tarts posthaste.
But you make an attempt to gather information, regardless. "So, this is certainly among Dr. X's finest parties, wouldn't you agree?" you ask a fellow with a teal jacket and a nose that looks like it has been broken several times.
"What's it to you?" he asks.
"I am merely observing."
"Well, observe this," he says, stepping closer to you.
A flushed woman holds him back. "Leave it be, Floyd," she says, looking at you with great suspicion. "You should know that we're in no mood to talk. Obviously."
"Obviously," you repeat, nodding. There doesn't seem to be much to say after that, and, with the nagging feeling that there is deep context here that you are missing, you go to find Trina.
The line of people waiting to speak to Dr. X has diminished somewhat, and Trina is nowhere to be seen. Maybe she's looking for you, or maybe she is sneaking around somewhere. You think you may have time to investigate further before trying to speak to Dr. X—or maybe it would be wiser to wait here.
1. I'll just wait here for Trina to find me.
2. I'll see if I can eavesdrop on Dr. X and see what he is talking about with those people.
3. I will try to locate Col. Firesnuff.
Gah, I thought for sure this would get us a change of clothes.
And I guess I will go with 1. If Pennyworth can't even talk to the guests without raising suspicion, hovering isn't going to work - though Pennyworth can hear at long distances, so maybe it would. And our relationship with Firesnuff is not great. (Although, maybe we can threaten him and start a fight...)
Hopefully, we'll get another chance to contribute, otherwise Trina is pretty much doing this mission on her own.
Option 1- our suspicion stat is so high that we'd probably get noticed if we tried to eavesdrop, and our relationship with Firesnuff is really poor as well, so I guess 1 is the option remaining. Though I do feel a little guilty that Trina is doing all the work.
I'll just wait here for Trina to find me.
It would be safest at this point to wait here and share information with Trina. You stand in an unobtrusive corner and wait for several minutes. Then you feel her tug on your sleeve.
"I'm back," she says.
"How did it go?" Trina asks you. "I brought you a tiny éclair. I had three already." She wipes the corner of her mouth.
1. "Thanks. That looks good."
2. "I'm not a tremendous fan of choux pastry."
3. "You can have it."
I'm tempted to say three, because pastry crumbs. But what if she's actually being a pretty smart actress and has hid a clue in the pastry, or the pastry itself is the clue?
So, despite the risk of getting even messier than we are, 3. Because clues are delicious.
Checking to see if you actually meant 3, because your explanation sounds like you want 1.
Good catch! 1.
1. At the very least I want to befriend this ally who seems to know whats up
"Thanks. That looks good."
"I really brought you two, but I ate the other one." She regretfully parts with the mini éclair, and you taste it. It's very good indeed, creamy and chocolaty. It feels like a good reward for your efforts so far.
You quickly explain to Trina, as she wipes her mouth with her handkerchief, what you have discovered. This does not take you very long, as, alas, you have discovered nothing.
Trina looks at you for a while, possibly waiting for you to reveal that you are just joking with her, but when she realizes that you are quite serious, she lifts her eyebrows in dismay.
"Most unfortunate," she says. She bites at her cuticle briefly.
"What did you learn?" you ask.
"Oh, I found something really good," she says. "I found a way out of the house that's really poorly guarded. There's one man in a chair snoozing right in the back of the house." She describes where, excitedly. "There are patrols all around the house. I don't think it will be easy to get out the way we came in. But we can get out the back door."
"That's great, Trina."
"Well, it was great until one of the patrols spotted me. I think. He was yelling, 'Come back here.' But he never found me. I hid under a bed for a while. Then I snuck down here."
You file this information away. You look up. Dr. X has finally finished speaking to the people come to pay him court, and he picks up Col. Firesnuff's briefcase. If you are ever going to intercede, now is the time.
"Are you…going to talk to him?" Trina says.
"It's worth a shot. Maybe I can trick him into giving it to me."
"Are you confident?"
1. "Not in the slightest."
This depends on the type of trick, hmm. An abrasive bluster? Sure. A nuanced con? Not a chance.
Well, might as well go for it. We've come this far. And Pennyworth is confident, even when he shouldn't be.
"That's what I hoped to hear. Good luck. I'll be lurking around if you need me." She slips her hand into yours and shakes it solemnly.
You walk up to the imposing desk, moving through the partygoers with purpose. Dr. X notices your approach and places the briefcase back down on the table with a sigh.
You sit down at the desk across from Dr. X, who is caressing the briefcase gently with one hand.
"To whom do I have the pleasure of speaking?" says Dr. X in a gentle, silky voice. "If you please. I like to know with whom I am going to do business."
1. "I am Pennyworth."
2. "Call me Savage Wendigo."
3. "I'm Professor Hickory."
cannot select--> "I'm Smythe. Jonathan Smythe."
"I am Pennyworth."
"Pleased to meet you, Pennyworth. What is on your mind this evening, such that you felt you had to intrude on my private party?"
"It was necessary," you say.
He leans back, trying to size you up. "What exactly do you want from me?"
1. I try to pass myself off as a possible recruit for his organization.
2. I threaten him and demand the briefcase.
3. I pretend to be a reporter who wants to write a profile of Dr. X.
2. Go bold or go home, that's Savage Wendigo's motto.
Well, we're bold and abrasive soooo. 2 it is. Lord have mercy on poor Pennyworth's soul
I threaten him and demand the briefcase.
"Listen to me, and listen well, Dr. X. Hand over that briefcase at once."
"The briefcase? Why?"
1. "…I know what sort of establishment this is, and I won't hesitate to speak openly about it."
2. "…otherwise, I will not hesitate to use these." I show him my fists.
3. "…because I know all about you know what."
Hmm. Pennyworth isn't a great bluffer. And would Dr. X be intimidated by a mere threat of violence when he probably has bodyguards?
Also, Dr. X. took that request pretty calmly.
2 or 3, hmm. I guess I will go with 2. It's absurd, but this whole mission is and Pennyworth has come up empty so far.
"…because I know all about you know what."
"I know what?" he says. "What is the thing you know that I know?"
"You know," you say.
"What could that mean?" Dr. X turns to Joey Knuckles. "Is it a riddle?"
"I have no idea," Joey Knuckles says.
"You know. Try to think," you try desperately.
"Do you mean…?" He winks at you.
"…yes?" You say.
"I see, I see. Well, that's interesting."
"Not shocking, though," Joey Knuckles says.
"But I hardly see how the surprise opera cake that I've ordered for dessert tonight relates to the briefcase," he says. "And I can't imagine how you know of it." He shrugs. "You confuse me, Pennyworth. I'm not sure what to make of you."
Dr. X leans back, contemplating. "Your brashness amuses me to a certain extent. I must admit that I am curious to see what you would say about this." He motions to the briefcase. "You seem as though you would speak truth to me."
He holds the briefcase, as if weighing it.
"You seem plausible enough," he says, half to himself. "I almost want to confide in you. What do you think, Joey Knuckles?"
"Yeah. Possibly. Hard to say." Joey Knuckles moves a bit to examine your profile.
There is a long pause here, and finally he shakes his head and hands the briefcase to Joey Knuckles. "I've made up my mind. It's too risky. I've got a funny feeling about this."
"It's makin' my gut all squirmy-like," says Joey Knuckles. "I agree with you, Dr. X."
"I think we shall conclude this conversation for now. Please feel free to make an appointment with me early next week if you would like to continue this fascinating discussion."
It is with a heavy heart that you walk away from Dr. X and Joey Knuckles and find Trina back in one of the darker corners of the ballroom.
"Nothing? No briefcase? Well, now what?" Trina asks, looking around. She is holding a chocolate croissant, but she sticks the half-eaten pastry in her pocket and dusts the crumbs off her hand.
"We'll just have to grab it," you say. "I don't know if there's any other option."
"I can do it," Trina says. "While you make a serious diversion. Or maybe we could…do you have any elephant tranquilizer?"
As you mull over your options, Dr. X taps on his wineglass. A lull falls over the din of the party. "As you all know," he says. "We are honoring a remarkable woman tonight, Miss Diana Fogwest, who, sadly, is no longer with us. Miss Fogwest made such a tremendous contribution to our organization. To our family."
You smile knowingly at Trina, realizing that you have the perfect diversion at hand. "Get ready," you whisper to her.
"I'd like to propose a toast in honor of Diana Fogwest," you call out, standing on a chair and motioning for Trina to work her way behind Dr. X's table and grab the briefcase.
All eyes turn to you, including those of Dr. X, who seems nonplussed by your interruption.
You clear your throat. All you have to do is hold everyone's attention for just a minute or so.
1. I start with a highly inappropriate and off-color joke, which will be perceived as most scandalous, but which will provide a lot of distraction.
2. I start with some safe and general welcoming remarks, trusting to everyone's sense of dignity and decorum to pay attention to me.
3. I make up some highly dramatic and clever stories about this Diana Fogwest's achievements to amuse, and possibly bewilder, everyone. Risky, but potentially very effective.
Considering how dishevled and suspucious Pennyworth is right now, I'm not sure 2 will work. And I'm not sure he can bluff enough for 3.
So, I guess that leaves 1.
I'm gonna try 3. I don't know if it will work, but it feels more in character somehow.
Do you know this from experience:p
I make up some highly dramatic and clever stories about this Diana Fogwest's achievements to amuse, and possibly bewilder, everyone. Risky, but potentially very effective.
You stay silent for a moment to build up suspense and look around at everyone. "What most people don't know about Diana Fogwest is that she was secretly an Olympic-level athlete. A shot-putter. She didn't like to talk about it, but she won a number of gold medals whilst in disguise. But that is not the only thing that Diana accomplished in her long life. She mastered seventeen languages, and not just the marquee-level ones, like French and Spanish, which for a polyglot like Diana Fogwest was mother's milk. I'm talking about the really tough nuts to crack, like Ancient Gothic and those squiggly hieroglyphs. She wrote her memoirs in hieroglyphs, in fact. You know hieroglyphs. There's the hawk, and the eye, and that other bird, what is it? The ibis."
You think you are losing them. Someone coughs, and then coughs again.
"Let me think. Did I mention the shot-putting?"
"Thank you," says Dr. X, banging on his glass loudly. "Thank you for your unique contribution. If everyone could kindly give me the courtesy of your attention."
Oh no. This is terrible. Everyone turns away from you and looks up at Dr. X, and Trina is forced to leap back into the shadows, further away from her goal than before.
You are going to need to continue speaking to allow Trina to work her magic.
1. I reveal a shocking and gory secret about Diana Fogwest's tragic death, trusting in my personal magnetism to draw their attention.
2. I scold everyone about how they could have prevented her death, trying to make everyone angry enough to direct all the attention to me.
3. I quietly note that though she is gone, her memory lives on as long as we speak of her, which should be a pretty safe thing to conclude with.
Option 2, I guess- Pennyworth is hardly magnetic and likable, and he would never play it safe. Seeing as he has caused an argument with Firesnuff before, he could probably cause a massive argument here as well.
2. Everyone is suspicious and annoyed with him, anyway.
I scold everyone about how they could have prevented her death, trying to make everyone angry enough to direct all the attention to me.
You look around with mock fury. "We all failed Diana Fogwest. You…and you…and especially you." You point at various people around the room. "And I failed her as well. We were supposed to take care of her, to be her shelter from the storm of this life. We have failed. And the world mourns her loss. I am ashamed at all of us. Have we learned nothing? Are we so petty that we could not see her for what she was—the best, the noblest of us?"
Everyone looks at you with anger and horror, which is exactly what you wanted.
"Shame! Shame!" someone cries.
"Boo! Boo! Scandal! Outrage!"
"You should boo yourselves!" you say, with a scornful air. "You are the true boo-recipients here, not I."
You get down from the chair, and step back. You just hope that was enough to help Trina.
"I…I'm not sure what that was all about," says Dr. X, lifting his glass again. "I merely wanted to wish Diana Fogwest a happy retirement. Congratulations on forty years, Diana."
A mild-looking woman stands briefly to accept some applause, although she looks rather unsettled by your toast.
You feel an urgent tap on your shoulder. "I've got it," she says, holding the briefcase, but also looking a bit woozy. "Joey Knuckles nearly saw me as I grabbed it, and I tripped as I jumped back behind a curtain. I hit my head on a pilaster, but I got it." You can see a small gash in Trina's head now. She'll have a nasty scar there.
She rubs her head. "Ouch. But quick, Pennyworth. Joey Knuckles knows something is going on. It's only a matter of moments before he notices the briefcase is gone."
You look up. Dr. X has everyone's attention; Joey Knuckles is scratching his head and looking at the curtain behind the table where Trina was just a moment ago.
"Now let's get this open," you say. "There's no telling what we'll find."
"Aren't we supposed to destroy it?" she says. "I thought that's what Aunt Regina told me the mission was. I have a getaway vehicle stashed next to the root cellar entrance outside the house, by the way. To the right of the house as you face it. We should toss this in the fireplace and then get out of here."
"We…could do that," you say.
"We're supposed to do that. Give it to me. I'll chuck it right in the fireplace in the music room next-door. There's a nice roaring fire in there, and everyone in there is quite drunk. You go to the getaway vehicle, I'll come running out of the house, and we leave together, gloriously victorious."
1. "All right, go ahead and burn it. I'll meet you at the side of the house."
2. "No, I want to open it and see what's inside first."
3. "I will take care of it. You meet me outside and be ready to pick me up."
Aww, our reknown stat decreased. I was proud of that. Invite decreased, too, so maybe it would be better to stick to the plan than to be curious. But I am curious, so, I will have to ponder this.
3. I don't think we're capable of doing so, but she also has a head wound and I don't know if the child with the head injury should be put in the tough spot.
Changing vote to 1. She's probably faster due to the skates, if needed, and she knows the way to the exit better. Yes, she told us, but we might get delayed or turned around.
"All right, go ahead and burn it. I'll meet you at the side of the house."
"Oh boy. I love burning things."
"That is very disturbing, Trina."
"And don't forget about the back door. That seems like the best way out."
"I know, I know."
Trina gives you a thumbs-up, and, taking the briefcase, crosses the ballroom, heading to the adjacent room with the roaring and largely unattended fire.
You slip out of the ballroom, across the foyer, and past the brutish fellow who greeted you when you entered. You nod to him, and he grunts back at you.
Then you make your way around the side of the house near the root cellar entrance. It is rather dark here, the moonlight only grudgingly making its way to the earth through fast-moving clouds; at first you worry that Trina has let you down, that there is no escape vehicle here.
After a moment of anxious searching, however, you discover, leaning against a tree, a red bicycle with red and blue streamers coming out of the handles, a basket with artificial poppies in it, and a little bell.
You stand there for a moment, considering it, when Trina comes tearing out of the house, several angry people in pursuit.
"Stop her! Stop her! Thief! Vandal! Arsonist!" they cry.
"I've got a bit of a lead," Trina says, panting. "What are you doing standing there? Get on! Pedal!"
You get astride the bike, which is somewhat too small for you, and Trina sits on the handlebars. Your knees are much closer to your ears than you would prefer as you pedal away, craning your neck to try and see past Trina.
"Into the forest," yells Trina. "To the rendezvous point! I'll direct you."
You turn on her bicycle's headlamp and start pedaling madly, Trina bracing herself as you hit a rut in the ground, going around the back of the house.
"Er…there," she says, pointing. "I think."
You hear shouts behind you as you steer through the trees in the darkness, lit only fitfully by the moon and your headlamp. You are being pursued by several people running and biking after you, and you hear the sound of autos in the distance, drawing closer.
Unfortunately, though, you and Trina realize that this is a desperate situation indeed. Trina is having difficulty seeing well enough to guide you. Her head wound isn't helping matters, either, and she touches it, wincing as she does.
"I need to think for a second," she mutters. The light of the moon picks out her profile in silver as she looks around with determination, but her voice is tense.
But a shout just behind you tells you that you do not have much time before your pursuers catch up with you.
How do you save the day while Trina sorts out where you are?
1. I disable the pursuing bicycle by rooting through the bicycle basket and finding something I can use to save the day.
2. I ding the bell aggressively to let them know that I will not be intimidated.
3. I turn off my light, and then silently lift up on the front wheel, do a 180-degree reverse, and then glide into a culvert, hoping that the fellow behind me will pass right by.
Well we know what the bold choice is... 3
3. Definitely 3.
And, poor Trina.
You turn off the light of the bike, evoking a little protest from Trina.
"Hang on," you whisper to her.
"What?" she says.
You then engage the front brake and lift the back wheel into the air. You then reverse the bike before the back wheel comes down, and maneuver into a culvert, where you come a silent stop.
Trina lets go of your head, which she grabbed for support, and you hear your pursuers go past you. It is silent again. You have managed to shake them off.
"Nicely done," she whispers, as you pedal out of the culvert. "That--makes up for a lot."
You continue along, with Trina less distracted by fear of imminent capture.
"We're here," says Trina, after a minute or two of navigating. You come to a stop. It is quiet here, and the night is chilly and still, the only sound the autumn leaves shaking against the cold, and, once, the swooping of some nocturnal bird hunting for prey.
"I had a really fun time tonight," says Trina. "I can't wait to tell Aunt Regina all about it. Maybe sometime we'll work together again."
You smile at her, and then, without warning, she runs at you and gives you a brief hug. "You're nice," she declares, jabbing a finger at you. "I want you to have this."
She holds out a woven friendship bracelet to you.
"Thank you, Trina," you say, putting it on. It is made from an intricate knotting of deep red and amber-colored threads.
Eventually, the headlamps of two motorcycles approach you. A liveried servant in a tuxedo drives one, and he motions you aboard. A lady's maid drives the other, and Trina climbs behind her and hangs on to her back.
"Do you want to say goodbye?" the lady's maid says to Trina.
"Good night, Pennyworth," says Trina.
They ride away swiftly into the night.
"How did it go?" the tuxedoed man says at length, as you and he drive the short distance back up towards Ritornello.
"It went all right, I think," you say.
"Good, good. Hope Trina didn't give you trouble. She's a bit of a pest, if you ask me. Don't know why her aunt lets her go on these things. You're a trooper to put up with her. Only my opinion."
He drives around to the side of Ritornello, behind the house. "I know Ritornello's all sealed up—nobody supposed to go in or out. But I'll give you a boost over the wall."
He parks the bike, and you both walk up to the wall. "Good night, then," he says, and you put your foot in his hand and are heaved unceremoniously over the walls of Ritornello.
Crossing the grounds of Ritornello, you slowly walk towards the house, thinking about the events of the evening—your encounter with the strange Dr. X, the intense Trina Wilhelmina, and the mission as a whole.
The briefcase, and its contents, have been utterly destroyed, for good or for ill, and Regina will be pleased. You stand near the house, your adrenaline just starting to drain away. The moon is so bright, and the trees dance and rustle in the chill autumn wind. You exhale slowly and then prepare to let yourself in with the house key.
"Is someone there?"
You turn to see Inspector Ambrose above you, looking out the window. "Who is making all of that noise outside? I don't mean to say that one is not allowed to make noise outside. I merely wish to see who is skulking about." Swiftly, you take the key, insert it into the lock, and swing open the front door in your haste to get upstairs.
You enter the house just as Inspector Ambrose pads down the creaky stairs in pajamas and soft slippers. "Is someone there? I would expect someone to be here based on all available evidence." He walks right by you, removes his magnifying glass from the pocket of his pajamas, and walks across the hall and into the sitting room. You take the opportunity to run past him, up the stairs and into your room, flinging yourself into bed.
"Who was that?" he calls upstairs. "I must get my notebook. This is obviously a clue. Who was that? Identify yourself at once!"
He listens for a response, and then starts patroling around the house, his footfalls echo through the hall as he seeks to discern who precisely it was who just eluded him.
At length, the sound of Inspector Ambrose's footsteps stop, and at long last, you are able to drift into a much-needed slumber.
*End of Chapter Six*
*Tune In to Chapter Seven a bit later*
Yeah, this playthrough had no front door key hijinks! I was impressed there. Of course, your suspicion is through the roof, so I suspect there may be problems to come...