In the days and weeks that follow, you receive some intriguing letters.
Hello. I am here at Ritornello and I wanted to write to you to tell you I am all right. After everything that happened at the Harvest Festival, I was thinking that you might think I would be desolate. I did cry for a long time until I felt like a sponge that had all of the moisture squoze out of it.
I sit in my room a good deal and write to Figs. Everyone tells me to be patient, so I am being patient. I read a poem once about a woman in a tower who waited ever so long until she floated in a river and her knight love said "tirra lirra" over her sad dead self. But I still think my own poems are better.
So I am here, until something else happens. I think you should come visit me, Pennyworth. Things are more fun when you are about, and I won't make your life much too difficult this time. Please do come.
You put down the letter from Mopsie and then pick up another letter, this one from the Mayor of Woodland Centre.
It has come to my attention, as I have been going through my briefings, that you are a fugitive from justice. I see that someone has bribed someone else or something of the sort, and I did not realize that you are still wanted. You are supposed to be in jail here in Woodland Centre, if I am reading this report correctly. Therefore, I ask that you cease being a fugitive at your earliest convenience, or I shall have to issue forth an official Writ of Warning on my mayoral letterhead, and I shall at that time be rather stern. I am a tough but fair mayor, as I think you will agree.
If you continue to refuse to return to jail after a grace period of, let us say, six to eight weeks, I shall be forced to withhold your commemorative plaque for your victory in the annual boat race. This is no idle threat.
The Mayor of Woodland Centre
False mustache firmly in place, you approach the study of Admiral Nigel Pinnacle, holding a silver tray bearing a seltzer bottle, a highball half filled with ice, and a bottle of fine blended scotch.
Admiral Pinnacle will be retiring from military service this year, and aims to publish his tell-all memoirs, recounting his life and times in high society, including his wayward younger years. Needless to say, the Inner Circle cannot allow him to expose the checkered past of Lady Gertrude Graymalkin, the admiral's onetime lady friend, thus setting off a cascade of linked scandals that would surely devastate England's better sort for decades to come. In short, page fifty-seven of Admiral Pinnacle's handwritten memoirs, about to be sent to his secretary for typing up, must be stolen and replaced with the nearly identical—but stripped of incendiary details—page fifty-seven that you have in the false bottom of the scotch bottle.
You enter the study, just as the admiral rings for a drink.
"Your scotch, sir," you say.
He whips around, perplexed, but gratified. "Thank you, Grimsby. Your mustache is in fine fettle today. As you know, I let nobody but you into my private study. So I am pleased that you have finally learned how to be quick and efficient when I have need of a drink."
What did you do with the real Grimsby?
1. He is dozing in the butler's pantry, courtesy of a drugged bread-and-butter sandwich, which you ensured made it onto his plate at tea.
2. He received a forged note from Admiral Pinnacle telling him that he is needed at the sweet shop the next town over.
3. I have locked him in the wine cellar.
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Soothing: 24% / Abrasive: 76%
Aunt Primrose: 48%
Col. Firesnuff: 23%
Ready Monies: 400
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This is the last bit.
My vote is 1) Effective, bold, hopefully means someone won't be banging on the wine cellar door.
Agree with the others, 1 seems best. Admittedly, he might wake up. But sending someone on a wild goose chase means it's guaranteed they will figure out they've been duped. And locking him in a wine cellar is also likely to lead to noise and him obviously knowing you are up to no good. With 1, he will probably think "I fell asleep" and not "I was drugged and I know who did it!"
He is dozing in the butler's pantry, courtesy of a drugged bread-and-butter sandwich, which you ensured made it onto his plate at tea.
It took some bribes and careful timing, but Grimsby should remain asleep for fifteen minutes more. Just enough time to make the switch.
"How are your memoirs proceeding, if I may ask, sir?" You make his scotch and soda efficiently.
"By turns wonderful and terrible, Grimsby," says Admiral Pinnacle. "That is the nature of creative genius. But I believe my draft is complete. It is ready for the next stage in its apotheosis."
He turns to examine an oil painting on the wall and speaks rhapsodically abut the nature of creative genius some more. This is your chance. You lift page fifty-seven from the manuscript on his desk, swap it with the lightly revised version, and square the corners of the stack of papers before he turns around.
"What do you have behind your back, Grimsby?" says Admiral Pinnacle, spinning around. You step backwards, towards the window, the offending page behind your back.
1. "Nothing, sir. This is merely an arm position that is meant to show respect."
2. "My back, sir?"
3. "It is a personal matter, sir. I would prefer to keep my hands behind my back."
"Sir, I apologize for the hasty exist, but I just recalled a personal matter I must attend to post-haste!"
You deftly back towards the window before he can cross to you and tip yourself backwards out of it, trusting your recollection of the layout of the grounds. Your dive is perfect, an elegant spiral that causes a maid looking out the window on the second floor to faint in adoration, and you slip with the barest of splashes into the deep, cold water of the frog pond.
Unfortunately, this ruins your clothes, but the offensive page is ruined. You drag yourself, soaked and covered in algae, to the edge of the pond and clammer up. You ignore the hollering from Admiral Pinnacle above you - no need to concern yourself with that - and sludge off the grounds before the real Grimsby wakes up.
But what are the chances it would be so easy?
"It is a personal matter, sir. I would prefer to keep my hands behind my back."
"I'll bet you would!" he snaps, springing over to you. "Trying to keep me from seeing whatever you have pilfered from me, eh?"
You hold the scandalous page fifty-seven out the window behind your back and allow Trina, who is clinging to the outside of the house just to the side of the window, to grasp it.
You then show the admiral your hands and assume a look of wounded pride. "I am utterly blameless, sir," you say.
He mutters and then—as he is no fool—dashes to the window, looking up, down, and to both sides. You know that Trina must be on the roof by now.
"Well…well…" says Admiral Pinnacle, pulling his head back into his study. "I suppose I owe you an apology."
"Not at all, sir," you say. "If there is nothing else…"
"Yes. Good evening, Grimsby. Again, I am sorry."
You bow and depart.
The escape from the Pinnacle property is slightly more complicated, involving a suspicious elderly pensioner of a neighbor who surmises correctly that you are up to something. A homemade smoke bomb, courtesy of Regina, and some swift pedaling by Trina on her bicycle soon get you back to safety, where you deliver page fifty-seven to Regina. She reads it over grimly, puts it to a candle flame, and then scatters the ashes.
Trina's dark glasses hide her eyes, but not her joy at having succeeded in yet another mission with you, and she hugs herself in delight.
"England can sleep a bit sounder tonight, thanks to you both. Go get some sleep. It's quite late, and there will be much to do tomorrow."
Trina smiles at you. "Well done," she says.
1. "I couldn't have done it without you."
2. "That was easy. I hope we get something more challenging tomorrow."
3. "I did do a spectacular job, didn't I?"
"I couldn't have done it without you."
"I know," she says, and hops off her chair. "My part was the best part. It involved daring. You just made a drink."
"That's not quite true," you say, but you do not press the point.
She roller-skates over to Regina's motorcycle and hops on behind her aunt. You climb into the sidecar. Regina will, as always, drop you off near—but not too near—home.
And so you, Regina, and Trina motor off into the darkness of the night, the world just a little bit safer.
Thanks everyone, for playing through Tally Ho. I've really enjoyed sharing it with you for these three months. It's kept my morale up while I've been working on the sequel to Tally Ho (which just hit the million word mark this week) and which I hope to finish writing in a month. Once Cakes and Ale is done and published, I'll run that game here as well in the second half of next year.
Thank you! Both for making it and allowing us to interact with it here. I only hopped on at the last half, but I love catching up while I'm at work. It's made horrible shifts much more tolerable. Good luck with the sequel and I look forward to seeing more!
Thank you for running this, it's an excellent story and this had a nostalgic Widehouse vibe to it which was great. Pennyworth was very different from the inimitable Jeeves, but he ended up quite amusing in his own right and used his own skills to advantage. I don't think I'd be near as active in the forums if I hadn't been constantly checking for updates to this, either.
I look forward to the sequel!