"How lovely!" says Frankincense. "How wonderful to see you both. I have been looking forward to this day. I hope you haven't all been having fun without me."
"Oh, well," says Rory, making fumbling movements with his hands. "Not at all. Glad you're here and all that."
"I hear that we have some interesting guests to mingle with. An Inspector Ambrose, old Col. Firesnuff, that strange Haze woman and dear Mopsie, naturally. Such a shame about her and Figs, don't you think? It's so sad when true love is thwarted."
"Dftgn," Rory utters incoherently.
"I hear that one of the guests, the esteemed professor of psychology, Clarence Q. Hickory, will not be attending. Isn't that sad? He is, of course, a very brilliant man. I think we could all stand some improving intellectual discourse. There's simply not enough of it these days. But he had some sort of incident down at the train station on the way here, and has decided not to attend after all."
She reaches out and smooths Cinnamon Bun's flank; Rory's horse immediately calms down and even nuzzles Frankincense a bit.
"What do I say?" Rory whispers to you.
1. "Say something loving and sweet to her."
2. "Say that you are looking forward to spending some time with her. Be genial."
3. "Comment upon the weather," I murmur, knowing that Frankincense must surely desire a word of affection from Rory.
Don't reply to this post!
Soothing: 34%/Abrasive: 66%
Aunt Primrose: 36%
Col. Firesnuff: 28%
Ready Monies: 45
Reply to this post.
That's a much worse faux pas than a pea????fowl?. Much appreciated.
Oh heck new chapter. Option 2. Not sure I trust Rory to be sweet.
Which of those birds in the picture is the pea????fowl?
The one in the middle.
....what the hell did the RTE do there with all those question marks?
This is what I get for being too lazy to turn it back off when I no longer need the word counter.
I thought you were being funny and expressing a sort of bewildered contempt.
#2. Rory doesn't seem sure about his own feelings, so something sappy would be out of place. They are engaged, though, so he shouldn't be too formal, either.
#2. Rory seems a bit unsure how he feels himself, and telling him to open with sweet nothings just sounds sappy. There is no reason to be as formal as 3, though, as they are engaged.
I'm guessing Hickory is the man Pennyworth plowed into to get to the train, with the luck Pennyworth is having.
Sounds like it. Good thing he won't be here!
"Say that you are looking forward to spending some time with her. Be genial."
"What should I say? Genial how? All the words are flying out of my head," Rory whispers.
"Say, 'Ah, Frankincense, nice to see you.' That is all you need to say."
"Ah, Frankincense, nice to see you," Rory says.
Frankincense looks at Rory with an air of perplexity. "'Nice to see' me?"
"Well, all right. I feel as if I deserve a bit more of a greeting than one gives the milkman, but I suppose we must warm up to each other. But I think you are teasing me."
"Of course, of course, I am," Rory says.
"I knew it. I don't know that I care much for it, but here we are."
There is an awkward silence.
Rory coughs nervously.
"You know, Rory, I didn't want to be quite so blunt, but I expected nothing less than a kiss. You know that it is permitted. We are engaged."
"Are we? I mean, I know we are. It's just that, ah…rather, that is to say…"
1. "In public, sir? It would be most shocking!" I say.
2. "You have a bit of a cold and a sore throat, and don't wish to infect her," I murmur, knowing that this may irritate Frankincense.
3. "We should get along with the hunt, I think. There will be time for pleasantries later."
4. "Oh, go ahead, sir," I whisper, knowing this may help to unite the two of them.
5. "You wish to prolong the delights of wedded bliss until the time is ripe," you say softly, thinking that you may be able to put Frankincense off with a pretty lie.
Option 4, as long as no one is looking. Otherwise an engaged couple KISSING each other on the MOUTH would be sure to make the most scandalous gossip rag.
Camelon obviously meant to put this here, not in the choice above, so putting this here so I don't forget to tally it:
"#2. Rory doesn't seem sure about his own feelings, so something sappy would be out of place. They are engaged, though, so he shouldn't be too formal, either."
No, actually. The site glitched earlier and seemed to have erased everything but your posts. So I ended up repeating my prior comment. Now that everything seems to be back, it looks like I double posted. I still haven't decided for this one!
I respect your commitment to this plan.
Make your next story here a fanfic about being Alfred Pennyworth for real. It's pretty obvious it would be an instant hit.
I'll throw that on the pile. My back burner is getting pretty crowded.
"You wish to prolong the delights of wedded bliss until the time is ripe," you say softly, thinking that you may be able to put Frankincense off with a pretty lie.
"I wish to prolong the delights of wedded bliss until the…"
"…the time is ripe," you prompt.
"…until the time is right."
"What are the two of you on about?" Frankincense says. "Are you doing some sort of comedy routine? I feel as if you were somehow making fun of me."
"No, not so," Rory says. "Just a bit of poetry. To lighten the mood."
"I don't see why you feel the mood needs lightening just when I arrive," Frankincense says, with the faintest hint of an edge. "But you meant well. That's what counts, I suppose."
The peacocks shriek as if to comment on this emotionally fraught moment.
Frankincense turns from Rory and then gives you a dazzling smile. "Oh, Pennyworth, it has been far too long since you worked for us. But not a day goes by that I don't say, 'Oh, how smooth Pennyworth made life for us!' The estate is positively empty without you. I do miss those special drinks you used to mix, and the way you would polish the silver just so. It's hard to find someone with your sense of detail. We've hired and fired what seem like dozens and dozens since you left. I do wish you hadn't."
As Frankincense talks, your mind wanders back to the day you left the service of the Cygnet-Signet household. Why did you have to leave their service?
1. The butler—correctly—believed that I was stealing.
2. I wanted to live in the city, not the country, and I regretfully tendered my resignation.
3. I found Frankincense too irritating to live with.
4. My natural wanderlust had provoked me to leave.
It's useful to just say you stole shit here, but ***Option 2*** looks like it may give us a culture boost, and we're lacking there.
2. There isn't enough crime in the country to fight.
I wanted to live in the city, not the country, and I regretfully tendered my resignation.
The Cygnet-Signet estate is peaceful and lovely, but you longed for something bigger: the museums, the lending libraries, and the intellectual stimulation of the city, rather than the pretty, but monotonous life of the country.
You enjoyed your time with the Cygnet-Signets, but you made the right decision.
Frankincense's words shake you out of your reverie: "Come, Rory, let us be off. We must catch up with the others. I particularly want to talk to your Aunt Primrose about this hunt. She promised me that it would be a new-style hunt, where no animals are harmed or frightened at all."
"Yes, yes, we'll catch a fox, and put him in a box, and then we'll let him go," Rory quips.
"You laugh, but it is not right. No animal will be put in a box at all." She points to the penned peacocks. "To capture the creatures of nature like this makes me very angry. Yes, I have some very serious discussions to hold with your aunt. I will change her mind. I also brought my own dinner in protest of the dinner she has planned."
"Frankincense has become a vegetarian," Rory explains. "She does not eat beef."
"I do not eat meat at all."
"But surely you eat fish," Rory says.
"Fish is meat," Frankincense says with fire, as Rory looks quizzical.
You look at Frankincense, who looks a touch annoyed.
1. "I too do not partake of meat," I say.
2. "I would vote for fish being meat as well."
3. "I don't know how you are able to resist a lovely rare steak. Wherever do you get your energy from?"
I apologize, but I have been totally failing to track our achievements. Here's what we have so far:
Hospitality: A fine evening for Aunt Primrose, and a generous loan for Rory. (10 points)
All Aboard!: You boarded the train. (10 points)
A Flessing in Disguise: You changed an "F" into a "B." (10 points)
We have three out of seventy-nine achievements.
We must prevent Rory from being a dumb blonde rich person, and educate him about basic facts.
...not sure what vote to count that as.
... When I highlighted Option 2 in order to bold it, I may or may not have looked away and pressed 'e' instead, wondered what that E was doing there, and assumed it was a removable typo and everything else was okay to post.
3- This hippie is nuts. And we should not be a good relationship with him. Rory deserves better than him. Also, we have already eaten meat in the previous chapters
"Also, we have already eaten meat in the previous chapters"
You have not.
Option 2- obviously fish is meat!
"I would vote for fish being meat as well."
"They are more like vegetables of the sea," Rory says. "That's how I always think of it. But have it your own way."
"Thank you, Pennyworth," Frankincense says.
"Aunt Primrose's chef does enjoy steak and coq au vin and so forth; I do hope you will be well provided during your stay here," you say.
"I hope so, too. I provided the chef with a detailed list of instructions and some choice ingredients to make his job a bit easier in accommodating me," Frankincense says.
"I just don't quite understand why you won't eat fish, though. That's the part I don't quite follow," Rory says.
"We have had this conversation several times already, and it is most tiresome. I am a friend to swimming things, flying things, and crawling things. There is no animal for whom I do not feel admiration. Rory here seems to feel I take my convictions too far. You knew me when I was just beginning to get involved in local politics. You know the strength of my convictions. Tell him, Pennyworth, of the strength of my convictions," Frankincense insists.
"I say you take these things just a bit too far," Rory says.
"When we are wed, there will be no meat in my house," Frankincense says. "We will have a healthy, ethical household, without poisons like alcohol or tobacco. They are no good for you, Rory. You are too precious to me."
"F-for me as well?" Rory says.
"You know the strength of my convictions."
"Then let us ride! We have so much to talk about. We have so many plans to make for our wedding, not least of all pinning down a date. I have a number of ideas for a honeymoon as well. What do you think of Venice? So romantic! Let us ride and talk."
Rory looks to you, face flushed. "Come with us," he whispers. "Please. I don't know what's come over me, but I need you to come along."
Seamus, Aunt Primrose's cantankerous and dyspeptic groom, leads out several white horses for you to consider. "Which of these do you want? First, I've got Basket. Basket is fairly gentle. Lovely, curly mane and tail. Good if you don't much know what you're doing—but between you and me, she doesn't much know what she's doing, either. A bit of a dunce, that one. Then I've got Sassy Sunshine. Sassy Sunshine is a headstrong charger. Snorts fire. Good if you can take control of a wild thing of nature. Then you've got Ol' Dun Higginbottom. Ol' Dun Higginbottom is as mean as they come, and you've got to give as good as you get with him."
"Those…are the only choices?"
"Then I'll take…"
2. "…Sassy Sunshine."
3. "…Ol' Dun Higginbottom."
#2. Pennyworth is abrasive enough he should be able to deal with a headstrong horse. *Plus* an uncooperative horse is sort of an excuse to get separated from Rory. But a mean horse might bite the people we are trying to interrogate, so 3 is out.
Frankly, we didn't go through the hard work of developing a whopping 65% boldness just so we could ride an easy horse. We must rise to the challenge and go where no other equine is capable!
Option 2- I'm feeling that option 3 might be a bit too much of a challenge for Pennyworth but he might be able to control Sassy Sunshine? Let's see.
"A fine choice, I'm sure. They say that one's choice of horse says something about one's personality. That's what I hear."
"What are you suggesting?"
"Oh, you know. People who try to ride Sassy Sunshine think of themselves as strong and clever."
"Did you say, 'try to ride'?"
"That's an interesting turn of phrase."
"Well, Sassy Sunshine likes to be in charge, that's all. She needs someone she can respect."
"I see. Hello, Sassy Sunshine."
Sassy Sunshine looks you up and down, then looks away.
"Och, that's not a great sign," Seamus says. "You have to assure her that you are an unquestioned dominant force to be reckoned with."
"Gently," says Frankincense.
"I don't think you can show that you are the unquestioned dominant force to be reckoned with gently," says Rory.
You look Sassy Sunshine in the eyes. It is a test of wills, and there are moments when you think you will surrender. But in the end, Sassy Sunshine grudgingly seems to relent, albeit in a half-hearted manner.
At that moment, Valentine, your trainee, bounces around the corner of the house. "Say, Pennyworth! I'm going to start getting the post-hunt snack together. I've broken some of the delicate stemware. Isn't that the most? I'm a terrible butterfingers sometimes. But it's pretty fun so far. I think I'm doing well. But Carlington says that he's this close to throwing me down a well. Would you come and lend a hand?"
"Yes. Mrs. Patterson has given instruction that we must set out an elegant table with light music. She was most specific. She then said that there would be hell to pay if everything wasn't perfect. I said that I didn't have a tremendous amount of experience at such things, but that I'd ask you. And then she said I could ask whomever I liked, so long as the work got done. She was rather curt about it."
Hm. What should you do?
1. Although I told Regina that I would question the hunters, I will, in fact, search the rooms. Valentine will have to fend for herself for a while.
2. I will go hunting and also judiciously interrogate the hunters as I promised Regina, while Valentine fends for herself.
3. Although I promised Regina that I would question the hunters, Valentine needs my help.
#2. I seem to be picking 2 a lot. Valentine needs fired, not trained, and covering for her messes will just delay the inevitable. Breaking delicate stemware isn't lack of experience, it's lack of basic care. Her flippant and unapologetic attitude towards it is even worse. (Either that, or she's Lou and using 'breaking' them as an excuse for stealing a few.) Fixing what she breaks is not the same as training. Furthermore, Patterson's phrasing is that Valentine may *ask* anyone, not that anyone must heed her. Obviously, Valentine should be asking one of the house servants, not Rory's personal butler.
Interrogating the hunters is also the current plan. Not so much for Regina (who could be Lou herself for all we know) but because Pennyworth must take up the mantle of the world's best detective if no one else will.
I will go hunting and also judiciously interrogate the hunters as I promised Regina, while Valentine fends for herself.
Although Valentine looks at you with pleading eyes, you made a promise to Regina, and Rory obviously needs you.
"I'm sorry, Valentine. Just use your best judgment for now."
"But you'll come help me when you are able?"
"Perhaps," you say, and a glimmer of hope comes over Valentine's face.
"I appreciate it. Really I do," Valentine says.
You accept Sassy Sunshine from Seamus, Aunt Primrose's gnarled and crusty groom, and then set off, along with Rory and Frankincense, to catch up with the rest of the hunting party.
Riding at a good pace, you head to the woods in search of the hunting party.
The hunt is just getting underway; the hounds are keenly on the scent, and Aunt Primrose is excitedly hollering about not letting the fox go to ground.
"Pennyworth!" cries Aunt Primrose, as you arrive. "Good of you to join us."
The hunt has just begun, and will conclude in about two hours and thirty minutes.
What would be the best thing to do now?
1. I join Rory and Frankincense as they hunt together.
2. I ride next to Col. Firesnuff.
3. Haze motions me over to ride along with her.
4. I approach Aunt Primrose and chat with her.
5. My ears may be deceiving me, but I think I heard someone calling my name faintly within the woods. I'll go off by myself and investigate.
6. I'll ride with Mopsie.
7. I'm going to leave the hunt, go to the house, and search people's rooms. (Traveling there takes 10 minutes.)
8. I'm going to leave the hunt and find Valentine. (Traveling there takes 10 minutes.)
#4. Primrose just addressed us, so this might be the best time to approach her - before she really gets into the hunt. Also, she is the central character connecting everyone else so is probably a good starting (And perhaps ending) point to our investigation.
5 also sounds interesting, but maybe we can investigate after we talk to Primrose.
For me, it's not a matter of ignoring her - we'll have to interrogate her at some point, or at least search her room. She's already suspicious on a number of levels - poorly kept outfit, incredibly careless for a servant, seems not to know basic rules or have much common sense for being a maid, passive aggressive if you try to correct her even though she claims to want to work hard and learn, etc. It's more a matter of not deliberately helping her out of her own messes, which at this point isn't going to help train her at all. We can't (shouldn't) be a helicopter mentor, and she also should ask someone more appropriate (e.g. actual staff) to help.
Plus, sneaking off with Valentine hovering and wanting us there to fix everything seems pretty daunting. At least in the hunt we have a headstrong horse as an excuse to wander.
Option 2 is the one I'm most curious about. Well, the one I'm most curious about that seems to be getting any traction. If there really is somebody in the woods calling our name, I'd really like to find out why!
I ride next to Col. Firesnuff.
You approach Col. Firesnuff, who has paused at the side of the trail, arguing with three of the houndsmen about sheep, and whether it is better to have a flock of horned sheep or non-horned sheep. Col. Firesnuff is on the side of the argument that horned sheep are far superior. There is no one on the other side of the argument.
"You!" he cries as you draw near. "What are you doing here?"
"I just wanted to talk to you, Colonel."
"Hmph! I don't know that I have too much to say to you! You ought to be set in the stockade! What cheek on you!"
1. "I wanted to make amends. I didn't mean any harm."
2. "Why don't you quiet down? I have something to say to you."
3. "If that's how you feel, then I won't trouble you. Good day."
2. I don't think they expect to be friends at this point, after all. And Firesnuff might listen, if only in hopes we might be proposing a duel.
Option 2 feels like it'll yield the best result, 3 is basically dipping in and out of the pool which usually doesn't go well. Just caught up on the story, really liking it so far Gower, maybe I'll even purchase the game sometime if I have the money. 600,000 words is very impressive but very daunting, so I want to make sure I'm up for reading all of it.
Ah, thank you. I'll make sure to join once I remember to blow the dust off my age-old steam account.
Option 2- simply because it's better if we interrogate everyone, and by choosing option 3, you're losing a chance to gain information. Also, if we were to choose option 1, Firesnuff wouldn't listen at all, because our relationship with him is that bad. Option 2 is the one that is most likely to work.
Will update in several hours--long day of student meetings and classes.
"Why don't you quiet down? I have something to say to you."
A silence falls upon the houndsmen. "Did you just ask me to 'quiet down'?"
"So you come here and make a show of force to intimidate me, is that it? You want some fisticuffs, is that it? A spot of Marquess of Queensberry?"
"You want to fistfight?"
"God, you have spirit! Calling me out in front of these witnesses, to a fatal duel! Pistols at noon? Sabers at dawn? I would teach you a lesson you wouldn't soon forget! But all right, all right. You wait right there. I am talking to these folks. Perhaps I will find time to give you a proper dressing-down."
You wait for a little while, as Col. Firesnuff rides back and forth in front of the houndsmen talking about whether or not Dorset sheep are avid grazers. He does not seem to be slowing down at all; if anything, he appears to be gathering steam.
What should you do?
1. I will let him finish. It will waste time, but I don't want to risk him blowing up at me for interrupting.
2. I imply to Col. Firesnuff that I have secretive business to present to him and that the safety of the nation may be at stake.
3. I ride over to the houndsmen and slip them some money if they just run off right now. (-15 readies)
The hunt will conclude in about two hours.
3. From the Fless incident we can assume that Pennyworth is a terrible bluffer, so 2 is out even if Firesnuff might be patriotic. #1 makes no sense at this point since we've wasted enough time on him and Pennyworth hardly fears Firesnuff (though perhaps he should.)
At this pace we will doubtfully learn much during the hunt. And if we do end up in a boxing match, that could take another half-hour...
I ride over to the houndsmen and slip them some money if they just run off right now.
You dismount and walk over to the three suffering fellows. "Just run off," you say. "You'll get in some hot water, but this should make it up to you."
You flash some money at them, and their eyes light up for a moment, but then they look to Col. Firesnuff, afraid to defy him.
Finally, the bribe is too much for them, and the lead houndsman snatches the money and then, without a word, runs into the woods. His two compatriots follow him.
"What the devil!" cries Col. Firesnuff. "What on earth is going on?--This is a grave insult, Pennyworth.--You'll lose your jobs over this, I assure you!" He frets for a while, and then turns to you. "Well? You aren't going to run off, are you? That's the problem with the young today. Always running off. I had a young captain in my division who used to run. I don't need to tell you what happened to him."
"No, no need."
"Court-martialed and shot."
"Yes, yes. I need to ask you just a few questions."
"Well, fire away. We don't have all day, you know. Let's ride and talk." You mount Sassy Sunshine and ride alongside the Colonel.
What should your conversation with Col. Firesnuff be about?
1. I discuss the approaching Harvest Festival with him, hoping to learn something to help Aunt Primrose defeat him in competition.
2. I'll try to improve his impression of me by playing up to his ego.
3. I'll confront him, by suggesting that I know his deepest secret.
2. He might let something interesting slip, about him or someone else, if he's bragging.
I'll try to improve his impression of me by playing up to his ego.
"Tell me all about yourself, Colonel," you say. "I am fascinated by your reputation as a gentleman adventurer."
"Well, I don't really care to brag about myself," says Col. Firesnuff. "I prefer to let the dozens of brass plaques put up in my honor in hunting lodges, clubs, and city halls do the bragging for me. I'm sure you know what I mean."
"Of course," you say, not wholly sure how to respond to such an outlandish statement.
Hearing the uncertainty in your tone, Col. Firesnuff questions you closely. "You surely must be familiar with the many honors in my name. I have fame, Pennyworth. Fame is the thing that the ancient Greeks strove for. I fancy myself a sort of modern Achilles."
"I was just thinking that myself," you say. "I was thinking, Colonel Firesnuff—now that's a man whom I would liken to Achilles."
"I have both wit and the ability to fight. That's what young people lack these days. A sound mind in a sound body."
"Yes, indeed," you say. "I cannot help noticing that's what you have. When you speak, everyone notices that your sound mind is housed in a sound body."
"Don't just repeat the thing I said."
"Oh, I'm sorry."
"You should say, 'Oh, Colonel Firesnuff, surely you are more like the valiant Hector,' or you might say, 'Yes, you do cut a dashing figure indeed,' It's just very provoking."
"But I agree with everything you say."
"Of course you do. But you've got to, you know, mix it up a bit. Oh, never mind. I appreciate the sentiment, regardless."
You can see that Col. Firesnuff likes that you seem to admire him, but he doesn't think much of your approach. Ah, well. By the end of the conversation, he does seem to regard you with a slightly friendly affect, and that's for the good.
The hunt's excitement is mounting; the hounds have started to maneuver the fox into more open ground, and it seems that soon it will have nowhere to hide or retreat.
2. I confront Col. Firesnuff with evidence against him.
Option 1, we still have some... "business" with Rory and Frankincense's relationship.
going with Option 6 again
Going to go with option 7, just because we might find some incriminating evidence against someone, which we can use in the interrogation (thinking of Firesnuff in particular here)
5, I guess. If this is the second time Pennyworth is hearing this from two different areas, it's less likely to be imagined.
6, 4, 7, and, 1 also sound interesting, we'll see how many things we can squeeze into two hours.
7 of course.
My ears may be deceiving me, but I think I heard someone calling my name faintly within the woods. I'll go off by myself and investigate.
You lag behind, until the hunting party has passed you by, and then attempt to locate where you heard someone calling your name. You ride off the trail, and into the rougher woods, picking out the easiest path, past large fallen branches, and startling some squirrels attempting to hoard away a few more acorns for the coming winter.
Eventually, you hit the high wall that surrounds Aunt Primrose's property, and you circle around, listening.
There! You ride forward for a bit.
"I'm here, Pennyworth!"
"Is that you, Figs? Where are you?"
"I'm on the other side of the wall, obviously. I can't fly over the wall on wings of love. I wish I could. I tried to climb it and split my, ah, my sit-down-upons. If you'll excuse the expression."
"How did you know I was here?"
"I heard Rory boom out your name when you joined them. He has a rather carrying voice."
You spy a small chink in the wall, dismount, and put your eye to the small hole. You see another eye looking back at you.
"That's me," says Figs.
"Yes, I understand the nature of the situation," you say.
"Did you hang my painting? Were you able to do that small service for me and Mopsie?"
1. "Absolutely. Don't give it a second thought," I say, lying.
2. "Let's just say that everyone will be 'burning' to see it."
3. "Figs, I really would seriously consider whether the life of an artist is for you."
4. "I really must get back to the hunt, Figs. Perhaps we could discuss matters of art at a later date."
The hunt will conclude in about one hour and thirty minutes.
I'm impressed with Mayana having called this one.
3-I hate him
I don't have a strong opinion on this one, so I will go with 4. And Pennyworth has *great* hearing if he can hear a voice through thick woods and a wall some distance away.
Observe 48%! We're like a long-eared hare.
In this case, it was a curse.
"Figs, I really would seriously consider whether the life of an artist is for you."
"I note that you have not answered my question, which fills me with a deep uncertainty. No, Pennyworth, I am an artist down to my marrow. I will live the life of a creator. I bought a beret yesterday at the haberdasher's. I'm wearing it right now."
"I merely offer a bit of advice."
"I don't like your advice. What would you have me do? Can't you see that Mopsie and I are destined for a bohemian life, living in a garret, far from the…you know, the madness of the crowd."
"I believe you mean, 'Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife.'"
"Yes, that's it. I read that in school. The poet Thomas Grey, wasn't it?"
"Thomas Gray, sir. With an a."
"Ah, yes, right." Figs pauses. "How did you—"
"I knew," you say.
"I shudder to challenge you where matters of culture are concerned. I will have to think on this."
"If that is all, sir…" you say.
"Just one thing, Pennyworth. Tell Mopsie that 'All is prepared.'"
"All is prepared?"
"Yes, and then kiss her dewy brow for me."
1. "Dewy means sweaty, doesn't it?"
2. "Oh, all right, then. I will kiss her on your behalf if it means so much to you."
3. "I am afraid I must draw the line here, sir. I don't wish to kiss Mopsie's dewy brow at this time. I will, however, deliver your message."
4. "I fear I can neither kiss anyone's dewy brow, nor deliver your message."
This is a tough one.
Figs did help us on the train, and he isn't intentionally an idiot. I do think it might be useful to talk to Mopsie again, but then, possibly not. We already have a potential motive for her if something happens to the peacocks (she feels imprisoned, like a bird in a gilded cage, and wants to fight and prove to everyone she isn't a child. She is especially angry with Primrose. And here we have three literal birds in a golden mesh pen - a real gilded cage if there ever was one. We also know her disobedient, impetuous youth - she wouldn't be above an impetuous crime, and if she was planning one, she'd be the disorganized type to drop accidental hints as she ruminated over it.)
[I'm assuming something is going to happen to the peafowl due to their detailed set-up and the fact we have at least three people with clear motives to free them; Firesnuff (competition,) Frankincense (her misplaced ideals on animal rights,) and Mopsie (empathy for the trapped birds she identifies, revenge on Primrose, and proving she's a force to be reckoned with.) Light Fingered Lou could even be targeting them. Of course, the peafowl could just be a red herring. Perhaps the crime will be a robbery indoors or harm to Primrose in another manner. It may even be nothing - Regina could be wrong, or misleading us, about a potential threat to Primrose. But for now I'll go off the seeming clues we have, however thin they are, and someone freeing the peafowl while the hunt distracts everyone seems possible. If the crime ends up different, I'll have to go back over my dossiers on everyone.]
But, if we do talk to Mopsie, she'll likely want to ask if we have heard from Figs. And Pennyworth probably shouldn't convey it (in case it is not about the art, but about some plot where she plans to free the peacock and peahen and peafowl and get them through the wall to him.) Even if it is about the art, we don't want her to trust that we actually hung the painting up. At the same time, Pennyworth should probably not lie to Figs do to the favor on the train, and Pennyworth has been rotten at lying and bluffing so far.
So, I suppose I will have to choose #4. If we get a chance to talk to Mopsie, great, but I'm not sure I would prioritize it at this point as time is running out. Plus, she currently hates Pennyworth, which might make obstacles akin to what we faced with Firesnuff.
I will resolve this in an hour, with Cricket breaking the tie if there are no more votes.
"Dewy means sweaty, doesn't it?"
"I didn't quite catch that, but I hope you did not say what I think you said about my darling rosebud."
"So will you do it?"
1. "Oh, all right, then. I will kiss her on your behalf if it means so much to you."
2. "I am afraid I must draw the line here, sir. I don't wish to kiss Mopsie's dewy brow at this time. I will, however, deliver your message."
3. "I fear I can neither kiss anyone's dewy brow, nor deliver your message."
And then, as this essentially gives us the same choice as before, we shall take Camelon's vote for this one.
"I fear I can neither kiss anyone's dewy brow, nor deliver your message."
"Not even for me?"
"Not even for you."
"Not even for the advancement of true love?"
"Not even then, sir."
"I am crushed."
"I'm sorry, sir."
"I will now stalk away in a huff. But let me tell you this. You shall see me erelong."
"I look forward to it."
You are just remounting Sassy Sunshine when you hear Figs's voice again.
"I didn't mean that to be menacing," he says. "I just meant that I'll see you soon."
"Thank you for the clarification."
You ride off after the hunting party, which you find after a bit of searching. The hunters' cries nearly drown out the hounds' barks as the fox has been flushed out of all hiding holes and is running from the hounds. The hunt is in full chase, and the welkin rings with the sound of it.
5. I'll ride with Mopsie.
6. I'm going to leave the hunt, go to the house, and search people's rooms. (Traveling there takes 10 minutes.)
7. I'm going to leave the hunt and find Valentine. (Traveling there takes 10 minutes.)
I'm torn. It was worth talking with Primrose when she was right there talking to us, but is it worth hunting her down? Possibly - she'd still be the one to go to to get good base information to compare other peoples answers to. However, considering we'd only be able to talk to two people at most after her, it's probably too late for that track. Pennyworth seems lousy at interrogation, anyway.
I am still pretty curious if we can glean anything further from Mopsie, but there are quite a few mysterious people and very little time. Since Pennyworth is horrid at interrogating, perhaps he can try searching rooms. Valentine could be Light fingered Lou, or even Regina (the relative difficulty of impersonating a housekeeper vs. impersonating an ordinary maid makes me lead towards suspecting Valentine. She sure makes a lot of finger/hand references, too.) Or Haze could be Lou, but one would think a thief would try to draw less attention, not more. I am curious about her personality change. And I am curious about why we now have the option to confront Firesnuff with evidence. (But not so curious as to waste time and return. I doubt he'd actually steal or sabotage Primrose, he's too self-confident in his own skills. So I would think any secret of his would be a false brag or false reward or something.)
I guess that narrows it down to 5 or 6.
#5, I suppose. Mopsie has also been living at Ritornello for a bit, so in addition to perhaps dropping more clues as to her intentions, she might have information about the staff (new housekeeper, new maid) or anything odd she's seen.
I do wonder if the Ol' Dun Higgin or whatever that horse's name was would have been faster. That might have made it worth the risk.
4 The most important thing is to go get happy the woman can make us rich.
Just saying, Mopsie is naive and stupid. You only will get about Love and blah, blah, going with her. And a headache
Perhaps....or she is a disobedient, impetuous girl who feels she needs to prove she is not a child and wants to 'fight' Primrose. Who feels 'imprisoned' like 'a bird in a gilded cage.' (Like our peafowl...) I'm not sure interrogating her will do any good, and I want to talk to Primrose, too, but I wouldn't underestimate Mopsie just because of her obsessive love for Figs.
Option 4- our stats with Mopsie are 0%, so I don’t think she would willingly help us. Our best bet is to interrogate Primrose. Though option 6 might have been useful as well because we might find evidence, we are also running out of time.
Good point. She does waffle between 100/0 thiugh at the slightest thing, so it might be an easy fix, though. I'm hoping we still have time to search rooms after this. Who knew Pennyworth would be so bad at asking people questions?
It's the combo of our Intellect and *very* high abrasiveness, I suspect...
I approach Aunt Primrose and chat with her.
It takes some doing, but you catch up with Aunt Primrose, who is digging in her heels and shouting in a spirited way to one of her houndsmen.
"Hello, Mrs. Patterson," you say, riding up alongside her.
"Time was that you'd have been run out of the club and forced to turn in your spurs in shame if you rode alongside someone like that, let alone talked while the hounds were working," she says, gruffly, giving you a toothy smile, and adding "Ya!" presumably to her horse, but one can never be certain.
"I am sorry if this is a breach of etiquette."
"Not to worry. This is hardly a formal hunt. But I can't keep this slow pace just to hear what you have to say. Come along if you're going to come. Hup! Ya!"
Aunt Primrose's horse charges forward. It already felt like you were going as fast as you possibly could, but it appears that Aunt Primrose prefers to gallop far faster, and so you match her.
Leaning forward, almost standing in your stirrups, you tilt your body back and forth to anticipate the steady jolt of Sassy Sunshine's movement.
You jump over a three-foot-high stump, and your body absorbs the teeth-chattering impact of the landing.
"What's on your mind, Pennyworth? About ready to convince Rory to leave his stuffy city flat and come out here and live in God's green earth? Don't actually convince him. I like a visit fine, but I needn't have him hanging on around here seven days a week, if you know what I mean. Careful now, here's a big jump coming! Some ruts in the ground as well, I fear."
What is your general approach to this ride?
1. I go as fast as possible to demonstrate my fearless nature.
2. I pay most attention to proper form, even though I give up some speed, to demonstrate my adherence to the traditions of hunting.
3. I shout and use the spurs a good deal, to demonstrate my high spirits.
#1. What is Pennyworth's boldness for, if not for galloping full speed ahead at the risk of a broken neck? And it doesn't sound like Primrose cares if the hunt is traditional.
Faking high spirits might be a good plan, but indistriminately using the spurs around ruts and jumps would not be.
1-This character is bold and I think Auntie is secretly totally in the fantasy of the servant in a horse whom will bang her all night.
I go as fast as possible to demonstrate my fearless nature.
Sassy Sunshine seems determined to go far faster than you want her to, and the result is a bone-rattling ride. She jumps higher than she needs to, and lands with far more force that you think strictly necessary.
With effort, you manage to get Sassy Sunshine to heed you, and go where you want her to go. Aunt Primrose nods approvingly as you gain control over Sassy Sunshine's breakneck pace.
"Not bad, not bad," Aunt Primrose says. "Easy to make Sassy Sunshine go fast, though. Not much of a challenge, but not bad."
"There's nothing to it," you say, patting Sassy Sunshine, as you charge forward, the wind whipping past you.
You ride with Aunt Primrose for a little while, talking of small matters.
"So what's really on your mind, Pennyworth? Spit it out," Aunt Primrose calls. As you speak, she intersperses numerous calls such as "Ware hole!" and "Trappy ground!" and occasionally "Holloa!"
What would you like to talk about with Aunt Primrose?
1. I would like to improve Aunt Primrose's impression of Figs.
2. I would like to sway Aunt Primrose's opinion of Rory and Frankincense's approaching marriage.
3. I would like to learn more about Haze.
...those are our only options??
I guess it has to be #3, then, since that's the only actual interrogation question. I am curious about her apparent personality change as well. E.g. did something happen, does she have a twin, is someone impersonating her, did she go to America, etc.
I would like to learn more about Haze.
Aunt Primrose looks briefly over her shoulder at Haze.
"Ah, you mean Hazel. 'Haze' did you call her? That's very modern. What a strange young woman. Used to be perfectly normal, if somewhat quiet. A reading sort, you know. I am fairly good friends with her family, who as you may know are titled and hold their property in Northumberland."
"Why did you invite her? She doesn't seem the sort to travel in your set."
Aunt Primrose smiles.
"It seems mysterious," you say.
She waggles a finger at you. "I'm not about to spread idle gossip. Is there a reason? There is. But it is none of your concern, and none of Rory's, either. Strange girl. Always a bit quiet, and now...not so much any more. She concerns me. Not quite right in the head, I think. But here I am, gossiping. Oughtn't to."
With that, her lips are sealed on the subject; she changes the topic to issues of handling riding crops when hunting until you tire of the conversation. The hunt passes through some rough ground at high speed. The uneven ground, downed branches, and ruts in the earth make for a challenging ride at high speed as the conclusion of the hunt approaches.
The hunt will conclude in about one hour.
4. I'll ride with Mopsie.
5. I'm going to leave the hunt, go to the house, and search people's rooms. (Traveling there takes 10 minutes.)
6. I'm going to leave the hunt and find Valentine. (Traveling there takes 10 minutes.)
5. Interrogation just isn't Pennyworth's strong suit.
On the plus side, we can glean that Primrose knows Hazel well enough that its not someone impersonating her, and that there likely is a good reason fir the change even if we don't know what it is.
I'm going to leave the hunt, go to the house, and search people's rooms. (Traveling there takes 10 minutes.)
After giving it some thought, you believe that you had better return to the house and search while everyone is occupied here.
You say farewell to all. "I must be off. My services are required elsewhere," you say.
"It's your loss!" cries Aunt Primrose, at a deafening volume.
"Perhaps I will have the opportunity to return," you say.
Then you head to the house.
You return to the foyer, much quieter now than when the hunting party left. Most of the servants are preparing dinner or preparing the dining room for the feast tonight.
"All right, Savage Wendigo," Regina says. "We have our work cut out for us. The house must be searched for evidence of nefarious spies, saboteurs, and double agents. Trust no one. There are eyes everywhere."
"I'm ready. How should we proceed?"
"I have a lead I need to follow up on in town," she says. "You will search wherever you think appropriate in the house. Here." She hands you an ornate key. "This is a skeleton key that will open all of the bedrooms. Use your time wisely, and be outside to greet the hunting party when they return."
"I will do my best."
"You will have to find the right path between being thorough, being quick, and being careful. And, at all times, our enemies will attempt to expose your deeds."
"This all sounds very dangerous."
"Indeed, it is. That is the business we are in. Are you mentally prepared for the perils that will beset you?"
1. "I laugh in the face of danger."
2. "I will do my best to effect satisfaction."
3. "We'll see about that. Probably not."
2. Pennyworth *does* laugh in the face of danger, but he's also trying to get invited into the circle. Regina just basically told us we need to be balanced, so it's best to be a little measured with our answer.
"I will do my best to effect satisfaction."
"I appreciate your cool demeanor. It speaks well of your potential fit in the Inner Circle. I will be evaluating you, however, on your success and failure, not merely your attitude."
"Of course," you say.
"Now go forth and do us proud. After the fox hunt is concluded, we shall find a time to put together our hard-won information. Good luck, Savage Wendigo."
She walks briskly out of the house, leaving you to your investigation.
The hunt will conclude in about fifty minutes.
Where should you go?
1. Aunt Primrose's room.
2. Col. Firesnuff's guest room.
3. Frankincense's guest room.
4. Haze's guest room.
5. Inspector Ambrose's guest room.
6. Mopsie's room.
7. Regina's quarters.
8. Valentine's quarters.
9. I think I'll leave the house and try to catch up with the hunt. (Traveling there takes 10 minutes.)
10. I'm going to leave the house and see what Valentine is doing. (Traveling there takes 10 minutes.)
8. Valentine is pretty suspicious right now and my top pick for really being Light Fingered Lou. Plus we can't go to Regina empty handed and so we can at least get info on Valentine. (And didn't Valentine tell us the trial had to start on the third Thursday, yet we rode the train on either Friday or Saturday? The dinner with Primrose was Thursday.)
Not that Regina isn't odd as well, but I assume its much harder to impersonate a housekeeper than a common maid. And while strange, her actions are at least consistent with what she claims. Valentine has had a few too many oddities.)
5 might be interesting just to see if the Inspector is really as incompetent as he seems or if he's left any clues - maybe he's Lou just pretending to be an inspector. 6 if we get time because Mopsie is still my top suspect if something dramatic happens to the peacocks.
Not interested in Firesnuff or Haze as I'm assuming they have interesting, but unrelated mysteries to anything with Primrose going on.
Bumping, because, come on.
You head to the subbasement, where the newest members of Aunt Primrose's help are quartered. You find Valentine's room, which she is sharing with another new hire.
The room is only slightly larger than a sizable broom closet, just big enough for two narrow beds with thin mattresses, a few shelves, and a shared nightstand. Valentine's possessions are jumbled all over the bed, her clothes in an huge, untidy heap.
On one shelf is a quick note that Valentine seems to have jotted down as a reminder to herself.
Advice from Pennyworth:
Most important is to see the direction—the ideal shape—that things need to go in, and ensure they go that way. I'm not here for the spotlight—I'm here to learn how to bring perfection to everyone around me.
I want to be at the top of my chosen profession, and the only way I can do that is to listen carefully to Pennyworth. Don't be intimidated, and don't worry.
I can do this!!!
You turn from the note to consider the very large heap of clothes and sundries on the bed.
1. I can't bear it. I fold Valentine's clothes. It will take a while, and I suppose it will betray my presence here, but perhaps I will find something interesting as I tidy up. (Takes 20 minutes.)
2. I look through Valentine's possessions to see if there's anything immediately interesting. (Takes 10 minutes.)
3. Nothing here looks worth spending time on, and I depart.
I would like to be more thorough, but that isn't worth leaving traces behind and either upping our suspicion or having to explain. #2. Plus, if Pennyworth is focused on tidying he isn't really focused on being observant, so it isn't automatically more thorough at all.
I look through Valentine's possessions to see if there's anything immediately interesting. (Takes 10 minutes.)
You pick up a handful of Valentine's clothes and shake them to see if any clues fall out. Then you scout about the small room, eyes peeled for anything out of the ordinary.
After looking around for ten minutes, you find a small packet stuffed into the pocket of an old jacket. It is a typed document, which you unfold carefully.
I think it is a wise idea to find your way to a place like Primrose Patterson's, but don't you think you'll…stick out? You have many wonderful qualities, but subtle playacting is not one of them.
They will be onto you in no time, my dear. But, as always, you'll do as you wish. And I agree with you that there is a great deal of value that you can take from Ritornello—if you think you can get away with it. And, to be perfectly honest, if you were able to bring home some money, that would be very helpful.
But please do not get yourself arrested.
Your very concerned sister
You read the letter again, and then replace it. This seems like an important clue.
Mind filled with various Valentine-centric scenarios, you shake your head as you depart her room.
The hunt will conclude in about forty minutes.
8. I think I'll leave the house and try to catch up with the hunt. (Traveling there takes 10 minutes.)
9. I'm going to leave the house and see what Valentine is doing. (Traveling there takes 10 minutes.)
Searching rooms seems to go faster than interrogation, so that is promising! And we have our first hard-evidence clue that isn't speculation based on word choice or subtle incongruities.
And it seems to imply, at first glance anyway, that Valentine is a thief. But it could also be that she's an up and coming stage actress who wants to glean advice from Pennyworth on how to play her part, and the reference to money is merely about her wages, and getting caught is about faking her credentials. (subtle playacting/spotlight references) If she's a method actress, then it really would be 'valuable' to get a job as a maid.
But who's room to search next? I lean towards 5, 6, or 7. I still think Mopsie could be planning something behind those layers of chiffon (hopefully she changed for the hunt...) It might be worthwhile to check out what Ambrose has discovered, if anything, or even double-check that he really is an inspector. Regina seems in order as a housekeeper, but I am curious about that little book she keeps.
Ambrose and Regina would seem to carry higher risk if we get caught, though, then searching Mopsie's room. Ambrose due to raising suspiscion or trouble with the law, and Regina if she is who she claims and it jeopardizes our inclusion in the Circle.
Still, Ambrose is the character we know least about (besides the guy who never made it due to an incident at the train station...) So I vote #5 for our next step.
Have people given up on Pennyworth, or are weekends just generally slower around here?
Option 5- because I don't think we've had a proper conversation with Ambrose yet and we barely know anything about him. So I'm agreeing with Camelon here too.
Inspector Ambrose's guest room.
According to Regina, Inspector Ambrose is staying in the Pine Room. Since Inspector Ambrose was a late addition to the party, he was given the smallest room—really, it used to be a storage closet, but it has since been renovated and transformed into a cozy nook of a guest room, for guests traveling alone who don't mind not having much space.
You unlock the door of the Pine Room and step in, closing the door behind you.
A display stand holding a black clay pipe sits on a tiny writing desk, and a copy of Wilkie Collins's novel The Moonstone rests on top of a stack of other novels.
You notice that the novel is sitting on top of a slender notebook, and you extract it and skim through it. The notebook contains a dossier on one Regina Wilhelmina, who Inspector Ambrose believes to be a member of a "shadowy organization of villainy."
The notebook has a detailed record of her comings and goings, and ends with Inspector Ambrose's stated intention to unmask her illegal activities and bring her to justice. He further believes that the Cadbury Club, based in London, but with satellite branches elsewhere in Britain, is a hotbed for nefarious activity.
A shocking belief, but understandable. After all, the Cadbury Club is highly exclusive, and rather secretive. Naturally, Inspector Ambrose, not being in service, would wonder what your club is all about, but he has completely misunderstood the noble goals of that august society.
You replace the notebook carefully under the novel.
The most notable occupant of the room is a huge piece of white poster board leaning against the wall, simply covered in drawings, pieces of paper, and newspaper clippings, all attached with pushpins. Six different colors of yarn connect the pictures and articles.
You step in front of the poster board and consider it carefully. It is a study in either genius or madness, possibly both.
At the center of the chart is an outline of a face with a question mark in the center of it, labeled "Light-Fingered Lou, Master Thief." A hand-drawn picture of everyone staying at Ritornello appears on the board as well, with various pieces of evidence possibly connecting them to this criminal mastermind. Pieces of yarn connect the sketches to pieces of evidence, like ticket stubs, an orange peel, and a jigsaw puzzle piece.
You cannot help noticing that most of the pieces of red yarn lead to the sketch of Rory. Rory's image is also connected with yarn to index cards that read "Can't possibly be as foolish as he seems" and "Questionable choice of valet."
This is rather disturbing. What should you do about it? It would be safest to just leave it alone. But maybe, if you are clever enough to figure out what his system is, you can rearrange it to suit you. You could even rearrange it to implicate someone else altogether…
1. I shouldn't touch it. Ambrose's investigation will no doubt clear the innocent and condemn the guilty in the end.
2. I rearrange the yarn so that Rory is not the center of Inspector Ambrose's suspicion. (Takes 20 minutes.)
3. I rearrange the yarn so that it implicates someone else. Looking at the chart, I might be able to rearrange things so that it implicates Valentine, Figs, or Haze. (Takes 20 minutes.)
This is a tough one. Pennyworth isn't exactly high in intelligence. His observation is decent, but this would seem to depend on his cleverness.
Now, assuming he could pull it off, should he? He does have a duty to make things go smoothly for his employer, but will changing the board help or hurt? Ambrose is doing his own investigation during the hunt, no doubt, and will likely come back with dozens of things he considers suspicious to add.
Pennyworth also has a sub-duty he has taken on to Regina to investigate as she believes someone might mean Primrose harm. Calling attention to Valentine on the board might help show she isn't who she claims, but is it the best way? We can tell Regina, who is the housekeeper and can presumably have the girl fired. Plus, though Valentine might be Lou, there is a small chance she isn't.
And Ambrose, though he comes to wrong conclusions, does seem to be meticulous and observant based on his notes. We have no idea if he is paranoid enough to set a trap, like a hair or coin in the door, for intruders.
So, for now, it is probably best to do #1. Not because I think Ambrose will be successful in charging the guilty, but because I don't think Pennyworth would be able to help in this way. 2 would be an option if Pennyworth was smarter.
But we have gotten a strong link between Regina and the Cadbury club, so that's a clue.
We also don't know for sure that "red" yarn means "implicating evidence." It could mean "mostly irrelevant" for all we know.
Though, Pennyworth being Pennyworth, he is bold enough to try something like this even if the results will not be good.
I rearrange the yarn so that it implicates someone else. Looking at the chart, I might be able to rearrange things so that it implicates Valentine, Figs, or Haze. (Takes 20 minutes.)
Who do you want it to implicate?
I think the people have already spoken here, so I'll just go ahead and pick Haze.
Noo! Lol. Valentine is more suspicious, especially given the newspaper article about Lou already being in the vicinity of the train station, whereas Haze started on the train with us...
Ah well, Pennyworth probably would do such a thing.
Berka's and Mizal's earlier votes were voting for Haze to be the culprit here, so I just folded that into the vote. And poor Mayana was one minute too late to vote!
Haze is rather a likely candidate for being Light-Fingered Lou. Yes, indeed. You twist and fiddle with the yarn and cards, trying to make sense of Inspector Ambrose's methods, and moving pieces of evidence so that they seem to point to Haze.
In the end, you are pretty satisfied with your efforts. You have rearranged the board subtly, but enough to move lots of red yarn onto Haze. Now, she appears to be a master criminal. At least according to this crazy board. If that's what the red yarn means.
You exit the room and head elsewhere.
The hunt will conclude in about twenty minutes.
"Hey, you're not supposed to be in there!" someone says behind you. "What were you doing?"
Coming out of a room across the hall is young Walter, one of Aunt Primrose's footmen. He is straightening his jacket and giving you a suspicious look. "We've been told to keep a weather eye out for suspicious behavior. I've got a mind to march over to Mrs. Patterson and Inspector Ambrose and let them know just what's going on here."
You know Walter. Walter is well-known for accepting money for favors around the house, and has been known to put the squeeze on guests when something unsavory is going on. You would guess a suitable bribe would keep him quiet. But perhaps there's another way…
1. Laugh with Walter, saying that you are merely pitching in to tidy up around the house.
2. Listening carefully, I become aware that Walter is not behaving appropriately himself, and threaten stern countermeasures were he to inform upon me.
3. Offer Walter a monetary incentive to say nothing. (-10 readies)
Although it has lowered just a bit. I think after our conversation with Regina.
Yes, that's when it was. If I think of it in the future I'll try to note when stats vary in response to choices down here instead of just in the character sheet.
2. It fits much better with Pennyworth's personality and stats. Plus, unlike the houndsmen, Walter sounds like he might be extorting guests.
2 Has far more sense for this character stats and behaviour, than the alternatives
Listening carefully, I become aware that Walter is not behaving appropriately himself, and threaten stern countermeasures were he to inform upon me.
You are sure that a footman ought to be engaged in setting for dinner, not in a bedroom, at this time of day.
"What are you doing in there?" you ask, pointing behind him.
"Important household tasks," he says. "For people who actually work in this household."
"I don't believe you. Indeed, I feel strongly compelled to inform Mrs. Patterson of your truant disposition."
"Perhaps I feel compelled to inform Inspector Ambrose that you are trespassing in rooms not your own."
"And perhaps I feel compelled to inform Mrs. Patterson that you are insufficiently fulfilling your duties. We are at quite an impasse, as you can see."
Finally, Walter starts back away. "I'm not here to get anyone in trouble. Neither are you."
"Just…don't do whatever it is you were doing."
"I offer you a similar sentiment."
And Walter leaves you.
5. Mopsie's room.
6. Regina's quarters.
7. I think I'll leave the house and try to catch up with the hunt. (Traveling there takes 10 minutes.)
8. I'm going to leave the house and see what Valentine is doing. (Traveling there takes 10 minutes.)
4 or 6 The other choices doesn't have a lot of sense right now I think
I still want to search Mopsie's room, so #5. However, it might not be a bad idea to do 8 - and this time we don't have to 'help.' 4 isn't a bad option, either, as it might help us solve the Haze mystery without actually having to socialize with her.
I'm not sure how to count a vote of "4 or 6" but at any rate Mizal's 4 vote breaks the tie points-wise.
Haze's guest room.
Haze is staying in the Ash Room, a guest room notable for its Napoleonic theme. Banners with golden eagle finials decorate the walls, and a marble bust of Napoleon adorns the broad stone fireplace mantel.
Four golden cherubim wearing laurel wreaths and short tunics serve as the posts of the canopy bed. Their brilliant gold is reflected an infinite number of times by the wall-sized gilt-edged mirrors hanging on the left and the right walls as you enter.
You scan the room. A single traveling trunk sits at the foot of the bed, and a pack of well-used tarot cards lies on the nightstand.
You notice a bit of paper, not quite burned, in the fireplace grate.
It seems to be a fragment of a map of Ritornello and the houses next to it, including the rooms and grounds. A path, leading from a window to a door to another window seems to be marked on it, but in the absence of more context, it is impossible to be certain what you are looking at.
You take the bit of paper. One never knows when that sort of thing will come in handy. You then turn your attention to the traveling trunk.
The trunk is clasped but not locked, and you open it carefully. In addition to the clothing and assorted toiletries that one would expect, you find a small silver box decorated with engraved autumn leaves; the hinges look like trees with just a few leaves left on them. The small silver box is locked.
1. I pick the lock and see what's inside. (Takes 10 minutes.)
2. I force the top open. (Takes 10 minutes.)
3. I leave the box alone.
The 2 goes better with the character
Option 1. Curious to see what's in the box. Both one and two take the same amount of time, and picking a lock is presumably going to make less of a mess of the box- and be quieter- than forcing it open.
1. Pennyworth could force it, but he also is trying not to leave signs he was there.
Plus the box is decorated with autumn leaves. Would Pennyworth break his favorite season?
Option 1- because it's less messy, and it takes the same amount of time. Though I hope Pennyworth actually does know know to pick a lock, otherwise we're wasting time again.
I pick the lock and see what's inside. (Takes 10 minutes.)
The lock is quite simple, and you spring it with the judicious application of a sharp pencil.
Then, satisfied with your success, you open the box.
You do not know what you were expecting. But suffice to say that you were not expecting an explosion of bright green dye, which splatters all over you—in your face, in your hair, and all over your clothes.
The wall and floor near where you were standing, too, get a good helping of bright green dye, but you are less concerned with that, and more with your now bepigmented appearance. You step lightly out of Haze's room, and across the hall to your own room, where you change your clothes, balling up your old clothes and shoving them in the very bottom of your suitcase.
Then you work at your hair and face and fingernails for a while. It takes you way too long, and you probably have flecks of green about your person, but the casual observer might not notice it at first glance. You have a terrible feeling that people will have a more difficult time taking you seriously now, but there seems little you can do.
You then slip back into Haze's room again, back to that cursed box. You may as well see what was so valuable that it was worth ruining a perfectly good outfit for.
Inside you find some money, rolled into a tight cylinder, and a black mask, designed to cover much of the face. It looks well-worn, soft, and flexible—very much the sort of thing one would wear if one were up to no good.
Interesting. You replace the mask, and consider a crucial question. How much of the money do you take?
1. I take all of the money.
2. I help myself to a few of the bills.
3. I leave it where it is.
Well, that was unexpected. And our suspicion stat has increased.
#3. We want nothing to do with this tainted and potentially stolen money. Get out of there fast and take a shower. Burn the green suit.
3 We have too much heat and we screw it to much to pick up anything
Option 3- it's bad enough if Pennyworth is found out for breaking into Haze's room (he still has green spots on him), but even worse if anyone found out that he stole money too. He'd probably mess up whilst stealing the money anyway.
I leave it where it is.
You aren't here to take Haze's money. You do, however, wonder why she thought it necessary to protect her money in such an extravagant fashion.
You look around at the dye-bespattered room in dismay.
You suppose your business here is concluded, and so you depart Haze's room as swiftly as possible.
The hunt is nearly over—you may have time to squeeze in one more thing!
4. Mopsie's room.
5. Regina's quarters.
Option 2- because an earlier option involved confronting Firesnuff with evidence against him, and the evidence is most likely in his room. Having said that, it might just be a red herring, or the evidence might be in someone else's room. Either way, we don't have a lot of time left, so I guess it doesn't matter so much what you do at this point.
4. Mopsie. I'm actually surprised we have any time left at this point, but I've been hoping to squeeze in a search of her rooms. Does the bird in a gilded cage plan revenge on Primrose? Is she just impetuous and angry enough to try and pull some stunt off? Admittedly I'm going off people's wordchoice for most of my hunches, but we know enough about her that we shouldn't dismiss her as a potential suspect for targeting Primrose.
(Although, realistically, another 10 minutes cleaning ourselves or ironing a new suit would be the best use of time. And burning the evidence.)
Plus, I fear that another mishap like with Haze would increase our suspiscion level further. It might be best to keep it under 30% if we can. Firesnuff and Regina seem more likely to be the sort to take precautions with hairs in the door or the like than Mopsie would be.
Oof. Um. 1? Maybe we'll uncover signs of tampering. Though I'm wondering now if the inner circle is not actually a thing and we're being used to distract from the real saboteur...
Possibly, though I think when it was first brought up Pennyworth already knew what it was. But there is a chance Ambrose could be right, and maybe the Inner Circle really is a shady organization up to no good. We could end up invited only to find out we are asked to do criminal tasks. It would be an interesting twist! Our invite stat has increased, slightly, during this hunt.
5 Regina seems the safest choice if we are caught and we have no time to do anything anyway
You head downstairs and across the long, spare corridor that leads to the housekeeper's bedroom.
Regina warned you that all might not be as it seems, and perhaps it would be in the spirit of thoroughness to give her room a once-over.
The solid wood door, however, is locked, and the master key she gave you does not open it.
1. I pick the lock using a straight pin.
2. I'll give the door the old heave-ho. Although it is inelegant, the approach has a certain direct quality. Although the door does look quite solid.
3. The wood grain towards the top of the door looks slightly irregular. I look at it carefully.
4. I suppose I had better go elsewhere.
Lock picking seemed to have worked well enough last time, so let's go with Option 1. Option 3 also takes my fancy but time!! The hunt's nearly over go fast Alfred go go go
Option 3- just for the sake of doing something at least, even if we're wasting time. Pennyworth could probably pick the lock but Regina is likely to have some sort of trap and we don't really want to be caught by her. She seems quite dangerous.
3. While 2 seems very Pennyworth, there might be another booby trap.
Pennyworth's observation isn't actually that low. At least, we were able to hear Figs through a forest and a wall in two different locations during a noisy hunt. Gower did say that was due to the observation stat.
The wood grain towards the top of the door looks slightly irregular. I look at it carefully.
Why, there's a subtle sliding panel there on the door, very much in the spirit of the very best spy serial stories. You slide the panel and are rewarded with a distinct click as the door unlocks.
It is with no small amount of satisfaction that you open the door and take in its contents. Regina's quarters are spare; although the housekeeper is among the highest status servants in a household, her accommodations are cramped and incredibly spartan, although the small window lets in some dappled, golden sunlight, filtered through the yellow oaks outside.
All that you see in here are a narrow wardrobe, an undecorated wooden hatstand with a few black hats on it, and a sharply made bed with plain dark-gray sheets, with a bright blue envelope sitting on the pillow. In bold lettering, it reads "Top Secret Information."
1. I may as well see what that envelope is all about. I pick it up.
2. I search the room thoroughly first before examining the envelope. (Takes 10 minutes.)
cannot choose---> I search meticulously without leaving a trace. (Takes 20 minutes.)
No way Regina is leaving an envelope with "Top Secret Information" lying about on a pillow that has actual top secret information in it.
#2. We might find something else of interest, and leaving without a trace doesn't seem to be an option.
Option 2- the envelope must be a trap of some sort so it's best to check the room first. It would be better to do it without leaving a trace but I guess this is the next best option.
My option would be to jump ship, but considering we are past the point of no return, 2
I search the room thoroughly first before examining the envelope. (Takes 10 minutes.)
Regina seems a woman whose room may hold more secrets than it first appears. A more in-depth search will be necessary.
As you search the room, you cannot help noticing a nearly invisible thread connecting the bright blue envelope to the light fixture behind the bed.
Looking closely, you can see that the thread passes through a crack in the wall. If the thread were pulled, you suspect a panel in the wall may open—what that would entail, you cannot say.
1. I grab the envelope and then duck under the bed.
2. I have come to the conclusion that I should probably leave at this point. Leave well enough alone, as it were.
3. I delicately pry open the wall panel.
It's a gun. It will either kill you or leave a nice little bullet hole in the wall. 2
The obvious solution is to paint everything in the house green as well. Or better yet, cover it with boot polish since it worked so well last time.
Due to the fact, we can't die or get maimed due this is a Cog game I go for the first
Option 2- there's probably a bottle of red dye or something behind that panel, don't really want more evidence of our snooping left around
I have come to the conclusion that I should probably leave at this point. Leave well enough alone, as it were.
You don't think you would like to press the point further. You came in here and looked around. Taking the envelope would be just gilding the lily as far as you are concerned.
Therefore, you depart in short order.
From the house, you can hear the return of the hunting party. Time, being the fleeting thing it is, has flown, and you are forced to put an end to your searching and come around to the back of the house where Valentine and the other servants stand at attention by an assortment of hot beverages and dainties to tide everyone over until dinner is served.
The party is a complete wreck, and everyone stands around the mess, trying to muster up some enthusiasm. "I say, does anyone know any good jokes?" Rory says. "Here's one. So this one fellow says to a second fellow—we'll call the second fellow Arthur and the first fellow James—he says, 'Are you the house painter?' and—this is really a corking one—and Arthur says, 'Yes, I am.' Hang on, I think I told it backwards. The first fellow should be Arthur."
"As I was saying," interrupts Aunt Primrose. "I am having some backup hot toddies and hot cocoa made so that we can recover some semblance of festivity." She tsk-tsks a good deal.
You feel a tap on your shoulder. It is Regina Wilhelmina, and she is holding a clipboard.
"How do you do, Savage Wendigo?" she whispers.
Before you can answer, she whips out what looks like a perfume atomizer and sprays you generously in the face with it.
"Gets the dye off," she says. "You should really carry one. Better yet, don't set off dye traps." She produces a handkerchief and wipes your face roughly. "There you are. How long have you been walking around like that?"
She leads you by the elbow to a more secluded location at the side of the house.
"What do you have to report, Savage Wendigo? Quickly. Give me a brief outline."
1. I tell her about the suspicious mask I found in Haze's room.
2. I describe the strange burned map of what seems to be Aunt Primrose's estate and the neighboring houses that I found in Haze's room.
3. I tell Regina about the notebook I found in Inspector Ambrose's room.
4. I say that I found a letter written to Valentine suggesting that she was engaging in risky behavior and might run the risk of being arrested.
5. I describe my encounter with Figs and the message he wanted me to pass to Mopsie.
6. "I have nothing to report."
(Note from Gower to everyone--in this part, we will have the option to tell Regina as many of these things as we want. The thing we have to decide is what to pass on to her--we can pass everything to her, hold anything back we like, or tell her nothing. I'm not 100% sure what the most efficient way for us to vote on this, so everyone, say what you would like, and let's hash it out together.)
At least we have something to report! Since our interrogation went poorly.
1, 2, 4, and 5. If she is who she claims, we need to impress and pass on as much information as possible. But if she is suspicious as Ambrose thinks (although really, his investigation seems to back her up, he's just assuming Cadbury club is nefarious. Which for all we really know of the Circle, it might be...) then we might not want to interfere with him taking her down. Plus, she asked us to collect information about other guests, and did not specifically ask us to collect information about her. And while there may be other alternate explanations for various things, those pieces of information are at least, on the surface, suspicious.
Although, if Regina wants to talk to the Inspector, perhaps knowing he is biased against her would help...or not. Maybe it's best if she is her normal self. His assuming things of her isn't the same as hard evidence. It might be best to keep that information to ourselves for now.
And, wow. Our suspicion stat is now 49%. I'm not sure if that's from searching Regina's room or from walking around with green dye on. Or from the housekeeper perfuming our face in public.
Option 1,2,4 and 5, so that we don't look completely useless.
OK, everyone agrees on 1 and 2, four of you voted for 4. I'll start there.
I tell her about the suspicious mask I found in Haze's room.
"Masks are very suspicious. That's good work, Savage Wendigo. What else did you find?"
I describe the strange map of Aunt Primrose's estate and the neighboring houses that I found in Haze's room.
"A telling piece of evidence. Obviously meant to plan a heist," Regina muses. "Not bad. What else?"
I say that I found a letter written to Valentine suggesting that she was engaging in risky behavior and might run the risk of being arrested.
"That's intriguing, but merely whets the appetite for more substantial information," says Regina. "Everyone engages in risky behavior and runs the risk of being arrested."
"Yes, but this letter was from Valentine's sister. She told me when we met that she had six brothers. Something doesn't add up."
"There's something there," says Regina. "That's a good bit of investigating. Now what else do you have for me?"
1. I tell Regina about the notebook I found in Inspector Ambrose's room.
2. I describe my encounter with Figs and the message he wanted me to pass to Mopsie.
3. "Those are all the fruits of my labor."
Just to make sure I'm capturing the vote correctly, let's vote again on this one. Stats will update after this conversation with Regina.
I vote for tell all the rest If we spill one info we should say everything and gain points for the society
2. While Figs is pretty moonstruck, Mopsie has actually spoken more about her anger at Primrose for imprisoning her and dislike of being treated like a child than she really has about Figs. There is a chance she might try something. A guarantee, no, but she's done/said enough to be suspicious. And Fig's 'everything is prepared' type message was for Mospie - and it didn't sound particularly related to the art hanging.
Plus, we only have a few clues, so we might as well play up the ones we have.
I'm still torn about telling Regina or not about the notebook, so I'll stick with my first thought to skip telling her that.
Option 2- Figs' message is suspicious enough that it warrants further investigation.
I describe my encounter with Figs and the message he wanted me to pass to Mopsie.
"He wanted me to tell her that 'All is prepared,'" you say.
"That's rather ominous," Regina says. "But what is 'all' and what is 'prepared'? Those are the two main questions that that phrase evokes. But how can you be certain it was Figs?"
"Well, it sounded like him and he said things Figs would say."
"We must be vigilant about such things," Regina says. "I fear now there may be more than one plot directed at Ritornello, Savage Wendigo. What else did you find?"
Out of five votes, only two voted to tell the Ambrose information, so that doesn't get shared.
"Those are all the fruits of my labor."
"Impressive, Savage Wendigo. You've gone above and beyond. This will make our work easier." She puts a good deal of check marks on the form on her clipboard.
It is at this moment that the window opens above you, and Inspector Ambrose, wearing a deerstalker hat, casually leans out.
"Inspector Ambrose!" you say.
"Yes, it is I. That was a very interesting conversation you and Regina Wilhelmina just had. What was that name she called you? Savage Wendigo, was it?"
He flips through his CLUES book.
"We have Savage Wendigo, we have Pennyworth, and we have Alfred. So many names. So many identities."
"Those last two are my first and last names!"
"Of course they are," he says with amusement. "I don't doubt you. Can you clarify the meaning of the conversation that I just happened to overhear?"
1. "We were having a highly appropriate conversation regarding the proper thread count for linen tablecloths, thank you very much, Inspector. All is as it should be."
2. "Regina and I were discussing what I did this afternoon. That's all." You look at Inspector Ambrose with an open, honest face.
3. "We were simply discussing the weather."
4. "She was discussing the initiation ritual of a secret society."
We got our invite stat about 50%, so that's something. Pennyworth managed to turn the bad start around in the end, although ended up pretty suspicious in the end.
And it looks like it was a good call to not admit entering the Inspector's room.
As hilarious as 4 would be, presumably Regina is still right here. Unfortunately Penny is terrible at bluffing, so 1 and 3 are probably not the best choices. But #2 is technically the truth, so it just might work. Even if Pennyworth doesn't actually have much of an open/honest face, apparently. I'll vote #2.
Of course the real difficulty is what if the Inspector asks us the particulars of what we did. I suppose we could say something about joining the hunt, but how do we explain our time at the house? We didn't help Valentine, so we can't use that as an excuse. In retrospect, maybe it would have been good to pick up an alibi. Regina is the housekeeper, so maybe she'll take pity and chime in with an excuse about asking us to make sure things were in order. She doesn't know (we think) of Abrose's peculiar interest in her and the Cadbury club.
And I guess it is a very good thing that we didn't blab about searching the Inspector's room, since he was eavesdropping. I do wonder how much of the conversation he heard.
I'll update this in an another hour, just to see if anyone else wants to opine.
Option 2, because honesty is the best policy here. I don't think Pennyworth would fool Ambrose. And yes, I'm glad that Ambrose didn't catch us talking about him.
"Regina and I were discussing what I did this afternoon. That's all." You look at Inspector Ambrose with an open, honest face.
"Yes, you were," Ambrose says. "That is true. You are not lying to me. Why would you lie to me? The question, though, is what were you doing this afternoon?"
"Just enjoying the day."
"I'm sure you were enjoying it. You were enjoying yourself very much."
"Y-yes. I suppose."
"One often uses a clipboard while engaged in idle conversation," he points out, looking at you out of the corner of his eyes.
"Is that all, Inspector?"
"Oh, that's all. Farewell." He closes the window, and then reopens it. "Oh, just one more thing. I nearly forgot. A trifle, really. I just wanted to let you know that your crimes have not gone unnoticed."
"I beg your pardon?"
Inspector Ambrose gives you a beatific smile. "I know what you did while the others were out of the house. But you cannot fool me. Remember this moment, Pennyworth. Remember it well."
And he closes the window again.
As you return to the celebration, you see Aunt Primrose sitting together with Rory, deep in conversation.
You can see that Aunt Primrose is giving Rory a thorough talking-to, and mincing no words.
Then Rory and Frankincense excuse themselves from the party, heading for a quiet spot to talk in private by the fountain. Clearly, they are about to come to a decision.
As they go, they pass directly in front of you. As they pass, you…
1…reach out and make a minute adjustment to Rory's outfit.
2…stand respectfully at attention.
3…turn away from them.
Yes, if it's what I think it is, you can.
We really should have tried for a more intelligent butler. "Enjoying the day?" He could have said, "I joined the hunt for the first hour and a half, but an intense race with Primrose tired me out so I came back to the house." Or something else technically true.
1. 2 would be a more respectful option, but Pennyworth is bold. And Rory is no doubt dishevled from the hunt.
Option 1 is the most logical for this butler
Option 1 because it's the most Pennyworth thing to do
He’s a butler. It’s what he does.
…reach out and make a minute adjustment to Rory's outfit.
"If you'll permit me, sir," you whisper, making a small adjustment to help Rory appear just a bit more elegant.
"I wonder what they'll decide," Mopsie says, standing behind you, holding what you would guess is her fourth hot toddy.
"Yes," you say.
"That will be me and Figs before long," Mopsie remarks, gesturing to Rory and Frankincense in the distance, and sloshing some of her hot toddy on the ground without noticing. "Indeed, tonight."
You turn to Mopsie. "Tonight?"
"Oh yes. Because you'll be smuggling him into Ritornello."
END OF CHAPTER FOUR
Chapter Five thread is now up!
Here's my postmortem on Chapter Four.
This chapter was a pain in the butt to write. It is essentially three full chapters stuck together, except that you aren't diverted into one of them, you get to bop back and forth between the hunt and the house and Valentine, with discoveries you make in each place potentially informing what you do in other places.
For example, you can find things in the house that give you questions you can ask on the hunt, which you then can talk about with Valentine.
I wrote this chapter over the course of two months and then my editor helped me realize that the structure of it just didn't work, that there was too much looping in it. Originally, you searched the rooms manually, saying what exactly you search, which returned you to a central search menu. It was too much, and it wasn't fun. So I rewrote the code for another full month so that each room now had a very specific thing to do that didn't have to be prefaced with a search mini-game. It's much better now, I think, although I was pretty sad to recode everything at the time.
Chapter Four is crazy to include in this game because it expands ungodly much what the main character could know, so from this point on, I had to include variations, conversations, and little action loops depending on if you know people's secrets, if you have certain inventory items (like you having the map now), how much Regina likes you or whether you meddled with Rory and Frankincense's engagement, et cetera. In addition, you could also have had sex with someone in chapter four. Not with this crew of players, obviously, but you could have.
Searching the house is best for characters with high skullduggery/observe; the hunt is best for persuade/culture; the Valentine one is sort of a toss-up because you can approach it from a number of tactical directions based on what you've done already. My motto for this chapter was that I wanted you to leave it regretting all of the stuff you didn't find.
By this chapter, I've forced you to make some hard decisions about what you care about, because time is so limited you can't look into Valentine and learn what's up with Mopsie and Firesnuff and Haze and Regina, etc. and give Rory advice and get to know Frankincese and impress the Inner Circle. So this sort of softly closes some doors--not that you can't shift still at this point, but it becomes a bit harder after this point to shift priorities.
Ending chapter four marks halfway. (There are eight full chapter plus an epilogue). I think of the first four chapters as the "make your bed" chapters and the last four as the "now lie in it" chapters.
You would think I'd have learned my lesson, but I'm writing the sequel to this now and the final chapter is a similarly structured chapter with three big locations, and it's like x3 the length. Help.