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Into the Mists (part 1) 
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Criminal Mastermind
Criminal Mastermind
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Post Into the Mists (part 1)
Into the Mists

Prologue scribed on November 2, 2006 (753) - sorting my thoughts, putting things in perspective

I put these notes and thoughts to paper, in order to hopefully retain my sanity and for posterity’s sake. This is a startling experience, one that I never dreamt could happen. Yet here I am, setting in the study of the Heather House Estate, writing in this brand new antiquetated journal, using one of my trusty ink pens. I wonder how long they will last without replacement cartridges. I’ve only been at this ... place, I suppose one would say, for three days. As can be noticed at the beginning of this entry, I’m attempting to keep track of the date in my world, as well as the local date here.
In ways, this is fantastic! The gothic horror world of Ravenloft always enticed me during my teenage years. But the knowledge of what this world is really like makes me long for the life I had back home.
Where is my mind? None of this makes any sense! I suppose I need to start at the beginning in order for this to be understood, if such a thing is possible. If I return to my world, this will be a fantastic story to relate. And if I don’t return home, ...well, I guess its best not to dwell on that option. This journal can at least then be used (hopefully) by some intrepid adventurers on their way through Ravenloft.
My life, of course, starts way before this journal. I am a content man, living a normal life, I suppose, for 21st century Earth - single with one daughter, Chastity, beautiful and full of wonder and life. My daughter's mother, Meredith, and I separated after a brief attempt to work things out. So now she and I are usually on speaking terms - most of the time. I'm attempting to make my way through life, doing the best that I can, for myself and my little girl. Not ideal by any means, but I like to believe that, all things considered, it’s a good life. In reality, I want for nothing, but a good life for Chastity. Since I work as a police officer, doing some college for a Masters degree, money can be tight at times, especially with Chastity about to finish first grade.
The only difficult part about my life is my job. “With great power comes great responsibility.” I never truly understood what Spidey’s ole Uncle Ben meant by that, until I became a police officer. All of the extra overtime, the missed meals, the missed sleep and the missed family time. Was it all worth it? In ways, you bet, but in other ways its not. My job is a profession that needs to come first, before family, before even yourself. When I attempted to get married, I promised myself that I would get out of it, in order to devote myself more to my family. In my world though, especially since the marriage plans fell through, things aren’t quite that simple. Even though the relationship didn’t work out, I still wanted to raise my daughter, not being absent because of my job. And, even though police work doesn’t pay what it should, I usually get by ok. I only hope that I get a chance to change jobs now. That is, if I ever find a way back.

Now I need to relate the events that have placed me here. Exactly three days ago, I had to drive over the Smokey Mountains, from Gatlinburg Tennessee, to testify in a murder trial over in North Carolina. Earlier this summer, the Swain County Sheriff’s Department had been involved in a high speed pursuit of a known homicide suspect. The perpetrator had decided to take Highway 441 northbound, into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, heading towards Gatlinburg. The Swain County Sheriff’s Department contacted the National Park, and my department, to ask for assistance. To make a long story short, we stopped and arrested the perp at the Sugarlands visitor center, transferring custody directly to the Swain County Deputy that had initiated the pursuit over in North Carolina. Shortly after that, I received a subpoena to testify about the pursuit and arrest. That meant, not only did I have to drive to work, which is an hour away from my home, but I also had to drive through the National Park, into North Carolina and to Bryson City - another two hours away. Anyways, court lasted for hours and the whole process consumed the entire day. It was well after dark before I started my return trip.
After having a mediocre dinner at some greasy spoon restaurant in Cherokee, I began my trek across the mountains and back home. A trip that went totally awry. As I stated earlier, it was after dark before I even left the courthouse. Add to that another hour, time to get to Cherokee and have a bite to eat. Now, add to that the fact that it was very foggy out and I had a winding mountain road to drive. Needless to say, I had a long drive up the mountain side. The further I ascended, the thicker the fog became. I like to believe that it was because of the pea soup thick fog that I didn’t see the vehicle’s hazard flashers until I was almost on top of it.
I was nearing the Newfound Gap area of the highway, when suddenly, right before the beginning of a curve, appearing out of the fog right in front of me was the indistinct shape of a car with it’s set of flashing emergency lights dimly pulsing in the surrounding shroud. It was setting right in the middle of the road, effectively blocking both lanes. Instinctively, I pulled the steering wheel hard to the right and quickly stomped the brake pedal. While I hadn’t met more than a small hand full of on-coming vehicles, I had no idea if there would be any traffic in the opposite lane. I couldn’t take that chance, so I made for the roadside. Since I was right before the curve began, that meant I was also right before the guard-rail started. So I knew I was in for a wild ride. But I never dreamed that I would end up here.

I have to admit that I was going faster than I should have been, especially for weather like that. But I had no idea that I would be transported into a fictitious world. The stranded vehicle was enough to spike my adrenaline level, with me swerving off the road. The quick, rough bounce over the shallow ditch line wasn’t bad. Even the small hill that my police vehicle rapidly slid up and over didn’t bother me. What really panicked me was knowing that on the other side of that small embankment would be an almost vertical plummet for who know’s how many hundreds of feet. In just a split second, I had three or four rough bumps, then I was launched into the thick swirling mists of that cold October night. In that instant, my whole life flashed before my eyes. In that moment, suspended in that atmospheric murk, I knew that I would never see my loved ones again.

Down the Rabbit Hole scribed on November 2, 2006 (753) - welcome to never-never land ...... The events of the night of October 31st

You can imagine my surprise when my jeep roughly landed on earth, and the tires dug in (due to me still standing on the brake pedal). It was an almost horizontal surface and from what I could glimpse of the ground as my vehicle spun about, appearing to resemble an old, worn out access road. While the impact was jolting, I was happy not to be free-falling into a gully. However, my happiness was rapidly dimmed somewhat by the trees that appeared suddenly, out of the mists, before my police jeep’s headlights. I remember thinking, “Great. Instead of being splattered all over the ground, I’ll be crushed by running into a tree.” Pulling the steering wheel hard to the left and letting off the brakes, I spun past the trees. As I spun to a stop, what my headlights illuminated next was the most difficult thing that I’ve ever had to come to terms with - my police jeep slid to a stop in front of an honest to gosh, living, breathing and snarling werewolf.

I can say that now - now that I know some specifics behind it. But at that moment, I remember thinking, “A special effect straight out of a Howling movie is crouching behind a small bush in front of me.” To begin with, all I did was blink. Several times. While I was blinking, I had that buzzing feeling in the back of my brain. You know, that feeling like you’re trying to remember something important, but the memory can’t make it’s way through all the cerebral cob webs. I was beginning to wonder if I hadn’t fallen asleep and was dreaming my way through the wreck that I was having, when I heard a loud gunshot from right beside my vehicle. Being a police officer, a sound like that kicks me into hyper-vigilance overdrive. In one smooth movement, I removed my seat belt, turned on my spotlight and all of my take down lights, and had my firearm drawn, surveying what I had gotten myself into. Beside my car, just a few feet away, stood three people, one man and two women, dressed in clothing that resembled the Victorian period of history. The man was wearing an old highway overcoat with trousers and tall riding boots; one of the women was wearing what appeared to be an old fox hunters outfit, with the other wearing an antique fitted dress and bonnet. All of them looked as if their clothing had seen better days - dirty and torn. The other surprising thing about the trio were the items they had - the man had a rapier sword and an old snap-lock style single shot pistol; the woman in the dress had only a simple single shot snap-lock in one hand and what appeared to be an old coal oil lantern in the other; and the third, in the fox hunters garb, had an old muzzle-loader rifle, still held to her shoulder, pointing at the werewolf with the barrel end still smoking. For a brief second, all I did yet again was blink. There I was setting in my police vehicle, my left hand on the door handle and my firearm in my right, staring in disbelief at the people beside my vehicle. I then glanced at the werewolf and back at the group of people. I was in a “B” rated horror movie. I had just launched my police jeep off the side of a mountain and landed in the middle of a cheap thriller flick. Lovely. And the best thing was, since I had the area lit up like a parking lot, everyone’s attention was focusing on me. Even better.

What happened next violently jerked me back into reality, as it were. The werewolf creature drew up to its full height, a good seven or eight feet tall(!!) and threw a large object in my direction. That object landed on the hood of my Jeep, with a sickening “thud!” and a bloody splat, sliding to a stop on my windshield. It took my brain just a second to process what the beast had thrown - the bloody and mangled body of what appeared to be a young girl!! “To hell with my pistol, give me the shotgun!” I remember thinking as I holstered my gun and hit the release button for the shotgun with my left hand. I reached up, above my head, and immediately felt the cool metal in my right hand as the electronic shotgun lock popped open, freeing what I was grasping for. I opened my door with the other and stepped out into the cool, damp night air. It was apparent that the three people didn’t know what to think of my jeep appearing out of thin air, with it illuminating the area. I remember shouting at them to stay behind me as I racked a shell into the shotgun’s chamber. They were yelling something at me as the creature turned it’s complete attention to me. Leveling the shotgun’s ghost rings right between the creature's glowing eyes, I remember yelling “Police! Get down on the ground! NOW!!” It growled and lunged towards me! I pulled the trigger right as that buzzing memory broke through all the mental cob webs - werewolves can only be hurt by silver.

The next instant was filled with the booming explosion from my shotgun. And another. And a third, just for good measure. With each of the first two hits, the beast recoiled violently. The third knocked it to the ground, stunned by the impact of so much double 00 buck fired from less than five yards away. In an flash, the man was sprinting toward the stunned creature. To my semi-disbelief he wielded his rapier in a flurry of movement, which sunk the blade into the werewolf’s skull, the impact faintly echoing with a sickening “chunk!” Within seconds, I watched this gruesome, feral creature transform into a gray haired middle aged, slightly pudgy man. Come to find out later, the sword used by the gentleman was coated with silver.
I suppose it was the fact that my mouth was hanging open that caused the woman in the dress to inquire if I was alright. I suppose I was still in shock, but at the time I didn’t ( or was it more like I couldn’t?) pay attention to her accent and diction. I was dealing with a sensory overload. While I was trying to soak in all that had just happened, I realized that all three of them were slowly gathered around me. While they were asking if I was ok and acting concerned, I noticed that they hadn’t relaxed their guard. Instinctively, I racked my shotgun again. Just in case.
During those tense moments, my mind started processing all the relevant data - the werewolf, the antique style of dress and weapons, their odd accents and speech, and the most important piece - the mists. While my rational mind didn’t want to accept the situation, in my heart I realized what had happened. Of all the actions that I could have taken, I was surprised by my reaction. I lowered the shotgun, glanced at all three of them, “I’m in Ravenloft, aren’t I?” I believe that my inquiry shocked me as much as my new friends.
During our brief introductions, I discovered that my new friends were none other than the Weathermay-Foxgrove twins, Gennifer (in the dress) and Laurie (in the foxhunter’s outfit) and the man was known as Elijah Houlgrave, a young gentleman traveler that was an acquaintance of the twins. I had read descriptions of the twins in several Ravenloft products and can say that they weren’t done any justice. Light of skin and dark of hair, these two beautiful young women look, with the exception of their clothing, as mirror images of each other. While both are small in stature, you can see their fiery souls shining brightly within their eyes. The man, Elijah, looks about the same age as the twins, perhaps in his mid twenties. However, he has fiery red hair and freckled fair skin, possessing a tall, yet average looking stature. His face is finely chiseled, appearing to be from a much different culture than the twins. Try as I might, I can not remember his name from any of the published works that I have read.

Meanwhile, in a mist enshrouded camp -

The old gypsy woman was sitting beside the dying campfire, staring at the embers as they danced upon the night’s air. The others of her tribe were getting ready to move out, as they did their best traveling at night time. Slowly rising from her perch, Magdala motioned to the lead driver over to her. As Riemo approached, she leaned on his shoulder and looking him straight in his eyes, “We are changing destinations, we need to be in the Land of Ghosts tonight.” Glancing up towards the star lit night sky, Magdala added “And we must hurry, for events have begun to unfold, that needs our attention.”

“Grandmama, why are we going into the land of ghosts?” Young Vajra inquired of her grandmother, as the old raunie stepped into the Vardo. Magdala just shook her head, “Child, we are of the Vistani blood. We go where we will, we go where Fate needs a hand.”

Down the Rabbit Hole - The events of the night of October 31st (continued)

Right as Elijah started to suggest that we head back to town quickly, we all hear odd sounds approaching us from the foggy distance. It was a bizarre sound to me, reminding me of continuous movement on a hard surface. Yet it was combined with a faint jingling sound reminiscent of metal wind chimes, and an acquainted clopping sound. The most disconcerting thing was that it was muffled by the mists, and I couldn’t tell from which direction it was coming. Without saying a word, me and my new friends formed a circle, backs to backs, ready to greet what ever was upon us. To my surprise, although reflecting back I shouldn’t have been, a horse drawn vardo slowly appeared out of the mists. Followed by another and another and a fourth. “Vistani,” I muttered. Gennifer, who was standing nearest to me said, “How do you know about the Vistani?” “It’s a long story; I’ll tell you about it later,” was my reply.
The gypsies were true to their description - colorful clothing, coal black hair and an exotic olive colored skin. And their vardos - brightly colored mobile homes, pulled by some of the most beautiful horses that I have ever seen, had jingling supplies hung on the outside of the wagons. I felt like such an idiot - I just stood there, fascinated by seeing fantasy brought to life. While I was entranced, Laurie broke the silence - “What is your business here? And with us?”
“It is not the twins that I wish to speak with, but the Outlander.” This statement came in strong feminine voice, with an odd accent, from an elderly, yet vibrant looking gypsy lady - the apparent raunie of this company. The lady that spoke waded out of the mists swirling around the vardos. She wore a long sleeved blouse and a ground sweeping skirt, both in subdued colors, with her long silver hair worn in one lengthy braid. While cackling, the raunie said “I see that we are a little late for your arrival.” This surprised me, yet I guess that I shouldn’t have been. The Vistani are suppose to know all sorts of odd things, about people, about different places and about the history of this dread realm. It must have been the shock of everything that had transpired in the past few minutes, but I didn’t see any reason for any other action, than a simple question - “Why am I here?!?”
The elderly raunie had been wearing a jovial, friendly expression, but at my rudely blunt question that changed. Unknown to me, for some reason I started a slow advance towards her after I blurted out my question. But now, she wore such a serious expression, a mildly sympathetic one that slowed my advance until I was mere couple of feet from her. “I do not know, Outlander. The Tarokka won’t say. That is why you and I must speak.” I had been so focused, tunnel-visioned, on the old lady, that I hadn’t even realized that she and I had been discreetly surrounded by her tribesmen, many of which were holding bladed weapons of different kinds. I supposed she sensed that I had tensed up. “But not now. Now it is not safe here on this road.” Motioning her hands to the scene around me, “Help your new friends gather the bodies, while we guard you. Then we will escort you to Mordentshire.” With that said, she made a few hand motions to her tribesmen and returned to her vardo. The other gypsies dispersed, I guessed taking up lookout positions.
Laurie placed her hand on my shoulder, causing my heart to skip several beats. After spinning about to face my “attacker,” she realized what she had caused and quickly apologized. She then followed by stating that we need to get back to town, for they believed that the woods were not a safe place to be during the night. Gennifer then suggested that we take the two bodies with us, to show the town sheriff and for proper burial. This was when Elijah interjected that they were without rides, since the werewolf had scared off their horses. Seeing an opportunity, I volunteered to drive. My three new acquaintances looked rather skeptical at me, then at my police vehicle. Course, I suppose 'vehicle' isn’t the proper term. I drive one of the older vehicles in my department’s fleet - a 1998 Jeep Cherokee 4x4, for harsh winter weather in the mountains. I showed them that the rear hatch opens, giving us room to store the bodies for transport. The trio exchange skeptical glances to each other, but quickly agreed as a distant pack of wolves began howling. Even with the Vistani standing guard, my three new friends suggests that we work quickly.
Luckily, I had extra security blankets among the gear stowed in the back. After moving the gear box and some duffle bags out of the way, Elijah and I secured the bodies in blankets and place them in the back of the Jeep without much conversation. Before the trio climbed in, I attempt a brief explanation, explaining what my Jeep was and how it operated - comparing it to a carriage, something that they would be more familiar with. Somewhat easing their concerns about this new machine, Elijah and Laurie opened the rear doors, to ride in the back, while Gennifer rode up front. It took us awhile to get there, as the roads were rough and rutted and I had to drive very slowly, as the Vistani’s vardos don’t travel that fast.

During the drive, my new friends and I conversed quietly. To begin with, the talk was slow and reserved, mostly about what had happened tonight and my timely intervention. I wasn’t really sure how to handle this or how to answer some of the questions that they asked me, especially the ones about where I was from and how I arrived so suddenly. See, I have read a lot of the stories and information publish about this dread realm and I wasn’t exactly sure what time period I was in or how much I should ask of my new friends. So, I shifted the conversation to the offensive, asking them questions about what I had just witnessed. Laurie, from the back seat, informed me that it was the conclusion of an investigation that she and her sister had been involved with for the past couple of months. Gennifer told me that over the past few months, during the nights of the full moon, some of the livestock around Mordentshire would turn up missing or mutilated. Then last month, one of the young boys that acted as a herder turned up missing. Four days later, his half eaten body was found among the moors north of town.
Laurie told me that her and Gennifer suspected some kind of lycanthrope the whole time, but they had no idea who it might be, until this week. She said that up until then, their investigation had been fruitless. But they had gotten their big break one day at lunch. Her and Laurie were having lunch at the Harbour Light (a little restaurant in Mordentshire) this past Sunday. Just so happened, the restaurant’s owner, Mr. Henry Archer, had replaced the old drinking glasses with new ones that had a silver coated rim on them. Of course, Mr. Archer didn’t announce this little “up-grade,” as he thought that it only added to the restaurant’s well-to-do atmosphere.
I noticed that the twins took turns speaking, as Gennifer continued the tale. Apparently there was a cooper merchant that had just moved to the area a few months before all of the attacks started. Oswald Herrington seemed friendly and outgoing. While he was from Dementlieu, he had done business in town for years and years. The Herrington name was very trusted in the barrel and shipping crate business, so Oswald was readily accepted into the business community. Laurie continued by saying that Oswald had been very concerned about the situation, and offered to help in anyway that he could.
Now it was Elijah’s turn to speak. Apparently, by the way he talked, he was in the restaurant that same day. It seems that Oswald was startled by the new glassware as he took a sip from it. He ejaculated a brief growl of pain and smashed the glass to the floor, clutching at his mouth with the cloth napkin. This gained everyone’s attention in the restaurant, who all looked in Oswald’s direction. Of course Mr. Archer was by his customer’s side almost immediately. It seemed that the new glass had cut Oswald’s lip as he took a drink from it. Mr. Herrington waved away any help, saying that it was nothing, attempting to sport a jovial look, and excusing himself from the restaurant. The whole time he had kept the napkin to his mouth.
Now, both twins continued the tale in alternating statements, first from Laurie, followed by Gennifer. The merchant’s aversion to the new glassware that day helped them select him as a suspect, by proving some of their suspicions. Apparently their first clue came from them checking the broken glass. Both of them caught the waitress before she dumped the shards of broken glass in the garbage. It had no blood on it anywhere, only traces of golden ale and what appeared to be a small piece of burnt skin.
The next day they visited Mr. Herrington’s office, using the excuse of checking on their book printing supplies. He seemed his normal jovial self, yet they noticed that both his upper and lower lips looked as if they were severely chapped. Since the full moon would be in four days time, the twins asked if Mr. Herrington could bring two of the crates over to their Uncle’s herbal shop at that time. Oswald simply grinned as he told them that he had scheduled that day, as well as the next two, to go purchasing business stock, but that he would have their supplies delivered, as promised, in full next Monday.
Afterwards, all three of my new friends compared notes and came up with a trap for the lycanthrope. They were going to use a couple of caged sheep to try and lure the creature into an area that they could confront it in. Unfortunately, earlier that evening a young shepherd girl, named Lilly, had lost three of her family’s baby sheep. Apparently the young girl had went to look for them and had been found by the werewolf instead.

Arriving at the edge of town, the Vistani stopped. The lead driver dismounted and walked back to my Jeep. I pressed the button to roll down the window and he said, “This is as far as we go. The raunie wants to speak with you tomorrow near the ruins of the old Soddenter Farm, just off Farmer’s Walk road. Be there at high noon.” With that said, he walked back to his vardo, climbed back on the seat and the company headed off into the mists. “They are as creepy as I believed,” I mumbled.

Gennifer directed me to their family’s home, a grand estate named Heather House, on the southwest end of town. Luckily enough, we were already on this side of town, so I didn’t have to drive far without any headlights. On our way to the twin’s family estate, we decide that there were three goals to accomplish; hide my Jeep; notify the local sheriff, leaving the bodies with him; and find me a place to sleep. Laurie suggested that we use the old hay barn to park my "carriage" in and transfer the bodies to a horse drawn cart. Laurie volunteered her and Elijah to take the cart to the sheriff’s place. Backing my Jeep into the unused barn just north of Heather House, Elijah and I move the corpses to a horse drawn wagon. Once again we did so with minimal conversation, mostly “let’s do this” and “what about that”’s. Laurie brought around a horse, which Gennifer hooked the wagon to and Laurie and Elijah were off to the sheriff’s. Gennifer advised me to stay there for a little bit, while she went and made arrangements for me to room in the manor.
With everyone gone and things quiet for a few moments, I had time to reflect on what all had just happened. As I sat inside my police jeep, with it’s door open, I inhale the odors of the barn - the sweet decaying scent of old hay, with a slight hint of a salty spice. There was also a restful sound from the distance that I could not place. Relaxing a bit, I let my mind wander over the events of the night. First my rational mind told me that this was all a dream, and that I would wake up any second now. But try as hard as I might, that didn’t happen. Since I knew that I could wake myself when I’m in a dream that I don’t like, I searched for another explanation. The other conclusion that I came up with, involved me dreaming though the trauma that my wreck would have caused, which didn’t seem to hold logic at this time - this was taking far too long and was far too vivid. Not discovering a plausible explanation, I decided to listen to some music to help sooth my troubles. That was a bad idea. I turned the jeep’s ignition switch to the accessory setting, and attempted to find a radio station. Static. Static on every channel. AM, FM, it didn’t matter. As I leaned my head against the steering wheel with resignation, I could have sworn that, through the static, I heard evil, mocking laughter.

Even though I didn’t realize it at that moment, those couple hours of adventure had completely drained me of energy. With the shocking excitement, combined with me being awake for nearly 20 hours, I was completely, and utterly worn out. As I wrote above, I thought that I heard mocking laughter in the radio’s static. With my attention directed toward the face plate of the radio, Gennifer had walked up beside me, to the open Jeep door. She quietly reached out her hand to touch my left forearm, and when she did, I about jumped through the roof of my vehicle. She apologized and amusedly told me that she had a room ready for me in the manor. I thanked her politely as I turn the ignition switch off and withdrew the keys . Gennifer looped her right arm around my left and led me towards the outside door of the barn. As we stepped out into the night air, I heard it - that faint, familiar sound that I couldn’t place while inside the barn - the ocean. Or rather, the sound of crashing waves. And then the clean, clear smell of salty ocean spray drifting on the crisp cool night winds. I remember feeling like such a twit - letting all these things slip by me, all these things that I should have picked up on. I was very disappointed in myself, as I wasn’t being a very attentive. I realize that I’m in an alien world, but if I can’t keep my wits about me, here I’ll wind up dead. Or worse ...
During our walk, Gennifer spoke to me in whispered tones. “I’ve told Granpapa that you helped us with the beast and that you need a place to stay the night, as you are from foreign lands. He eagerly suggested that you stay in one of the west wing rooms. I must warn you - Grandpapa isn’t ...” she paused, as if searching for the appropriate words to use.
“Isn’t in very good health. Yes, I know. I won’t be a bother. Promise,” I said as I smiled. Gennifer was shocked. “How do you know? I mean, you are an Outlander, are you not? You said yourself that you are not from here,” she said as she slowly started to loosen her grip on my arm and pull away. “You have nothing to worry about, m’am. I am indeed what you would call an ‘Outlander,’ but ... I realize that in these lands it is difficult to trust people that you just meet, but I am very tired and it’s a long story. It is something that I will completely explain to you, something that we can discuss tomorrow, with the rest of your family. But our little adventure tonight has left me quite drained, and I would like nothing better than to catch a few hours of restful, quite sleep.” I believe that last statement eased her, as she resumed her comforting grip on my arm, and we finished our walk in silence, her navigating our way through the thick fog surrounding us.
As we neared the manor house, I was impressed by its silhouette in the foggy night - a hulking shadow, faintly highlighted by the full moon. Gennifer led me into the gatehouse and towards a lighted beacon in the courtyard. There we were met by a butler, who was holding aloft a lit lantern. He was old in appearance, but with a sprightly gleam in his eyes. Gennifer and he conferred for a brief moment, afterwards they approached and she introduced him as Jeeves, stating that he would show me to my room. I thanked her and she wished me a safe night, leaving back through the gatehouse that we had entered. Jeeves simply nodded and led me across the courtyard, to the left, and up a set of steps to some double doors. Entering, Jeeves holds the lantern up high and we proceed to navigate through the darkened manor, up the stair case into what I guessed was the west wing, stopping in front of a door. He curtly swung open the door, and gestured for me to enter, stating that this would be my room.
We entered the lavishly appointed room, him showing me the necessities and wishing me a safe night. Even though I felt extremely weary, since this was a foreign place to me, I lazily poked around the room, giving it a cursory examination. Everything from the stacked stone fireplace, to the hickory wardrobe, to the large window overlooking the hills, to the giant canopied bed. All the furnishings appeared to have came out of an 18th century aristocrat’s home - antique by anything that I had ever seen. Laying down on the cushiony bed was a respite to everything that I had experienced thus far - so much so, I instantly fell asleep.

Thu Oct 24, 2013 10:16 pm
Criminal Mastermind
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Post Into the Mists (Part 2)
A Rude Awakening in a Foreign Place - Events of November 1st, scribed on November 2, 2006 (753)

I had a restless night. I must have tossed and turned the whole time I was in bed. I don’t remember much of the dreams that I had that night, but I do recall the ominous shadows and sounds that plagued my slumber. The worse part about the dreams is that I can only recall bits and fragments. There were two vibrant modicums that I can easily recall. The first, I recollect hearing a faint feminine voice gently pleading my name, “...Ashton..” It seems that this occurred several times during the dream sequences. The second was of me climbing a darkened stairway and hearing a scream for help, coming from somewhere above me. That was right before I awoke. I haven’t had a night with dream fragments like that since I was a child. I hope this isn’t a portent of things to come, but knowing the nature of this world, it could be the worse sign of all.
I finally climbed out of bed sometime about mid-morning and after a quick face wash, I found my way downstairs to the dining hall in hopes of finding something to quiet my stomach with. Surprisingly, I was just in time for what is referred to as “mid-morning breakfast” and some proper introductions. The twins were there, of course, for they presented me to Lord Jules Weathermay (their grandfather) and Mayor Daniel Foxgrove (their father). The meal was more like a lite snack - toast, jam & coffee. The twins briefly acquainted me to their dietary intake and their meal times. The meals were as I’ve read about being served in the United Kingdom. Not bad really, but still aren’t as good as a home-made cheese burger. Course, those days are on hold for the time being. At least until I can find a way home. The other thing that finally ‘clicked’ in my brain this morning was everyone’s diction - my brain finally caught onto something that should have been obvious the night before - the difference in accent and language. The Mordentish language is apparently similar to Colonial English, in most every way. While I could understand the language, and it wasn’t much of a difficultly to communicate, it was rather odd listening to the native tongue. Course, I’m sure that I will receive several perplexed stares when I speak as well.
As I stated above, I was introduced to Lord Jules Weathermay and Mayor Daniel Foxgrove. Both almost fit what I had read about them - Lord Jules was an aged man, obviously unhealthy but in jovial spirits this morning. Mayor Foxgrove was polite and showed interest in the events of last night, as well as my sudden appearance. The twins took to an explanation of said events, while I helped myself to seconds and thirds. Both Lord Jules & Mayor Foxgrove mildly berated the twins for their involvement in something so “unlady like.” It was mildly amusing to watch the twins wrinkle their noses and roll their eyes over such comments.
Mayor Foxgrove then abruptly steered the topic of conversation to me - where was I from? How had I arrived in such a timely fashion? I suppose my hesitation felt awkward for all in the room as well. I unconsciously wrestled with how to handle this without saying the wrong things . I finally mustered a reply - “Not from here, Mayor, not from this realm. This may be hard to believe, but I am from another world.” “An Outlander,” was the quiet reply from Lord Jules. While I’m sure that in such a reserved community no one would call me an ‘Outlander’ in polite society, I just wonder how long before this news will spread in the local gossip. And how far.
“I also owe the ladies an explanation and answers to some of their questions from last night.” Setting the stage for everything that I was about to disclose, I wrestled with myself over how to go about my dissertation about their world. I decided to hold onto that, for the time being, keeping it as an ace-in-the-hole topic for later. Instead, I related the story as to how I came to be here. I then told them about Earth - in all of its brutal glory - as I related some of the technological marvels of world. Their startled and silent expressions begged me to continue. While I don’t recall exactly what all I went into, I do know that I covered many topics. My monologue slowly became a dialogue, that quickly turned into me answering their questions about the wonder of Earth. The whole time, in the back of my mind, I was arguing with myself about telling them of my knowledge about their world.
Before I could plunge myself deeper into worry, Laurie spoke up, “Didn’t you say that you were wanting to see something before lunch time?” The Vistani! I quickly agreed and apologized to my hosts. As the twins and I were exiting the manor, Mayor Foxgrove extended an invitation to dinner at his place tonight. Firmly shaking his hand in acceptance, I muttered a favorable “looking forward to it,” and followed the twins outside. As the three of us were seated in the carriage, I inquired of the twins if they knew of this Soddenter farm place that my meeting was suppose to be near. They both smiled and Gennifer stated that they had heard of it a time or two. Looking back, I suppose that was a silly question to ask two locals. During the brief journey, our conversation was about the Vistani. Apparently the twins didn’t trust the gypsies too much, as local opinion was that they were best left alone, almost a taboo subject. However, they both agreed that since the matriarch of this tribe wanted to speak with me, whatever it is must be important.

An Unscheduled Meeting

As Mayor Foxgrove arrived to his office after visiting with his father-in-law, he leaned back in his desk chair pondering upon this new, unexpected visitor. This was quite different from any of the others that had turned up over the years - this one had a broad base of knowledge about things that this world hasn’t discovered yet. This would be very dangerous for the Outlander, but .... Daniel suddenly noticed the chill that had suddenly permeated his office. Dread gripped his heart, as he slowly turned to face his etheric visitor -Lord Godefroy himself.
“What can you tell me about this new visitor?” Lord Godefroy impatiently stared at Daniel with eyes burning with unchecked contempt. Daniel hated this man, but was powerless to rebel against the ghost’s demands. Alice’s soul was in peril if he refused to cooperate.
“Only that he is an Outlander, who claims to be from a world that he calls ‘Earth.’ But, he will be over for dinner tonight. I can find out more then.”
“We will talk afterwards then,” Lord Godefroy snarled, “if you find out anything useful, I’ll let you see your beloved tonight.” His spectral form started to slowly fade from sight, “but be warned, I will be watching. Closely.” With that said, the Darklord completely disappeared.
“I know,” Daniel muttered under his breath, as he cupped his head in his hands.

A Dark Future Foretold - a gypsy fortune telling of November 1st, scribed on November 2, 2006 (753)

My meeting was with Madame Magdala, the raunie for the Manusa tasque, the tribe that we had met the night before. While I won't go into detail about our whole conversation, I do wish to record those points that still preoccupy my thoughts. The whole meeting was very informative, yet enigmatic at the same time. Before I head down a distracting tangent, here is what occurred -
Shortly before noon time, I was at my destination - with the twins waiting a short distance away. I felt silly, for I still had on my uniform as I had no other clothing to change into. Fortunately polyester doesn’t wrinkle and still looked relatively fresh. Still, the gypsy guardsmen cooly greeted me, taking no notice and motioning me towards one of the circled vardos. As I walked through their camp, I observed that it was set up just like I had read - a large campfire in the middle, with the wagons circled around it. Off to one side, a couple of the men were grooming the tribe’s horses, and on the other there was laundry hung out to dry. I also noticed three or four children peering out from behind a vardo, watching me with intent eyes. Since I didn’t observe any women out, I surmised that they must have been in the wagons, perhaps because of an Outlander’s presence. I approach the designated vardo’s doorway and stop. I remember being hesitant, but I have no idea why. As I was fumbling with my mental questions, I raise my hand to knock on the door. Right as my knuckles were about to make contact with the door, it slowly swung open. “Come in, Outlander.”
Needless to say, given all I had experienced in the past 24 hours, that was no real surprise. Standing within the open doorway was Madame Magdala, gesturing me to enter. Taking a deep breath, I climbed into the vardo. Once inside, it was just as I had imagined it would be - shelving on both sides, containing all kinds of books, glassware, small wooden boxes and trinkets, with a small table covered with a dark purple cloth in the middle. What caught my breath was the young gypsy woman seated on the other side of the table. Beautiful. Simply beautiful. And unexpected. Her long black hair, her deep chocolate colored eyes and the surprise of someone else being in on this little meeting. Ravenloft would be the death of me yet, if I kept letting the unexpected entrance me so. Catching myself, I nodded a greeting to the young woman and looked at the elderly vistani. Madame Magdala introduced me to the young seer - her name was Vajra - and it was she who would be telling my fortune today. Vajra simply nodded at me, motioning towards the other chair. Upon the table rested a stack of ivory cards, a Tarokka deck. Vajra quietly watched me be seated and picked up the deck. Vajra stared at me intensely, locking eyes with me while she shuffled the cards, her chocolate eyes twinkling in the candle light. Madame Magdala stated, “You know what these are for, don’t you Outlander?” I nodded in the affirmative. “Good. Then you know what is about to happen. I see that you are knowledgeable about the magic of your world,” as we watched Vajra shuffle the cards. I replied “Somewhat, yes. I like to try to be well read on such esoteric topics.”
Then Vajra spoke, a soft, melodious voice, inquiring about what it was that I wished to know and accomplish in these lands. “I wish to know why I was brought here. And how I can return to my home world,” was out of my mouth before I had really thought about her questions. As she continued to shuffle the cards, our conversation eventual turned to what I was really interested in - conjunctions. A conjunction is an exit portal out of Ravenloft, my only ticket to get back home. Reflecting back, it seems that mine and Vajra’s dialogue lasted both a long time and for only a short duration. The whole time, Madame Magdala simply observed the two of us. Looking back, it was very silly - I prolonged the conversation in order just to hear the young vistani speak. Talk about feeling foolish .... me, probably being her senior by at least 15 years, acting like a teenager with a sudden crush. Anyways, on with the reading ....­

The first card that Vajra turned up was a vividly colorful card depicting what resembled someone wearing a full suit of armor, with the scales of justice behind him. “This is you, the Avenger - the Ace of Swords. Outlander, this is what you do - this is what you are. You are an avenger of the wronged, a defender of the weak, the persecutor of the evil and the protector of the innocent. But sometimes you prefer to take matters into your own hands, metting out your own brand of justice. This is why you have been drawn here.” I wasn’t sure how to take this. The armored figure reminded me of someone dressed in full riot gear. To me, it was obvious, if you were from my world, to know that I was a law enforcement officer in some way, but no one here has ever seen someone from my world. Or have they? And what did she mean by that last statement?
The second card, placed to the left of the first, was a strangely colored card, with a hooded figure standing in front of what looked like a twisted, wrecked car, setting in front of several star shaped tombstones. “The Eight of Stars - This is what made you choose your path. While you were always destined to be a guardian of some sort, the death of a loved one colored your decision.” Christine. A high school girlfriend that I was madly in love with. Presumably killed in a car wreck my senior year, the night after I had asked her to marry me. The wreck had occurred on a bridge over the French Broad river, culminating with her car plummeting into the river itself. After an intensive search, her body was never found. The police investigating believed it to have been a drunken driver that hit her car, causing it to launch over the guard rail and into the river. The other vehicle fled the scene, never to be found. To this day, as far as I know, the case has never been solved.
The third card, placed to the right of the first, looked like the interior of a mausoleum with a veil covered woman, finely dressed lying in state, on a bier. From the body rises a spirit or ghost. “The Spirit card - very powerful, from the Fortuna Magna. This shows your present, the influence that needs your help - this is what drew you here, who drew you here; this is what you will need to deal with in order to have a chance to return to your home.” The more I pondered upon this, the more confused I became. Was I to believe that some ghost had picked me as their champion? From across reality, a dead person summoned me here for some mysterious task? I found this part difficult to digest.
The fourth card, placed directly above the first, telling me about the present, was a bizarre card - the Two of Coins. It was a winter-like scene, near what appeared to be some kind of wall. Huddled against the wall were two figures, dressed in rags - the homeless. The smaller of the two, held two coin-like pieces of bread in it’s outstretched hand, altruistically offering both to the larger figure, who looked as if it was attempting to shelter the smaller person from the biting winter winds. “While this is a good sign, be wary Outlander, for the unselfish Philanthropist card can also mean the ultimate sacrifice.” Did this mean that I would die saving someone else? Or that someone else would give their life for my freedom? I hate it when fortune tellers leave out the most important part of your fortune.
The fifth card, the card that tells what I will face, what my challenge will be, was laid below the first. To begin with, I wasn’t sure what it was suppose to be, for the card was upside down and hard to make out. But as I tilted my head sideways a bit, I could clearly make out what it was. Upon the card’s surface was a dark and eerie scene - a man with cruel and homely features standing upon what looked to be a high cliff over the ocean. The sky behind him is dark, lit only by streaks of lightning. Upon his head was a spiked circlet, and clutched in his right hand is a scepter. I questioningly glanced at Vajra. “The Dark Master ... reversed. While you will have to face some one of immense power, there is hope that you will find his weakness. By finding his weakness, you have a chance of vanquishing him.” The expression in her eyes was one of pity, for she knew that I understood what she meant - that I would be facing one of the Darklords of Ravenloft. Great .....
After that, she and I just sat there and stared at each other for who knows how long. I have to admit, I was shook. I knew what this meant and what a Darklord was. I was up against one of the evil prisoners of this dreadful prison. Madame Magdala broke the silence, “Show him the outcome of his future,” she quietly said to Vajra. The young girl hesitated, first looking at her mentor then staring back to me with her large, beautiful eyes; “Do you wish to know the outcome, Outlander?” Without even thinking about it, I nodded my head.

It was as if she was moving in slow motion. Just like all those cheesy movies that try to help build the suspense by showing everything moving as if it were underwater. The card seeming leapt from the top of the deck, into her hand. From there, it launched itself into the air, slowly spinning towards the layout. The echoing sound of its impact rang through out the cramped interior of the vardo. Instead of stopping on top of the other cards, it kept going. Spinning and sliding across the tabletop, through my fingers and past me, onto the floor. Yet, it didn’t stop there, it sped past Madame Magdala’s feet and slid under one of the book shelves. “Hmph!,” the raunie exerted. “I suppose your future is not to be known. Yet.” The elder glanced at the younger, “I believe that is all that we can do for you Outlander.” Madame Magdala opened the vardo’s door, “Be on your way and may the Fates smile upon your decisions.”

Meanwhile, back at the Vistani camp .....

Madame Magdala watched her granddaughter carefully after the Outlander left. She could tell that Vajra’s mind was preoccupied. “Child, clear your mind of this reading and the Outlander. Nothing good will come of it.”
“But grandmama, he is so different from anyone else that I have ever met. He is so ...”
“Dangerous - that is the word that you are looking for, child. He is dangerous because of why he was drawn here. He is dangerous because of what he must do. He is dangerous because of what he chooses to be. All who stand with him face the same peril as he. And the same damnation. Clear your mind of him and be done with it, child.”
“But grandmama, if he is so dangerous, why did you invite him here? Why did you let me cast his fortune?”
The raunie shook her head, “For many reasons, child. He needs to leave these lands before the Old Man takes interest in him. He needs to know that there is a way for him to get home. And he needs to know what he is truly up against.”
Vajra let her grandmother’s words sink in for a few minutes. “Different. He is different from any other man that I have ever met. I want to speak with him more ...” The raunie gives her granddaughter a stern eye, “Playing with fire; it only causes painful scars and even more painful memories. Do what you feel you must, but know this - one day you are to be raunie of our tasque. That is a very important responsibility. Do not waste it, or your life, for some Outlander. Now, run along, put him out of your mind and go help with chores.” Whisking her granddaughter our of her vardo, the raunie shakes her head. She remembers her youthful crush upon another Outlander. Smiling, her hand unconsciously rubs her left elbow and the scar there on. His memory would be with her forever, on her heart and on her arm - a scar that she will never be rid of. But even though she has painful memories of that relationship, she wouldn’t trade them for all of creation.

A Dinner Invitation - The evening of November 1st, scribed on November 2, 2006 (753)

After my reading, I wasn't much in the mood for conversation, nor writing any of my thoughts concerning my Tarokka reading. The twins picked up this while they observed my return to the carriage. Laurie verbally noted that my meeting had apparently been less than ideal. I made some comment to the effect of it just gave me a lot to think about. I believe that they were trying to lighten my mood, as the twins started chatting about the delectable lunch, prepared by Ms. Hollander, the cook, that we would be returning to. Food being the most distant concern from my mind, I must have acted like an automaton up until I was back at Heather House, seated at the dinning table with the food in front of me.
The repast brought me out of my reverie. The meal was hearty and delicious, in an ‘old world’ way, I suppose. The conversation was light and quick paced, with me adding nothing to it. It was mostly a discussion of local topics, polite gossip mostly, nothing that really grabbed my attention. Afterwards, Lord Weathermay suggested that we retire to the library to continue the conversation over a snifter of brandy.
Here, in the Heather House library, is where the discussion turned more serious. I hadn’t really gone into much detail about me or my life, just a little about where I was from. As everyone settled down to their chosen drinks, I asked the point blank question - “What do any of you know about ‘conjunctions’?” Talk about an uncomfortable silence. The only sound was of the fireplace crackling. To break that silence, I began by telling them about myself, and my life back home. Then I spoke more about the fictional stories and writings of Ravenloft on my world, indicating my dilemma over the amount of information to share or not because I wasn’t sure how helpful, or harmful, that information might be. Then I pulled out a photo that I always carried with me, one of my daughter. Everyone was amazed at the concept of colored photography. After I had given them a brief explanation, I illustrated my desire to return home - to be with my family. The twins exchanged glances between themselves and their grandfather. It was Lord Jules that finally spoke up, "We have heard of the bloody things, these so called ‘conjunctions,’ but I have never witnessed them first-hand. I believe that Laurie and Gennifer can put you on the right track," motioning towards the twins with his brandy snifter, “but be warned,” he accented this last statement with a short, punctuating movement of his cane, “from what I’ve seen from other Outlanders - tread carefully, for there are others, blackened soul and all, that want to leave this realm as well,” and with a very serious look directed at me, “and they will do anything to get the information you are searching for.”
Before either twin could say anything, there was a light knock on the library door. Jeeves partially opened the door, informing Lord Jules that he had a visitor wishing to speak with him. Of course, Lord Jules accepted and within minutes Jeeves returned to announce the visitor. “Sir Samual Cosse, my lordship.” In beside him strode a tall gentleman dressed in a long black coat, buttoned all the way up, wearing a matching black tri-cornered hat with a snow white scarf about his neck. He sported a graying mustache on his otherwise clean shaven face, with bright blue eyes accented by his dark brown eyebrows. I also observed a silver and black lantern shaped pin attached to the jacket’s lapel on his left side. Strapped along his waist, on one side was what appeared to be a rapier, and on the other he seemed to have two single shot pistols. With a curt nod to Jeeves, Sir Cosse, in one fluid movement bowed while removing his hat with his left hand, greeting Lord Jules and the twins.
“Lord Jules, I apologize for an unannounced visit , but I just want to clear up this Herrington case.” Sir Cosse kept his eyes locked on me during this statement, making me wonder what his visit was really about. Lord Jules returned his pleasant greeting and motioned him to be seated and have a brandy. Sir Cosse politely declined and crossed the room directly to me. “You must be the mysterious foreigner that I’ve heard and been asked about. I do not believe that we have been properly introduced,” he extended his right hand, “I am Sir Samuel Cosse, lead investigator of the Lamplighters. And you, sir?’
Resisting the rebellious urge to be overly cynical, I grasp his hand with most of my strength, “I am Officer Ashton Jones, senior nightwatch officer and lead crime scene technician. Nice to meet a fellow law man.” From his slightly, and quickly hidden, confused expression, I knew that I had made a point of recognition. “I’m sure that you are here to listen to my statement of events about the eve in question. So, if you wish, I’m sure Lord Jules would give us use of the parlor for your interview,” I volunteered.
“Not necessary, my good sir. We can do this at my house this evening. I wish you to drop by for dinner around six. ‘No’ is an answer that I won’t accept,” Sir Cosse stated. Apparently he was a good chess player as well, “I’ll send a carriage around to pick you three up. Say a quarter before six?” He then glanced at the twins, “I would be most pleased if you two would grace us with your presence as well, my ladies. I have some questions that Mr. Houlgrave couldn’t answer, and wish to know your views on this case as well.” I glanced at the twins, who both smiled and nodded. I then turned to Sir Cosse and nodded my consent as well. With that, Sir Cosse bid a farewell and excused himself.
“Well, that could have gone better,” Gennifer volunteered, “I guess we’ll have to tell daddy that dinner will have to be rescheduled for tomorrow night.” Laurie chimed in, “Of course, that’ll be after we take you by Uncle Randolph’s shop.” The twins glanced at each other, and Gennifer said with a grin “Well, consider yourself a lucky man, Officer Ashton Jones - many young Mordentish men dream of having me AND my sister as dates for an evening’s outing.”
“Ladies!” Lord Jules looked mildly offended at the twin’s remark. Both Gennifer and Laurie lightly giggled and bid farewell, “for we have to find something to wear,” was their excuse for leaving. I looked at Lord Jules, who was shaking his head, “Do you have to deal with anything as unruly in your world?” I just grinned - if he only knew how disrespectful people could be on Earth .....

It had been years since I had used a straight razor to shave with, but that is the only shaving tool available here. Jeeves even offered to help, but I politely declined. Even though he means well, I have trouble trusting someone with a razor near my throat. Being finished with cleaning myself up, Jeeves had my uniform laid out, freshly pressed and all the metal polish. I dressed quickly and snapped my utility belt into place. I checked my Glock, to make sure it was loaded and ready, and checked my extra magazines to make sure they were prepared as well. As I descended the stairway, I saw that the twins were already waiting for me in the main hall. And wow! I hadn’t seen fashion like that since my senior prom. While the dresses weren’t hoop skirts, they were formal looking, long gowns. The design and style were mirror images, just like the twins. The only difference was in the colors - luckily for me, Laurie was wearing an emerald green, while Gennifer was wearing a sapphire blue. That way I could tell them apart by remembering their colors. Helping them don their long coats, I shrugged on my own trench coat, and we were off.
At a quarter till six, the carriage arrived at Heather House to pick me and the twins up for our ‘dinner date’ at Sir Samuel Cosse’s. It was a short but pleasant ride, with both of the twins giving me another of their cross-fire explanations about Sir Cosse and the lamplighters. While I will admit that it is rather amusing to see the two of them get started about a topic, it can be rather confusing - listening to one then the other, over and over, during the discussion. At times, they seem to share the same mind when they choose to speak on certain topics. One will start a sentence, then the other finishes it.
When we arrived at Sir Cosse’s modest, but elegant house, it was in the finer district of Mordentshire. A servant of greeted us at the door, took our coats, and showed us to the parlor. Seated within were Sir Cosse and Elijah Houlgrave, engaged in some kind of discussion. When we entered, they both stood and greeted the twins and myself. We only had time for a brief, lite conversation before the dinner bell rang.
The dinner was quaint, but delicious. The discussion had been simple introductory, it seemed, as if Sir Cosse was trying to decide what kind of person I was. While I was the primary focus of the dinner, Sir Cosse also spoke with the twins and Elijah about the events concerning Oswald Herrington and the young girl, Lilly. I suppose the conversation was what I’d call a polite field interview. Our host courteously asked the same kind of questions that I’d ask a suspicious person, but he used a slow and languorous way instead of the quick-fire method that I prefer. While police from my world don’t have the time or convenience to be solicitous to our suspects, I suppose the police here work a little differently. While personally it was mildly offensive to be thought of in a suspicious way, I professionally couldn’t blame him. Sir Cosse inquired about where I was from and how I had arrived here. Seeing no reason not to be truthful with him, I told him most of the details that I had related to the Weathermays, excluding my ‘knowledge’ of Ravenloft, and about my reasons for wanting to return home. However, I also excluded the crazy idea that I had in mind to accomplish my return home.

Meanwhile, in the quiet Vistani camp...

Vajra stealthily moved about the circled vardos. She need to find the Outlander, no matter what her raunie said, she had to find him. She stood silently by Chesnut, gently smoothing his mane and patting him on his neck. The horse snorted, but remained otherwise quiet. Vajra was both confused and driven at the same time. Earlier that night, while cleaning Magdala’s vardo, Vajra had discovered the missing Tarokka card - the outcome to the Outlander’s question - the Prisoner! While absently petting the horse, she reflected upon why else she was doing this. Her grandmama had said that the Outlander need to know why he was here and what he was to do, in order to leave. That is why she need to show him the last card of his reading. That, and the fact that the Outlander had ignited a spark in her soul, something she had been longing for ever since she could remember.
While she did have the sight, it was unclear concerning her and this mysterious Outlander. Were they made for each other? Would they be lovers? Or would they be more? Vajra’s vision was cloudy when it came to this. And to her, it didn’t matter. While it did frighten her a little, she had to find this man and .... and what? Help him? Love him? She was confused as to why she had to do this, but she knew she had to try, whatever the out come.
The other thing that perplexed her was the Prisoner card - she didn’t know if she should interpret it in reversed position or not. She drew it out of her vest pocket and stared at it in the moon light - a silhouetted figure, that appears to be looking out a high set, barred window, in a dark, crelinated tower. A lonely figure staring out into the unknown, against a night sky, lit only by a crescent moon and a hand full of stars. One of the most ominous cards of the Fortuna Magna - right side up, it foretells of imprisonment and isolation. However, in the reverse reading, it implies freedom and return to your family or tribe. Vajra gripped the card tightly, replacing it in her breast pocket.
“The mere sight of him makes my heart skip a beat, and makes me forget to breath.” Vajra didn’t understand any of this - the Outlander is a gorgio! “What gives him this power over me? Is he attractive?” pondered Vajra, “Yes, but it isn’t just his looks. He is comely, for a gorgio, with his close-cropped dark blond hair, and his gray-blue eyes. He isn’t tall, but he does have a fit build to his body.” As she snuck out of the camp, the gypsy dwelt upon all of this - it was true that the Outlander had caught her attention like no other, but this was something entirely different than anything she’d ever experienced before. As Vajra crept towards Mordentshire, she decided that her grandmama was right - “dangerous” was a good way to describe this outlander. She was sneaking away from her tribe for ... she didn’t known why. She just knew that she had to, that she had to see him again, to show him the last card from his reading. And she hoped that the Old Man wouldn’t notice her, or take interest in either of them.

A Dinner Invitation - The evening of November 1st, scribed on November 2, 2006 (753) (continued)

After my decidedly odd dissertation (about being an Outlander), Sir Cosse simply nodded and just sat there, staring off into space for a short time. He then stood and excused himself for a moment, leaving the room. The twins and Elijah all looked at me, and at the same time, “Are you crazy?!” I simply shrugged, “Honesty goes a long way with law enforcement.” Before anything else could be said, Sir Cosse returned, carrying a large Victorian style folder. His servants quickly began clearing the table at his gesture. While they bused away dishes and such, Sir Cosse stated that he was concerned about there being another lycanthrope in the area.
The Lamplighters had searched Herrington’s business earlier today. Apparently the merchant had lived in a small apartment above the warehouse part of his shop. After questioning the two apprentices that work there, his Lamplighters found no sign of other lycanthropes there, and even found some of Herrington’s personal notes and a journal. In the journal, they found an entry from about five months ago.
Now that the table was clear, he opened the folder and began laying out articles and pages on the table, while continuing his recitation of the investigation. In the entry, Herrington wrote about transporting his possessions and cargo toward Mordentshire, when he was attacked by a small pack of wolves. He scared them away by firing a snap-lock pistol at the large wolf that bit him. Sir Cosse thinks this is when he contracted the disease, for afterwards in the journal, there are some entries were Herrington wrote some nightmares concerning bloody images. At one point, Sir Cosse states that, from the entries in the journals, he believes that Herrington understood what he had became and even began to enjoy it. It was at this point that the evening’s itinerary changed considerably.

As we were discussing the werewolf case, with case file documents scattered all over the dinning room table, we could all hear the faint sound of the door bell. All of us became silent, as we listened to Monte answering the door, and promptly coming to announce the visitor. Sliding the room’s door open. Monte ushered in a slender feminine figure wearing the typical Lamplighter uniform. She has an attractive, is somewhat angular face, haloed by a dark strawberry blond mane underneath her hat. Her hair is pulled back into a single braid that terminates at the middle of her back, and her large eyes are a deep blue.
“Faith Golding, my Lord,” with that stated, Monte simply bowed and exited the room. Sir Cosse stood, with an expectant expression, “Yes?”
“I apologize for interrupting your dinner party, Sir, but there ... is something that requires your immediate attention.” The Lamplight stood straight as a board while speaking to Sir Cosse. Sir Cosse furrowed his eyebrows slightly, stroking his mustache a few times, “I apologize for the interruption, but duty calls.” Glancing at all of his guests, “I do appreciate your time tonight, and your assistance with the Herrington case.” As we all stood, and began our farewells, Sir Cosse motioned for Golding to take the chair next to him. Elijah, the twins and myself exited to the foyer, and began preparing for our carriage trips home.

A Faint Time Earlier...

Wandering among the darkened alleys and by-ways of Mordentshire, Lord Godefrey was absorbed in his thoughts concerning this Outlander. He did not like having foreign strangers in his lands - they most always prove to be too much of a wild card for his tastes. This fact had been gravely learned from prior Outlanders that had unexpectedly arrived in his lands. Although he was loathe to admit it, Lord Godfrey did have to give his thanks to the one group that made him aware of his full potential. Of course, this group also nearly cost him his unlife as well.
However, his reverie was suddenly and rudely interrupted. Close by, a woman’s scream piqued his curiosity. Floating towards the sounds of a scuffle, he discovered a drunken sailor attempting to take advantage of a young attractive bar maid. How dare this ruffian attempt to defile such a fair young flower?!
“None shall ravage any of my people!” Lord Godefrey was furious with rage. Willing himself to partially solidify, the raging darklord attacked the drunken sot, striking him with his cane. The man wailed with pain, beseeching the ghost for mercy - his pleas falling upon deaf ears. Each spatter of blood further fueled the darklord’s anger, until the poor peasant was nothing but a bloody lump of partially clothed flesh.
The young bar maid was wide-eyed with horrific shock, cringing near a refuse barrel. Lord Godefrey calmly wiped the blood from his cane as he floated over to her, a look of glee in his eyes. “Child, you owe me greatly for this, saving you from this filthy wretch. But be advised, that one day I will collect for this favor. And your tab will be paid in earnest.” As his maniacal laughter echoed through the alleyway, the young girl turn and ran. She ran as fast as her terrified legs would carry her. Even as she cleared the end of the alley-way, and turned towards her residence, she could still hear the mocking laughter in the ever growing distance.

Thu Oct 24, 2013 10:56 pm
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Post Into the Mists (part 3)
A Most Vexing Dilemma - Events of November 2rd, 2006 (753)

I quickly began to understand that ‘miserable’ is a staple descriptor of Mordent weather. Along with the ever present mist, there has been a steady down pour of cold rain and a lingering thunderstorm since I arrived back at Heather House early this morning. While I have been anxious to find out more about the mysterious conjunctions, I detest cold rain storms and lightning. I suppose wearing standard issue rain gear, and working all kinds of motor vehicle accidents will do that to a person. Added to that has been my difficulty of getting a decent night’s sleep. Last night when I tried to sleep, I tossed and turned - restless. Yet, when I did drift off to sleep, I was plagued by the same strangely disjointed dream with the haunting voice calling out my name.
My dreams are becoming gradually worse, seemingly repeating every time I fall asleep. This time I experienced more detail as the dream seemed to progress further. As before, I was climbing the stone stairwell and could faintly hear the female voice pleading for help in the distance. The stairwell terminated in a cold and dark hallway. As I proceeded further down the hallway, I drew closer to the plead for help. Next I stood before an ominous door, with the voice calling me by name, beseeching me for my help. I slowly raised my hand to open the door when the static laughter echoed down the hallway, paralyzing me with fear. The next instant I found myself standing among the battlements of what appeared to be a fortress or castle. Everything was covered in a thick fog that the violent wind couldn’t move. The laughter seemed to be coming from somewhere close by, just obscured by the mists. That was when I awoke in a cold sweat. Lovely. I have some unknown mystery playing out in my dreams.

So, because of the weather and my difficultly sleeping, last night I wandered about the manor house, constantly returning to the library. Since I knew quite a bit that had been written about Ravenloft, I decide to see how much of it was true for the Ravenloft that I found myself in. And what better place to start than the Heather House library? The downside is that the occasional creepy sensation of being watched that I get every so often, seemed to last most of the night. Makes me wonder if the resident Darklord, or one of his minions, hasn’t noticed me. I truly hope not .....

Since the weather was miserable this morning, and the fireplaces didn’t quite eliminate the cool bite of the stone floors, just as the sun was beginning to rise, I decided to go check my jeep for anything useful in the equipment I had therein. Darting from the gatehouse to the old hay barn, it seemed almost odd to see my police jeep sitting in such a rustic setting. To my great surprise, however, while rummaging through the surplus equipment, I found a duffle bag that I had packed for my trip across the mountains! Like a dummy, I had forgotten about it in all the excitement I had experienced. Now that I was outfitted with normal, real life clothes, along with some modern toiletries, I felt a little better about all of this. At least I could quit using that damn straight razor now. Something about it just made me nervous. Along with my duffle bag, I decided to take the shotgun, the first aid kit and the extra ammo I had in the Jeep. I threw all of that into the other duffle bag (which contains the rest of my rain gear) to take with me. For some strange reason, perhaps because I often felt like I was being spied upon, I decided to take an extra precaution with my Jeep - I discreetly reached into the fuse box and removed the primary fuse. That way the Jeep couldn’t be used ... or stolen ... by anyone except me.

While I slept through breakfast proper, I did actually get to enjoy a proper bath today. I felt almost human afterwards. Mid-morning breakfast proved to be mildly surprising as well - Lord Jules and I were joined by the twins. A pleasant surprise in such miserable weather, even though they poked fun at my ‘street’ clothes - “outlandish” and “scandalous” were their comments. During the snack, Laurie stated that they had found some of their Uncle Rudolph’s journal entries concerning the word ‘conjunction.’ Gennifer suggested that I go with them to their uncle’s shop, and then I could have lunch with them out in town. I wasn’t quite comfortable with the idea about lunch out in Mordentshire. At this suggestion, Lord Jules spoke up and reminded the twins how parochial their country was. I stated this concern to the twins as well. Laurie, with a smile on her face, simply handed me a piece of paper. Glancing at the page, I could tell it was a daily newspaper - a penny dreadful, if you will. What really caught my attention was the headline on the front of the page - “Arkendaler Aides in Defeating Werewolf.” Flabbergasted, I looked from the twins to Lord Jules and back again. Gennifer shrugged and simply stated that Sir Cosse had issued a report to the local newspaper about the ordeal, citing me as a grand help in stopping the lycanthrope, but thought it was best to conceal my true nature. Apparently he gave me some small degree of praise, making me became the current topic of local gossip. Laurie chimed in that several of their local customers had already asked about me this morning. They both stated that the locals were interested to see what I was like, and that they were sure I would do well in any meetings I might have.
While not entirely comfortable with the idea, I reminded myself that it is, in essence, no different that the way my job is. Working in a tourist town, I always encounter people from different countries. That was something I was use to, just not quite in this way. And since I really wanted to find out more about a way back home, I agreed to accompany them. Even though I talked myself into it, I couldn’t shake the knowledge that this was an insular community that just barely tolerated strangers.
With a bit of hesitation, I geared up (in casual this time) to go out. Wearing my jeans, polo shirt and duty boots, I donned my utility belt and trench coat. Traveling with the twins to the apothecary shop, I was slightly nervous, although I can’t say why. The carriage ride was fairly quite, the twins mostly chattering about their searches through their uncle’s journals. Since they were starting to reprint some of his collected works, it was quiet simple for them to look over several books at once. I only halfway paid attention, as I mostly focused on the scenery as we passed - the rainy city streets and the gloomy people populating them.

The journals were just this side of fantastic! The information contained within them, not to mention the tales that Rudolph experienced. I must admit that I had difficulty more than a few times remembering what I was researching. But by the time I had situated myself in the sitting room, lunch time had came about. Since the twins had promised me a meal, they weren’t about to let me do without. They had arranged reservations at the Harbour Light, of course. The restaurant seems to be a place that the twins frequent. The meal was flavorful and I was introduced to several of the locals and got to observe several what I would call quick business meetings. Lunch is treated as a short, quick meal, with minimal conversation. I was even introduced to the establishments owner, Mr. Archer, who thanked me for helping apprehend “that dreaded lycanthrope.”
The return trip from lunch was fairly quite, with the twins speaking mostly about their endeavor concerning reprinting their Uncle Rudolph’s journals. It was just after one o’clock when we arrived back at the shop. I dove into the collected journals that the twins had set out for me. Taking notes and reading took me straight through tea time and, before I knew it, the twins were badgering me about dinner time. While enjoying the notes from their Uncle Rudolph, I had lost track of time.
We arrived at the Foxgrove Manor a little before six o’clock. Upon departing the carriage, we are graciously greeted by the butler, Monte. Monte is in his early fifties, slightly over-weight and mostly bald. He is a rather quiet person, seemingly focused on his current task. While he is polite, he is very curt with his dialogue. Efficient - would be a good description, although the twins say that he is very congenial once he gets to know you.
Diner is a favorable affair, with delectable food and pleasant conversation. Mayor Foxgrove is very interested in knowing more about me, “the gentleman that spends significant time” with his daughters. It was during the meal that I suddenly recalled why Daniel would be so curious about me - he is Lord Godefroy’s informant! And everything that he discovers about me tonight will be relayed to the Darklord himself. This will be a thin line that I’ll have to walk - staying on good terms with the twins, but not letting Godefroy get ahold of too much information concerning me.
The enjoyable evening turned into a walk over fire! Reflecting back, all those times that I felt as if someone was watching - they probably were! Either Godefroy or one of his enslaved spirits. Now, I was dealing with his subjugated informant. All during the remaining parley, my mind was trying to process all this refreshed data while maintaining the rhythm of our diner time conversation. I didn’t want to give away this ace-in-the-hole, but at the same time I didn’t know how to use it to my advantage. After we had finished the meal, I quickly took my leave, warmly apologizing to my host. Citing that since my arrival I had yet to get a refreshing nights rest, I was very tired. I thanked him for his hospitality and bid them all goodnight.

During the ride back to Heather House, I wrestled with the thought of telling the twins about their father, his interaction with Lord Godefroy and the leverage the Darklord had over their father. But what would the knowledge concerning their parent’s ordeal do to the twins?

An Intimate Conversation - An imposing problem

Bidding goodnight to his daughters and seeing them securely away in their hansom, Mayor Foxgrove returned to his study with a grim expression upon his face. Filling his snifter with brandy, he quickly gulped it down, enjoying the slow burn sliding down his throat. Easing his conscious somewhat, he prepared himself for his next conversation. Checking to make sure the servants had turned in for the evening, Daniel quietly exited into the back courtyard from the house. He walked to the fish pond in the center, sitting on a bench and turning over the evenings event in his head. Daniel suddenly noticed that the ambient temperature had became quite chilled.
“Speak! Tell me what you have learned about this Outlander. Is he a threat?” Lord Godefroy’s ethereal voice contained thinly veiled contempt. Daniel could feel the beyond-the-grave chill in the air coming from behind him. Turning slightly, he saw Godefroy’s ghostly figure floating just above the ground. “Speak! Or I will beat your wife to within an inch of her unlife!” Godefroy’s eyes were already brimming with rage. Snapping his fingers as he glared at Daniel, a familiar figure materialized beside the Darklord.
A beautiful blond-haired lady, wearing only a gossamer wrap, emerged beside the ghost lord. She clutched the see-through material to her breast and a few wisps of her golden hair gently fluttered into her pristine face. “Please .... Daniel,” with saddened eyes his late wife, Alice, pled, “don’t let him hit me again.”
“She, at least, knows her place!” Lord Godefroy loomed over Daniel and tightly gripped his etheric cane, pointing the silver griffon head at Daniel’s face, “Tell me all that you know. And be quick about!”
Daniel quickly said a silent prayer to Ezra, and nodded to the ghostly visage. The mayor of Mordentshire recited what he knew about the Outlander, omitting only a couple of little tid-bits that might just save the Outlander from the Darklord’s wrath.
After an excruciatingly long ten minutes, the Darklord seem placated with Daniel’s information. “Very well,” Lord Godefroy states, “you have earned your reward. But only for a few hours! Then she is mine again.” With that said, the ghostly lord dematerialized, leaving the two lovers to enjoy each other’s brief company.
As Lord Godefroy slowly faded from view, Alice slowly became more manifest, gaining a physical body for the brief time given.

A Most Vexing Dilemma - Events of November 2rd, 2006 (753) [continued]

I arrived back at Heather House just a little before nine o’clock. I quietly resumed my research, while trying to decide how to handle this new dilemma. Unfortunately, I spent the next couple of hours analyzing the situation that I currently found myself mired within. Turning it over and over within my mind, trying to look at it from all different angles, I was truly stumped. How was I going to get out of this one? It seemed as if there were ghosts and spies in every direction I turned. How was I going to get free of all this madness? This was such an alien environment to me - how could I figure all of this out when I’ve never had any kind of real life experience with malicious disembodied spirits? Or anything that would resemble the supernatural? This was turning into a very complex puzzle that I was having trouble wrapping my mind around. And the most scary part was that I constantly felt like someone was looking over my shoulder. Call me paranoid, but in this realm, that is a distinct possibility. That was when I heard the library door creek open ....

A Quiet Stroll ...

After his meeting with that spineless Foxgrove, Lord Godefroy had decided to go for a stroll around the city of Mordentshire. The Darklord pondered about this new Outlander - what needed to be done. The ghosts that he had sent to observe the Outlander had reported a few points of interest concerning the stranger. First was that when the Outlander attempted to sleep, it seemed as if he were constantly having bad dreams - he tossed and turned in bed most of the time. The second, in general, was nothing of seeming importance, in the fact that the Outlander was keeping a journal while here. However, the interesting part was some of the Outlander’s entries contained within the journal.
Lord Godefroy had sent a spirit that could read what the Outlander was writing. While it was an annoyance to deal with, it appears to have been worth the trouble. It seems that the Outlander is having prophetic dreams. And add to that, a fortune telling from the Vistani rabble that is staying in his realm. The truly interesting part, is that Lord Godefroy could see a link between the dreams and the card reading. From the description of the Outlander’s dreams, and the card reading given my the vistani girl, Godefroy believes he knows why the Outlander is here - for a meeting with another Darklord, the one who rules an island a short distance across the Sea of Sorrows - Bluebeard.
Godefroy decided that a meeting was definitely in order, for it would have the chance to possibly expand his power and the boarders of his prison. There were only two variables for him to figure out - how to manipulate and use the Outlander for maximum potential, and how to capture the island of Blaustein as his own.

A New Case .... The late night of November 2nd, 2006 (753)

After piquing my interest with his late visit, Sir Cosse continued informing me of a most peculiar situation that was just discovered in the docks district - a very queer murder scene. While the incident was down right bizarre, it wasn’t singular in happenstance, for Sir Cosse told me that this was the thirteenth occurrence within a decade’s time that such a thing has happened. His face took a solemn expression to it and Sir Cosse stated that he wished for my assistance in this investigation. It seems even here, my job is never finished. I wondered if this is what Sherlock Holmes would have felt like.
I grabbed my trench coat and left a quick note saying that I would be back hopefully in time for breakfast this morning. Exiting the manor, I was mildly amused by what was awaiting outside - a ‘police’ hansom - painted gloss black with a Lamplighter insignia on each side. Chuckling to myself, Sir Cosse and myself entered and proceeded towards the docks area. During the ride, Sir Cosse brought me up to speed on the case. As I have stated above, this kind of murder had happened within the city thirteen times, the first recorded being approximately ten years ago this same month - all with the same M.O.

The Plot Thickens - Entry for the early morning of November 3rd , 2006 (753)

I must say that was a first experience for me - a mundane murder scene with a potential of so many bizarre twists. I’ll have to make my second Sherlock Holmes analogy here - now I know what that fictional character must have felt like when he examined a crime scene - a genius amongst a bunch of unskilled puppets. However, I feel like I may have made a new acquaintance - Faith Golding. But I digress, before I hit a tangent I should pen the notes down while they are fresh upon my mind.

Upon our arrival at the crime scene, I was fairly impressed, given the time period that I was working with - the scene was sectioned off, with a small handful of Watchmen and Lamplighters keeping the area secure. Unfortunately, they had also trampled around the crime scene, potentially ruining valuable evidence. Ah well, that’s the way things usually go - no matter what time period, or world, one might be in. The location itself was in a dark area of an tiny alleyway, that had trash scattered about here and there between the garbage bins. Sir Cosse told me that this section of the alley ran between an old fishing warehouse and the back of the Beached Mermaid tavern. While it is a twisty little alley, with multiple buildings on one side and some large warehouses on the other, it has open exits at both ends.
My first assessment, after a preliminary look around, was that this must have been a crime of opportunity - a spur of the moment onslaught. The alley, while it was cramped in places, had too many variables, too many potential witnesses, and too many escape routes. It appeared that a poor attempt had been made by the perpetrator to hide the body , covering it with some of the smaller bits and pieces of the surrounding garbage, but the endeavor had not been good enough to escape notice.

The victim appeared to be what I would guess as a lower-middle class lad, in his late teens or early twenties. From what I had observed of the folk here, his wardrobe appeared to be normal, of average quality. The thing that caught my attention next was the amount of blood splatter - it was everywhere surrounding the victim. The splatter was on the wall behind him, the garbage bin to his left, all over the ground and on the rear wall of the Beached Mermaid. The young man was in a state of being semi-dressed: his shirt had been willfully unbuttoned, as the buttons were still attached; his belt was unbuckled, and his trousers were unfastened - yet his underpants seemed to still be in place. This was beginning to look like the lad thought he was about to have some kind of sexual encounter. However, his face told most of the story - it appeared that the blood spatter came from the fact that he was beaten to death. I determined that the victim (later identified as an Issac Thatcher) had been drinking prior to his murder (as could be evident from the general location of the body and the odor about the corpse), that his coin pouch had been taken (cut off of his belt) and that he was known as a local dock hand. His body hadn’t began to show signs of rigor mortis, so his death more than likely happened, at this temperature, within the past couple of hours - placing the attack happening between the hours of, say 10pm to midnight.
After my initial assessment, I gently rolled the body onto its right side to examine its back. As I got the body onto its side, I observed two huge contusions on the back left side of the neck. And when I say ‘huge,’ I mean freakin’ humongous - a good three inches in diameter each. Both were already a dark purplish black - signifying a great amount of force was used in these two strikes. But they were just a prelude to the mutilation that was on the posterior of the body. The back of the poor lad’s shirt was covered in matted blood spots, some of which had bloody mud stuck to them. Without a doubt, Mr. Thatcher had been bludgeoned to death and from the contusions that I could readily observe, the weapon used could have been a cane or metal rod of some kind. During the rest of my preliminary post mortem, I got the nagging feeling, in the back of my brain, that this is something the likes of which I had never dealt with before. And this point really bothers me.

As I stood there, lost in thought, I visually swept the area around the body, I noticed very few footprints in the dirt and grime - one set was obviously my own, due to the treaded imprints. There were two others, which would have been the Lamplighters that discovered the body, as they are both on the left side of the body, in a half circular pattern. That would have been from their initial observation of the body. There were, of course, the deceased’s prints coming from the Mermaid’s back door, trailing behind the smaller set. It appears that the female came from the business’s rear door to possibly take out some refuse, followed by the victim. There was some kind of encounter between the two, and then the murder was committed, after which the owner of the small prints absconded down the alley way.

There were just too many questions here, concerning stuff that I had no actual real life experience with. Mainly because there are everyday things here that don’t exist in the world that I come from. Still, the conundrums here were many and I need to figure them out quick. My mind was whirling with data - processing the facts, turning over theories and ideas, and giving me the adrenaline boost that I enjoy so from such complex mental puzzles.
As I was pondering over all this information, I noticed an interesting clue! Delicately plucking it from Mr. Thatcher’s shirt, I recovered a long strand of hair that glowed a fiery red in the Victorian style illumination. I placed the hair in a small zip lock bag. Now armed with some physical evidence, I turned to the Lamplighter that Sir Cosse had assigned to help me - Faith Golding.
I inquired if they had found any possible witnesses. She answered by saying that they had woke some of the tenants in the area, but no one had seen anything, but that a couple of them recalled hearing a haunting kind of laughter a couple of hours earlier.
“Do you know how many red heads might be in the city? Specifically, but not limited to, females?” I watched as her brow knit in confusion. Holding up the small evidence bag with the hair in it, “Well, I mean this is has to belong to someone, correct? And more than likely it was a female, right? We need to check to see how many live here and see if there are any other visitors that fits that vague description. This red head may been a potential witness to this inhumane crime. Another idea to check into might be asking in this tavern to see if anyone saw Mr. Thatcher tonight. And, to see if they might, in fact, have a red headed lass employed here as well.” I conveyed some of my suspicions to Golding who was to relate those ideas to her fellow Lamplighters. After writing these details this morning, I feel slightly stupid - Elijah Houlgrave; he is a red head with moderately long hair. Not that I suspect him, as he doesn’t fit any of the other clues from the crime scene, but he would be a good place to start.

The other idea that I had this morning was that the red hair could indeed belong to a witness, but it could also belong to the murderer. I was having some difficulty wrapping my brain around that possibility. Course, I was assuming that the hair belongs to a woman due to the state of undress that the body was discovered in and the small footwear imprints. I believe that my asperity was coming from the fact that a normal woman, in my world, wouldn’t possess the strength to do that kind of damage. That wasn’t always true here in this realm of terror. If the murderer is a female, she would have to have supernatural strength to maul a human body such as was done. This non-supernatural sexist idea needs to be discarded if I am to live long here. I would need to consult with someone more knowledgeable in such areas.

Fri Oct 25, 2013 12:39 am
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Post Into the Mists (part 4)
Journal Entry - 11.03.753.06:15 (journal entry by Lamplighter Faith Golding)

This has been a most unexpected turn of events. Not only am I the junior Lamplighter of the Watch, but now I’ve been teamed up with an Arkendaler on the latest murder investigation. Only, this Ashton Jones isn’t really from Arkendale - that is his cover, as Sir Crosse confidently told me, for he is an Outlander. As a young girl, I was told about the Outlanders - people who believe they come from other countries or worlds, but now I’m working with one! I can’t believe that Sir Cosse has stuck me with a man such as this!
However, after observing him working at the crime scene, I would have sworn that he was a mad man. Yet there was a method to his madness. If was as if he were magically plucking hidden secrets from the corpse, but after he explained what he was doing it all made sense. Where did he learn such techniques? And from where did he gain all of his insightful knowledge? Perhaps it is true that all Outlanders are insane. That might even explain some of the bizarre equipment he possesses - that little light tube, it’s way brighter than any of our bulls eye lanterns. And his equipment belt - it is of a design that I have never seen before - all compartmentalize, with each containing some different tool.
That makes this assignment most dangerous. This Ashton is quite a character, he is different from any other man that I’ve met. And quite fetching too. His pale blue eyes are almost mesmerizing, deep pools that I could get lost in. I’ll have to be on guard anytime that I’m around him. Of course, he isn’t from this world...according to him. I hope I can remember that when I’m around him.
I need to focus on the case at hand! If I let this Outland be a distraction, I will jinx my chance at a string of unsolved murders, and my chance to bring the killer to justice. Sir Crosse has told me to gather all the files regarding this, and take them to the apothecary shoppe, for the Outlander's perusal, later today. I guess instead of complaining, I need to try to get some rest - this will probably be a very long day.

A Most Vexing Meeting - later in the morning of November 3rd, 2006 (753)

My hand still shakes as I write this! I need to scribe this while it is still fresh on my mind, for this was a most terrifying encounter. Two snifters of brandy and I’m still daunted by the visitor that I just had. Here I am all scattered about my brush with death! Another snifter of brandy and I’ll start from the beginning. Even though I know it won’t help with my headache, anything to numb me would be a good thing. Ah ....
I had been interrupted by Jeeves, letting me know that breakfast was served. Since I had been up all night, my stomach growled ominously, in need of sustenance. I told Jeeves that I would be along shortly, but I need to record this while it was still a vivid memory.
Now, as I stated above, I was in a tail-spin as to how to deal with being here in this realm of horror. Assisting Sir Crosse with the homicide last night helped me to focus some of my thoughts, but I was still at a loss when I returned to Heather Hourse. Since my mind was a whirlwind of ideas and thoughts, I returned to the library. As I sat pondering my options and writing about the crime scene and my discoveries, I realized that it had became quite chilled. Cold enough for me to see my breath fogged in front of me. Removing my journal from my lap, I placed it upon the desk and turned to the fireplace. I was going to throw a couple more logs in and re-stoke the fire.
I’m not exactly sure how to describe my emotional feelings at what I saw next - standing in front of the fireplace, hoovering just above the floor was none other than the Darklord himself - Lord Godefroy. Surprised would be a good start, but nowhere near descriptive enough, as to relate the emotions that washed over me. Wordless. Dumb-founded. Horrified. And that last emotion grew, for I knew that I had no defense if he were to attack me. I was like a baby kitten - unable to do anything to protect myself; I was at his mercy. But I digress ....
Lord Godefroy was standing there, drawn up to his full height, with both hands on the top of a regal, and deadly, looking ghostly cane. While I could make out his body and detail, such as his glasses and well-groomed hair, the mantle and fireplace were visible to me through his spectral body. I couldn’t quite make out his shoes, as his feet were surrounded by gently swirling mists. His clothing was something out of a history book - from an even earlier time period than the current Mordentish fashion. He wore a mild expression on his face, but his eyes ... his eyes were full of malice and hate.
“Welcome to my lands,” he said in a pleasant voice, “ Outlander. I am Lord Godefroy, master of Mordent.” Godefroy began to slowly float around the room as he continued to converse. “I’m here to offer you my help, with your dreams. In return for my magnanimous assistance, I require all that you know about these lands.” I felt like I was being circled by a fierce tiger and that I was its helpless prey.
“It is my understanding that you know of this world. One has even said that you have intimate knowledge of it, seemingly even some of its dark secrets. I have even read in your journal that you have information that you are undecided upon, or unwilling, to disclose to your new ‘friends’. I want to know what this is. And you will tell me,” Lord Godefroy waved the end of his cane under my nose, “now, for my patience is very short.”
If there wasn’t a cold sweat on my forehead, there was now. My stomach sunk, my hunger forgotten - if Godefroy attacked me, I had no way to fight back! I was completely at his mercy, which is a misnomer with this darklord. I realized that I would have to satisfy his curiosity, but there were some secrets that I couldn’t let him know. So, I quickly decided to go on the offensive and be truthful, divulging an inane amount of any insignificant information that I could remember, but at the same time not telling him anything of importance. That and I must remember to never leave my journal laying about unattended for the remainder of my ‘visit’ to this world.
“I ... I ... I know only what I read in the short stories,” I stammered, “ and novellas that were written of this world. They were marketed as horror stories on my world and sold as a form of entertainment. I do know what a darklord is and what a darklord’s domain is - the domain is a prison without bars, and the darklord is the prisoner therein, never able to travel beyond the domain’s boarders.” Without lying, I recited a lot of the generalities that I know about Ravenloft, but with held the specifics. Even though it chilled me to my soul, I focused on Godefroy’s eyes the whole time. I could tell that, as his brows furrowed he was growing impatient, he held his anger until I’d finished babbling about his world ,some long minutes later.
“Bah! You know nothing of interest to me! I have already acquired all of your feeble knowledge.” The darklord held his cane behind his back and began pacing, back and forth, in front of the fireplace. “Still,” regaining his somewhat cordial tone, even though it was tempered by hatred, “you know about Daniel and Alice, and the fact that I use her captured spirit to control him. Where did you learn of this?”
“Well, My Lord,” I was starting to regain my nervous footing by now, “there was a novella centered on your domain, that divulged that snippet of information about how you were gaining more control over your own destiny. That part was more of a background story contained within the main plot,” now I was starting to put a plan together to hopefully escape unharmed from this confrontation, as long as I didn’t lay it on too thick.
“And how did this story end?”
I could tell he was starting to lose what little patience he has, “I don’t know, My Lord. The story is what we call a ‘serial story’ on my world - it is published in parts over an extended amount of time. The last part I read before I was forcibly brought here was the part were you had learned of some kind of magical item called the ‘Trans-substantial Halo’. Unfortunately that was were that chapter ended.” Hooked, line and sinker I was hoping.
Lord Godefroy stared at me intently for a short time and began pacing again. His brows were still furrowed, but in a different way. “We may be able to help each other. I have an idea as to what your disturbing dreams may be about. In order for me to supply you with this information, all I require is two promises from you - first, for you to forever leave my lands, never to return, and second to never tell another about my ‘arrangement’ with Daniel.”
The one thing that I love about the English language is that it is fairly mutable, given a person’s point of view. Not really seeing anything negative about his terms, I nodded in consent, which looking back may not have been one of the best ideas that I’ve ever had.
“I believe what you are seeking lyes on the island of Blaustien, a short trip across the Sea of Sorrows.” With that said he quickly turned to face me, “And here is a small taste of what awaits you if you violate our accord.” The next thing that I knew, the silvered griffon head of his cane smashed down upon my head! While there was intense pain that exploded within my skull, I only experience a cold sensation caress my forehead. This is were my throbbing headache came from. With that action, Lord Godefroy faded away, “I’ll give you three days to be away from my lands. If you linger any longer, I will track you down and I will make your death most horrid indeed.”
Perhaps some breakfast and a few hours of sleep will help ease this monstrous headache of mine.

Another Unexpected Visitor - the afternoon of November 3rd, 2006 (753)

Picking up where I left off, after a few hours of much needed rest. Although, I am hesitant to use the word ‘rest’ to describe how I slept this morning. Considering my unexpected visitor this morning, I’m still at a loss of which direct to turn, or which way to go. There are many threads running through my hands right now, and I have such a short time to deal with them all. First, lets record my dreams.

The same disjoined dreams again, coupled with the pounding headache that still lingers. However, this time I can recall a bit more detail this time - specifically after climbing the stairwell. I came out on an unlit landing. I could make out that it was a hallway, of some kind, with stonework walls that were decorated with mammoth hanging tapestries. I walked by several stout looking wooden doors, finally stopping in front of one placed in the corner of connecting hallways. I remember feeling apprehensive standing there, with the closed door looming before me. It seemed that, from behind the door, I could hear the familiar voice calling my name ... “Ashton, help me” ... as if the woman was on the other side. As I listened to the voice beseeching me to help, an ominous feeling crept over me - I began to fear for my life - nay, I began to fear for my immortal soul. From the distance, I could hear the eerie static laughter echoing through the hallways. At that point I awoke in a cold sweat. I will admit - I was shook. Knowing what I do about Ravenloft, this dream disturbs me greatly, especially after the ghostly encounter this morning. I’m beginning to wonder if this isn’t a portent of my Tarokka reading.

After a refreshing bath, my headache subsided somewhat following a hearty lunch. I also noticed that the rain had stopped and that the sun was starting to peak out through the clouds. Lord Weathermay was “under the weather” today, according to Jeeves, so he offered to summon a hansom for me. But I thought that I was beginning to develop a decent understanding of the city’s lay-out and that the weather was becoming rather amabile, and that I do some of my better thinking when I just wander around. So, I set off walking towards the herbal shop. During my trek, I let my mind freely wander, turning over all the elements that I had discovered last night, along with all the other threads that were weaving their way through my ‘visit’ to this land of horror. As I neared closer to the center of town, I noticed that people were being somewhat courteous - not the typical reaction that I thought I would get.
I figured that, of al places I could go, Van Richten’s shop would proof against the spying ghosts of the Darklord. While I was hopefully for a respite from the etheric operatives, I was really wanting a chance to get my hands on some type of weapon to defend myself against them with.

Arriving at the shop, I received what I was learning was a typical greeting from the twins - especially if they considered you a friend and an ally in the crusade against the Darkness. Not that I’m use to it yet, but it was another cross-fire from them both. They understood that I was involved in a Lamplighter investigation; that Sir Cosse apparently thought much of me, which was unusual; and that some of the Lamplighters, as well as Sir Cosse, were speaking well of me to others. They backed this up by showing me the daily penny dreadful - “Lamplighters assisted in their recent investigation by Arkendaler.” I was on the front page again, headlined. Skimming the article, I noticed that Sir Cosse had left out several details of the gruesome murder, toning it down quite a bit, but stating that I was assisting in their investigation, due to my broad education and analytical skills - a welcome addition to an already competent body of the Mordentshire Watch.

While I was standing there, reading over the paper, the door chime rang - indicating a visitor to the shop. Looking over the top of the page and out the sitting room’s door, I saw Golding enter the shop. She looked much different in the light of day. While she was still wearing the black Lamplighter uniform on her slender frame. But what really had my attention was the bundle she carried under her left arm.
Golding was warmly greeted by the twins, as it seems as if they already know each other from previous encounters. When Laurie politely asked what they could do for her, Golding nodded towards me, simply stating that Sir Cosse would like for me to go over the old files and see what I could deduce from them. Gennifer walked her to the sitting room, and gestured her to the table and chairs. “Make yourself at home and stay as long as you like, but Laurie and I are expecting a shipment of supplies today for our book reprinting venture and will be busy with that.” Laurie also chimed in that we’d have to fend for ourselves today, smiling “no dinner dates this time.”

After a brief greeting betwixt the two of us, I jumped into the case files, asking Golding if she would mind hanging around in case I had any questions. She acquiesced, stating the her orders were to be of any assistance that I needed. From the expression that briefly flashed across her face, I closed the file that I had just so eagerly opened. “So, what do you think about this? I mean being ‘assigned’ to baby-sit me? What did you do to deserve this?” Golding was fleetingly at a loss for words, but quickly regained her composure.
“I don’t think of it as baby-sitting ....”
“Then what do you think of it as? What do you think of me?” Her hesitation told me all I needed to know. “You don’t trust me and see no reason for you to waste time working with me. You want to get out there and do some real police work; you want to go and find this murderer. I may be an Outsider, but I probably know a few things that you don’t. One being how to read people. Like right now, you are uncomfortable and feel wronged by this assignment. But, since you are a devoted investigator you will follow the orders given to you, even if you don’t agree with them. I will further venture that you haven’t been a Lamplighter for very long and desire to prove yourself. Now, from what little I know about Mordentshire and the Lamplighters, you would’ve been on the Watch for at least two years, and shown yourself as a very competent officer. Add to that the fact Sheriff Finhallen and Sir Cosse are very selective about who they choose to let in the Lamplighters. My thoughts are that the only one you have to prove yourself to is you.”
Stunned silence, but only for a moment. Golding replies, “Now I know why Sir Cosse likes you. You are just as pompous as he is. And you’re right - I’ve only been a Lamplighter for three months.”
“At least you said that I’m pompous with a smile on your face. Now, are you ready for one of the most interesting parts of criminal investigation?”
I’ll have to admit - not one of my better preludes, but it seemed to get the job done. Golding and I began pouring over the details of the previous cases. The case files are a big throw back to what I’m use to. While there are crime scene photos in the later files, they are the old tin-type black & whites. Not very thorough by any means, but they do contain applicable visuals. While the note taking had just begun, Laurie knocks on the door to reminded us about dinner. Seeing the confused look on my face, she explained that Gennifer had booked all four of us reservations at the Harbour Light. The grumble in my tummy told me that food was a good idea, no matter how anti-social I felt at the moment. Fixing my gaze with Golding, “I believe the two of us are going to work through dinner, but we would be most appreciative if you would bring us back something to eat.” By now, both twins were at the door way, “As you wish,” said Gennifer, “But you’ll be missing a fantastic meal,” added Laurie. With that, the twins were off to the Harbour Light.
For the next hour, Golding and I poured over the case files. It seems as if our murderer has been at work for quite some time. With this many cases, all having the same M.O., I believe what we’re looking for can easily be called a serial killer.

Fri Oct 25, 2013 12:47 am
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