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zorper
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« Reply #15 on: September 15, 2009, 04:46:25 PM »

Excerpts from the journal of Sutter Bringinham, Esq.:

“...then the center lion changed targets and my infantry experience betrayed me.  Instead of my own person changing targets I instead stayed with my lion and felled it with one shot, giving the center lion opportunity to knock me down and nearly out of my senses.  Whilst grounded I had just enough presence to hear one normal and one huge report.  Seeing death in the jaws of the lion I welcomed my comrades firing into my assailant despite his close proximity to myself.  In the actual facts I was only partially correct.  The very capable South African did make the keen shot that killed the lion and saved my life.  The other, however, was from that fool-ass German dude-rancher firing that cannon of his, incredibly at the lion I had already dispatched.  I have no doubt that he has claimed credit for the kill in his memoirs, neglecting to mention how he was able to shoot a charging lion in the back....”

“...else stood stunned, I could not, in good conscience, surrender the wizard who had earlier saved my life to the unseen beast within the darkness.  Gripping my pistol and saber I moved forward only to be  taken completely by surprise by the ethereal cat beast as it leaped out of the void.  I acquitted myself better this time, however, getting at least one shot and several saber blows into the creature before it was able to strike me.  Then the sound of two reports again, one normal and one huge.  Again the steady South African hit his mark, but the German's cannon shot wide, making the wail of a monitor shell over my head.  At that moment I was hoping our guide would turn his aim on the German and let me deal with the black horror...”

“...lack of skill there can be no practical use for the German's cannon.  The only purpose I can attribute  to it is to remedy the condition the belles used to call 'light in the sheets'...”
« Last Edit: September 15, 2009, 10:42:36 PM by zorper » Logged
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« Reply #16 on: September 17, 2009, 04:17:50 PM »

Hey, anybody remember the name of Clacy's character? Wasn't it something like Miss Jane Ashford or Ashleigh or something (of the Whitechapel Ashfords or Ashleighs or somethings)?    Undecided
« Last Edit: September 17, 2009, 04:50:53 PM by tshiggins » Logged

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« Reply #17 on: September 20, 2009, 02:50:35 PM »

Okay, I've completed the session log. I never heard back from Clacy about here character name, but I think it was Jane Ashford (FIXED: Elizabeth Atherton). I know she mentioned that she always had trouble coming up with a name, and we had started the session and I neglected to write it down.

Anyway, here's the session log. If you'd like a different name, Clacy, I'll gladly change it. I'll also post this on the SJGames forums. Those guys will get a kick out of it, I think.  Grin

I also changed the name of the Boer farmer to something more Dutch -- "Kimberley" is entirely too British. I also added in the name of the Mercenary commander; I'm not sure I mentioned that, during the session.

Castle Falkenstein One-, er, Two-Shot
Campaign Log

A group of gentlemen and one “lady” of questionable stature (unaccompanied by either maid or husband) debarked from the steam cruiser “Pride of Portsmouth” (Nigel Pierce, Capt.) on Oct. 1, 1867 in the bustling town of Port Elizabeth, Cape Colony, South Africa. The warm spring winds swept them into town where they took lodgings at the Hacklewood Hill Inn, a lovely new establishment some distance west of the port proper, in a fine neighborhood.

The Hacklewood Hill guestbook for that date duly holds the names of Professor Kurt von Slonecker and Herr Johann von Landau, both of Bayern; Miss Elizabeth Atherton and Dr. Stanton Burleigh both of London; and Lt. Sutter Bringinham of Virginia, formerly in service of the Army of Virginia, CSA.

They took the lodgings at the suggestion of Capt. Pierce, who said he tried to spend at least an evening or two there, when he makes port on the Algoa Bay. Indeed, a few days after their arrival, they were pleased to reacquaint themselves with him, and treated the captain to dinner in exchange for the excellent repasts at his table, aboard ship. They reported excellent service and superb fare, even though Miss Atherton noted a distinct discomfort by the women of the inn, at her presence in the company of so many men. Her lack of proper female companionship demonstrated to them that the “lady” placed little value on her reputation.

The group also noted the presence of several visiting businessmen, a British officer with his family, and a large, solid looking Swedish gentleman in upper-class clothing who kept his nose buried in entomology books, most of the time.

On the second morning, just after breakfast, Prof. von Slonecker performed a magickal ritual and went into a trance that resembled a coma and lasted most of the day. He woke up in early evening, exhausted, and reported that he had traveled astrally to the probable destination.

Prof. von Slonecker reported that a large number of men and women he described as both whites and of mixed blood (“mulatto” as Lt. Bringinham termed them) engaged in the practice of digging up small blue pebbles with a greasy sheen, from a hill about a day’s ride east of the confluence of the two rivers. A large ranch house lay close to the hill, and about 100 tents and shacks lay between it and the mining sites.

The sorcerer reported the miners seemed to work small claims, and he saw several of them trade the stones to the people in the ranch house, in exchange for supplies. Prof. von Slonecker reported no traffic on the road to the area, and that the camp seemed to have cropped up only a short time ago – probably within only a few months. He said he observed no obvious signs of any central authority.

Dr. Burleigh took out an ad in the local newspaper, the Port Elizabeth Herald, in search of a safari guide. Miss Atherton promptly scandalized the inn staff further, as she accompanied Lt. Bringinham to a nearby tavern where they met applicants. After a couple of days of lackluster candidates, they made the acquaintance of one Frederick Haggard Russell. Mr. Russell apparently knew the proprietor and presented a rugged appearance, but spoke well and asked the right questions about the proposed safari. Intrigued, the pair agreed that he should accompany them back to the Hacklewood Hill Inn, to meet the rest of the party and discuss the matter further.

Much to his confusion (and somewhat to his consternation), the group informed Mr. Russell they had no interest in a safari to an area rich in game, within a few days travel of Port Elizabeth. Rather, they wished to travel to the confluence of the Orange River and Vaal River, well outside the northern border of the Cape Colony, proper, and asked about the best route of travel.

Somewhat flabbergasted, Mr. Russell informed them that the most direct route would take at least 40 days, and closer to 50, even in the best of times. However, it led not just through territory of the Boers (notorious for their lack of fondness for trespassers in general, and Englishmen in particular) but also came entirely too close to the heart of an ongoing war between the aforementioned Boers and the native Basuto people, led by King Moshoeshoe. The best indirect route, which skirted to the west of the Boer lands to reach Griqua territory, would add at least 10 days to the trip, declared Mr. Russell.

Somewhat nonplussed by this answer, Lt. Bringinham asked why a trip of some 360-400 miles would take the better part of two months, at least. Could the group not take fast horses, instead, and cut the time in half? A surprised Mr. Russell replied that a safari of that duration would require at least two large wagons, that all wagons in South Africa used oxen due to the lack of available draft horses, and that oxen could travel no more than six hours a day to cover no more than 15 miles at best, and 10-12 miles more reasonably. To Mr. Russell’s increasing consternation, Lt. Bringinham expressed continued support for travel by horse, to which the guide inquired how the group intended to carry the trophies bagged during this (increasingly odd-sounding) safari outing?

That argument carried the day and Lt. Bringinham retired gracefully from the field. Now impressed by Mr. Russell’s logistical legerdemain, they asked his opinion of the requirements of the trip. He replied the group would need two wagons, capable of hauling one ton of cargo, each, and noted the locally-manufactured voortrekker wagons suited their needs admirably, and had (in fact) been designed for that very task. He had one wagon, already, and knew of another available for long-term hire, along with its teamster-owner George MacLaren. Mr. Russell also recommended the services of a cook, as well as a second teamster, as he felt he should scout ahead of the group, rather than drive his wagon, himself.

Herr von Landau surprised Mr. Russell by volunteering to drive the second wagon, as his family had made their names and fortunes through the manufacture of superior wagons and carriages for the nobility. As such, von Landau said he grew up around horse-drawn conveyances of all sorts, and not only could drive them with considerable expertise, but also knew how to keep them in good repair. Mr. Russell expressed considerable pleasure at this intelligence, and even more surprise that a gentleman would volunteer for such a task at all. That meant the party needed only the cook and Mr. Russell recommended an experienced native with an unpronounceable name full of tongue-clicks. To their relief, the guide said the cook would answer to “Hans.”

At that point, financial negotiations commenced in earnest. Mr. Russell opened with a powerful salvo of £250 per month. An outraged Miss Atherton counter-attacked with an offer of £150, and battle was joined. After considerable mayhem and bloodshed, the two agreed to an armistice and drew the border at £200 per month – almost twice Mr. Russell’s normal wage.


It took another 10 days to secure the services of “Hans” and Mr. MacLaren, purchase the needed supplies as well as horses for the group, check the wagons for any needed maintenance before the unexpectedly long trip, and pack everything in them. Mr. Russell showed up with a terrible hangover, early in the morning of Oct. 14, and upon inquiry, disclosed that Oct. 13 had been his birthday. The party offered him hearty congratulations, and the group set out.

The first 10 days started out well enough, with mild temperatures and increasingly dry conditions as springtime progressed in the southern hemisphere. Lt. Bringinham firmly rebuffed Mr. Russell’s attempts to learn more about the group’s true purpose, and everyone reacted with bemusement as Dr. Burleigh occasionally wandered out, waved various oddly-shaped pieces of metal near them, asked if they felt anything, and wandered away in disappointment when he learned they had not.

Toward the end of that period, Mr. Russell reported with some unease that a group of a dozen or so cavalry had preceded them on the road ahead, and he’d seen signs of them starting several days ago. He hadn’t mentioned it before, because he thought them most likely a troop of British cavalry on patrol. However, the travelers had since passed the point where most regular patrols would have turned, and they had yet to meet the returning horsemen.

The group expressed some concern, and both Lt. Bringinham and Mr. Russell began to keep a watch for signs of the group’s campsites. The passing days had all but erased the tracks of the increasingly-distant cavalry troupe, but the men did find several old fire-rings, and cast about for any information they might glean.

After several such sites, it struck Mr. Russell that what they hadn’t seen appeared far more interesting than anything they’d actually found. They found no discarded brass cartridges, and no sign of spent primer caps for older-model rifles. The camps had been policed up expertly, and the riders hadn’t even left any partially-burnt cigar butts, paper, or tin-cans that might provide some indication as to their identities.

Lt. Bringinham, a veteran of the recently-ended Civil War in the United States, said that indicated a group of well-disciplined, properly led, cavalry soldiers. Mr. Russell, a hunter and not a soldier, expressed some dismay at this hypothesis, as did Hans and Mr. MacLaren. They expressed even more dismay at the distinct lack of surprise expressed by their erstwhile employers.

In the jungle, the mighty jungle

The group lost the tracks of the cavalry troupe shortly thereafter, as the increasing time and distance erased them from the veldt. However, the occasional fire-ring indicated the horsemen remained on the road some days ahead. The tripped passed congenially enough for the next week, until the safari party had its first experience with some of South Africa’s unique and special fauna.

The group had grown used to the odd, and even terrifying, nocturnal roars and shrieks that punctuated the South African night. However, all had expressed interest in learning more about potential threats, and how best to secure their camp. Mr. Russell had thus split the evening into three watches, led by himself, Mr. MacLaren and Hans, and had paired them with willing members of the safari group.

Mr. Russell had explained that the time of greatest danger lay just after sunset, and he and Lt. Bringinham took the first watch. The early evening of Nov. 8 proved most educational, as the dun-colored lightning of three charging lionesses during the echoes of coughing roars heard in the nearby brush.

A quick glance by the two sentries showed the lionesses headed at full bolt toward the string of slowly panicking oxen. Mr. Russell shouted, “Right!” as he snapped the stock of his pristine new .45-70 Remington Rolling Block to his shoulder. Lt. Bringinham shouted, “Left!” as he did the same with his well-used .56-60 Spencer.

The two outside lionesses continued the charge toward the bawling oxen with predator intensity as the center cat peeled off and made straight for a closer target – the officer from Virginia. Lt. Bringinham maintained fire discipline with the cool focus of a combat veteran and his shot cracked at the same instant as the hunter’s. The right cat’s head jerked as the bullet slapped into her face, the left cat augured into the turf, the third cat leapt at the Virginian and slammed him into the turf as he desperately tried to swing his rifle around.

Claws lacerated agony into Bringinham’s chest and his eyes filled with teeth for the eternity it took Russell to let go his rifle, draw his pistol and put a round into side of the lioness. She flinched aside at the sudden shock of pain as Russell’s rifle landed on the turf. He shot her again as she turned to snarl in baffled rage, a stunned Bringinham managed to draw his pistol and the two men put her down as she turned to flee. The two then flinched violently at the boom and crack of a passing eight-gauge shotgun slug fired by a wide-eyed night-shirted von Landau into the twitching body of the first lioness shot by the Virginian.

As Russell scrambled to calm the agitated carriage-making cannoneer, a partially-shaved von Slonecker dashed to the side of the bleeding Virginian, followed closely by Miss Atherton bearing a First-Aid kit. Miss Atherton ripped open Mr. Bringinham’s shredded tunic and began to clean his shredded chest, as Prof. von Slonecker laid out his goblet athame and wand, clutched his medallion, and began a ritual chant. Mr. Russell joined her efforts as Mr. Burleigh poked his head out of his tent and asked about all the fuss.

They got the wounds cleaned and bandaged, just as Prof. von Slonecker completed his ritual. Bringinham relaxed as he pain eased, and the two noted that though the wounds remained deep, most of the bleeding stopped. Within three days, the Virginian was back on his feet, the wounds reduced to fresh red scars. He declared himself a newly-converted True Believer in magick, and an enthusiastic supporter of sorcery in general.

The experience thawed relations between Lt. Bringinham and Mr. Russell, and the men became friends. Finally, at one point as they stood watch together, Lt. Bringinham swore the hunter to secrecy, and disclosed the nature of the expedition. Mr. Russell acknowledged that he’d known it was a ruse since shortly after he agreed to act as guide, but expressed considerable surprise at the exact nature of the party’s goal. As an outdoorsman, Mr. Russell spent a far more time in the wild than in the towns, and acknowledged he usually learned the news weeks later than anyone else. However, the high stakes certainly explained a lot of the odd behavior he’d seen recently – though Mr. von Landau and Dr. Burleigh remained mostly inexplicable.

A ghostly reconnaissance

The group continued up the increasingly disused track, crossed the Vaal River and forded the Sand River. On the other side of the Sand, about a day away from the settlement sometimes called Griqua Town, and sometimes Klaar Water, they approached a large Griqua kraal to gather news and refill their water barrels.

Much to their dismay, the group learned that the cavalry troop of which they had seen signs was the last of three such groups to have crossed the Sand River in the past six weeks. According to Mr. Russell, the only one who could understand the Griqua’s oddly accented Afrikaans, each troop dressed in a manner similar to the Boers -- broad-brimmed hats, dun-colored jackets and dungarees reinforced with leather at the knees and elbows, riding boots, bandoleers and thick full beards. However, unlike the Boers, the riders all carried similar equipment and identical weapons.

When asked to describe the weapons, the Griqua pointed at the stock of the Spencer rifle sticking out of Lt. Bringinham’s saddle holster. The Griqua exclaimed in delight as the Virginian pulled out the Spencer, confirmed that it was indeed the same type, that all the “Boers-not-Boers” carried the model, and promptly offered to trade three cows for it. The Virginian politely declined to trade, the Griqua rancher upped the offer to five cows but insisted on all the cartridges, and the group digested the implications of a troupe of perhaps 50 experienced cavalry armed with a repeating cartridge rifle. A rifle the worth of which had been proven on the battlefields of the Civil War, and which was one of the most widely available on the docks of the America and Europa. A rifle that remained sparse in the rest of the world – or so they had thought.

The shocking news prompted an immediate strategy session, and the group furiously debated a range of options that included everything an immediate return to Port Elizabeth (as the cause had clearly become hopeless), to the possibility of seeking employment with the obviously well-organized and well-financed opposition. After much debate, the group decided the first option was cowardly, the last was dishonorable, and they really needed more intelligence to better inform their understanding of the options.

With that, Professor von Slonecker retired to one of the trusty wagons, and performed the ritual that allowed him to leave his body. Knowing that the astral reconnaissance would take some time, Mr. Russell pulled out his fishing rod, and made his way back to the river as the other members of the group tended to minor chores or tried to trade for fresh supplies. The latter endeavour proved fruitless, as the Griqua explained the cavalry troop had purchased the surplus from the winter, and what they had needed to last until harvest.

The chanting within the wagon stopped after a bit, and all seemed quiet until a pale and shaken Mr. Russell trotted unsteadily back to the wagons. He reported that, apparently, within moments of the completion of Professor von Slonecker’s thaumatological efforts, the river has suddenly attained the sheen of blood. Moreover, he said, a large white shape that looked suspiciously like a giant alligator swam just between the surface, and he had decided to leave off fishing for the afternoon.

As the rest of the group blinked in astonishment at this tale, Dr. Burleigh noted that thaumic energy had a complex nature of which most laymen remained unaware. It was not merely one type of energy, he explained, but rather had four different aspects. Moreover, he said, depending on their nature, each magickal ritual required one, and only one, aspect of this energy.

However, Dr. Burleigh said, the mysterious ebb and flow of this powerful force meant that, sometimes, a sorcerer had to try to cast a spell with thaumic energy of an incorrect aspect. Most skilled practitioners could do so successfully, he explained, but that the use of improperly aspected energy resulted in “harmonics” – uncontrollable side-effects over which even the powerful of sorcerers could exercise little control.

The length of Professor Slonecker’s ritual suggested that his colleague had been forced to use thaumic energy of the improper aspect, Dr. Burleigh said, and that the harmonics had temporarily called into being the phenomena witnessed by Mr. Russell.

When asked if he was sure the ritual had succeeded, Dr. Burleigh replied in the affirmative, and noted that failed rituals had results he called, “unmistakable.” He then strolled back to the second wagon, and pulled out his rifle.

The British sorcerer’s assessment proved accurate less than two hours later, as Professor Slonecker emerged from his magickal repose. The Bayernese mage reported he had thoroughly scouted not just Griqua Town, but also the nearby countryside, and had seen no sign of any cavalry troupe. Upon cross-examination, he insisted the town was so small that he could make no mistake, and the party was forced to conclude that the potential opposition had moved out of the settlement.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2009, 07:34:58 PM by tshiggins » Logged

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« Reply #18 on: September 20, 2009, 02:51:37 PM »

You wouldn’t believe what I’ve been through

That made it imperative to learn the location of the force and, after a quick snack and toilet, Professor von Slonecker returned to the wagon. Dr. Burleigh noted it was a good time for a brisk stroll, and the rest of the group went about their business – little noting that the British mage had retained his rifle. The second ritual of the day commenced, and again seemed rather lengthy. It ended when a dome of utter darkness snapped into existence around the wagon, and a snarl emerged from within.

Suddenly concerned for the safety of their comatose companion, Mr. Russell brought his rifle to bear, while Lt. Bringinham pulled out his pistol and drew his officer’s saber. As the lieutenant walked toward the blackness, he heard a shattering squall and a large black panther burst from within, its glowing green eyes locked on him. The Virginian drew a bead, and his pistol spoke at the same time as the rifle in Mr. Russell’s hands. At the same instant, Mr. Russell felt the sudden weight of a shotgun barrel rest on his shoulder, as Herr von Landau drew a bead and unleashed his blast. The massive slug fired into the midst of the swirling melee caused neither help nor harm to either combatant, but did leave the hunter partially deaf.

The lead slugs that did hit seemed to have less effect than usual, the beast pounced; Lt. Bringinham desperately parried with his sword as he ducked the slashing claws, and drew a line of blood across the chest of the cat. The creature yowled at the bite of the sword, lashed out with its paw, scored deep furrows in Bringinham’s abdomen and howled with pain as Mr. Russell’s second slug hammered into its side. The Virginia officer dropped his pistol to let it swing by its lanyard, he took his sword in both hands and narrowly missed his thrust as the ebony cat flowed aside.

Both men flinched as Herr von Landau’s artillery spoke once again, but the panther remained oblivious as the slug whistled several feet over its head, and tried to slash at the Virginian once again. It shrieked as Lt. Bringinham parried its paw with the steel blade, and then disintegrated into flying smoke as the Mr. Russell’s rifle spoke a second time.

Lt. Bringinham propped himself up with his saber, thin tendrils of smoke curling from the streaked blade, as the rest of the group sprinted for bandages. The wide-eyed Griqua’s looked on a few more moments, shook off the shock of the sudden violence, bolted inside the thick walls of the house and slammed the reinforced door. Miss Atherton declared a second tunic of the lieutenant’s a total loss, and cut it away so she and Mr. Russell could dress the wounds.

Several hours later, the dome disappeared; Professor von Slonecker emerged, and reacted with dismayed surprise at the sight of Lt. Bringinham’s wounds. As he prepared to cast his healing spell, he tut-tutted the lieutenant’s sudden second thoughts about magick. The sorcerer’s confidence proved well-placed, as the flow of thaumic energy proved most auspicious. The spell not only instantly healed the lieutenant’s wounds; it erased the red scars left by the lioness, weeks before.

The professor reported that his astral reconnaissance had proved nearly as useful as his spell. He said the main ranch house at the mine-site now had four large wagons around it. The wagons sat at each corner of the building, the harness tongue toward the building, which left the rear of each wagon pointed outwards. Moreover, he said, while he didn’t see any of the mysterious cavalry in the mining town itself, he found them camped in a concealed dell between two hills, a bit more than a mile away. They had established a well-ordered bivouac, Professor von Slonecker reported, showed no signs of a campfire, and the men seemed to subsist on tinned rations eaten cold.

Based on this new intelligence, the group decided to forego a visit to Griqua Town, and instead approach the mining site cautiously. They backtracked to the Vaal, crossed over, and worked their way east along its southern bank. They reached the Orange River, forded it, and then cut north to bypass the mine to the west, and found a place to conceal the wagons a mile north. Along the way, the group decided that Mr. Russell and Lt. Bringinham would ride ahead to the kraal, and present themselves as freelance cartographers hired by the British South Africa Colony to draw a map of the area.

Once the camp was settled, the two men set out. Late in the day, of November 22, 1867, the two mounted men rode out of the bush and into the haphazard mining settlement. Greeted with mutters and dark looks by the Griqua miners, the hunter and the Virginian realized the miners thought them a part of the force that had taken the ranch house. A quick glance to the rear showed that the Griquas who had cleared out of the way as they rode in, had reappeared behind them, rifles in hand.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2009, 07:35:42 PM by tshiggins » Logged

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« Reply #19 on: September 20, 2009, 02:52:22 PM »

Mercenaries

An old Griqua man appeared in front of the travelers, and in Afrikaans demanded they get out of the settlement and go back up to the ranch house, “with the rest ev your kind.” Mr. Russell responded, in Afrikaans, that the pair did not know the men at the kraal, they were makers of maps in the employ of the British Colony, and they just needed supplies. The old Griqua relaxed and told them few supplies were available to anyone since the four wagons and a cavalry escort, more than a dozen men in all, arrived at the kraal the previous week. The hunter thanked him for the information, but said they had run short of food and had to try. With that, the Griqua crowd parted to let the two men by, and Mr. Russell and Lt. Bringinham rode toward the main house of the Boer kraal.

As they approached, they noticed two riflemen on the roof of the building. As they reined their mounts to a halt, the door opened a heavily-bearded man in traditional Boer attire emerged, and greeted them in Afrikaans. Mr. Russell replied in the same language, made inquiries about supplies and learned the kraal had none available, save some home-brewed beer. Mr. Russell accepted the offer, and the Boer went into the house. He emerged a few minutes later with two tankards and a porcelain carafe.

The Boers act as servants to no one, so the rancher handed over the carafe along with the tankards, and introduced himself as Piet van Kimber while the visitors poured the cool, frothy brew. As Mr. Russell and Lt. Bringinham took their first swallow, the door opened again and a tall man, booted and clad in Boer style, strode toward them. As he drew near, Mr. Russell noted the too-crisp crease in the trousers, the too-new boots, and the broad-brimmed hat that hadn’t seen nearly enough wear. He wasn’t surprised when the “Boer-not-Boer” spoke in Old Country Dutch, and usurped Mr. van Kimber’s prerogative by asking them their business.

The hunter launched into the Tale of Two Cartographers as the man’s sharp glances took in their equipment. After a long look at the American’s tack, and the stock of the rifle outside the saddle-holster, the man declared it did not at all resemble the equipment normally supplied by the Cape Town Colony government. Mr. Russell replied that neither he nor his companion represented the British Colony, per se, but merely served as contractors to draw maps of the area. Moreover, he noted, Lt. Bringinham wasn’t even British, but rather an American from Virginia whose military experience suited him for the task.

The man eyed Mr. Russell for a moment, and then stated coldly that the British Colony had no need for (and by implication would never receive), any maps of the area. His demeanor improved markedly as he extended his hand to Lt. Bringinham greeted him in accented English. Lt. Bringinham barely managed to conceal his shock as the “Boer-not-Boer” noted that he hadn’t expected to see an American Confederate “this far west,” and inquired about the Virginian’s military background.

The lieutenant barely concealed his surprise at the question, as he had no notion that any other former Confederate traveled anywhere in Africa. His own presence had been something of a fluke, as he had only met Dr. Burleigh during the latter’s brief stint as an observer stationed with the Army of Virginia. Dr. Burleigh had a professional interest in the application of steam technology to modern warfare, and had gotten some up-close and personal experience as the Union Army deployed Gatling-armed, armored steam-carriages, late in the war. The deployment of steam-powered weaponry had a devastating effect on the relatively lightly industrialized Confederacy.

After the war, the Virginian had lost his farm to northern carpet-baggers and had relocated to England in an effort to make a new start. He’d contacted Dr. Burleigh, who had seen the advantage of having a military veteran on the expedition. Utterly unaware of the presence of any former colleagues, the question left Lt. Bringinham momentarily non-plussed.

The Virginian recovered quickly, however, and replied that he’d taken the cartography position as a way to fund his trip across Africa. He had no real ties to the British Colonial Government of South Africa, save that of employment by them, and would willingly entertain offers. This response pleased the Dutchman, who introduced himself as Gustaaf Vandousen, and said he would arrange the introduction to his “employer.” However, when Lt. Bringinham tried to learn more, the mercenary sidestepped most of the questions, but did acknowledge the employer planned to arrive “by air.”

Meanwhile, back at the kraal, Mr. Russell shared a drink with the Boer, Mr. van Kimber, and tried to speak to him in the language of the Zulu, in an effort to converse with some privacy. The Boer spat on the ground and insisted the hunter stop speaking, “that trash.” Mr. Russell switched back to Arikaans, and asked the Boer about his circumstances. Normally reticent, the situation had clearly begun to fray the Mr. van Kimber’s nerves. When Mr. Russell said quietly he had little desire to work with the men who would steal the land and home of another, Mr. van Kimber’s resolve cracked.

The Boer herdsman quietly admitted that he’d offered no resistance to the 16 mercenaries who had taken his home, because he wished to protect his wife and children.  He said the men had arrived about a week ago, and thus far had done little more than keep for themselves the stores originally purchased to sell to the miners. They did, however, mention the imminent arrival of someone they called, “the employer,” and tried to prevent the van Kimbers from contacting the neighbors.

In that, at least, they had proven unsuccessful. Mr. van Kimber said he’d managed to get word to his closest neighbors, the De Beers. Even though many of the Boers had traveled south to fight the Basutos, Mr. van Kimber said a Boer mounted Kommando force was probably on its way, and could arrive at any time. Mr. Russell promised to help all he could, and Mr. van Kimber replied that he’d do everything possible to keep the Kommando from killing the hunter, as the Boers had no love for the English.

However, Mr. van Kimber expressed concern about the safety of his rescuers, as he disclosed that the four wagons stationed at the corners of his home contained strange devices. At Mr. Russell’s prodding, the Boer said the devices resembled nothing different than cannon made from multiple barrels, with hand cranks on the side. Mr. Russell recognized the description as the Gatling repeating guns which had proven so devastating during the recent war in America.

At that moment, Lt. Bringinham returned with Mr. Vandousen, and announced that he might accept a position with the mercenaries. An appalled Mr. van Kimber turned pale and shot an accusatory glance at Mr. Russell, but held his tongue. The two “cartographers” accompanied the mercenary inside, and saw that the large main room of the house had been filled with partially-unpacked equipment such as lathes, crucibles, retorts. What appeared to be a small, but well-equipped, machine-shop even included a small steam-engine to run the powered devices.

The Virginian had a drink with Mr. Vandousen, and then told Mr. Russell to mount up, as he wished to bring the rest of the group to the ranch. The hunter did so without comment, and the men rode off to the camp. Once they arrived at the camp, the pair disclosed the details of the situation, and the members of the group began to ponder how best to deal with the unexpected complication.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2009, 09:03:49 PM by tshiggins » Logged

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« Reply #20 on: September 20, 2009, 03:29:27 PM »

Best Quotes:

(When the character's name appears, it means the quip was made in-character. When the player's name appears, it was an OOC comment.)

Lt. Sutter Bringinham (Unclear about the thaumatological arts): Everywhere, there are people doing poofy crap with their stuff?

Brian: Yeah, I know something's up. I make £100 a month, maybe £125 on a really good month. You guys are paying me £200.

Bringinham (Before the hunter, Frederick Haggard Russell, saved his life. Twice.): Where are we going? £200 a month, that's where we're going.

Russell: Is there any reason why this wouldn't be a troop of British cavalry?
Dr. Stanton Burleigh: None that you know of. This ruins the sense of solitude.

Johann von Landau (Freaks out and shoots the dead body of a lioness): I haff killed ze beast! I haff saved your life!
Bringinham (Shot the lioness previously, now lying prone and bleeding from deep claw-wounds inflicted by a second lioness): Uh, I don't think so.

Russell: In the future, as a general rule, it's best to first shoot the lioness that's charging you.

(Von Landau unloads both barrels of his 8-gauge shotgun, at a faerie beast in swirling melee with Bringinham. The slugs whiz past the ear of Russell, and miss both combatants. The combat ends, with Bringinham wounded by large claws. Again.)
Von Landau: I haff saved your life, again!
Russell (to Burleigh, who watched all this from 50 yards away.): Do you have the skill at Armoury, for small arms?
Burleigh: Well, yes. I suppose I could make repairs or alterations to your weapon...
Russell (Points at von Landau): No, I don't want you to touch my rifle. I want you to do something to his gun, so the next time he pulls the trigger, it just goes "click!"

Brian: Hey, Tod! Your character's new name in the native language translates to, "catnip."

(The group listens to von Slonecker's report, after he astrally scouted the diamond mine.)
Russell: I should've held out for the £250 a month...

Von Landau: Now, I think we should consider our options, here. Clearly, this "Employer" has the advantage in this situation, and he may need some professional assistance from a skilled group of independent contractors.
Russell: No.
Burleigh: I don't think so.
Bringinham: It wouldn't be the honorable course, and this reminds me too much of what the Yankees did to us, after the war. Besides, what makes you think you'd have anything he needs?
Von Landau: Everybody needs an import-export specialist!
« Last Edit: September 20, 2009, 07:37:54 PM by tshiggins » Logged

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« Reply #21 on: September 21, 2009, 01:56:09 AM »

Quite a good read, especially the parts where ze German saves the day.
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« Reply #22 on: September 22, 2009, 03:21:52 PM »

Quite detailed and enjoyable.  I do, however, have one comment:

"At that moment, Lt. Bringinham returned with Mr. Vandousen, and announced that he might accept a position with the mercenaries. An appalled Mr. van Kimber turned pale and shot an accusatory glance at Mr. Russell, but held his tongue. "

I was under the assumption that Lt. Bringinham couldn't directly communicate with Mr. van Kimber, as they don't share a language.  The American only told Mr. Russell that he might accept the mercenary offer because he didn't think that Mr. van Kimber would understand what he was saying.  I don't want to change the story, but that is how I meant it to happen.
« Last Edit: September 22, 2009, 04:13:21 PM by zorper » Logged
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« Reply #23 on: September 22, 2009, 06:55:19 PM »

Oh, whoops.

The Boers usually speak both English and Afrikaans, because the English colony is their closest neighbor/trading partner, and the British Colonial government actually ruled them for awhile. The Great Trek took place in the 1830s and 1840s, which means anybody born before then grew up under British Colonial governance. Anybody older than about 45-50 would've grown to adulthood in the British Cape Colony, and would remember the passage of Ordinance 50 (1828), which guaranteed equal legal rights to all free persons of color, and prohibited inhumane treatment of workers. That triggered the Great Trek.

There's no reason Bringinham would know that, since he only ever heard Russell speak to this man in Afrikaans, as a means to gain van Kimber's confidence. Moreover, even in the 19th Century, the vast majority of the United States citizenry spoke only English. The notion of a bilingual society was pretty alien to us, even then.

The Boers usually don't bother to learn the native languages, because the click-tongue sound is as difficult for them as it is for us. Add in the bigotry, and knowledge of the native languages isn't widespread, but a few of the Boers even speak those.
« Last Edit: September 22, 2009, 07:01:15 PM by tshiggins » Logged

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« Reply #24 on: September 22, 2009, 09:42:45 PM »

Well, looks like Bringinham put his foot in it.  The truth will come out later.
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« Reply #25 on: September 27, 2009, 06:41:31 PM »

The Journal of Johann von Landau

The continent of Africa is filled with savages and imbeciles, and that's just the European immigrants.

We find ourselves in the rather precarious position of assaying a potential diamond field whilst the Boer rancher is doubly beset by a slapdash village of armed Griqua squatters and a growing squadron of trained mercenaries--complete with infantry, cavalry, and wagon-based artillery--under unknown flag.

It seems that Herr von Kimber endured the presence of the Griqua only insofar as they served to pluck rough diamonds at an expedient rate from his land. Lacking a proper authority to ensure his land rights, it was only a matter of time before greed and powerful interests would limit von Kimber's fortune to what he could smuggle away in a wagon, and that day has arrived.

Neither the Dutch nor the British hold sway over this land, and the Boer occupants lack the organization and resources to mount a successful defensive as far as I can estimate. I doubt this will prevent them from trying.

There are no compelling allies in this situation, and our group is divided and unsettled on whom to back and whom to fight in the coming hostilities.

The lack of stable jurisdiction in the area would seem to negate the further interest of Cotts and Company, as my previous dealings with them suggest that they are highly conservative and prefer the more stable patronage of Royal Houses and multi-generational businesses of some security.  Perhaps the lure of substantial profit will warm their blue blood, but I suspect the highest density of firearms per capita outside of an active war that I have observed in the area will cool their blood right back down.

I believe we have given our mission the due diligence it required. What is left is to scout out any other business possibilities and return to civilization alive.
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« Reply #26 on: September 27, 2009, 07:14:20 PM »


The Journal of Johann von Landau

This diamond field is like a fresh kill, brought down by novice shepherd with a lucky shot. The shepherd-come-hunter is wholly unprepared to capitalize on his luck, and there are real predators drawn in by the scent of blood.  There are also the ubiquitous flies skittering about the edges getting what they can, but rather powerless except in their numbers and determination to improve what little they have.

Our guide and the American, who both were quite amicable with the von Kimber family, seem to have turned against them in favor of the Griqua squatters. This surprises me as the Griqua are the maggots in this little scenario. They have no claim to the carcass except that which they can consume without offending the other interested predators.  They were certainly gracious to us in our earlier encounters, but it's clear to me that we're limited in our ability to cooperate by virtue of being yet another white face in a long line of white opportunists.

Our naive shepherd, the von Kimbers, are at least in possession of common law Homestead rights, but the lack of governing body to issue a first deed and patent on this property--let alone enforce one--makes this but a technicality.  The applicable segment of the law is not real estate, but gun laws: he who has the guns makes the laws.  After our group liberated him from his immediate captors, von Kimber left to rally more guns and Boers to shoot them.

That leaves the circling wolves: the unsourced mercenaries.  All we know is that they are well funded and well trained, and that our ragtag group stands no chance against them head to head. Well, gun to gun. I'm sure that the combined intelligence of the Bayernese in the group should be sufficient to even our odds. At this very moment; the American, our guide, and von Slonecker are devising some sort of plan to cripple the mercenaries' cavalry before the coming hostilities.  I overheard them muttering about portals, explosives, and stampedes; if whatever they have planned succeeds, I'm sure they'll make a mess of it.

I've decided to throw in with the good Dr. Burleigh to see if we can't mechanize these ironclad wagons with rather impressive guns in them to good use. The prospect of slow and war-weary oxen being able to position these under live fire is something none of us wanted to attempt, so we'll either strategically place them in fixed locations or mechanize them suitably for a driver and a gunner.

=#=
The mechanization of the gun wagon did not go according to plan. I fear that if we do survive the hostilities, we will none-the-less be plagued by unpredictable visits of the terror we have unleashed upon the land. Our war wagon, upon its first initiation, promptly sped off sans pilot and bullets flying, much to the consternation of the livestock which constituted its first victims.

I just pray that its ability to drive itself does not extend to an ability to reload itself.  And I suspect in the weeks and months to come we shall receive reports from the four corners of Africa of a driverless killing machine causing much unrest and wanton destruction.

Soon after the wagon began its haj, the other members of the group gave a shout of "NOW" from the shed where they were working, followed by a loud retort from the direction of the cavalry camp. I suspect their device worked, although my unease with gore shall prevent my taking a survey of the effects first hand.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2009, 07:16:16 PM by Christopher » Logged

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« Reply #27 on: September 28, 2009, 07:23:10 PM »

The Journal of Johann von Landau

You wonder why we even bother making plans the way things turn out. An entire night spent training Griqua laborers the art of war and planning a ground assault and we're in the air minutes after hostilities break out, moments after the other project of the evening--our secret weapon against the airship, a mobile gun wagon--goes speeding off killing cows instead of mercenaries.

With the ...forgive the pun... rise of air ships, father insisted that I acquaint myself with the next evolution in travel and transportation, as not to lose market share and continue to expand our manufacturing business into the lighter-than-air sector.

Great entertainment is to be had with air ships and I have made a hobby of piloting them. Their efficacy in seducing women is mixed, as a successful afternoon voyage can just as easily result in partially digested caviar being shot out of the cabin windows as it can result in another entry into the "300 Meter Club" log book.

Our reverse engineering efforts on captured competitors' prototypes has made me somewhat adept at the engineering and maintenance of these machines.  Whereas we expanded our consumer carriage business into war machines, I suspect that we can exploit the market in the opposite direction with air ships: simplifying and downsizing the gigantic war zeppelins into consumer model personal air boats.

But I digress.  Having fully planned to run a ground operation, my fellow Bayern revealed that he had the ability to not only project his spirit into distant places (a feat which summoned a rather nasty panther monster some nights back), he could also create a doorway to a distant location through which physical objects--including living humans--could pass.

This was a rather rushed revelation, proceeded mostly by "we're boarding the air ship, follow us" as the rest of the group, save our guide, jumped through a mesmerizing portal.  I watched as each stepped through the portal and nearly tumbled off the top of the airship which I could see both in front of me through the tunnel and above me in the sky at some distance.  As the men disappeared from view through the portal, I squinted at the air ship in the sky to see if any were then plummeting to their certain deaths.

Seeing no human bombs, I figured I might increase my chances of a successful landing if I entered the portal at speed, so I took a few steps back, cocked both barrels of my gun, and ran head long into the portal.

And then I killed a man. 
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« Reply #28 on: September 28, 2009, 07:44:33 PM »

The Journal of Johann von Landau

It had occurred to me that I might shed the blood of another man in this bizarre situation. I can't say that I had the time to rationalize that it must be done, that my life was unavoidably in danger, and that no other option existed. I suppose that I could have taken a horse and left before all of this got started, or "accidentally" injured myself and removed the option of my participation.  Alas, those are questions I will have to ask myself and for which an answer will likely never come.

But as soon as I stepped through the portal, even at good speed, I did a tumble forward, regained my footing and was the only member of the party standing. The other men were flush against the deck and grasping for the rails.  Only a few paces directly before me was the business end of a rather large rifle and a wide-eyed young man looking into my eyes down its barrel.

I yelled out "maintenance crew!" in German, hoping that it would stay the young man's hand, if only for a second, as I swung my 4 bore into position and squeezed the first trigger.

The ruse worked, breaking the man's aim as he appeared to stand to yell for me to stop. Seeing that it was no tool I carried, but a rifle, he wasn't fooled long and he began firing his automatic air rifle in a strafing arc from wide to my right back toward my face.

I heard the last shot whiz by my right ear before the massive slug from my gun separated the mercenary from his mortal coil and slammed his corpse back against the far side of his crow's nest.

My prior momentum carried me forward over the nest, and once again I could see down the black tunnel of an air rifle. My second shot found its home in the face of another mercenary as I continued over the nest and fell to my knees. An appropriate genuflection for the mortal sin I had twice committed.
« Last Edit: September 30, 2009, 02:34:17 PM by Christopher » Logged

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« Reply #29 on: September 28, 2009, 08:43:36 PM »

By time I regained my nerve and some sense of balance, my hands were shaking too much to reload my rifle, so I left it in the crow's nest and was the last man down the flimsy ladder which led to a small round platform.

When I reached the bottom, my compatriots were already engaged in close combat with four rather large men brandishing crowbars. The teleportation of four men such a distance had clearly weakened Von Sloneker and the burly man bashed his rapier to the floor, directly in front of me. My own nerves were out of sorts and as I lunged past Von Sloneker to keep the mechanic at distance, I too lost control of my blade.

The sorcerer paid dearly for this series of errors, as the mechanic let loose a slog which scored an Agricultural Shot right on Von Sloneker's ribs. A Sticky Wicket, indeed!

I made a dash for my blade as Von Sloneker took the Yorker in the ribs and a quick flick of my wrist sent the thug reeling. A few quick cuts and the felling of his friends by the American and Brit, and all four of the true maintence crew were tied up and unconscious.

Still fazed by killing two men not moments before, I regained my humanity and saw to the wounds of the sorcerer and the crew while Dr. Burleigh and Bringinham continued back towards the engines.

I completely neglected to tell them that I had any experience with airships. An omission without excuse! Unfortunately, both men absconded with the air rifles we scavenged off of the dead lookouts, leaving me with only my rapier for combat!

Luckily, our incursion went unnoticed until enough time had passed for me to bandage Von Sloneker the best I could and for Dr. Burleigh to complete a masterful job of disabling the engines (without serious damage, I might add). 

Von Sloneker, it what could have been his dying gift to the party, astrally peered into the crew cabin and warned us moments before four gunners joined us in the balloon compartment.

Von Sloneker handed me his pistol, a hand cannon for sure, and I did my best to stall the advancement of the gunners, allowing the American time to put his rifle to use.

Up to this point, he had been almost completely useless in the advancement of this mission, but I guess it is foolish to count the American out too soon.

A few shots were enough to wound and suppress the gunners, and a few more shots into the metal cabin bounced around like a wicked googly!

I suspected that the rest would have been a formality, as the crew had a lot to lose should one of my rounds glanced off of any of the live bombs they were carrying in the cabin.

 
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