We arrive at station, and as we deboard led by Maria, a pudgy, oily looking man approaches her. Tom “Her fiance?” Schuyler “Really, that fat grease ball?” Say how sorry he is for her loss, takes her by the arm leading her to a boat. See another man watching all this nearby growing angrier and angrier. He charges fatty as she pulls away from him. Then, 5 thugs in bright red shirts, the uniform of the Italian fascist thugs (wear red to hide the blood). Jeremy “That must be her suitor!” 3 of the 5 start working the poor man over. Red Cloud “We can’t stand for this” Geste “Stop that!” Paul “I say ruffians, unhand that man!” 2 unengaged block us “Englishman, mind your own business Englishman.” Paul pulls his dagger with Geste, Red Cloud and Schuyler behind him followed by Wilhelm. Paul blocks those 2 and the next 3 hed for the fight. The 3 thugs toss the man into the water. He flails, unable to swim. Schuyler jumps in to rescue him and Red Cloud and Simon move to take on the 3. Fatty runs over holding up his credentials “Don’t make a move, I’m a bureaucrat! You’re new here so I will forgive you for your interference. I am the 3rd, or 4th, most important man in this city in charge of the dept. of licenses and permits.” Paul “Are you in league with these ruffians?” “They are my associates.” Red Cloud “Why beat a man 3 on 1?” Fat “He’s an anti-Italian agitator who needs taught a lesson. Now if you don’t mind I need to see your passports.” For the next 15 min we stand as he goes over each one taking copious notes. “What is your business in my fair city?” Red Cloud “Travelling the Express.” Fat “I suggest you board again then. This city is not healthy for foreigners who choose to medal in internal matters. Why are you travelling?” Wilhelm “Going to Istanbul.” Paul “Seeing the Empire.” Fatty “Sightseeers eh? Our city has many sites but not for the likes of you.” Turns to Paul directly, inspecting his passport…then a change in tone “You and your companions are certainly welcome to stay your lordship”. A great bonging goes off from the clock of the main cathedral. Something feels familiar about it as it dies away. Hmm. Jeremy “Did that sound like the dreamworld bell?” Hmm. Maria to fatty “I do not wish to go to papa’s home with you.” Schuyler “We can take her home, I’m sure you have more pressing bureaucratic matters.” Jeremy “We can take her the rest of the way.” He sort of blusters off with his 5 Red Shirts back into their boat.
- Ruler of Italy is imperialistic, but dictatorial swine and on the fascist side. Corruption rampant.
- Simulacrum parts which we carry are kept in separate locked trunks.
We are to stay at the Gritty Palace, Piaze San Marco. A beautiful place worthy of Paul, and his pocket. Schuyler “How much does it cost?” Jeremy “What does it matter, we have Paul” hahaha. First we take her home. Her siblings (married sister and brother in army “so handsome, a dashing young captain”) are away. She will be alone. Her fiance Georgio accompanies us. In a way, he is a complete moron. He is simultaneously impressed by nobility and keeps talking about the ‘rights of man’, and thinks he can convince Paul to join the socialist movement for decent factory hours and treatment. “Gov’t is not something that should be hereditary, but voted for.” Paul “so I should give up my title.” “Yes, that is exaclty it. You should give up your title and work among the working people.” Red cloud asks what he thinks of America and Texas Rep. He doesn’t quite understand. He has socialism and democracy confused. Says republics are great, socialist rep even better. Happy the “south managed to escape the north that was oppressing them but at the same time sorry they won” since he’s against slavery. One of his great dreams would be to free them. Says if they would stage a Confederate-wide sitdown/walkout the gov’t would be forced to give them rights. “Violence is not the way to solve anything”. Wilhelm “Seems to solve alot for us.” Him “I know, I know. Sometimes the world forces one to do horrible things.” He stands in the boat “I want all men to be free, earn decent wages and govern themselves. I want all nobles to understand the evil of the sytsem, like Paul here!” Maria just sighs in love, looking at him. To Jeremy beside her “Isn’t he wonderful?” When asked if she believes him, she says that is man-talk. What she is interested in is raising good children. “After all I am only a woman.” Paul “But the greatest monarch in the world is Queen Victoria.” “Oh, she isn’t just a woman. She is a queen. Of course she is better.” Paul “I stand corrected.” We see groups of 5 or 6 redshirts all over as we float on our way. See a few push around a poor Jew in his yamaka. 2 that we had the fight with are following us trying poorly to be inconspicuous.
As we near her house Georgio says can’t go with us anymore. The redshirts making him nervous for they know him as an organizer and rebel. As we pass under a bridge he leaps onto the side into an alley. He trips on a cobblestone and slides into the alley as Maria yelps. Georgie “I’m all right my love” as he disappears. She says the fat man was Alberto. “He is old, 40! He’s fat and his breath stinks. Worst of all he spends his time hanging out with occultists. They mess with wigy boards and all that.” Schuyler “Is it an official order?” “No, just a goup of friends he hands out with.”
At her house we talk of her dad. Says he was not involved with Georgio’s politics. He didn’t much like him. Thought he was too young and poor. Just before she left to stay with her aunt he changed his mind and said Georgio would be fine for her because “that fat Alberto had came to court me for my marriage.” Sent her away to Milan to avoid Alberto’s power. So, Alberto could have not been happy with papa Giovanni getting in the way of Maria. She doesn’t believe the theory though, too young and naive. Only 2 servants to stay at the house with her. She offers tea and coffee. “We are quite wealthy, I have both.” Schuyler takes coffee as usual. Paul tea. Since it is now so late and we didn’t eat, she invites us to stay to sup and we do. She insists Alberto loves her and would never hurt her dad. Schuyler “There is a difference tween love and obsession.” Jeremy “W/o your dad, you would need a man. Alberto would conveniently step in.” Schuyler “What happens to your dad’s business now?” “My oldest brother, the army Cpt., would have to come back to run it.” Schuyler “No partners?” No. He is to be part of the attack on Abysinnia to take on M????. Now he will have to resign his commission to return. That will break his heart, but her 2nd brother she feels is not smart enough to do so. He’s a lawyer. Schuyler “Maybe you should sell the company and live the highlife yourself.” “I may. There are rumors the gov’t is going to nationalize many businesses including import/export. If that would happen, we’d lose everything.” Schuyler “Well, there you go. I think selling out is your answer.” Jeremy “Where is your bro?” “In Rome. He is a member of the Rights of Man. They bring cases of gov’t excess to the courts to try to curb the gov’t but he has no head for businesss. He just isn’t smart enough. I will have to get advice from one smarter than me. I will have to speak to Georgio.” All of us NONONO. Paul “Sell, sell sell. Give up this country and hed out now.” “But if I marry Georgio he will have the rights. Though my father left me with power of attorney.” We have a fantatsic authentic Italian dinner then get a taxi to our hotel. Absolutely magnificent and well worth the money.
So, where to start for history on Gramanci? We ask the front desk man. Recommends electoral roles, post office and church baptism/marriage records. Geste/Wilhelm to church, Schuyler/Jeremy to post office, Paul/Red Cloud to electoral records. As we leave, a faint scent of rotting meat in the air. The canal waters look a bit oily, like a sheen on top with the smell coming from it. This just started this morning. When the tide goes out, the water freshens up. Georgio meets us and shakes all our hands, thanking us for rescuing him. Especially Paul for whome he removes his hat and bows. “I have a favor to ask. I know I shouldn’t after allthe help you have been so far but…how should I conduct myself in this situation?” Simon “Which situation?” “I think that evil toad has designs upon my fiance!” Wilhelm “He does indeed.” “I can’t just go and face him down, I’ll be thrown in jail or worse.” Simon “If you ask her to marry before the fat toad has a chance to do anything else…” Schuyler “Yeah, what’s taking you so long?” “I can’t ask a woman to live the life I live now. i have no money.” Red Cloud “If you marry her you will.” Jeremy “If you marry her you run the business.” “What do you take me for, a gold digger? I can’t marry her for her money. I have to have my own money first so when I go to her she sees i am not marrying her for her money.” Schuyler “Paul, give him a grand.” HAHAHA. Anyway… He seriously wants our advice. He is afraid to lose her if he waits though. Jeremy “What do you do for a job besides organize people.” “That’s what I do”. Red Cloud “Where do you get money to live and subsist?” Georgio “My needs are slight. Many supporters of the cause give me room and board. Sometimes I work odd jobs between my important work. That’s it. I’m afraid to say there have been times that Maria has given me money (it is difficult for him to spit that out) but I WILL PAY IT BACK!” Jeremy “I have a crazy idea to make you money. When you organize the people to stand up vs the gov’t, make them pay dues. They must put money into the org so you can grow the movement.” Paul “Whoa whoa, guys, we’re not trying to create a workers union here.” Schuyler “No, he just wants fairness and equality, he’s just using the wrong terms for it.” Jeremy “So you collect $, put some toward the movement and a portion as your own wage and expenses for heading the organization.” Georgio “But wouldn’t that be living off the backs of the people?” Jeremy “No no no, they need you to help keep the gov’t from oppressing them.” Wilhelm “You perform a service they need, and you get some compensation.” Jeremy “Once you organize this, you can go to the people who own the factories that if they can provide donations to their organization you can convince the workers to go back to work.” Schuyler “Wait whoa that’s just dishonesty.” Paul “Oh no we are not fommenting a rebellion here.” Georgio “This is too much, I must think. Then, if the noble lord would then help me figure the right path…” Paul “Why don’t we do this for now. I will pay you an honest days wage as a translator and guide while we are here.” Georgio “Oh no senor, I owe you too much already. I will do those things anyway.” Red Cloud “Your future fiance wined and dined us for free last night herself.” Georgio “Are you sure this is no charity?” Paul “No sir. A service we need for payment rendered.” He immediately jumps up to attention. “Georgio Gasparati at your service sir! Ah!” Red Cloud aside to Paul “He is a nice man but a dolt.” Georgio “Now you know Giovanni was not just mugged. He was murdered, and the fat toad did it.” Simon “We figured that out for ourselves already.” Georgio “As a fascista no one can touch him but if he goes after my Maria i will die before I let him have her.” Simon “I should not come to that.” Georgion “My family are hard working middle class. They are here in the city.” Schuyler “You can’t work with them?” Georgio “No, no they don’t understand all these things I learned at University.” He promises to do his best as guide and servant while we are here. Jeremy reminds us we need a couple more translators. Georgio says we will get a gondola and drop each of us off where we need to go, as well as 2 more friends as his assistants. He yells “Antonio” and a kid runs from around the corner “Get Marco and Guiseppe for me” “Tall Guiseppi or short Guiseppi?” “Short Guiseppi.” About 20 later the 2 approach. From the other direction approach 2 redshirts. Both groups spot each other and the redshirts cross on a boat to other side. They obviously have great respect for Marco who looks quite tough. Has parially healed cut on face and bulge on head from a club. Recently beaten by redshirts but “They know if they come after me they better bring 4. Last time they used 3, they ended up in the canal.” We will all meet for a meal later to exchange information.
- Church w/Guiseppi: Simon finds that about 20 families have the Gramanci name. Wilhelm discovers the first name of the Gramanci that bought the leg. And the name of the current living ancestor is Antonio
- Post Office w/ Marco: Write down addresses of any Gramanci’s who receive mail.
- Gov’t electoral records w/ Georgio: Gets both home addresses and business addresses.
As we all meet up, Georgio and friends take leave, but will meet us in the morning. Wilhelm matches name with the correct addresses and confirmed by Paul and Red Cloud. We are looking for Antonio Gramanci’s, but there are 3 of them. Crossreferenced with gov’t records, only one is the owner of Gramanci Dolls and Models. A good connection, the Simulacrum being a statue. Next morning we will track it down. During the night we hear a scream from outside “MORTE, MORTE!” A woman runs down the street, and vanishes around a turn.
Waiters inform us the woman was witness to a grizzly murder. Her lover discovered impaled on a 10’ iron spike, his throat torn as if by a wild beast. FENNELIK!! A note for us from Maria at the desk thanking us for all of our aid and doubly for giving her love a job. Asks if we could push him into proposing as she is already 19yrs old. We decide to pay Georgios buds a pound a day, Georgio 2. Formal invite to her dad’s funeral at her home the next midmorning. Georgio and his boys arrive and we hed on our way. Smell is worse than previous morning, of garbage and rot. Water now vary sluggish and rather than oily it seems almost thick/mucousy. Simon “Someone is casting some sort of evil spell.” Wilhelm “I don’t think so. Fennelik’s very presence is likely causing this. Plague and disease and such things manifest from their very being.” When the tide turns away the water freshens again. Paul “Perhaps after he has slept a while is why it goes away during midday”.
We easily find the Doll shop, but it looks like it has seen better days and business. Knock and a man asks us our business. We ask to talk to Antonio and are led into a small backroom. Horsehair sofas, doili’s… Very itchy sofas. Display cases lining walls with historic Gramance dolls and manaquins as well as prosthetics. Antonio enters, elderly thin and dusty. Appears to have fossilized years ago. Georgio must translate. We are led into his office. Large leatherbound ledgers going back several hundred years fill the shelves. Obviously the family business for a long time. Georgio introduces Paul and his title to Antonio who is not a socialist but a capitalist! Paul speaks first through Georgio, telling him up front we are in search of a piece of an ancient statue, a leg precicely, supposedly given to a member of your family long ago. Jeremy says we are collectors from England, and he claims to be an archaeologist named Rick Rathbone…again. We tell him the short info Smith gave us. Paul rolls a shitty diplomacy check, and Antonio gets a bit huffy at our nosing into his family but not upset. He thinks we mock him a bit, Jeremy, er.. Rick settles him. Antonion says all know the story of his great grandfather and he felt this was a prank. He explains his ancestor Elvisi Gramanci was known as a notorious sorcerer and automoton maker. Jeremy “Really? That we did not know.” He of course was not a sorcerer, for such things do not exist, but people regarded his dolls as magic containers for his victims souls. And that he could create dolls modelled after political enemies which if stuck or burned would do so to the man. He also made his automotons, owls and humans which seemed alive. When the French came they recognized his excellence and they bought many for family back home. Nothing bad ever actually happened to anyone. He knows nothing about a leg though. Paul now, after Jeremy’s buttering, gets a 20. Antonion rings a bell calling a jolly, plump man who speaks English. “Allow me to introduce myself I am Sebstiono Gramance, Antonio’s nephew. I have worked here all my life. How can I help you?” Jeremy explains the leg to him. Schuyler “Could we possibly look at your ledgers?” After a moment “Absolutely.”
He shows us around the factory first, several workrooms, a warehouse of arms and heads and legs stacked on wires hanging from ceiling. Schuyler “If your ancestor were alive today, in out steam tech, he would have been considered a genius.” People making doll clothes and shaving wood on lathes. See 6 very old people, because they have jobs for life here, assembling pieces. He has a couple workers explain how they do their work… At the back of storeroom he says “Records you look for are here. But nothing of interest in these journals. What you need are the receipts.” He leads us further into storeroom, coming to a vault-like door. Unlocks it as we notice a lot of dust everywhere. “These are our records, perfectly catalogued.” It smells like the canal, as this part if under waterlevel. He apologizes for the state as it has not been opened for at least a decade. Only modern records in the office. It is a corridor lined with deep shelves, containing thousands of brass tubes with roman numerals keyed to year and month. Unfortunately they are completely out of order! Aaargh! First scroll we look at is marked ‘92. Inside it says 1592. So outside only marked with last 2 digits, not by century. Yikes. Lots of mold, very dirty and a bit dank. Gonna have to change clothes when we finish here. Sebastiano is embarrased by lack of organization, but he’s far to happy-go-lucky for it to get him down. He whistles operettas as he goes.
We get to work searching for the correct year. It is a long and monotonous search, but Jeremy finally finds it with Marco’s linguistic help. Record of an artificial leg in 1797 bought from a French soldier. Soldier left with a new wood leg and 100 lira, an example of his master’s generosity. Bought by the recorders master because it was made of some strange material. Wilhelm finds that in 1810 leg in statue of courtyard of Palatzo Retziani a nobles palace taken over by austurians damaged by lightning. Gramanci was ordered for unstated reason to replace it in 24 hours or be charged with treason; but if succeeded he would be tried as a witch. Then, a leg of the dimensions needed, made of an odd ceramic material, was found in the storeroom Gramanci fixed it to the statue so well none could find fault in it. Austrians convinced by the ealier purchase record of the miracle dropped all charges.
We go back to the front store to find a dozen redshirts who have forced their way in, threatening the old man and to burn down his shop if he helps the foreigners. He replies I care nothing for foreigners and I certainly would not go out of my way to help them. But I also don’t like beign pushed around in my own shop. This is not the neighborhood to come in pushing a shopowner around. Suddenly, behind the redshirts we see a group of guys looking even tougher than reds. The reds get nervous, and Antonio “I advise you to leave and do not come back.” One of the reds sees us at the back door as they back down and leave and says to us “This is not the end of this, foreigners.” Antonio “These are some of my good friends from the neighborhood,” pointing to the men with sticks and ax handles, “if you need help send someone to let me know.”
We hed back to the hotel. Find everyone excited about the statue of St. Mark wept blood during the evening service. Red Cloud “Fennelik.”
Next morning told of another murder, a gondola driver found torn to shreds in his boat, the remains drained of blood. People saying a maniac out there pretending to be a vampire/ghouls loose/a cult active. Waiter who showed us the paper says he knows some people who were out on the town, and my brother in law swears they saw Death pulling a gondola down the grand canal. Simon asks him description, and sounds like Fennelik allright. Outside, spell nearly drops some over. Paul takes out his handkerchief and sprays it with perfume. During smalltalk with a couple locals who speak English, they say water has leaked into some houses and basements of 2 churches. Couple of kids who played in the water now are ill, black blotches spreading across their limbs. Older people say it’s like the Black Death.
We go to funeral. Lagoon is even worse than canal. Many are queasy from sight and smell of it. Both Georgio and Alberto are there, spend whole funeral glaring at each other. Maria too upset to notice either. There is a reception afterward and we discuss not going as she seems ok and safe right now. We decide to go and put the leg off until evening. Food is quite good, and rather cheerful for a wake, but for moments of sadness for Maria. Finally, as we leave Georgio comes to us. Says does not want to provoke fatty anymore cause doesn’t want him to do anything to Maria. Georgio gets us a gondola to take us back to our house, but we say we need to make a sidetrip.
A short time later he says “This is not the way. Gondoleer, this isn’t the way.” Red Cloud “Uh oh” Gondoleer “No senor, this is exactly where you told me to take you.” Pulls over to the side, now in a very seedy part of the city. Gondoleer "Now get out of my gondola. We start getting out arguing, and see several redshirts come out of an alley toward us, and quickly. There are 12 of them. Soon as Georgio sees them, he grabs the gondola’s pole and yells “This time, I’ll save you my friends. Quick swim for your lives I’ll hold them off!” and he charges them. We can do nothing but join him in order to save his life. Some of them are brawling, 4 in front wielding clubs. Red Cloud pulls out his coup stick, Wilhelm uses his swordcane as a bludgeon “Form ranks!” Jeremy retreats to water’s edge. Paul, just before the club wielders, meets a clubber with his fist-3 then deftly(card)takes his club off him. The other 3 hit our front 3: Schuyler is hit for 6, Geste, Paul and Red Cloud are missed; brawlers are hanging back with the leader and subleader. We retaliate: Geste punches his-8, Schuyler does the same to his, Red Cloud with his coup stick hits-9. Wilhelm moves to the brawlers and hits one for 7 with his cane; 2 brawlers move in on Jeremy: Jeremy punches one-5, both miss him; 1 brawler misses Georgio who whacks him with the pole; Wilhelm is missed, the last doubles Paul and misses. Leaders still watching, the gondola is now gone. The clubbers miss Paul and Simon, Red Cloud is hit-7, Schuyler is missed; Paul hits same guy with his own club-7, Georgio hits again, Schuyler punches-8 then feints (card) and opponent loses next action and Wilhelm takes that card with another card and succeeds at the same thing then hits-7, Red Cloud hits-7 w/stick, Simon punches-7, Jeremy punches-3. Jeremy hit once-3, Paul is hit-3, Georgio is hit, leaders now move in and (card) are pulled in by Paul’s bravado, all other opponents follow suit after his snide remark on fascism: one leader hits Paul-9; 2 clubs who can move make for Paul with the others on him now: hit for 4,3. The disarmed one hits for 4. Red Cloud and Geste follow theirs and flank with Paul who crits leader-8 then (card) disarms a clubber, Red Cloud hits-8 plus the AoO-miss. Schuyler misses. Simon hits-6, Jeremy hits one-1, Wilhelm hits-6; Paul is missed by 2 subleaders and a brawler, Ldr misses once and hits-4. Georgio hits-4; Paul, now out of fatigue and stuck, hits-7. 2 with clubs miss, 2 disarmed hit for 5 and 6. Jeremy hits-3, Geste hits-8 KO’d, Schuyler misses, Red Cloud grapples a disarmed clubber around Paul with a chokehold-11 KO’d. Wilhelm hits-6. Georgio hits again with the pole. Paul is hit for 7 and drops KO’d. The rest attack their original targets: Wilhelm, Georgio missed, Jeremy missed twice, Ldr hits Georgio once; Clubber misses Red Cloud, 2nd clubber hits Schuyler-3. Geste hits Ldr-6, Red Cloud hits one of Jeremy’s-10, Schuyler hits-6, Wilhelm hits-7, Jeremy hits-1. Wilhelm hit by brawler-2, Jeremy missed, Red Cloud hit-4, Georgio missed, subldr misses Georgio, subldr hits Georgio badly and staggers him, Ldr hits Simon twice for 11 total; Schuyler (card) moves for free anywhere and helps Georgio hitting brawler-5 KO’d, Wilhelm hits-13crit KO’d, Simon (uses Crom card) on Ldr and hits-6, Red Cloud hits-11, Jeremy misses (uses card for a spirit attack stunning enemy for next round); Schuyler missed, Georgio missed, Wilhelm missed, Red Cloud missed by Schuyler’s former opponent; Schuyler hits-8, Geste on Ldr hits-8, Red Cloud hits-11 KO’d and cleaves Schuyler’s old opp-10 KO’d letting out a great Kiowa whoop, Wilhelm hits-5, Jeremy pushes stunned guy into canal, then gloats over him from edge, Georgio misses; Wilhelm is missed, one misses Jeremy, Ldr hits Simon twice-13 total, Georgio and Schuyler missed; Schuyler hits-3, Red Cloud flanks with Jeremy and hits-10 and Jeremy hits-5; Wilhelm, Schuyler, Jeremy and Red Cloud are missed, Georgio is hit; Schuyler hits-7, Geste hits Ldr-8, Jeremy-4 and Red Cloud-12 to theirs KO’d, Wilhelm hits-4 KO’d, Georgio misses. Now only the LdrvvsvSimon, and the 2 on Georgio and Schuyler. Georgio is critted and goes down KO’d, Schuyler is missed, Ldr hits Simon once-5; Schuyler misses, Red Cloud runs to Georgio’s-miss. Wilhelm hits Schuyler’s-8, Simon misses Ldr, Jeremy hangs back, looting the pockets of the downed villains and flags down a gondola in a couple rounds or so. Red Cloud hit by Georgio’s-3, Schuyler is missed, Ldr hits Simon once-4; Red Cloud hits-13, Schuyler hits-6 and Wilhelm fumbles flanking theirs, Simon hits ldr-6; Red Cloud and Schuyler are missed, Geste is missed twice; Wilhelm recovering, Schuyler hits-3, Simon hits Ldr-8, Red Cloud misses; Red Cloud is missed, Schuyler hit-4, Ldr misses twice; Schuyler hits-4, Red Cloud hits-9, Wilhelm hits-7, Simon hits Ldr-8; Red Cloud is missed, Schuyler hit-10, Ldr hits Geste once-9; Schuyler misses, Red Cloud hits-13, Wilhelm hits-7, Simon misses. Red Cloud is missed, Schuyler hit for 5, Ldr hits Geste once-9; Gondola arrives, Wilhelm hits-5 and Schuyler-3 KO’d, Red Cloud misses, Geste hits Ldr-8, Jeremy holds gondola with stolen money; Red Cloud is hit-9, Ldr hits Simon twice-11 total putting Geste deep into wnd pts; Red Cloud hits-11 KO’d, Schuyler moves to Ldr and hits-5, Simon misses him, Wilhelm charges in and hits-7; Ldr hits Geste twice-14 total taking Simon down KO’d; Schuyler hits-5, Red Cloud charges in with a great warcry and hits-12, Wilhelm hits-7 KO’d END. We pile into the boat and Wilhelm doctors up the badly wounded. We get back to our hotel.
After resting up well, we go to the house where the leg should be after dark. Georgio says he owes us again, but we insist he was just one of us this time. A regular hero fighting right alongside of us. Georgio says he has given up on socialism, he wants to follow in Paul’s footsteps as a hero. We remind him of his love and he says you’re right, but he must be part of combat. He plans to meet her at her balcony “like Romeo and Juliet, the Romance!” and he goes tearing off to her. Marco takes us and there is no statue. We knock on door and inquire as to it, and they say it was destroyed. The rubble was crushed up and reused but for the one leg. Wierdest thing you couldn’t break it. I am fairly sure they took it off to the clock." Red Cloud “Why the clock?” “Not sure but that’s what the workmen said, about 10 years ago.” We thank him and hed for the clocktower. As we get there it strikes the hour, and 2 doors open on the clock face. Death exits with an angel, then a turk fighting a winged lion, a soldier fighting an assassin, and finally a country lad and lass dancing- JUST LIKE THE PROCESSION IN DREAM LAUSANNA!!!! This is it! The turk, soldier and rustic lass all have legs, the rest are single solid pieces. We go back to hotel rest for the night. In our room we find something in the bed under the covers, the shape of a body. Simon pulls the cover and the parts of the Simulacrum lie there on the bed, newly polished! Fennelik playing with us, can’t stay away from his item. We had forgotten to garlic the room up. We put the pieces back in trunks and fill them with garlic first thing in morning. Make a note to always do so from now on. We all have terrible cramps all night in our left legs.
Looting and citizen unrest increasing. Several deaths from the black spot plague, water getting worse, rats all over. No murder last night, he must have been happy spending time with the Simulacrum. Overall feeling of dread in the city.
Another note from Maria in the morning asking us if we could find Georgio. He never showed up that night. Schuyler “Oh shit. Not like we have nothing to do!” We know where he hangs out though so that’s the first place to look. We get there and there he is. Schuyler “Why did…” and we see he has twice the bruises we left him with. He was beat last night. He managed to get away but is pretty sure they wanted to kill him and “I did lead them a merry chase through the streets” still in good spirits. “I am now a man of action and I say we go and I ask Maria to marry me regardless of all else.” We agree wholeheartedly. As we hed for her house, her old maid comes toward us down the street. She runs to us frantically with a letter from Maria. She is held captive in her house by fatmans redshirts, and he says he is going to bring a priest to marry them. Georgio “We can’t let that happen. Though he forces her, he’s a fascista. His word will be taken. We must rescue her immediately.” Red Cloud “We need our capitalist friends.” Georgio sends Marco to get “brave men of action willing to take on redshirts in the light of day.” We tell him to meet us right back here, and we go to our hotel to get fully weaponized. A dozen toughs come to meet us in short order, some with ax handles, one with a chain…“Fascists holding an innocent girl hostage?” Schuyler “An innocent virgin at that.” Oh, man they get even more angry at that, slapping their weapons against their palms ready to scrap!
We head for the 4 story apartment complex. One group of 4 capitalists comes up to canal-side entrance in gondola, another 4 from rear street entrance. Schuyler climbs onto roof and from right side and sees it with knotted rope and sees it all clear, then drops it for everyone else to get up. Atop, we hear the capitalist attack “Hey what are you men doing here?” Looking down into courtyard, 7 of them make it to courtyard, and about a dozen redshirts come out from all sides with saps and a general melee begins in courtyard. We go down outer steps, led by Paul-Simon-Red Cloud and look in sitting room window, next to door, where 2 thugs with muddy feet up on coffeetable “This is going on longer than I thought, go check on it.” As the thug opens the door he sees Paul right there, who slugs with a fist-4 then again for 3 “A fist from England!”, Simon barges through the doorway, pushing Paul’s fight into the room and punches the thug still on the couch with his gauntlets (a cross relief at each knuckle which leave impressions in the skin)-9 who stands up and swings at Geste-4 but hit gain-4 by Geste, Paul’s thug crits-7 and he backpedals onto landing. Schuyler, in rear, looks over stairs and sees window on walkway under them, says to Jeremy “Wanna hop down and go in?” then climbs over stair railing and drops over edge and onto walkway. Jeremy goes downstairs and follows with Red Cloud to the window. Schuyler opens door and it is a bathroom. Georgio runs into the fight-room to door on far side. Simon hits again-7 “Taste Templar steal” , Paul hits-2; Thug crits Paul again-7 “You’re not gonna look so pretty anymore”, thug misses Simon. We hear movement on other side of door. Schuyler et al get into bathroom and open door, seeing 2 redshirts, one lying on bed quickly pulling pants up as the other does so at foot of bed on knees, at half mast and pants at knees. They’re GAY! Schuyler “Bugger, me!” Red Cloud runs in with warclub and nonlethals one on bed-20 KO’d, Jer Schuyler runs past and gut punches-6, Jeremy goes to door down short hallway and hear girl “I knew he’d come to rescue me” and a man says “Shut up!”
As Georgio throws open door to Maria’s bedroom, backed up by Wilhelm, 2 other thugs there with a bottle of papa’s best wine that they had been drinking. Her dresser has top drawer and her underpants are stewn about area. One has smashed bottle and attacks Georgio who yells “Leave her things alone!” Bottle misses and breaks against wall leaving only the stem which the thug drops. Georgio swings his club and hits the thug in the brainpan. Paul skillfully feints and gets his man offbalance, using that he deftly flips the man over the rail into courtyard below-7, Simon throttles his-10 KO’d and moves into bedroom. Schuyler punches again-6, and Red Cloud moves out to hall to check on Jeremy at doorway, now real quiet in there; Schuyler punched-3. In bedroom Wilhelm with swordcane as a club hits other thug-7, Georgio misses, thug says to him “I’m gonna make you eat this (referring to bottle stem)” but misses. Jeremy opens hallway door and tumbles through in anticipation of an ambush. The waiting thug still hits-3 with sap. Jeremy reaches another door in room, with a thug right in front of him unluckily who hits him-6; Paul hears men coming up steps from downstairs and moves to head them off. Simon moves into bedroom and assists Georgio-10. Schuyler hits gay-5 and gay misses. Jeremy attacked by both thugs, who have not seen Red Cloud yet and they both miss. Maria is on the bed tied and gagged. Red Cloud moves in and flanks first thug from behind-13 and Jeremy, remembering his beating on canal, pulls no punches and draws dagger on first thug-3; Paul examines his surroundings and grabs candelabra. First guy up, leadin 2 others, (card) stunned by surprise to see him as Paul charges hitting-2, Schuyler hits gay-7, Simon hits-9 KO’d. Paul hears voice at door downstairs “Holy mamma mia, whatsa goin’ on!?” it’s the fatcat fascist. Georgio hits Wilhelm’s commie-7 and Wilhelm hits him-3 and is missed. Gay misses Schuyler. Red Cloud missed by 1st thug, Jeremy missed by the other. Red Cloud hits 1st-9 and he reels, Jeremy punches this time-miss; The 2 following the stunned guy upstairs miss Paul, Paul misses, Simon joins the fight on the last thug in that room and misses, Georgio hits-6 and Wilhelm hits-2 and that thug misses Georgio, Schuyler hits gay-3 who hits back-2; Stunned guy on stairs comes to and misses Paul, the other 2 moves past Paul to his rear and surround him but miss. Red Cloud hits 1st-KO’d, 2nd thug misses Jeremy, who withdraws to bed and starts to cut Maria free; Paul drops candlabra, pulls pistol and fires at the knee-2, Simon crits last thug in bedroom-15 KO’d. Wilhelm run for the door to room where Jeremy and Red Cloud are, opening it right behind thug still up and crits-6, then Red Cloud hits him-12, and he hits Red Cloud-5. Shuyler hits homo-7 KO’d and moves toward bedroom w/Maria. All 3 on Paul pull knives, one hits-4. A few more moving up the stairs. Jeremy still cutting Maria free, Paul draws his saber as Simon gets to Paul and bullrushes one at Paul’s rear, slamming him20’ down and through the first, sending them plummetting down steps taking the next few coming up with them, who then trip up another few behind them, breaking the neck of one and leaving only 1 new thug still coming up who turns and retreats back down! Last thug in room with Maria is missed by Red Cloud and Wilhelm. The thug turns and runs toward Maria, Red Cloud missing with AoO. Jeremy misses him and he grapples Maria, knife to her throat and hand full of hair. Schuyler now just outside of doorway into the room. Jeremy “How are you gonna give us the girl if he’s leaving? We aren’t letting you go with the girl.” We give him our word we will let him leave the room if he leaves the girl alone (not mentioning Paul and Geste). Wilhelm (card) provides bluff bonus to Jeremy and he takes the deal. Wilhelm “You can go right out the door, down the steps and out the front door.” Thug moves to the door and leaves her with a push as he runs…right into Geste and Paul. The capitalists are all down and about half the fascists outside. The others at the bottom of steps flee and fatcat yells “Get back here!” and he flees with them. One capitalist and 1 fascist dead in courtyard, all others KO’d only. Some Ko’d start waking up, and a priest arrives and Wilhelm and Simon speak latin. The priest was coming to marry fatcat and Maria, asks why we are stealing this man’s bribe from him. “It was a forced marriage, not God-willing. She was being held captive here by these thugs.” We explain the situation. We may not like communists but we respect young and innocent love. Georgio thrilled by the action, has been completely changed by his time with us. The priest is convinced by Wilhelm, aided by Geste (extra aid bonus w/card), to marry the young couple himself but just barely.
Georgio torn, has wife to ctake care of w/o a job and also does not want to be a commie organizer anymore. They decide, as we mentioned before, to sell the business for a fortune.They travel to Milan until all is finalized. Wilhelm aids our capitalist buddies and they leave. Happiness from the fight quickly gone as stench of the canal begins for the evening. Lots of people in streets, a crowd beats an epileptic having a seizure. Wilhelm, Geste and Paul disperse the crowd and Wilhelm checks the man out, but he’s dead. A woman claiming she is possessed is being exorcised by a priest. A huge hound howls in the distance. We get back to hotel and lock ourselves in.
Smells of smoldering wood from fires overnight in morning. Troops brought in to keep control as city is falling apart thanks to Fennelik’s presence or the leg, or a combo of both. Lots of talk of witches and such. Hotel manager comes to our breakfast table, warning us foriegners lives at risk and we should stay inside. Leaves a timetable of Orient Exp with timetable circled. We need to go to the clock and fast. Fatcat Alberto shows up with authorities and come over to us “These are the men, these are the ones who started it. There are dead men thanks to them, arrest them, arrest them!” Detective “Hold there, Mr. Raccini.” He sits and asks for our side of story “I hear there was unpleasentness at 73 Rue…whatever”. He speaks English, so Paul talks to him. Paul introduces self as Earl of Mansauce and Major in army, telling our side of it “This fat greasy toad had kidnapped and held hostage an wealthy Italian innocent woman, and her true suitor sequestored out assistance to rescue her. Senior Toad drew weapons on us first, such as knives which I can illustrate from the cut I have.” Cop “What’s this I hear about you drawing a sword?” Paul “After they pulled the knives, mind you.” Fatcat “Arrest them arrest them!” Cop “I’m sorry sir, but this seems like only an unfortunate incident.” Fatcat “But there’s dead men, dead men!” Cop “Mr. Racine there is no evidence of any of them being killed by these men. We know one was killed by commie agitators, and another was a commie agitator, and the other had his neck broke in an accident. Let me tell you gentlemen a story: Venice used tomake a portion of the lagoon illegal for fishing because bodies were routinely dumped there. Those were days of uncertain public order, such as now. The state wishes no incidence involving foreigners and that includes no undue arrests.” Racine starts to say something and detective stops him “There are murders going on in the city and some believe a supernatural origin. I think it is best you leave promptly ,tomorrow night at the latest. If you are not out of our fair city by then I will be forced to take more stern measures.” We assure him we will be on the Orient out of the city by tomorrow evening.
That night, we suit up and head for the clock tower. The night is foul, lashing rain and filth in the streets. Houses burnt down for reasons of ‘witchcraft’. We stick to alleys and dark ways. Mobs, troops and police compete to find the murderer. At about quarter after 10 we get to the bronze doors of the tower with lion-doorknockers. Paul knocks and a man aswers wearing a shawl, yawning. He is the caretaker and we can not go in at night. Schuyler"We must sir, it is a matter of life and death involving the cities current plight." Caretaker “No, I can not let you in.” Paul offer payment for his inconvenience, i.e. a bribe. He does it for a miniscule amount in English pounds. He leads us inside and says “Be very careful, its dangerous up there. It’s old and the gears will mangle you to death.” Simon leads the way up, shield and chainmail on, followed by Paul, Schuyler, Jeremy, Wilhelm, Red Cloud brings up rear. Carbide lamps light the way. 5 creaky, rotten, 500 year old landings between the flights. We spread out so no more than one person on a landing at a time. Windows have no panes. Jeremy “What the hell does this caretaker do, sit here and watch this thing fall apart?” Simon “He takes care of the whole palatzo at night, not just the clock. He’s more of the watchman than caretaker.” At top there is a locked trapdoor a steep stairway, small steps with stout railings. We tell Jeremy to try and get it open “This seems a very bad idea to me. If I unlock it I’m not opening it.” He fails first. Simon moves up and slams through it, almost slipping back and falling. He enters first. Very steampunk, vast slowly turningn cogs and wheels, hanging chains on other side with big weights powering figures that move out. Like a ponderous and inevitable motion. We see all the automotons in line on the track. Now about 10:30, and the whole things starts going and 4 of the figures go in and out as the huge bell chimes giving Red Cloud and Jeremy some hearing damage the next few days. After it all stops, only the Turk, general and rustic lass have separate legs. Geste “Check the Turk first.” Schuyler “Jeremy get your file and scrape the paint off.” Jeremy “File, I’ll give my file for someone else to scrape the paint off.” Red Cloud does and it is the leg we seek. the quarter til chime rings and as the door opens for the figures, we see a silouette on the ledge. It falls backward off the edge, and a few seconds later we see a huge bat flying away. After it all stops, we check it out closer. Looks to need a disable check to remove and Jeremy, after asking if anyone else can just chop it off he reluctantly tries, hesitant but succeeds just before the hour, after taking 20 as the rest of us keep a lookout around him. We start to leave here, Red Cloud carrying the leg out. As the figures move on the hour, the legless one falls over and the others seem to come to life in the shadowy light but not for real as they begin to operate. Gears start to grind and the structure start breaking apart and falling! We head through the doorway as pieces fall around us, all but Jeremy are struck. We rush down steps as fast as we can, Red Cloud trips and hits a wall at a turn hard-6. We reach bottom as it is evident entire tower crumbling and watchman is crying out for policia. We rush into darkness and make for the hotel for our luggage et al. After packing up and we are going down street, see behind us the police detective from earlier pulls up to hotel and goes inside. We try to decide whether to see if we can get a train tonight, get horses and ride for Trieste or what. Decide to send Paul to talk to detective to try to make restitution. Tell him we wanted to see the clock before we had to leave, while examining one of the figures it somehow came off the track and started a chain reaction. All we could do from there is escape. We stress the extremely poor condition of the tower. Detective “What possible reason could you have for going up there.” We decide to tell him that city’s problems are supernatural, and stem from a vampire." Det “You expect me to believe that a vampire is causing the sickness, the filth in the canal…” Schuyler “And he’s following us.” Det “Now you’re talking. You leaving would save the city then. Why don’t you just go off in different directions then?” Simon “He would be able to kill us individually then.” He is not sure what to believe, very unsure about what to do. As some restitution, Paul gives him the last of his yearly allowance and 200 from our Smith-cash. The next evening we board the train to Trieste. A reporter does come to talk to us about it, and Jeremy speaks to him as the official mouthpiece of the Earl. He makes the bluff check and the writer writes a mildly favorable story, rather than a drunken prank or something like that.
That evening we board the Express for Trieste, and as our luggage is being booked an elderly gentleman is wheeled on board nearby. Something about him makes us uneasy. Paul walks toward him and shakes his shaking hand. A very old man, and his eyes glow red as he looks at Paul! Fennelik!His handshake gives Paul a bruise on his hand an he pulls Paul closer. His other hand caresses Paul’s cheek as he says “You’re such a handsome man. If you were a little hunger I’d do you well.” Recall he did ‘like the boys’. His attendant pushes him away as he says “I’m sure we’ll meet again sir.”
So, we know he can for sure come out at dusk at least, though covered up well. Paul could see his hand blister some in the little time it was uncovered. He is effected by sunlight, garlic wards him off, he can become a bat and mist and a scythian fertility deity figure we hope. We all dream of a white human form that scuttles louse like over the exterior of the cars, with hungry red eyes. Then we see through it eyes as it watches us, discussing things, sleeping, brushing teeth… As the creature, we feel no more sympathy for us than a turkey or tomatoes. Paul in particular dreams he talks to Fennelik, feels connected psychically and understand his feelings perhaps from the touch. Fennelik has a glimmer of amusement at appraising us, our weakness, so yoked together by weakness they must be obscenely dependant on one another rather than be glorious in solitude and totally self sufficience. Then a huge want for the 3 pieces we have, then blackness before Paul wakes up. Wilberforce keeps some of us up half the night writing all that happened. In only a couple hours we are in Trieste.