In Grove Or Green

Chapter 4
Spirits of Another Sort

Scene 1: Digging for Dead Ones

Arriving at Greenmont Cemetery, the group began searching for Ravinia, remembering Ledger’s advice that direct confrontation was not likely to have any profitable results. Determined to keep a low profile, the three cautiously investigated the graveyard, spotting Ravinia in a copse of nearby trees. To their surprise, the Summer Farwalker seemed pleased to meet them, and Mneme quickly spun a tale of suddenly arriving in the graveyard fresh from the Hedge, telling Ravinia that she was the first Changeling the group had met.

Sympathetic to their apparent situation, the Ogre did her best to engage the characters in her quest, citing rumors of hauntings and ghosts surrounding the cemetery. With her knowledge of the occult, Evie sensed a possible link to a set of gravestones in one of the areas Ravinia was about to investigate. Deciding to try and contact the unquiet spirit or spirits, Evie summoned an apparition in an attempt to convince Ravinia of their trustworthy intentions. While unable to communicate clearly with the ghost, the display suitably impressed Ravinia, who departed shortly thereafter to tend to some Summer Court business, leaving Chiaroscuro to discuss the best strategy to divert their new friend from her current explorations.

Deciding to rest among the upper branches of the trees for a moment, Mneme watched as Grim left to get some food and Evie, wandering nearby, discovered a hidden crevice in a pair of entwined trunks. Returning with Subway cookies, Grim wedged the crack open, loosening a waxed envelope containing the following message:

9/22/2005
Per your last letter, I’ve been busily investigating our inter-Hedge contacts and calling in every solo favor I own across the entire city. I’ve also noted your concerns. Subtlety is, naturally, paramount in a delicate endeavor such as ours, so if you don’t hear from me or I cold-shoulder you in public for a few weeks, just make some excuse about my wonderfully mercurial nature to the others. Above all, don’t despair, mon frere – and other lovely aphorisms of that sort.

A point of consideration – if this has been a protracted problem as you surmise, it would appear to necessitate allies either within and/or without the Hedge. We should extend our survey to the Canton Market and westward to Mount Clare. Smoke and mirrors are the watchwords of our mutual friends, but I’m sure our tenacity will not go unrewarded. Neither evening nor morning will be gainsaid or defeated!

Allons-y!

Astonished at this letter that clearly predated the recent influx of Changelings to Baltimore, the group immediately seized upon this opportunity to include Ravinia in a much more significant quest. The four Changelings decided to investigate the Canton Market, meeting with Wardancer, a Draconic leader of the Summer Court. Wardancer informed the motley that they would not be able to access the Canton Market for a few weeks during the proper lunar phase, but did not object to Ravinia’s prior offer of shelter and food for an evening at the Summer Court’s Commons Hall.

After a meal in the mess, the group accompanied Ravinia to a more detailed briefing with Wardancer on the newly-discovered letter and were commissioned to work under the Ogre to investigate whatever clues the letter might reveal. After Ravinia was dismissed, the three were also offered a personal assignment to try and discover the cause for another Summer Changeling’s retreat from her Court associations. Retiring for the evening, the group found bunks in the Summer Barracks, well pleased with making further influential contacts within the burgeoning Freehold.

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Chapter 3
Housekeeping

Scene 1: New Digs

Having taken possession of their new Hollow, Evie, Mneme, and Grim began to customize their new home, adding rooms and comforting touches by Hedgeshaping the local area. Grim slowly began to lay down some basic defenses in the form of a Hedge-side moat, relying on Evie’s more skilful touch to lay the finishing elements. With suitable accommodations complete, the characters decided that a Motley Pledge was in order, and swore a Wyrd-witnessed oath in the common room — now creating the three-member motley Chiaroscuro, citing the inherent contrast of Darkling, Elemental, and Beastkith.

Satisfied with the concluded work, the motley contacted Gilly for advice on making contacts to provide the group with workable aliases for modern-day life in Baltimore.

Scene 2: How to Make Friends and Forge People

Meeting the Chiaroscuro at the Gough St storefront, Gilly directed Mneme to drive north, bringing the characters to meet Ledger. Entering his real estate office from the back alley, the quartet were ushered into a conference room, where the Mirrorskin quietly heard their situation and offered an exchange of services. As an influential member of the Winter court, Ledger had been dismayed to hear about a fledgling Summer courtier determined to make a name for herself by investigating several areas around the city noted for their paranormal reputations. Determined that any forays to such areas be made by far more subtle Winter resources, Ledger agreed to provide new identities for the group if they could get the Farwalker Ravinia to turn her glory-seeking attentions elsewhere.

After a short deliberation, the Chiaroscurans accepted the offer and went to search for Ravinia at the Greenmont Cemetery. The trio scored a few hits of Glamour on the way out of the office and, after getting directions from Gilly, proceeded to go in search of their quarry.

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Chapter 2
New Dawning

Scene 1: Dockside

The characters made landfall from a Hedgegate that opened along the Canton waterfront. They were confronted by the Haunted Waters motley headed by Gilly, an Autumn courtier. After the initial shock of realizing that the world has moved ahead almost 90 years while they were in Arcadia, Grim, Mneme, and Evie accepted Gilly’s invitation of shelter for the night. She explains that changelings have been leaving the Hedge fairly frequently in the past few months and the Autumn Court’s research into the Hedge has occasionally allowed them to predict times and places with a higher chance of meeting new arrivals to Baltimore. Gilly also introduces the rest of the motley: Acacia Thorne, Will Starkers, and Hush-a-Beth.

Evie immediately took to the showers after arriving at the Haunted Waters house, her aquatic seeming having felt far too dry for much too long. Mneme and Grim had a subdued and awkward discussion about this strange new world before Gilly returned (with snacks!) to offer a Dawn’s Ingress pledge to the group: shelter and provisions for their first week in return for a job completed after seven days. Familiar with the concept of pledges and feeling some small confidence in this unfamiliar setting, the group all agreed. Forming a circle with the Haunted Waters in the backyard, they watched Gilly flick a few drops into the fresh-fallen snow as she recited, “By the doors of dawn, we pledge ourselves, as new days begin for all assembled here. Each of us to help the other: shelter and sustenance given by me and a task completed by you, that our hands may be prosperous until week’s end, afterward to part or to meet again.”

Allies now, the two groups of changelings retired for the night, after Mneme bummed three cigarettes from Will to meet the terms of her inner Pledge invoked while escaping the Hedge.

Scene 2: Out and About

Waking the next morning, Grim immediately went to the kitchen and quietly made himself breakfast in an attempt to not wake Mneme, who was asleep on the kitchen table due to her lack of comfort in an actual bed (or cot, in this case). Pocketing an apple for later, Grim proceeded out toward the front door where Will spotted him and offered a ride to the store for supplies. Evie wandered into the conversation and the voices woke Mneme as well, so the four changelings drove away in the Waters ’96 Ford Explorer for their first shopping experience in the 21st century.

Wal-Mart came over as a bit of a shock.

The girls were a bit put off by the relatively immodest fashions of the “future”, while Grim had a near run-in with security when he approached an Associate with his revolver and asked to buy ammunition. Will was able to fast-talk him out of an arrest and a weapons charge with a judicious excuse about “historical reenactment stage props” and hurriedly explained to the changelings about appropriate conduct in public. He also demonstrated harvesting Glamour, inciting envy and greed in a screaming toddler whose mother was distracted by a phone conversation.

Grim accepted Will’s invitation to drive home, and the group were surprised by Gilly’s gift of pay-as-you-go cell phones upon arrival. After a highly exciting instructional period with their “magic radio-phone boxes”, Gilly also introduced the basic use of a secondhand computer. Grim & Evie spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the neighborhood and harvesting a bit of Glamour from children on a playground and a local psychic & fortuneteller, respectively. Mneme, meanwhile, made friends with the Darkling Hush-a-Beth over cold chicken, beer, and silence.

Scene 3: Hollow Victory

Gilly’s knowledge of the area and her Autumn court affiliation made her a perfect resource for information about the magical elements of changeling life. After a morning trip to the George Peabody Library to find out what happened to her family and her fetch, Mneme returned to discover her friends being instructed by Gilly in the lore of Hedgegates and Hollows. With so much flux in the budding Baltimore freehold, there is a strong grassroots push for trods to be watched by a motley’s Hollow. Gilly suggested two possible locations: one was an out-of-business storefront in Highlandtown whose basement entrance frequently becomes a Hedgegate to the end of a crosstown trod to Pigtown, the other was an old crackhouse near Robert St in Bolton Hill with a gated picket fence in the backyard leading to a not-entirely-explored trod flanked by some fairly fertile goblin fruits.

Feeling more comfortable with the Highlandtown option, the group drove over alone to examine the property. Mneme used her Cuckoo Key to open the door and they began investigating the area. A second-story bathroom door was revealed as the abandoned Hollow entrance, but before the Key could be discovered, voices were heard entering the storefront. Grim failed to be stealthy enough while trying to eavesdrop and the newcomers began searching the premises, forcing Grim to hide with Mneme and Evie in the bathroom. A shouting match ensued with someone named Jerry thru the closed door before Grim opened it and tried to intimidate the massive Broadback with his Thunderbore. Apparently, Jerry was the leader of a four-man Summer-leaning motley, Godforsaken, and the argument quickly devolved into a brawl for squatting rights. Jerry was wounded at point-blank range, giving Mneme an opening to dash for the vehicle that Evie had parked up on the curb, quickly followed by her two friends.

Acting with (possibly) more bravado than sense, two of the Godforsaken jumped onto the Explorer as Mneme tried to drive away as Grim called the Haunted Waters to tell Will what was happening. Following Grim’s advice to try and shake them off, Mneme hit the brakes and sent the Airtouched tumbling down the pavement. Evie, meanwhile, shoved her opponent off the side of the vehicle into a Post Office mailbox and they pulled a quick U-turn to flee to safety. The Godforsaken, however, rear-ended the escaping changelings, forcing them off the road into a vacant lot and blocked the entrance with their pickup.

Gilly called back, telling them to keep their heads down until she arrived with backup. Mneme took cover under the steering column as Grim drew down on Jerry as the two remaining Godforsaken charged across the empty lot. Spotting a flock of seagulls, Evie tried to invoke her Pipes of the Beastcaller but was unable to reach out in time for assistance. Taking a careful shot, Grim wounded Jerry again and knocked the hulking goat-man to his knees. Seeing the odds drop, the last attacker opted to help his boss back into the truck and they sped off, pausing only to collect their injured comrades.

The Haunted Waters arrived, locked and loaded, and were surprised to find that the fight was over. Acacia threw a small fit over the damage to the Explorer’s bumper but calmed down enough to help ensure everyone was still in one piece. Gilly set her motley to check around the storefront and make sure the coast was clear while Evie finished investigating the bathroom door and was able to determine the Hollow Key: fingernail clippings were to be inserted into the keyhole before using Glamour to open the door. A small, spartan Hollow was discovered, completely bare of physical comforts and containing a old wooden box with a simple lock. While the others examined the small room, Mneme cracked open the box and found a yellowed property deed to the storefront inside. The owner’s name was blotted with water damage and a curious thumbtack held the pages together. While hanging the document outside, she pricked her thumb on the tack and the ink flowed back to read Owner: Amelia Earhart.

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Chapter 1
Out Of The Brambles

Scene 1 – Awakening

Mneme, Darkling Antiquarian: Having spent the last years in the lower reaches of her Keeper’s mansion being used as a walking repository for memories and thoughts stolen from other captives, Mneme finally stumbled upon an oddity – a book that she was unable to read or decipher. Finally sounding out a brief phrase in her halting voice, she was absorbed by the book into a rune-encrusted maze that soon blazed with a searing blue witchfire. Fleeing for her life and escaping into a crevice in the masonry, Mneme found herself sliding rapidly down a vertical passage, clawing desperately at the walls to slow her descent.

Evie, Beast Swimmerskin: Delivering yet another load of ore from the submarine tunnels she mined, Evie’s world was wracked by tremors and the caves began to collapse. Frantically trying to escape the crushing stone, she struggled to the surface and emerged onto a dry, arid beach, and tried to explore past the thick dune grass. A bevy of predatory crabs chased her into a crack in the sea-cliffs, where she lost her footing and tumbled down a slope into the caverns below.

Grim, Elemental Fireheart: As a metalworker near the mining shafts of his Keeper, Grim was startled out of his daily torturous drudgery by a flash flood that burst upon him. After being washed out into a wasteland of icy thorned thickets, he tried to descend the mountain slopes, only to be battered by an avalanche that deposited him into a glacial crevasse. Struggling to his feet, he pushed deeper into the caves nearby, only to have first one, then two other Changelings fall from the upper levels in front of him. All three continued into the underground maze of

Scene 2 – The Slag Pits

Sharp metallic odors assaulted their noses and dull orange light limned the jagged edges of a subterranean passage way. Coming to a split in the tunnel, they could hear mechanized clanking, the hiss of pressurized vapor, and radiant heat from either direction. Moving on, Grim found a broken clockwork object that somewhat resembles a mechanical mole. Evie unsuccessfully tried to repair it, finally allowing Grim to bring his expertise to bear. Whirring back to life, the mole led them to a metal cabinet holding a rusted horseshoe magnet on a chain.

The passages soon led to a series of rooms where ore was being shoveled into a large set of smelters, causing the orange glow from the fires and the molten ore that flows out. The smelters were manned by a number of steampunk mechanical laborers wielding shovels in their hands but with large brass blunderbusses slung over a shoulder. As the characters stealthily approached, helped significantly by Mneme’s Contract of Darkness, there was a rumbling and a huge metallic centipede crashed through the wall of the chamber, mandibles chattering wildly as it scooped up unprocessed ore and began consuming it.

The mechanicals unloaded a fusillade of fire into the giant creature and shoveled it unceremoniously into the smelter, where its chittering reached a nearly-unbearable pitch before stopping. The characters move past the smelters by stealth and found a sequence of automated carts which they boarded after a few unsuccessful attempts. Channels of molten metal, blind tunnels and cul-de-sacs eventually led to a staging area with a trapdoor, opening it with the previously discovered magnet. After Grim salvaged a makeshift weapon from parts of his damaged mine cart, Mneme began to ascend the ladder behind the door, leading up a marble-lined shaft.

Scene 3 – The Steamworks

Spinning gears, cycling belts, and the clash and clang of metal and manufacturing resounded through the area where they emerged. Opening the door to investigate, Mneme found copper and brass fittings give the space a dull sheen under the flaring lights. While less of a maze than the tunnels below, the sheer quantity of moving objects made the factory floor extremely hazardous. The air was filled with debris and byproduct, which Grim and Evie weathered but that gave Mneme difficulty.

Fortunately, the first room they reached was a locker room with a few masks and goggles on pegboards. The room seemed abandoned, being extremely grimy and faded with a thick layer of dust. Using a few of Mneme’s hairpins to assist in some basic larceny allowed them to access the lockers, yielding some Hedgespun garb for Evie and an old .44 Colt “Thunderbore” revolver for Grim.

Further exploration revealed that this was obviously not a normal processing plant, however. The bathroom doors opened into an impassable tangle of thorns. The cafeteria was abandoned, and any food storage was packed with dried leaves, beverage containers were filled with low-grade kerosene, and the oven simply displayed a pile of glowing embers in a coal scuttle. A door labeled “Break Room” opened onto a massive stack of twisted and broken apparatus.

The machinery was producing hundreds of metal ingots with a jigsaw-like appearance, as though meant to be connected and assembled – into what, who could say? A metal cabinet with a yellowing card reading “Keys” produced another token – the Cuckoo Key. The path of the glowing ingots led toward the narrow loading belts, where the materials were shot through exit chutes. A large set of firmly chained double doors led outside. Using a nearby control box , Grim was able to direct a stream of high-velocity ingots toward the doors and, after Mneme accelerated the machinery, smashed them wide open.

Scene 4 – The Spillways

The ingots were being shot over a wide stone terrace into receiving bins below, from which goblin dockworkers loaded them into sturdy barges that floated away under a waterfall to cool the cargo before drifting downstream. As the only one willing to exit the factory, Grim saw the goblins unlocking the barges and poling them away downstream into the spillway network, where the barges were sent spiraling away down the rushing river. A whisper from overhead revealed a half-finished gargoyle, eager to trade information. First he asked for Grim’s true name; which the changeling was understandably loathe to part with. Joining the conversation, Mneme found a fallen hammer and chisel, whereupon the gargoyle asked to be carved free. In return, the gargoyle explained that a goblin recently fell from the terrace and the vines below covered his body, which should still have contain a key to release one of the barges. Before flying away, the gargoyle cryptically remarked that “the waters of Arcadia always run dark.”

Climbing down the vines, Grim found the corpse at the foot and, after a quick search, produced the key. Determined to steal a barge, Mneme dashed back to the cafeteria and gathered materials for a few Molotov cocktails, planning to use the flames to distract the goblin workers. Despite some initial difficulties in hitting her intended targets, she was able to set part of the surround Hedge ablaze, distracting the workers long enough for the two girls to descend the vines and get to the barge, grim close behind. Once aboard, however, the goblin crew realized the ruse and sent two boats in pursuit, leading to a ragged chase down the perilous rapids of the river, fending off hazardous rocks and vengeful goblins.

After smashing up the pursuing craft and pulling Evie back into the boat, the three Changelings spotted a shrouded side channel leading off into the Hedge, its water brighter and clearer than the raging black torrent bearing the characters downriver. Recalling the gargoyle’s words, they altered course and investigated the new waterway, optimistic but uneasy about the confining channel that soon narrowed significantly.

Taking the tributary quickly led into a maze of marshland, where the insects were aggressive and predatory and the plant life was keen-edged and lethal. The weeds and sedges were tall and sharp, looming far overhead and frequently enclosing the channel into a grass-roofed tunnel. A single open pool sent the three drifting under a woven mass of plant life bearing a few healing Soothesap fruits as the water grew brighter and clearer. Finally, with a rushing wind that injured Grim with the lashing plants, the barge shot out into open water under a nighttime sky. Blinking in the sudden darkness, they feel the barge thump gently into a solid object as the lights revealed the Baltimore skyline. Drifting to a stop, they heard someone nearby pump a round into a shotgun as a rough voice called out, “Well now, what have we got here?”

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Prologue
Baltimore, 1920

Scene 1 – An Auspicious Party
The characters gathered to celebrate the appointment of a new city official: Charles D. Gaither, the new Police Commissioner. It was a standard high society assembly, with a Who’s-Who list of guests. Arthur Dawson entered by the front door and accidentally stumbled into Amelia Earhart in a very meet-cute sort of way, and they fell into a brief conversation. Meanwhile, Evelyn, her reporter’s senses scanning the room, saw the mild commotion they caused at the door and (recognizing both of them from previous news items) drifted downstairs, where she was interrupted by the unwelcome flirtations of an intoxicated Baltimore City Mayor, William Frederick Broening. Before extracting herself, she noted his son, Will Broening, Jr., slyly escorting a young blonde into the gardens.
With Amelia’s nursing background having been noised about the party by her parents, she and Arthur are interrupted by William H. Howell, current Dean of Johns Hopkins Medical School. Amelia was able to have a brief conversation with Dr. Howell regarding his work on blood anticoagulants, while Evelyn saw but did not speak to both H. L. Mencken and Philip Perlman, also of the Sun.

As the night proceeded, Broening Jr., stumbled back in from the gardens with a crash, babbling giddily about an ‘accident’. He then collapsed messily, toppling a heavily laden server. Arthur was tapped to investigate whilst Amelia and Evelyn both contrived to sneak into the gardens and spy upon what happened. Evelyn tripped over a stone bench in the dark and fell across the body of the girl, half covered by some particularly verdant shrubs. Using her camera flash to illuminate the area, she saw the body and heard a low, teasing laugh – but no one else was present. Alerted by the flash, officers swarmed the scene and Amelia joined in to offer her skills in medicine for a brief field autopsy. Lights (and Dr. Howell) were called for and ensuing investigation discovered the following:

  • Heavy formal booted tracks were present around the body, unlike anyone’s current footwear. They do not come or go from the scene, however.
  • A streak of black dust was drawn across the corpse’s closed eyes; it was coal dust.
  • A piece of paper bearing a few letters was found within the mouth.

As they watched, rose blooms slowly emerged from facial orifices and thorns grew rapidly to pierce through the skin of the arms and torso. Evelyn took pictures throughout, and the ranking police supervisor ordered Arthur to “handle things with those civilians.”

Scene 2 – Dreams of Darkness
That evening, the characters all had similar dreams. They found themselves in complete darkness, buried bodily in sharp fragments of rock and anthracite coal. As they struggled free, it grew warmer and warmer, and eventually they emerged, gasping, beneath a glaring sun. A voice began to whisper indistinctly but became clearer as they crawled forward, exhausted, toward a clear pool of water, sparkling under the heartless, burning sun. Thirst overwhelmed them as they drew closer, and glancing into the pool they saw the reflection of another one of the trio. Plunging a hand into the water, they felt their forearm pierced in several places. The water began to boil away, and they fell forward to impale themselves upon bloody thorns. The voice was very loud now, calling out a short poem.

“Roses are red/Violets are blue/Black is the coal/I am coming for you.”

Under the scorching sun, the thorns began to dry out, cracking and withering away as blood continued to flow from their bodies. Finally tumbling free, they rolled to a stop at the foot of a recognizable monument (1920, Washington Monument in Mount Vernon). After staring up at it for a moment, the ground gave way and they were once again buried alive.

They woke the next morning feeling weary but compelled to visit the monument that day during lunch. As they left for the day, Evelyn and Arthur ran across the following news items.

• A coal mine in Western Maryland has caught fire and is burning out of control.

• A sinkhole due to water erosion has closed down the intersection of Lombard and Broadway, and skeletal remains were found within.

Upon arriving at the monument, Arthur saw Amelia eating lunch with her latest boyfriend, Adam, and greeted them both in passing. Unbeknownst to the others, Evelyn was seated just a few tables away. Arthur went to examine the monument and Amelia noticed Evelyn sitting alone and quickly ditched her date to talk to her. After briefly beating around the bush, Evelyn got Amelia to discuss her dream and confessed that she too experienced it. Amelia, suspicious of Arthur’s presence, dragged Evelyn off to talk to Arthur and was shocked to find that he was meeting his fiancee Virginia for lunch. Before much discussion could occur, however, a Police Department stops by and hauls Arthur away, stating that another murder has occurred. Evelyn and Amelia decide to follow.

Scene 3 – The Second Death
A prostitute, and also a known call girl for Vincenzo “Jim D.” D’Urso of the Baltimore Gambino Syndicate, has been found dead in an alley along E Baltimore St. Arthur is tasked with holding back the onlookers and Amelia takes the opportunity to sneak into an adjacent burlesque hall to try and get a closer look. She is caught and escorted quickly out just in time for Arthur to give the press access to the scene. Entering the alley, a fresh wind blews out toward them, carrying the scent of blood and a stream of purple confetti, revealed to be violet petals. The source was seen further in, as the body is sitting against a wall, with ragged slashes across the face, neck, arms and legs resulting in immense blood loss. The pooling fluid was mostly invisible, however, as it appears to have produced a dense growth of violets wherever it reached the ground. The victim’s eyes were closed, but her exposed skin was almost completely covered in violet petals, like the ones that blew out of the alley. Above her head, scratched into the wall, were the letters VAB. A brief examination revealed yet another scrap of paper, and a single bloody bootprint leading away from the body, matching the ones seen last night.

Scene 4 – Looming Portents

As the characters returned home, each had an eerie experience near their dwelling.
• A pushcart vendor strolled by Evelyn’s house, calling out to sell strawberries, cherries, and cantaloupe. The vendor halted to entreat her closer, and for a brief moment shifted from a normal black man to a lanky goblin in torn rags, and the cart was suddenly entwined with thorns and blossoms. Some of the fruit grew fleshy spikes or shifted to resemble small beating hearts. Evelyn blinked, and all was normal again.
• Arriving home, Arthur ascended his marble steps and was swarmed by bats and insects. Beating them away and clutching for the doorknob, his hand flares with pain as he saw the knob was barbed with brassy, hooked thorns. Upon entering, the swarms vanish and further investigation revealed the handle was now perfectly normal. His hand still bloody, Arthur spoke with a magazine salesman who grew very uneasy and left quickly after seeing his injury.
• Entering her bedroom that evening, Amelia saw something was lying beneath the blankets. Pulling them back, she was faced with a jumbled collection of glossy black human bones. After trying to investigate, touching them caused the entire pile to reduce into coal dust and soot.

All three also experienced a similar dream, only the monument has changed. Now it was the statue of William Wallace in Druid Hill Park, surrounded by caged birds and animals, all flinging themselves against the bars. Once again the poem was repeated, the ground gave way, and they were buried alive.

Scene 5 – The Wild Hunt of the Marquis
An event was planned at the statue of William Wallace to celebrate his success upon the Raid of Scone for this evening. All the characters attend and quickly noticed the mood of the crowd began to slowly change from a friendly civic festival to a much darker parody of celebration. Men aggressively chased the women, sometimes assaulting them and more than one fistfight broke out. The bagpipers started to play unfamiliar songs and the dances became wilder and more suggestive. Having accompanied Arthur, Virginia also became affected. And then, as the moon rises, a woman’s shriek rent the night air. Arthur forced Virgina to leave the park before joining the others at the statue.

A corpse lay in front of the monument, his neck and legs broken. The man had no eyes left; instead, jagged chunks of coal were thrust into his empty sockets. A third and final paper was found, revealing a message reading “Marquis de Charbon”. And then, a horn’s call rose over the crowd. Panic immediately overtook the festival as the bystanders attempted to flee the park. Despite the close location to the streets, however, the shadows and bushes became twisted and confusing and the characters could not seem to get out. Snarls from otherworldly menaces and screams from the victims contributed to the disorienting atmosphere.

Taking several blind turns, the trio stopped, exhausted, and heard hoofbeats approaching. The Coal Marquis drew nearer and Evelyn snapped her flash in his direction, trying to get a better look. His mount rearing back, the Marquis charged and Arthur fired a single shot, grazing the Fae before he once again sounded the hunting call. All three fled in horror, unwittingly being driven into the Hedge.

Amelia lunged into the bushes, searching for another footpath, but the shrubs grew taller, denser, and thornier. Brambles tearing at her clothes and skin, she pushed forward and was struck senseless by something.

Evelyn found herself on the shore of the lake and leapt into a small rowboat. Capsizing it in her panic, she became entangled by water plants and dove under the water to free herself. Soon losing her sense of direction, Evelyn clawed through the now-sharply barbed weeds and barely escaped drowning before she broke the surface. Gasping for air, she felt a hand clutch her hair and then a blow to the head rendered her unconscious.

Arthur was pursued by the feral hounds of the Marquis and spotted an idle police vehicle at the edge of the park. Dashing through an archway, he was horrified to see the vehicle vanish and a thick woodland appear around him. Glancing over his shoulder at the pursuing beasts, Arthur smashes full tilt into a tree trunk and all falls to darkness.

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