Sunday, October 7, 2012

Player character updates

In the twenty months that have passed since Misteline moved into his new home, the Friar's Gate Tower, his circumstances have changed for the better. As yet another token of royal gratitude, the aging artist received several new commissions, foremost of which was a request for a series of four giant paintings to adorn the Royal Council chamber. This placed a severe burden on Misteline's time, so he took on several new apprentices and rented the building which was formerly the Cock-a-doodle club in which to house them.
Such royal patronage raised a few eyebrows in the artistic community, not least with the younger generation but few questioned Misteline's right to it, not least after Bagangelo loudly sang Misteline's praises in his first public appearance since his disfigurment in a duel.

In the summer of 1625, Misteline was approached by representatives of the Crown who informed him that the King and Queen wished to honour Misteline in some way but were  unable to do so by the traditional method since as a mere artisan he was uneligible to be knighted. Instead they had decided to create a Royal Society, the purpose of which would be to elavate those who had distinguished themselves in the artistic, philosophical or scientific fields of endeavour. Misteline, as the first appointee would be both first member of the order and, for as long as he accepted the role of Chairman, responsible for recommending its future members. There would be no limits placed on membership (and women were allowed to join), but only a few worthy candidates would be considered each year. The King would grant membership based on the chair's recommendations and a budget was provided for a suitable property to house meetings. Naturally Misteline accepted the honour, and the not-so-modest pension which went with the role of Chairman. In 1622, Four new members were enrolled into The Order of the Royal Society. These were the composer Isaaq Bellbottom, the natural philosopher Tomas Quartermoon (an uncle of Marshal Quartermoon), the alchemist Ivan Grindlestick and the poet/author Janis Porterstreet.

Having married Bellinda Faustini, Rufus suddenly found himself in the unknown situation of being a very rich man, and a land owner to boot. Bellinda became infatuated with Rufus and for the first few months of their marriage, showered him with love and affection, but she very quickly became pregnant and as her belly grew, so her attentions to her husband changed. Rufus found himself becoming ever more attentative to the needs of his pregnant wife, and this state of affairs didn't change with the arrival of his first children; twin baby girls, quickly named Lucrezia and Catarina. Bellinda required a larger house, preferably outside the city, and so the family moved to nearby Clophill where Rufus purchased a comfortable villa over looking the rolling pastures which bordered the River Weyr. In such idyllic surroundings, it didn't take long for Bellinda to fall pregnnat again, and now surrounded by servants, and several female members of her family, she became ever more demanding. "Shes not so much a tyrant" Rufus mused to his dog Balzo as they walked his lands one afternoon. "She just needs so much more than a man can give". Balzo agreed. Eventually Rufus began to find reasons for going to Takshendal and as Bellinda happily accepted the concept of her 'husband's business' being none of her concern, Rufus found a comfortable balance between being with his loving, but needy wife and having the freedom afforded to a man of means in Takshendal. he soon took to staying with Misteline whose grand tower residence had several guest rooms.

One morning, some few months after his adventures with Misteline and Rufus, Marmaduke suddenly found his mother dead in her bed. As he stared at her body, he realised he hadn't seen her for several days and he had no idea when or how she had died. He also found that he didn't much mind her passing at all. Ever since his adventures with Misteline and Rufus there had grown a coldness between them caused by her never retracted outburst that he wasn't her son at all. As time wore on, Marmaduke often pondered this statement as he worked, for it followed that if he were not his mother's child, then he probably wasn't his father's either and ever after, regarding himself in the looking glass, he would dryily note how little he resembled either of his parents. Since he now often worked for Misteline on various jobs, he aired his thoughts one evening after they had put down their tools. Misteline listened, but could offer no suggestions as to who Marmaduke's real parents might have been.

In the meantime, Marmaduke got on with his life, working in the room which had once been his father's shop, steadily building up his savings and wondering if perhaps he ought to do as Rufus and take a wife. The trouble was, Marmaduke knew no suitable women, and most of the people he worked with were homosexuals. The only women he met and talked to on a semi-regular basis were Hilda Grimbleflax and her girls, so eventually he asked Hilda for advice. Hilda considered the matter and promised to help and there after, began to send young women around to 'tidy up' Marmaduke's house. At first Marmaduke found this distracting, but since Hilda sent a new girl every two weeks or so, Marmaduke began to meet a lot of attractive young women. Unfortunately Marmaduke's powers of seduction are so undeveloped that so far he has yet to work up the courage to ask even the nicest, for so much as a kiss.

Friday, October 5, 2012

House Arus

Edvard Arus was the grandson and namesake of Edvard IV, Earl Arus of Arus and the son of Mikael Arus and Rubina Voogerstrom. He was seventeen years old and as a student at the exclusive Threadmore and Whittle's College for Young Gentlemen, had been living in Takshendal for six months. At the time of his murder, eighteen months of scholarship still awaited Edvard.

Edvard's grandfather; Edvard IV, Earl Arus of Arus, is a typical high standing Skavvian noble, and like the society over which he reigns, is strict in religious and moral authority. Eighty seven years old, he out lived his first wife (young Edvard's grandmother; Rosa Peregrino d'Castilicus) with whom he had four children (Mikael, Viktor, Mercuria & Julia) and as according to custom, he took a second wife; Melody Vandervaal, with whom had two children (Oriana & Ivar). Edvard (the murder victim) was the fouth child of Mikael.
It is highly unlikely that Edvard knew of his grandson's sexuality, as homosexuality is regarded as highly immoral in Skavvian society, where the Church of Holy Law preaches against it.

Edvard's father; Mikael Arus, was a warrior noble who took it upon himself to become the instrument of his father's political will and ambition. After winning many battles, age finally over took him and he met his match at the Battle of Veder in 1619. He was fifty two at the time (and young Edvard was ten). It is widely said that Lord Edvard received the news of his son's death with majestic indifference, and simply dispatched his second son Viktor (and two thousand seasoned warriors) to bring revenge upon Mikael's nemesis, which he dutifully did. The relationship between the young Edvard and his father is not widely known, but he was it seems, closer to his mother than the father he so seldom saw.

Edvard's mother; Rubina Voogerstrom-Arus is from a family of wealthy merchants from Takshendal. She married Mikael Arus when she was very young, and as a consequence, is still only forty seven years old. She lives in Arus. By all accounts Rubina was very close to  Edvard and it was by her instigation he came to Takshendal to receive an education.

Edvard Arus had several family members who live in Taksehdal, these are; his uncle, Viktor Arus and his wife Esmeralda Bullfrost-Arus. Viktor is Mikael Arus's brother. He is now a merchant and lives at 12 Hope Road. Viktor and Esmeralda have four children. The elder two are both sailors working for their father on his ship Esmeralda and the younger two are the twin sisters Felicity and Viktoriana, both of whom are fourteen years old.

Also residing in Takshendal are Sir Wendel Weathermoss and his wife Oriana Arus-Weathermoss.Oriana is the first born child of Earl Arus's second marriage, and is thus Edvard Arus's half aunt. Together they have three children; Arman (half-brother to Edvard Arus), Gurli. and Lisle (half-sisters to Edvard Arus). 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Doctor Cinder's report

I haven't been informed of the identity of this victim, and I shall state my findings accordingly.

The deceased is a young man, probably aged somewhere between seventeen years and twenty years old. He appears to have been in excellent physical condition, prior to his murder. His frame is well knit, and his limbs, though slender, are well formed and in good proportion. His hair is blonde, with a faint hint of ginger, and cut quite short. His face is close shaven and shows no signs of facial  hair. His eyes are a very clear blue. In life, he must have been an exceedingly handsome man.

His body bears several signs of previous activity. His fingers are ink stained, and have been so stained for long periods. I would guess he is either a clerk or a scholar. His nails were well kept. 

His anus indicates he was sexually active in the days prior to his death. I see no signs of forced sexual activity however. I would guess he was homosexual.

I was not permitted to conduct an autopsy so I cannot give any account of his internal workings.

Judging by the marks and contusions on his face, he was beaten before he was killed. I estimate he received from ten to twenty punches to the face and then, whilst probably dazed, he was strangled by some one using their bare hands. The bruising on his neck indicates his killer had hands similar in size to mine, which would make them of average height and strength for a man, or slightly larger and strnger than the average female. The throat has more or less been crushed by the thumbs, and the killers nails have left deep incisions. The right hand thumb appears to have been notched.

The victim's hands have been removed, but judging by the lack of bleeding from the wrists, this took place several hours after the murder. Both hands were removed by a very heavy bladed instrument. Possibly a big knife, but more likely a hatchet or small axe. there are marks on the floor which show where the body was lying when the hands were removed. I count five indentations.
The body was then dragged onto the bed and the hands placed on its chest.

Judging by the settling of blood in the abdomen, I estimate the victim had been dead for at least three days before I examined him. 

Lucius Cinder. 4' Dec. 1626,

Jack the Knife

Jack the Knife, (a.k.a Jack the Snatcher, No Hands Jack and Hand Bagger) is one of several characters who have been stalking the streets, and imaginations of Takshendal in the last few years. Jack, it is widely believed, kills pretty young people and then for unfathomable reasons cuts off their hands. Some of this is evident truth (Jack's victims are regularly found) but a lot is bloated rumour.

Jack the Knife first came to public attention in 1620 when four dead people were found in a house on High Gate Street. The news that all four bodies had been mutilated and their hands cut off set off a public outcry, and the name people began to use to identify the murderer became Jack the Knife. No one actually knows who Jack is, or why he is killing people and cutting off their hands, but public imagination has generated various myths surrounding him. It is commonly accepted that Jack is tall and thin, even cadaverous. He wears a long dark coat with a hood, from which his beardless, pock marked chin can be seen. Jack's eyes are believed to glow green from the shadows, but can only be seen by his potential victims.

Over the years there have been numerous sightings of Jack the Knife, usually by people staggering home drunk, but on one or two occaisions, he has been seen by respectable people too. The most well known incident took place in 1623 immediately following the murder of Anna Foxglove. Jack the Knife was interupted in his grizzly business by a Militia night-watchman who happened across a man dragging a woman into a back yard. When it became know that Jack had been seen wearing a green coat, several people were accused of being Jack, on this basis alone.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Victims of Jack the Knife

As compiled by Leander Quartermoon formerly of the City Militia.

1. Jan. 21st. 1619. Unknown Female. Circa 16 years old. Dark hair. Brown eyes. Missing all her front teeth. Presumed to be a prostitute. Found at the bottom of Bell Lane. Cause of death; unknown, but both hands were cut from the arms and found some distance away. No report was filed at the time. Capt Dogmoss concluded the girl was most likely killed by her pander as a lesson to others.

2. Apr 2nd. 1619. Jane Root. 19 years old. Dark hair. Green eyes. Known to be a prostitute. Found in the courtyard of 12 Starch Alley. Presumed to have been killed during the night. The cause of death appeared to have been a cut throat, but both hands had been severed from the arms and placed in a nearby water trough. A white flower (possibly a dog rose) had apparently been pushed into the girls mouth after she had died.  

3. 12th Jun. 1619. Emily Brightfeather. 20 years old. Blonde hair. Brown eyes. The daughter of Dr Alfredo Brightfeather of Seven Halls Road. Found on a communal rubbish dump in the early hours of the 12th. Emily Brightfeather was examined by Capt Murdoch Fallow who reported the murder to the City Council and Sir Reginald Flatlock. Despite obvious concern amongst several Council Members, Flatlock secretly decided the matter was of small concern and blame for the murder was placed upon unnamed vagrants from outside the city.

4. 1 Mar. 1620. Rose Cupflower. 15 years old. Brown hair. Brown eyes. Presumed to be a prostitute. Found in the alley that runs from the bottom of Fountain Street. Cause of death was strangulation and the rope was still wound tight around her neck when I examined her. One of her hands was missing and the other had been cut at the wrist but not severed. At this point I remembered the previous killings and understood there was some kind of mysterious pattern to these murders. I approached Sir Reginald, but he dismissed the matter. Dead whores he said, are of no concern.

5. 14th Mar. 1620. Unknown Female pulled from river at Lower Corkbend. Age unknown. Hair; possibly dark. Eyes, unknown. This body was in a very poor condition (I estimated she must have been in the water for a month or more) and no examination was undertaken. It was reported however that both hands were missing. The body was burned.

6-9. 19th Dec. 1620. The High Gate Street Massacre. Four victims were discovered at Nr 7. High Gate St. There were two dead women and two dead men. No one seemed to know who the victims were or where they came from. It was reported to the Militia on watch outside the house, that the inhabitants had been foreigners who had moved into the building some several weeks prior to their murders. From their appearance, I took them to be Skavvians. The impact of this incident would have some impact with the City Council, and although Sir Reginald seemed genuinly shocked by it, he did little to advance an investigation into who had carried it out. When news of this atrocity broke in the city, rumours of a knife wielding maniac began to circulate. It was about this time people began to refer to a single murderer by the name Jack the Knife.
Victim Nr 6. Unknown woman. Circa 30 years old. Greying brown hair. Grey eyes. Found in the kitchen with her throat cut, both hands removed and placed in the wash basin, a dog rose petal in her mouth and both eyes gouged out.
Victim Nr 7. Unknown man. Possibly 25 years old. Blonde hair. Blue eyes. Foud in upper room. Cause of death; unknown. The man had been stabbed many times, beheaded, disembowelled and emasculated. His manhood was found with Victim Nr 9. There was a dog rose petal in his mouth.
Victim Nr 8. Unknown man. Roughly 40 years old. Bald, with silver hair. Grey eyes. he was found in the cellar, his arms and legs bound. The cause of death was a mass of stab wounds to the chest, neck and face. When I examined the house. I thought this body had been dead for a long time than the others. It was already in an advanced stage of putrifaction and it was impossible to remain in the cellar for any period of time. There was also a dog rose petal in his mouth.
Victim Nr 9. Unknown female. Approx 15 years old. Blonde hair. Grey eyes. Found in upper room. Cause of death appeared to be strangulation, though no rope or other tool of strangulation was evident. Both hands had been removed, though placed beside the body and she had a dog rose in her mouth from which several petals had been plucked. The manhood of Victim Nr 7 had been placed upon her stomach.

10. 9th Feb. 1621. Unknown Female. Possibly a young prostitute. Hair and eye colour; unknown due to an extreme state of decomposition. Body was found buried in the ground behind 17 Old Mill Lane, about two miles to the east of the city and may have lain there for several years. Cause of death; unknown. Both hands were missing.

11. 30th Mar. 1621. Unknown Male. Discovered buried in the ground not far from Victim Nr 10. Brown hair. This body was also decomposed but not to the same degree as the other body, leading to the natural assumption it had been buried at a later date. The cause of death was probably stabbing to the throat and upper body as this area showed a lot of damage. Both hands had been removed. There was so much debris in the corpse's mouth that I couldn't determine if anything had been placed there.

12. 12th Nov. 1621. Melody Cartwell. Aged 27 years old. Black hair. Green eyes. Found early in the morning, in a cart parked by the city wall. Doctor Cinder inspected the body and concluded the cause of death was strangulation with a thin cord of unknown description. Both hands had been removed post-mortem, probably with a thin bladed serrated blade, possibly a surgeon's saw and dumped in a nearby gutter. A dog-rose had been placed in her mouth. The body showed signs of excessive alcohol consumption and recent sexual intercourse, but there were no bruises or other evidence of force. The girl's father came to claim his daughter's body. He told me she had gone missing two days before, but as she had a known weakness for rum, this was not unusual. Melody Cartwell was only the second victim to be claimed by her family.

13. 1st Feb. 1622. Unknown Male. Age; uncertain. Possibly late forties. Hair; grey and blading. This man was fished from the river after he became tangled with a ships rudder. The body was bloated and distorted making it difficult to examine. Doctor Cinder was called but couldn't make out much except to note death was due to a rope that was still tied around the man's neck and both hands and feet were missing. Whether this man was a victim of Jack the Knife is uncertain.

14. 12th Apr. 1623. Meredith Harp. Aged 19. Blonde hair. Blue eyes. Found in the back yard of 6 Virgin's Lane. Cause of death was strangulation, apparently with broad strap of some kind, possibly a belt.  Both hands had been removed by several strong blows with a heavy blade, then discarded in a nearby gutter. A torn piece of canvas had been placed in her mouth. The body showed signs of sexual congress, but no obvious signs of rape. Meredith Harp had been engaged to marry a cartographer named Heathcliff Tunfallow. She had left him the afternoon of the day previous and no one knew where she'd been after that. I interviewed Heathcliff Tunfallow and he told me, to the best of his knowledge, Meredith had been a virgin. The girls family claimed the body and buried her. It had been a year and a half since Melody Cartwell and I was beginning to think Jack had stopped killing. Possibly he had moved away from the city, or died a natural death.

15. 17th Apr. 1623. Anna Foxglove. Aged 53 years. Grey/blonde hair. Blue eyes. Discovered by a Militia guard who said he also saw the murderer, but who ran away when challenged. Cause of death was strangulation, apparently by hand. In her mouth was a dog rose. Doctor Cinder examined the body and concluded she had engaged in sexual activity immediately prior to her death. Both hands were still attached however. Foxglove was a seamstress from Haven who arrived in Takshendal to visit her sister, three days earlier. Her sister Clarice Hogmantle told me, Anna had gone out to see the city the day before and not come back.
The description of the murderer was; a man, roughly middle aged and of avaerage build. He was wearing a bottle green coat and over this a dark cape. His hair was short and fair and he was balding on top. When challenged he glanced up, but in the darkness, it was impossible to see his face clearly. He may have had a short, closely cropped beard.

16. 12th Jun. 1623. Honore d'Avant. Aged 16 years. Brown hair. Brown eyes. Found in a porch at 28 Tinder Street. Doctor Cinder examined the body and concluded death was caused by multiple stab wounds to the neck and chest. The hands and penis had been cut from the body post-mortem, probably with a thin, very sharp blade. The severed body parts had been left beside the body. A dog rose had been pushed into his mouth. No one claimed Honore d'Avant's body. He was identified by locals as an immigrant who had come to the city two years before and sometimes worked at a local slaughter house where he was employed as a cleaner. Two locals described him as a boy-prostitute.

17.15th Aug. 1623. Emily Castelleto. With the city in the grip of war fever, and rumours of a contender for the throne, Emily Castelleto almost passed unnoticed. Only a chance remark by a militia guard informed me that there had been another murder. I made inquires but the body had already been disposed of. What I could understand was Emily Castelleto had been aged approx 19. Dark brown hair. Brown eyes. She was a known prostitute who frequented Cobblemoss Court and she was found strangled at 7 Old Wall St. with one of her hands partially severed.

18. 2nd Nev. 1623. Griselda Honeycomb. Aged 36. Blonde hair. Blue eyes. Griselda Honeycomb was the first, and so far only victim I knew prior to her murder. She was found outside the house of Sir Todsworth Underhock (a relation of the Grand Arch Duke, who was still then in power). She had been strangled and her hands had  been cut from her arms and thrown into a nearby trough. A dog rose had been pushed into her mouth. I wished to bring in Doctor Cinder and investigate the matter further, but Sir Reginald Flatlock ordered the matter to be kept quiet. The rumour was put about that Griselda Honeycomb had died of the pox. Despite all her influential friends and clients, no one came to claim her body. I took it upon myself, as a former neighbour, to pay for her funeral. Sir Reginald surprised me by also attending, though I understood he was making sure the affair was kept quiet.

19. 27th Mar. 1624. Annea Grouchmoss. 29 Years old. Light brown hair. Green eyes. The mother of four children. Found in the rear courtyard of the Harken Brothers Mews at 9 Dukes Court Road. Doctor Cinder examined the body and determined the cause of death was strangulation with a thin cord, such as a garrot. Both hands had been removed with a thin sharp knife and were found two days later in a nearby storm drain. A dog rose had been placed in her mouth. There were no signs of sexual activity, nor any signs of physical violence prior to strangulation. This murder caused a deal of public anger, and several affluent citizens put together a reward of four thousand crowns for any one who could provide the identity of Jack the Knife. The militia received several hundred references but since Doctor Cinder and I were the only people taking any great interest in finding out the identity of the killer, and neither of us had the time to follow so many idle leads, we were only able to devote a few afternoons to following these clues and made no progress at all.

20. 12th Apr. 1624. Unknown male. Age unknown. Hair; unknown. Eyes and general description; unknown. This victim almost went unnoticed. The crew of the galley Avenger, fished the body from the river and noted the event in their log. They also noted both hands were missing from the body and who ever this man was, he had been 'badly cut up around the throat and chest'.

21. 16th Sep. 1624. Annabel Longbottle. Aged 17. Black hair. Green eyes. Presumed to be a prostitute, but I'm not sure as no one seemed to have seen her doing business. Found in the street outside 7 Temperence Street. Doctor Cinder was unavilable so a local man; Doctor Merrysalt examined the body for me. He was unable to determine much, save she had been strangled by hand and she had almost certainly had sexual intercourse in the time prior to her death. Doctor Merrysalt also noted a bruise on the upper right cheek suggesting a heavy blow or a punch to the face. Both hands had been 'neatly' removed and placed in a nearby gutter. There was a dog rose in her mouth.

22. 3rd Feb. 1625. Unknown Female. Approx 15 years old. Dark brown hair. Green eyes. Presumed to be a migrant coming to the city to find work. The body was discovered in a small group of trees, roughly four miles south of the city. The locals informed their landlord who examined the body then ordered it buried. I later learned that the dead girl had had both hands 'cut off'. They were never found.

23. 2nd May. 1625. Molly Hartwick. Aged 25. Blonde hair. Brown eyes. A prostitute of repute due to her unique appearance of resembling a young man, complete with facial hair and a deep voice. Found in a rented room at 2 New Moon St. Doctor Cinder examined the body. Death was by strangulation with a thin cord, or garrot. There were no signs of physical violence, but Molly Hartwick did have two red marks about her ankles as if she had been tied in the hours prior to her murder. Both hands had been removed with a thin sharp blade. Doctor Cinder remarked in passing, that Jack is becoming quite adept at surgical amputation and the earlier 'hacking and sawing' that was evident is no longer present. A dog rose had been placed in her mouth. After we had examined the dead girl, Doctor Cinder and I went to see the Suregeon Royal; Doctor Herringslough where we examined several types of knife in an effort to determine what kind of tool Jack must be using. In Doctor Cinder's opinion the most likely candidate was a heavy catling with a nine inch blade. I examined such a knife, and both Doctor Cinder's and in my estimation, such a blade could also account for the victims killed by stabbing.

24. 14th Sept. 1625. Oberon Furrowhunt. Aged 16. Dark brown hair. Hazel brown eyes. Found in the rear courtyard of 15 High Brick Road (the outer gate was locked for the night). Furrowhunt was a known boy-prostitute. Doctor Cinder examined the body and concluded death was caused by multiple stab wounds to the upper chest and neck, by some one using a long thin knife, consistent with the catling Doctor Herringslough had shown us. Both hands had been removed in the usual manner and by a blade consistent with the weapon used for the murder. They were left lying in a nearby gutter. A dog rose petal was found in the victim's mouth. Doctor Cinder and I have pondered at some length on the significance of the dog roses, but as of yet, we have been unable to find any convincing explanation. No one came to claim the body of Oberon Furrowhunt.

25. 9th Mar. 1626. Allie Nettlebed. Aged 14. Blonde hair. Blue eyes.A choir-girl, returning from service, Nettlebed was found in the rear courtyard of a house at 7 Ruebarb Lane. she was the daughter of the cobbler Alred Nettlebed. Doctor Cinder examined the dead girl and concluded she had to have been killed within an hour of her discovery, which put the time of her death at midday. The cause of death was strangulation, almost certainly by means of a garrot from behind. Both hands had been removed and placed in a rain barrel. A dog rose had been placed in her mouth. There were evident signs of sexual activity.
Doctor Cinder believes the killer is developing, both in style and purpose and I am wont to agree. There is something of an ease in the way Jack has killed his later victims. Unfortunately I no longer have the time to investigate these perplexing murders as my duties now draw me further from investigation than I would like. I have decided to appoint some one who can devote all their time and efforts to take over.
I shall of course keep abreast of developments.

26. 4th Apr. 1626. Joan Murdle. Aged 21. Black hair. Brown eyes. A known prostitute who worked the Garden district. Found in the street outside 19 Temple Lane. Cause of death; strangulation with a thin cord or garrot. Both hands had been cut off and left in a drinking trough on Heron Road. Doctor Cinder examined the body, but I didn't have time to attend. Murdle had engaged in sexual activity prior to her death.

27. 2nd Dec. 1626. Edvard Arus.