Earlier this year, I started a new roleplaying game. But this time, it wasn’t D&D…

Instead, Andi Watson took me to the world of 1879 from FASA games (the same company that brought us Earthdawn). A combination of fantasy and historical fiction, 1879 takes the world we know on a different course. For my party, that meant travelling from London to the jungles of South America, in search of a steppe pyramid… and maybe something more.

My character in all of this is Dr. Ferris McFly, a Weird Scientist from Limerick, Ireland who was run out of town after another one of his failed experiments. He holed up in London in a place that barely qualified as housing, with little money and a handful of his tools and inventions to his name. But then, an opportunity arose and that is where our story starts…

Along with playing the game, we were asked to keep character journals, which would net us extra Adventure Points (AP) for the game. But you don’t need to understand the mechanics of the game to enjoy reading about the adventure, which I will try to keep updated here. We are now trying to stream our games over on Andi’s Twitch channel, but you can always catch up to the story thus far right here!

NOTE: Yes, my character is a walking ’80s reference. No, I do not apologize for it.

Dr. Ferris McFly’s Fantastic Beasts and How to Avoid Them

I received a letter from a Rupert Hastings asking me to dinner. Probably trying to get investors for a soap franchise. Still, very hungry, so worth pursuing.

Hastings implored me to join an expedition to the Americas, landing someplace named Flow Rider. While I have many irons in the fire, most have likely melted while I was away. Therefore, an all-expenses paid vacation sounds like a worthwhile venture. Dinner was a bit bland, made significantly better due to being free. This airship I’m boarding will surely have better meals that are also free. I did question the word “treason”, but everything should be fine. I signed his contract.

I have boarded the HMS Elizabeth Crown Jewel, an airship that flies on… wishes? Not sure yet. Aerodynamics is not my specialty. Accommodations are outstanding, except that I share them with other members of my party. This may be a sort of psychological experiment by the Crown. Perhaps the real expedition is in the mind? This is why I rarely trust government types. Luckily, I found a secluded room where I can be as antisocial as I care.

The ship has been attacked by giant bats. This brings back some troublesome memories of falling into a cave when I was but a boy, only to be surrounded by bats. They swore to help avenge my parents murder, but broke that promise when they realized my parents were still alive. I will never trust bats again. Seeing one shot down gave me a certain level of catharsis. This particular bat had a very long, hard nose. Reminds me of an ornithopter I was building back in Ireland. Notably this is much uglier.

A late night scavenging run has proved fruitful. It is amazing the perfectly good components that are simply lying around behind barred doors and guarded rooms. I shall begin work on new projects when we reach this My Hammy, Flow Rider.

My Hammy has a surprising lack of pork. However, the temperature is so high, I may be smoked and barbecued myself by the time we leave.

I tried to rent a bicycle shop from a very irate shopkeep. Surprisingly, he had no interest in renting his shop out for free. So, I did the logical thing of breaking in at night. Work on the “Honeycomb” prototype deployable shield went well enough, but field testing is necessary. Unsuspecting volunteers may need to be procured.

A far cry from the airship, we boarded a flightless ship called the Nuestra Senora de la Santisima Trinidad. We now head to an even hotter and more uncomfortable area of the world below the Equator. Perhaps I will succumb to heat exhaustion before we arrive. How fortuitous that would be!

Arrived in Carapace. Regretfully, I remain conscious. The party wanted to make sure we had rations and supplies. I left them to all that technical tripe. Meanwhile, I found myself busy scrounging through the back alleys of the town and looking for useful books in the library. There was a children’s book about death and dinosaurs. I checked it out permanently.

Now deep in the jungle, we secured a boat to travel down river. The mosquitos have been brutal, but my team has proven surprisingly useful. The handsy lady tried to rub weeds on me. I declined. Instead, I fashioned another lovely device to stun flying insects. Attached to the front of the boat, I believe it should be sufficient for a few days of round-the-clock use. I have dubbed this new invention “Goldblum’s Revenge” after an old colleague we lost to electrocution when he tried to swat a fly near a transformer. Justice has now been served.

The trip down river has become a bit tedious. Several days have passed now and my hair has started to mold in odd ways. It now stands straight up on the top and drapes down the back. No amount of coaxing can force it back to it’s original shape. However, the time has allowed me to improve upon my Goldblum’s Revenge model so it can be a portable staff. This should prove useful in my war on small flying insects.

Crocodile mating rituals are proving quite dangerous when in the proximity of our boat. Keeping the scaly critters from our very vulnerable position has proven difficult. Luckily, the naked lady has been working on stunning them and the hunter is making bright flashes with gunpowder. I also have an electrified staff now, so that helps.

I have been thrown into the water twice by crocodiles. The first time, they grabbed my staff and tossed me like a rag into the drink. For some reason they had an aversion to being stunned. I scrambled back onto the boat, but they knocked me back in while I was catching my breath. Luckily my troll compatriot was able to fish me out. I attempted revenge by shooting my energy gun (known in certain circles as The Fires of St. Elmo, or FOSE for short), but it is quite hot now, likely due to the water logging. Maybe it’s a water gun now. Unfortunately, my staff now lies at the bottom of the river. I will rebuild it, better than before. Of this I swear upon the memory of Goldblum himself!

Once the beasts were thwarted and my clothes were dry, we took a group photograph with one of the defeated beasts, before turning it into dinner. I then set about repairing and rebuilding my poor inventions. Apparently, FOSE had undergone a heating malfunction after being submerged in water. I was able to fix that problem for the future. Additionally, I realized I could improve it’s intensity by smoothing out the focusing crystal. Now if I could only shoot my way out of a paper bag, this could prove quite lethal indeed.

Then I turned my attention to yet another stun staff. Having lost the component to build a pole, I opted to make a stunning device that could affix to any long cylinder available. This new mobile shock device (coined Goldblum’s Legacy) should prove useful against insects and possibly large insectoid species bent on world domination. Although I have never seen such things, this is the first time I have been to South America, so I am keeping an open mind.

Finally, I started work on a portable smoker, useful for long-term food preservation. This was suggested by the rest of the expedition and I felt it was the least I could do as they have basically saved my life continuously since our arrival. It also seems practical for survival, which I am partial to doing. Work has now begun on The 16th Candle.

We finally arrived in a rural town, presumably free of crocodiles. I set about getting more information on other creatures that might try to eat me. The locals told me of large cats, venomous snakes and some strange upright lizards. I feel like I should have been crafting more armor and less earthenware cooking devices on my voyage. Oh well.

Further into the day, I set about finding a pole for my stunning staff. The locals directed me to a darkened room that smelled of grain alcohol and sadness. In the middle of the room, under dim red lights, there was a woman dancing with the aforementioned pole, although I could not tell which one was more satisfied with their life up to that point. She was surrounded by men staring awkwardly at the pole, affirming it’s desirability. I was able to trade the lady my original Goldblum’s Revenge bug stunner for her pole. I feel that this trade was mutually beneficial. She seemed far happier with the idea of avoiding tropical diseases than dancing with an inanimate object. I, however, prize my inanimate objects, as they do not require socialization. This pole shall be my new best friend. I quickly affixed Goldblum’s Legacy to the top.

Later that night, I attempted to memorize our map. However, thoughts of my earlier encounter in the dark corners of this sin-laden town distracted me. I came back to it in the morning and, with the help of our mud-covered exhibitionist, was able to turn the map right-side up. This helped immensely.

To my dismay, we set out to the jungle yet again. Our nights were relatively uneventful, until I awoke one morning to the knowledge that one of those bipedal lizards had been sniffing my tent. I am now down one pair of pants, which were unsalvageable and have likely been reclaimed by the jungle itself. All my pants are brown, which was unintentional but strangely fortuitous. I shall try to craft my own clothes in the future, so I can assure they are stain-resistant and hand-washable. Microbial protection will also be a priority.

One of these days I should really learn the names of my fellow party members. Up to this point, I have been referring to them as “god enthusiast,” “machete troll,” “naked spell lady” and “photograph hunter.” Scratch that, their real names could not be better than those descriptions. Still wondering if I should bother with our guide’s name, although he may literally be called “Guide”. As in, “It was Guide’s fault we were thrown into the water.” I certainly hope Guide can’t understand Irish.

I have been warned not to lick trees. Surprisingly, this information is quite useful. I was planning on examining the trees for resin I could use to coat future shields. The knowledge passed on by the other expedition members (who’s names I have purposely chosen to ignore) has proven invaluable to avoiding death in this pursuit. The lady of mud asked me if I was sure the locals said anything about lizards that walk on all fours. I assured her they only warned me of the bipedal variety we had encountered earlier. Of course, now I am equally scared of the prospect there are even more dangerous reptilian creatures about and I am starting to wonder how much I truly risked to get a free meal so very long ago.

We have stumbled upon a French expedition, or at least their lifeless bodies. At first, I suspected they were mimes engaging in a sort of interpretive art installation, but it turns out they were simply dead. Some artists are apparently more committed than others. While the naked spell lady stared at a ring, I endeavored to pry a satchel from beneath one of the bodies. The brief smell of elderberries distracted me, but I was able to utilize a branch to pull the strap without having to touch anything French. The satchel contained various papers with many unnecessarily French words, full of pretentious apostrophes and far too many “E”s. Most concerning was the content of the papers, which described a mission very similar to our own. It appears this was another group hired by a lord to research a mystery in the jungle. If only they had not suffered the disadvantage of being French, they might have made it too. Luckily, they did have a useful map that will shorten our travel time significantly. I committed it to memory. We considered burying the three unfortunate adventurers, but lacked the required trebuchet and 21 baguette salute. It was probably for the best, as they can now continue the impromptu art piece, which I shall refer to as The Body Exhibit from this point onward. On the bright side, I salvaged a “lovingly used” pair of pants. I fear I will need many of these as we explore deeper into the jungle.

As night started to fall, I aided the lethal lensman in setting up a photo trap to catch one of these bipedal lizards on camera. As legend has it, the lizards believe taking their photo will steal their soul, so this plan is sound. I also worked with the troll to clean weapons found at The Body Exhibit. While I may be skilled at building modern marvels of technology, basic maintenance and cleaning was never my strong suit. However, this troll has military experience. Despite his best efforts, though, my ability to fix a basic firearm or sharpen a machete remains substandard. I shall put it on my bucket list. For those not aware, a “bucket list” is a list of things to accomplish before you inevitably get your head stuck in a water bucket and die of asphyxiation.

The hunter and I took first watch that night, at which point we were greeted by four scaly friends. They stayed in the shadows, but had a hunger in their eyes that made them both terrifying and relatable. It was not long after being relieved from watch that our compatriots told us we would need to address our unwanted guests sooner rather than later. I tossed out the Honeycomb, threw Goldblum’s Legacy in the ground behind me and unholstered the FOSE. We stood in a circle as the monsters befell us. However, these lizards had never encountered the power of exhibitionism and our scantily clad companion had half of them down before they could even move. The troll downed another and the hunter seriously annoyed the last. Finally, this was my time to shine. Perhaps I would finally shoot something with success. And lo, on this night, I would finally hit something with a projectile weapon. A searing bolt cut through the air and dropped the last one instantaneously. As the rest of the party went about dealing with the other three unconscious lizards, I stood above my scaly victim. Flashbacks of all the leathery evil that had befallen me up to this point came rushing back at that moment. I thought of the winged demons that ruined my afternoon nap upon the airship. I mourned the loss of my stun staff at the hands of the water monsters known as “crocodiles”. I lamented the loss of a perfectly good pair of pants to one of these overly-curious reptilians. And then, with fury in my eyes, I began shooting the lizard repeatedly.

I am become death, destroyer of lizards. I am the 1.0 and the 2.0. They may take my life, but they shall never take my pants again. I’m just a boy, standing in front of a burning lizard, asking it to fear me. I’m here to kick arse and chew bubblegum and I haven’t invented bubblegum. Nobody puts Ferris in a corner!

Suddenly, I snapped out of my fugue state, as my party rushed to pull me from my conquest. What strange feeling has befallen me? Is this what it feels like to be useful in a combat situation? Such a feeling is new and strange, but I enjoy it with pulsating excitement.

In the interest of not getting bitten or clawed to death, my newest project would be a shield. Not a shield like my deployable Honeycomb, but a physical shield I could strap to my forearm. Since the photographically-inclined hunter had set aside a number of crocodile skins for such a thing, I began working with the leather to build something equally light and strong. My efforts seemed to pay off with the added benefit of being quite stylish. I imagine these shields would be quite the rage in Paris, although I have not encountered a living Frenchman on this expedition to test that hypothesis. Once the shield looked hard and round, I used my advanced scientific mind to enhance it even further. My great innovation? Smear some resin on it. I must credit naked spell lady for pointing out the useful ingredients in this resin. It will only harden for limited periods when I activate it’s tower shield mode, making it much larger and harder, perfect for hiding under when attacked by lizards. This was done by design. Now that I have a working model, I can attempt to recreate it with the other crocodile skins for the rest of the expedition. One day soon, a hope to equip us all with the “Rock of Crocodiles”.

After a long journey and multiple pairs of pants, we have arrived at the steppe pyramid. The entrance was obvious enough to locate, but it’s dark, foreboding nature mixed with the lateness of our arrival prompt the party to set up camp before venturing deeper. By my suggestion, we made sure to set up camp on a level above the entrance as I hear the higher ground is indicative of success in combat. Who knows what evil lives in this place? And we all know that evil is much weaker during the day. That’s just science.

Something odd has happened. Correction, many odd things have happened. The first occurred when spell lady used astral sight to see the unseen. What she witnessed seemed shocking. Curious to be apprised of such shocking things, I begged the troll soldier to grab one of the large glass-wing butterflies for me, which he snatched out of the air with ease. Using a basic chemical compound derived from local flora, I approximated my formula for astral sight screen. It’s a lotion of sorts I was toying with back in my Limerick workshop that can be applied to clear surfaces to peer into the astral plane. You can also use it on your skin for a healthy glow and sun protection, assuming you are fine with being blue for 8-12 hours afterwards. Anyway, I did the obvious thing of spreading this lotion on the butterfly’s wings and placing the very-confused insect on the bridge of my nose. You know, typical science stuff. As it flapped it’s wings, I saw brief glimpses into the astral, with bright lights of indescribable colors, but mostly purple. It was at this point that spell lady had a better idea and produced her goggles for lotion application. After placing a small leash on my new butterfly companion, I set it down and put on the goggles. This proved more effective and caused a revelation: it wasn’t so much purple as magenta. Also, there appears to be a sizable doorway to another world that resembles the Rabbit Hole. That was also important. Note that I had little understanding of the Rabbit Hole up to this point, especially compared to my fellow travelers who were more personally affected by it’s presence. To me, it seemed like another annoyance in an already annoying world and I accurately predicted it would raise property values in my area. Tourism has been a nightmare ever since.

In the morning, I went to fetch my butterfly friend I now called The Stranger. Alas, my lotion had hardened it’s wings and it expired in the night, yet it lived more in one day than most butterflies live in a lifetime… which is usually a month. Soon a realized I could fashion a frame around Stranger and place a small stick handle near it’s side to make a very regal pair of astral spectacles. I shall name it “Stranger Wings” in it’s honor. This shall also be all the rage in Paris. Perhaps I should talk to the hunter about a small measure of taxidermy… I wish Stranger to be preserved for all of time as long as it’s wings are intact. As an added benefit, the wings can still fold up so long as rigor mortis has not set in.

Regretfully, we started our decent into the pyramid. Whoever built this was either particularly short or exceptional at limbo. The stairs wound their way downward, as my party crawled through each descent. I, however, had a much better idea and rode my new Rock of Crocodiles down the staircase like a slide. In addition to being faster and less work overall, it was the most enjoyable part of this expedition since I had that free dinner back in London.

We came across some strange glyphs on the wall. The spell lady has been trying her many magical tricks to decipher them, but to no avail. However, I think they make perfect sense. As I read it: snake, cat, bird, monkey, water, bigger snake, watersnake, wind, snake and bird armwrestling, cat on a hot pitch roof, my mother, tree, monkey protesting deforestation, three snakes in the wind, a tree caught in a cat, magenta monkey washing dishes, cat scratch fever, catbird versus monkeysnake, my father’s disapproval and double rainbow. But what does it all mean?

As we approached the next doorway full of unknown dangers, we encountered a new problem. Some discourteous animal had decided to die right next to the door on the opposite side, blocking our passage. While we could get it slightly ajar, enough for three of us to squeeze through, our resident troll was not able to do so. After constructing an elaborate pulley system with the spell lady’s climbing gear, we were able to dislodge this bad omen to proceed further. It wasn’t much longer before we encountered a pressure plate and slits in the wall. Yes, even more bad omens. Using my Honeycomb and Rock of Crocodiles, we blocked the slits while spell lady disarmed the trap. Fortunately, she found some bits and bobs that proved educational. Specifically a piece of fiber rope strengthened with a resin similar to the one I used previously. Instead of making objects rock hard, this resin kept the rope pliable. I feel like I could have used this to keep Stranger alive or make some sturdier pants. Either way, I shall remember this in the future.

After coming to another junction, we stupidly decided to take the route where beasts have obviously tread before. I suppose I could list this under hazard pay for my expense report. As I feared, we ran across a hole that was definitely not part of the original pyramid design. Likely it was blasted to create a new route through this place. These people were obviously fans of being eaten. I again blame the French. Worse yet, we found another blasted hole in the main chamber and a large bi-horned creature eating weeds. Luckily, this “bihornizard” was so mesmerized by this plant it was munching on to worry about munching on me. The photo hunter took it upon himself to try climbing through this large hole that appeared to lead outside. Troll and spell lady looked through boxes in search of new treasures, of which they discovered a lovely golden jaguar statue. In my opinion, this is the only acceptable type of jaguar: immobile and made of precious metals. I spent my time admiring the architecture of this place, especially it’s unstable nature. I thought it a good idea to alert the hunter to this information, right around the time he tripped and fell down. Perhaps I was a tad late on that warning. Worse yet, it appears that whatever force created said hole has destabilized this new Rabbit Hole. As always, we quickly blamed the French. This is definitely above my pay-grade, or at least that will be the case I make to Lord Hastings upon our return. If he decides to increase my pay-grade, I suppose that is simply a compromise I will reluctantly accept before heading off on a therapeutic shopping spree.

The most capable melee fighter among us, a troll with military experience, decided to take a personal day while the rest of us checked the boxes and sarcophagi in this room. This could have been quite beneficial. Ancient ruins often contain valuable treasures that could be sold for useful materials. Unfortunately, the two-horned beast I have now dubbed “Rhinocer-Dos”, decided to stop chewing it’s party weeds and turned it’s ire toward us. Since the troll was apparently taking a sunbath, this was going to be a 3-on-1 fight. I found this quite unfair. Still, I deployed the Honeycomb as usual. The Rhinocer-Dos tried to ram through it and failed, although it’s attempt was admirable. I would need to do some repairs on the Honeycomb after two sharp horns had passed through it. I hit it with the FOSE, which it did not appreciate. While the spell lady kept it busy, the photo hunter had a clever idea and stood in front of the magic doorway. And with the agility of a bull fighter, he led the Rhinocer-Dos halfway into a different plane of existence. It did not appreciate this either, or at least I imagine that would be it’s reaction were it responsive at all. A good piece of news, however, we have even better leather for shields now.

Spell lady and I cautiously opened the boxes in the room. However, we were not cautious enough and were hit with a dart trap. I felt wibbly, wobbly, but also timey and whimy. After finding a comfortable spot to fall down, I threw on my Stranger Wings and witnessed a spectrum of colors previously beyond comprehension. The troll had returned from picking flowers or something (I did not ask nor care) and I regaled him with tales of the expansive nature of the Universe. He was unimpressed. I threw up in his general direction. He remained unimpressed.

In the morning, I woke to a terrible migraine and the realization that the Universe is probably quite boring. Most of it is just a vacuum and I can build a vacuum. Stupid Universe! The troll was already missing, probably to wash his armor in a stream or something. With luck, the night’s vomit incident would not affect our non-existent relationship. I try not to judge others, but anyone who holds a grudge after getting covered in bile by a relative stranger would not survive a day in Ireland.

For some unknown reason, the others insisted on opening more of the boxes. This time, we were smarter, as if the last round of poison darts had opened our third eye. We devised a box-opening claw device, which worked exactly once. Luckily, that was the last of these boxes. It held no notable items, except archeological pieces someone back in London might appreciate. I, however, did not see the magical beans I needed. How would I get my golden goose back from that giant now? Correction, how would I steal the golden goose a second time now? Perhaps I was still feeling the effects of that dart.

And so, we pressed on to the sarcophagi. I cautioned my team against this, as I had heard tales of these burial chambers containing mummies. They assured me mummies were only native to Egypt and no known species existed in South America. They opened the first sarcophagus while I pushed on it, unemphatically, with my staff.

The troll was taking an awfully long time washing up. I started to wonder if he got smart and simply left for Flow Rider again. Perhaps I would have joined him if we were on speaking terms.

Right around the time of my pondering, the lid slid over to reveal a golden staff. This would be cause for celebration, were the staff not held by a mummy. If this mummy were not as active as my imagination, I would have used this opportunity to berate my comrades for believing the Mayans were not as obsessed with the undead as the Egyptians. However, more fighting was underway. Strange how the troll has missed all the fighting. Perhaps he has a monster-smacking quota that shall not be exceeded. It immediately attacked the hunter, as it did not want it’s picture taken. The undead are notably camera shy, as documented in the novel “Post-Life Etiquette for the Pre-Dead Explorer”. I should really lend him a copy upon our return. Spell lady was able to immobilize it with vines, giving the hunter time enough to aerate a portion of it’s head.

Something in this pyramid must have a memory-wiping effect as the team immediately sought to open another sarcophagus. Before they could go kicking another can of hornets (reminder to start plans for Can of Hornets), I suggested working on an improved opening system. Specifically, I wanted to rig a pulley system that lifted the lid straight up. If we encountered another mummy, letting go of the rope would slam the lid back down on it’s head. This would prove quite detrimental to it’s health, were it not already dead. Perhaps the troll will return from his extended bath by then. He did smell horrible at last I saw him. That might have been partially my fault.

With the party back in full force, we attempted to open the next sarcophagus. I failed to convince my party that I could build a suitable lid-lifting system and they impulsively went with the troll lifting it by hand. This did not end well. The lady mummy that inevitably resided in the sarcophagus assisted the troll in lifting the lid and proceeded to smack a golden staff over his head. The troll then became infatuated with the mummy, which I can understand. I had a May-December romance once upon a time, but never engaged in a Bronze Age-Steel Age romance.  But how would I explain it to my parents or those bats? Perhaps the civilized world is not so civilized after all.

For a moment, I thought I might have to fight the troll for her attention, but what luck, another female mummy burst forth from the remaining sarcophagus. She likes long walks on the beach, ruling over the proletariat and archery. Unfortunately, the archery part was most relevant here and she began turning our hunter into a pincushion. But the hunter can give as good as he gets and shot quite a few holes in our hopeless undead romantics. The troll’s infatuation was cut short after his crush was killed off and he took out his frustrations on the archer. By this point, I had dove headfirst into an open sarcophagus and deployed the Honeycomb a second time. My first attempt left much to be desired as did throwing my hide shield which now sat sadly on the ground.

With the mummies dispatched, we took a better look at the shiny weapons they held. Worth note was the bowstring. It appeared to have a similar effect as my FOSE, although this string appears stronger than my gun. That makes me envious and also angry and also sad. I shall call this feeling “sangrious”. Spell lady recovered my hide shield, which she refers to as the “Croc of Aegis”. I hate that this is far catchier than “Rock of Crocodiles” and cannot get it out of my head now. I must rename it for future iterations, while taking all the credit in the process. Putting it on the list. For now, I’ll refer to it as the “ROC” for brand recognition.

I again took the opportunity to reiterate how much better this unboxing would have gone were I given the opportunity to build my lid-lifter. No one cared.

We attempted to patch up the hunter, but those nasty arrows had done a number on him. Despite all logic and reason, we resigned to split the party, with spell lady, guide and myself heading into the jungle to look for medicinal plants. We found her magical root thing quickly and rapidly moved back to the temple. I fell climbing down the hole and now know how the hunter felt. The falling part, not the arrows part, obviously. “Walk it off!” they say. I sprained an ankle, I can’t walk it off. That actually makes it worse. It’s times like these I wish someone in our party had proper medical training. I would build a doctor, but lack the necessary experience, skills and facilities to do so… yet.

Upon further inspection of this room, spell lady alerted us to the possibility we may soon be glowing and grow a tail. Well, technically, she said that there is an energy in this room that may be responsible for the angry mummies and magical items, but that is all the same to me.

After a long debate over whether to build a litter or papoose to carry the hunter to a higher level, we dragged him back to the level above. While we were waiting for him to recover over the next several days, I proceeded to build him a shield, which might help if he encounters any more undead archers. It’s not as nice as my own and much less resplendent with science, but it will do.

Once the hunter was back on his feet, we discussed how to proceed. He was intent on playing with the big energy portal thing, because poking the other side of reality with a stick is essentially our career now. Ironically, he suggested literally poking a long stick through the doorway. I asked the troll if we would get his commission if he were to meet an unfortunate end. His response was a mild affirmative, which I took as a sign the hunter should absolutely go through with his plans. Suddenly I felt compelled to help him build the necessary equipment needed to do his experiment.

For a moment, a notion passed my mind. Perhaps one of the hunter’s camera lenses could be augmented with astral sight, but whether our current film development technology would register such a thing. Might just keep that in my metaphorical hat for now.

I supervised an experiment where the hunter put a stick through a magical hole. There are absolutely no double entendres that can be made from this scenario. He felt a tingling sensation when he stuck it in. When he pulled the stick out, it had miraculously grown in size. Spell lady explained that the stick now had some magical glowing goo on it. The hunter then planted the stick so he could admire it later. He then tried quickly shoving another stick into the hole and pulling it out immediately. He was disappointed with the results as he was blasted backwards. The stick was also placed aside for further study. Then he held another stick over his head and inserted it into the hole in a vertical fashion while positioned in a defensive stance. Using a swirling method inside the hole, he did not seem to hit anything. Now three sticks stood erect in the ground, of various sizes and girths. The next stick he inserted became ice cold, frigid even. I warned him to treat the hole with the respect it deserved, but my advice fell on deaf ears and frozen hands. Spell lady tried to push two of the sticks together to no avail. The hunter was back at it, trying to place yet another stick into the hole from the top down. He came away wounded from this experiment. It was around this time I started to wonder if he had ever seen a hole before. I have never witnessed a man end up so irrevocably injured by wielding a stick, including myself in my salad days. Deciding that this hole was exit only, we started packing up to leave. However, the first stick, which was still growing in size and width, was particularly interesting to the spell lady. She tried to dispel it’s magic, but this veritable tree trunk was having none of it. In fact, having the lady work her magic on the stick appeared to excite it even further. After focusing on it for a great while, she discovered the power within to release all the stick’s power in a burst of energy, that was palpable to even a casual voyeur such as myself. She was now able to touch the stick without issue and decided it was pleasant enough to keep with her. This new ten-foot long friend would serve her well for all her days. She has not given it a name, but I am calling it Morning Wood for now. Finally, we could work our way back out of the ruins.

I just realized that a stick looks an awful lot like a dingwallace, doesn’t it? Wonder if anyone else noticed that.

Exploring the remainder of the steppe pyramid proved troublesome. I tripped and felt a shower of soft rocks hit me on the head. At first, this seemed like a simple inconvenience. Unfortunately, these rocks had legs and were really large spiders the whole time. This was a series of unfortunate events that left me quite vulnerable. The arocknids charged at me, fangs extended and bit me many times. Attempts at stunning it with Goldblum’s Legacy failed (impressively), but I had forgotten that we already had a one woman stun brigade. Before my very eyes, the arocknids now resembled an Irish pub after two in the morning: twitching, incoherent and full of poor life choices. We squished them immediately. There was no way I would be reliving this experience in the future.

I just realized that arocknids look an awful lot like nardledanglers, don’t they? Wonder if anyone else noticed that.

As the spell lady smashed Morning Wood down on the last arocknid, it became aroused and attacked. Of course, it decided to attack me. As it lunged on top of me, I dropped to the floor and fell unconscious. Passing out on the floor seems to be a common occurrence on this trip. I awoke to find Morning Wood in my face. It will take many months of therapy to get over this moment. However, the giant stick had apparently healed some of my wounds, so I would say I had mixed emotions. The arocknid that lunged at me lay motionless and I insisted that we keep it as a trophy… or body pillow. Perhaps it contains a geode, but I suppose that is future planning.  We shall bring it back to a science museum or something. However, my main priority was to not die, so it was back to camp for me.

The next day, we continued our march of self-destruction. Stumbling upon a field of sarcophagi and chests, the team insisted on opening everything, despite the unfortunate circumstances we encountered previously. Before they began randomly popping off lids, I volunteered to build a rudimentary crane that would act as my aforementioned lid lifter. They consented and I began collecting rocks and boards. Well, I directed the troll to collect rocks and boards, but supervising is important. My lid lifter successfully did it’s job on all the chests and a few of the sarcophagi. It would have continued working were it not for spell lady alerting us to a magic fog rolling in. The sarcophagi then proceeded to move of their own accord and we set up a defensive position in the hallway. This march of self-destruction was living up to it’s name. By the time the new mummies on the block besieged us, I could just throw out the Honeycomb in front of one attacking the troll. It slowed the other mummies’ progress, but it did not improve their attitudes. Despite biting my ankles and generally lacking the manners of a proper undead society, we were able to thwart all eight. My ankle is slightly annoyed that we did not thwart them sooner, but things could have been much worse and likely will be before we leave this jungle.

A few more doors were still closed. While the hunter was strong-willed to open everything, the rest of the crew felt less excited. I, for one, was getting tired of almost dying horribly in a hidden temple. However, I was inclined to try one more door, as long as it was the nicest one. If nothing good lay behind that, it was time for me to pack up my brilliant inventions and return to civilization. Well, technically I suppose we are in the remnants of a civilization, but I mean one that currently boasts a theater district.

Luckily, our last expedition through a large stone door was less dire. We uncovered the art gallery, or possibly the gift shop. The photo hunter did what he did best and took pictures of the ancient writings on the wall and pillar. Spell lady and I memorized a couple of the pillars. I still have no idea why these ancient people sided with my father and his rampant disapproval of my chosen profession. Obviously they did not understand genius either. No, YOU are a purple monkey washing dishes!

Outside the temple, spell lady warned us of a giant yellow eye staring at us through the woods. We decided to wait at the temple long enough to track this monster’s path, as dealing with giant beasts was neither covered in my contract nor beneficial to my survival. This day would be spent watching a dinosaur meander around a jungle. Suddenly, I had a very interesting idea for a theme park. Come to think of it, the gift shop was already in place, so monetization was not an issue. And we already had the camera for guest portraits. Making a mental note here to return with electrical fencing so we can build “Triassic Town”. Oh, yes, this shall be a surefire means of building my fortune.

Once the morning came, I was told to lay beside a giant footprint for a photo. I was starting to wonder why we could not simply enjoy the experience of living in constant danger instead of simply recording it. This did not matter much, as the giant monster who appeared to be missing in action was actually just throwing a surprise party for us. A mad dash to a higher elevation was in order to outrun the colossal beast. I was in good company for this, as the rest of the party cared less about self-preservation than I. They were more than willing to attack and run, while I took the strategic action of run and run. Before we knew it, we were out of reach of the giant lizard’s tiny hands. Obviously this aggressive behavior was him compensating for such things. The hunter took another picture, spell lady threw another spell at it and somehow we had become the distilled essence of ourselves through the process.

Perhaps I would need to rethink Triassic Town. Who knew dinosaurs were so dangerous? Paleontologists in my social circle were always so entertaining and they deal with these creatures on a daily basis. I shall require a word with some people if they ever let me back into Ireland.

Finally, we could make the long, arduous trek back to London, by way of Carapace and My Hammy. I began work on another armor project, this time for the spell lady, who insisted I make the smallest piece of clothing known to mankind. I suggested a tasteful pair of leather bracers, made to be as fashionable with clothes as without, because we all know that will happen. Once I have a better facility, I plan on outfitting these bracers with shielding technology when pressed together. She tried to explain something about my whole process being magic, but everyone knows magic is just science you have yet to understand. Apparently, though, not everyone did know that, so here we are. So, while around the campfire, she asked me to imbue a wreath of flowers with astral sight, so I can now confirm that she did not attend Oxford. I mean, neither did I, but let’s not make this about me. The hunter gave me one of his prized photo slides, which made a much better canvas for crafting and I set to work building a new resin for this glass. She watched intensely, as if this were the first time she had seen glass. Perhaps these spirit threads she mentioned were affecting her eyesight. Perhaps it was the intoxicating fumes coming off my resin mixture. Either is a valid explanation.

Back in the village, I checked with the nice lady who gave me my pole. She assured me the original Goldblum’s Revenge was doing quite well and kept the mosquitos at bay, by which she meant the male patrons. I assured her that the pole had served me well as Goldblum’s Legacy, but that I had found a shinier staff made of gold I planned on using now, renaming it Goldbling’s Legacy, because I’m clever. Of course, she asked if she could have her pole back and, of course, I said no. While I may not be using it currently, there are always useful applications for long metal rods. Spell lady told me as much.

Back in Carapace, we endeavored to get out of Carapace as quickly as possible. Luckily we could catch the boat back to My Hammy if we hurried. Goodbye sweet continent of untold danger and disease! You shall not be missed.

Back in My Hammy, I again asked the terse fellow at the bicycle shop if I could utilize the facilities for a shiny pound. He consented under the condition they continue working in my vicinity. And so, I rolled up my sleeves and threw in the blue collar workers of Flow Rider. Well, technically, I never roll up my sleeves because I suffer sunburns standing in the shade. Also, I do not remember any of them wearing a sleeved shirt, but it’s a metaphor. Metaphors are like analogies: It’s better not to think too much about them.

At last I could finish these bracers, but creating a honeycomb shield effect would take far longer than the day I had. Still, I must say, they proved to be both functional and fashionable. Perfect for the type of person who may wear clothing or go au naturale, which I hate to say since it sounds so very French. Come to think of it, crocodile bracers would go over quite well in Paris. I could probably charge them an ungodly sum as well, assuming I say the crocodiles surrendered and were later decapitated with a guillotine. Oh yes, the Parisian mimes will give me all their baguette money for these!

Back on the airship, I sequestered myself in my cabin. Unburdened with the threat of impending doom, I could tinker with the parts I acquired on my journey. A thought passed through my brain that I could use stun technology far more effectively than I had. Perhaps I could make a sort of stunning grenade? This thought permeated in a new device I was quite pleased with, which I call the “Electric Bugaboo”. I can barely hold back my excitement at throwing this at a bipedal lizard, or whatever reptile happens to be wandering around the London Zoo.

Finally, we were back in London. It was a wonderful sight, in no small part to the complete lack of predatory monsters. Spell lady and photo hunter decided to try finding Lord Hastings at the restaurant he frequents. I, for one, thought that was a terrible idea and the odds of him being there were not in our favor. The troll soldier… trolldier?… wanted to report in to his commanding officer, so I had the notion to join him. Perhaps one of these military types would be interested in my tandoori smoker. Yes, that would definitely be the invention they would find most appealing.

At the military building, the trolldier was invited to speak to a “General,” which is apparently not as important as a “Specific.” I, on the other hand, would settle for nothing less and therefore went on the hunt for a person covered in medals, very specific medals, like the ones with stars and shields and very tiny writing. However, the one I found directed me back to the General, so I dutifully returned to my seat in the waiting room. Eventually, I was called in to give my report, although I would have much preferred to tell him about my offensive and defensive technology. He was not interested, which I suppose is the reason he has not risen to the rank of Specific. Oh well, his loss. I just gave him my journal to copy, filled with all my heroic exploits. He said none of it would be considered “publishable,” which feels like a waste of good prose. At least he could direct be to the loo, so he was not completely useless.

Trolldier informed me we would have a meeting with Lord Hastings in a few hours. I spent the time wisely by looking at prospective workshops in the area. Not much in my limited price range, but I am not fancy. As long as I have a fully-staffed, state-of-the-art facility with enough space for mass production, I can make it work.

When we reconvened before the meeting, it turned out Hastings was indeed at the restaurant after all. What impossible odds! He asked for all our records and artifacts. Unfortunately, I suppose that means I must say goodbye to my golden staff. Good thing I kept that lady’s pole. Goldblum rides again! I also assured him that I could give a full written account of my exploits if he gave me a few days to collect them. Only now did I realize I should have asked the General person to make two copies of my journal. Reminder to outfit my future workshop with a printing press. It would make things so much easier to do them myself.

Now flush with my reimbursement and hazard pay of 25 pounds, I could afford a machine shop in a nicer area of the city. “Fully-staffed” would constitute a few basic laborers, “state-of-the-art” would include the machining equipment already installed and “mass production” would basically entail whatever we could produce quickly by hand. Still, this signaled a new era of McFly-style capitalism. This facility and staff would cost me 4 pounds a month, but the possibilities were endless. Portable tandoori smokers for everyone! And I could also spend time on my previous inventions, including the one I did not build myself, The Fires of St. Elmo. After studying the finer points of it’s design for these past few long months, I can almost understand the technology enough to utilize it myself. However, I needed to send word to the original creator, Professor Rachel Tyrell, asking her to make the trek from Limerick for some advice on the FOSE. And if I happened to write in excess of my newfound success and fancy workshop, I assure you it was completely intentional.

The ensuing week would be spent setting up my new workshop, The Danger Zone, and failing to learn the names of my staff. I convinced them to take on “code names” for “security reasons”, so I could address them formally. Goose, Maverick and Iceman are going to be far easier for me to understand than their actual names. What were they? Graig? Groge? Oh, Greg, I think. Oh well, he’s Goose now.

Spell lady stopped by once the shop was operational, looking for assorted parts to build an alchemy kit. While I do not understand much of alchemy, the one thing she would absolutely need were beakers. Alchemists love beakers, almost to a religious degree. Goose and Maverick were sent out to the scrap pile in search of all shapes of beakers and glassware she may find useful. I believe my specific instructions were “Imagine someone in a lab coat. Find stuff for that person.” I think that was clear enough.

Now that everything was set up and ready, I could finally get to work on my various projects. The only problem is a phenomena known as choice paralysis. I would need to essentially rebuild my inventions to make them viable for long-term use. I did promise to finish spell lady’s bracers with a honeycomb shield, but would I have time to also rebuild the Honeycomb, or Goldblum’s Revenge, or the Croc of Aegis? Perhaps I should play it safe and just make a very nice tandoori smoker. Ultimately, I knew I had to start prioritizing my projects. The 16th Candle was not worth expending extra time on, but the basic design would be easy for my crew to manufacture while I was on adventures. I do believe there is a market in London for collapsible tandoori smokers. Only time would tell.

So, first priority was to try working quickly on the bracers. Second would be expending some more time on the Honeycomb, to make it a permanent design. Third, I would try to build a half dozen Electric Bugaboos while I have my fancy workshop at my disposal. I feel these are much more useful than my staff, except for nostalgia reasons. And while I have a certain affinity for my Croc of Aegis, it is unlikely I could recreate the special science resin that made it truly great here in London. It is still a very nice shield, because I made it, but it may have to be no more than that. Perhaps it would decorate the wall of Danger Zone, while I build a nice new shield out of metal fiber or something.

Professor Tyrell has invited me to an event put on by an aristocrat of some note, although his name eludes me since I never asked. She insists that such gatherings could be useful to someone like myself, as they are attended by people with money. As it so happens, money is something I wish to acquire and perhaps these wealth folks would be willing to part with theirs.

However, what she said next proved worrisome. Apparently I must be cordial, abstain from discussing my inventions, engage in menial small-talk, smile and so many other indignities. Essentially I am to act like another person. I abhor acting, with the exception of those laughably primitive puppet shows about horrible people made of cloth. I doubt she wishes me to emulate those. I suppose I could draw on my experiences with the dead French mimes from the jungle. A stretch, yes, but I am fairly certain I could pull that off.

But the problems with this scenario are even more plentiful. I must obtain a kind of suit fitting for this occasion. There shall be a garment of obscene quality awaiting me at the tailor shop. I inquired on adding a purple Stetson hat like the kind I imagine Americans wear. She explained this was not possible and looked bewildered by the terminology in general. Obviously high society has not caught up in emergent fashions from the colonies. Oh well, I shall conform to their ridiculous standards for an evening. I suppose some amount of compromise is necessary in the pursuit of monetary wealth, sadly.

Spell lady has been haunting The Danger Zone this past week as she works on something chemistry related. I had a bad experience with chemistry once, so I have a healthy distrust of flasks. Naturally, I told her she could utilize as many glass vessels as she could scrounge from my scrap pile. It was nice knowing her.

Her continued presence reminded me to fulfill a promise I had made in the jungle, likely while I was delirious from an unnamed tropical disease. Those leather bracers I fashioned must be upgraded with shield technology. After the better part of the week, I would call the results a rousing success. She seemed grateful and compensated me for the expense, before I could even hand her the invoice. That awkward conversation had been mercifully avoided.

And thus, it had come to this. A night of socialization that could only end in disaster. I reluctantly poured myself into the suit Professor Tyrell had picked and awaited her carriage’s arrival. When it appeared, she stepped out in a dress not suitable for archeological digs. I remarked how troubling this must be for her. She replied by handing me a top hat so we could look stupid together.

Then an idea. I had thought to pack my Electric Bugaboo at the base of my spine, albeit uncomfortable when I leaned back in the carriage. But it would fit perfectly in the underside of my new top hat. She insisted this was a very bad idea and I should leave the grenade in the carriage. Some troubling questions followed, relating to the sensitivity of the trigger mechanism. Unfortunately I never got the chance to test it, so it might just go off at the slightest touch. A premature explosion would be embarrassing for all involved.  I swear such things have never happened to me before. It’s just that no one felt comfortable touching it.

I almost found willing volunteers the other day. A couple ladies on the street asked me if there was anything they could do to make me feel better. I told them I had an item in my pants that was ready to explode if they could activate it for me. I admitted it was an odd shape and the trigger leaned to the left, but I swore the results would be stunning. Apparently, they had heard that line from other gentlemen and were left thoroughly unimpressed. I am concerned there are so many others working on a similar device and must make haste to patent the Bugaboo. The demand appears quite high. By the exorbitant prices they quoted just to test such a thing, I could only imagine what the market would be. Of course, the expense was also a deal-breaker, so I was left playing with it myself. Inevitably, I just ended up fiddling with the trigger for an unnaturally long time while muttering “be a man, be a man” under my breath, while Goose, Maverick and Iceman looked on in wordless encouragement. They suggested I seek professional help, but provided no further context for the statement.

Once we entered the manor, with a notable lack of stun grenades, a man at the front insisted on taking my coat and hat. I tried to ask Rachel why she even bothered to give me a hat if they were just going to take it when I walked through the door, but she was already engaged in small talk. I chose to play the strong, silent type for the evening, well outside my wheelhouse.

A troll holding a tray of drinks wandered through the crowd and I gladly jumped at the opportunity to acquire free alcohol. You know, I’ve met all but two trolls in the past year and I swear they could have been identical twins. Granted, this one was far more attractive, but an uncanny resemblance nonetheless. What a delightful anecdote I will have for the trolldier next time I see him. Can you imagine him as a fancy boy? Oh, such a hilarious notion!

After being herded into a drawing room, I hugged the wall next to the door as it was the best position to be antisocial and escape in case of a talking emergency. However Lord Charles, who is apparently a very important person, addressed me directly. He asked about the brandy in my hand, which was the same point at which I discovered it was brandy. I had not tried the brownish liquid in the glass, fearing it was not whiskey, the national beverage of Ireland. I did inquire briefly about the importance of taking my hat to an undisclosed location, although he needed to excuse himself at that point.

Another gentleman approached me to ask about the Silver Jubilee. I explained that I could not make it as I was practicing “avante guarde sciencing” at the time. In truth, I was not there because I did not know what it was, but assumed it must be the kind of children’s science fair for adults that upper-crust society enjoys discussing. I did suggest they call it a Diamond Jubilee instead to make it sound more important, which bemused him. I also suggested that magic is a new and intriguing thing to study, which caused him to walk away after refusing to tell me his name. This was still my most successful conversation of the evening.

At dinner, I was served a large meal, or rather one doled out in twelve easy installments. I stared motionless at the first few, wondering how effective a laser would be at heating these lukewarm dishes. I shot a forlorn look at Rachel, with an expression noting my dismay. She seemed to acknowledge this was a bad idea all around and I resigned myself to this fate. By the time a fish crossed my plate and stared up at me in a similarly forlorn manner, I decided to excuse myself for an unknown period of time.

An opportunity to remove myself from the table arose when a mysterious figure dropped a napkin at my plate. Fortuitously, it had a message on it asking me to head toward the library. I explained to Rachel that the fish had disagreed with me, mostly about the current policies around pork subsidies, and I must be excused to the lavatory, or “crapper” in the parlance of our times. Apparently, few at the table were aware of this new vernacular. And these are supposed to be the upper crust of society!

Upon reaching the hallway, the fancy troll grabbed my attention near the water closet. To my great surprise, it was the trolldier this whole time. Well that’s yet another uncomfortable conversation avoided.

We moved toward the library, where it became evident someone hates desks. An unknown device had exploded inside, rendering it unable to hold the most basic of letters. Upon further examination, I speculated this could be the work of a brassman or brassman-curious individual. Someone at this manor was utilizing technology for nefarious purposes and we were the ones who needed to flush out the rogue. This proved to be a refreshing change of pace and ironically came while the palate cleanser was likely being served in the dining room.

We located a pearl button, which our keen investigation skills concluded must mean someone was missing… a pearl button. And thus our quest was set before us. If only there were more variation between such buttons besides attached and unattached, this would be much easier.

While the others made their way back to the dining hall to find the button-poor guest, I made a very subtle detour to the coat room, grabbed my top hat, ran out to to carriage, grabbed the Bugaboo, stuck it to the inside top of my hat, ran back to the coat room, placed my hat back in it’s assigned location and worked my way back to the dining room. As I said, this was very subtle and raised absolutely no alarms and I arrived back with barely a hitch. Thus I became, for a brief moment at least, a true master of shadows.

Back in the dining room, I was served lamb, which did not have any eyes when it arrived on my plate. This was at least an improvement over the last course. The folks around me began discussing religion and magic, two subjects I am deeply familiar with but thought it was better not to discuss. However, Rachel coaxed me to join this lively debate. Seeing as this was a social engagement and I was being asked to be sociable, I reluctantly engaged. Everything seemed to go well. I mentioned the oddity of magic being real, having no magical inclination myself, and inquired whether anyone at the table felt changed by the experience. I had a lively discussion on the possibilities of fish doing a riverdance on the table, which seemed to upset a few people. While I had everyone’s attention, I subtly suggested that magic can be used with the correct focal point, such as a pearl button. This did not produce any further evidence to solve our mystery, sadly. However there were subtle clues in the mystery of whether I should be allowed to speak in public and those clues pointed squarely to “no”. And so I slunk back in my seat and enjoyed the seemingly normal cake that was placed in front of me.

After dinner, we were forced into enjoying a period of dancing in the ballroom, a fine activity to do on a full stomach. Just when I thought I had become the biggest embarrassment of the night, spell woman and photo hunter attempted some plans to look up a lady’s dress. Granted, she was a suspect in our continuing investigation, but it was also verifiably hilarious. By the end, the hunter and the lady laid on the floor in a somewhat compromising position atop a pool of expensive champagne. Taking this as a sign, I subtly examined the underside of her skirt, to see of anything questionable was being smuggled. Unfortunately, all I could see was layer upon layer of ruffled fabric. In retrospect, this would have been very creepy if anyone was paying attention to me. Of course, they were not. Trying to deflect attention, I sidled up to the band and asked them to play something at the highest tempo they knew. My attempts at getting eyes off our team were in vein, as our suspects started to spread out from the ballroom. The rest of the team seemed to be keeping a close eye on our most likely suspects, so I saw my opportunity to move away from these high society shenanigans.

My first stop, the coat closet to retrieve my grenade-laden top hat. My second, the carriages once more to investigate potential evidence under the seats, behind the doors, or atop the horses. However, as I passed through the grand hall, the sound of broken glass hit my ears in the direction of the terrace. Normally, I am the cause of broken glass, so the notion that someone else had destroyed valuable drinking crystal was far too intriguing to pass up further investigation. I turned on my heels and headed toward the marble terrace immediately.

My excitement was so palpable upon reaching the doors to the terrace that I spun on my heels, put my hand atop my hat and glided backwards through the door, just as someone was opening it from the opposite side. This was truly an impressive display. It was as if I was walking upon the moon, as I imagine moon people move this way daily.

Spell lady had a determined look on her face, prompting me to ask about the plan. Upon hearing that there was none, I noticed the maid she was staring at moving toward the garden and pursued. However, the action soon moved to the side garden as our lead suspects took a hurried pace away from the estate. We converged upon them in a similar fashion to those bipedal lizards, proving that we have indeed learned something during our adventures abroad. Trolldier headed the man off and punched him as is his custom. The lady proved more difficult however, revealing she kept some arachnid marital aids underneath her dress. The clockwork scorpions that emerged were very upset and began shooting at spell lady. Surprisingly, she was not scorpion-proof and found herself flat on the ground.

This was my chance. I had waited all night for the moment I could deploy the Electric Bugaboo and this was that moment. I flipped over my hat, pulled the grenade pin inside and tossed it towards the scorpion queen. This proved more effective than I ever imagined. Watching the sparks tingle over the scorpions and sending her into a completely unconscious state was what I call a rousing success. Of course, that was literally my only hat trick, which left me with no real combat abilities to speak of. Good thing the scorpions barely noticed me, as photo hunter dragged their mistress toward the garden fountain. This gave me plenty of time to recover my hat. What good fortune that all the parts from the bugaboo were still inside. A quick bodge up and I fashioned myself a device I can only refer to as a “laser enema”. Aforementioned laser enema would find it’s forever home shoved in the backside of one of the scorpions, at which point it activated to great effect. I did notice that the scorpion moved away from me at a hasty pace after that encounter. Perhaps I cleared a blockage.

Of course, now I had pulled off my hat trick twice and there was no way I could do it a third time. It was around this time I notice the trolldier broke a wheelbarrow over the top of the other metallic arachnid and one of the handles was just lying there, tempting me. Suddenly, an idea struck to take up improvisational golf. No matter how fast my enema scorpion ran, it would not stop me from shouting “Five” as I punted it into the side of the fountain. The trolldier finished it off quickly, since I had loosened the top… and the back… and the side.

With that nasty business out of the way, we could get back to the task at hand of… recovering some documents I think. But more importantly, I placed my special hat back on my head. Perhaps I was too quick to judge such a fashion accessory. A certain top hat proved quite useful this evening.

While our unconscious perpetrators were being hauled away, I used the opportunity to gather 100 scorpion parts and store them in Rachel’s carriage. This took a fair amount of time, with multiple trips, digging through the garden, with sporadic bursts of shouting “Mine!” It will definitely be worth it when I rebuild them, starting my personal army of robo-scorpions. Oddly, there was a moment as I headed back to the carriage where a sudden wind of change stirred behind me and I felt I had done such an impressive display that it had been conferred to someone else momentarily for reasons I may never fully understand. And yet, a smile and nod did meet my face.

Back inside, I contacted Rachel, who led me to a secluded area to straighten my outfit, which may have been slightly askew due to rummaging around in the garden. I warned her not to stare when we returned to the carriage later, which she seemed to accept as a thing I often say. In her defense, this is likely the third time the phrase “Try not to stare at what I placed in the carriage” had crossed my lips in her presence.

By the time I returned to the rest of the party, the man had some clothing in his mouth, the lady had obviously been searched under her scorpion deployment dress, spell lady had ripped her bodice (possibly self-inflicted) and the hunter was suffering a shirt-deficiency. Then he insisted on greeting a pack of somewhat sociable wolves outside. I fear I might have missed some valuable information during my scavenging hunt.

Well, if everyone was game to meet some wolves, I was certainly not going empty-handed. It was off to the kitchen for me to grab some shot glasses and silverware. I fashioned a pair of astral sight glasses out of the shots and converted a couple forks into stun projectiles. I also took a couple knives, because I was short on knives back at Danger Zone.

The wolves were unfortunately gone once I caught up to the rest, making me question if their existence was real in the first place or if this had all been an elaborate prank that went nowhere. Deflated, I shuffled up to the balcony, where I saw the hunter having a rather odd conversation with a man wearing interesting shoes. I only noticed they were interesting because the hunter mentioned them. Since my astral shot glasses would wear off shortly, I cast my gaze toward this gentleman, realizing that the frequency he vibrated at was unlike known species. Typically a human, troll, elf, politician, etcetera, will vibrate at a certain frequency which is distinguishable from others. However, this one was indescribable, almost as if it were hungry… like a wolf. My scientific conclusion was that this was obviously the fancy werewolf I had feared from the start. Perhaps my silverware would prove useful in this scenario, but opportunity never knocked. Exactly how I thought I could casually stab someone with a knife and make it look natural was not certain, but the option never left the table. I then had the bright idea to throw a stick in his direction and yell “Fetch” to see if it garnered any canine-like reactions. However, Rachel interrupted me while I was shaking said stick and I knew this evening had blissfully come to a conclusion.

Back in the carriage, Rachel had a few questions as we stared at a pile of assorted death robot scorpion parts. The questions boiled down to “What?”, “Where?”, “For me?” and “Werewolves you say?” I explained that they were handing out these lovely robot scorpion party favors in the garden and thought to get two since no one came to collect them. She was fine taking the one that suffered a fatal laser enema, so everything worked out for the best. Rachel spent the majority of her ride home looking at one of the claws, examining the small firearm inside.

I commented that the evening seemed to go quite well, all things considered. She agreed, likely because her expectations for this party were deeply diminished after finding out about my grenade fashion accessory. But she seemed content knowing it finally found a good home buried in the cybernetic rectal cavity of a metal arachnid. I must go to balls more often!

The week that followed was uncertain for me. What wondrous things would I create? What potential would be unlocked due to my understated genius? No one could truly know for sure until the week began, but in this interim period, the possibilities were simply endless.

All I knew for sure is that I would not see my fellow team members during that time. Word came through mutual channels that romance, courtship and various bodice-ripping escapades were afoot. I rarely engage in such tawdry gossip, unless I am otherwise bored. But one thing was for certain: the work I do now in the Danger Zone would be anything but boring.

Still, perhaps there is a market for an automated bodice-ripper? Potential names include The Rose’s Thorn, The Tiger’s Eye and The Crying Dove. Oh, of course, Broken Wings! I must draw up schematics for the crew!

Following the events at the gala, I went back to the drawing board on the Electric Bugaboo. I decided to make it less sensitive by installing a safety button on the underside I shall refer to as the “Bug Hole”. Before it can properly be activated, you now must depress the button with your finger, although I have found that subsequent uses require you to insert your finger further and further into the hole. After roughly five uses though, it appears to lose all sensitivity and refuses to go off at all. Still better than the previous iteration. As a side project, my Can of Hornets design is coming together nicely. Not sure the hornets are as excited about it.

Spell lady came calling on me after a week, asking me to assist in helping the photo hunter out of a jam. Appears he kidnapped someone and needs to pin it on someone else. Perhaps I should consult the Compendium of Ansulary Characters to see who can take the fall. It likely will not be necessary. She loaded me into a taxi and we headed to the Guild Hall, giving me plenty of time to explain how you fit an elephant through the eye of a needle. She then informed me that elephants will hide in trees and paint their nails red. This will require further study and an overly-elaborate tree shaker. I shall weaponize these elephants with deadly bolts of energy and possibly a catapult on the back to launch bugaboos.

After getting slapped by a lady who can see visions, the hunter decided to head toward Newgate Prison, armed with a fruit basket. I contemplated the use of my “Hornado” but I suppose we are tabling that for now.

Our suspect was the gentleman we assaulted in the garden at the ball. But once we reached his cell, it turned out to not be him at all. Instead, it was a stand-in, a prison understudy if you will. Someone, a mysterious “she”, paid him good money to serve the sentence for another. He was also too stupid to be intimidated by my can of hornets, or persuaded by the spell lady’s charms, or bribed by the hunter’s money and fruit basket. I became so frustrated that I simply talked to the next man over and asked him about this mysterious lady. I received a very good description which was the first satisfying feeling I had during this adventure. Perhaps we could now leave this hive of scum and villainy, much like my Hornado.

The crew left me to my own devices while they investigated something about werewolves. Frankly, it didn’t interest me very much, because my attention had been laser-focused on laser focusing. Also, there were jars full of hornets. Honestly werewolves seemed pedestrian at this point. However, my peace and quiet was not to last and they swept me back up in their quest to clear the photo hunter’s good name.

We arrived at a very fancy estate. Apparently they had discovered the kidnapped werewolf was an aristocrat. What an opportunity to rummage through his things! I had brought my trusty Hornado along, only to discover the hornets had expired. Until I can learn the secrets of reanimating dead insects, I would have to rethink this plan.

Out to the garden we headed, looking for horse manure which the hunter was particularly interested in collecting. I would have raised an eye at this, but we fought dinosaurs and robo-scorpions together, so I can give him benefit of the doubt. In order to collect this, we “borrowed” some mason jars from the estate. Perhaps we took too many, because I found several of them lingering on my person afterwards. Good thing though, as a swarm of angry bees attacked us for reasons known only to impartial bystanders. Holding a pair of open jars in front of me, I made an impressive display of my bee mating dance ritual. It was taught to me by Queen Beatrice of Buzzy Bay, who learned how to make bees her loyal, unwavering servants with this dance. I hear she eventually died of a broken heart, resulting from hundreds of bee stings. Peculiar… However, my dancing seemed to please the bees and they swarmed to my jars. This time I will make sure to leave them air holes and feed them sugar once back inside. These are the kind of bees you need to feed every day.

Back inside, sugar was distributed evenly among my two bee jars. I also used an empty jar to squirrel away remnants of the charcuterie board laid before us. I pulled my attention away when I heard something about reanimating the dead. Apparently that was just talk of fiction, according to the spell lady, but I know better. Fiction is just a reality you have not worked out yet. Soon, my precious bees… soon you will become as gods! Undead honey gods!

We returned to the butler, intent on finding out more information about his lord, who may or may not be named Richard Fingers. I was having trouble following the conversation. So were my new bee friends. What we could gather is that the lord had a certain vested interest in our kidnapped compatriot and planned on seeking him out in the night. Perhaps he dreamed of being some sort of masked vigilante or perhaps he was directly responsible. I shall keep my eyes open for cowls and utility belts moving forward. We departed with this information, bowing to the butler as we left. The bees attempted to bow as well, but it appeared as if they simply dipped down and back up in the jars. A noble attempt regardless. There was no time to waste, we had a carriage to catch.

The lord only known as “Fingers” was traveling the roads in his very fancy carriage pulled by very fancy horses. However, the hunter had a carriage as well, perhaps not as fancy, but it was trying very hard. As Fingers’ cadre turned a corner, we took the initiative to accost them on foot. I left my bees in the carriage, as they were better used as moral support. I required it immediately, as I pulled a hamstring leaving the carriage. Proper stretching is important everyone. Without weapons or gear, I required quick thinking and innovation. I tried to channel the great Scottish folk legend MacAngus, known for repelling an invading army of sheep with a pile of twigs and a half-shredded kilt. Stopping these villains would prove equally heroic.

A tin can, some scattered nails and strips of cloth from what looked like a very nice shirt before I arrived. This would be my medium to create something revolutionary. Simply pop the nails and cloth in the can, seal it and feel the science flow through you. By shaking the can, popping the top and throwing it at your target, I thought of a unique way to implement my shield technology. On contact, a ball of energy surrounds the target, trapping it in a sphere. I feel this could be revolutionary. What if you could catch a dinosaur and then use it to fight other dinosaurs? What an improved experience I would have had in the jungle. In this scenario, all I had to do is poke a man in the back to achieve success. Poke-A-Man… No, it will never catch on.

Once I caught up to the others, they had subdued one of the targets and sent the other fleeing on foot. With all the skill of a lanky scientist, I chucked my ball at him. I am pleased to report that the device worked perfectly on that pedestrian. Although he was thoroughly confused as to why he was suddenly trapped in an energy ball, I assured him it was all in the pursuit of science as I pushed him in the general direction of our escapee. This was obviously my plan the entire time. If only any of my machinations had mattered as the others subdued him without my direct intervention. Of course, I credit my bees’ moral support as the true catalyst for success. They will be pleased. Perhaps I will make similar energy balls for them. I think they would appreciate the thought. Maybe they could fight the undead hornets once I work out how to conquer death. Should only take a week or two.

After waking up our main suspect, I intimidated the chap with my jars of bees. Also quite intimidating was the trolldier’s hand wrapped around his neck. Which was more effective? Who can really say. We made an agreement to let him go in exchange for information leading to his sister, the real target. As he faded off into the distance, I knew we had made a mistake. No one that good at smug expressions is trustworthy. These things take years of practice to perfect. It makes one wonder how many smug expressions he has had on his face before this encounter. Too many by my estimate.

Finally, we had gotten to the mad scientist sister’s lair. That very description should have made me like her, but I feared the likely outcome of this encounter would be someone shooting at me. As soon as spell lady had dispelled the ward on the window and our team had crawled into a den of scum and villainy, I realized I was right. Also confirming my suspicions was the point where I was shot… and it hurt profusely. Once the fight was in full swing, it appeared the mad science lady had fled the scene, leaving us to clean up her lackies. Having left my emotional support bees in the carriage, I was fresh out of offensive capabilities. The best I could muster is turning a ruler into a stun baton. As much fun as it was to build, the execution was less impressive. One of the unsuspecting minions left their back exposed while attacking the others. I took the opportunity to shove this ruler in his back, an opportunity I somehow wasted a total of three times. Why I cannot hit anything, even at close range, feels like a flaw in my military training, of which I have had none. True, we did still win the conflict, with more than a few close calls to speak of, but I was quite dismayed by my ruler. This shall be the part of this day I remember most. Oh, also there was a werewolf in a cage.

After scouring the offices for pens, I joined the others in the main room. While the mad scientist was gone, it appeared the back door was wide open. The photo hunter had run out in pursuit, while the trolldier and spell lady attended to the werewolf, which is the kind of thing we often say nowadays. Since I preferred to stay away from lycanthropes as a rule, I went out to the back alley as well and provided some moral support to the hunter in his pursuit. Alas, she was long gone. And so, we returned to search her makeshift laboratory. Trolldier handed me a set of receipts for chemicals, which is admittedly not my field of study. I tried to look impressive while perusing them, but had no information to give. So I handed them to spell lady who was more interested in this kind of thing. I took to searching the mad scientists desk in the meantime, only to find a vial of strange liquid. Avoiding the urge to smell, taste insert this vial, I collected it for evidence. This felt like the smart decision, but not the most interesting one. Also, I found one more pen. While the rest of the party felt the evidence pointed to vivisection to uncover the secrets of lycanthropy, I had another theory involving hair tonic.

We turned the werewolf, vial and receipts over to the lord, who was appreciative and also disturbed by the events we uncovered. He offered me a drink, which I abstained from, although I briefly considered giving some to my bees. They definitely deserved it for all the moral support. But I was also concerned that it might… what is the term… kill them. Although this obvious rich lord could have paid us handsomely, the others decided his thanks was reward enough. It was around this time I realized why I can never afford my giant robot scorpion.

Having completed our quest, the hunter dropped me off at Danger Zone, leaving me to my work of building a grand apiary for my attack bees. I could also replenish my greatly diminished pen supply, thankfully. I suppose I should start working on my field equipment for the next inevitable death trap of an adventure.

The following weeks were spent holed up in my workshop. Utilizing all my resources at the Danger Zone, I was able to improve my inventions for our next horrible outing.

The Fires of St. Elmo was now working better than before, as I realized Rachel placed a reduction valve on the side, apparently to keep me from shooting a hole through my foot. Well, that had to come right off. That has seen an improvement in it’s range and damage. I was so excited I almost shot myself in the foot. Lucky thing my aim is subpar.

I needed a more permanent design for the Honeycomb and spent some time improving it’s effectiveness. It should be able to stop light attacks and stay activated for a good while in combat. Whether my accuracy in deploying it will hold up has yet to be determined.

The Electric Bugaboo would be my third amazing creation I would take into the field, on the logic that a stun grenade would be a very good thing to have in a pinch. With this more permanent design, accidental activation will be less likely and effectiveness appears more stable. This is just from my observations throwing it at my training dummy in the shop’s scrapyard. I have named him Doug. Having regularly thrown my new pet grenade over a week, I feel more accurate in estimating the trajectory. Perhaps I shall not throw this at my feet on the next mission. Having accidentally done so a total of five times now, the idea of not being shocking by an explosive device of my own making would be a nice change of pace.

In preparation for my new deployment, I asked Professor Tyrell to teach me Ignite. She said she COULD but did not think she SHOULD and it was hard to argue with her logic. To keep my crew busy at the Danger Zone, I standardized a set of blueprints for my 16th Candle portable tandoori smoker. The wealthy elite of London who fancy themselves outdoorsman will inevitably flock to our new product. I also showed them how to properly care for my growing army of bees. I have a strong belief that jars of bees will one day be a marketable product in this city. I have yet to determine how to advertise for this though.

Lord Hastings has again summoned us to a dinner meeting. The last time this happened, I was nearly eaten by a dinosaur. Hopefully they shall have scones.

There were no scones. Hastings has tasked us with a new mission. We are heading to the Americas again, North this time instead of South. We are to meet a lion which has sprouted wings and now asks riddles of passersby. This magical creature resides in what must be an equally magical place called the “Bronx”. This was obviously a reference to the Bronxosaurus, a dinosaur that always let you know it was currently walking there. We have been given three days to get our affairs in order.

During this period, I memorized a book of riddles at the public library. Strangely, so many of these involve chickens and roads. I began wondering why the riddling wonder we were visiting was not a chicken. Perhaps that was a question for the lion.

Rachel stopped by the shop so I could inform her I was participating in another suicide mission, because it likely paid well. She took the opportunity to show me what she had been working on with her brassman friend. It was a scorpion tail, but one which could fire Bolt. She informed me of all the possibilities this could lead to and I volunteered my research in weaponized bee technology. If I do not return to London to the sight of laser bees swarming over the city, I shall be deeply disappointed in the professor.

Our travel to the colonies was uneventful. No giant bats on this trip. No reptilians either. So far this was a very good expedition. Then we landed in the city of insomnia and learned that the talking bird lion had flown away on a late night excursion to get jewelry. Ah yes, that old familiar feeling had returned…

This mission would require a level of discretion that is not normally in my repertoire. I was informed that we shall be using false identities. And so, from this point forward I shall be using my fake name, Dr. Ferris Wheel. None shall be the wiser!

And so, we arrived at the zoo to discuss the weather with the talking bird lion.  I found some monkeys with red bums and it bemused me to no end. Everyone else seemed engaged with a new character approaching quickly from the walkway. His name was… Inspector Mustache, I think. He had come at the behest of that Hastings character, who thought we could use the assistance of a detective. Obviously we were perfectly capable of handling these situations, so I highly doubted the reason for this addition. I decided to ruminate over that while talking to the red bum monkeys.

The bird lion asked each of us a question. I knew that my advanced research into riddles prior to this journey would be useful. The creature, who has a name I believe, asked me something about shadows. I think the answer was chicken. The point is that I won and so I was able to ask why it exists. It gave me an underwhelming answer about existing because it can and also the passions willed it? This bejeweled telepathic winged cat was making no sense!

As we were still perplexed by the creature, we went to the source of all information for guidance: the public library. Unfortunately, none of the clues we were given led to answers in the texts here. Since the inspector was currently trying to solve the Case of the Prominent Jetlag, we decided to retire for the evening and revisit the zoo in the morning. Good, I never even got a chance to see the lemurs. That was going to be the highlight of the trip.

In the morning, we returned to the zoo. While the others questioned the zookeeper, Spell Lady insisted on having another telepathic chat with the lion bird. This was a sight I needed to be present for, so I followed along. What happened next left me completely in the dark, not unlike the shadows referenced in my original riddle. Spell Lady stared intensely at the creature and I gathered an amount of information was being shared. What it was I could not say for sure, but she emerged from this concentration satisfied with the experience. I also yearned for a satisfying experience on one of these adventures and attempted to communicate in a similar fashion. I offered the tiger queen a way out of this enclosure if she were able to solve my riddle. She responded that she indeed had wings. Little did she know that was basically the crux of both my riddle and escape plan. She was not impressed by my proposal to make her a set of Stranger Wings glasses either. I tell you, the things you need to do to impress cryptids these days…

To make matters worse, my red bum monkey friends threw feces at me, obviously not in the mood for riddles either. And the lemurs peed on me, not realizing what a big fan I had been up to this point. The otters gave me a knowing side eye, and I shuddered to think what they had in store for me. I suppose the real highlight of this trip will be finding an affordable dry cleaner in a three block radius.

We went bar-hopping under the guise of research. We were looking for an exotic animal dealer who may have found this winged lion and brought it to the States. We found the gentleman in question slouched in a corner, obviously in a very positive mindset. After some fermented bribery, he confirmed that he did indeed bring a lion to the zoo. Inspector Mustache tossed him some coin for his trouble. Although I feel the information given was worth far less, such as nothing. It appeared that our goal of determining if the talking winged lion was a talking winged lion had been completed. It was time to consider moving on to our next outing in the States, meeting a man named Kenneth Tuckey. Apparently he had a massive estate our west and it would take us nearly a full day by train to reach it.

Once at Mr. Tuckey’s estate, we settled in and began our quest: to uncover the truth behind a ghost story that may be real. According to legend, there is a ghost that has been haunting the Licking River. Why you would lick a river is beyond me. Perhaps that is how you become a ghost. Details were scarce at this point.

While the others went on fact-finding missions, I felt it was better to go straight to the source and wandered over to the Licking River. After several minutes of contemplation, I attempted to lick the river, which I regretted instantly. This mission had already put a bad taste in my mouth, literally. As I stood back in a recoiled horror, I glanced around at the surrounding area. For the most part, this river was home to a myriad of farms. Since there was nothing else to observe, I figured peering into the astral would help at this point. But no medium for which I could do so was present.

And then an idea hit me. Farms usually have milk and milk is placed into bottles. So if I could pinch a milk bottle, I could use it as a lens for astral observation. But this seemed an odd farm, with no milk bottles or any other loose glass lying around for strangers to pick up. So I did the only sane thing and imbue a chicken egg with astral sight gel and hurl it at a shed window. While it was masterfully crafted as always, there was nothing in the astral over the river. Also, the smell of this farm reminded me far too much of the taste of that river. It was time to leave before someone with a pitchfork started asking questions. I have been down that road far too many times, I must say.

After regrouping and sharing some information, I was informed the ghost was murdered. Now, I feel it is important to note that the ghost was murdered beforehand, not after it was a ghost. This feels like a relevant piece of information considering how our missions typically go. The ghost would typically be seen at night near the bridge by that river I licked. Again, it is not recommended that you lick either the river or bridge. However, we decided to go out late at night to see if we could observe this unfortunate soul for ourselves.

Upon visiting the bridge in the dark of night, we quickly came upon a headless woman, semi-transparent and moving towards us. A quick amount of deduction led me to conclude this was the ghost. Although we initially tried to reason with this spirit, it was far more interested in attacking us. While bullets and punches seemed to do virtually nothing, I tried shooting it with The Fires of St. Elmo, thinking an energy weapon would be more effective. It did not appear to work, nor did my attempts to talk with or intimidate the specter. Around this time, I felt it best to shuffle off from the battlefield after Inspector Mustache, who was the first to retreat. Once down the road a bit, we looked back to see the Trolldier but no sign of Spell Lady and Photo Hunter. Since there was still some apparent fight left in the team, we resigned ourselves to join the fray yet again, although I would notably be joining at a distance.

The ghost was much worse for wear from the time we retreated and it now seemed that spells and energy attacks were proving effective. With renewed confidence the F.O.S.E. would damage the spirit, I took aim again. This time, my attack seemed to make visible progress against her. Better yet, I failed to hit any of my teammates, I rare thing in my experience. Although the hunter took some wounds and Spell Lady nearly dropped from the continued assault of stun attacks she was doing, we were finally able to kill the ghost. Now, I feel it is important to note that the ghost was murdered after it was already a ghost, a unique distinction from the first example. You see how important these facts are now, don’t you?

A wave of crippling energy burst forth from this spectral being before it seemingly evaporated, leaving the inspector and lady reeling. I remained perfectly fine. In fact, the worst part of my evening so far was having a couple rounds of tickle fighting with the ghost, which was more a confusing experience than an outright negative one.

Examining the ground where it fell, we found no trace of what was once a formidable opponent. This was a good time to return to our quarters, so we are well-rested when we inevitably return tomorrow night. Will the ghost be there anew? Will it be banished forever? Is it afraid of commitment? These and many more questions awaited answers.

Our investigation took us to a doctor. Note that this is a different doctor than myself. Despite popular reports, there are many others. This one, for example, was a medical doctor. Scratch that, he was apparently a coroner. Apparently anyone can get a doctorate these days. Well, I should not judge others, but I most definitely will be regardless.

Upon entering his office, I prepared the mighty quip of “The inspector mustache you some questions”, but was cut off by the inspector beginning to ask said questions. Annoying. The coroner was very proud of his book of butterflies. Perhaps these were used to frame the deceased in a more flattering light. Personally, if I were a decaying corpse, being surrounded by butterflies would make me feel slightly better. True, I would still be dead, but fabulously adorned.

After a bit of pressing, the coroner revealed that cocaine was involved in an attempt to terminate the ghost lady’s unborn child. However, the culprit then removed her head, so things definitely escalated quickly. The baby was then stolen for unknown reasons. I am starting to understand why a coroner would want to look at lovely pictures of butterflies in their off hours.

The coroner tried to calm Spell Lady’s nerves with laudanum, thus confirming that anyone can get a doctorate these days. I really should have called him out on this, but was thrown by the previous conversation. Missed opportunities all around today.

Our next stop would take us to Cincinnati, to meet the steamcoach driver from the night of the murder. According to the driver, he picked up killer and victim around 11 pm and dropped them off at midnight near the meat packing plant. The body was found around 5 am. This information may be useful, although I tend to believe time is a flat circle and this is all arbitrary. I place it here in my journal simply to prove I was listening. Technically, someone is paying me for this.

While we were investigating, Photo Hunter learned more about the meat packing plant and helpfully gave me more times I can log in this journal. They open at 6 am and close at 7 pm. There is also no night guard as no one think to steal from a meat packing plant. However, the people here have never met us. Our plans to investigate the plant tonight are already underway. Perhaps we can liberate some cows. I suddenly have the inspiration to weaponize a herd with gatling guns and plate mail. I shall call it The Moolitia. Oh yes, this shall be a wonderful night indeed!

We have taken to interviewing ladies at a house of ill-repute, but only if you’re doing it wrong. I can attest that I have never had that problem as the situation had never presented itself to me. In order to approach the ladies at this establishment, our mustache inspector posed as a true crime novelist, although I might have that the other way around. The rest of us were supposed to be his assistants. I was obviously the muscle. A very talkative woman who apparently ran the show gave us the room number where it all happened… the murder I mean. This was not before the inspector bought some serial killer paraphernalia for a discounted price. Who knew this was such a lucrative investment opportunity.

We proceeded up to the room. I would consider the décor something akin to a fixer upper for psychopaths. Still, there was little evidence worth examining here. I, however, can access astral sight, with the proper medium. I looked for mirrors on the wall, as I figured the décor leant itself to such things, but no such luck. Luck is probably the wrong word.

The inspector offered me his magnifying glass and I thanked him while explaining there was a better than average chance it would be returned to him irrevocably damaged. He explained to me that if that happened I would need to purchase a new one. I explained that indeed he would need to purchase a new one. My science was strong on this day and the astral force glowed bright through his lens, which looked quite expensive before I started. Once I peered through the lens, I noticed a few odd things. Unfortunately, the room still had the same interior decorator. Also, a spirit with no eyes was running towards me and another was rolling around in a pool of blood. Strange, but just another day at the office for me. That wallpaper though…

Since I knew he wanted it so badly, I handed the magnifying glass back to the inspector so he could see the same horrible wallpaper up close. What slipped my mind is that mustache inspector, trolldier and photo hunter had not seen into the astral plane before. After looking into that strange new world for the first time, there were less than grounded in their reactions. I think the hunter went off to church to rediscover his religion. The soldier took a hard pass to this vision, but the inspector tried several times to engage with the spirits. I should have warned him this was a bad idea, as spirits often want blood, possibly other fluids depending on the spirit. None of these options is particularly desirable. In order to get more information from the one spirit enjoying a roll in a blood-soaked floor, the others considered giving it blood. It was at this point I realized having the untrained look into the astral plane was funny, but dangerous. I will have to explain in stronger terms that spirits rarely have the corporeal’s best interests in mind.

Investigation continued in the case of a headless ghost, a missing baby and a blood-thirsty spirit. The latter issue was tabled when my objections to giving hostile spirits blood were noted. I would not be surprised if we returned to this dingy room before the end, but for now we can enjoy nicer surrounding talking to prostitutes.

Basically this day was a good opportunity for party to talk to women while I stood in a corner. The detective talked to the blood spirit, the troll went on a date with a nice troll lady he met and the hunter spent some, ahem, quality time with the prostitute in question. Just to rub in the obvious sleight to my prowess with females living, dead or scientifically improbable, they plan on heading to a meat packing plant later today.

So what have we learned so far? Well, there is a headless ghost lady who was dressed like the lady of the night we questioned. She was apparently pregnant, but we have no idea where the baby is. At least 16 women have gone missing in the last few years. Pinkertons are not actually pink. You need a whole district to pack meat. I can shoot ghosts. Licking rivers is not as enjoyable as advertised. Farmers hate it when you throw their eggs at their windows. Everyone in this town has blessed my heart… twice. Although, that last one may have something to do with the number of ghosts here.

We interviewed the coroner, who seemed really into dead people. We let the detective person ask questions, as that is sort of his job. It appears he did not get the most satisfactory of answers, which means we shall annoyingly continue our investigation at the school. I did inquire if I could bring some of the cadavers to the school for show and tell, but apparently that is frowned upon. So much so that the rest of my group decided to look up murder records rather than take me there.

We headed to the Sin Sin Atti (sounds untoward) courthouse to get ahold of the coroner’s report. After juggling record books for a few minutes, an epiphany hit me. Actually, that was one of the books. However, getting hit on the head with a weighty tome made me realize I could open it up and read the words inside. Perhaps the smell of the records room had gotten to me.

These records started to paint an intriguing picture. All the women were murdered on holidays. Also, many of the female parts had been removed or damaged. There was enough skill used that we would narrow our search to hunters, surgeons, butchers, possibly a fencer. At least this keeps our search more contained.

Finally, we could head back to school. The great mustache made us forged credentials, a skill he just recently remembered he could perform. He made me a mellitologist, a researcher of bees. I am scared he has learned far too much about me already.

While mustache detective led the records lady away to the law section and photo hunter used all the diplomacy to allow me into the records room. Using my acute eidetic memory, I was able to remember Jackson’s student records, as well as the records of his roommate Alonso Walling and the entire membership of something called the Black Tie Association. Ah yes, this new Professor Boaty McBoatface persona is truly a marvel. Perhaps I will make the change official so people will take me seriously.