"They Rode to Perdition" starring Arcade's Gang (D&D/Boot Hill)

Silver Moon

Chapter 66, “The Prison Battle”, January 24th, 1882:

While Morgana attempted to negotiate with the prison guard her husband Arcade peered around the wall. He was careful to not lean far enough to be seen by the guard, watching the man’s hands on his shotgun rather than his face. When the guard began to take aim at Morgana Arcade reached out and grabbed the side of his wife’s dress. As the man’s finger began to depress on the trigger Arcade yanked her back towards him with full force. Thus, she was pulled out of the way just as the shot from the gun flew by, missing her by less than an inch.

Morgana became furious. Arcade wasn’t sure right away if the target of her anger was the guard who shot at her or him for interfering. He figures it is the guard she is mad at when she began the incantation of a Magic Missile spell and then charged back out from behind the wall. She sends a pair of missiles flying from her fingertips, striking the man. The man staggers back but regains his footing and then discharges the second barrel of his gun at her. She had begun retreating once the spell was cast, but is not quite fast enough to completely miss this blast, sustaining a minor injury in her arm.

Arcade yells to his wife, “That’s both barrels. He’s empty, let’s go.” The two of them charge around the bend and rush towards the man. The man drops his shotgun and starts an incantation. Arcade thinks, “Oh crap! I forgot that they also use magic here.” Three Magic Missile bolts shoot from the guard’s fingertips, two striking Arcade and one striking his wife.

Arcade draws his gun and fires back, causing a wound to the guard’s shoulder. The guard turns and runs, with Morgana’s tomahawk then landing in his back between the shoulder blades. The man staggers, giving Arcade time for another shot, a fatal hit to the head. The man falls dead at the intersection of the southern and eastern hallways.

Arcade and Morgana then make the serious error of assuming that he was the only guard near that intersection and stop to converse with the prisoner in the adjacent cell. They then hear the sound of another spell incantation back near the “T” intersection. They turn and are surprised when a pair of Chinese Orcs armed with axes and swords charge around the bend towards them. Arcade lets off a shot, which clips one but he continues to charge. More orcs follow the initial pair from behind the intersection.

Morgana deduces that they are hopelessly outnumbered and decides to play dead, falling to the ground alongside the wall. At this point a total of five orcs fill the hallway. No more appear to be coming, so Arcade casts a Heat Metal spell onto the armor and weapons of these foes. Morgana’s bluff pays off as the orcs charge by her towards Arcade, the lead one swinging his sword right at Arcade’s head. Arcade ducks, the sword knocking his hat off of his head. Arcade shoves his arm forwards, jabbing the barrel of his gun into this orc’s chest and fires. The orc drops but his sidekick is now upon Arcade and swings an axe down towards him, hitting the fighter/druid.

Back at the other hallway, Louie had been charging forward in the direction of the held guard, with Sam and Angus behind him. Their footsteps were silenced by the spell from the coin, which also prevented them from hearing the shotgun blasts. Two prisoners in cells a short distance behind the held man are yelled at them, but the silence also prevents these men from being heard. Just as Louie rushes towards the intersection Angus notices what the men were yelling about, as a rifle barrel is sticking out from behind the bend, aimed squarely at Louie’s chest.

Louie exits the range of the Silence spell and then hears the two prisoners yelling at him in French. Unfortunately he doesn’t know the language, but he then sees the rifle barrel just a few feet away from his chest. In a move that would make any baseball coach proud, Louie drops back and slides along the stone surface towards the man around the bend, temporarily delaying the shot. This guard however follows Louie’s movement with the rifle and once Louie comes to a halt fires point blank into Louie’s chest.

Louie is in anguish as the rifle bullet travels into his chest. It hurts like hell, but Louie soon notices that he is still alive so figures it wasn’t a mortal wound. He is actually correct, as the bullet miraculously missed all of his vital organs and bones, exiting from Louie’s lower back and stopping as it struck his armor pressed against the stone floor. Louie is still holding his revolver and fires a point blank shot back up at his assailant, breaking the bones and hitting a vein in the man’s shoulder.

However, the guard standing over Louie is also a ‘tough guy’. He ignores the pain and kicks the gun out of Louie’s hand simultaneous to shifting his rifle over to his other hand and shoulder for a second shot. Louie is lying helpless at this point and concludes that he is about to die. This would have been a correct assumption if not for Sureshot Sam rounding the bend right then. Sam lives up to his nickname by firing and placing the bullet right between the eyes of his opponent. Louie grabs up his gun as Sam helps him to his feet. They then notice a robed man further down at the other end of the eastern hallway.

Not far from the robed man, Arcade is still fighting with the orcs, all of whom are now taking damage from the Heat Metal spell. He fires into the one with the axe but misses. Morgana has pulled out Billy the Kid’s pearl-handled colt revolvers from the pockets of her shirt and fires, dropping the last orc in line. The next one turns towards Morgana and she fires two shots up at him, one connecting fatally. Arcade meanwhile shoots the one with the axe, dropping him. The sword of the remaining orc is now glowing red-hot from the Heat Metal and he drops it. Arcade and Morgana then successfully catch him in a crossfire.

The robed man now focuses his attention back down to the other end of the hallway and starts to cast a spell in the direction of Louie and Sam. Louie is holding his gun and his shot is faster than the spell, hitting and incapacitating the wizard’s right arm. “That should end spells,” Louie exclaims as he starts to charge down the hallway towards the wizard. The wizard counters with another incantation, falling back upon the only spell left in his repertoire that doesn’t require any arm gestures.

Louie is around fifteen feet away from the man when he becomes enshrouded in a field of magical darkness, which continues back to where Sam and Angus are also now standing. Louie decides to holster his gun and draw his sword. He then marches forward through the darkness, swinging the sword from wall to wall in the assumption that it will eventually connect with the wizard.

The wizard has backed up, stopping just shy of the intersection. He no longer hearing sounds from the summoned orcs in the southern hallway, but decides not to look that way as he hears the sound of Louie’s feet on the stone floor marching towards him. The wizard draws his gun with his good hand and then sees the front of Louie’s sword exiting the darkness. Using the sword movement to guess Louie’s location he fires. Unfortunately for him, this isn’t the hand he normally fires with so the shot is off target. The sound of his gun going off just a few feet away from her refocuses Morgana in that direction and she starts to crawl towards the intersection.

The wizard’s shot barely misses Louie and continues on through the darkness. Fate works against the party as the shot-in-the-dark strikes Sam right in the middle of his chest. Sam yells out and falls. They are still inside the Magical darkness but Angus has been through enough battles to deduce from the sounds what has just happened and quickly finds Sam’s fallen body. Angus casts a Cure spell to keep the boy from immediately dying. He decides that he needs to get them both out of the intersection before any more bullets come flying their way. He lifts up Sam and heads back the way they originally came. He is soon out of the darkness but in now inside the area of the silence spell, so has to carry the dying boy further the hallway before he do any more healing.

Louie has now charged out of the darkness and cuts the wizard down with a bludgeoning blow from the sword. Morgana reaches this point sees this, taking a few point blank shots into the wizard. Louie continues to hack the man as she fires again. Arcade comes around the bend and points out that the wizard is very much dead so they should probably stop attacking him.
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Silver Moon

Chapter 67, “Finding Nemo”, January 24th, 1882:

Louie and Morgana finally stop attacking the wizard. Morgana notices that Louie is bleeding onto the floor and points that out to him. He replies, “Yeah, I got shot again. Could you help me out?” She casts a Cure spell onto him much to his relief. Once partially healed he decides to check the wizards body for valuables.

At the end of the hallway two male prisoners dressed as druids yell out to Arcade and Morgana in French that they want to be let out of the cells. She gestures to the bodies and asks which of the two guards has the key. They reply "Neither of them" and then describe for her the guard leader.

Morgana doesn’t see anyone matching that description, but she now notices that the remainder of the eastern hallway is not just dark but is covered in magical darkness. She extracts from her satchel a tube containing a stone with a Continual Light spell cast on it, using that to negate the darkness spell. She finds the body of the man with the key and uses them to unlock the pair of druids at the end of the southern hallway. She then unlocks the other pair of druids at the end of the northern hallway.

Meanwhile, Louie continues to check out the bodies while Arcade looks around for cells with more prisoners. Further down the northern hallway Angus has exhausted his remaining Cure spells in his attempt to keep Sam alive. Morgana asks what has happened and he gives her a status report. She offers to use her remaining Cure spels but Angus replies, “Save it, we might need it later. He needs far more than low-level healing spells at this point. We’d be better off finding either that high-level druid or medical doctor that we came here to free.”

Morgana asks the druids “Where’s your boss?” One gestures to the eastern hallway and replies, “Somewhere around here.” In addition to the cells the eastern hallway has two locked metal doors. Morgana calls under one of the doors, “Is anyone in there?” A male voice with an English accent says, “Yes. Who is there?” She replies, “We're here to help. Who are you?” He replies, “My name is Doctor Henry Jeckel.” “Pay dirt!” she comments. She quickly gets the cell unlocked and Arcade ushers the doctor down to where Sam and Angus are.

She does the same to the other door, finding the occupant of the solid stone windowless room to be Louise Michel. Morgana explains that they have come to rescue her. Louise thanks them for the effort but defiantly tells them that she isn’t going anywhere. She plans to remain in her cell until she is taken to Paris and has an opportunity to defend herself before the crowds. Arcade cuts her off, telling her in French “Lady, That isn’t going to happen. They’re planning to kill you quietly.” She does not initially believe him but thankfully her four druid followers do and they manage to convince her that it is better to go than to take that risk. Louie helps unfasten a pair of shackles from her wrists and she finally exits the cell.

They all head back to where the Doctor is examining Sam. “Well?” Morgana asks. Dr. Jeckel replies, “The bullet is still inside him and near the heart. I can’t do anything for him without my medical bag, which would be up in the Prison Superintendent’s Office.” Arcade says, “Yeah, right. That’s over in the other building with all of the sleeping guards. We’re not going there.” Angus says, “The ship we came here on has state-of-the-art medical facilities onboard. We’ll have to take him there.” Jeckel replies, “Trying to move him will probably kill him.”

Morgana asks Louise Michel, “What can you do for him?” The senior druid replies, “I have no spells right now Mademoiselle. The shackles on my wrists were magical and prevented me from praying for spells.” Arcade whispers to Louie, “Go back and get those. We might need them at some point.” Louise Michel offers, “I can start praying for spells now.” Arcade replies, “We don’t have the time. The guards in the tower may have heard the gunshots. And even if they didn’t, it’s only a matter of time until the three bodies we left up above get discovered. I don’t want to be trapped down here and give them time to get organized, and it wouldn't take them long to bring in more soldiers from Marseilles. We’ll have to risk moving him.”

Angus says, “We’ll never be able to get him over the wall. We’ll have to go to the boat dock instead.” Arcade replies, “If we can even find it and we don’t have time to hunt where it might be.” Morgana asks the druids if any of them know where it is but none of them do, having been blindfolded when they were brought in. She then asks about the other prisoner and they tell her they have no idea who he is, that he was already in prison when they arrived.

Morgana goes back to the other prisoner and asks in French “Who are you?” He replies, “My name is Philippe Gaston. They call me ‘the mouse’.” She asks, “And why are you imprisoned here?” He answers, “For thievery and escaping from prison. No other prison in France could hold me, so they put me here on this island.” She asks, “Do you know how to get to the boat dock?” He replies, “Yes, of course. Before they placed the guards down here with the new prisoners I managed to slip out of this cell multiple times. I’ve been all over this island. But I am not a strong swimmer and there were no boats, so there was nowhere else to go except to come back here.” She lets him out and brings him over to the others announcing “I found a guide.”

A mattress is taken from one of the cells and Sam is gently rolled onto it. The four male druid prisoners carefully lift it up. Angus, Jeckel, Morgana and Louise walk with them along both sides of Sam to offer assistance as needed. Philippe takes the lead, followed closely by Arcade and Louie. They make their way up several levels. It remains quiet up above and they see the two guards still standing atop the tower, looking bored. Philippe points to another corridor and says that it leads them down a side corridor and a flight of stairs, ending at the doors to the boat dock.

Morgana says, “We need to find Nemo and signal him to bring the ship around.” Louie gestures to the guards and says, “Those guys up there are rather inept at noticing things, but they'll probably spot your magical light stone.” Arcade replies, “Maybe we could be more subtle. Morgana and I each took a Faerie Fire spell.” Angus says, “Doesn’t that only work on people.” Arcade replies, “It works on any living creature, including plants. We could light up some grass along the shore where Nemo should be looking for us. They guards above might not notice.” Louie says, “Go ahead, I’ll cover you,” and using his newly acquired rifle takes aim up towards the guard tower.

Arcade and Morgana make it over to the side wall and cast their spells down, turning the seaweed right below the water and plants and foliage along the shore a glowing shade of greenish-yellow. They head back the others and all make their way down to the boat dock. The door is opened a crack, with Angus peering out.

Ten minutes pass, which seem like an eternity to the group. The Nautilus surfaces alongside the dock. Angus waits until it is fully stopped and on the surface before throwing open the doors. There is no point in being quiet at this point, as the sight of the massive red giant squid rising up to the island has caught the attention of the inattentive guards above.

The guards who sound an alarm and open up signal lights. Alarms and lights also go up at the adjacent guardhouse. The party hurries the makeshift stretcher with Sam out and onto the ship. The tower guards are late to notice this movement below, and do not start firing their rifles until the Nautilus doors are closed with the party all safely inside.

Sam is brought to the infirmary as Dr. Jeckel confers with Campion Bond. The rescued prisoners are all brought to private quarters. For the first few minutes they hear the sound of bullets bouncing off the hull of the ship and then the sounds cease. Campion informs Nemo that they need the vessel to stop so that Sam can be operated on. The Captain tells him it will have to wait, as half the French Navy is docked in Marseilles and they need to get as far away as possible in the next hour.

An hour later Sam still lives, but only due to healing elixirs provided by Nemo’s chief medic. The ship comes to a complete stop and Jeckel begins the operation. It takes considerable time, but the bullet is found and removed with a combination of Jeckel’s surgical skills and Morgana’s careful use of a “Gather” spell. He closes up the incision, which she uses her remaining Cure to seal up. They conclude that Sam will live. Louie then points out that he also still has a bullet in him, which takes considerably less time to find, remove. Arcade provides the Cure spell as the finishing touch on Louie.

The Nautilus resumes its course. At around 3:00 AM the ship comes to a halt along an isolated cove in Southern France. At this point Nemo activates a loud and smoky diesel engine, to give the guests the impression that this was a regular surface ship. Louise Michel and her four associates are put to shore and warned to stay clear of the authorities. The Nautilus then moves off, sailing on the surface with engine sounding for the next thirty minutes. Nemo then kills the sham engine and dives again. They go full speed for another hour.

The submarine surfaces again and pulls into a different isolated cove to let off Philippe Gaston. Bond makes sure that ‘the mouse’ is clearly under the impression that Louise Michael was the objective of the prison break and that they brought along Jeckel because they needed his medical skills and Gaston because he knew the way out. The ship then chugs out to sea and dives when it is safely out of sight.

January 24th to 29th, 1882:

The Nautilus makes an uneventful trip back to England. During this return trip Jeckel uses his apothecary skills to help identify a trio of elixirs that Louie found on the wizard guard. Morgana is given a scroll with three spells also found on the wizard. The rifle from the prison guard leader was of excellent quality so Louie decides to keep it as his. Sam spends most of the journey back recuperating in bed.

January 30th, 1882:

Under the cover of darkness the Nautilus surfaces along the coast a few miles away from the Hastings estate belonging to the Arcadiam family. Bond pays them the agreed upon amount. Nemo’s crew then rows Arcade, Angus, Louie, Morgana and Sam to shore. The rowboat returns and the Nautilus vanishes beneath the waves. They make their way back to the manor house.

Silver Moon

We've now played three games now of the next Arcade's Gang module, this one gamemastered by Morgana's player and set in Ireland. I should have the first Story Hour chapter from it up in the next couple of days.

In the meanwhile, please check out my second campaign set on this same world titled "Revenge, Renewal and the Promise of a New Year." It is set back in Promise City while Arcade's Gang is in Europe and has a very colorful cast of characters. The link is as follows:

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Silver Moon

Module #127 - Game 1 - 7/18/04

Chapter 68, “Off to Ireland”, February 6th, 1882:

The group has been back at the Arcadian Estate for a week. Qualtaqa and Hank are happy to see the others back after their month away. During that time apart Qualtaqa spent a considerable time over at the neighboring Greystroke estate, conversing with the rather odd young Lord and also with the local Celts learning some introductory priest spells. Hank devoted the time to teaching all of the local pubs how to sing “Yellow Rose of Texas”. The gang also notes that Hank has started to add the phrases “blimey” and “I say” to his vocabulary.

Morgana decides that since the group is relatively close to Ireland they should make a short visit over to it to see the land of her ancestors. She says that she has a standing invitation to visit from a Jane Fandesca who knew her Grandmama O’Shea. Louie comments “So you want us to go see the ‘old country’”. Sam comments “She have Native American, to her America is the ‘old country’.” Hank asks “So, what do they do in Ireland?” Arcade replies “Grow potatoes and die”, never realizing how much that comment would serve as a harbinger of what the gang would soon face.

Louie comments that he knew quite a few railroad workers who were from Ireland. Arcade says “And the operative word there is ‘from’, nobody in their right mind would want to actually go to that place.” “Are you calling me insane?” Morgana asks. “Well, you married me,” me replies. Sam says “Isn’t Ireland where they drink a lot?” Arcade replies “Only on high holy days, like days of the week that end in the letter ‘Y’.”

Morgana states that “Grandmama is the reason that family left Ireland. She had a sense that the famine was coming and urged the family to leave. They then relocated to Boston. I’ve never been there myself and would like to see where my father and grandparents lived.”

Hank says, “Okay, but you’ll then owe me a visit to my home state of Texas.” Louie comments “Would that be worse than Ireland.” “I’m afraid so,” Arcade mutters. Sam tells Arcade “Be fair, you got to show us where your family lives.” He replies, “Did I ask any of you to come?” Louie says “Actually, you asked for us to come instead of you.” He replies “Well this is only one family home. My grandparents live in India.” “I think I’ll pass on that trip,” Sam states.

The group makes their formal goodbye to Arcade’s parents and brother and take the carriage to the nearest port city of Portsmouth. There are four large ships docked there at the moment and they make inquires as to whether any are going to Ireland. Louie comments “Just book me on a ship that has no leaks and no rats”. “They probably charge extra for that” Sam replies. One will be departing the next morning for America, but with a stop along the way in Dublin, so they book passage on it. They find lodgings at a local inn for the evening.

February 7th, 1882:

The gang gets their passports stamped and boards the ship and is shown to their quarters. Louie is again grateful that he doesn’t have to ride on deck beneath the waterline. Sam starts to notice the various women who have boarded prompting comments from Hank and Arcade about the boy’s lecherous ways.

The voyage gets old fast as the English Channel and the Celtic Sea are not very fun places to be on cold windy days in early February. A snowstorm starts up cutting visibility down to nearly nothing. The gang heads back to the their cabins. They no sooner get there when Morgana screams out “The Fey, it’s coming. She’s angry.” Hank looks at the others and asks “Did you boys go and get another woman mad at you again?”
Louie asks “Sam, who did you pick up this time?”

Morgana clams down and says “It was just a feeling. Don’t you guys know anything about the islands?” “Only the Polynesian Islands,” is Arcade’s response. She replies, “No the Celtic islands….Morgan Le Fey…don’t you know any Celtic history.” Angus says “I do, but I thought that she was just a person of legend.” “Only if you consider my father’s first wife a legend. She’s my step mother, who I was named after,” Morgana replies. She then adds “She doesn’t like Grandmama.”

“Great, we’ve found ourselves in the middle of a family feud,” Hank exclaims. “In the middle of something” Sam says and gestures to the porthole. A sudden storm has come up with lightening and massive gusts of wind. Clouds begin to swirl around the ship. “I really hate the weather around these parts,” Hank comments. “Is your Godmother causing this?” Louie asks. Arcade answers, “Must be the reason for the prefix of ‘God’”.

Morgana says “I’ve never had a problem with her. We’ve always gotten along. She wasn’t too fond of my father taking another wife….” The ship starts to rock and both Sam and Louie act concerned. Arcade says “Don’t worry, this is English weather. Give it a minute and it will change.”

A swirling vortex appears in front of the ship and they pass through it. The storm intensifies and then just as abruptly ceases completely. The ship then rests upon the calm seas, with the sun shining down from above. The temperature is also considerably warmer.” Hank says to Arcade “Guess you were right about the weather changing.”

The ship appears to be at rest alongside a large lush island. A wooden dock comes out to the side of the ship. Arcade, Angus, Hank, Qualtaqa and Sam also notice that they appear to be the only people moving on the ship, all other passengers standing still like statues. Morgana is not among them.

Concluding that she isn’t on board the ship, they head out along the dock and towards the Island. A tall, regal looking woman approaches and stands before them. She is wearing a green gown and robe and has long black hair. She introduces herself saying, “My name is Morgan Le Fey, welcome to Avalon”.

Silver Moon

Chapter 69, “The O’Shea Family Curse", February 7th, 1882:

“Where is my wife?” Arcade demands. “You claim her?” Le Fey asks. “As she claims me,” Arcade answers. “But you say that she is yours?” Le Fey inquires. “As much as any man can claim a woman,” is his response. “And you are willing to share her fate? And claim her debts?” the woman responds. Hank comments to Arcade, “Should you check with your lawyer before answering?” Arcade says, “It would help if you tell us what this is all about.”

Le Fey says, “When the O’Shea family left Ireland a disharmony overtook the land.” Arcade mutters, “Something that made Ireland worse than it already was? I find that hard to believe.” Le Fey describes the potato famine, which forced much of the population of Ireland to immigrate to America. Arcade asks “This disharmony. It is something that is within our power to fix?” Le Fey says, “Yes, it is. But she cannot go with you.” “We’re not leaving without her,” Arcade adamantly states.

Le Fey says, “She cannot go. And the problem is not here, it is in Ireland.” Hank blurts out “And we’d have been there by now if you hadn’t interfered.” Le Fey says, “There is a curse on the land. Any O’Shea who walks there will die instantaneously.” “Maybe she should stay here then,” Sam comments.

Arcade then asks “So, Milady, exactly what is it that we need to do to restore this balance?” She replies, “The curse was placed upon the land after the family left. This curse needs to be lifted for an O’Shea to set foot there again.” “Good thing we brought a priest,” Hank mutters, gesturing to Angus. Arcade says, “Nah, that’s for dealing with spirts of the dead.” Qualtaqa says “I may be able to help, I know something about earth spirits.”

Arcade asks to see his wife before they go but Le Fey says that is not possible. “What will you tell her?” he asks. She replies, “I do not need to tell her anything, she is in stasis.” “Statis?” Sam asks. Le Fey says, “To her it will seem like it was instantaneous.” “She’s made that complaint before,” Arcade mutters.

The group returns to the ship. The swirling clouds return and they find themselves back at sea just as when they left. The remainder of the voyage is uneventful and they dock in Dublin. Arcade suggests that they find a pub since he believes that there is a local law stating that people are not allowed to be sober. They see that around a quarter of the people are attired in kilts, and several of them are dwarves, so Angus blends right in.

They decide that the best place to start this investigation would be for Angus to make an inquiry at the nearest Norse church. They are given directions and soon reach a large stone structure dedicated to the Viking gods with Angus translating runes about the door as reading “Temple of Odin”. They enter and are greeting by a large blonde female human wearing armor and a hat with horns on the side. “Looks like she just came from an Opera,” Arcade mutters.

Angus asks about a library and is given directions. They reach a large room full of books, but most are written in either dwarven, Gaelic or Scandinavian languages, which only Angus can read. Arcade finds several books about the Celts, some of which are written in common. Hank mutters, “What’s with all these strange languages that sound like you’re clearing your through or spitting when you speak them?” Angus replies, “Well, the phrase ‘will work for pancakes’ sounds more impressive when spoken in Gaelic.”

The workers in the library are being generally uncooperative. Hank says “Hey, maybe we should offer these guys some money.” Qualtaqa goes over to the person who appears to be in charge and sets down a pile of gold coins and says “Perhaps you can find us something to eat or drink. You can keep whatever is left.” This results in the pile of coins immediately disappearing several people running around and a pitcher of mead and a platter of meats and cheeses being brought to the party.

The woman who initially greeted them arrives and introduces herself at the Librarian and asks if there is anything specific she can help them find. Arcade decides to get straight to the point and says, “Yeah, We want to find out everything we can about the curse on the O’Shea family.” Upon hearing that every patron in the library comes to a complete halt and silence follows. Everyone who had pocketed some of the gold coins puts them back in the pile, nobody wanting to have any association whatsoever with this curse.

“Are any of you O’Sheas?” she cautiously asks. Louie gestures to his half-orc Chinese self and exclaims, “Do I look like an O’Shea to you?” Arcade assures her “None of us are, but we are associates friends of the family and would like to see the curse lifted so that the family can have the option of returning.” The woman replies, “Odd, I thought they were all dead.” The woman is hesitant and suggests that it is getting late and the library will soon close so maybe they should leave.

They decide to find a tavern and inn. Angus says to Arcade, “And it might be best to NOT mention your wife’s family.” They find a place to stay where Hank complains to his companion about the food, saying, “Why is it that they feel the need to boil everything?” Arcade says, “Well at least they boil it in beer. Over in England they boil everything in water instead.”
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Silver Moon

Module 127, Game #2 - 8/01/04

Chapter 70, “Lady Wilde”, February 8th, 1882:

The group returns to the Norse church and continue making inquiries. Arcade questions against it, saying that he wouldn’t want regular church attendance to become a habit. They go anyway and discover that the pile of coins still remains untouched so Qualtaqa takes it back. The woman again asks the party what their relationship is to the O’Shea family. Louie says, “One of them is a missing member of our gang.” “Gang? What gang?” she asks. “Respectable gang,” is Louie’s reply. Arcade interjects “We owe them a debt which we wish to take care of.” The woman is still hesitant and asks, “What is this debt?” Hank points to Arcade and blurts out “Him, they let him marry into the family. We owe them big for that.”

The woman suggests “I’ve been told that for the details you should go check with the Wildes. Lady Wilde has done extensive research about the curse and would probably know the most about it.” They get directions and head over that way. Arcade comments, “I’ve heard of an Oscar Wilde, is she related?” “His wife,” the woman replies. Arcade comments, “I believe that he is a writer or actor of some sort.” “They have writers in Ireland?” Hank questions. Angus replies, “Sure they do. The phrase ‘will work for pancakes’ sounds far more impressive when spoken in Gaelic.”

Arcade asks, “Before you go, what else have you found out?” She says that they were all attractive and charismatic redheads whose occupation was that of the bard. She says that they supported their neighbors as well as the people who lived on the O’Shea lands. She says that around forty years earlier the O’Sheas left and the potatoes then turned black. The people blamed the O’Sheas for that but they could not be punished since they were no longer around. So instead, eight other druids who remained on the O’Shea land were blamed. These people were burned at the stake. It is these people who are the spirits that blame the O’Shea family for their fate.

Hank says “We don’t need the history lesson, just tell us how to banish these banshees from Ireland.” The Norse priestess replies, “You need to free them of the injustice and then the spirits can move on.” Angus says, “I guessed that banishing banshees would be no easy task.”

Hank exclaims “Dagnabit! Why do you keep getting a Texas gunslinger to go after foes that he can’t shoot!”? Arcade says, “Sometimes I wonder why we do these things.” Sam interjects “To save your wife!” Arcade replies “We haven’t been married that long, I guess we’re not all that attached.” Qualtaqa says, “The O’Sheas owned a sizeable plot of land here that you stand to inherit if we do this.” Arcade replies, “Well, I guess that would be okay, except for the part about it being in Ireland.” Sam says, “Think of it as something to annoy your mother with.” The woman is thanked for the information at the group departs.

Not knowing exactly what to do next they decide to hit a pub and discuss it further. Angus suggests returning to the Norse church. This results in numerous insults being made at the expense of the large priestess there dressed as a Valkrye. They discuss the possibility of talking to a city official but decide that none would let them in. Louie disagrees, again reiterating that they are a respectable gang. Arcade says, “It sounds like we need to set the record straight to free these banshees.” Hank suggests finding a newspaperman stating, “Maybe they’re not as corrupt over here.”

Hank says “It sounds like the banshee’s curse causes the kids to die right after they are born. We should probably go look for some pregnant women.” Arcade comments, “That shouldn’t be too hard to do in Dublin.” Louie says, “Let Sam do it, he’s good at charming women.” “Pregnant women?” Arcade asks. Hank interjects, “Sure, he helps them get their start!”

They decide to go and visit the Wilde home and a butler answers the door. They are informed that the Lord is currently away on a lecture tour in America. Arcade says that it is actually his wife who they wish to see and introduces himself as Joshia Arcadiam, the son of Lord and Lady Arcadiam of England. The butler says that she is currently home. They are brought inside to meet her.

Lady Wilde soon joins them. She is a very petite human woman who is near the end of a pregnancy. She appears to be fascinated by the fact that one member of the party is a half-orc and another is an elf. She invites them to join her for tea.

Arcade introduces himself and gives a short summary of what led them here. She is extremely interested in this information as she indicates that the baby who she is carrying has O’Shea blood and could also be subject to the curse. Qualtaqa assures her that they will do everything in their power to prevent harm from coming to her unborn child. Arcade says that the best thing she can do for the baby is to share with them everything she knows of the O’Shea family and the curse.

She proves to be a wealth of information, indicating that Morgana’s father is considered to be the Father of the Plague, the potato famine that has ravaged Ireland. She says that while the druids were killed four decades earlier that a secretive sect of druids still remain and that it is them who he should seek out. They thank her for the information and then leave. Louie comments, “Is it just me, or the more we travel the weirder these missions get.”

Silver Moon

Game #3 - 8/29/04

Chapter 71, “Do you know where the druids are?” February 8th, 1882:

The gang decides to follow up on the premise that there may still be some druids in Ireland who could assist with ending the curse. They discover that whatever druids may be around will be difficult to locate, that they no longer congregate in large groups.

Next they investigate the potatoes themselves, finding out information about the black fungus that destroys the vegetables. Unfortunately nearly everyone they speak to believes the O’Shea family was responsible. They finally give up seeking information for the day and find another pub and inn in that section of Dublin, where lodgings are found for the night.

Hank attempts to tip the bartender heavily and then get information from him. He in able to provide information as to where he thinks the druids may be located and gives them directions, adding that he believed they usually had their ceremonies during midnight of the full moon (it is almost full at this point).

They head up to the hills following the lead. There are no druids around although the party discovers evidence of a fire circle that was probably used by them. They then run into a mysterious man dressed as a druid and under the assumption that he is one ask a series of questions about the banshee.

The man replies “Problems, problems, problems. Mortals should not play with things they do not understand. There is a problem with the potatoes but you need to find out who it was that started it.” “And it wasn’t the O’Sheas?” Sam comments. The man replies, “The O’Sheas saw what was coming but could not prevent it. The potatoes came first.” The man then wanders into the nearest grove of trees.

“Now what do we do?” Louie asks. Angus replies “Sounds like we need to find somebody that knows a lot about potatoes.” Qualtaqa says, “No, more like somebody who can help remove a fungus.” Hank says, “Can’t do that with a gun. I think we’re not the right men for this job.” Louie says, “Maybe we should just dig up a potato and talk to it?” Qualtaqa supports that idea, but Arcade dismisses it and since he is the only druid in the group that works as a veto.

“We should ask that man some more questions,” Sam comments. “He’s gone,” Qualtaqa observes. Arcade uses his tracking skills and looks at the ground to find which way the man went, finding none except for him and his companions and states, “I don’t think he was ever here in the first place.” Qualtaqa replies, “Then we can still talk to him.”

The centaur asks out loud, “What can you tell us of the curse.” The man’s voice echoes from the trees “In O’Sheas blood they will bring the death when birth is given on the land.” The voice then ends. Hank says, “Great, it sounds like we have to follow around a pregnant woman.” Arcade says, “Should be easy enough to find one around Dublin.” Hank replies, “I was referring to that Lady Wilde.” “Maybe there is a way to purify her?” Qualtaqa muses. Sam interjects “Let’s just tell her not to eat the potatoes.” Angus replies, “Or make sure that her kid never touches the ground, the comment was ‘on the land’.” “So you want us to catch the kid as it comes out?” Louie asks.

Louie then suggests, “Why don’t we just find a banshee and ask they what they want?” Hank replies “Maybe we already did. That guy we were speaking to was probably one.” Arcade replies “Nah, banshees are all women.” “I think he was a human druid,” Qualtaqa states, “And used a ‘pass without trace’ spell to hide his tracks.” Louie yells into the trees “Any more suggestions for us before you go?” The voice replies, “Go to the higher hill and inform the others. But don’t stay on the hill after midnight.”

They head up to the higher hill. Nobody is around but there is another fire ring that does not appear to have been used. Hank notices a plant spring on the ground and investigates, telling the others “Look, it’s mistletoe, and it’s still warm.” Since it is now around 10:30 P.M. and they conclude that there isn’t anyone around. They decide to return for the pub and inn for the evening and maybe check back the following night.

They reach the inn and sit down to order a round of drinks. Qualtaqa makes a number of suggestions as to what they can do next. The ideas are not well received, with Angus, Hank and Arcade instead debating about what the centaur’s new nickname should be. Arcade likes “Shecky”, Angus favors “Trigger” and Hank is partial to “Hooves-for-brains.” Qualtaqa gets frustrated and tells them “If you don’t like my ideas than what would you suggest we do?” Hank replies, “We should hit all of the pubs and teach the people there how to sing ‘Yellow Rose of Texas’“. Arcade likes the idea of pub hopping but has reservations about teaching a bunch of drunken Irishmen to sing.

The discussion goes back to the banshees. The conversation is interrupted when pair of barely visible spectral forces pass over the party. Sam asks the bartender “Did you just see two invisible women go by?” Angus had not seen them and says to Sam “I think ye ‘ave ‘ad a wee bit too much to drink Laddie.” Arcade points out that Sam is only drinking water. Angus then tells Sam “Then maybe you should start drinking instead Lad.” A high-pitched sound begins and several of the crystal glasses in the room shatter. “Looks like magic,” Louie comments. Angus says “Nay, ‘tis the banshee. They have found us.” Arcade replies “Good.” Hank interjects “Not so loud, the barkeep will make us pay for all the broken glass.”

They then see the dust on the floor rearrange itself. First it makes the shape of a crescent moon. Hank replies, “Great, it wants us to go to the outhouse.” It then makes a few other shapes, of a building and then a hillside. Louie says “No, we saw those shapes last night near the druid’s mountain.” The final shape is that of a well. “I think we went by one last night that looked like that,” Sam comments.

They all head off towards the farm and well. They hear sounds from up on the druid mountain. Qualtaqa transforms back into a centaur and charges up the hill. Angus decides to follow. The others check out the well. Arcade casts a ‘Detect Magic’ spell and discovers that the well has a faint residue of magic to it. Peering down the well he detects a heavy layer of magic at the bottom.

Arcade decides to go down to investigate, climbing up with both of his feet in the bucket and handing onto the rope. He asks to be lowered down. They do so and as he reaches the waterline and continues. The rope then goes slack. They crack the bucket back up but without Arcade. Louie looks at Sam and Hank and comments “We be Sam’s Gang now?”

Silver Moon

Chapter 72, “Mother Nature” February 8th & 9th, 1882:

Hank shines the light down the well and doesn’t see anything except water. “I’m going down too,” he exclaims. Louie lowers him down with Hank sending up continuous commentary. He reaches the water level and becomes silent. The group then hears sounds coming from the hill with the druid fire ring. Qualtaqa transforms back into his centaur form and charges up the hill Angus follows. Louie and Sam continue to stay by the well.

Angus follows the trail up to the glade. A bonfire is lit in the fire ring and a group of druids are dancing around the circle. He watches as Qualtaqa moves forward to join them, speaks with the druids, and then joins them in the dance. Angus decides to sit down and watch from a distance “Just in case Trigger needs my help.”

Arcade and Hank have gotten back together. They passed through the water without getting wet and found themselves in a strange land, covered with lush green grass and trees of all varieties. It is also daytime. They wander about out into a grove of apple trees. The apples themselves then yell out “Shake us down, shake us down.” Hank mutters “Hermes help me, the danged fruit is talking.” Arcade asks the applies “Why do you want shaken down?” They yell back in unison “We’re over-ripe, we’re over-ripe.” He shakes the tree and the apples fall. . Hank mutters “Food that tells you when to pick it, go figure.”

They move on and soon arrive at a woodland cottage. They enter the building and find it deserted but smell the aroma of freshly backed bread. They then hear voices yelling from inside of the over and open he door. The six loaves of bread baking inside yell out “Take us out, take us out, or we will burn.”

They do as instructed and Hank says “Is that better?” He then looks up at Arcade and says “I can’t believe that I’m talking to bread.” He replies “That’s better than loafing around.” Hank replies, “Well, that’s a slice of life”. Arcade answers “Just trying to get a rise out of you.” Hank responds “And be known as a heal”. Arcade stays “It’s the yeast you can do.” They continue to exchange bread-related puns for another few minutes. Their ally Louie then joins them. He says that it took a while but he eventually managed to convince Sam to lower him down.

Louie is brought up to speed about what has transpired. He suggests that they ask the bread about how to cure the potato fungus plaguing Ireland. They bread says that it does not know. Arcade says “We probably have to find some talking potatoes to find that out.” They continue on and soon come to another cottage, this one surrounded by a white picket fence.

They see a woman with red hair in a blue demin dress and white apron who looks to be in her late teens or early twenties tending a garden near the cabin. “Hey, somebody who looks normal,” Hank comments. He and Arcade get the woman’s attention. He asks “Is this your home?” She replies, “No, I just work for the old lady.” “Is she home?” Arcade inquires. “Who are you?” the woman asks. Arcade says “We are the three mysterious strangers who you legends speak of that will come from a faraway place who are destined to come here seeking information.” “Huh?” Hank asks. Arcade mutters back “Generic legend.”

They are taken inside and introduced to Old Mother Hubble, who tells them that this is her home. They introduce themselves and Hank then asks her “How long have you been here?” She replies, “I’ve always been here.” Arcade says “And what did you do before that?” She answers, “There was no before that.” “For you or for everyone?” he inquires. “All people and things.” He mutters to his teammates, “I think she’s a druidic deity.” Hank answers “Mother Nature?” “Something like that,” Arcade says.

Hank asks her “What is this place?” She replies, “It is my home. I already told you that. Are you dim?” Louie talks to her about the potato problem and asks if she knows of a cure. She says that she is very much aware of the problem. It was caused not by nature but by humans importing non-native potatoes from South America which had the fungus. Hank says, “So we just need to stop them from importing potatoes.” Louie says “I think we need to fix bad potatoes already there.”

Louie asks if she can give them something to fix the bad potatoes. She replies “What will you give me in return?” Arcade looks at Louie and says “How do you feel about half-orcs?” Louie interjects “What about Sam?” Hank says “I think that she would prefer something of value.” Arcade turns to Louie and says “I think you would be very happy here. Lots of food to eat and fields to run in.” The half-orc replies, “I’m not the centaur, we left him back up top.” Hank interjects “Perfect! We’ll trade him instead!”

Arcade asks “What do we have that you would want from us?” She says that she will be happy to take in return the promise of a future favor whenever she calls. Hank says, “Ma’am, you can count on that. We Texans always keep our word.” The woman then points to the young woman and says “And you can take her back with you. She has been down here long enough and it will now be safe for her to return to where you arrived from.”

She also gives them each a crystal sphere. She also hands Arcade a vial of black powder, telling him that as a druid he will be able to get it to the right person to end the potato famine. She tells them to talk to find the great druid to help. The four head back to the well. They climb into the bucket one at a time and tug on the rope, with Sam then pulling them each back up.

Back up on the hill, the druids have completed their ceremony. They indicate their pleasure that Qualtaqa decided to join them. They then disappear into the forest. Angus head to his comrade and the two notice that the land on the hill is now a fertile green color. A potato is picked and it is free of the fungus. Qualtaqa says “Their ceremony is purifying the land.” Angus replies, “Yeah, but all that dancing only fixed around an acre or two. I think it’s too little too late.” They head back down the hill, Qualtaqa transforming back into elvan form.

The two groups meet back up and the woman, Meagan Kelley, is introduced to the others. They head back to the inn and obtain a room for her. The group then retires for the evening.

Silver Moon

Chapter 73, “Freeing the Banshees”, February 9th, 1882:

The group sits down for breakfast and discusses what to do next. Hank says he doesn’t wish to go back to that strange place adding, “We Texans aren’t that fond of fairyland.” Arcade says, “I’m not sure we’re much better off than yesterday, all we did was talk to an old woman who spoke in riddles.” Sam comments, “You also brought back a young woman,” gesturing to Meagan. Louie says, “Right, we traded up for a new party member, we just need to get rid of some of the dead weight.” “Feel free to jump down that well anytime you want,” Arcade says to Louie.

Qualtaqa asks Meagan about where she is from. She asks him his name before answering which he states. She then comments that his name is difficult to pronounce. “Just call him Trigger,” Angus states. In answer to his original question she says “I am from right around here, but it has changed. There are a lot more buildings now.” They ask her more questions and determine that she was last here in 1844, shortly after the O’Shea family left. She recalls only being in ‘Fairyland’ a short while. They determine from further questioning that she has had druidic training and would most likely have been killed had she stayed in the area. Angus asks her questions about the potatoes of her time and discovers that the fungus predated the O’Sheas being blamed, which is consistent with the other information that they had obtained.

They suggest that Meagan go visit people who she would know from her own time as they may have information. They follow her to the home of a childhood friend named Gwenyth, who had some druidic training. The man at the house says the she was killed almost forty years earlier and that a young woman like Meagan could not possibly have known her. When pressed the man indicates that he is the woman’s son. They try to convince the man that his mother’s spirit is trapped and that they are seeking to free it. He is uncooperative until they offer to buy him a drink. Hanks says, “This is further evidence that every problem in life can be solved by just going to the pub.”

After multiple rounds of drinks they find out information from him as to how to access another mystical realm via traveling back down the well to find a place where the answers may lie and to look for a waterfall. They leave him at the pub and all head off to this magical plateau and then enter a cave in search of this waterfall. They reach strangely colored stones. Arcade is allowed to pass through but the others are stopped. Angus complains, “Great, now we need a new leader.” “I volunteer,” Hank states. The others all laugh at that suggestion.

Arcade reaches the other side and is bombarded with questions from some sprite-like creatures. He identifies himself as being a druid. They tell him “The druids are gone, why did you return?” He explains his mission to clear the names of the Banshees due to the potato famine predating he departure of the O’Shea family. He is told that he needs to make this information known to the public, perhaps by creating a public spectacle. “That’s something that we’re good at,” he replies. He is told to gather the remaining druids.

Hank manages to get by the barrier. He moves on, going by the water that is a deep green color. Hanks takes a shot into the water but nothing happens. He is told by little pixies “Speak with the Fey”. He eventually catches up to Arcade, who brings him up to speed. “What do you want to do?” Hank asks. Arcade replies “Give up.” Hank asks “What about Morgana?” Arcade replies, “We’ve only been married for a couple of months. It’s not like we’re really attached yet.” Hank says “Well come with me back to Texas then, we have lots of pretty girls there.” Arcade replies, “But to do that I’d have to actually go to Texas.”

Meanwhile, the other have wandered into a different section of the cave filled with grass, trees and other vegetation. Louie climbs up a tree to look around and deduce another way to get where they want to go. He leads Angus, Meagan, Sam and Qualtaqa in a direction of a waterfall that he saw. It takes them a full three hours of hiking to reach that area.

As they move on Meagan begins to recognize the surroundings, having been there once before. They reach a wide and swift river, which she says was only a small stream the last time she was there. Sam suggest that they swim across. Another player says, “Why don’t you change into your bathing suit firs. Of course, in the 1880’s a bathing suit would be made of wool and cover more skin than your regular clothing.” They decide to follow the river until they reach the waterfall.

Louie discovers a path and recognizes Arcade and Hank’s footprints. They head up by some rocks and continue onward. The grass and vegetation beneath their feet attempts to grab them but the group pushes on. They eventually find the waterfall, which Qualtaqa senses to actually be sentient. Sam says, “We have a problem then. None of us speak ‘Water’.” Hank’s bullet then exits the waterfall and strikes Louie in the shoulder for a minor flesh wound.

On the other side of the water Hank and Arcade hear sprites giggling. Hank makes derogatory comments about the little creatures. Arcade pleads their case and explains what they are seeking to accomplish. Arcade is commanded to go forth and through another waterfall. He gets to the other side and is asked “You wish answers?” He replies, “Yes, that and maybe a towel.”

They continue onward. They find a red-haired naked man encased in a giant crystal. Arcade approaches it and is about to walk into and through the crystal but Hank is prevented from doing so, the object being solid to him. Arcade reaches the man inside and converses with him, explaining that he is a druid who is married to an O’Shea. He gives the man the magical powder to the fix the potatoes. They are told that they must now make it publicly known that the druids were not responsible and that the descendents of the women killed must be present with this is revealed.

Hank and Arcade depart, joining up with the others. They return to Dublin and locate the Mayor of the town so that he can witness and declare the innocence of the women. The druids from the hill are led into the city by the banshees. They remove their hoods, showing them to be the children of the banshee. Arcade explains what has been found and that the potato fungus has been removed from the land. The Mayor declares the innocence of those killed and the spirits move on.

The group decides to go retrieve Morgana. They debate taking another ship but then realize that any body of water would work. They find a lake and take a rowboat out into the center, passing through the vortex into Avalon. Morgana is returned to them and she does not realize that three days have passed. They return the boat back to the lake, heading to Dublin and finding new lodgings.

The others want to leave but Morgana insists upon spending a few days in Ireland. Louie just complains about how cold and wet it is. Hank agrees to stay but clarifies it with the comment “And by that I mean you can spend a few days checking out the country while we spend that time sitting in a pub.”

February 10th, 1882:

Louie suggests that Arcade take his wife on a side trip to ‘Fairyland’. Once she hears of the place she wants to go so he reluctantly brings her. When they reach the man encased in the crystal they enter and converse with him. It turns out that he is Morgana’s father, a person who she has never actually met before. They have very little to talk about so the visit is brief, with Arcade being uncomfortable around the unclothed man now that he knows that it is his father-in-law. The two return to the pub with the others.

End of Module

Silver Moon

Module #129 - Game #1

Chapter 74, "The American", February 11, 1882:

The group is contacted at the Pub and Inn and notified that Mrs. Wilde wishes for them to pay her a visit. “Must be to thank us for making sure her baby isn’t killed by the banshees,” Sam states. They arrive at the door and are admitted inside by the butler. As they are being shown to the sitting room they hear the sound of a baby crying. “She must have had the baby early,” Louie comments.

They are shown into the main room where a still pregnant Mrs. Wilde is entertaining a friend of hers who is holding a week old baby. The baby continues to cry and the mother says, “Hush hush, you’re making a nuisance of yourself.” She turns to Morgana and her friends and says, “You really must forgive little James, when he decides that he wants something he’ll yell loud enough for all the world to hear.” The guest then says “Thank you for your company Mrs. Wilde.” She replies, “My pleasure Mrs. Joyce.” The guest departs.

Morgana and Lady Wilde have a pleasant conversation and they discuss the banshees and what the party has done. As the group gets up to prepare to leave Mrs. Wildes says, “And would you like to know why I called for you?” “Wasn’t it to thank us?” Morgana stated. She answers, “No, it was to deliver a message to you. I had sent a telegram to Lord and Lady Arcadiam letting them know how gracious and helpful their son has been and this morning I received back a telegram addressed to Josiah Arcadiam.

Arcade takes the message but hesitates to open it. They decide to look at it in private and thank Mrs. Wilde. Once they are back outside Morgana urges him to open it. He replies, “Back at the pub. If it’s from my family I should probably get a drink or two in me before I read it.” The Texan Hank agrees saying, “It’s cold here. Nobody should stand outside in this weather. Back to the pub.”

They are soon sitting at a table, each with a large tankard of ale. After consuming two tankards Arcade finally reads the telegram. He says, “It’s from my brother. He says that he has a job back in England for me and my friends.” The group raises objections to this, emphasizing that all they want to do at this point is return to the United States. Hank says, “Let’s find out what this job is first. We could maybe make transportation back part of the payment.” Morgana says, “Don’t let his brother make the ship arrangements, he’d book us on the bilge deck.”

Arcade speculates that any work that his brother lined up can’t be anything good.” Louie interjects, “But we cured him of that evil monster that was possessing him.” Arcade answers, “Yeah, but that still leaves his worthless self. I wouldn’t trust him for anything.” Hank says, “It could be that government guy you did the job for.” Arcade exclaims, “Ah, service for Queen and country. It never ends.” Louie says, “I no have a country.” Hank gestures to Arcade and says, “Borrow one of his, he’s got two.”

The group makes arrangements to return for London, departing on a ship leaving that evening.

February 14, 1882:

The group docks at Southampton. They return to the Arcadiam estate. The butler shows a look of disdain when he opens the door to the group, also noticing their luggage. “How’s it going Geeves” Hank exclaims and barges into the house. Arcade asks about his brother and is told that he is in London and not expected back until the weekend.

It is only Tuesday, and Morgana asks, “Should we wait?” Arcade answers, “I should probably spend a day or so here visiting with my mother, I don’t know when I’ll make it back again. We can head down to London on Thursday. At dinner Arcade discovers that his mother was less than pleased at his choice of going to Ireland, given her disdain of the Irish, but was at least pleased to hear that his visit there was productive.

February 16, 1882:

Arcade says goodbye to both of his parents and they are driven to the train station, catching a 9:00 AM train to London. It is a cool, brisk morning and both Hank and Louie complain once more about the weather. They make their way up the stairs and knock on the door. William Arcadiam’s voice states “Come in.” They enter.

William looks up from her ledgers and states in a monotone voice, “Ah good Josiah, you received my message.” Arcade sarcastically replies, “Don’t get all bubbly and emotional about seeing me again.” William ignores the comment and says, “I was at a dinner the other night and was speaking to an American who has need of people with your particular skills and talents.”

“What exactly is this all about?” Arcade asks. William replies, “It’s about passage back to America. The American has some valuable cargo he wishes to transport there and has need of guards to watch over it. Your group has proven that you have the necessary skills. You were planning to return there at some point, so why not get free passage and spending money in the process?”

Morgana asks for more details and William replies, “Mother notified me that you were coming here today so I contacted the American. He has arranged a lunch for you over at the Savoy, during which he will explain all of the details. Now if you don’t mind, I have important work to get back to.” “Bye” Arcade states, and heads out the door. They others follow.

They take a horse drawn carriage over to the west end of the inner city to Strand Street. They arrive at the 230-room hotel considered by many to be the best in the world. They enter the building, leaving their luggage and firearms checked at the registration desk, and head into the dining room. Arcade identifies himself as Josiah Arcadiam and the head waiter brings them over to a table with a lone gentleman seated at it.

The man is heavy-set, white haired and bald on the top. He has a large nose and pleasant smile. He is wearing a well tailored dark wool suit, white silk shirt and bow tie. As Morgana approaches he stands and waits for her to be seated before retaking his. He looks familiar to both Arcade and Morgana but they cannot place exactly who he is. Arcades states, “I am Josiah Arcadiam, my brother said you wished to see us but did not give us many details, including your name.” The man says, “My apologies then sir, allow me to introduce myself, I am P.T. Barnum.”

Silver Moon

Chapter 75, “Narrative of a Blockade Runner”, February 16th, 1882:

Arcade introduces the other members of his party to Barnum and then asks, “What can we do for you sir?” Barnum replies, “As you may have read in the newspapers, I have recently purchased a large African elephant by the name of Jumbo from the London Zoological Society. I am seeking assistance in transporting him to America so that I can add him to my circus.”

The gang is momentarily silenced by the unusual nature of the assignment. Hank exclaims, “Are you sure that you have the right people? We’re a group of gunslingers not animal movers.” Barnum replies, “From what William Arcadiam has stated, several of your group have talents with calming and befriending animals. Those skills could be of use to have Jumbo remain tranquil during the long ocean voyage.” The druids Arcade, Morgana and Meagan exchange glances with one another and nod agreement.

Barnum then states, “And unfortunately some your other skills might also be needed.” “And why is that?” Sam asks with hesitation in his voice. The Connecticut businessman and showman replies, “My purchase of Jumbo has not been without controversy. He has resided her in the London Zoo for the last two decades and many consider him to be a national treasure. Protesters now assemble daily outside of the Zoo. There is also currently a petition before to the Queen to prevent me from removing the animal from the county. It would therefore be most expedient to move the animal before such a petition could be acted upon.”

“So you want us to steal an elephant?” Louie asks. Barnum replies, “I cannot steal what I legally own. I purchased the elephant for the sum of $ 10,000 and have the paperwork and documentation to support that. The London Zoological Society wishes has reluctantly admitted that they can no longer afford to feed Jumbo so also desire for the removal of him. What I need now are some people to help facilitate the transportation.”

“How are you planning to ship him?” Morgana asks. Barnum replies, “That piece of the equation is already taken care of. Are you familiar at all with a ship Captain by the name of John Wilkinson?” Hank is the only one who had heard it before and says, “Didn’t he serve with the Confederacy during the war?”

Barnum replies, “Indeed he did. A graduate of the United States Naval Academy, he served under Captain Farragut prior to the outbreak of hostilities. He commanded the Confederate blockade running ship The Robert E. Lee, which successfully broke through the Union blockades on twenty-one occasions. Following the war he lived in Nova Scotia for many years before eventually returning to his native Virginia. Five years ago he published a book, Narrative of a Blockade Runner, which became a best seller. With the proceeds from the book he was able to purchase himself a vessel and return to life at sea. When I learned that he and his ship were here in Great Britain I hired him for this assignment. Ah, there he is now, allow me to introduce him to you.”

The large man joins them in his early sixties. He has a round face and very full beard and mustache. His hair is primarily dark, but with enough gray strands to indicate his age. Introductions are made and Wilkinson displays the good manners of a fine Southern gentleman when addressing Morgana and Meagan.

The group is served an excellent meal, during which the conversation is primarily small talk. Towards the end of the meal Barnum makes mention to Wilkinson that Josiah Arcadiam and his friends are otherwise known in America as Arcade’s Gang. Wilkinson smiles and says, “Ah Phineas, the reason for this luncheon is now clear. These are the guards and animal handlers that you referenced?” Barnum answers, “Yes, they are known for being able to work quickly, which is I believe what we need.”

“Could you explain that in a little more detail?” Morgana asks. Barnum replies “Yes. It is imperative that we move Jumbo to the ship before the protesters can organize to prevent it. That would mean moving it at night, and to move him to a proper port facility would take far too long and require days of paperwork. That bureaucratic delay could allow for enough time for Queen Victoria to issue an edict barring me from being able to take Jumbo.” Louie says, “So I was right. You are stealing an elephant!”

Wilkinson says, “Actually, the lawbreaker would be me. My current ship is narrow and very maneuverable, originally a former Confederate blockade-runner. I propose bringing her up the Thames River until the bridges present an obstacle to passage. I should be able to get my ship most of the way to London and within five miles of the Zoo. The timing of this would need to be well coordinated with the team bringing the elephant to the ship, as an illegally docked ship will soon bring the British authorities. If I have not exited from the Thames by dawn the passage might be blocked by the Royal Navy.”

The group is intrigued by the prospect but also cautious. Morgana says, “Before we do this I need to see Jumbo.” “Why?” Louie asks. She replies, “To make sure that this is what he wants. I will not force a creature into a life of captivity against its wishes.” Barnum says, “He is already in captivity. He’s in a zoo!” She replies, “But after twenty years he would consider it his home. I need to see how he feels about the idea of relocation.” Hank comments, “That’s the Indian side of her talking.”

Wilkinson says, “Well, go do that now then. I cannot remain in London that much longer because of other shipping obligations. I’ll also need at least a few hours notice to get my crew ready and the ship’s boilers up to full steam.” “So you’re looking to move the elephant tonight?” Angus states. “No time like the present,” is Barnum’s reply.

Barnum then says, “No as for payment.” Arcade cuts him off and says, “Let’s not be premature. We can discuss that after my wife decides we are willing to do this.” “Very well, I am staying here on the top floor in Suite Number Two.” “We’ll be back,” Hank states. They get directions to the zoo and head outside. Arcade states, “I didn’t want to talk about payment terms in front of Barnum. It sounds like he really needs us so we should be able to negotiate a good fee.” Sam comments, “It’s an elephant. Let’s see if we can get paid by the pound.”

Silver Moon

Chapter 76, “Jumbo”, February 16th, 1882:

The London Zoological Society first opened its doors to the public in 1847 and quickly became one of the most famous Zoos in the world. Situated in northeastern corner of Regent’s Park, which ironically began as a private royal hunting ground for King Henry VIII, the park now protected animals from being hunted to extinction. Arcade’s Gang walked this cold damp day the three miles to the northwestern part of the city, a short distance beyond University College, to their destination.

They had been forewarned that there would be protesters waiting outside of the Zoo, objecting to the removal of this ‘National Treasure’. The expectations and fears were raised. The gang had been familiar with heated and violent protests that had taken place in recent years within the United States, including the 1874 Thompkins Square Riots in New York City, the 1875 Anthracite Coal Strike and the Anti-Chinese Riots. But what awaited them ahead they had not anticipated.

As they rounded the bend to the Zoo’s main gate, weapons at the ready, they saw that the full extent of the protests were a pair of well-dressed English gentlemen politely stopping passer’s by and handing out leaflets. “That’s it? That’s the protest?” Hank exclaims. “Good thing they want a group of armed gunmen for this,” Arcade sarcastically comments. Morgana says, “I don’t know. They might get more people if we actually try to take the elephant out of the zoo.”

They enter the Zoo and ask where the elephant is kept. They are given directions to the Elephant House. When they arrive Morgana explains that Barnum has sent them to plan out the logistics of moving the elephant. They are introduced to its lifelong trainer and caretaker, Matthew Scott. Before heading inside Scott explains, “The elephant was captured in the African jungles back in 1861. It is estimated that he was born in the Sudan in 1859. He was first taken to Cairo and then was told to the zoo in Paris. He was then acquired by the Royal Zoological Gardens in London who swapped a rhinoceros for it. He was tiny and in poor health when he first came to me, but now some twenty-years later he is the largest known elephant in the world, the largest creature in captivity for that matter.”

They enter the room and get a look at the pachyderm. It stands over eleven-foot high. Mr. Scott says that it weight six-and-a-half tons. Hank comments, “Sam, you wouldn’t even be a snack for that thing. Scott points out that “He doesn’t eat meat, only hay and vegetables.” He also points out that “Jumbo is harmless, during the last twenty years he has carried thousands of children on his back for rides.”

“Jumbo?” Louie comments. Scott says, “Yes, an African word. Most people believe it to translate as ‘elephant’ but the name actually is derived from the Swahili word ‘Jumbe’ which translates as ‘Chief’. A player comments “I figured he was called Jumbo just because he is so big. The DM points out that the player actually has that backwards, that in 1882 there was no word ‘Jumbo’ in the English language and the term became a synonym for big as a result of Barnum’s promotion of this elephant.

Arcade comments, “We heard there is trouble resulting from the sale.” Scott says, “Yes, the sale of Jumbo has caused a great uproar throughout England, with people asking Parliament and Queen Victoria to act to stop it. The Zoological Society, on the other hand, was more than happy to accept Barnum’s offer of $10,000 for him. The truth is that the Society is having financial difficulties, due in no small part to the vast amount needed to be spent each day to feed Jumbo.”

Morgana asks Scott, “How do you feel about him going away?” Scott says, “Fine by me, since I’m going with him. That was part of the deal. What the Society has not made publicly known is that lately Jumbo has become irritable and downright nasty at times, with an occasional temper tantrum. They fear a possible accident, so they are anxious to have him gone.” Sam exclaims “Hold on, you’re saying he could go on the rampage!”

Scott answers, “No, he’s a gentle giant. The truth his that his bad moods are only the result of the Zoo having cut back how much they feed him in order to save money. He’s hungry, that’s all.” Arcade says, “Let’s make sure that we stock up on lots of food for this trip.” Hank sarcastically comments, “Damn, I left my Wagon of Endless Hay back home.”

Morgana casts a Speak with Animals spell to talk to Jumbo and ensure that he is willing to leave. She has a hard time getting past his primary concern, namely that he is hungry. Only after promises of food soon does he begin to understand what she is asking. Since he doesn’t appear to remember living anywhere else he doesn’t quite understand the idea of leaving, although as long as his keeper is going with him he is agreeable.

She tells the rest of the Gang that he is willing. Arcade tells Scott, “Stick around when they close up the Zoo and let the managers know we’re coming tonight for him. We’ll have all of the paperwork.” Scott replies, “Then I’ll head home now to pack. Be sure to bring at least a wagon full of hay, otherwise we’ll never be able to get him to move.” He then adds, “Jumbo also enjoys eating gingerbread.” “We’ll be sure to look for a bakery,” Louie comments.

They flag down a cab to take them back to the Savoy Hotel, along the Thames near the Waterloo Bridge. They discuss how much to charge Barnum. Louie suggests a full $ 10,000, the same price he paid for the animal. Sam says, “Too much, we’re not paying for the ship and crew, just working security.” “And bringing it to the ship, that’s no small task,” Hank comments.

They continue to discuss whether to take the assignment or not. Hank says, “Let’s not rush into this. I think there’s more here than meets the eye.” Louie says, “We have to go back to America anyway. Why not get free passage and money for the trip?” Morgana says, “No, Hank’s right. Let’s find out everything that Barnum wants from us before we agree to anything.

They meet up again with Phineas T. Barnum, and say that they saw the elephant. Arcade presses him, “What exactly are you looking for from us?” He replies, “To help get the elephant from the zoo to the ship and then provide security.” Arcade replies, “And you don’t mean just security for the elephant?” He replies, “Well, obviously not. You are expected to help protect the ship is well. If it sinks, Jumbo will drown. And so would you, I might ad.” “Sink? From what?” Louie asks.

Barnum replies, “From potential trouble on the high seas. We have no idea if the British Government might try to use the Royal Navy to get his back.” Arcade comments, “They would start a war over an elephant?” Barnum replies, “Hopefully not, but that’s part of why I hired the Captain and ship that I did. He should be able to bypass any ships attempting to block his passage, that’s what Wilkinson does best.”

They start to discuss Price. Barnum starts with an offer of $ 2,000 but they are able to talk him up to their asking price of $ 3,000. The fact that he quickly agrees to that causes both Morgana and Arcade cause to be concerned that there is more going on than they know. Sam asks, “What port in the United States is the ship going to? New York?” Barnum replies, “No, it is sailing to Galveston.” Upon hearing the name of the Texas port, and without bothering to check with any of his companions, Hank immediately grasps Barnum's hand in a firm handshake and exclaims “You got yourself a deal!”

Silver Moon

Chapter 77, “The Streets of London”, February 16th, 1882:

Morgana leads the group north of the city to some farmlands where they locate a farmer who owns a wagon, two draft horses and enough hay to fill the wagon. They offer him 50 pounds for a one-night rental of the wagon and horses and explain where he will be able to find them in the morning. He expresses some concern about collateral until Arcade produces a passport identifying himself as Josiah Arcadiam, son of Lord Arcadiam and comments, “If there’s any damage to the animals or wagon you can file a claim with my brother William at our London office.”

The gang piles into the back of the wagon while Arcade and Morgana alternate in using their druidic animal handling skills to lead the animals towards the zoo. They arrive back well after the zoo’s official closing hours but notice that the pair of protesters are still outside handing leaflets to passers by. Arcade comments, “It’ll be several hours until that ship gets there, should we wait?” Morgana replies, “No, we don’t know how much time this will take, we should get going.” Arcade mutters, “She said the same thing on our wedding night.”

Scott is ready and anxious to depart, and loads his suitcases up towards the front of the wagon. The horses begin to panic when they see Jumbo but Morgana manages to calm them down. They locate some ‘blinders’ to position on the animals to keep them focused forward rather than at the large animal that will be following them.

Coaxed by a wagonload of fresh hay, Jumbo heads out from his cage and follows it through the zoo. They reach the main gate, which the Chief Zookeeper opens to let them out. Both protesters head immediately over and demand to know what is going on. Louie whispers to Arcade, “Try telling them that you’re taking him out to be cleaned.”

Morgana says to the main protestor “I'm taking it home to my workshop, my dear. "I'll fix it up there. Then I'll bring it back here." The men just continue to stand there staring. Hank comments, “What was Barnum worried about? Those guys make Sam look assertive by comparison.” Arcade says, “I still think we should have disguised it.” Morgana replies, “There wasn’t enough time for me to knit him a hat.” Arcade replies, “We could have put a dress and wig on him, they would have just thought that he was Queen Victoria.”

They don’t know what to say in response and the Gang attempts to make a quick getaway, or rather, as quick a getaway as is possible with a seven-ton elephant. They head out into the streets, pulling the wagon with Jumbo following. They get odd looks from passersby but nobody attempts to stop them. “Taking an elephant through the streets is sure attracting attention,” Louie comments. Arcade replies, “Don’t go blaming Jumbo, I think it’s you who they’re staring at.”

A man dressed as a British soldier does asks, “What is going on?” Hank replies, “It followed us home so we’ve decided to keep him.” Morgana shows him the copies of the sale paperwork from the Zoo and Barnum. “I guess it’s legitimate,” he says and wanders off. Hank says, “This doing things legally seems odd.” “That was easy,” Sam states. Arcade replies, “Only until he tells his superiors and it then goes up the line. If Queen Victoria really wants this creature to stay in England we might have trouble.” “Best that we hurry,” Hank comments.

They pick up the pace and Jumbo moves along faster. They head southeast, through Russell Square and onward, going by the Lincoln’s Inn Fields and the Drury Lane Theatre, turning east onto Fleet Street. When they have gone about a little more than a mile and are approaching The Temple and Gardens, Jumbo stops and sits down in the middle of Fleet Street. Morgana casts a speak with animals and determines that he is tired. The trainer Scott says, “That’s no surprise, this is more walking than he’s done in ages.” [DM’s Note: Back in our history, when Barnum tried to move out of London he did the same thing, sitting down on the streets and refusing to budge.]

They are unable to tempt him to move with hay so Arcade sends Sam and Louie out to find some fruit or sweets to try to coax him to move. He and Morgana are now both out of Speak with Animal spells so he suggests that they meditate for more spells. Hank says, “I’ll stay here and guard the elephant.” Everyone laughs at that and Arcade asks Hank “Do you think somebody is going to steal a seven-ton elephant?” He replies, “Why not, we did.” Morgana interjects, “We didn’t steal him, we have a receipt.”

Louie and Sam engage in interesting negotiations at several restaurants in an attempt to buy food. They eventually make their way back with a bag of apples, several bunches of carrots, a five-pound bag of sugar and a bouquet of flowers. Jumbo shows an interest in what they have, but not enough of an interest to get up. A crowd has gathered.

February 17th, 1882:

It is shortly after midnight when Arcade and Morgana finish studying their spells. Morgana talks to Jumbo first, trying to convince him to get up. A group of soldiers arrive to “move the traffic blocking impediment off of the street”. Morgana uses this to her advantage to play her own version of ‘Good Cop/Bad Cop’, convincing Jumbo that the men may harm him unless he moves. She then lets him sample some of the sugar.

Jumbo rises to his feet and the wagon is urged onward. Morgana begins singing a bardic song, interspersed with lyrics to convince the soldiers not to follow, that they have accomplished their mission. One player mutters, “Ah yes, the old Jedi mind trick. Move right along, these aren’t the elephants you’re looking for.”

They manage to get her to keep moving west, soon reaching the Thames River, which they walk alongside. They continue for another hour-and-a-half. By this point they are in the east suburbs of the city. They’ve managed to stretch the food as long as they can, but eventually run out. Jumbo is tired again, and without the added incentive of the food, decides to stop. Arcade casts a spell and talks to him, concluding, “This elephant isn’t going to go any further.”

“What do we do now?” Louie asks. “Might as well just wait here for the ship to arrive,” Arcade comments. Sam points out “There aren’t any docks around here.” Arcade replies, “So what, we’ll improvise. Elephants can swim.”

Silver Moon

Chapter 78, “Frolicking”, February 17th, 1882: 1:30 A.M.

To avoid drawing undue attention to the elephant Louie had been sent out to ‘borrow’ some sheets and blankets to cover over the sleeping Jumbo. They then cover over the bed lines with loose hay to make it appear to be a haystack. They had been stopped for well over an hour when the distant shape of a ship is seen coming up the Thames River.

The 230-foot-long steam ship comes into view, moving slowly and cautiously up the river. It has two funnels, two schooner-rigged masts and large paddlewheels on both sides. It is currently running without any lights although the moon provides ample illumination. The party waves it down and uncovers the elephant. The ship comes to a halt and anchors are dropped. Several men climb onto a dingy pulled behind the ship, which is rowed over to shore, pulling behind it a thick rope tied to the side of the ship.

They reach the shore and four sailors secure the boat while a rotund swarthy man with a long dark scraggly beard climbs out and approaches the group. He introduces himself as Paolo Vitalio, First Mate of the steamship Advance. Introductions are made as the sailors set up a three-sided ten along the shores with the open side facing the water. Meanwhile, to large steel doors set on the side of the ship back from the paddlewheel are opened.

Sailors on the ship begin sliding and dropping out of the ship’s hold several twelve-foot-square pontoons fastened together with thick ropes. The ropes go through the floats a foot from the top and side of each pontoon. The first pontoon is attached to the rope pulled ashore by the rowboat and the four sailors start to pull them across. Hank, Sam, Louie, Qualtaqa, Angus and Arcade all pitch in and help haul them across.

When they are finished there are ten pontoon making a bridge out to the boat, however the river current is causing them to rock about and there is around a foot of empty space between each pontoon so Morgana questions how Jumbo will be able to safely cross. “That’s my job,” Paolo states. He puts on a pair of rubber gloves and then stands inside the tent and takes the end of the two ropes from the first pontoon. He then begins to cast a spell.

His hands start to glow and electricity begins to spark from his fingers. The ropes then change their consistency from hemp to steel cables and then steel rods, making the bridge to the ship solid and straight. Sailors from the ship then head out with twelve-foot-long and one-foot wide wooden planks, placing them atop the rods between the pontoons. One of the sailors on shore tells the party “Hurry, we need to get the animal onto the ship.”

Morgana wakes up Jumbo and then casts a Speak with Animals spell onto Jumbo to help prompt him into crossing the bridge. Scott takes some flowers that he had picked the previous hour and starts feeding them to Jumbo, luring him out onto the bridge. They soon cross over. Back on shore the spell is ended and the rods soon become ropes again. The crew on the ship quickly pulls the pontoons back while the sailors on shore take down the tent and row back to the ship with a now exhausted First Mate.

Inside the ship Scott helps fasten Jumbo to some large chains and elephant sized manacles in the center of the ship’s hold that are fastened into the floor. Arcade says, “Must be to keep the weight steady and balanced. Paolo says, “And to keep him from eating all the hay.” Only noticing a half-dozen pallets of hay bales Morgana comments, “This won’t last long.” The First Mate replies, “We are picking up more tomorrow.” He invites the group to follow him topside.

They approach Captain Wilkinson who says, “Welcome to the Advance”. He turns to Jumbo’s trainer and asks, “Mr. Scott, is the animal secured?” In an imitation of a James Doohan voice a player replies, “Aye Captain, there be elephants here.” Anchors and pulled up and the ship resumes its course. They have to travel forward a quarter mile to a wider section of the river allowing them enough space to turn the ship around. This takes time and several constables on shore arrive and start blowing whistles.

The ship then begins a mad dash back down the Thames. On the ride up Wilkinson had made multiple notations to his nautical charts of the river and significantly increases his speed. With both paddlewheels turning full force and a full head of steam the ship quickly reaches the English Channel.

Wilkinson continues to sail out into the channel as fast as possible, having his crew raise the sails as well to catch the early morning breeze and add extra propulsion. By the time the sun rises over the eastern horizon they are no longer within sight of land. A United States flag is then run up the flagpole and the First Mate tells the Captain “The American name is back on.” The Captain tells them, “You are now on the Frolic.”

Wilkinson invites the crew to join him for breakfast in the Captain’s lounge. Several baskets of breads, jams, fruits and dried meats await them along with a honey-mead to wash them down.

While they eat Wilkinson tells them the history of the ship. “It was originally built at the Caird and Company shipyards in Greenock, Scotland. Launched on July 3rd, 1862, she was purchased by the State of North Carolina and crossed the Atlantic under where she joined the Confederate Navy as a blockade-runner under the name Advance. For the next two years she successfully eluded over forty Union vessels on a total of twenty blockade runs.

She was captured in September 1864 and purchased by the United States Navy who re-commissioned her as the USS Advance, who ironically then used her to attack the North Carolina coast. After the war she was re-commissioned as the USS Frolic and stationed in the Mediterranean Sea. She next patrolled the North Atlantic fishing grounds and was then pressed into service by the Navy in South American waters. She was decommissioned in October of 1877, the same year I published my book, and I purchased her last year with the earnings from my book. She is a fine ship with a lot of surprises. I operate her with a crew of twenty. When flying the American flag I use the name that she was sold to be as, the Frolic, but to me she will always be the Confederate Naval Ship Advance.”

Following the meal the group are shown to their quarters, which are rather small and cramped. Having been up all night, they all quickly fall asleep. They awaken mid to late afternoon and see that they are sailing west. Wilkinson tells them that they are traveling parallel the cost and just out of sight of land. Louie complains about the wet misty weather.

February 18, 1882:

At dawn the Frolic sails into the English port of Plymouth, England. Waiting for them along the dock are thirty pallets of hay bales, which are loaded into the hold out of reach of Jumbo. Wilkinson checks all of the paperwork and the ship sets sail again mid-morning.

Once at sea Wilkinson talks to Scott, Arcade and Morgana about the possibility of Jumbo charging at pallets of hay along the sides of the hold just outside of reach of Jumbo. Scott assures him that Jumbo is well behaved and would not do that. Wilkinson says, “No, you do not understand. I want you to train him to do that. Meet me with the rest of your group in my lounge and I will explain why.

Once assembled in the lounge Wilkinson tells them, “Back during the Civil War this ship was successfully used to bring contraband through the blockades at considerable risk but also considerable profit due to the scarcity of the cargo. This ship was constructed for just that purpose. I have continued to carry out that tradition.” The group exchange glances trying to deduce what he just told them. Angus says, “So, are you saying that you are a smuggler?”

The old Captain smiles and says, “Exactly. I had missed the excitement of that life and wished to return to it. The restrictions within the United States and other anti-wizard magic nations has created an underground economy for wizard magics and certain spell components used with wizard magics. The opposite is also true, as with anti-clerical magic nations restricting items and components used for that. This in turn has made a lucrative market for my unique talents to tap.”

Arcade asks, “So, what are you smuggling now and where are we going?” He replies, “At the moment the only cargo on this ship are bales of hay and one large elephant, all of which I have official paperwork for.

Within the next two days I will be changing direction and head into the Azores, which are a colony of the pro-wizard county of Portugal. There I will off load half of this hay and replace it with pallets containing hay bales on the outer sides and wizard-magic contraband in the center. The most precious of these will be in four pallets, which will rest two to either side of Jumbo. If any inspectors decide to investigate those I wish to have the elephant charge towards them, which should prevent thorough inspections of them.”

Hank asks, “So are we actually going to Galveston?” Wilkinson says, “Absolutely, it is our official destination. But first I plan to make three unscheduled stops in the United States, in places that support large Spanish and French populations who have difficulty getting the items that we are picking up.” “Where?” Morgana asks. He replies, “Locations near Key West, Florida, New Orleans, Louisiana and finally near Galveston, Texas.”

“So, that’s why you really needed us as guards?” Louie asks. Wilkinson replies, “Yes, that is the main thing Barnum is paying you for. He needs you to get his cargo there safely, and it won’t if the English, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Greek or Italian Navies commandeers this ship. We might also run into trouble from the United States Navy or local authories at any of the three unoffical stops. There’s also the remote possibility of being attacked by pirates, as their type still prowls the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico.” The party is surprised by these revelations but do not appear to be overly concerned. “Should make for an interesting cruise,” Arcade comments.
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Silver Moon

Chapter 79, “The Azores”, February 19th, 1882:

One day into the voyage the ship is stopped by an armada of four British ships who inspect the vessel. Captain Wilkinson insists upon receiving a written report from the Inspector General confirming that everything onboard the ship appears to be in order. Scott and Morgana continue to train Jumbo to charge towards the hay bales alongside near him.

February 20th, 1882:

Two days after leaving the British Isles the Captain makes a course correction to the south. The Captain also changes the ships flag to a Peruvian one and the First Officer uses a magical device to change the name on the steam of the ship to now read “Isabella” instead of “Frolic”.

Wilkinson explains that the ship is registered under three different names in three different countries and that he keeps three separate sets of books. He tells the party that First Officer Vitolia is officially listed as the Isabella’s Captain due to his being of Portuguese descent, as that they are now sailing into waters claimed by Spain and Portugal.

Hank asks, “United States, Peru, what’s the third country.” Wilkinson replies, “Switzerland, that registry listing the ship as the “Heidi”. Arcade comments, “A ship from a landlocked country with no port?” Wilkinson replies, “Not entirely true. They have several port cities along the Rhine River, which flows through Germany and then into the Sea and Ocean. The main advantage is that the Swiss are neutral in regards to clerical and wizard magics so I fly that flag when I am uncertain who I may encounter.”

February 22nd, 1882:

They arrive at the Azores island chain. He bypasses the major ports on the two most populous islands, bringing the ship to the island of Pima. Wilkinson explains that “Paolo has family on this island and they have arranged the cargo. We’ll be staying here until tomorrow if you want to go on shore and do some looking around and shopping.” Morgana welcomes the opportunity to get off of the ship. Hank comments, “There must be some people here who want to hear about Texas.” Arcade replies, “Why would you think that. There are people in Texas who don’t want to hear about Texas.”

They visit the largest town on the island and encounter language problems as most of the inhabitants only speak Portuguese, which none o the party know. They discover that the town has a Magic Shop. They head inside and are happy to discover that the proprietor does speak English.

He has a variety of items for sale but most are out of the price range of the party. His elixirs and potions are within the party’s range and he describes a number of them. They opt to purchase one that increases the Speed that people move at and another that creates Invisibility. Hank also purchases a magical rope.

February 23rd, 1882

The contraband is all loaded onboard hidden within pallets of hay bales. Wilkinson had planned to offload and replace that number of pallets of the Plymouth-loaded hay but since Jumbo is eating at a faster pace than anticipated all are retained, moving those that won’t fit in the hold up to the top deck.

The ship resumes it’s passage to America. Once they are out of sight of the Azores the ship’s name and flag are changed to the Swiss “Heidi”. They are stopped later in the day by a pair of Spanish warships who conduct only a superficial inspection.

February 25th, 1882:

The ship reaches the main shipping lanes between American and Britain. The ship’s name and flag are changed back to the American “Frolic”. Later that day they encounter a large British warship that conducts a short inspection. Jumbo charges at the British Officer-in-Charge on cue, prompting them to quickly conclude their search and find everything to be in order. Wilkinson insists on getting that in writing.

March 2nd, 1882:

The Frolic sails parallel the Island of Cuba and then approaches the Florida Keys. American warships are patrolling the area for pirates so the stop at Key West is done as expeditiously as possible, using the pontoon bridge to quickly get the contraband to shore where the buyers of it await. Some kegs of rum are loaded onboard and a celebration is held that night for both the passengers and crew.

March 4th, 1882:

After two days of sailing up the western coast of Florida as well as the Alabama and Mississippi coast they approach Louisiana. They avoid the Mississippi river inlets, sailing instead to a marshy area along the Chandelcur Sound, forty miles east of New Orleans. They dock near a small island with a dozen or so buildings, where the pontoon bridge is again used to offload the contraband. Wilkinson has both his crew and Arcade’s Gang very visible with all of their weaponry, as he is less trusting of the person he is selling this cargo to. The transaction takes place without incident and they depart. They set sail back into the Gulf of Mexico to head directly towards Galveston.

Silver Moon

Chapter 80, “Pirates of the Caribbean”, March 6th, 1882, 2:00 PM

A trio of ships is seen approaching from the south. They fly no flags and Wilkinson declares “They be pirates.” Arcade suggests, “Let them come on board and realize the only thing to steal is an elephant and hay.” Wilkinson says, “Not a good idea. They might get angry and decide to kill either Jumbo or us.”

As the ships near the group gets a better look at them. One is a large wooden-hulled merchant vessel of 1850’s design, often used for whaling, known as a bark. Another is a smaller merchant ship with a steel plated hull. The third is a Civil-war era metal-hulled warship. Wilkinson reveals to the party some of the modifications that he made to the Advance, namely four well-concealed cannons. He has his crew ready the artillery pieces while still keeping them camouflaged.

One thing that the dwarf Angus had brought on board is a dozen sticks of dynamite. He fastens them together is three sets of four and puts a two-minute fuse on each. The group discusses how to get these to the enemy vessels. Paolo Vitolia indicates that he has the ability to Teleport to a location within sight and could go to one of the vessels and back, and that he could bring up to two people with him. Both Angus and Hank volunteer. The ships are now close enough to see crew on each vessel. Arcade, Louie and Sam decide to lay down some covering fire to distract the enemy while the others launch the attack.

They teleport unseen to the roof of the forecastle on the warship. Paolo tosses a Fireball spells down into a group of crew gathered on the main deck and firing on the Frolic. He then uses a spell to levitate a lit packet of dynamite sticks up to the steam ship’s funnel and drops it down simultaneous to Hank lifting up Angus and shoving another packet down the ship’s main gun.

“What about the other set of dynamite?” Angus asks. Paolo says, “No time, this one’s about to blow.” Hank point to the Bark and says “How about we bring it there?” Paolo says, “I only have one more teleport left.” Angus says, “They’ve got a dingy. We can borrow it to get back.” They teleport off the warship just as the first set of dynamite explodes in the ship’s bowels, followed by a second in the powder magazine. Massive sections of the ship fly off as fire engulfs the vessel.

The explosion has one side effect of attacking the attention of the Bark’s crew to the rear, where several of them see the trio teleport in. The pirates begin to fire at them and Paolo is hit. Angus and Hank pull him down and behind some barrels. The wound is not deep, but they are now caught in a crossfire between two groups of armed pirates on the vessel. Seeing that their friends are in trouble, Wilkinson turns the Frolic so that its two after cannons can fire onto the bark.

Paolo is still capable of casting spells, and tosses a Fireball up into the main mast of he ship, which creates an effective distraction coupled with the cannon fire from the Frolic. A few of the pirates are also picked off by rifle fire from Arcade, Louie and Sam. Paolo casts an Invisibility spell onto Angus, who heads off below deck with the remaining set of dynamite sticks.

Angus soon returns and they fight their way to the rear of the ship, jumping overboard and climbing into the dingy. Pirates fire down from above until a loud explosion rocks the ship and it begins to rapidly sink. Angus cuts away the dingy and they begin to row away.

The remaining pirate vessel begins to fire its own cannons at the dingy. Wilkinson has the Frolic make a wide starboard turn to put it between the remaining ship and the oversized rowboat carrying Angus, Hank and Paolo. The crew of the Frolic move the cannons and both ships fire broadsides at each other, causing minimal damage to both ships. Jumbo’s trainer Scott panics when an incendiary cannonball crashes through the side of the ship and sets a pallet of hay on fire. With help from Jumbo and Morgana they are able to get several barrels of water poured onto the fire and extinguish the blaze.

The pirate ship manages to pull several dozen crewmen from the water of the sunk and sinking vessels and then sails away back to the south. The Frolic pursues for a half-mile, then turns back to go collect the three in the dingy. One paddlewheel is damaged so they raise the sails and use those as a primary means of propulsion while repairs are made to the wheel. Temporary repairs enable the wheel to again be used, although Wilkinson explains that maximum speed is no longer possible.

March 8th, 1882:

At sunset the lights of Galveston, the largest city in Texas, are seen to the west. Wilkinson keeps the ships lights off and flying without a flag heads north towards the community of High Island near the base of the Bolivar Peninsula fifteen miles northeast of Galveston. They crawl into an isolated inlet where the remaining contraband are off-loaded via the pontoons into a caravan of waiting wagons. The ship remains anchored in the inlet for the night.

March 9th, 1882:

The ship is stopped by a pair of United States warships upon leaving High Island and subjected to a detailed search. Wilkinson is unconcerned as everything left on board is legitimate cargo. He explains that they had to make an emergency stop due to the damage caused by the pirates, as it affected the ship’s steering and he didn’t want to cause an accident getting into Galveston Harbor. The Navy is suspicious but finally releases the vessel in the afternoon. By early evening they are docked in Galveston.

Silver Moon

Module #131

Chapter 81, “Galveston”, Thursday, March 9th, 1882:

By early evening they are docked in Galveston, the largest city in Texas and 82nd largest city in the United States. The city was a bustling metropolis with 530 businesses totaling $ 30 million in annual sales that including 147 saloons and 10 hotels. The population of approximately 25,000 was mostly human of English, Scottish, Italian and French descent with a minority population of approximately 25% being ex-slaves of Ogrish descent.

The only remaining cargo on the vessel is Jumbo. Arcade quips “Funny that we had to sneak the other things off. Normally you’d think that of everything that was on this ship the elephant would be the most objectionable.” Hank says, “Nah, I think Louie still holds that honor.”

A group of men hired by P.T. Barnum is waiting to take possession of the elephant Jumbo. The documents are examined and the signatures and writing match those of the documents that the party had been given. The group helps the men in getting the elephant off of the vessel. The trainer Scott accompanies the men and the party wishes him good luck in the United States.

Arcade comments “I think we need to spend some time on dry land.” “And away from elephants,” Sam adds. Arcade says, “Yes. Tomorrow I need to go shopping for a new duster. I don’t think that all the ‘Clean’ cantrips in the world will ever get the elephant smell out of this one.” The group decides to stick around Galveston for at least the weekend while they get reacquainted with being on dry land. Meagan and Angus bid the party farewell, deciding to go see the county on their own [DM’s Note: Their players had left the gaming group.]

The party decides to find lodgings for the night. They find lodgings at the Houston Hotel. Morgana comments, “I thought Houston was another city?” Hank exclaims, “It is. This hotel is named for the great Sam Houston, the father of all Texas.” Louie comments, “Wow, he was busier than my father, and I have lots of siblings.”

They secure lodgings and Hank then asks for directions to the nearest bar. The hotel manager suggests the Palace of Gold Saloon next door. Louie says, “They have palace here in United States? I thought there no royalty here?” Hank says, “Nah, that’s just the name. We don’t need royalty, this is American, the land of opportunity.” Sam says, “Right, you make your own future.” Looking over the group Arcade comments, “Maybe we should have gone with royalty instead.” Hank says, “Here’s a place that anybody can go on to become Mayor, Governor or even President.” Morgana interjects, “Unless you happen to be a woman, an elf, an orc, an ogre, or any combination of those.”

Several games of poker are going on and Arcade comments about maybe joining one. Hank says, “Okay, but don’t cheat. If you get caught cheating in Texas I’ll say I don’t know you.” Arcade replies, “That would almost make it worth getting caught.” They watch the games going on which are Faro rather than Poker. It isn’t their game of choice so they head down the street to the Lucky Ace Saloon and soon find a poker game that Arcade and Hank can join. They play for a couple of hours, Hank ending the night up $ 65 and Arcade up $ 17. Morgana had spent that time playing the piano at singing at the Saloon, finishing the night with $ 2.83 in tips. They head back to the hotel.

Friday, March 10th, 1882:

The group enjoys sleeping late. They eventually get up and have breakfast. They decide to do some shopping. Morgana sees and purchases a silver-plated harmonica. Hank says, “That’s great, the next time we find ourselves arrested and thrown in jail you’ll have something to play.” Sam asks hesitantly, “Hank, how much trouble are you planning to get us into?” Louie says, “We no have to look for trouble, it finds us on its own.”

They start the day at the bank where Barnum had given them the paperwork to be paid for their work. It takes a while for the bank manager to process everything and get them their funds, which they take in a combination of big and small bills. The $ 3,000 is divided up into equal packets of $ 500 for each. Sam comments, “Angus and Meagan should have stuck around.” Arcade says, “This is part of why I wanted them to go. Their loss, our gain.”

Next they find a clothing shop where Arcade purchases himself a new black leather duster coat. Louie looks at several dresses. Sam laughs, “I don’t think those are your style.” Louie says, “It not for me. For Mary Wong back in Promise City. I should brink her present after long trip.” Arcade asks, “How long did you tell her you would be away?” He replies, “I not say. How long were we away?” Morgana replies, “Four months.” Hank tells Louie, “Maybe you should make that two dresses.” Morgana suggests he get her lots of presents.

They go to a general store when Louie buys lots more presents as well as a large truck to put them all in. Hank sees a copy of a book he hasn’t read yet by author Mark Twain. This leads to numerous jokes at his expense question whether he has ever owned a book before or even knows how to read. Hank insists that he is a fine reader and that he makes it a point to read a book every year or two.

Louie and Qualtaqa each pick up one end of the truck to lug with them. It has now gotten hotter outside and Louie comments to Hank, “Is Texas always this hot?” He replies, “Nah, it’s only March. It gets a lot hotter in the summer time.” They head back to the hotel to unload their purchases. They spend the rest of the day and evening just relaxing and hanging out are the various saloons near the hotel.

Saturday, March 11th, 1882:

The group sleeps late into the morning. Over brunch they read in the local newspaper about a shooting contest taking place that afternoon. It costs $ 10 to enter and the 1st prize winner get $ 250, 2nd prize is $ 150 and 3rd prize is $ 50. Arcade, Hank and Sam all decide that they want to participate.

The contest is taking place down on the peninsula outcropping from the city. There is a large turnout, with nearly 300 participants. Hank comments, “I’m not surprised. We Texans are usually armed and proud of our marksmanship. The contest is for revolvers only. Several rounds are held narrowing the number of participants down to the best twenty, of which both Hank and Sam qualify.

A series of final shoots follows. Hank finishes in 5th place. Sam manages to take 2nd place, loosing to a local saloonkeeper named Clem Hawkins. Sam accepts the prize money. When asked by a local reporter for his name Sam replies, “Melvin Smith”. A number of people offer to buy drinks for ‘Melvin’ and the rest of the group goes along, spending the rest of the day celebrating his good fortune.

Sunday, March 12th, 1882:

Worship services to the various gods are traditionally held on Sunday so Morgana and Arcade decide to head off into the nearest wilderness for their own Druidic ceremony. Qualtaqa heads off for private mediation. Hank, Louie and Sam spend the morning at the hotel sleeping in.

Over lunch the party reaches the conclusion that it is time to head back to Arizona. They visit the train station in the afternoon and purchase tickets for a train to Houston that will arrive there at approximately 8:00 P.M. The group checks out of their hotel and head to the train station.

Silver Moon

Chapter 82, “The Bounty Hunter”, Sunday, March 12th, 1882, 8:00 P.M.

The train carrying Arcade’s Gang arrives in Houston, Texas. They discover that the next passenger train west doesn’t leave until the following afternoon. Arcade comments, “I’m shocked that there aren’t more trains leaving from here. I would think that anybody who came to this city would want to leave right away.” Hank protests until Morgana says, “If Texas is so great then why did you leave it?”

They find lodgings for the night at the Shining Star Inn near the train depot as they don’t want to have to lug full trunk any further than they have to.

Monday, March 13th, 1882: 9:30 A.M.

The group sleeps late and grabs breakfast at the Inn. The breakfast consists of steak, eggs and chili. Morgana gets a salad instead. Breakfast conversation consists of Hank regaling the group on the wonders of various Texas chili recopies.

Morgana says that she’d like to go do some shopping. They soon find themselves at the fanciest jewelry store in town and Morgana looks at a number of shiny pieces of nice jewelry. She buys a silver necklace with three quartz pendants.

Louie takes an interest too and the proprietor asks him “Is there something in particular you would like to look at?” He replies, “Yeah, something nice so I don’t get hit in the side of the head by girlfriend.” The man also has for sale table settings and asks, “Would she be interested in some silverware or good imported china?” Louie replies, “I from China, that enough for her.”

Hank tells Louie “So what? You just find another gal.” Louie says, “Mary Wong only Chinese girl in Promise City. Only other woman I know is Morgana and she already married.” Arcade says, “As big and heavy as that hope chest is I’d say you have nothing to worry about.” Hank adds, “And even if she is angry and kills you, that chest is big enough to bury you in, so you’d still get some use out of it.” He buys some jewelry and the comment is made “That’s the most he’s spent since he bought rice.”

It is around 11:00 AM when they are walking down a less traveled street and hear a voice yell out from an alleyway “Drop it”. They look in the alley and see that the comment was made from a very tall man in cowboy clothes, Stetson hat, with long blonde hair and holding a revolver. He is pointing the revolver from point blank range into the back of the head of another man. That man is wearing worn farming clothes and holding a shotgun and pointing it out of the alleyway directly towards Arcade.

Morgana exclaims, “What is going on here?” The tall man says in a Texas drawl “Be right with you Ma’am, just as soon as this guy lowers his shotgun.” Arcade, Hank and Sam all draw their revolvers and point them towards the shotgun-toting farmer. “What is this all about?” Arcade states. The tall Texan replies, “This here guy is a bounty hunter.” The Texan reaches into a left hand pants pocket and pulls out a rolled up sheet of yellowed paper, which he tosses to Arcade.

Arcade unrolls it to read “Wanted! $ 2,000 reward for the capture of Arcade’s Gang” He reads the remainder, accusing them on three murders in Promise City on January 2nd . The reward cites to total amount for the capture and killing of the entire gang and lesser amounts specifically for Arcade and Sure-shot Sam. Hey, “We’re being accused of something that we actually didn’t do!” Sam exclaims.

They tell the bounty hunter “We didn’t do this. We weren’t even in the United States at the time.” He replies, “Not my problem. Bounty’s still valid.” The Texan tells the bounty hunter, “Cole, these guys are on to you. Best to quit while you’re ahead. Empty the ammunition out of your weapons and go.” The man does as instructed but also tells the Texan “You’re a dead man. Nobody orders Irby Cole around.” “I’ll take my chances,” the Texan replies.

Once the bounty hunter walks away Arcade says, “Thanks, but why’d you do that?” The Texan replies, “Not here. Let’s go somewhere private to talk.” The group hadn’t checked out of the hotel yet since they didn’t want to have to lug Louie’s trunk around so they go back there. When asked for a name the man replies, “Tex”.

Once they are all back in the room and the door is shut and locked Hank asks “What was that all about?” Tex replies, “Around ten weeks ago a group sought revenge against a guy staying at the Comstock House back in Promise City. He drew on them as did two of his friends and the group shot the three dead. The three dead men worked for Elton Hubbard, owner of the largest mine in town and he issued the reward.”

“But why did they think it was us?” Louie asks. Tex replies, “The consisted of a tough male gunslinger, several human cowboy-types, an Indian, a half-orc and a centaur.” “Okay, that does sound like us,” Sam comments. Tex says, “Yes, but there were some key differences. The centaur was female and the Indian was male, but they decided not to let those facts get in the way of the accusation.” “Figures,” Louie comments.

Tex continues, “Your gambler friend Conrad Booth has seen some the group and insisted it wasn’t you but Hubbard was sure that is was. The bounty hunter Irby Cole hung around town a few weeks before leaving.” Arcade comments, “But We just got back in the county a few days ago and haven’t been using our names. How’d he find us so quickly?” Arcade asks. Tex replies, “Bad luck on your part. Cole lives here in Houston and he saw you this morning. Your group doesn’t exactly blend it.”

Morgana says, “Okay, that tells us who he is but not who are you and why you decided to help us.” He reaches down and removes a ring from his right ring finger. Once the ring leaves his hand he transforms into Manuel Gonzales, friend, wizard and Morgana’s teacher from back in Promise City. “Ah, that explains a lot,” she says. He replies, “Yes my little bird, it should. I imagine you all have a great many more questions.”

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