[IC] Ynn by way of Knave

Voros

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I climb up on the wall if feasible and crouch on top and await Axel.
 
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Gambon discovers some obvious signs of trauma among the skeletons: nicks and puncture marks, mostly around the skull and ribs. As he examines them, the vines woven through the nearest tighten inside the bones and the skeleton lurches to its feet, turning to look at him. Several others do the same.

Axel tugs at a length of chain and easily frees it.

The wall is only chest-high, Flim scales it with ease. He sees an 8-foot chasm cutting Axel's part of the kennels off from the rose garden. The soil and rock underneath go down about 200 feet and then there's an indistinct tangle of pipes and turning gears, half-hidden by fog and water spraying from severed conduits.
 

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Grabbing the chain, Axel formed a primitive loop at one end. 'Not as sound as a running Spanish Fisherman's three-and-five-eighths hitch', he thought. 'Hope this lad's not heavier than he looks...'

With that, the former sailor ran towards the edge of the yawning crevasse and attempted to throw the chain to the dangling figure. 'Grab the end', he shouted while bracing to take the extra weight.
 

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Gambon discovers some obvious signs of trauma among the skeletons: nicks and puncture marks, mostly around the skull and ribs. As he examines them, the vines woven through the nearest tighten inside the bones and the skeleton lurches to its feet, turning to look at him. Several others do the same.
Gambon backs away slowly hoping the skeletons stop their advance. As he does so he tries to see what might lie beyond the lawn, if there are any exits out.
 

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The glass butler grabs at Axel's chain. It's heavy, but Axel manages to take the strain. It flails for a moment, trying to hold onto the chain with one hand and its satchel full of fly trap cuttings with the other. That doesn't work and it's forced to shrug the satchel off. It goes plummeting into the void and is quickly lost to sight. The butler climbs the chain and then stands looking down into the mist where the satchel vanished. "Mistress will be disappointed," it warbles, before turning to look Axel up and down. "Venus salad is her favourite. Still, we can make do..." Somehow it manages to produce the knife it was using on the flytrap again, and steps towards Axel.

The overgrown skeletons attempt to wrench free of their chains and attack Gambon, but all four of them find the bindings are too strong for them. One manages to pop a link on a single chain, only to have the free end whip round and crush a flower. The entire vine shivers and sways for a moment in distress before it returns to the job of trying to pull free. Gambon can see a door set in the far wall.
 

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I look around for a stone I can throw at the glass butler.
 

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The overgrown skeletons attempt to wrench free of their chains and attack Gambon, but all four of them find the bindings are too strong for them. One manages to pop a link on a single chain, only to have the free end whip round and crush a flower. The entire vine shivers and sways for a moment in distress before it returns to the job of trying to pull free. Gambon can see a door set in the far wall.
Gambon runs as fast as he can toward the door, hoping the skeletons' desiccated state leaves them slow to attack.
 

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'Right, just hold your horses', said Axel, beginning to get more than a little annoyed with the see-through servant. 'I've no idea what a Venus salad is - in fact I'm not even sure I've ever seen a normal salad - but you best not be looking at me like that or I'll crack your noggin like a coconut. And I *have* seen one of them!'.
Taking a step away from the butler he hefted his gaff in both hands in readiness for potential unpleasantness.
 

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Gambon legs it through the door and finds himself looking at a lawn covered with enormous clockwork parts. Cogs, springs, rods, rockers, and other things that would look more fitting inside a gentleman's pocket watch. It looks like they exploded from underground, there's a collapsed-in pit at the centre of it all. Just past that is a stone tower. There are seven levels, going by the windows. The ground floor has a mill wheel that looks like it seized completely when the stream feeding it dried up.

The butler is clearly going to attack Axel, who wins initiative. Are you going to fight, or try something else?
 

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OOC: do any of the cracks caused by the plant's attacks look like they might be vulnerable to a sharp hit? If not, leg it! Axel is going to head in the direction he last saw the giant caterpillar.
 

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Gambon legs it through the door and finds himself looking at a lawn covered with enormous clockwork parts. Cogs, springs, rods, rockers, and other things that would look more fitting inside a gentleman's pocket watch. It looks like they exploded from underground, there's a collapsed-in pit at the centre of it all. Just past that is a stone tower. There are seven levels, going by the windows. The ground floor has a mill wheel that looks like it seized completely when the stream feeding it dried up.
Gambon, against his better judgement, slowly edges toward the pit to have a look in.
 

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I forgot about Flim's stone! Mea culpa. Flim hurls the rock... and it glances off the butler's head. He ignores it and steps towards Axel.

There's a crack running vertically the length of its face that looks like a weak spot. Axel rams his billhook at it (-2 for a targeted attack, but double damage if it hits) but critically fails. The butler is unharmed and the crack actually manages to catch and bend the point of the billhook's blade, reducing it to 2 quality.

It lashes out with its knife, attempting to harvest Axel's delicious flesh. It completely pooches the attack, and Axel is unharmed.

Axel: continue or flee? Knave doesn't have attacks of opportunity on disengaging.

There's another underground rumble, quieter this time. A few extra stones drop from the chasm's edge into the void, but none of the architecture is affected.

The pit below Gambon is a good thirty feet across and extends at least fifty down. The walls are dirt, but the bottom is a plug of twisted machine parts similar to the ones he sees embedded in the lawn.

He gradually becomes aware that he's no longer alone here. There's an odd group of figures slowly approaching - a group of men with some of the attributes of animals. One has a weasel-like head and bushy tail. Two of them have fish heads, mouths opening and closing like they're gulping air. And three are upright frogs, with eyes bugging out. They're all dressed in servant's clothes that haven't been washed in a while and carrying packs and bundles. They've seen Gambon and are cautiously coming closer.
 

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'Bugger', muttered Axel as his attempt to crack open his opponent's skull failed miserably. Sensing his chances of success were slim, he took to his heels and fled, hurling a couple of choice salty insults at the blade brandishing butler as he went.
 

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The pit below Gambon is a good thirty feet across and extends at least fifty down. The walls are dirt, but the bottom is a plug of twisted machine parts similar to the ones he sees embedded in the lawn.

He gradually becomes aware that he's no longer alone here. There's an odd group of figures slowly approaching - a group of men with some of the attributes of animals. One has a weasel-like head and bushy tail. Two of them have fish heads, mouths opening and closing like they're gulping air. And three are upright frogs, with eyes bugging out. They're all dressed in servant's clothes that haven't been washed in a while and carrying packs and bundles. They've seen Gambon and are cautiously coming closer.
Gambon tries to keep calm, noticing their servant garb, he backs away from the hole slowly.

"Hello there! I assume you work for the colonel in some manner yes?"
 

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Flim shakes his head and jumps down from the wall, shrugs his shoulders and heads in the direction he last saw Gambon.
 

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Axel:
The glass butler pursues, but Axel outpaces him and he gives up as Axel passes back through the gate into the herb garden. That'll teach him to be made of a heavy crystalline material.

Gambon:
"I work for the kernel, yes." says one of the fish men. "And the ear, and the husk. You can do a lot with cornsilk. Except perhaps Primavera Carbonara. I won't make that mistake twice."

"I work for the peas." one of his fellows adds. "Or I would, if I knew where they were."

"I'd like to work in some manna," the third one sighs. "Because then I'd have a tasty snack at hand when I'm weak and weary."

The fish just gape at Gambon. The last one, now revealed to be a ferret, rolls his eyes at the inanities. He looks tired. "No, we don't work for any colonel. I s'pose you could say we're independent. Got a cigarette?"

Flim:
After passing through the rose garden and the shooting gallery, Flim finds himself on a spiraling flagstone path that twines around a number of hothouses. There's no immediate sign of Gambon here, but he does spot a discarded squeaky bone that the dog Montmorency used to prance about the dining room with until Colonel Glencoe's patience wore out. It's still moist with corgi spit.
 

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I search the area for dog tracks.
 

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After stopping for a moment or two to catch his breath - and put thoughts of revenge on the crystal cad out of his mind - Axel realised that he hadn't seen his companions for several minutes. He looked around for something to climb which would give him a better vantage point to look around.
 

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Flim searches for dog tracks and discovers a few, but it's impossible to pick out a trail. The dog tracks are crossed and criss-crossed by a variety of other tracks, left by wildly different feet. Probably feet, anyway.

As he wanders, Flim begins to hear an angry grunting. The source is a weird hybrid creature -- wolf body, bull's head, two sets of mismatched wings. Its front leg is caught in a bear trap. It's tugging at it to try and get free, but it's stuck fast.

Axel is looking for a vantage point. The highest point in the herb garden is the roof of a potting shed. It's easy enough to improvise a ladder from crates and the roof is high enough to see over the surrounding walls. Back the way the characters originally came in is a shrubbery with a gazebo in the centre. It doesn't have much resemblance to the colonel's shrubbery, though. In the other direction is the kennels, with their overarching glass roof. To the direction Axel vaguely recalls as east is a formal garden with a neat stone structure in the middle, and to the west is an odd sort of orchard with trees that look like they have rainbow-coloured cobwebs instead of leaves.
 

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Gambon:
"I work for the kernel, yes." says one of the fish men. "And the ear, and the husk. You can do a lot with cornsilk. Except perhaps Primavera Carbonara. I won't make that mistake twice."

"I work for the peas." one of his fellows adds. "Or I would, if I knew where they were."

"I'd like to work in some manna," the third one sighs. "Because then I'd have a tasty snack at hand when I'm weak and weary."

The fish just gape at Gambon. The last one, now revealed to be a ferret, rolls his eyes at the inanities. He looks tired. "No, we don't work for any colonel. I s'pose you could say we're independent. Got a cigarette?"
Gambon laughs a little to himself. So odd looking yet so personable.

"Well...ehm...gentlemen. Would you happen to have seen a dog pass this way?"
 

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I approach the creature but keep at distance to judge its response to me.
 

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From his elevated vantage point Axel shouted 'Flim! Gambon! Where are you?' hoping to attract the attention of his comrades, while silently praying it didn't draw some other bizarre denizen of the garden down on him instead.
 

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Gambon: One of the frogs opens its mouth to answer, but the ferret kicks it in the ankle. "Maybe. We see plenty. Who's asking?"

Flim: The beast snarls and snaps while pulling back away from Flim. The trap is at the end of a thick iron chain attached to a stake, it can't retreat far.

Axel: There's no answer, but at the noise a flock of birds fly up from their perches over the nearest wall. Axel sees that the giant caterpillar is back, weaving an erratic path through the beds. Its progress is awkward and halting, though. It looks like something took a big juicy bite out of it. The wound is oozing a dark ichor.
 

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I move past the beast, figuring it is safer to leave it trapped.
 

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Gambon: One of the frogs opens its mouth to answer, but the ferret kicks it in the ankle. "Maybe. We see plenty. Who's asking?"
"The colonel himself and his lady wife, they've asked me to retrieve the little yapper"
 

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'Hmmm' thought Axel, 'no sign of either of them'. He nimbly hopped down from his elevated perch and returned to the vegetable garden, taking care to keep away from the wounded worm. He spent a few minutes checking the churned up earth to see if there were at least any tracks that would point him in the direction his chums had gone.

OOC: Try not to blunder back within stabbing distance of the butler while trying to find and follow any tracks!
 

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Flim - Flim gets past the beast, staying out of its range. Seeing that he's keeping a respectful distance, the chimera's efforts become less urgent. It's still trying to get loose and still obviously can't. Past the creature, there are five greenhouses. A row of three square ones, a hexagonal one, and a large round one. Looking through the windows, the hex house has rows of workbenches and looks like an area where seeds are germinated for transfer to the larger houses. The square houses have dense walls of internal foliage that presses up to the glass. The round house has fogged windows, making it impossible to see inside.

Gambon - "We don't know any colonel, married or unmarried --" "Marriage is that state in which a man loses his bachelor's degree and a woman gains her master's degree." "-- shut up Phil -- and we don't know you, so we're going to need some quid pro quo if we're going to help you." The ferret turns so he's looking at the ruined tower. "Grab us the most valuable item you can find on the top floor there and we'll see what we can do."

Axel - It's easy to trace the party's tracks, because Axel was in it when it passed this way. The trail leads right back to the chasm in the kennels. There's a gate on the other side of it. It would be a long jump, especially carrying a load of gear. The butler has vanished, perhaps still foraging.
 

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Gambon considers the odd group.

"Right, the tower and can I ask why you won't do it yourself? I've no problem doing it in terms of effort, but it must be risky in someway if you lot haven't done it yourselves. I'd like to know what I might be getting myself into"
 

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I approach the round greenhouse and listen at the door. If I don't hear anything I open the door and carefully enter with my weapon drawn.
 

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Axel surveyed the gap, peering down into the crevasse momentarily. 'Ha!' he exclaimed 'just like when we boarded the Greased Pig and stole all their rum'.
He walked back a few paces before taking various odds and ends out his pockets and piling them beside one of the buildings. Topping the heap with his now rather damaged bill hook, he drew out his knife and clenched it in his teeth, before sprinting for the edge and hurling himself into the air in an attempt to cross the void...

OOC: get rid of everything apart from the knife before jumping.
 

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Gambon: "We're servants. Servants aren't allowed in the tower. I didn't work my way up from boot boy just to get busted down to scrubbing chamber pots because I got caught in the tower." A frog raises a webbed finger and says "But --" and receives another kick in the ankle from the ferret.

All in all, he's not very convincing.

Flim: The greenhouse is silent. Flim enters cautiously and sees an overgrown summer house, filled with tropical plants that have grown past the borders of their planters. He also observes that the ceiling is fully coated with a thick layer of green slime that quivers every time a drop of water splashes or leaves rustle. There are winding pathways in here, but it's impossible to see where they lead through the thick greenery.

Axel: A sacrifice like that has to be worth advantage on the roll. Axel jumps... and finds that the ledge crumbles under his reaching fingers! He grabs for a protruding water pipe as gravity takes hold of him -- and succeeds! Axel has saved himself from a long fall into the void, but now he's suspended half way up an irregular cliff face of dirt, turning cogs, rusted springs and dangling roots.
 

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Rather than enter any deeper into the greenhouse I call out for the dog. If I get no response I head back outside and close the door.
 
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OOC: was not expecting cogs and springs. Anything to be seen before Axel tries to climb up?
 

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Gambon: The ferret glances at the fish, who shrug. "Fine. If you must know, I was going to loot the place myself until I spotted a spider as long as your arm scuttling up the brickwork. I don't know if it lives there or if it was just visiting, I didn't poke my head in after it. But you're armed and we're not, so what do you say?" That has the ring of honesty about it.

Flim: As Flim shouts a blob of green slime drips from the ceiling, dislodged by the noise. It narrowly missed him, splashing on the leaf litter across the floor and leaving a mildewy smell in the air. There's no answer to his call.

Axel: Hooked on a spring and dangling in front of Axel's face is the glass butler's satchel. It might be possible to reach it, if he stretches.
 

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'Oho!' said Axel as he spotted the swinging sack. 'That'll teach you to try and gut me you, you glass galoot' he muttered. Testing his grip to make sure his handhold was secure enough, he began to gently swing his body from side to side, just enough to build up sufficient momentum to take him close enough to grab the satchel. Hopefully...
 

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Gambon: The ferret glances at the fish, who shrug. "Fine. If you must know, I was going to loot the place myself until I spotted a spider as long as your arm scuttling up the brickwork. I don't know if it lives there or if it was just visiting, I didn't poke my head in after it. But you're armed and we're not, so what do you say?" That has the ring of honesty about it.
"A spider? Sounds unpleasant, not one for the creepy crawlies I am, but should be manageable"

Gambon heads toward the tower.
 

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I turn and leave the greenhouse. I decide to move past them to continue to look for the dog.
 

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Axel: Axel reaches for the satchel and just manages to curl his fingers around the strap before swinging away again. It's fairly heavy but not awkward to loop over a shoulder and something inside it clinks in an intriguing manner.

The swinging has dislodged some of the dirt around Axel's pipe and now the end is beginning to droop.

Gambon: The tower is set in a small courtyard which has a sundial and several overgrown planters where flowers have been choked by weeds. There's a stout oak door which is hanging askew from its hinges, leaving a gap Gambon can wriggle through. The interior is only dimly lit by dusty windows, but the ground floor looks completely empty. There are scuff marks on the tiles that make it look like furniture was dragged out, but nothing else apart from the staircase.

Flim: Is Flim trying any of the other greenhouses, or continuing past into the next area?
 

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Axel's glee at having grabbed to butler's bag was tempered by the sensation of his hand hold beginning to give way. Hastily putting the satchel round his shoulder, he looked for way of pulling himself out of the hole.

OOC: Climb for your life!
 
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