LIMINAL – Case HAD 01 – Shadows of Lye

Brass Jester

Rune Priest
Episode 1

Nightingale and Ashley reported to DCI Amanda Stephens, head of SCD9 (Mercia) at Halesowen police station. The DCI looked at Ashley and sighed – it was hard to believe that the child standing before her was at least nineteen years old.

‘There’s been a body found in a back street in Lye. Something odd about it so the local Inspector called it in, and it was flagged up to us.’ She pointed at Ashley. ‘Collect a car from the pool but I don’t care how old you really are, you’re not to drive.’

Lye, Stourbridge

The body was in a back street, cordoned off. It was a middle-aged woman, badly burned by chemical burns. Chalked on the wall next to the body was “SUFFER THE WYCH TO BURN.” On a nearby patch of grass were tyre tracks.

A check with CCTV showed a Toyota van driving out of the alley and heading off towards Stourbridge.

A witness came forward, he had called the police. His name was Marcus Thompson and he lived in a one-room flat over the High Street. He saw a shadowy figure drawing the message and called the police. This really didn’t stand up and, after further questioning and the threat of arrest for growing weed in his window box, he came clean. The murder site was not visible from his flat, he had been out looking for her. They knew each other, her name was Emily and she had called him yesterday to say she needed a place to stay. She sounded frightened. He rounded the corner, and the van nearly knocked him down. He didn’t clock the driver.

Dr Reynolds, forensic pathologist at Russells Hall Hospital (and a consultant to SCD9) confirmed that the woman had died from severe chemical burns. It was ironic really; the stuff was sodium hydroxide also known as caustic soda. The old name for it was lye.

More questioning of Thompson (Ashley can be quite intimidating for a nine-year old, she’s actually a nineteen-year old necromancer who was trapped in a Ghost Realm for ten years,) revealed that Emily’s name was Emily Mitchell. Armed with this knowledge, Ashley summoned up Emily’s spirit. They learnt that the killer might have been Robert or Charles Astley (who?) and that she had a sister called Lydia.

Lydia Mitchell lives in Selly Oak, near to the hospital. She hadn’t spoken to Emily for over twenty years – they were estranged. Their mother always said that Emily was “off with the fairies”, Lydia was the more practical and down-to-earth, she was the one who had to take care of mother and sort out the finances. They asked if Lydia had a boyfriend, she did, he works at Selly Oak Jobcentre. Nightingale found a picture of Lydia, Emily and their mother standing by a house with a river and waterfall in the background. Further inquiries showed their alibis checked out; they were nowhere near Lye that night. *

A call into HQ revealed that CCTV showed the van, a Toyota, heading round Stourbridge ring road and heading towards Wordsley. The number plate showed the van was registered to Emily Mitchell, The Stour House, Wordsley. They spoke to someone who was leaving the Crystal leisure centre that night – he remembered the van because it ran the crossing lights on red. He didn’t see the driver.

The next day they drove out to the Stour House. It was the same as they had seen in the photo, set back from the lane and surrounded by trees. The River Stour ran behind it, with a natural waterfall. ** All very pleasant.


To be continued …

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GM notes

This is a Game of Liminal that I am running for Evie and Imi, the two older grandchildren. Imi is a young child who was trapped in a Ghost Realm for ten years, she learnt Necromancy but when she returned to the normal world she appeared ten years younger.

Evie is a Fae, a Changeling who is searching for a magical object that was stolen from court of the Fae Queen Selene Thornwood. Her name changes depending on the day of the week (or, in reality, if Evie says it does.)

The girls are loving it and getting into it. I did warn them that were horror elements, they thought this was great and they have far more gruesome imaginations than I have. I blame My Little Pony.

* Evie and Imi seem to work on the premise “guilty until proved innocent and then they probably did it anyway.”

** I say natural waterfall because, along its length through the Black Country, the Stour has had many sluices, weirs and waterwheels constructed along it, to power different industries. All of them long gone, but the traces can still be seen (several of them within easy walk from my house.) Actually, it is a weir, but I can’t find out why it was built there.

RL: Imi is 11, Evie is 10. Both in their final year at Primary school and love RPG’s.

Evie is Nightingale, Imi is Ashley

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Case HAD 01 – Shadows of Lye

Episode 2

Nightingale and Ashley searched the Stour House, upstairs they found a laptop and an antique duelling pistol. It wasn’t loaded but Nightingale sensed there was something magical about it. The laptop showed that Emily had ordered a large quantity of sodium hydroxide from Global Chemicals in Langley. It was for four cases, each one containing 20 x 2kg bottles of caustic soda. Far too much for simple domestic use. The order was placed two weeks ago.

There was an email from an antiques dealer stating that the pistol described was probably part of a matched pair made in Mecklenburg around 1896

Several references to Brandon Hall and the Astley family. Brandon Hall is near Hagley, in Worcestershire.

Downstairs there was a book – “History of Clent and Harvington” There were several marked passages –

“Many secret passage and priest holes exist from the time of the Persecution, many of them built by Nicholas Owen”

“There is said to be a tunnel from the crypt of Hagley Church to Brandon Hall”

A scribbled note in the margin read “not all were used to hide Catholic priests.”

Out in the garage they found three full cases of sodium hydroxide from Global Chemicals. They were looking around for the fourth case when they heard a car approaching. It was Emily’s Toyota. Three men got out and went into the house; the girls ran over to the car and looked in the boot – they found two empty bottles of sodium hydroxide. Just then a shout rand out – one of the men had come out of the house and seen them. They played the innocent, and he told them to clear off and go and get some sweets. They ran off and hid. The men came out of the house looking worried; the gist was that whatever they were looking for wasn’t there, even though they had been assured that it was. They were nervous about reporting back to the Lord. They drove off; Ashley and Nightingale ran back to their car and followed; Nightingale was driving. *

Ashley looked at the duelling pistol – it was German and made in Mecklenburg in 1896. It looked to be unused, so she gave it back to Nightingale.

A message came in from DCI Stephens – Marcus Thompson had been abducted last night. He was leaving the pub when the Toyota pulled up beside him and “something” apparently pulled him inside. CCTV saw the car heading towards Hagley.

Suddenly Nightingale pulled over and braked hard. The pistol was growing warm and vibrating slightly. She used her powers to determine that it was a Divination spell of some kind; the pistol was being tracked by magic.

At Hagley, they drove past the Hall, set in a walled estate, and drove on to the church. Nightingale spied several spirits drifting around; they approached one sitting on a gravestone. The name of the stone was Michael Phelps, Ashley took a gamble and used her necromancy to speak to the spirit. Three men entered the church, none came out.

The vicar was in the church – Reverend Osborne confirmed that three workmen had come to fix the boiler in the basement. He had been waiting for some time for them to come; he had been busy and didn’t see them leave. ** A door at the rear of the church led to a basement with an ancient heap of rust that was a massive boiler; originally coal-fired, now converted to oil. Behind it, a section of stonework stood slightly ajar, leading to the tunnel. It sloped down for a time, splashed through some wate and then sloped up, ending in a flight of steps up.

They emerged in a cellar; along one wall were ranged several wine racks, against the other wall were three iron cages. Marcus Thompson lay in one of them; he looked very pale. When he saw them, his eyes opened wide and he shook his head frantically.

‘You have what was stolen? Return it to me.’ The speaker was a man in his mid-fifties with grey hair and an aristocratic bearing. He was flanked by the three men from the Stour House.

Nightingale denied having anything, the man just bared his very sharp teeth and stepped forward. Ashley ran and punched one of the thugs, she hit and he fell backwards. Nightingale pulled the gun and fired; nothing seemed to happen, but Lord Astley’s eyes widened at the sight of the gun. She fired again and hit Lord Astley, who stared at the massive bloodstain spreading on his chest. He fell to his knees and then crumpled. *** The thugs broke and ran; Nightingale shot one but realised that the gun didn’t hurt non-vampires.

They retreated down the tunnel to the church, taking Thompson with them and reported back to Halesowen Police Station.

Epilogue

They hadn’t found out the reason for Emily Mitchell’s death but it must have been linked to the Mecklenburg pistol, now locked in SCD09 vaults.

There is also a nest of vampires operating in and around Brandon Hall

To be continued ….

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GM notes

* There was a rather silly interlude here where they saw a man dressed like Vyvian (from ‘The Young Ones’) sitting in the middle of the waterfall. It turned out that he was the spirit of the Laconstoone stream (that runs underground through Halesowen) and he had tagged along for curiosity. They left him and the Stour having a chat. He did confirm that there was a tunnel linking the church and Brandon Hall.

** Second interlude where Imi and Evie re-enact the Haribo advert with the two policemen and the theft of the Crown Jewels.

*** Artefact vampire-killing weapon. Evie scored a Critical Success AND rolled just short of the maximum damage the pistol did against vampires. Lord Astley didn’t stand a chance against dice like that! The thugs were just ordinary goons and ran when the boss went down.

The girls really enjoyed the Game – they were the ones who had asked for it to be continued. I think a lot of it was because it was local – places they could relate to.

Imi used to live in Lye and knows the High Street; Evie’s other grandparents live in Stourbridge, so she knows the area. We all live near to Hagley Woods and Hagley and drive past and through them on a regular basis. BTW: There is no Brandon Hall at the foot of Clent Hill, however there is a real Clent Hall, Hagley Hall and Harvington Hall. Harvington Hall has seven priest holes, created so masterfully that no priest hiding there was ever found.

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