As a brief arse-covering note: There is adult content in here. You have been warned.

Investigating the Dawkins Institute

You arrive at the Dawkins Institute and are met by Professor Sir Michael Whittingly-Cummings, who has been put in charge of the Investigation, having been judged most suited to such – he is more of a Theologian and Philosopher than an actual experimental Magician. He takes the two of you into his study, where you are served tea by his maid.

“It's quite distressing, you see. We've found some of the bodies of the girls who went missing.. Two have been beaten to death. One has burns all over the more sensitive areas of their bodies. One was found locked in a room, starved to death. And one was found frozen, but in a perfectly warm room!”

The Professor looks rather uncomfortable at describing this.

“You understand, we're not telling the general public about this. They distrust us enough as it is, I'd not like to think how they would react. And the students would be most upset if they knew what happened to these girls. Please be discreet.

“Of course, you'll want to see where they were found.”

He takes you to the west wing of the Institute. All the girls turn out to have been found in lecture rooms.

The Professor gives you leave to interview the staff and students, as long as you are discreet; he wants to keep the details secret.

You spend some time interviewing the staff and students who worked in the west wing trying to find out if they had seen anything that could be considered suspicious. Many have tales of small oddities happening around the Institute, and many suspect Spirits. However, all their little problems can be easily explained away by Science, with no actual proof of paranormal activity.

However, one girl named Elizabeth claims to have heard muffled noises of a man exerting himself somewhat, and the sounds of a girl crying out – she thought it was ghosts and so didn't want to look. However, this sounds more like some evidence the two of you can get your teeth into! Quinn goes ahead with Elizabeth to find the location where she heard the noises, whilst Blenham looks around the other rooms – from the reports of the students it seems that the lecture rooms at the far end of the west wing are rarely used, and would be a perfect place for Foul Murder to take place.

Elizabeth leads Quinn through what looks like a disused kitchen, into a very cold (and very empty) room at the back, Elizabeth explaining that there are three rooms like this, kept magically cold by experimental Alchemy to see if it could be used to keep food fresh. It seems likely that one of these could have been used to freeze one of the girls – as long as somebody brought the body out just in time to be found!

However, before Quinn can speculate too far, the door slams shut behind them! Quinn spins round, and Elizabeth collapses on the floor, scared and crying. Despite much knocking and shouting, Quinn can get no response from anybody. And despite his best efforts, he can get no response from Elizabeth, who seems to have become catatonic. Her state reminds Quinn of something.. but he cannot place it.

Suddenly Quinn remembers, he has his lucky wrench! And the bolts in the door may be solid, but surely they can be prised out!

“Don't worry, my dear, I'll get us out of this!”

However, as Quinn approaches the door, he hears a cry of rage behind him and spins around. Elizabeth has leapt up from the floor, her face enraged and twisted. And suddenly he remembers what her catatonia reminded him of – Possession! However, he doesn't have long to think about this, since Elizabeth leaps at him, fingers outstretched like claws. Instinctively, Quinn brings up his wrench to defend himself – and catches Elizabeth full-on under the chin! She flies backward like a rag doll, blood dripping onto the floor and her jaw hanging broken.

Quickly Quinn works to pull the bolts out of the door, hoping that the girl can be brought to a Witch before she dies. It seems that the whole thing was a trap, whatever was possessing this poor girl leading Quinn to what should have been his death – and hers!

Meanwhile, Blenham has headed to the unused rooms at the far end of the wing. As expected, they seem to be deserted, the dust undisturbed with no footprints. However, pausing briefly to tie his shoe, Blenham notices that the dust on the back of a chair has a handprint on it. Looking closer, it seems someone has clambered across chairs and even the lectern at the front in order to leave little mark of their passing!

Following these prints, he makes his way to the window – and discovers a small drop of blood on the lintel! Suddenly he recalls the Familial Compass – that could be used to find the source of the blood! Fortunately Blenham had had the foresight to bring the Society's compass with him! But where to get a quartz needle? Surely there must be somebody in the Institute who could make such a thing!

Heading back to Professor Whittingly-Cummings' office, Blenham runs into Quinn holding poor Elizabeth (if that is really her name), and accompanies him, listening to the story of the possessed girl. The the two of them find the Professor, who looks shocked and upset – and takes them straight to one of the few Witches at the institute. Miss Miller takes the girl into her rooms and puts her into bed, before shooing the men out.

With nothing else to do about Elizabeth, the Professor listens to Blenham's story, and puts them in touch with a craftsman who should be able to help. It takes a good few hours to carve the delicate quartz, in which time a messenger from Miss Miller arrives.

It seems Elizabeth has more than just a broken jaw – when the Witch took off Elizabeth's clothes, she found she was covered in burns and bruises, especially on her more.. tender areas. Just as some of the murdered girls were.

A horrific light dawns on the three men – whatever possessed Elizabeth likely possessed the other girls too. And either took them to the murderer to be beaten – or was the murderer.

With the compass complete, Blenham and Quinn follow the compass to find out where it will lead – both as prepared as they can be for what they might find. Who knows what it would lead to – assuming it was the blood of one of the murdered girls, it could lead to the girl's body, or maybe to the possessor!

Following the Compass, the two travel down into a cellar beneath the Institute. It leads them into a brick wall, with no apparent way through – but with a lot of searching the two are able to find an area where the wall is not quite right – in fact, a secret door! With a lot of searching and judicious use of their mechanical knowledge, the two are able to find the trigger and quietly make their way into the hidden room.

Well, more like suite. There is a corridor leading to three store rooms. The two hear a scream from one of the rooms. In this room is a young woman, naked and chained to the wall, covered in bruises and burns. Another young woman, also covered in bruises and holding a red-hot poker, burns her captive, eliciting a scream.

And before the two can act, the captor releases her captive, locking herself in place instead – and then, her body goes limp and her eyes show only fear and confusion. The other woman gets up off the floor, with a cruel look in her eye. If appearances are to be believed, the spirit has changed bodies!

Determined to stop these hideous act, the two men charge in with weapons drawn. The woman turns around, amused, and speaks:

“You can't do anything to me. You'll only hurt this body, and what do I care about her body? You'll only make it sweeter..”

She runs at Quinn, trying to take his sword off him. Neither quite know what to do, unwilling to hurt the poor girl possessed by this foul creature but unwilling to let themselves be killed! Blenham finally acts, trying to grab hold of the arms of the girl, who dodges out of the way. With the two of them going for her, however, she is overpowered. Taking an arm each, the two of them drag her out of the room and back up to the corridors of the Institute. Luckily it is evening and few students are about – but unfortunately there are some, and walking through the Institute dragging a naked, burned and beaten girl struggling between the two is not the best way to be seen.

However, when they get the girl to Miss Miller she takes the poor girl into her care (by this point whatever is possessing her has given up and left). They return via the Professor's office, to head down to release the other girl and bring her up to the Witch. With three girls in her beds, she is running out of space.

Raising concerns concerns to Miss Miller, she assures you that she has wards against spirits on her residence – and indeed spirit it is. It seems she has some knowledge of spirits, although not the strength to force a spirit such as this from the body of someone possessed. By her estimation this is a spirit of someone dead, someone evil and powerful. But it seems limited to only possessing those who have given it power over them – how it does that she could not say.

Returning to the Professor's office, the two try to devise a way to capture this spirit. Warding the entire institute, even if possible, would only force it to commit its hideous acts elsewhere.

Gathering all the Inventors in the institute together, they work on a design for a device based on a demon-proof box. Fortunately this is something they had already been looking at, and so work proceeds swiftly. In a little over a week they have a prototype device – and all they need is a way to lure the spirit into the device.

By this time, the later two rescued girls are somewhat recovered, if traumatised. Elizabeth is still in bed, her jaw healing slowly, although Miss Miller says it will never look quite right. The first girl from the cellar, Giselle, is willing to talk to you. She is willing to help catch the spirit, although the thought scares her. She tells of her early days at the Institute, of how Henrietta (the other girl from the cellar) was so kind to her, looked after her when she cried from missing her family. And then one thing led to another, and very soon she was.. involved with Henrietta. But it was never Henrietta, as she now knows.

But Giselle has no idea how many girls the spirit has opened up to its possession; she can only suggest that she pretend to be a new girl, one vulnerable and alone. And hope she can lure the spirit into the trap. She suggests a Conjurer could change her face. The plan seems a dangerous long shot, but nobody can suggest any other idea.

And so the plan goes forward. Giselle takes on the persona of a lonely, scared young girl from Carlisle, a long way from home and scared. And after a few days, a girl named Violet approaches her. She soothes her, and acts like she cares for her. And seems interested in getting closer..

The equipment is set up in Giselle's room, the active parts hidden under the floor and in the ceiling, to catch the spirit as she enters the room. Giselle lets the Violet take her back to Giselle's room, and the trap is sprung. But it does not work quite according to plan; either the rush-built device is flawed, or it is not able to separate a spirit from the girl it is possessing.

“Let me go! Let me go, or I will kill this body!”

Suddenly Blenham has a thought – with a spirit already captured, Miss Miller may have the strength to drive it out! Quickly he runs to get the Witch, and she returns swiftly – just as the Violet's hand is moving toward her eyes, about to rip them out of their sockets! Miss Miller closes her eyes and concentrates, and Violet's hand stops. She shries out a wordless cry, and seems to be fighting some inner battle – but soon Violet falls to the floor unconscious. And left behind is a spirit.

After some convoluted questioning, it emerges that the spirit's name is Elizabeth Bathory, and before she died she had killed over six hundred young women. She was starved to death by a priest who was too scared to kill her himself.

Quinn and Blenham leave the spirit in the safe hands of the Institute. Their plan is to cast a Stasis on the spirit trap, to hold the spirit forever. They do not know if it will work, but it's worth a try.

Giselle, Henrietta and Violet are on the road to recovery as the two leave – although they will bear the physical and mental scars for the rest of their lives. Elizabeth's jaw has mostly healed, although it is slightly skewed and she speaks with a slight speech impediment. All four girls thank the two men, and wave goodbye as they leave. Miss Miller stands with them, maing sure they don't push themselves too hard. Professor Whittingly-Cummings is nowhere to be seen; with the spirit gone, he (and most of the other senior faculty) are trying to pretend that nothing ever happened.

bonus.dawkins_institute.txt · Last modified: 2008/03/10 22:57 by gareth