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Sunday, 8 July 2018

Gothic Horror - The Hunt for Mary Scroggins Continues - Part 4

Preparing for a long, cold night’s vigil, the downhearted company await the re-appearance of the Vampire Lord and his paramour Vampirella, those evil blood suckers from the dark.

Following the encounter with the white bear and the Vampire Lord together with the death of some dear friends, Jonathan Hawke decided the much depleted company should not continue the journey but remain here, where their last desperate fight had taken place.

His reasoning was sound, there was a small fenced enclosure that they could defend, night was falling and if the road ahead was as fraught with danger as it had been so far who knows what was waiting for them. That and the thoughts, which he kept to himself, that the village to which they were headed may be just as unsafe as the open road.

Night has fallen, there are two fighting men Jonathan Hawke in his Lobster helmet and steel breast plate and Jasper, who has his trusty matchlock musket. They take opposite sides of the enclosure, the hardest to defend and prepare for a long night wait.

Sister Michaela of the Order of Perpetual Pain with her new companion Inmate 2 take one of the short sides of the enclosure and Sister Matilda of the Order of the Blessed Sacrament with an old horse pistol takes the other.

Maude Porter, together with her husband and Daniel Carters wife all huddle in the centre, praying for daybreak and an end to this nightmare.

They have fires burning to give some small comfort, hopefully keeping away the cold as much as the darkness.

The watchers in the dark, calm and still – waiting, two of the defenders have fallen asleep, exhausted after their recent trials.

Vampirella moves silently forward, gliding through the trees like a wraith.

As the Vampire Lord moves, the moon shines through the clouds and Jasper is awake and alert.

He fires, his musket waking everyone. He is a good shot at the best of times and keyed up like a spring, with his senses alert he aims true.

A large musket ball hits the Vampire in the left arm, spinning him round with the force of the shot and he utters a cry of pain and anguish and fades back into the night.

Jasper starts the long process of re-loading, he hopes for more time but fumbles with the powder, his fingers clumsy with fear.

The camp is awake and alert, waiting, and listening for the slightest sound or movement in the night. There is nothing, but they are dealing with forces they can not comprehend, time is of little importance to one who lives forever on the blood of others.

Hours pass, the Vampires have patience, watching and waiting, they do not want a fight, just to feed, they have time, which the humans do not. The damage to the Vampires arm healed within minutes of him being shot, he is now at full strength and lusting for blood.

There’s still a large force for them to contend with in the camp, they hope for some to fall asleep so they may enter quietly and feast silently before withdrawing un-noticed. Eventually the camp settles down from it’s high state of alertness and the creatures of the night make their way forward a second time, taking full advantage of the cover from the trees and darkness.

They are careless, confident in their superiority and the sound of their approach is heard in the camp but they are unseen, by the tired bloodshot eyes of those watching. Everyone in the camp is awake now.

Vampirella can wait no longer and she glides over the ground at Jasper, so fast, too fast he doesn’t have time to take his shot, he can only defend himself with the butt of his musket, but it is not enough and Vampirella gets over the fence with ease.

The Vampire Lord also moves forward quickly, again so fast that Sister Matilda also doesn’t have time to fire, she doesn’t run though, but faces her fears and fights back as the Vampire attacks.

He is over the fence and bearing down on her.

She uses her pistol like a club holding high her silver crucifix but to no avail, he is at her throat. The wimple protects her like a gorget, he pulls back surprised.

All is confusion in the confines of the enclosure, Daniel Carters wife runs away screaming closely followed by Maude Porters husband. Maude is made of sterner stuff, she has grown fond of Sister Matilda and rushes to her aid as does Jonathan Hawke, but the Vampires onslaught has shaken Sister Matilda’s faith to the core and she turns and flees from him.

Sister Michaela runs to Jaspers aid and Inmate 2 howls but she has fastened him to the fence with a chain and he can’t move but pulls with all his strength at the weak willow fence.

Fleeing the horror behind them.

The Vampire could not chase after Sister Matilda because he was attacked by these two brave but foolhardy souls. Maude and Jonathan should have been a match for the Vampire but the law of the night is there will be only one victor.

The Vampire with fangs and claws rend them into bloody pieces, he howls his victory to the moon.

Sister Michaela wields her staff like a Paladin of old but is taken by surprise when Jasper attacks her in support of Vampirella, he was driven mad with fear, lost his mind for a short while and turned to the dark side.

This is too much for her and she is beaten to the ground. Vampirella prepares to feed.

The horses have broken free, one was able to jump the fence wild eyed and snorting but the black one slipped and has impaled itself on the fence posts.

Jasper comes to his senses realises what he has done and runs off into the forest. Sister Michaela is in mortal peril.

Inmate 2 breaks free from the fence and enraged by the dark haired beauty who has struck down his protector, rushes at Vampirella snarling and shrieking, but he is no match for her.

His sacrifice was not in vain, it allowed Sister M time to recover and stand up, a bit groggily but on her feet. Feisty as ever. She sees Inmate 2 lying on the ground a peaceful expression on his face for the first time since she has known him. She feels a rage inside her she has never known before and attacks Vampirella with all her might.

After an epic battle which she can not win she steps back to regain her breath, she is loosing and can not prevail, but dare not turn her back on the fiend. Sister Matilda, on the far side of the fence, has recovered her wits and returned, she sees all is lost but as Michaela steps back she is able to get a clear shot at Vampirella, her pistol is loaded with a silver bullet.

She doesn’t believe in folk stories of silver having the power to kill the Undead, but after what she saw on the first expedition to look for Mary Scroggins she decided, it didn’t matter what she believed, or her Church taught, it might help and it might not, but she was prepared to give it a try.

We will never know the truth of the old superstition, she fired and missed but Vampirella was taken aback even shaken a little. This gave Michaela a few precious seconds to turn and run and she and Matilda took full advantage of that time.

The Vampires are victorious, they have what they came for and sate their appetites to the full.

An epic but ultimately disastrous last stand, the survivors regrouped in the morning and decided they had to go back and bury the dead, it was not a pleasant task but made them all feel a little better.

Forward or back. Well having found Mary Scroggins was no longer the Mary Scroggins that everybody knew, they decided to return and see how Sister Monica and Sir Marmaduke were faring.

Meeting up again, both parties had harrowing tales to tell and then they returned to Little Piddling in the Marsh. They had no further encounters on the return journey having cleared the area of the infestation of evil.

A sad and sorrowful party, smaller than when they had set out. Sir Marmaduke has lost all his comrades in arms from the uncivil war, who will he share the fireside tales from the old days, when there is only him left from the old days.

As they got nearer to the village there was an acrid smell in the air.

The whole place was smoking, wet thatch and daub and wattle walls don’t burn, they just smoulder for days.

Even the pigsty had been set on fire.

The houses were gutted but no one had lit the log piles. What on earth had gone on?

They hurried into the small village, fearful of finding bodies everywhere.

The Porter tried to enter his house but was beaten back by the heat. Some one or some thing had even tried to burn the village cross.

Sister Monica extinguished that with one glance, she was wondering what this power was she seemed to possess. Was it holy or the devils mark on her.

Sir Marmaduke needs the aid of the horse to be able to walk and he is hanging on to it’s tail as he hobbles along, he is also wondering if he has much longer left in this world of evil.

Where now, - back to Langdale Hall I suppose but it's going to be cold and cheerless there, as for the Sisters, I believe they have adventures to come.

Well – not a very happy ending to a very unhappy story. I don’t think this will be continued, although I'm open to suggestions as to why the village has been burned, my take is that the villagers have just abandoned it to the horror stalking the surrounding countryside, but there might be a better explanation.

I’ll do something a bit more cheerful next time.

I'm planning on being away for awhile - the wine cellars run dry and I can't afford English prices with the amount I drink, so am trying to set up roaming internet and I've been working hard creating a number of posts of simple stories that I should be able to release from where ever I am.

So if you are still here and with a dry hanky - thanks for reading and I greatly appreciate any thoughts and comments you make.



  1. My goodness, all very noir! Love the atmospheric shots and, for that matter, the slightly despondent ending, these were dark times indeed. Good luck on the wine run!

    1. Dark times indeed. I was trying more for Bram Stoker's Dracula, rather than Abbott and Costello's Mummy and tried a lot harder with the writing so I think I'm pleased with it, but I'm not sure I enjoyed it.
      The wine ran out about a month ago so UK prices have been making a big dint in the budget as well as having the undesirable effect of cutting consumption. ;-)

  2. That was excellent, John, and I thought the ending was most appropriate. Darkness prevails! Vampirella survived and so did the Vampire Lord. I was fully expecting one or maybe both to die but obviously the dice gods were looking out for them. It looks like my bribes to them worked! :-)
    I agree that there seems little point in continuing this tale but nevertheless it was a cracking good read that I thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish. Who or what destroyed the village? I've no idea but it could be any of a number of enemies, including the Vampire Lord and Vampirella, who could easily have outpaced the survivors and wreaked havoc before they got there. It's going to be hard to top this tale but I've no doubt you'll give it your best shot.

    1. Cheers Bryan, appreciate it. Vampirella was excellent, she moved quietly and attacked viciously but the Vampire Lord kept making a noise and alerting the group otherwise it might have gone a bit more as I envisioned the game. The vampire attacks quietly in the dead of night, drains their victim and is gone before anyone knows what happened. They don't get involved in brawls, that's just so Werewolf. :)
      I used a cobbled together horror deck which gave some of the more different results derrived from terror. I'm pleased the nuns survived because I have plans for them but saddened by the death of Inmate 2, I treated him like a pet dog in the rules so he would attack anyone hurting his mistress. I could see this would be a useful device in future games.
      The game finished after the fight in the dark, but I wanted to conclude the story rather than leave it open ended, hence the burnt out village, a bit of a device as I didn't intend anything happening there other than the story end.

  3. Excellent report again! keep up these brilliant posts they are thoroughly enjoyable reads!

    1. Thanks Simon, I have a few lined up but they will be shorter and less macabre.

  4. A great ending John, hope you have a great time on your travels.
    As for the burning village here's an idea for you :
    The simple folk of Little Piddling couldn't understand the veiling darkness that was descending on them, on top of this the bakers family had fallen ill almost overnight and all died within days, fear that this was the plague taking hold the rest of the village packed up and moved away from the darkness hoping for better lands. They set fire to the whole village to burn out the illness before leaving.
    Like the idea of the Nuns having their own adventures, and could recruit their own undead hunting party, of trained professionals maybe even a Van Helsing type character

    1. Cheers Dave an excellent alternative ending, plague and foul creatures of the night, it's no suprise they abandoned the village. ;)

      I really like the Nuns and I think they will have a place in many future games. The set came with a forth one who I equipped with a pistol, Sister Sarah from the Clint Eastwood film was in my mind but I didn't give her a clear base so she will probably appear in some follow on to the adventures of the women's resistance who were involved in Rescuing the Pilots.
      Plenty to go at.

  5. A thoroughly enjoyable write up John, to the extent that I was a little disappointed to find it was the finale. The expression "Leave them wanting more" is used for good reason though, and the promise of further adventures in store for the Sisters is adequate compensation sir :-)
    The moody shots with lighting effects and the general "tone" are winners in my book, and I hope you intend to feature them in the future, even if you're reverting to your usual 'lighter' style.

    Enjoy your wine run, and best of luck with the technology while you're away :-)

    1. Thanks Greg - I thought some of the shots were a bit iffy with the lighting, but of course I only discovered that when it was too late. Although some turned out well, but it's a bit hit and miss with my low skill level.
      The technology is always a suprise. Last time Mrs V's data wouldn't work, turned out we had to do something before we left the UK but they didn't tell us that until we had gone. Off to buy some sim cards today, they worked last time, so may do again. Fingers crossed.

  6. I was waiting and waiting for the Cavalry to arrive throughout that and of course when I realised the wouldn't I feared no=one would survive.
    Thankfully a few survived to tell the tale, that is, if they can find anyone to tell it to.
    Great campaign great ending and a nice set-up for another.

  7. Yep I think most of the cavalry went down at Marston Moor, and 10 years later not many of them are either still alive or can ride a horse.

    It never crossed my mind to have a rescue, I think I always envisioned it being a bad ending if they didn't find Mary Scroggins alive. Bit of a bummer really.

  8. I do like a little delve into the macabre. Great stuff John, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this game

    1. Thanks dGG it was your last zed game that prompted me to try a bit of darker writing in these last two stories.

  9. Well that was a great ending to a scary tale. Speaking of tails,..Tails !!,..I say that shot of Vampairella's shining in the moonlight was a cheeky one. (See what I did there?) lol...As always the best laid plans always end up going up in smoke, so the village shots were prophetic. Go get your booze and hurry back John,..you're missed already..;-)

  10. I never noticed the moonlight shot ;) honest.

    I got my SIM card for the mifi yesterday, just waiting for some planes to arrive from America and then we're off.

    There's a Terracotta Warrior exhibition on in Liverpool, we went to see it and Mrs V let me buy a warrior, he's standing guard in the bedroom at the moment.

  11. Good God man that ending was a classic, with the village burned out the cherry on the cake, most good horror movies imho are ruined be a happy ending so great to see you didn't fall into that trap :)

    Top class tale from beginning to end John, I can understand giving the comic touch you use in your scripts John how this one might have felt strange for you to do but you pulled it off in great fashion & while you might need to go back to your normal style I hope you don't turn your back on horror mate, even if you frighten yourself so much that you now have a Terracotta Warrior standing guard at the end of your bed so you can sleep at night :)

  12. Cheers Frank thanks for your thoughts, I guess it's reading your blog amongst others that sort of sent me off the rails, no sorry I meant down a different track. I was never much good at English Composition at school but I enjoy stories a lot so just wanted to try something different for a change.
    I've noticed since I have the warrior standing guard in the bedroom I've not been troubled by vampires or werewolves. Mind you I wasn't troubled by them before come to think of it. ;)

  13. What an ending, if it is an ending, that is. Gruesome. That was a deadly expedition.
    I'm glad that the nuns made it back, as it makes it more probable that we will see them more in the future.

  14. The nuns will be back, I'm just not sure when, I still have to paint their names on the bases, things are going to the dogs here.