Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Hufflepuff & Ravenclaw 9


9: And the Monster of Amristar Chapters 1-2


Chapter 1: Diagon Alley

We open in Diagon Alley. The PCs can meander, but there are a few key scenes for the major arc.

Who is that strange man?

Also present that day will be Dr. John Plain, who is walking furtively around, taking notes, taking pictures of things, and otherwise trying not to be noticed. He is wearing wizarding robes over muggle clothes. Once one of the PCs notices him his behavior will be suspicious indeed. He knows enough to not be one of the slack jawed Muggle parents, but is obviously doing some sort of spying while trying to not be noticed. If they actively approach him he'll do his best to get away without speaking to them. Eventually the PCs will lose sight of him as he ducks into some shop or another. Basically, he's here to establish his presence on the scene for later.


A Present for Pollux

Titania Dee is bringing her twins to the Alleys to buy each of them a pet as a going away present (Castor will have a perfectly normal pet, unless he does something that will get him in trouble in the Alleys itself). After nothing in the Magical Menagerie or Eelyops Owls meets with Pollux approval she leads them to Genus' Exotic Beasts at just inside Knockturn Alley. There Pollux is able to find his familiar Bess, who is marked with a very high price. When they ask about the prices they're told the price on the cage is it, no exceptions. As Mrs. Dee prepares herself for a hard bartering session an exotic bird in the bay window sings a doggerel "The kettle called the pot Black, but the Blacks blood is true, so the pot burned the kettle and shoved him up the flue!"

At that the proprietor, Genus Doddington declares that good heavens this cat climbed into the wrong cage, that's not her price! Bess promptly leaps into Pollux arms and Titania happily hands over the much smaller amount. As they exit Professor Jiadayl Kettleburn, the very tall & oddly robed (he always wears a multi-layered tunic to hide his four extra arms) Hindu wizard who is the Care of Magical Creatures professor at Hogwarts enters. The exotic bird in the window will screech "Hello Professor Kettleburn, and a nice day to flue!" as he enters. Kettleburn gives Bess a scrutinizing glare.

If the PCs contrive to overhear the exchange - what self-respecting PC wouldn't? - they'll hear Kettleburn lay into Doddington about trafficking invasive, threatened or dangerous species: Ice Toads, Grymalkin, Tebo, etc. Doddington smiles and offers to let Kettleburn search the shop. Just got some eohippus in from Foundation and he has some great Knockers, but Doddington would never keep creatures that Kettleburn would take off to be destroyed! "Not being the animal lover I am!"

This is in part to establish the COMC professor as a potential foil - rigid, unbending, at odds with Pollux' cat, who really is a Grymalkin, whatever that means.

Charms to Soothe the Savage Breast

Meanwhile, a logical place for the girls to meet up is at Tenora's Instruments, full of instruments of all types. Daisy is there to get fresh strings for her violin, and has naturally dragged Jasmine along. I expect Juliet will also be there, giving the girls an opportunity to chat. They will also see Chrysalis Briar, who will be talking to the proprietor in a casual tone about pipes that will give anyone who hears them rhythm. "My father swore by them, said they were the only thing that saves his feet from mother's love of spike heels." Chrysalis won't stop to talk to the PCs, but she won't be rude about it either.

Olivander's

Juliet will be brought to Olivander's to get her wand, and she will have a very brief initial run in with Peri. Mr. Olivander is his usual creepy self, but while the PCs might read into this, he's just really creepy.

The Undulata Family

All the PCs families converge on the ice cream parlor, where a school acquaintance between Mrs. Dee and Mr. Moore gets them to talking and the children all at one table. Their table will be crashed by Paracelsus Undulata. Peri will try to make comments to the girls about houses similar to Malfoy's - especially Hufflepuff. She will also cozy up to the twins, knowing that the Dee family is long time Slytherin. Peri is a gangster's moll in training, but with a wide mean streak. Mrs. Undulata, on the other hand, will have a quiet tiff with Titania about Mr. Dee and how he betrayed the house with his actions on the Wizengamot. She will then huff out (possibly spilling a drink all over Mrs. Dee) dragging the clueless and cruel Peri with her.

Behind Gambol and Japes

 This scene over, Titania is seething as well, and Mr. Moore will suggest that Daisy take the children down to Gambol & Japes while the adults clean up - she is a prefect, after all.  This is an excuse to get the PCs away from the adults so that the real mystery bit can happen.

That being the meeting between Olaf & Slaughter, taking place behind the second hand robes shop, which is right next to Gambol & Japes! Either the PCs will find the side door on their own, or they’ll overhear something, or Bess will hop out and run off, forcing the PCs to follow. In any event they will see an tall man wearing a memorable purple cloak with blue runes, his face deeply lined and leathery, his features distinctly English, his eyes with slight cataracts, talking to a large, broad shouldered man whose back is to them.

The PCs will, with successful Notice or Mischief rolls, be able to overhear several interesting things.
1) the man in front of them is named Olaf, and he's on the run from the Aurors. He's looking for help from the man facing them, named Reg.

2) Reg is also hiding, but everyone thinks he's dead. Olaf found him via divination. Olaf makes a comment about how Reg looks exactly the same as he had - how can he do that and stay hidden?

3) Olaf is blackmailing Reg for help, threatening to give away his aliveness. He also marvels at how Reg managed to get somewhere that he'd be able to both stay hidden and have access to the most well stocked magic labs this side of Durmstrang.

4) Olaf wants not just to stay hidden, but to use Reg's access to perform other dark arts such as a Tempust.

Reg starts to quash this idea when the two men, who have been warily circling each other fully swap places. Olaf spots the PCs and lets out a roaring spell - Pedium Olular - that will hurl the PCs back, partially blind those of Size 2+ and KO those of Size 1. The next round he follows up with a fire gout that hopefully Daisy will defect. That sets off mass of smoke, explosions and fire-works from Gambol & Japes. Confusion will reign for seconds, followed by the sound of Professor Briar's voice yelling a challenge to Olaf Woden. Woden summons a nasty beast and flees as Briar dispels it.

Briar will assist the parents and Daisy in healing and reviving the smaller kids, and then question them about what happened. She informs them that she's an Auror and will continue the chase once she questions them. Mr. Moore & Mrs. Dee are scared & proud in equal measure - more the latter once Briar and possibly Daisy explain the full situation to them. Once things calm down the children are bought back to Fortiscues' have their interrupted ice cream.

This ends the chapter in Diagon Ally, but hopefully with enough connection between the PCs that they will organically draw together on Platform 9 3/4.

Chapter 2: Hogwarts Express

The PCs - except of Daisy - end up in the same train compartment. They'll get a chance to talk in character a little more, but I do have some scenes to handle.

In the Prefect's Cabin.

Daisy will be in the prefect's cabin with the other 24 prefects and the head boy, a Slythrin named Owen Mardling. Owen will congratulate the new prefects, lay out his position as being the head prefect and therefore the top layer of management amongst the students and the need for clear lines of communication and proper coaching. He's full of buzzwords but obviously staking out a different route than his predecessor, Slythor MacKraken. Owen has power & thinks that by sharing out portion of it rather than hoarding it he can make it grow, like an investment. He sees every one of the prefects as long term life allies.

He then hands out a list of all the first years to each of the new prefects, so they can identify their charges. The sorting hasn't happened, but he had the 7th year Ravenclaw prefect Alyssa Aerie do family research and he has their likely picks based on previous experience.

Finally he introduces the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher at the school, Professor Briar (he tries to call her Chrysalis in a needless informality) after Professor Pellinor left last year. He mentions her time as an Auror, does not mention her house, wishes her a long and happy time at the school. Briar will be polite, answer some questions and, before excusing herself, asks Daisy after her sister and the others. This will likely lead to both of them coming down to talk to the kids.

Undulations, Death and Dragons

After the PCs have had a chance to chat they will get a visit from Grendel Green, flanked by Peri Undulata and Rowena Resquiat. They will be coming down to say hello to the Dee brothers (and Juliet when he sees her, as the Moores are a good pureblood family). It is everyone’s expectation that one of the Dee brothers, at least, will be sorted into Slytherin.

Contrary to expectations, there's no animosity in this. Grendel is just saying hello to other students who he fully expects to get placed with. There might be a little feeling out of the opposition, as there are rumors of Pollux's drive and Grendel too wants to succeed, but it’s not ill meant. Peri will say something thoughtless about mudbloods and Grendel will correct her - "we've been down that road and you see how that turned up. It's time to find a new path." He means it - Grendel is not going to repeat others mistakes in his quest for power.

Chatting with Professor Briar

Shortly after this Chrysalis will stop in to see the PCs, make sure that they're OK and tell them she captured Woden. She will claim not to recognize the other name (not surprising, since Reg died before she was born). She will also warn them that Woden is vindictive and, as an Oneromancer, has special weapons to bring to bear, even from his prison cell in London.

Informing them that the train counts as being at school, she teaches them the basics of a protection spell - Mentat Acutia - that will banish daydreams if their mind starts to wander, which could give an Onieromancer entry. She'll be working on a defense for their sleeping dreams, but has faith that Olaf will be in Azkhaban before she is able to finish it.

This serves two purposes - it gets them into the spell mechanics, and it sets her up as the PC's advocate & companion at the school, establishing Chrysalis as being someone like Lupin when she is actually a major threat.

On to the boats

At the end of the train ride the first years are pulled aside by Hagrid and into the boats.