The Haunted

Locke, Schtock and...

two smoking barrels


The Daily Telegraph

“With the Special Election, Richard Schtock, owner and operator of the gambling club ‘Schtocks’, has thrown his hat into the ring. Tired of the corruption that has plagued our city Schtock has announced his bid for Parliament Seat as MP. His stand against Lord Anders Nelson, and the other ‘Ineffective Rabble’ who populate the city’s Government has gained him a vast amount of popularity among London’ downtrodden.

“His opinion on political vice notwithstanding, Schtock has gained much more notoriety on his accusations that certain esteemed members of our society are practicing the ‘Black Arts’!

“In an interview Schtock said: ‘The state of affairs in the Governmental ring is atrocious. Powerful men like Baron LaCroix have this city in a strangle hold of fear and his “lackeys” in office will do whatever he bids.’

“It will be interesting to see the outcome of this political race…”

Something wicked this way comes

It is early November across London and the cold can be felt bitterly. A Special Election is to be held and a famous circus has come to the city. The heroes have been drawn into the upcoming drama of the elections and have become known associates to Richard Schtock. He is an honest man who worked his way up from the streets to become a rich and well-respected member of society and proud owner of his own gambling club. He stills remember his time on the streets of London and the early deaths of both his folks from the hard life of lower class working stiffs so he wishes to see changes made at the top levels of government.

The populace is also excited because the World Famous Barnamum Brothers Circus has come to London as part of a special tour. A feeling of revelry can be felt throughout the city.

The Bear Necessities

After a long night {and morning} of hunting down some ninja cultists, our heroes elected to walk off some of the weariness and bruising, they are roused half-way through their stupor to cries of alarm. A dancing bear has broken free of its shackles, stunned its owner and is viciously mauling a man in the street. A crowd is beginning to form, heedless of the danger from a giant bear in the middle of the street.

Before things can get any worse, Brian charges the bear and delivers a vicious upper cut, knocking the bear out cold. The heroes quickly determine the victim is beyond help, with his dying breath he says, "Must stop him." In his hand is clutched a big red clown nose and stuffed into a coat pocket is a flyer advertising the upcoming circus show. Scrawled across the flyer is also the words: "Must stop him."

The victim is Henry Philips, a clown from the circus. He is identified by the other man, Pete Greer, owner and trainer of Bupo the Bear, both also from the circus. He has no idea what happened to Bupo, normally the most peaceful animal in his entourage. One minute he is strolling with the bear when Henry comes dashing down the street, looking back over his shoulder. Suddenly, Bupo rears up in anger and savagely swipes at Henry as he runs by. And they can see the results before them.

The heroes discover a knife almost lost in the snow covering the street. It is a professional well-balanced throwing knife with some sort of viscous fluid on the blade. Kitty determines this is a cocktail of Laudanum and Heroin, a sure fire way to cause a bear to go berserk. They also find a small wound on the bear's back, where a knife was thrown.

Local constables finally arrive, but upon seeing a dead man and a giant bear in the middle of the street they defer to the known heroes for advice. The police secure the crime scene and body, taking it to the morgue and the heroes will accompany Pete and the bear back to the circus. Probably the safest place to lock up the bear. They also want to take a look around, ask some questions about Henry the Clown.

To the big top!

The circus is set up on the Southbank Area of the city. A small fence has been erected around the enclosure and the sole entrance is guarded by two sentries. It is the job of these guardsmen to remove all weapons from anybody entering the compound. Richard Schtock and his niece, Susan, are coming to the show tonight and they don't want any security breaches.

Once inside the Heroes can see that a fair has sprung up around the circus, with a number of stalls, challenging customers to throw three balls and knock down a coconut, test their strength by striking a hammer against a target, etc. Brian is unable to pass by the "test their strength" without giving it a go. With both tries he successfully rings the bell after pounding the target with the big mallet. He wins a stuffed bear for Kitty.

In addition to the stalls there are a number of sideshows, charging for entrance, including a Hall of Mirrors, donkey rides, a Helter-Skelter and the Freak Show {featuring Gunther the Goat Boy}. Hedonistic customers can try these out if they wish, but will have to stand in line to get on ‘em.

After asking about, the heroes are finally directed to the clown tent. A gaggle of half-dressed clowns are lying about, relaxing before the big show tonight. The senior clown steps forward to talk to Silas. None of them were aware that Henry had left the grounds. He was a recent member to the family, only joining within the last year. Like most who join the circus, he never talked about his past or reasons for joining. A search through his footlocker reveals a few changes of clothes, and old worn family bible, and a decent collection of French Porn magazines. On the edges of one of the magazines he has doodled a series of key holes and locks over and over.

The heroes turn over what they have learned to Inspector Barnes and return home for some much needed rest. They are to be guests at the circus that night, guests of Richard Schtock who is bringing his young niece Susan.

Lion Around

A circus at night, lit up, and crowded with customers is an almost magical place. Susan is overwhelmed and and the cotton candy she has eaten isn't helping. She is nearly dragging "Uncle" Ricky from one site to another, before the tome of the big show. Our heroes keep apart, enjoying the revelry but keeping an eye none-the-less. Something doesn't quite feel right to their sense of foreboding.

Eventually they are introduced to a midget dressed in a smart suit who asks if they would accompany him to meet the ringmaster himself, Bailey T. Barnamum. As ringmaster, Bailey has the largest caravan of all the circus staff. The interior is lavish with nick-knacks from all over the known world, wines from France, Spain and Italy; rugs from the Orient; a fine oak desk from Boston and so forth. Upon meeting the Heroes Bailey offers ‘em a large {and rather noxious} cigar and asks why they are questioning the circus folk. He is rather concerned that they will frighten away the public.

When the Heroes mentions Henry, Bailey looks genuinely surprised. He was unaware that Henry had left the encampment, let alone that the unfortunate fellow was killed. He conspiratorially leans forward and asks the Heroes if they can keep a secret. Presuming that they can, he guides the Heroes to a square-shaped tent with hay strewn all over the floor. Bailey enters the tent and bids the Heroes over to some hay bales in the middle of the tent. Behind these hay bales is a human corpse.

"Something evil has befallen our circus," begins Bailey. "I found Conrad, five minutes before you arrived. I believe somebody is trying to murder my comrades and put me out of business. Please good sirs, I implore you, locate the miscreant."

"That won't be necessary," Gustav Locke appears at the doorway of the tent. He pulls a rope and suddenly a cage door slams behind the Heroes. The whole tent is one large cage and the Heroes {and Bailey} have been trapped inside. Before Bailey can bluster a response, Gustav snaps his fingers and Bailey falls asleep at his command.

"I will finally have my vengeance against Richard Schtock!" he bellows. He looks over to the corpse. "And Conrad, the Human Cannon Ball will make his contribution to the show. After all, we needed to fill the cannon with something!" Gustav laughs maniacally as he exits the tent and pulls a switch. He doesn't even notice the knife that Kitty attempted to hit him with, as it bounces harmlessly off the tent.

As the switch activates, a small door opens on the other side of the tent and a number of 4 lions enter the cage. The first leaps across the cage onto Brian, another closely following. Brian is surprised when it manages to hurt him a little. One charges and bites at Silas but misses. The other misses Kitty as it takes a swipe at her.

Kitty is the first to react and pulls out her whip, cracking it like thunder at the lions. Their training kicks in and the two attacking her and Silas immediately withdraw back through the door. Brian snaps the spine of the first one that leaped upon him. The second seems distracted by the whip but perhaps it senses blood and doesn't leave. Silas fires an electric bolt at it which is enough to hurt and frighten it and it flees back through the door as well. Kitty flicks her whip again, catching the lever, and closes the door to the smaller cage with the three lions in it.

Brian grabs the bars and with a mighty pull, separates them enough for everyone to slip through. The heroes make haste to get to the big top, the lunatic Gustav was planning something!

Send in the Clowns!

By the time the Heroes escaped from the cage the big top has already filled up and the show has started. The Great Bombini {Gustav} is leading the show in the absence of Bailey. He has sent some of his goons to check that on the status of the Heroes. As the Heroes escape from the cage they see half a dozen clowns coming towards them with murderous intent in their eyes. They are carrying knives.

Silas yells to his friends, "I don't think they are in their right minds! Gustav has hypnotized them somehow…" Brian has never worried about those he kills while fighting evil, but he knows his friend Silas has great compassion for the innocent. He looks around and spies a big tub of water filled with apples. He races over, hoists the tub above him, and charges back to the crazy clowns. He hurls the water and apples onto the freak force. Some are immediately snapped out of the control and others just stand around looking confused.

But it works and our heroes race pass into the Big Top! The Heroes arrive just as Gustav announces the grand finale. A cannon has been wheeled out and Gustav proudly tells the audience that this human cannonball act will be one that they will remember for the rest of their lives. Suddenly, a willing clown lights the fuse and The Mountain {the strongman} kicks the cannon round to face the audience.

Realizing the crowd is oblivious to the danger, our heroes act. Brian charges into the ring, right into the cannon. Using his strength, he is able to tilt the barrel upwards as the cannon fires confetti and explosives through the roof of the tent, tearing a hole. Gustav screams in frustration. The crowd roars with laughter. The Mountain throws a punch at Brian, starting one helluva of boxing match!

Another clown pushing himself on a red wagon charges at Silas. Silas, steps aside and upends the clown and wagon, sending them tumbling back into the ring. More laughter from the crowd. They are enjoying the show. Kitty tries to climb into the bleachers to get Richard and Susan to safety. But this is a packed audience and the bleachers are crowded! And the clown hanging onto Kitty's foot, forcing her to struggle isn't helping. Again, the crowd thinks it is part of the show and laughing at Kitty's frustrated antics.

A line of clowns stands guard in front of Gustav. The rest of the acts join in the mayhem, trying to attack our heroes. Jobo the Juggler is throwing clubs at Silas and the audience. The Domati Twins leap onto Kitty, taking her down, burying her in a crowd of people who are beginning to panic. But it is Inferno the Fire-Breather who finalizes the panic! He steps up to a set of bleachers and blows flames into the crowd, setting them and the tent afire! Now the mass panic has begun, and a screaming, terrified crowd attempts to clamber out of the tent, all at the same time!

The Mountain and Brian are wailing on each other like professional boxers, oblivious to the chaos surrounding them. Kitty is battling the twins, trying to bring her guns to bear, using them as clubs. Richard has grabbed his niece and dragged her to safety at the edge of the ring. Silas fires a burst of lightning bolts pass the clowns and takes down Gustav! This seems to snap many of the circus folk out of his control and they join the panicked crowd in fleeing the burning tent.

There is an evil laugh and the fleeing clowns reveal a tall man dressed in black robes, swinging a falchion in a dizzying display of sword badassness. He is directing this display at Silas. Silas shakes his head, he has no time for games, he fires a bolt at Dhalsim, Fakir from the Orient, and he falls to the ground.

By now the circus professionals have responded and are attempting to put out the fire. Brian, meanwhile, is still duking it out with the Mountain. It is a close fight but Brian finally lands a left hook that takes down the Mountain. He looks around and sees the blaze. Thinking quickly, he grabs one of the big buckets filled with water and throws the water on the raging fires. Eventually they are able to get the blaze under control and stamped out.

The police arrive to take some of the performers into custody. The heroes also hand off the still unconscious Gustav to Inspector Barnes. Richard is relieved he and his niece are safe, obviously because of the timely intervention of the heroes. He has a grand ball planned for tomorrow night and our heroes will be his guests of honour.

Everyone retires to their various homes for further rest and recuperation. They have a party to go to tomorrow night!

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LordMisha

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