London, December 1911.   Posted by Raziel.Group: 0
 GM, 2 posts
 Regem Angelorum
 Venite adoremus
Wed 11 Nov 2020
at 17:23
London, December 1911
The weather has been remarkably mild though rainy this winter. Leaden skies and thick choking fogs in the city have exerted their own level of depression on the soul, however, and as the holiday season approaches everyone who can is looking for ways to escape the ancient capital and spend the festivities in the countryside where the air is clean and the company gregarious. For the struggling musician who is losing hope of being able to make it as a real artist, the unexpected invitation to spend the season at Leatherby Hall in Wiltshire with an old school friend is an irresistible temptation.

Dear Bunny,
      How long it has been since our school girl days at Winchester Academy. I’ve followed your career in the orchestra, and I was hoping against hope that you could find time to spend a few days with me down here at Leatherby Hall at Christmas time. Brian has plans to spend time with his stuffy old friends, talking about ancient history over and over again, and it positively makes me want to scream it’s so boring.
      I have few friends in the area, and I would be so grateful if you could come. I don’t want you to do it out of pity, we really do put on a grand show with village fetes and stuff. There’s even hunting, so bring your riding gear with you, if you wish — or you can borrow some of mine. Brian has a shoot planned as well at the end of the year, if you can stay that long, and he gave me a lovely Italian gun for my birthday last year that you’re welcome to use.
      Do say you’ll come. It will be such fun. We’ll have adventures together, as we did at school.
      Your old friend
                                Jane Hardaway Leatherby

This message was last edited by the GM at 13:55, Mon 23 Nov 2020.

 GM, 4 posts
 Regem Angelorum
 Venite adoremus
Tue 24 Nov 2020
at 20:20
London, December 1911

The second letter arrived within two days or her accepting the invitation. The orchestra's regular season had come to an end and all of the music venues were now filled with schmaltzy Christmas music, quite unsuited to her vigorous style. A fortnight in the country would be an excellent antidote to the blah's the city had inspired.

Dear Evelyn,

So glad you can make it. Do bring your violin. We hope you will play for us. If you can come down on December 20th it would be ideal. We will be having a Yuletide celebration that night with a big bonfire and a celebration of the Solstice. Send me a wire if you can make it.

The Penzance Express leaves Paddington Station at 8:35 in the morning, stopping at Reading, Newbury and Westbury. Change at Westbury for the local line to Salisbury and I will bring the motor car meet you at Warminster.

I am so looking forward to seeing you again!

Jane Leatherby

OOC: Let's get a character sheet together and a list of her luggage. I can help with the sheet.

This message was last edited by the GM at 20:47, Tue 24 Nov 2020.

Evelyn Northwood
 player, 6 posts
Fri 27 Nov 2020
at 14:30
London, December 1911
Evelyn looked out of the window, watching the countryside roll by as the sound of the train wheels clacked and clanked along the railway, mingling with the quiet voices of other passengers engaged in conversation. It was soothing.

She sighed to herself, feeling just a touch guilty that she was going to be spending this time with Jane rather than her own family but, frankly, she simply didn't have it in her to deal with dear, auntie Irene this year. It was always the same, with her. "When are you going to give up this music nonsense and settle down with a husband? When are you going to start a family?"... and so on, and so forth. It was tiring, to say the least. It was like the woman had absolutely no appreciation for how hard Evelyn had worked to get to where she was! It was mildly infuriating.

No. It would be much better for Evelyn to spend the time with her old friend. And, it wasn't like she wasn't going to see her family, at all! Certainly, she would never skip seeing her parents and brother. She missed them dearly when she was on the road, and always looked forward to spending time with them, catching up and talking about all the little adventures each of them had had during their time apart. This was just a slight diversion to miss Irene's visit.
 GM, 6 posts
 Regem Angelorum
 Venite adoremus
Mon 30 Nov 2020
at 13:48
London, December 1911
The bustle of the station with the slamming of carriage doors and the yelling of porters and news boys faded quickly away as the train lurched backwards and then forward, picking up speed slowly but surely. Outside the window of her first class carriage, Evelyn watched the bricked in yards of row houses that backed onto the tracks slip past, each one a fleeting glimpse into another life, quickly swallowed up by the next until they became almost a blur of motion.

The rocking of the train increased as it sped eastward and within moments the confined view of tradesman's yards opened up to show the streets and shops of the outer districts and almost without notice they passed into countryside. The trees looked gaunt and leafless but the grass and brush was still green.

Her carriage door opened and a well dressed man in his mid thirties looked inside at the empty seats around her.

Do you mind if I join you?” he asked. His accent and demeanor all spoke of good breeding and money. The leather grip he carried was expensive, as were his clothes. But he did have a jaunty look to his eye and his skin was too tanned for him to be a permanent resident of England.

Evelyn Northwood
 player, 7 posts
Mon 30 Nov 2020
at 14:33
London, December 1911
"Of course," Evelyn gestured to the seat across from herself. She smiled in greeting, "I'm Evelyn Northwood." It would be impolite to not introduce oneself to someone they were going to be sharing a ride with. However, she felt no particular need to pry... yet. Who knew where conversation would take them and there was time before she reached her destination.

This message was last edited by the player at 14:34, Mon 30 Nov 2020.

 GM, 7 posts
 Regem Angelorum
 Venite adoremus
Tue 1 Dec 2020
at 23:06
London, December 1911

"How do you do, Miss Norwood?" the gentleman smiles and nods, taking the proffered seat as he swings his leather valise up into the overhead rack. "I am Julian Prospero. I'm travelling to visit an old classmate of mine in the country for the Christmas holiday. Lord Leatherby. How far you going today?"

The coincidence of them both going to the same house to visit two different people seems rather odd, but as she thinks about it, she realizes that both her hostess, Lady Jane, and Mr. Prospero's host, Lord Brian, probably invited their guests to arrive at the same time, reducing the number of trips in the motor car to the train station. Which makes it merely good luck that they have run into one another on the train.

Mr. Prospero is very courteous and well read. He notices her violin and speaks with knowledge about music and performances he has been to, though he has never chanced to see her playing. Which he regrets profoundly, and hopes she plans to play over the Christmas holiday at Leatherby Hall.

"It will be so much fun if we can make our own small orchestra," he laughs. "I play the piano, not professionally by any means, I'm a novelist by trade, but enough to hold a tune at least. I do so hope you will indulge me."

As the express train thunders through the countryside the two travelers become acquainted. His manners are impeccable and he really is rather handsome and sophisticated.
Evelyn Northwood
 player, 8 posts
Wed 2 Dec 2020
at 13:43
London, December 1911
"A novelist? Well, that is quite interesting, Mr. Prospero! Have you written anything that I have read, I wonder?" Evelyn smiles, her hands resting in her lap as she leans back her seat. "Do you write fiction? I must say, I quite enjoy a good tale! There's nothing more satisfying after a long day than curling up in bed with a good book. It's the perfect way to forget about the little trials of the day."
 GM, 8 posts
 Regem Angelorum
 Venite adoremus
Thu 3 Dec 2020
at 13:01
London, December 1911
"My stories tend to be adventures set in far away places with a healthy dose of pagan gods and  devil worshippers thrown in to scare the audience," Prospero laughs. "Perhaps not suitable for a relaxing read before bed.

"But they sell well enough,
" he adds with a shrug.

"I write under the pen name of James Gryphon. My best seller so far was last year, The Pyramid of Pishtaku -- set in Peru. Very lurid!"

The train rolls on as they chat. He tells her that normally he would have sailed somewhere warmer for the winter but was delayed in London making the final changes to his most recent manuscript.

"Brian Leatherby discovered me holed up in our club. We were up at Oxford together. He was decent enough to invite me down for the holiday."

When they change trains onto the local line he helps her with her luggage -- really instructs a porter to carry them, and sits with her again for the last leg of their journey. As the locomotive slows for their final stop, he offers her his hand to negotiate the descent.
Evelyn Northwood
 player, 10 posts
Fri 4 Dec 2020
at 23:16
London, December 1911
Evelyn graciously accepts Mr. Prospero's assistance when disembarking the train. As the two of them move off to where they will be meeting their ride, she chats idly with him, ""I must admit, I was surprised to get a letter from Jane inviting me. But, I'm glad that she did." Eveylyn chuckles slightly and shakes her head at herself, "I have been a frightfully bad friend. It has been far too long since I last saw her. But, with all the travelling that I do, I find that it's hard to carve out time to get home."

She then turns the conversation back to his manuscript, as she realizes that he never said whether he managed to finish up. "Were you able to complete your edits? Or, will this be a bit of a working holiday, for you?"
 GM, 9 posts
 Regem Angelorum
 Venite adoremus
Mon 7 Dec 2020
at 20:55
London, December 1911
The moment Evelyn touched Prospero’s hand she had a sudden image of him standing in a mountainous setting, high up, almost among the clouds, with a dark, brooding pyramid behind him. Something extremely malevolent was watching him from within the pyramid.

She shuddered and shook of the sense, almost of deja vu, and the image faded quickly. The man himself seemed not to have noticed anything.

Here’s our motor car!” he announced, waving at a uniformed chauffeur standing beside the machine. Lady Jane was sitting in the back seat and rose to greet them both.

Evelyn! Julian! So good to see you both. I wondered if you might run into one another on the train, and it seems you did. Wonderful. Come along, get inside. It’s getting colder and Mrs. Bates, she’s the cook, tells me we’ll have snow tonight. I do hope so. I have a whole Yule Log party planned with a bonfire and mulled wine.

” she waved at the chauffeur, "get their bags will you.

Prospero hurried to help the man with the luggage the porter was placing on the platform and Lady Jane pulled Evelyn inside the cabin of the motor car.

He is rather dreamy, isn’t he?” she giggled as they both watched the men wrestling with cases. “He’s an old friend of Brian’s. One of many gentlemen who will be visiting this week.

As the luggage was settled in the rack, Prospero joined the ladies in the cabin and greeted Jane as an old friend. When Evelyn asked him about his edits he laughed.

"I think we're done, but old McIntosh is a stickler. He may cable me over the holiday with some awkward paragraph or two.

"You mentioned other guests, Jane,"
he said, turning to their hostess. "Who else has Brian invited?"

The car lurched into motion and steered through picturesque country roads as Lady Jane ticked off their names on her fingers.

"Major McGregor came last week, unexpectedly but very welcomed, I gather. I've never even heard of him before and he seems a bit rough and ready for Brian's usual set. But he brought some crates with him that have been stowed away in the chapel, and Brian is beside himself with glee at whatever is in them. He won't tell me. Says we have to wait from Professor Thorne. We're expecting him in his own motor later today. You may have known him, Julian. He was Brian's Archaeology professor at Oxford." "

"Yes, and mine," Prospero nods. "Not much of a social bird, though. I'm surprised Brian managed to pry him away from his cabinet of curiosities at the University."

"There's a solicitor I've never heard of either who is coming tomorrow," adds Lady Jane. "And of course a few of the locals will be spending time with us, the village doctor and the vicar. Always part of the ceremonies, don't you know.

"Now that you and Evelyn are here, I'm hoping we can make a jolly time of it.
Evelyn Northwood
 player, 11 posts
Tue 8 Dec 2020
at 17:08
London, December 1911
Evelyn couldn't help but ponder just a bit upon her strange vision. Nothing like that had ever happened to her, before. It was odd, to say the very least. Inwardly, she chided herself. It was but a strange flight of fancy, most likely brought on by a combination of being tired and all the excitement of the upcoming party. Silliness and poppycock, but the mind could be strange, at times.

As Jane spoke of the guests who were already there and those yet to arrive, Evelyn leaned over and linked her arm though Jane's, as they had done in their younger days, "Mysterious crates! Well, this is going to be quite the party. I must say, you have piqued my interest."

The musician grinned slyly at Jane. It was an expression that her friend knew well. It was the same expression she had seen many times in school - that of a young woman who had a mind to explore on her own, to push the boundaries of what was acceptable.

Not that she actually intended to sneak into the chapel and peek into boxes. She would certainly never do that, not when it would ruin Brian's surprise. She would be loath to do such a thing! However, that doesn't mean that the thought of doing it doesn't cross her mind...

Evelyn laughs softly and bumps her shoulder against Jane's, putting the joke into her words. "I am glad that I ran into Mr. Prospero on the train. He's been a delight to chat with," she smiled at Julian. "And, he's been the source of new reading recommendations! His stories may not be good for bedtime, but they sound perfect for long rides between cities."
 GM, 10 posts
 Regem Angelorum
 Venite adoremus
Wed 9 Dec 2020
at 21:09
London, December 1911
Lady Jane laughs and snuggles up against Evelyn in the motor car cabin.

"Yes!" she cries, "I can tell that this is going to be a very happy Christmas with the two of you here.

"Brian and his professor and his solicitor can be as fusty as they like, but we three shall have fun.

The car chugs along the winding country roads through gently falling snow.

"I have planned a Yule Tide celebration for this evening," Lady Jane tells them. "It is the twenty first of December, the Winter Solstice. The shortest day of the year and in the old pagan days the country folk would have bonfires and sing songs to bring back the sun. Well, we shall do the same tonight. Hot buttered rum, Christmas carols and a big fire in the field behind the Hall. And afterwards we shall have a game -- a quest for the Yule log. Two teams, each to find the best log they can in the woods and bring it back to the Hall.

"Brian will judge the winner. We will burn one in the big fireplace in the Hall and the other will be given to the Alms House down the road for their holiday celebrations.

"Will you two be on the same team -- or opposing teams?
" she asks with a twinkle in her eyes just as the car rounds the final turn in the road and tiny village is laid out before them.

Evelyn Northwood
 player, 12 posts
Fri 11 Dec 2020
at 20:31
London, December 1911
"Well, that is an excellent question," Evelyn laughs in return. She turns a sparkling eye towards Mr. Prospero as she considers it, speaking her reasoning aloud. "Honestly, I'm inclined to put us on opposite teams for the challenge. I do so love a competition! It's been ages since I've played anything like this."

"But, I think I would prefer to be with someone that I have already met rather than be paired with a stranger. Granted, we've only known each other for the length of the train ride, but... would you do me the kindness of assisting me in utterly squashing our competitors?"

 GM, 11 posts
 Regem Angelorum
 Venite adoremus
Tue 15 Dec 2020
at 23:29
Welcome to Leatherby hall
"I would be honored, Miss Northwood," Prospero said with a slow smile. "I think spending the holiday with you is going to be enormous fun."

Lady Jane waggled her eyebrows at Evelyn from behind the gentleman and blew her a little kiss.

The motor car turned of the road and through a pair of stone gate posts with lions mounted on them. The driveway wound a short distance between a thicket of trees and Evelyn caught sight of a small chapel in the woods, looking disused and forlorn with a dusting of snow and overgrown with brambles.

"That's where Brian has his crates," Lady jane pointed out to them. "His big surprise. He really is like a little boy with a new toy. It's charming in a way. I wish he would pay attention to me that way."

The slight annoyance in her tone spoke volumes to Evelyn about her host and hostess's relationship, most of it not good, and she realized that part of her job while she was here would be to jolly her old school friend along, help her throw a smashing Christmas party for everyone and not think about her distracted husband. It's what friends do.

Sweeping out of the line of trees they came in sight of Leatherby Hall, an Elizabethan era country manor in soft golden toned sandstone with red tile roofs and many interesting nooks and crannies. Quite breath taking in the morning light.

Servants hurried out of the house to greet the car and to carry luggage inside. Lady Jane guided Evelkyn and Prospero inside.

"You're both on the second floor," she announced, "but I'll give you the grand tour while they take your luggage up to your rooms, shall I?"

OOC: I am using the American designation of floors because I'm used to it -- enter the house on the first floor and go up one level to the second floor, and another level to the third floor. In England, you would actually enter on the ground floor, go up one level to the first floor and another to the second floor. Just to be clear.

Evelyn Northwood
 player, 13 posts
Wed 16 Dec 2020
at 03:16
Welcome to Leatherby hall
Evelyn snorted softly and grinned at Jane's antics behind Prospero. It was good to see her laughing. Now, if only she could keep her that way. Keep her mind focused on all the fun that would be had over the coming holiday. Fie upon Brian and his distractions! There will be tea and no small amount of Scotch, most like. And candies and dancing and stories to be shared. Mentally, Evelyn squared her shoulders and set her mind to that one, solid purpose of making this a party to remember!

As they swept into the house, Evelyn hooked her arm through Jane's, her eyes sweeping across the decorated foyer. A small, delighted gasp escaped her lips as she took in the bright, red ribbons intertwined with evergreen garlands draped across curtain rods and woven along the staircase railing leading up to the second floor. Small bells and snowflakes made of glass hung in the windows, catching the morning light as it streamed in.

"Oh, Jane! The place is beautiful!," Evelyn laughed in delight before making an amused scoffing noise. "It quite puts my little dish of sad, hard candies by my door to shame. Oh! And, my one candle. But, it's a lovely green color and looks cheerful in my hotel window." The musician laughed at herself and her domestic shortcomings.

OOC: I'm assuming that Jane has the place decorated for the occasion. If I step out of bounds with descriptions or anything, feel free to correct me and I can go back and edit. Also, I'm American. So, do use American terms if it feels more natural to you. Honestly, the American versions are going to be more familiar to me and I'm not a stickler keeping the language strictly British.
 GM, 12 posts
 Regem Angelorum
 Venite adoremus
Sat 19 Dec 2020
at 13:10
Welcome to Leatherby hall
The ancient Hall has indeed been decorated from top to bottom with evergreens and garlands. A magnificent tree stands in the front foyer and a smaller tree has been set up in the drawing room. The small tree has not yet ben decorated.

"I thought we would do it all together tomorrow night," Lady Jane suggested as she showed her old friend around the house.

OOC: Sorry for the minimal post. Bit hectic right now. Hopefully something juicy before real Xmas.