THE FOLLY OF THE WISE
Part 3 – The Pit of Peril
Ferguson stood there, gripping his shotgun. “You had to interfere, didn’t you? Well, you’ll not stop me getting my share”. With that, he discharged both barrels of his shotgun through the gate and into the tunnel …
Jack and Yoz threw themselves to the floor of the tunnel and the shotgun blast travelled overhead; they got some minor stinging cuts and weals from the rebounding pellets. Both drew their pistols but Ferguson had disappeared into the dark. They went back to examine the gate; it was a heavy wrought iron affair but it was hung on a simple hinge. Yoz exerted all his strength to try and lift the gate; he failed and nearly ruptured himself!* Jack decided not to try; he offered Yoz another humbug and; once the sun had risen; started shouting for help. Eventually Alex and Dr Zeus arrived and using a crowbar from the garage, levered the gate open.
They carried Yoz back to the house where he retired to bed. Mrs Dalby, the cook, made him a warm custard and gooseberry pie and prepared a hot mustard poultice to apply to his injury.
Alex, Jack and Dr Zeus went out onto the estate and visited Ferguson’s cottage. There was nobody there; inside they found a part-burnt letter in the fireplace. It was from Alan Longbaugh; offering Ferguson 10% of the money if he helped him inherit; the letter pointed out that even without the further inheritance, Starling had far too much money anyway. There were some drawings on how to prepare a crude hydraulic device rigged to flush at irregular intervals; the water draining into one of the hollow support columns of the pagoda would make it act like a giant organ pipe. On the kitchen table was a receipt from the village store for “Plumbing items £2 10/6”. In the bedroom, under a loose board; Alex found £500 wrapped in waxed cotton; far too much money for a man in Ferguson’s position to have. They waited around at the cottage for most of the day; but Ferguson didn’t show.
In the late afternoon the air grew sultry and the clouds massed; another storm was brewing. Jack went out looking for Ferguson, Alex returned to the house and Dr Zeus stayed at the cottage, armed with his Lightning Gun (which he was carrying around in a fishing tackle box). Yoz awoke, feeling much better and went downstairs. Longbaugh was reading in the library, sounds of laughter from outside indicated that the others were on the tennis court. Groves, the butler, approached him.
“Excuse me sir, but have you seen his Lordship anywhere? He was due back this afternoon”
“I thought he was stopping in London overnight at the Savoy?”
“A change of plan sir; Fermi could not make the luncheon engagement. It is unlike his Lordship to be late. He is due to open the village fete tomorrow.”
“Perhaps he missed the train. I’ll go to the station to ask.”
“Very good sir. Perkins will drive you in the Rolls.”
It was growing dark as the storm clouds massed overhead when Yoz arrived at the station. The stationmaster was surprised at the query.
“Lord Starling? He came in on the mid-afternoon train. He was met by Ferguson; his groundsman”
Yoz ran back to the car, calling to Perkins. “Back to the house, as fast as you can. Lord Starling is in danger and I think I know where he is.” As they reached the house the storm broke; lightning flashed and thunder roared. Yoz ran into the study; as he suspected, the key to the pagoda was missing. At that point; Alex and Jack came in, followed by Longbaugh.
“Starling’s in danger. Ferguson is holding him in the pagoda. I think he’s intending to push him into the pit. Remember what Starling said about being hit by the pendulum?”
Longbaugh went pale. “This wasn’t supposed to happen. No-one was meant to get killed”
“No-one will get killed. But we don’t need you. Go back and read a book or something.”
They all ran across the lawn to the pagoda; to their surprise they found Dr Zeus waiting by the door. Inside they saw Starling standing by the edge of the pit with Ferguson pointing his shotgun at him. Ferguson was yelling over the eerie swish of the pendulum; interspersed with the crashes of thunder.
“I’ll get my share. I’ll not be cheated again.”
Starling was just about to speak when Jack ran forward and grappled Ferguson; trying to wrest the shotgun from him. Yoz pulled Starling towards the door; only to see Longbaugh blocking it. Yoz didn’t give time for Longbaugh to say anything; a swift punch left him dazed.
Alex ran forward and hit Ferguson’s gun with the crowbar; sending it spinning into the pit. His second blow hit Ferguson’s legs, causing him to buckle. Alex then went to deal with Longbaugh in the door; Ferguson jumped up and aimed a punch at Jack. Jack spun out of the way and Ferguson overbalanced and fell into the pit. Jack grabbed his hand as he fell; he couldn’t hold the grip and Ferguson fell directly into the path of the pendulum.
Back at the house; Longbaugh confessed all. The whole thing was a set-up to try and get his share of the inheritance. He recruited Ferguson and Mariam but he did not believe that Ferguson would go that far.
Starling vows to stay in touch with Dr Zeus [Connection] and paid all the PC’s $1000 each
XP = 2 each
* Another Critical Fail, this time on a Strength test! He gained 2 Fatigue.
We are going to stick with pulp action for our next SW Game. However, next up is a Game of Numenera, as I acquired this to read on holiday.