Arcanum 1780: A New World

From the Journal of Oliver Thackery - And the King's Favor

In which our noble protagonist becomes actual nobility, and hunts down the three-faced man.

September 29th 1780, Philadelphia, New Britain.

Today I was confronted by a question – what makes a Spaniard of more value than a cat? A conundrum – my historical bias and experience with the Spanish during the war would have me say that the cat is of infinite more use, being clean, friendly, and a good companion. Recent history, however, would stand them on equal footing – Cole and Espinosa, in equal parts, have saved my life. But the Crown, in its infinite wisdom, seems to have more capacity for forgiving offenses against its sovereignty than it does for seeing past the strange veils of magic this world calls down around those who live within it. The plight of the soldiers Twisted in its service, used and discarded, because the Twist that changes them clouds how they are seen, though inside they may yet remain unchanged. Someday, I would like to address and heal those wounds, and perhaps I will have the ability to do so by virtue of my winnings, even after I have succumbed to my fate.

Sometimes we must bend to the way the world wills, and for our Cole, it means to adopt the guise of man to receive whatever prize is to come our way. It seems that Adrian Griffin be the name uttered from this new-formed babe, for which Cole will receive her spoils under.

September 29th 1780, Philadelphia, New Britain.

Noises afoot outside our suite, and the moment we step out to investigate, we were rebuffed to remain in our room, though thankfully Commodore Lord Arnold had the sense to ask us along. It seems as though there was some sort of alteration, and someone has died – perhaps murder, but perhaps something more.

Joseph Brant Thayendenegea, ambassador plenipotentiary from the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, murdered in the Royal Palace. Well, murdered, and subsequently un-murdered, as Espinosa commands much power over life as well as death – it’s a thing of great spiritual sacrifice to remove someone from the fate of death, and even darker, for death among the Haudenosaunee is something to be treasured. This is a decision which in some ways, I regret, for knowing that his spirit is now bound back to his body – it avoids a larger problem for England, but a greater problem spiritually.

Through all this, we are now acquainted with Lord Arthur St. Clair, Baron of Greensburg, Major-General and Director of the Crown Secret Service, and find ourselves in the midst of a plot to spark a war between England and the Haudenosaunee. This has what I expect are the delicate fingerprints of the Marquesa Ariane Bonnevie du Pondicherry all over it, clever and insidious, all at once.

September 29th 1780, The Royal Palace, Philadelphia, New Britain.

To see such deference shown to the boy that Cole is masquerading as is a humorous honor in and of itself. It still fascinates me, this command of the unseen world that Cole and Espinosa have. We learned a small bit about the assassin – male, with access to the wine cellar, and of a build sufficiently strong, stealthy, and swift to take down a large Mohawk warrior.

Captain Uphold has provided to us lovely garments to attend the Appointment – something which I feel I owe him a great deal for, and intend on repayment as soon as circumstances allow. His taste is impeccable.

The feeling I got when I stepped into the Throne Room, the highest station in all of England, if not the world, a chill ran through me. At the end of it, seated, a ruddy-faced man, King Henry IX himself. He seems… older, and shorter than I imagined. But after all this toil, I feel recognized – Sir Thackery, he called me, of Beacon Hill. I cannot wait to write to Cy about this, perhaps have Cy and Kiona over and explain to them my hopes and aims in reforming the opinion of the twisted in England. Though the dinner party was somewhat lacking, here – they normally do not feature Thugee assassins as the centerpiece of the meal, but it’s a daring new approach.

September 29th 1780, The Royal Palace, Philadelphia, New Britain.

Regrettable that my second act since receiving a landed title is to be whisked away to a horrible place of information extraction – the smell may well have ruined my finery forever, nevermind the stains of this place. It is good to hear my suspicions confirmed from the mouth of the assassin, though I am suspect as to if he is telling us the entirety of what is happening here. To think that Sir David Farnsworth, Keeper of The Privy Purse, is in the pouch of Tommy Thruppence, a perpetual thorn in the side of the crown.

Still, exciting to try and go forth and extract this thorn from the lion’s paw itself – we’ve been tasked, alongside Ernesto DeLeon, a genius twisted mage of some sort, to catch out Tommy Thruppence, and through him, track down the Marquesa. To do so, we must venture into the Shambles, a rats nest where the poor unfortunates are shuffled off into – the kind of place that someday I’d like to see cleaned up.

Our first stop is Madame Guthrie of the Blue Lagoon bordello – keeper of bodies, secrets, stolen goods, and information.

September 30th 1780, The Shambles, Philadelphia, New Britain.

The raid has begun, and with it, sand falls through the hourglass. We find ourselves at the foot of the Blue Lagoon, and I find myself mortified and stabbed in the back by Espinosa – that I strike him as a man who needs to part with coin for companionship – a more grievous wound I have never suffered in all my years. Still, we have a lead, now, and the women of this house will hopefully be sheltered from the coming conflict.

I feel out of my element here – most engagements I have been in, historically, were not quite at knife-fighting range. I’ve done my fair share of close-in work, but it’s hardly what I am best at. It is interesting to see Ernesto working at shifting between bodies – it seems more a facet of his character, rather than the intentionality that Miriam uses when appearing as William.

The moment we entered into the warehouse was when everything started to go sideways. It was easy enough to deal with the first two sentries – between William and myself, it feels like we have the firepower of a full regiment at times. Between Ernesto’s distraction, Espinosa’s fireball, and William’s prowess, I felt like we had this well in hand – the stairwell being lit aflame certainly changes the game. We were accosted, then, by an absolute brute of a man armed with hatchet and knife – I moved to intercept him, but he was uncommonly quick, even against the spirits which now guide my sword. William, true to his word, made sure none were able to get behind me, but still, the brute almost managed to take my head off with his first swing.

It was rough going, but after William set him off-balance, I was able to land a decisive blow to his neck, though he did ruin my favorite shirt. I warned him, same as all the others that I have duelled – gave him a chance to step down and spare himself, but he didn’t listen. They rarely do. Just one more spirit out into the world, sadly. Espinosa seems to have mustered up some sort of underworld invasion down in the basement of this place, and I for one am not keen to see what exactly he has done.

Our fight through the building was filled with fire and violence, and finally we cornered Thomas Thruppence, flanked by two of his Thugee, all the while they were planning to abandon their endeavor and burn their evidence. The spirits saw to me taking one of his guard through the neck in a clean blow. They refused to surrender, causing Espinosa to turn to the twisted magicks at his command to ensorcell someone who is yet unknown to us. It took all of us, but we managed to convince Thruppence to surrender, but I can’t help but think it might have been too easy.

October 1st 1780, The Royal Palace, Philadelphia, New Britain.

Four sets of friendly minds, pitted against the tarred and stained Three-souled man in a battle of wits – each with something the other wants desperately. On one side, a desire and burning need for knowledge, and the other a harsh desire for coin and freedom. I had not thought that one of our bargaining chips might be to mend the broken man, but when Espinosa spoke it aloud, it was all I could see.

It is curious to know that our antagonist The Marquesa is well informed enough to know that I am an honest man, and even more curious still that she plans to use this to manipulate me – though as her agent, Tommy does seem to be quite capable of manipulation on his own.

Through Ernesto’s smooth words, we were able to secure a bargaining chip in dealing with Tommy – a King’s Pardon for only one of the Thruppence souls. The exchange is good, the information interesting and troubling. The Marquesa has designs on rising to power and diminishing the sun of England – and it seems everything seems to be coming to a head in New Orleans.

New Orleans, the place where I shipped off to when I enlisted so many years ago, and the place that I now return, to die, in the service of the King.