A thing most curious, pt. 3

Grisleigh End Items (17)(Continued from pt. 2)

Having surveyed what could be seen  from this vantage, I moved to take the journal from within and uncover what it might obscure.  It held a weighty sheaf of parchment, it’s original contents clearly added to at numerous points with items, many paper, glued or otherwise affixed between its bound pages, as was clear from even a casual glance at its edges.   I was reticent to actually open it, not least due to the strange, oily sensation it conveyed to my fingers wherever I touched it.  Upon spying a bottle labeled “Poison” beneath it, I hastily dropped the notebook and raced to wash my hands.

The reader will surmise, of course, this record is not that of one deceased in mid-examination and that, therefore, I must have survived.  I did wash quite thoroughly and at length,  and it was two strong cups of tea and a brisk walk about the garden later before I gave over examining my hands for signs of discoloration, my eyes for inflammation or abnormal dilation of the pupils, my teeth and gums for bleeding.  I was short of breath for a time but, my perambulation being taken at a pace perhaps best fitting the description of frenetic due to the state of my nerves, I eventually accepted a lack of symptom as indication that I was in no immediate danger.

I did retrieve a set of fine pincers from my tool kit and donned a set of leather gloves so as to avoid any further direct contact with the items in question.  Discretion being the better part, and all that.

Several objects within the box, now revealed by removal of the journal, had been unnoticed in my hasty departure. A shaving razor, a small metal tube approximately the size of a man’s thumb, and two keys, one for a door and one a clock, awaited my examination when I, at length, returned to my desk.  Giving these but a cursory glance for the moment, I used the pincers to lift the bottle and remove it to the blotter.

Grisleigh End Items (17B)Its label, by which my attentions were seized when first observing it, in addition to the clearly-printed “Poison” warning, bore the numeral three encircled, and another ideograph or character from the Far East.  A tag was tied to the neck, but whatever information it had borne was far too faded and smudged to be of use to anyone.  A simple bit of cork sealed the neck, preventing at least its solid contents from escaping.  These small spheroids were plainly visible through its clear glass and resembled, to my untrained and unworldly eye, peppercorns.

I considered the observable facts and what I could safely surmise from them for some time before proceeding.  The bottle contained no liquid; had it at one time but leaked all out into the box?  The cork was dry, as were the interior of the box and the other items.  If an aqueous or oily fluid had seeped from the bottle, surely the cork and papers would hold more residue than the leather hide of the journal, would they not?  Further, there were no stains upon the papers, not even on the tag affixed to the bottle’s neck.  The ruination of the writing thereupon bore all signs of having been written with a lead pencil and smudged while dry.  All in all it seemed most likely that the contents of the bottle, however toxic they might be, had  been placed there without suspension.  It followed that its poisonous nature remained contained within the glass and that it presented no  danger so long as it stayed there.

Nonetheless I resolved to have it conveyed to an apothecary’s for examination and identification.


A thing most curious, pt. 2

(Continued from pt. 1)

To say that I was discomfited by the content of the package would be too broad a statement.  Rather might it be said that while I wished to know what lay within the box I was averse to actually opening it.   This was in and of itself most puzzling, for no outward characteristic of the item gave cause for such reticence.  It was as I have said, almost entirely plain, yet it somehow conveyed upon me an impression of weight, of moment, to which I could put no name. I felt rather than knew that opening the box would set my feet upon a path heretofore unimagined and in no wise foreseeable to me in my current state and that, moreover, the option of avoiding this path into the unknown would evaporate with the unveiling of the contents.

For a time, indeed, I resolved not to look within and turned instead my attention to events economic, attempting to enjoy the paper and a cup of tea.  This proved fruitless, however, as my attention returned incessantly to that which awaited me upon my writing desk.  When I realized my tea had gone quite cold and I had no idea what my eyes had looked over in the daily, I gave up the lost cause and returned to the study.Grisleigh End Items (19A)

Unfathomable and unnameable misgivings set to one side, I opened the box.  No spring-trap or vial of noxious liquid leapt out.  I released a breath I had not known I was holding, and laughed aloud at my behaviour.

A journal, bound in leather and clasped with a simple black strip of fabric closed by a brass button lay within, resting upon several further objects.  A silken cord, scarlet in color, served as a restraint by way of preventing the lid from opening beyond some ninety degrees.   From this were suspended three medallions, possibly originating as coins, with what I believe to be writing characters of the Far East, most likely Cantonese, all of bronze.  Within the lid itself, apparently glued in place, Grisleigh End Items (13)a section of parcel stationery. Printing thereupon indicated its point of origin was the Tower of London (!) in the year of Our Lord nineteen-hundred and twelve, while postal stamp marks showed passage through  the Netherlands.  The section before me had been inexpertly torn from a larger piece, leaving an irregularity on one edge.   The specific means of its affixation did not immediately present itself nor did it occur to me at that time to seek for any thing which might lie beneath.

The interior cavity of the box was lined with a  parchment inscribed in Greek.  It had been cut lengthwise, interrupting the lines of text.  I was not at that point able to make sense of the snippets visible to me, yet it did appear as if the pages continued not only to the lower edges of this space but, further, across the bottom as well, giving me hope to interpret more following the removal of the remaining contents.


A thing most curious

I had intended to return to the tour of the manor today, but the arrival of a thing most curious has prompted me to postpone that propitious event.  A parcel arrived recently by courier, a delivery most especial, not the least cause for saying so being that it came packaged as a returned item from our commonwealth cousins across the pond.  Seems the Postmaster General of Ottawa, which is down in Canada, drawing upon his great skill and knowledge, has determined that this parcel, posted to one Mr. A. Doggett of Hamilton, Ontario, should, for the reason of remaining unclaimed for an extensive period exceeding the peculiar limits placed upon the Post Office for holding such items, be delivered (he used the term ‘returned,’ which made no sense to me, for I never had ought to do with it) unto me.Grisleigh End Items (29)

Now, I immediately informed the courier that I knew nothing of the package or its origins, yet he asserted his instructions were quite clear and came  from the highest levels of British Post; that, under no circumstances was he to deliver this item into any hands but mine own and, furthermore, he was not to accept refusal of delivery.  Nonplussed at his insistence and baffled as to what this could possibly have to do with me, I allowed my curiosity to gain sway over my best judgement and signed his receipt.

I examined the package, it’s wrappings, seals, stamps and such, closely, but found little of interest.  Having no particular knowledge in the subject of postal delivery, these things all seemed normal enough to my eye and gave me no hints as to its contents, the cause of it remaining unclaimed or, most significantly, why anyone imagine my having any hand in its origination.  It seemed remarkable only in its ordinariness. It had no great heft when lifted, nor any shifting of its contents when turned  about; no markings unusual to my eye, or scent detectable by my nose.

Having exhausted my faculties upon the exterior, I determined to proceed Grisleigh End Items (23) within.  Unsealing the heavy paper wrapping and drawing forth a box from within, I found this more notable in only the smallest degree.  Certainly its construction was common, of a plain wood and broad-headed nails, yet an architect’s compass, albeit a simple one to be sure,  ornamented its lid.  A simpler clasp to hold a thing shut could hardly be asked for, yet I did hesitate to open it, a sudden unease making itself known in the pit of my digestion.  I considered the possibility that opening this box might not be an act of wisdom but of rank inquisitiveness, that, having confirmed the contents were nothing of mine, it followed that it was therefore no business of mine to delve further into the matters and belongings of another and that all parties would be best served by my returning the un-opened box and its wrappings to the offices of British Post and declare the strange puzzle closed.

But a puzzle it remained, and my curiosity did insist I continue.  I knew, after all, nothing of import which I had not known from the moment the courier pressed the parcel upon me, that a package unknown to me was believed to be so by the postal authorities.  I would need further information were I to have any hope in seeing this matter to its proper conclusion.  And so I opened the box.


Grisleigh End Went Wild (Wild Goose, that is)

Sunday was a great day at the Game Design Gala (1st edition!) at Wild Goose Creative.  Al Jam organized a wonderful afternoon of meeting and demoing for the game designers and players alike. Things started off a little slowly, which worked out well as it allowed those of us who needed it to finish setting up, but became pretty packed quite quickly. I had hoped to try out some of the other designers’ games, but ten minutes into my first fifteen minute game (go Jewelies!) I had to bail because my own table filled up and stayed that way until closing time.

As in nearly every game, the players came up with questions requiring tweaking of the rules or rewriting the card text to clarify. One of the joys of designing games is learning all the places other people can go with your vehicle. The simplest of games has little or no wiggle room for interpretation, but something as big as Grisleigh End: Estate of Confusion has seemingly endless arrangements of moving parts to play with, and the possible combinations of conditions continues to be unveiled.

Players often approach a piece of the game in a new way or try something no one has before. For example: I have been evaluating the abilities of the various staff membeGame Design Gala July 2014 (1)rs for balance, seeing one or two of them being the last chosen in game after game. The Detective Inspector seemed to be the least-desired, often left unused in games of less than six players, and his ability to detain other staff rarely used even by those who had him in tow. Recently, however, this took a complete turn in two separate games wherein the player with the Detective took control of the board, trapping half of his opponents in his company by detaining their staff for questioning! Goes to show that time invested in playtesting continues to be valuable no matter how far along the game design seems to be.

That’s why Grisleigh End continues its journey, to seek out new venues and new players, to boldly go where no game has gone before!  Where will we meet you?