Castle in the sky
We were planning to drive from West Berlin to London until we realized there are quite a few East German checkpoints along the one road and figured we would have a hard time keeping Pierre quiet. Instead, we got the SWING private plane to come pick us up.
We noodled about the office for a bit and decided we'd take the strange statuette with us to Bern when we attempt to gain entrance to Zoltan's castle. Rene was kind enough to get us invited in, and we started casing the plate. Nothing obvious yet, but there is a secret door below the rug in the Study. When we get a chance, we should really check that out.
October 22, 2017
Zoltan Zubriggen is having things stolen and returned to him. He also has access to bizarre items that can affect people’s minds.
We are pretty sure there will be a party at Zoltan’s sometime soon, but we might have a little bit of time.
We head to London where we’ll turn over Pierre and maybe the stone…or at least let Section 8 look at it.
We get to the Channel, ferry the Bentley across, and…wait, can you drive out of West Berlin? Yes, but you have to cross through several border crossings. Instead, we’ll sit on Pierre for a few days until we can get a cargo plane.
Our Alertness is good enough to keep Pierre under wraps until the plane arrives. It’s a couple of days until we’re in London. We don’t do any investigation into his East German contact; presumably that person changes.
It has been 2.5 days since we captured Pierre before we get to SWING HQ – at least one with a lot of Section 5, aka Crime. They’re near the Castle. We turn him over, making sure everyone knows how well-skilled he is with escape. We also inquire about some time with the folks in Section 8. It could take some time for them to determine how quickly it works. We know that Zoltan is brilliant but not sure how, and he’s influential in PAIN.
As far as playing with the item, how much time do we have? If we play with the statuette, we’ll have to arrive at the party as guests while it’s going on, instead of being able to assault the place beforehand.
We decide to work with Section 8…3 investigation or 2 Mysteries…Simon strikes out, but Rene got a +3 mysteries – if you present this to someone in a certain way and make a +1 art or +1 Mysteries, it induces the mild reverie (+1 vs resolve). It is a fist-sized piece of modern art. This seems potentially useful and something easy for Rene to use. Difficulty is (art or mysteries roll) + 1 vs Resolve.
If Rene can get invited, which should be easy, Ana can take the role of his date, Simon his bodyguard, and Morris his driver. We can get small radios with earphones, but they can’t be worn continuously without notice.
We need to re-equip…Simon swaps for a holdout pistol. Ana will have to conceal a radio and her gun.
We Refresh and head for Switzerland. Rene’s connections get him invited to Zubriggen’s next party along with Ana. Zoltan is hosting a party for the upper crust at his castle in the Swiss Alps scheduled to run for several days.
We fly into Bern and head south near the Italian Alps. Zubriggen’s castle is on the side of a mountain overlooking the valley below; it is not perched directly on the mountaintop. Morris drives up to the front; Simon lets Rene and Ana out. Ana and Rene are invited up the stairs; Simon heads with them while Morris pulls over to a hastily-erected tent where he can get the car out of the weather.
They are ushered into the front room where there is the presence of guards all in white. Some of them may be Simon’s size…they are armed with truncheons and pistols. The maitre de (sp) invites them in; they can see a dance in the hall upstairs. Should they be shown to their rooms right away? Yes. There is a mildly formal dance upstairs.
Time to scope out the room first. The driver will be allowed to stay with Rene if desired. Seems convenient enough for us.
To the left of the entrance is a coat room; to the right are stairs. Ahead is a reception area. Upstairs we see a lot of people dancing and across from the hall are several opened doors to a theater area, filled with musicians. To the right of the dance hall is a long hallway. There are several rooms above the art gallery; they get a key and are left to settle in.
Any windows – what is the view? We are on the north side; looking down and to the left is a covered terrace. Inside the terrace are doors going inside. There are stairs down from the terrace that may go towards the parking area. Rene will check things out with the IR scanner on his camera; Simon will look for bugs. +5 Investigation reveals nothing.
How many people – several dozen so far, and this sounds to be quite the bash. This is currently very formal but who knows what happens after a few libations.
The room is strangely mod-themed…it’s very minimalist and strangely doesn’t feel like a castle.
Can we stick the tracker on Zoltan to find out if he’s got a secret lair? Well, it’s the size of a bottle cap and could be put in someone’s pocket.
The three inside go to freshen up. There is a formal dance off to the right / west. Time for Rene and Ana to circulate; time for Simon to find out where he’s not welcome.
During some mingling, we find a theater with everything dark. There are some rooms off the ballroom with locked doors. There is also a large private bedroom on the east end of the hallway. No stairs from the balcony to the first floor. Spiral staircase from the first floor goes to the ground. Inside the building the only way to the ground is the main staircase. There is another private room near the stairs on the 2nd floor. Total of 3 or so guards on the second floor.
Morris chats with the servants and they tell him the general layout, etc. (Investigate -1) = probably a dance upstairs. If I’m not dressed in tails, stay out (esp. as a servant). They mention where the bar is (of course!)…two biggest private rooms are at the end of the hallway and at the top of the stairs to the 2nd floor.
There are people from all over the world – politicians, businessmen, and especially counterculture artists.
Morris comes up the stairway to the tea area / terrace. He hears music from above. Dining area is being set up for a formal dinner; no one throws him out from anywhere, but he is definitely in the way.
As everyone mingles, it’s not clear where Zoltan is. Rene knows of him but may not know him by sight. PAIN, being idealists, tends not to be too straightforward so this is strange.
Simon asks around to find Zoltan’s room…no one is interested in finding that out.
Servant: The master will invite guests to his chambers as he desires.
Is it possible to figure out who’s in the two private rooms? Simon says he needs something sent to $guest_that_clearly_doesn’t_belong_in_the_private_room. The servant realizes that he’s not a castle employee, and reveals who is in that private room – Steve McQueen (the American counter-culture film actor). The other private room is currently unoccupied; the guest is not there yet.
Morris spots tags on the main table in the dining room, and one fancier chair suggests someone will master the ceremonies. He’s shooed away before he can check the tags out. The other tables do not have tags. Dinner is at 6 pm; dance ends at 5:30 pm.
Reception area to the south is a seating area with chairs and elbow tables. There are people chatting, arriving who were late for the ball or not interested in dancing, etc. Lots of traffic in and out from the entryway.
There is a coat check area near the entryway. Morris stashes his coat in the coatroom…then looks through the art museum and spots the bar. It seems to be of Northern European, and not French as one would expect. The paintings are strangely modern and seem out of place.
Morris wanders down that way…a strange blend of both servants and the hoi polloi are welcome in here. As he steps in, he spots a guarded staircase going up. It doesn’t take a practiced eye to distinguish guests and servants here. Morris hears some names thrown around but nothing incriminating. Lots of diplomats and businesspeople here.
Simon looks around on the first floor…where are the guards, where can’t he go, etc. There are guards in the gallery; there’s nothing going on in the study…people ask him if he’s looking for a book. The kitchen may be an absolute no. No one is forbidden from the servant’s quarters explicitly but it is for them, not the public. Simon goes to the bar, orders a drink, and chats with Morris for a bit. Simon puts two and two together that it’s up to the private room of Steve McQueen. Morris mentions that dinner may be a spectacle.
Paul starts to compile a list of places to check out…the study or the coat room may be places that are not busy…not guarded, but you could get some privacy. We could also wander around outside. Rene should look at the art.
Morris finishes his pint, cleans up, and prepares for dinner. Simon tells Rene what we know and suggests checking out the art before dinner. The art is all very minimalist, and sculptures in weird shapes. Nothing similar to the mind-eating statuette, but lots of them also shapes of nothing (nothing as eye-catching).
Morris gets a +6 Alertness…he spots Mr. McQueen come down the back stairs, grabs a quick American whiskey, and heads down the gallery.
After a few minutes in the gallery, a servant comes by to mention that dinner is being served…if you wish. Simon does not follow along; he goes to snoop in the study. Morris will continue to investigate the bar.
From a social-standing POV, Rene is halfway up on the right side of the room. Steve McQueen is at the head table.
Looking at the art, Rene spots some activity near a chair at the high table—one Ms. Leslie Lawson (aka Twiggy).
Eventually a long, blonde-haired man seats himself at the head chair. He gives a speech – thank you for coming to my castle…enjoy the meal! He waves and the food comes out.
Simon attempts to sneak into the study and gains entrance without anyone noticing. Investigation = 6…he finds a staircase. To the best of his knowledge, he figures he can open it…he puts the rug back over it, then heads for the dining room. Then he sneaks back into the dinner.
Zoltan seems to be dining and chatting, making their way around to mingle, and some people are passing by the head table to thank him.
Simon goes to Morris and asks him to check out the secret staircase, then he waves at the guard as we enter the study. He realizes what he’s done, then leaves only for Morris to tell him, “This isn’t the men’s, man!” Then they head back to dinner.
Eventually Rene and Ana go up to thank Zoltan personally. Zoltan’s eyes light up and he greets “Monsieur Belange” personally.
Z: I am honored to have such a distinguished photographer. Perhaps you could speak about our artwork.
R: This place is beautiful!
Z: It is. It is an old castle, but I have modified it to suit my tastes. Enjoying the dinner, I hope? Tomorrow afternoon we have a model painting…perhaps some of the models would care to be photographed?
R: I go nowhere without my camera.
Rene compliments a few of the pieces in the gallery.
Simon attempts to cold-read (+1) Zoltan, who isn’t trying to resist.
The tendency to use far more words than is strictly necessary in a circumlocutious fashion
Captivated by women
They gab a bit until the conversation dies down, and off they go. Simon mentions to Ana the last aspect.
During dessert, he speaks – thank you for coming. Enjoy all the amenities my home has to offer…dance party at 9. I hope you like the new artwork I will be displaying.
He bows and leaves the room. After a moment, Morris excuses himself and follows out “towards the bar”. Which way does Zoltan go? Up the stairway and around the corner…Morris gives him a bit more distance, then follows up the stairs. There’s another guard at the top of the stairs. The dance hall is open; the musicians are setting up. Zoltan is not to be seen. Morris heads towards their room in the longer hallway and does not spot Zoltan, so he is probably in the private room at the top of the stairs.
After dinner, it’s obvious that most of the older guests are retiring for the night and others left. The young pups tend to assemble on the dance floor…they head to the bar and collect Morris.
We talk…Zoltan is probably staying in the room at the top of the stairs. And that may be above the study where the secret door is.
When would a good time to snoop in the study? Now might work, or during Zoltan’s big presentation. Or, during one of many future events.
We’ll wait for Zoltan to maybe show up, and then sneak downstairs. That would be a good time for Ana to slip the tracker on him. If Zoltan doesn’t show up, not sure.
Rene gives Simon a little something to loosen up and convinces him to loosen his tie. After a while, Zoltan is nowhere near this party. Not in the music hall or the dance hall.
Rene mingles and tries to find out what’s going to be popular. Every day there will be some kind of movie showing or something. Tomorrow will be model painting. In two days there will be a formal tour of the artwork. At least one musical act per day.
Morris paces the halls with a pint, trying to determine if the walls would hold any secret stairwells, etc. Looks like probably not (after a Swing die).
Ana wanders around outside…there are a few people outside. The grounds are quasi-lit by torches. She goes out to the terrace by the tea room and heads down the spiral stairs. One of the white-garbed attendants tells her not to go too far…she does spot a balcony outside the Private room we suspect is Zoltan’s, and the lights are on. She considers climbing up onto that balcony, but reconsiders it when she notices the people on the terrace outside.
Alertness for Ana – she does not notice any super secret thing in the woods. Her circuit around the perimeter doesn’t turn anything interesting up. There are a few people outside but all on the castle…no one is in the woods. She spots no secret doors. There are 3 or 4 guards outside and maybe 8 inside, but she’s not memorizing faces.
In the morning, we wake up somewhere. Rene got the itinerary of the party, then enjoyed himself and made sure he hooked up.
On the agenda for Day 2…Simon pulls someone else’s garments out of his pocket.
Today looks like the first day, but lower key. Zoltan is not here for breakfast. Rene specifically inquired about model painting so there’s a chance that he’d show then…and Rene points out that as a good time to look around.
Some of the middle-aged dignitaries are up and around. Many of the party-goers are nowhere to be seen.
In the carport are lots of nice cars including a couple of Lotuses. Rene gets some pictures including plates.
Mid-afternoon we see some new faces. Some very well-made up men and women arrive…they look like the kind of folk who stand still to get their pictures taken. A few of them give Rene a wink.
Some of them pose in the dance hall, and others are in the gallery. It seems low key at first. Others go onto the balcony to catch the light. Eventually some of them are brought to the music hall. Other more adventurous models reveal more skin. Eventually by evening, some of them are being painted upon.
No one sees hide nor hair of Zoltan all day. The bands die off when the models start to get frisky in the music hall. No organized meals today.
By evening the models are getting too cold for this drafty castle so things start to change over to the night’s events, whatever they shall be.
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