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Friday, 25 August 2017

Big Fish

Previous Session: Book Deal

With Monger smoothing the burgeoning relationship with the Billhooks, and GhostBlade perfecting a new ritual; it's left to Gap and Fancy Frank to expand the Cult's power and majesty.
They're eyeing up a vice den, operated by the Skovlanders. It's near Kellen's bar and takes up a space in between the rest of their turf. So it makes sense as well as bringing in some much needed cash.

Fancy Frank is familiar with this type of establishment from the war - cheap booze and sex keeps the Skovlanders distracted from their lot in life. He knows just the thing to get the superstitious northerners off their game.

If they can concoct a haunting by the Wicked Mother; chills and blood and maybe a reenactment of Her appearance in the White Horse in which a handful of Billhooks were sacrificed. That would be perfect.

With some spine-tingling artefacts from Moriya, they set up the Skovlan vice den for this horrific experience.

As expected a few days pass, and the place closes for business entirely and then the Skovalanders come looking for them.


A few of them find the Orphans in the Red Lion. Their initial offer that the Orphans take over the running of the place in return for a tithe isn't well received. But then they appear to have second thoughts - if they can get some proof that the Orphans could dispel the effects, then they'll have to have a talk with the leadership to okay the deal.

They grab Strangford and a couple of his adepts and a couple of Quess' thugs and head directly there. The place is abandoned and the Skovlanders stay outside. There are a few things that Strangford has to do, but mostly it's an hour of pre-arranged theatre to fool any onlookers.

They head down the stairs to find the main bar occupied by Skovlanders. There are half a dozen of them. Including Ulf at the row of barrels which serve as the bar - he's sharing a pint with a druid (replete with antlered head dress). The others are at the front and back doors. This doesn't look good.

The guy who spoke to them in the Red Lion - Morgan - tells them to get the hell out and not to come back, and knees Strangford in the gut to show he's serious (Strangford ends up with a broken nose on the way down to the floor). Fancy Frank yells that this is crazy talk and pulls a knife and holds it at Morgan's throat.
The other Skovlanders, front and back have their own weapons out in an instant. The Orphans crew - bunched up at the bottom of the stairs, are like fish in a barrel.

**

With impossible speed, Gap vaults the barrels, landing just behind Ulf and whipping out the two smoke grenades from an upturned bucket where he secreted them previously - he chucks them towards the group of Skovlanders at both doorways and the smoke quickly fills them. They are blinded and although they open fire, it's not very effective.

Fancy Frank stabs Morgan in the throat and then charges towards the front door - he knows he'll be able to barge through the confused Skovlanders milling around in the smoke and distract attention away from the others.

Gap leads the rest of the crew out the door behind the bar. Strangford is being hauled along by two of his adepts. As Gap is making sure everyone gets out, he's sucker punched in the kidneys by Ulf. Gap throws a knife as rolls through the door, shutting it with a sweeping leg behind him. He exits through the front window as all the others go out the back.

As Fancy Frank races towards the door, Skehan, the druid, draws his claymore and cuts across the back of the Hound's legs. Fancy Frank stumbles, but his leather trousers protected him from the worst of the cut and he's out in the fresh air.

However, a dozen yards away are four fully armed Skovlanders, arrayed in a miniature version of a shield wall that Fancy Frank remembers with dread from the war. With only a momentary hesitation he draws his pistol and shoots at the leg of one in the middle, charging the outside flank of the warrior next to his unfortunate target, who collapses in a heap. His blade has little effect on his opponent, but he gets a sharp blow to his elbow in return. As he careens away from the fight, he has to check if his arm is still attached.

Gap comes out of the window and around the corner and sees that Fancy Frank will need help to escape this or he won't survive.

He attracts their attention and when a couple of them move to intercept he leads them on a merry chase, giving Fancy Frank the chance he needs to escape as well.

*

With their plan in tatters, things turn for the worse when an Inspector with a few Bluecoats shows up to arrest someone - Gap's going to Ironhook for a stretch.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Highway Diplomacy

Previous Session: Infernal Framing

Paving the Spider has his ear to the ground - he's trying to identify a high-society party which will give them an opportunity to steal something valuable. From their Ink Rake contacts (gossip columnists are the best!) they hear about a soiree at the Iruvian Consulate; a masquerade ball to welcome a new VIP who is arriving from U'Duasha imminently. There is an associated occult ceremony and the paraphernalia will be valuable.

The new consul must be bringing in personal effects as well as this paraphernalia, so instead of infiltrating the consulate, they hatch a plan to hijack the goods when they arrive from Iruvia. Salia, their friendly information broker can't find any details of a shipment arriving through her stevedore/docker contacts, and their rail research suggests that the consul is bringing personal luggage only.

Digging deeper, they discover that the Leviathan Hunter 'Hotspur' is making a direct delivery of some boxes and crates - using only the crew and not the stevedores who work the docks. They're understandably upset at this attack on their traditional rights and duties, and the leader, a brutally honest Ripley, complains that this is just typical of the Leviathan Hunters. They place themselves above the dockers and other working folk, even though their rates of death in service are no higher - they play the 'dangerous demon-hunting' card to gain privileges they don't deserve.

They will interrupt the wagon with the Ripley's stevedores blocking the street to the consulate, and then hijack it from under their noses. Ripley's people will only bring clubs so as not to prompt a bloodbath which might attract too much attention. The two allied groups will split the bounty.


Locust the Whisper has been working on his ritual: it enchants a person to look like someone else, anybody else - but different for everyone who sees them. It draws on the powerful imagination of children (using baby teeth as the focus) and leaves the target with strange blank and black eyes. In the back of Locust's mind, he fears that this leaves the target open to demonic possession, as those eyes remind him of how Vestine looked when Setarra possessed her
There are six crew members bringing the wagon to the consulate. The wagon is being hauled by two sturdy goats and inside there's an assortment of crates, barrels and boxes. On a narrow street with a long way between junctions, 14 or 15 stevedores step out to block them off. Insults and abuse are hurled from both sides, but the number is just enough to make a fight possible but not likely.

Paving throws a smoke grenade into the wagon from a window above (one he liberated from Hammer's stash). It lands in between the cargo and spews out a torrent of smoke, enveloping the whole thing, along with the couple of crew still aboard.

Shrike the Cutter sneaks out from behind and jumps up on the wagon to drive it away. She kicks the goats into action (something Paving, with his cabbie experience, was able to drill her in) and they start through the shoving mob ahead of her.
The stevedores have pulled the ship's crew slightly away from the path of the wagon and clearing the way for Shrike. A wary Leviathan Hunter jumps aboard as it passes to confront Shrike. Seeing their comrade in trouble, Paving jumps down from his window, landing heavily alongside to fight the sailor. He throws a vial of potion at his face, but the sailor dodges it with relative ease. A cutlass is thrust into him, but Paving's leather armour takes the brunt of the damage. They both fall off in the struggle.

Locust leaps down, landing on the rising sailor and knocking him out just as he goes to skewer Paving for good. The two grab each other, hobbling a little, to jump on the wagon as it reaches the end of the street. The grenade is still aboard though and they're leaving a trail of smoke behind marking their progress clearly.

There's a moment when the assembled Leviathan Hunters weigh up their chances, and instead of fighting or breaking through to follow the wagon, they withdraw to get reinforcements. This gives them all the chance to disperse, and the barge and gondola that the two groups have gathered are useful in moving everyone and the booty away quickly.

**

The wagon contains:

  • a couple of barrels of raw Leviathan blood - upon closer examination, it's a peculiar sort, maybe it's the first blood of a harvest
  • a crate of personal effects - clothes, books and papers
  • a small box of occult paraphernalia - including a statue of the demon Ixis
  • a strongbox - full of official documentation, and a bag of small Iruvian gold coins
  • a couple of boarding pikes (maybe taken by the sailors just in case)
Going through the loot, they payoff Ripley with the bag of gold (about 3 purses of silver worth), which seems fair - and rewards the two groups interests and abilities. 

One immediate outcome that becomes clear is that Dowler, their explorer friend, leaves their company. Apparently he was relying on the Iruvians for his next expedition, and he cleaves to them. 

*

They approach the consulate to get a payoff - they'll sell back his goods to him for a hefty price. Their rooks - the Dolvestri couple, deliver the offer. However Ludmilla returns after a half hour to relate that the consul has take Argent prisoner, with a demand that they meet immediately in person to arrange an exchange for the items. 

They meet on a train carriage in Gaddoc Station - security will help ensure that weapons and violence are minimised. A 1st class carriage is connected to a cold engine at a secluded platform. Paving and Shrike walk in.

Two professional looking bodyguards are on the door (they're armed with swords) and behind the consul are three Red Sashes, including Mel (who they 'crossed blades' with a while back). The consul sits in a comfortable arm chair, pouring tea for Argent behind him. 

He's a young man, sitting comfortable in expensive (if crumpled) travelling clothes. He is calm and authoritative - everyone else in the carriage heeds his direction carefully. The presence of those very same Red Sashes they encountered when muscling in on Sanaat's covert drop speaks to a really impressive knowledge of their affairs, or is very suspicious. Either way, it's a message to them.
He introduces himself as Avid Anixis and bids them to sit down, if indeed they have his property and wish to return it.

Paving responds politely, bringing out a hanger of clothes to show that they do. He also wonders if Argent can leave, as Anixis clearly meant to hold him only to bring about the face-to-face meeting. The consul nods, and gestures for Argent to leave, there's no dissenting glance from the Red Sashes or his bodyguards and as soon as Argent is out of the carriage, Paving sits down opposite Anixis. 

Paving smiles and tells the consul that he hasn't pawed his way through them - about 8 purses of silver should suffice for the trouble of delivering the goods to him intact. Anixis shakes his head, thinking that a much lower price was what he had in mind.

Paving's smile disappears and he insists that is the only price they'll accept - Anixis' composure doesn't break but his pleasant manner disappears. He nods and Shrike leaves to send the signal to bring the rest. When Paving suggests that they exchange some tales to pass the time, Anixis is cold - his appetite for stories is much diminished when he is not in amiable company. 

He warns Paving that there will be horribly painful deaths, or ever horribly painful lives, if any of his property is missing or if they cross him in future. Paving has heard it all before, and grins; thinking of an unoccupied shallow grave under the cobblestones that awaits this consul. 

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Infernal Framing

Previous Session: Dead Drop

Word reaches the crew that there is a demon-corrupted Spirit Warden in the city; and that an Inspector is see. Locust the Whisper knows of this, as the Inspector interviewed Quellyn recently; apparently the Spirit Warden is under Setarra's influence.

They catch up with Arden Jayan on his way to work one morning. Paving the Spider has borrowed a friend's cab to keep the approach away from prying eyes. Hammer the Leech pretends that he's off-duty (not to mention a little intimidating) until their preferred customer approaches and then leaps aboard to drive the Inspector towards Charterhall. Locust and Paving get in after Jayan does and get right to the point. They're here to talk to him about the Spirit Warden. They brush past his denial that he could possibly share information on an investigation with them; until Paving convinces him that they can help with the problem.

When they wonder how he actually knows that the Spirit Warden is corrupt, he is obviously reticent, but does relate a tale of how he was in a den of ill-repute one night when he spotted a young woman descend from the upstairs room - as she passed him he spotted dark veins throbbing in her hand and blackened eyes. He had some experience with these things and thought that this was a sure sign of demonic influence so he followed her and over the course of a few days work, found out that she worked as a Spirit Warden and that her real name was Vestine Strathmill.

They have a deal - if they help him put her away, he'll apply himself to reduce their profile with the Bluecoats.


So they set to work; and their plan is as ambitious as it's complex. They'll find out if there's any incriminating evidence in her house (and if not plant some); then they'll abduct a local figure of authority (one known to support the Spirit Wardens), and stage an escape from a nefarious ritual involving sacrifice to an obvious demonic presence.

Hammer goes on a brief scouting mission to survey the Spirit Warden's house and its surrounds. It's in the nicer end of the Docks, Near the canal and across from Crow's Foot and Charterhall. The windows are tinted, and unlike the rest of the neighbourhood's houses there is little decoration or ornamentation outside. An extended surveillance sees smoke coming out of the chimney just before 8 in the evening, in anticipation of Strathmill's return - a maid or housekeeper has been working during the day. The deeds and census show that it's been owned by the Strathmill family for some sixty years, but only the Vestine appears to live there permanently.

Locust is out buying menacing looking ritual accoutrements, including a goat skull and a couple of pig fetuses from a local butcher.
Paving identifies a local magistrate, Stavrul Dunvil - a conscientious hard worker who appears to be friendly enough when off-duty; (and importantly) who takes a cab to and from his chambers daily.
He's also acquired a couple of Spirit Warden costumes - at least they came at costume prices, but in reality they do appear to be genuine, if a little old.

****

Locust and Hammer breaking into Strathmill's house in the middle of the night. Locust initially sends in a ghost to scout out the house for him, but it's arm is destroyed as soon as it moves through the back wall and it escapes screaming silent fury at the Whisper. They enter the back door the old fashioned way and find their way upstairs to the Spirit Warden's bedroom where she is fast asleep.

Hammer takes out his blowgun and the dart, filled with black lotus, which will induce coma-like stupor and visions for the rest of the night. They carry her downstairs into the basement, a bare room of brick and cobwebs.

Tying her firmly to a chair, Locust considers the woman, and the connection she has to Setarra. She suddenly looks up at Locust, and smiles. Hammer is confused - no one can be that lucid with a dose of black lotus in them!
Vestine / Setarra
Her eyes are black and she has too many teeth in her mouth, and her voice has a timbre that chills
them all to the bone.
-So nice of you to come see me Uno, I was wondering how I would entice you to show yourself again
Then, with impossible strength, she breaks her bonds and kicks the chair back
Locust steps back, holding his prized demonbane charm out towards her, and that does see, to give her pause. In flies Shrike the Cutter who has been watching from the stairs. Shrike fists glow with that blue lightening but despite the damaging attack Vestine/Setarra grabs her arm and goes to take a big bite out of her shoulder. Shrike goes with the flow and is instead slammed into the brick wall.

Shrike's winded but her leather jacket takes most of the force out of it. They all notice dark water rise up out of the ground, quickly covering the floor and working its way up their feet. Panicking a little, Locust jumps on top of Vestine/Setarra with his demonbane charm tied around his fist. Hammer slams a dose of Spark into Locust and the energy cascades through Locust as he punches repeatedly to her head. The charm burns Vestine/Setarra and eventually she loses consciousness. Shrike whips out an enchanted chain to restrain her, and maybe stop Setarra from taking control again.

***

Paving drives the cab past the magistrate's house; a couple of blocks away from where Strathmill lives. Dunvil leaves at his usual time and calls them just on cue. Hammer sits quietly in the shadows of the cab, in the Spirit Warden garb they've acquired. As he readies the blowgun at point blank range, a neighbour leans in the window to speak with Dunvil, who's still standing on the step and yet to sit down.

The conversation goes on for a minute (about thoroughly mundane neighbourhood matters) and eventually Paving loses patience and ushers the goats into action, driving away. Dunvil stumbles into a seat, though not his usual one; he actually lands right next to Hammer. He opens with a 'Good Morning' and Dunvil is thoroughly confused and a little outraged with someone sneaking into his cab! With the range too close to use the blowgun Hammer draws a pistol and goes to knock him upside the head with the butt.

Maybe it's the close-range and the surprise, but Dunvil is able to defend himself with his briefcase. In the chaos the gun discharges into the air. So Hammer stabs him with the sedative dart from his blowgun instead and Dunvil collapses despite his valiant defence. Paving picks up speed and the Dunvil's briefcase falls out the window - the concerned neighbour calls for the Bluecoats and they're suddenly racing the clock!

**

Locust is setting up the ritual space as quickly as he can - he's including a torn page from an occult calendar suggesting why today was the best day for a sacrifice. His preparations will be uncovered by the housekeeper, who will arrive imminently; so Shrike is standing by the door to open it for the woman.

She's left all of her obvious gear aside, so as not to arouse more suspicion than necessary. Shrike pulls off her creepy girl act (a little too easily) though Alayne, the housekeeper, does complain that she must soak her lady's oats now so that they can be ready for later. Shrike flexes her fists, causing a brief static flicker to discharge, convincing Alayne to leave now. The woman scurries away, but it's now obvious that she is leaving to report this dubious girl and whatever untoward religious ceremony she's involved in to the authorities.


They set a watch, to ensure that they're not disturbed by bluecoats, and as soon as Paving and Hammer arrive, they unload Magistrate Dunvil and Paving drives off, to draw some of the heat away.

Waking up Dunvil to witness the climax of the 'ritual' with chanting and flagellation, Locust manipulates the electroplasmic energy to give off a (mostly) fake explosion which is noisy and impressive, which flings them all to the floor.

Dunvil's bindings have become loosened and the crew escape, leaving the still comatose Strathmill (now dressed in their spare Spirit Warden garb) behind. When the Bluecoats arrive they are sure that Dunvil will have the upper hand.


Paving, closely pursued by a patrol of Bluecoats, ditches the cab next to an alleyway near a market, and escapes on foot. He'll have to pay his cabbie friend to retrieve it from the pound later, but it's money well spent.

*

Their newly recruited band of Rooks (Ludmilla and Argent Dolvestri, a delightful married couple that got blackballed from Paving's favourite theatre because they are dedicated revolutionaries) did get picked up by the Bluecoats, but they pay off the watch sergeant to release them.

Paving has been busy digging and otherwise preparing graves - he's looking forward to putting some worthy soul inside them.

Shrike visits the Archive of Echoes, communing with a long-dead ancestor, who appears to have had a similar gift, and who also had a weapon capable of withstanding (and possibly channeling) the mystic energy.

Next Session: Highway Diplomacy

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Dead Drop

Previous session: Digging up Dirt 
Locust, the Whisper joins up with the crew. He's a young Skovlander who knows Paving because he's a scribe for Quellyn, a local witch. She lives aboard a decommissioned Leviathan Hunter waiting for final paperwork to be broken up. His burgeoning powers were useful to Quellyn in her attempt to summon and bind Setarra (an ancient demon) - but the attempt failed and now Setarra is seeking them out in order to free itself fully. 
In the few blocks of government buildings on the north end of Crow's Foot that passes for their hunting grounds they have identified a covert drop, run by an Iruvian named Sanaat (who works regularly with the Cyphers). They concoct a complex plan to bring the operation under their control. Posing as regular customers, they will leave an ensorcelled item into Sanaat's care so that they can identify the secret location used by him for his operations. In their investigation they discover that the front of the operation is a book store and cafe frequented by civil servants and what passes for well-to-do in Crow's Foot. The operation is also frequently used by the Iruvian Consulate, and is protected by the Red Sashes.

Shrike the Cutter stands uncomfortably in the formal blue dress alongside Hammer the Leech in a black suit. Hammer's friend Eckerd (a corpse thief) helped acquire both outfits. Sanaat spots them enter and obviously recognises them as customers for his secretive business. He invites them to a large bureau at the back of the shop and offers them tea. Paving the Spider has discerned that all the Iruvian requires is a reference from a trusted compatriot, so they have used 'Thena', who fortunately is out of the country at the moment, so Sanaat cannot confirm their credentials.


After some chit-chat, the tea arrives, and he holds out his hands for the item to be taken in. She explains that she needs the item to be held for a time until she can safely claim it back. He delicately wonders if it is thieves or creditors she fears; and while she does not confirm, he understands that it is creditors after her prized heirloom that she's holding out on. Hammer scoffs when he suggested she might be afraid of thieves taking him on. He examines the piece, a somewhat plain glass bracelet is made to seem valuable by being - inside an expensive lacquered wooden box, along with the trapped ghost inside which makes it glow an iridescent red. Sanaat's suspicions are belied and the box disappears below the desk, and he outlines the steps when she wishes to conclude their arrangements and retrieve the item. They leave, happy that their ruse was successful.

***

The ghost returns to Locust after midnight. It describes the short trip and the place it emerged from - out the back entrance of the bookshop and across the alleyway is a hookah and coffee shop, run by the Red Sashes. There's a bedsit on the top floor and then the box was placed inside a cubbyhole under the bed - there was some kind of spirit screen or protection that made the ghost's escape a little more difficult that it should've been.

Later on that night, Locust sits in the corner; partaking of his table's hookah and maybe enjoying it a bit too much. Paving walks in, scanning the place with his usual careful attention and ordering a coffee. Hammer and Shrike are making their way across the laneway from a building opposite via rope.

Hammer lands quietly on the window sill of bedsit, and takes out the carefully concealed burglar's toolkit from the thieves' rigging. Cutting through one of the window's pane's, he's ready to unlock from the inside when the curtains open right in front of him and a sleepy woman stares directly into his eye. Too startled to do anything for a moment, when she opens her mouth to scream, Hammer has had time to draw a syringe from a pocket and inject her with standstill - it's effective and the woman drops to the floor like a statue.

They climb in and Hammer goes directly under the bed. The joins on the cubby hole are so well done that if he didn't know what he was looking for, he'd have no chance of spotting it. He examines the setup, to make sure there are no alarms set, but apparently Sanaat relies on subterfuge to secure the goods. Unlocking the hatch, Hammer is caught off guard when a trap triggers and the box inside goes across the veil into the ghost field. It's gone and there's nothing he can do to touch it. Hammer has bigger worries though, as a trapped ghost lurches out at him, hungry and murderous...


Downstairs, Locust's attention is wrenched from the game going on to the sudden appearance of a ghost upstairs. The smoke billows in an unnatural fashion, and most others in the room just shiver for no particular reason. The Whisper knows exactly what's happened though. He jumps up and makes for the back stairs up to the bedsit.

Paving gets up, suddenly unsteady with alcohol or other drugs found in a vice den like this. He engages one of the two armed Red Sashes overseeing the room, claiming that he's a city health inspector and that there's a problem with the sewage in the basement. The young thug looks confused and a bit panicked by the official-looking documentation Paving pulls from an inside pocket. She tells him that he'll have to stay there, she's getting the manager, and she walks down the corridor to get someone who'll know what to do.

Paving quickly ushers Locust down that corridor and upstairs, staying behind to deal with the fallout.

**

With the ghost trying to force its way into Hammer and consume his soul, the Leech resists desperately, falling to the floor and struggling. His attempts to shut the ghost out cause him to lose consciousness and as the ghost tries for another way in, Shrike draws and strikes in one fluid motion. Electrostatic energy cascades from her hands and all the way up the sword and as the attack concludes, the blue lightning flickers through the entire ghost's being, destroying it in an instant and shattering the blade in two.

Locust surges into the room, just to see the electroplasmic energy disappear back into the Cutter's fists. He's angry at Shrike for the needless destruction of a ghost. Hammer sits up, with a vicious look in his eye, he turns on Locust who's standing above him with a snarl, but the Whisper doesn't waste time. Swiftly pulling down his spirit mask he tackles opening a portal into the ghost field where the sought-after box now lies. The bizarre harlequin's mask covers his entire face, even that which usually shows the actor's jaw and mouth. Deathly white, it makes even Shrike and Hammer shiver with some unknown existential dread.


Paving eyes up the rest of the room. The other Red Sash at the front door is looking at him warily, but he does spot another useful idiot. Una, a low-level magistrate from his department has just been knocked out of a game she was sure to win; and he reckons her desire for betterment and/or revenge will make her a willing accomplice. He beckons her over to him, and with a smile tells her that he and the owner have a bet that no one could lift the strong box behind the bar. She frowns and shakes her head - wondering if he knows Mel? When he blanks on the name, she walks past him and out the back door.

Moments later, an older Red Sash comes out from the rooms, with the younger one pointing at Paving from behind. The grizzled and wary man walks over, and wonders who the hell Paving is. Paving spins a tale that he's checking out security on the place for the Cyphers, and 'Mel' shakes his head. Staring Paving down, he tells the Spider to get lost, pointing at the front door. Paving certainly gets the message; if he's spotted in her by Mel again, there'll be trouble (but not if he sees Mel first!).


Locust applies his full power to extract the box from the ghost field, and with Shrike helping (not helping!) manages to force it out, even spilling it out onto the floor and bypassing the physical security. As he stands up, satisfied with himself, the door opens behind them all.

Sanaat walks in, looking hurried - though his worried look switched to panic as he first notices the woman on the floor, and then the three scoundrels arrayed inside the room. Locust draws a knife and leaps at the man; Shrike, wondering what the hell the Whisper is thinking, kicks out and Locust sprawls to his knees - the knife sliding across the floorboards to Sanaat's feet.

Hammer stands up off the bed, pulling out a grenade and yelling at Sanaat that if he moves he'll blow them all to smithereens! He lights the fuse for added effect. Shrike doesn't know what to make of this, and Sanaat isn't convinced, turning tail and running pell-mell down the stairs. Hammer drops the grenade, and is terribly confused by this turn of events.

Actually, Shrike just did a nerve strike to the Leech's elbow, forcing him to drop the grenade. She catches the grenade before it hits the floor and pulls out the flickering fuse without so much of a second thought.

Halfway down the stairs, Flint, a friend of Locust's (and spirit trafficker) waits. He shows Sanaat a pistol and waves the man back upstairs.

*

Back at their lair, Sanaat wakes up from his stupor and they pull the bag off his head. He's sitting, unrestrained in an overstuffed chair with tea and cake in front of him. There's a scratchy phonograph playing in the corner. Paving proposes a reasonable solution, considering that they'll all be better off if the Red Sashes remain ignorant of their arrangement - with Hammer tossing a grenade in the background, Sanaat is very convinced and will remain so.

The items in the box under the bed included a last will and testament from a rich merchant who died several months ago - however the details therein don't mesh well with what they recall from the aftermath. So they'll do a bit of research with their friends amongst the Ink Rakes, and find a good angle to make that blackmail pay off for them.


They also advance their project to extort Grace (Shrike's erstwhile friend) and they gather everything they'll need to leverage a nice bag of coin out of her. Shrike herself delivers the bad news, arriving at the Fitzroy pub (where her brother's gang usually hang out). Grace is surprised to see her, casually shifting in her seat so that the dagger under a cushion is within easy distance. Shrike shakes her head, telling the extortionist that if it was going to come to that, she'd already be bleeding out on the floor. After hesitantly telling Grace that she's going to pay them, Grace grins. She knows they've got her over a barrel, but laughs as she outlines how Shrike should be applying the pressure.

Shrike comes back later on with the documentation, and looks on as Grace reads carefully through it all. Grace marks out all of the names of interest (she's obviously thinking of revenge, or counter-extortion) and after each page is finished with, it ends up in the fire. She hands over several full purses of silver, and then a small bag of gold coinage - that last one has to be from her emergency/retirement fund.

Hammer also finds that the last will and testament pays well - they've all put in a load of work to find out that this is a true document, and that things were not distributed as the dead merchant wished - they force the de facto heir to pay up a substantial sum from his petty cash for them to keep quiet.

Next Session: Infernal Framing

Friday, 23 June 2017

Book Deal

Previous Session: Faithful Dead

Walker, a retired Lampblack and what passes for a ward-boss in Charhollow approaches the Orphans. They are invited to a sit-down in Tangletown; he won't say much more than that except to assure them that the meeting's legit. Despite this they are wary when taking a boat across to the tangled mess of old ships that makes up the only neutral and peaceful area in the city.

They're brought down to a closed room in the hulk of an old Leviathan hunter; the decor is old and mouldy. Around a table is Erin, the leader of the Billhooks; Ulf Ironborn, and a woman they don't recognise. Walker nods to everyone and says he'll be outside.

The woman introduces herself as The Star, captain of the Unseen. She wants the warring parties to come to peace tonight: this current state of affairs is no good for business.


The Orphans and the Billhooks square off in the negotiations - Erin suggests that the Billhooks have more that they can unleash in the war, but have been holding it back. Monger snorts his derision - how many dead Billhooks have they dropped so far? Maybe two dozen? Erin alludes to her brother in prison - he's not so reasonable as her, but a reasonable deal will keep him out of the way.

Ghostblade is whipping up something to get inside their opposite number's head - but the ghosts here are old and fierce. One comes out of the walls and grabs her, but she resists possession and forces it to scout outside to make sure no one is planning to ambush them.

They disagree strenuously over the return of the Billhook's turf - in a war they didn't start! But the Unseen look unfavourably upon those who thwart their will, so they think on a peace deal that will satisfy everyone. After some private discussion, they return with a proposal.
They will return the hard-won turf, and the Billhooks will become worshippers of the Wicked Mother: who won't abide by the unfaithful. Erin can promise that if any of her people refuse to bend the knee, they'll answer to her.

Ulf Ironborn, almost forgotten in this to and fro' curses at them all, and storms out. He'll accept none of this so-called deal.

As they leave, The Star calls them aside. They'll be in contact soon, about another deal to help each other expand their interests further afield.

**

As per Lord Scurlock's friendly request, they look at the cult of the forgotten god, the Web of Pain. It's a small organisation, but one dating back to the early days of the cataclysm which broke the world. Echoes of the Emperor's trials of those times feed the God, and the adherents of the cult acquire the holy writings of those saints who have gone through these kinds of painful tests.

The cult work out of a small bookshop in the back of an arcade in Silkshore. GhostBlade realises that her cousin, Roethe Kinclaith, is a member. The foppish, if deadly, duellist acts as their guardian and merely dabbles in the cult itself.

Monger stays outside, marking Kinclaith for when troubles erupts. GhostBlade wanders around nearby, but out of sight, she'll get involved if spirits prove too troublesome for the others.

Gap and Fancy Frank go into the shop, and look around for something interesting. Fancy Frank confounds Eldridge (the helpful attendant) with an obscure and fascinating query which sends him hunting high and low and mumbling to himself. Gagan's advice was key in finding such a perfect request.

With that distraction in place, Gap makes his way to the back of the shop; there, narrow double doors lead into a small free-standing room, almost like a vault. Working quickly and quietly, the lurk tries to unlock it - but then realises that it's not locked at all, merely dead-bolted from inside.

He pries it open, but is aware that someone else must be inside this vault with him. There's a narrow passageway just inside the doors, and as soon as Gap steps away from the door he feels an intense agony like nothing he's every experienced. He pushes through the feeling - relying on his early training for ignoring distractions. He blanks his mind, remembering holding his palm over a candle, reducing the pain to something more manageable.

And then he's out in a storage room, high and vaulted. It's packed with scrolls and boxes and he sees an old lady beyond sorting through a small sheaf of papers. Knowing that his time is short in here, Gap saps her from behind and sets her body down near a desk - hopefully whoever discovers her will assume she fell and hit her head.

After locating the scroll Scurlock requires, he quietly shoving a few choice looking items into his satchel (might as well make the job pay as well!) and quickly leaves, giving Fancy Frank the signal as he passes.

*

A few days later, after having delivered the correct scroll to Lord Scurlock - they are approached by the Path of Echoes. Apparently that group wants some of the scrolls Gap grabbed back. They pay them off, and nurse their grudges. They don't want to pick a fight with the Path of Echoes yet...

Next Session: Big Fish