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Friday, 31 March 2017

Closing the Noose

Previous Session: Summary Judgement

As GhostBlade and Monger bargain with The Throne of Judgement, Quess the Spider and Fancy Frank the Hound assemble their trap for the inevitable response of the Billhooks to the Orphans claim on their rival gang's turf.

Fancy Frank is a bit groggy from his last fight; there were people looking for him to throw it in the 3rd, but he refused angrily. Of course he lost the fight anyway (in the 4th) and now he reckons more people than usual want to bring the pain. 

Brogan, Quess' informant inside the Billhooks, has let them know that 9 or 10 gang members are coming to see what's going on; he's the Billhooks' designated scout for this punitive expedition and Quess and Fancy Frank deploy their gang of thugs to a nice (almost) cul-de-sac where they'll draw the Billhooks away from Brogan's well-scouted location. Quess is thinking of her informant's long-term future with the Billhooks and doesn't want to blow his cover. 

Quess is planning to get the locals riled up against the Billhooks and use that an her opportunity to spring the trap. She knows from talking with Brogan that the leader of this cadre of Billhooks, a man called Narcus (Coran's old lieutenant) is well-known in the gang for abusing kids, so she starts to spread that rumour along the shopkeepers of Bridge Road. She's in civvies.

Fancy Frank has set up in a good sniping position above the alleyway leading to the ambush site. He's fully strapped for a real fight.


Before she can close the deal with the grocer, a shot rings out from behind her. The Billhooks have arrived early and the lead thug opened fire with his pistol. The shot clips Quess' shoulder and hits the shopkeeper square in the chest. Quess just runs, the plan is obviously not going to work with the locals as a lynchpin now, but all the other pieces are still in position (she hopes). She sprints for the alleyway and they chase after her.

Fancy Frank takes careful aim with his long rifle, making sure not to hit Brogan. He squeezes off two rounds as they make their way down the alleyway after Quess, but then he realises that he's left the rest of his rifle ammo behind - that fight must've dulled his routine more than usual, he's not quite as sharp. He jumps down and draws a pistol to give chase himself.

Quess is losing her lead, and the Billhooks behind her are gaining quickly. Brogan, smart lad that he is, runs interference for her by taking the lead and preventing the others from getting within striking distance. Quess draws a blade and wheels around, causing them all to stop suddenly in surprise. Then she takes a deep breath and standstills Brogan right when he's in front of her. She uses the confusion to make her escape and she races into the cleared store-room in the killing zone, grabbing the pistols on the chair before pointing them back at the doorway.

When the Billhooks arrive, they are cut down by the violent ambuscade that Quess' thugs set for them with Quess and Fancy Frank adding to the carnage, and only two or three are able to escape.

**

When they triumphantly return to their lair with the looted gear of the Billhooks and some new turf to add to their expanding territory, they find an exquisitely written letter for their attention. Even with the expensive paper and skilled calligraphy, what really grabs their attention is the Scurlock family seal.

Lord Scurlock, who is kind of friendly with them, requests that they acquire an important and arcane scroll from the cult who worship the Web of Pain. He includes some particulars to help them identify it, but expects to hear back from them soon. They could really do with the return of Gap (their 'lost' Lurk).

Fancy Frank goes down to the boxing rings, but doesn't even get a chance to put his name down on the lists. Some disgruntled punters beat seven shades out of him before his cousin (a local sergeant in the Bluecoats) saves his ass. They're the two black sheep in the extended family, so they do get along, despite their being on opposite sides of the law.

*

Oskar Scurlock
Quess goes down for that, the Bluecoats at the precinct are surprised to see her, but he jail-bird should have little trouble inside - though it's the first time someone from the Cult has made the trip across to Ironhook Prison. This'll take a lot of heat off the Orphans

Inside, the Spider intervenes against some thugs to save the life of young Oskar (before going in Lord Scurlock let her know that Oskar was secretly his great-grand nephew). Quess' usual subtle and social approach to problems backfires inside, and when she has done her time, she's paranoid. She doesn't trust in honour or social etiquette to protect her anymore. 

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Rolling Thunder

With Fox nowhere to be found, Brother joins up with Wire's crew, making his van available for their raiding/resupply trip.

Kim the Savvyhead is burning the midnight oil on her cure for the affliction that is now spreading beyond Purity. She is wearing her gas mask at all times (apart from inside her shed in Watering Hole). She's a hermetically sealed...well, hermit. Hearing rumours, she visits Madame Cho about her girls being sick and briefs Ripper before heading over. Ripper takes out this marvellous fully enclosed rebreather helmet - it makes Kim quiver.

Dusk the Skinner takes in the hacienda she's now responsible for. Johnson is fiercely proud of his work in taking it from Chum - he tells her how the old guy couldn't keep order and his labour force revolted against him. It was best for everyone that Johnson invaded when he did.



Johnson leaves Dusk to take stock and she calls in the whole gang (it's about half and half Chum's and Johnson's). She stares at the dozen tough nuts in front of her, mulling her options over.
-No matter what you thought til now, you work for me now, and you all work together. If anyone thinks they can't leave their old loyalties behind they'd better walk now...
There are a few glances and awkward shifts
-If I find out anyone's been talking to people off this hacienda about our business, I'll have their hide. I mean, say for instance, someone was letting Johnson know what I'm up to. The rest of you are going to beat the living shit out of that poor bastard.
Killer is boring a hole in the floor with his eyes.
-Who knows this place best?
A young, scrawny thing sticks up her hand. Haystack is her name. Dusk addresses the rest of Chum's old crew.
-You happy with her being in charge of the gang for a while?
There are a few ribald snickers, but no actual dissent (tacit or explicit).
-Well, ok then. When you're out there, you have to mix it up, no sticking to old cliques. Set up shop and send in the workers.

About 40 tired and hungry workers shuffle in. They're not meeting her gaze and don't volunteer anything when she introduces herself and tells them that she's going to change the way things work around here. She's not used to talking to a crowd of people, usually she's most effective one-on-one or with small groups.
-You're going to work for a wage. And once things stabilise we're all going to share whatever profits this place can make.
There's a bit of murmuring after that, and the couple of guards who stuck around with Pinky to oversee this meeting exchange glances.
-After a few months if anyone wants to leave, they're welcome to. I'll tattoo any extra bands you need on your arm to walk out of here. Just remember in the meantime, as far as any hacienda owners outside are concerned you're still just slaves.

She spots a familiar face in the back, a guy called Lang who used to trade trinkets throughout the Valley. He's used to be able to take care of himself, mostly by talking his way out of any trouble. She remembers he was one of her first customers when she set up her place behind TumTum's a few years ago. She reckons he'd be a good person to pick to be a temporary leader, like Haystack.

Damn it if that doesn't touch a raw nerve with the rest of them for some reason. They hurl abuse at him, (calling him 'Stinky') and when she pushes him aside to call the loudest of loudmouths forward she finds herself standing toe to toe with a hard nut called Marlo. She turns defence into attack, telling him he'd better not fuck up if he's going to be the foreman, he stalls and then she turns him around, back towards the others.
-Who pretty much ran the farming here, regardless of what Chum said? Who will run things best?
He points at Pinky, who confidently walks forward and accepts the job. She leaves him and Haystack hash out a plan for the hacienda to present to her later, and she grabs Killer to go upstairs.

***

Kim and Ripper take a look at Sister Assumpta and Scarlet. They give them the prototype anti-lurgy fetishes and then they make up another few to run a controlled test on 10 subjects. Kim gets some extra insight from Ripper, who's been putting together a cocktail of drugs to help people who don't have the full-blown version get over it while the fetish does its work.
Between this and Ripper's fantastic piece of breathing tech, Kim is more than a little turned on, but Ripper turns her down, and doesn't even give her the inside track on the helmet.


Dusk leads Killer into the main bedroom. When she takes off her coat, he looks like a deer in headlights. So she tells him to close the door; he can choose which side he wants to be on. He's a little anxious and after they have sex, He just doesn't know what to do now. So she wonders if he thinks it could be because he's just slept with his boss's girlfriend? She pushes, and he knows that Johnson values utmost loyalty above all things. That sends him into a tailspin, and then she tells him that this means that he really works for her now, he can't risk going to Johnson with any of what she's doing here or he'll find out. He freaks out and leaves.


Kim goes off to Serenity, but Wire's gone from there with her gang. There are tattered tents arrayed near the old hacienda. Sick people lie within, and there's a small group of Found's cult huddled around a fire in the ruins. As she pokes around, her tricorder gets another ping from Johnson's phazer. There were no guards at the gate into the hacienda and there's no look-outs here. Apparently Wire told them they'd be fine, Kobe wouldn't be causing any more trouble. 6 are okay, there are 12 with the lurgy - Goldman is the sickest and most of the rest got sick after Wire's gang arrived. But now they're driving around out beyond the Valley.


She examines Goldman more closely. Opening her brain to the psychic maelstrom, the monster are no longer cute, they're truly monstrous and the usual relaxing bubble bath has been replaced with sulphurous hot springs. Goldman is glowing in a two-way stream of phosphorescence; between him and a nearby monster which is similarly iridescent. A tentacle licks Goldman's upturned eyeball and at Kim's behest it claims the rest of Goldman's mind. He ceases glowing. Later on, during the night, his heart stops and Kim takes a blood sample. Some new information.

And then another ding! from Johnson - he's going to owe her big time!

**

Over the next few days, Dusk is making inroads into running the hacienda. But she needs to get back to Watering Hole - market day is coming and she needs to line things up with TumTum. She gets Killer to drive her back in, but they haven't even pulled away when Johnson drives up in his jeep. There's  big flatbed behind him and Dusk climbs out of Killer's battered sedan to see what the hell is up.

He's excited to show her what he's got, but she cuts him off. He really needs to follow the usual hacienda-visiting protocols. You know, like he'd do if he were visiting anyone else. He shrugs that off, surely that can't apply to him here!

He gestures to his guys and they pull off a big-ass tarpaulin off the back of the flatbed. On top is a long black limo - shiny and chrome. She rolls her eyes, and walk over to Killer. He'd better tell her what that is and where it came from, and he knows he has to.
It's Barker's car, but it doesn't even run, it's just something pretty to sit in and have parties.
When she points this out to Johnson he's nonplussed - of course! He just wants her to be happy, she'll get a smooth ride on top of the flat-bed truck. He storms off with his guys when she refuses, it takes an age to turn the truck around and Killer and Dusk share a silent half hour (apart from cursing from Johnson's crew).


In Watering Hoe Dusk shares whiskey on the porch with Kim and Killer (as Dremmer looks on). Kim studies him, he's a danger to Dusk and her. What she really wants to know is how they can get him to choose Dusk over Johnson. He obviously thinks she's fantastic, and will do just about anything for her. However, Johnson gave him real purpose  (a job and a roof over his head), and he feels like he owes Johnson for that. Sure, the boss is a violent guy but he takes loyalty seriously. So Kim will just have to show him that Johnson really only care about himself and not his people.

Across the alleyway, they can see some fresh graffiti: "The Whore of Babylon", "Burn the Witch!"
Dusk talks to Dremmer, she can see he's a bit hurt, but she reads him into the plan with TumTum - they're going to take these bastards down, any hacienda owner who won't play ball.

*

Night falls.
Dusk's door is kicked down and she's pulled, almost naked, from her bed by a couple of raging thugs. Outside there's a mob with torches and they hurl abuse at her. Dusk yells for Dremmer and Killer to help, but as they drag her away she struggles, elbowing one of her tormenters in the face and escaping.
One of the crowd shoots at her, but somehow misses and she runs past the snarling faces...

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Bigger Ambitions

Previous Session: Big Plans

Wire the Chopper wakes up groggily after a raucous party at Watering Hole. She's tied to a chair and surrounded by 4 tough guys with pipes. AT and Freddie come in with pliers and a hammer. This is Johnson's payback for that happened to Mad Bill (who Fox kicked in the back in that fight over the solar panels at the hacienda). He's wheeled in, he can't walk and it looks like he's had a stroke as well. Wire doesn't buy her way out of trouble, or promise Johnson anything so they take it out of her in blood and pain. They dump her on Ripper's doorstep when they're done.

Kim the Savvyhead is still holding her clinic at Purity. Word back is that no one's gotten sick and then gotten better again. So they start hunting for people who've been in contact with the sick, but never gotten ill at all.

Dusk the Skinner is making a list of those she thinks they can trust with their plans in the haciendas and checking it twice. She's not going to approach anyone now, can't risk word getting out so she relies and her and TumTum's knowledge of the people instead. She's so busy that she doesn't notice for a while that business is pretty quiet, she's not gotten any people looking for ink. Outside she gets a frosty look from Tinkerbell, who won't even talk to her when she calls out.

Then Dustwich's van pulls up and dumps Wire off. Dusk helps her to her feet and into Ripper for some medical attention. "Fucking Fox!" is all the Chopper says when Dusk wonders why the hell Johnson's guys beat her up like that.


While Ripper stitches Wire up, she tells Dusk that people around have been a bit weirded out by her lately. When Wire is kinda mobile again, Dusk tells her where she sent the gang, and they chat about Wire's plans to take Purity from Pierre's grasp.

In the bar, TumTum is looking antsy, he can't find Putrid anywhere and he's got places to be. Dusk offers to cover at the bar (she knows how things work in the bar).


Kim's investigations into how to fight the disease are going well, at least until the shooting begins. There's screaming from someone right outside her van and she climbs out in her full biohazard gear, annoyed at the interruption. The Purity people are scrambling to get on the bus while others shoot down from the gallery. There are raiders moving quickly from cover to cover along both sides of the road (ignoring Kim).

The raiders shoot and catch more than a few of those fleeing and ransack everything that's not nailed down. Kim comes across one badly wounded person; who she's sure she can save. Opening her brain she heals the woman with just a simple touch, and this freaks out the survivor as the gaping bullet wounds close seamlessly.

Rum's raider withdraw with plenty of booty (after Kim relays that the people of Purity are feeling poorly) and Jayne (the woman she saved) sits up from underneath the tarpaulin Kim dragged over her face. In payment Kim gets her ancient casio calculator watch,

**

Wire sits near bar chatting with Dusk, wondering where she's going to get a resupply of ammo, especially if her gang are getting involved in some counter-raiding over at Found's hacienda.

Two wiry toughs walk in, dusty from the road. Dusk recognises them after a moment; D and Martinez work as guns/messengers for Lopez. They're confused when she greets them by name, and it takes a whole lot of prompting for them to remember her (to be honest, that's off-putting for Dusk - surely no one could forget her!).

D notices Wire and sidles up to her, looking for a bit of attention. Dusk tells him to back off, raising her sawn-off from underneath the bar. That gets their attention and D walks back to the bar, trying to shrug it off, but it's clear neither of them expected to come within a hair trigger of death in here.

They're looking for Fox, have a message for her - she owes Lopez a load of jingle. The boss doesn't like leaving debts outstanding, no matter how dependable someone's been in the past. Dusk and Wire exchange glances, they can probably live with themselves pointing them in Fox's direction. Dusk tells them that she'll be back as some of her people are still here, so she'll hardly go too far for too long.

Anyway, they're wondering when market day is, they have a shopping list for Lopez - mostly ammo (high calibre stuff) and liquid soap (?). Wire is suspicious, she reckons they're just trying to find out who has ammo to trade and then they'll just ambush them to take whatever they've got.


Dusk calls in Dremmer to talk ammo-shop with them - they're a bit intimidated by his collection of weaponry (especially his lovely grenades!). She pours Martinez a drink and they start talking about tattoos - no one in Lopez really does them, it's a Valley thing. Dusk convinces him that if he returns to Lopez with some ace tattoos (the kind only she can give him) Lopez will be hella impressed.

He relents after a while, and in the back she gives him Lopez' tag (the symbol he puts on his stuff) on one shoulder and a white angel wing going all the way down his other arm. He's really impressed and promises to represent her interests in Lopez when he returns.


Kim asks Jayne to go get Pierre for her and the woman, incredibly impressed with the Savvyhead's abilities (weird or not) rushes off to Purity. She wants Pierre to get blood samples from everyone in Purity. This is going to require a full analysis of the entire population. Scanning sick and well and using the patient histories to create a full picture of the development of the lurgy.

After much work, she notices a pattern. More evident in those that did get sick than those who did not. There's a phosphorescence deep in the blood of the infected - and they are the ones who are more connected with the world and more exposed to its weirdness. She peeks at her own blood and its phosphorescence is blinding.

*

Wire is still recovering but she straps up her leg and jury rigs her bike for the trip out to the rest of her gang in Serenity. See how they're coping under Red's leadership and come up with a plan to curtail Kobe's incursions.

Killer arrives at the bar looking for Dusk - Johnson has a pressie for her, and she'll need to go to the hacienda to get it. She can't leave while TumTum is away, so she gets him to seek out Putrid and bring her back - make her understand that TumTum needs her.


Pierre appears at Kim's van with ten or so well-armed bodyguards. He wonders what she needs from him and he's suspicious when she tells him it's his blood she's after. He baulks when she takes out a needle and when she insists that she needs it he takes out a knife and cuts his hand, pouring the blood into a vial.

She's uncovering more information with a complete picture of the genetic patterns of the Purity populations: newer people to Purity are less susceptible; those with a strong genetic connection to those who've lived in Purity for a long time are more susceptible; the lurgy itself causes damage through contact with the maelstrom. She starts creating a prototype to protect people's brain from infection and to draw out any existing lurgy. It's more like a psychic talisman than a device.


The Serenity Hacienda isn't looking great, a bit run down and no one at the gates. Red and the gang are there. They've got look-outs out and patrols and there's definite signs of some sporadic fighting against Kobe with casualties on both sides. Wire examines the landscape and starts to formulate a plan of attack to give Kobe a bloody nose that'll keep him in check.


D & Martinez have returned to Lopez (they'll be back in a week or so for the market). Killer arrives at the door of the bar and Dusk hears an angry face-off between him and Dremmer. She goes out to find a beaten Putrid under Killer's heel - apparently he doesn't understand the powers of persuasion. Dusk tells him to bring Putrid around to Rippers and that Johnson's good to pay the full charges. He's annoyed but accepts it, but before he goes she gets him to apologise to Dremmer. He bristles at this, but she insists - remember what Johnson told him?

Dremmer is worried about her; when she goes back to Johnson he'd hate if he did anything to her. She nudges him, acknowledging his concern, telling him that he'll have to sleep sometime if it comes to that. Dremmer looks away, like he's hurt that he's not the guy. Dusk doesn't have time to give him a serious sit down chat now; but thinks that his problem is that he thinks he's in the friend-zone.


They drive off to Johnson's hacienda in his battered sedan. It's pretty stifling in there - the air vents are all blocked up because they generate dust like the badlands. When they arrive there a bunch of Johnson's workers are taking down the solar panels. Johnson greets her and suggests that they'll have to get a new car for Killer - one more suitable for her.

He's obviously got something big planned - he looks like the cat who got the cream and he hopes that she'll be pleasantly surprised. They take his comfy car out of his hacienda. He talks about what she told him previously, about stopping the bloodshed. There's burnt corn and signs of fighting, but they drive right up to Chum's hacienda. He gifts her the hacienda - it's all hers now, along with some guards that she can trust...

Next Session: Rolling Thunder

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Big Plans

Previous Session: Complications

Dusk the Skinner is on the look-out for Jackson. She wants to get Navarre's buggy back to him before she heads off anywhere else. Who though in Watering Hole would be able to point her in the right direction (apart from TumTum).

October is rolling in jingle, apparently he's working over at Madame Cho's now; but he's still got all the time in the world for Dusk. They're that good together.

Kim the Savvyhead is checking in with Ripper for their imminent trip to Purity. Ripper cries off though. She's taking care of the grievously wounded Brother and can't leave him alone for that long.
-Patients trump jobs

Looking around for Wire, the Chopper is nowhere to be found, even though the gang is still hanging around. Red and Sundown are drinking hooch on the bench outside TumTum's bar. Red is acting like the boss (and Sundown is totally into her!). Kim asks her for an escort up to Purity, so Red sends her over to OJ, Gaptooth and Tandem.

Over at the bikes, Marlin tells her that Goldman is sick. Kim is worried that it's the lurgy (since they're both part of the gang that recently joined from Purity). Goldman's been to Madame Cho's a bit (spending that hard-won jingle). She brings him inside her shack, and then sedates and cuffs him to the camp bed.


After having spoken to Kim about the problem, Dusk wanders out to see Red. Sundown talks trash and stares daggers at the Skinner, but Dusk just blanks her, giving her full attention to Red. She knows that Red is probably Wire's only rival in the gang. She's the most capable of leading it by herself and doesn't feel that Wire gives her enough respect.

Dusk convinces her that taking the gang to Found's place to protect it from raiders is the best way to prove that she's the second-in-command Wire needs. Dusk knows that she can count upon Red to intercept danger on her behalf in future.

In her workshop, Kim scans the bloods she took from Goldman, and it looks biological and neither trivial nor on file already.

Dusk reckons Balls might know where Jackson is hiding out. Balls is one of Watering Hole's security people, and to be honest it's not like he has any real talents for anything else. He lives next door to Madame Cho's in a brick shack. Dusk wakes him up by banging on the steel shutters it has for a door. He's surprised to see her, but she won't come inside, despite his kind offer of cheap ass rotgut. When he's sure that she's actually friendly with Jackson he tells her he'll send a message out to him; his camp is way out in the wastelands (well on the way to the Witchlands).

**

The trip to Purity is without incident. Though waiting at the ambush site for Rum's people to arrive, Kim has to convince her bodyguard that they'll be resisting the urge to shoot first if they get spooked by the Marauders. It's bad business and there'll be hell to pay if they kick off without a good reason.

OJ is eyeing up the dead cow in the ditch, wondering if they could eat it (or sell it). Kim is looking at the hideous facial scarring, and asks him straight out what happened (to sharp intakes of breath from the other two). He doesn't like to talk about it, even when she tells him more directly that she wants to know.

The Marauder appear without warning, the first one coming out of the undergrowth feet away from them, carrying a spear and a six-shooter. The rest of them bring a motorbike that needs repairing. While Kim can fix this one in a couple of hours, she knows she'll have to get her hands on more spare parts if this is the kind of thing she can expect from the repair visits.


As Dusk is walking back from Balls' place, Dremmer falls in beside her. He wants her to know that he's sorry about bringing her into dangerous fighting the Circus up at Purity. She winces, telling him that the night they chased the Circus out of Watering Hole was much, much more dangerous.
That stops him in his tracks - he feels even worse that he was bottled up protecting TumTum's place when that happened.
Dusk turns back towards him and takes his hand, telling him that his decision made sense and there's no shame in it. With a smile, she claims she's much tougher than he gives her credit for.
He takes a deep breath
-Hey Dusk. We're friends right?
-Yep
-Oh, the boss wants you
She laughs; giving him some grief about only coming to speak to her because he was on an errand from TumTum.

When she gets to the bar, she challenges TumTum
-You don't need to send Dremmer to come get me, I'm always here
-Clearly he had his own stuff to say to you
-Well, he's a sensitive boy.
TumTum brings her into the backroom - somewhere she's never been before.
There's radio gear and loads of papers inside, some of it's old but some is definitely in use.

He wants to talk to her about the haciendas, and the cruelty that's becoming all too common in their operation. He shows her a hobbling boot, which turns her stomach with its viciousness. She's only been in the hold for 5 or 6 years (before that spending a couple in Lopez) but has always thought that TumTum could deal with everything this valley could throw at him.

He has a book, with the names of everyone in any position of influence in the haciendas of the valley. He wonders how to get them on side. Dusk reckons that convincing them will be slow and unreliable. She suggests that they wipe out the top echelon that they can't trust, and make every hacienda run cooperatively by those who live on it.
TumTum likes the idea of a commune, but wonders how they can cut the head off so many in one fell swoop. Dusk tells him to organise another summit, on the regular schedule, and make sure every boss, lieutenant and gang leader is there.

*

Kim arrives at Purity, and is left waiting for a while before a voice from up there wonders if she has the doctor. She waves to confirm, and after another while the bus descends from the hold with eight or nine aboard. Two of them are on stretchers and everyone else is wearing scarves across their faces and gloves. The two patients are definitely symptomatic.

She asks them for Doc Robinson's notes and after anyone who may have been in contact with the sick who didn't get the lurgy themselves, she doesn't want to have to go through everything from scratch. They head back to the bus, leaving the two patients with her. After an initial examination, she reckons there's no point in trying anything else (at least until she's got the notes and her cure ready to go).

She switches to fixing the creaky door on the bus and this really pisses them off. They try to get her on the bus to go back with them, but she resists. Force won't work, but she tells them that she had an agreement with Pierre and that they will, each and every one of them, die if she's forced onto the bus - she will refuse them treatment.
Fleece directly threatens her, but she holds steady with her cold threat and he backs down.

Next Session: Bigger Ambitions

Friday, 24 February 2017

Summary Judgement

Previous Session: Toe to Toe

Licking their wounds but exceptionally buoyed by the initial victories against the Billhooks, the Orphans relax a little.

Monger the Cutter continues his efforts to restore the honour of House Laudius. Taking a new line on this, he uses his usual means of enforcing compliance (and not the subtle pandering of his father).

Repairing the house itself - not quite to the way he remembers it from his childhood, but close. Hiring a new batch of servants - some of whom are old ones who retired or moved on when funds ran out. They're trading in Leviathan products again, and 3 or 4 butcher shops are reopened to sell once more. The feel is different, the sourcing is more aggressive and heavy-handed - maybe even illegal.


Ghostblade the Whisper heads down to the Silver Swan as usual. In Brightstone the news is rarely of any interest to her, this time she hears about something unspoken concerning the Strangford family and she's about to move onto more interesting things.  However, then she hears about this recalcitrant son Orlan who is being forced to come in from the cold by Lord Strangford himself.

She returns to the Orphans' lair to find Orlan, the leader of their adepts, packing a bag and tidying up all of his alchemical benches. He is returning to his family estate (just on the other side of Charhollow). She can't let him leave them in the middle of this war and tells him that she's set a spirit to spy on him until he returns. Anything it discovers will be fair game for them to use. He tells her that the family are aware of their Cult already and will definitely make a move against them if he doesn't go. So she lets him, reluctantly.


Quess the Spider visits with Skannon, a widow of a Leviathan Hunter's quartermaster. One of her children is aboard a ship still, but another - a son called Aldo was recently slain in his local the 'White Horse'. Quess realises that he must have been one of the Billhooks that the Wicked Mother consumed. She keeps her poker face, but offers to put her other child, a daughter called Casslyn into service in one of the new butcher shops that House Laudius is putting back in business.

Quess also continues to develop her informant inside the Billhooks. A younger son of the proprietor of the 'White Horse', Brogan was obviously there to witness their terrifying sacrifice and while that means that he knows who she really it, it also means that he's exceptionally afraid of her and what she can really do. She promises that they won't do that to him, so long as he provide her with exactly what she requires.

*

With their surprisingly effective opening salvo against the Billhooks, the Orphans now have a real fiendish reputation. Despite being in the middle of a war they are now as well known and generally regarded as they were before it erupted. New and previously reluctant gang members return to swell their ranks.


The Throne of Judgement
The Orphans want to keep up the pressure on the Billhooks. They have divided up the Billhooks remaining turf with Ulf Ironborn and they hatch a plan to take their share. Having saved some choice cuts of the dead Billhooks they stake out every skeletal hand on the street corners and walkways marking out the turf boundaries.

Undertaking a ritual to make everyone who lives inside that perimeter know that the Orphans now rule it, Ghostblade becomes aware of another presence nearby who seeks her attention.

A spirit, long dead, but bound in service to some powerful devil, grabs her hand. She struggles with it, trying to resist its pull and then to sever its connection with its master and control the spirit herself. However to do that she must sever it in the devil's presence.

Monger follows her through labyrinthine tunnels which end up somewhere under the city - she is sure that she could find it again, but Monger is lost. There, in a strange and disturbing room sits the Forgotten God, Throne of Judgement.

Cutting the chord joining the spirit to the Throne, she feels a deep chill in her bones and her fingers burn with frostbite. It insists that they gift a favour. They agree and hear of an impending funeral of the Strangford matriarch. They must intercept the funeral cortege and recover the coin from her mouth and bring it here.

They both know of the traditional Akorosi custom, placing coins in the mouths of the dead. It's a meaningless ritual and the coins are usually destroyed in the electroplasm of the crematorium (though the gold coins used by richer citizens end up in the Spirit Warden's coffers). This must be the family obligation Orlan had to abandon them for...

Next Session: Closing the Noose