Previous Session: A Thorny Path
Coming off the high of their heist against the Hand of Sorrow, the Orphans of the Bloodmoon decide to follow up with a sucker punch against the rival cult. They surveil the cult's lair, paying close attention to Adkin (their occultist who recently switched loyalties). They reckon that the Hand of Sorrow's walled mansion would make a fantastic addition, and would help them muster support and impress people.
We hear one of the mysterious tenets of the cult as they discuss how the Wicked Mother would react to Adkin's 'betrayal': Everything is a Mistake
They come up with a double-pronged plan. They will put out rumours that the stolen cult artifact is being transported to a trusted neutral auction house. They'll rig the box with some murderous ghosts and when the Hand of Sorrow open it, the second part of the plan will spring into action; their band of killers will assault the compound and they'll take control of it!
Ghost Blade contacts Moriya, who just happens to have a top-notch spirit cage in her lab - she has it for a job with Lord Scurlock, so they need to return it undamaged in a couple of days (tops!). She points out its fine construction (she's obviously proud of it) - the fine engraving of the Emperor's 17 names and titles, the connections which allow spirit bottles to be attached and opened without breaching the cage, the energy signature which cloaks the cage from detection. She inserts the three remaining spirits from that first job against the Eels - this job will please the Wicket Mother enough to balance against the loss of these ghosts.
Quess scouts out the rank and file, using Salia to fill in some of the gaps. The Hand of Sorrow are angry and the Orphans' misdirection has been entirely successful. So much so that they're planning on striking back at the Lady of Thorns already. So she plants some additional detail that it's them who are moving the Tree of Woe by boat with a few guards.
They hire a few thugs to guard the boat on the way to Quincy's Auction House.
Quess' eye for thugs is without reproach - these two are the most self-serving skangers she's ever laid eyes on. They jump ship at the earliest sign of trouble. The half dozen heavies that ambush them are carrying batons, boat hooks and long knives and they hijack the boat with the box in the bilge without bloodshed and without creating any fuss (apart from the skangers, who've taken their money and scarpered).
From a nearby rooftop, Fancy Frank looks on, and slowly follows the boat from above. He's annoyed when the hijackers take the 'wrong' turn to get back to their lair (they're obviously not experienced boaters), so he has to rush to catch up, jumping across the tarpaulin covers of a few boats to get across to the correct side. Landing on the dockside, he jars the scope on his long rifle and curses.
But then, he's face to face with the Stranger - who stole one of the spirit bottles from their first ambush against the Eels. He wonders, in his cultured, silky voice, what they're up to. But the Orphan is having none of it - though he feels slightly transfixed. The Stranger looks into his soul and Fancy Frank feels the beginnings of deep tinkering. Rather than try to tough it out, he just jumps straight into the river, swimming deep and strong to get away.
Over at the Hand of Sorrow's compound, Quess and Ghost Blade watch over everything, and the band of killers are hidden in various well-chosen spots around. They spot a soaked Fancy Frank emerge from a canal to give them the signal - pointing out the hijacked boat as it turns the corner.
Two of the guards who were looking out clamber down inside the wall and make their way to the canal gate. With that move, there's only two guard at the front gate, and the security routine is as Quess saw previously. Just give the right knock on the gate and they'll let you in.
It's takes longer than expected before Ghost Blade feels the whispers of the spirit cage being opened - and she gets to find out just how murderous those ghosts are. She feels them erupt from the box and tear through the first three cultists standing over them, before immediately possessing the next three.
What follows inside is a massacre with the ghosts sowing chaos before the killers spring into action. Slowly and methodically taking out the Hand of Sorrow's guards. Ghost Blade helps defeat the ghosts, prying one of out the possessed body, but the other two have to be slain.
Fancy Frank's hunting pet, a wild Lynx leaps on top of the perimeter wall and directs them to the basement where the box is being kept. However before they can muster themselves, something else rises up out of that place.
Slowly and inexorably, a figure climbs the stairs out of the basement and approaches the Orphans. It looks like it's made of hard black bark, but there's fire and smoke coming out from the cracks and gaps in the bark.
Fancy Frank aims for it with his hunting rifle - that broken scope doesn't bother him at this range, but he didn't bring his electroplasmic ammunition and the round has no discernible effect, even though it hits the devil centre mass.
Ghost Blade quickly attunes to the local energy, creating a shield of electroplasmic energy - the immense amount of energy that uses sucks all the vitality out of the grounds, with the moisture sucked out of the ground and the moss and fungus in the garden turning black. The killers keep the devil busy by unloading their firearms into it, but Ghost Blade uses her will to turn it towards the canal gate. As it realises what's happening, it struggles, but Ghost Blade pushes it all the way to the gate. Some of the killers think quickly on their feet to open the gate and then push Ghost Blade in the back to force her to the edge of the canal and the devil goes in.
There's an explosion of steam and they're flung back inside. When they come to, the devil has disappeared. They dump the cultist's bodies into the canal and shut up shop. They've taken control of the compound
After this mess, Quess gets arrested, but this is a different precinct and here in Silkshore, they don't know the Bluecoats as well. After sweating in a box for the night, they pay off the right cop - a veteran sergeant called Coleburn.
They've taken a lot of heat and are all stressed out, so they hit the town (and their contacts) to try to get things under control. Francy Frank gets into a bit of trouble at his fight on the docks, and the betting has been upset by his antics. The Billhooks take a disliking to him and rather than buckle to the vicious gang of thugs, he fights back.
Quess backs him up to gather information on this gang, who have operations all over Charhollow, the Crow's Foot and the Docks. She also plies one of the Billhooks with some fine whiskey, and can rely on him for some indiscretion when they move against their newest enemies.
Ghost Blade continues work on her ritual, and trains a little more with Quellyn.
Next Session: New Horizons