2/15/2021 IRL. October 1921 IG.
- John Stickman. Rugged and tough veteran of the Tellurian War, armed and armored.
- Dorothy Gale. Former prisoner of war, weirded with a metal arm and occasional manifestation of animalistic teeth while under stress. Accompanied by her faithful German shepherd Toto, a well-trained glamour sniffer.
Gale and Stickman talked over the previous day’s events, including the disquieting conversation with Shay. Since they were enjoying the Broddico hospitality, they would defend Broddico interests for now; just part of being a good guest.
They both went outside to take Toto out for his morning business, and Cawley was loitering nearby. The big man dropped hints and allusions offering them illegal opportunity and funding, but they were increasingly firm in their refusals. He suggested they attend the struct competition later in the morning, where constructs battled it out. Apparently Dr. Broddico would be opening the festivities. That did sound interesting enough, so the adventurers resolved to go.
The Struct Competition
The large multi-level arena had space for a one on one match to start out the day, and the noisy gnomes were into the cheering. Harmony Signs was going up against The Ramrod, a classic rivalry with a forest gnome hero piloting a struct against a rock gnome hero. Gale knew it was immoral to gamble, but she put a few coins on Harmony Signs to win it. Stickman figured he’d up the ante, and he added to her bet.
Dr. Broddico offered a short speech to open the event. He was in a balcony overlooking it, and a side balcony had Shay. Gale also noticed a couple shady Chicago thugs trying to look unobtrusive on the stairs by the balcony.
The match started, and the gnome machines battered each other without mercy. Signs quickly got the upper hand and held on to her advantages, soundly defeating the Ramrod. Cheering along with the rest of the crowd, the adventurers were caught up in the flashy show, and Gale was delighted to get her winnings.
Then the adventurers noticed that Shay was gone, and Dr. Broddico didn’t seem to notice. The Tellurians were gone too. With growing concern, the adventurers headed over to the stairs, only to be deflected by the “white gloves” gnome security. No admittance. They argued that the other Tellurians got up there somehow, and that finished off what patience the gnomes had. Unwilling to escalate tensions, the adventurers backed off; maybe go around to the exterior entrance and see if there were clues there?
A mechanical mosquito the size of a fist landed on Gale’s shoulder. She tried not to panic, and grabbed at it, holding the little machine. It did not resist or attack.
A gnome raced up to them, introducing himself as Telgur. He explained that he built the clockwork mosquito to be a familiar for a wizard, but Kissy didn’t bond with the client, so the client was suing him for shoddy work. Telgur pointed out the glowing yellow on the mosquito abdomen, a sign it was in bonding mode. He realized it was drawn to Tellurians, and offered them the chance to bond with Kissy to gain a loyal scout and “pet” (and prove his workmanship held up just fine.)
Gale declined, as Toto was enough for her to manage. Stickman lost all interest upon discovering Kissy would extract a little bone marrow as part of the bonding process. Cawley approached, deliberately noting the time with them as he was establishing his alibi. He took an interest in the mechanical mosquito familiar, and Telgur refocused on him as the adventurers slipped out of the conversation to resume looking for Shay.
Gale scolded herself for gambling, as that sin was what made her take her eyes off Shay in the first place. Once they reached the back entrance, Gale spotted a downed Tellurian, and Stickman saw a small wagon racing off drawn by goats, a too-big Tellurian hunched on the gnome wagon’s buckboard.
The adventurers could not match the wagon’s speed, but in the twisty confines of the settlement, they could move in straighter lines and catch up. They dashed off, with Stickman falling behind in the rooftop scramble. Gale saw the wagon heading towards the gate. Some white glove gnomes stepped out to slow the wagon, and the driver pulled out a pistol and snapped off a few shots at them! They dove aside, but Gale figured that was provocation enough. Bringing her rifle to bear, she fired a the driver, knocking him clean off the wagon.
The gnomes could now bring the wagon to a halt, and Gale scrambled down from the rooftops to get closer. Meanwhile, Stickman took a different approach, and as he got closer he saw one of the Chicago thugs exiting the blind side of the caravan carrying a duffel bag. Stickman got Gale’s attention, and she snapped off a shot to force the thug to stop.
The situation escalated, and he pointed a pistol at the duffel bag and threatened to shoot. Still, he was staring down the gun barrels and resolve of a couple hardened veterans; Gale said he could leave the bag and go, and she’d let him, and that was the best offer he was likely to get. He tossed the bag and ran, the gnome white gloves in pursuit.
The adventurers unpacked the bag, freeing Shay, who was choloroformed and stuffed inside. Meanwhile the escaping thug screamed; he was convulsing in an alley nearby, painfully contorted and foaming at the mouth while his eyes bulged and purpled. When the white gloves heard that he had kidnapped Shay Broddico, they exchanged a knowing look and lost interest. A quick conversation about one Tellurian shooting another turned sour fast as both sides looked back at the war, raising latent tensions between the fey and Tellurians. Indeed, both sides could have policed their own people better. The friendly moment, such as it was, ended.
The adventurers escorted Shay back to Broddico Mansion, where Master Vin was anxiously waiting for them. Apparently Dr. Broddico had somehow heard about the abduction, the veterans’ role in preventing it, and the outcome all before they made it back. He sent word instructing Master Vin to relay his gratitude and reward the Tellurians.
Gale and Stickman followed Master Vin to the library map room, where he accessed a secret panel to draw out a vellum map. Master Vin explained the map had unusual properties, and led to a special place that Dr. Broddico thought they might want to visit due to their curse. (A curse they had not told him about.) Master Vin said if they put some blood on the map, it would open to them somehow and be usable in a unique way.
Stickman was up for the challenge, pricking his finger and smearing blood on the margin of the map. The blood vanished, and the map seemed to gain three dimensions, like a sculpture. He understood, in some way that he could not explain, how to get to that map and orient once there.
With the next objective in sight, the adventurers took their leave of Broddico Mansion on pleasant enough terms.