Blades in the Dark: A Night at the Theater

BitD Title_01 by James Dudli

The Unrecommendables had another great adventure. This time Aldo and Wolfram gained a new crew member. The session lasted three hours.

Fergus and Child, twin teen agents of Carrow, escorted Nivirald Templeton “Duster” to the bookshop lair of the Unrecommendables. They offered his services on behalf of Carrow, as buy-in of the haunted village into the criminal activities of the crew. The crew were happy to add a whisper to their membership, and they sealed the deal with blood-tainted alcohol.

First Down Time

Aldo relaxed, going on a shopping spree to get new boots and a coat and eat fine food and otherwise relieve stress. Then he undertook the bureaucratic process of purchasing the Worldstage Theater for back taxes. He ran into trouble with a powerful matriarch, Maude Selvericus. He reminded her of a man who done her daughter wrong, and she shut him down in every way. He only reached her by promising to turn lots of paperwork in at a later date, or insisting it was already on its way through the system. Clever as he was, Aldo could not penetrate the bureaucracy. To break the news as gently as possible, Aldo brought a luxurious devilfish platter for the crew and gangs to eat while he explained that they still did not own the theater.

Wolfram finished vetting a gang of thugs led by Tallow, promising to take care of them in case of prison (or their families in case of death.) Then he caroused with his new gang, before retreating to solitude and worship to clear stress in meditating on his strange gods.

As the new guy, Duster wanted to be helpful. He consulted with Vincen, leader of the Adept gang. Vincen suggested a renovation project at the bookstore to add a lounge and espresso machine and tea cart would boost business! Duster took the job on, commanding the work crew and scaring them with his birthmark-marred visage and spookyness. Wolfram was indifferent to the effort, but it was popular with others. The effort and expense also increased the profitability of the book store significantly!

In the spirit of being helpful, Duster also tried to get some dirt on Maude Selvericus. He tried to see if the spirits around her posh mansion in Undercross could help, but he couldn’t get close for long enough to tell. A burglar named Slick spotted him, and offered to get him some time by the building if Duster would help him later. Duster agreed. In his sensing of the home, he realized the staff were hollows. He lured the maid out to talk to him. The maid was a body with a terminal illness, and forced inside was a young man who displeased Maude when he worked in disbursal, so she had her (illegal) spirifer pull his spirit out and install it in this body, locking it in place with a brand, and forcing him to be her maid and sand her corns. Knowing Maude illegally tortured and killed her underlings if they displeased her, Duster reported back to the crew.

Since Duster was sleeping in the basement of the bookstore, his energetic presence re-animated a ghost that lay outside the escape door, scratching piteously at the metal, the sound digging into the psyche of the living who were near and heard the whimpers.

Second Down Time

The crew needed some more time before tackling the haunted theater.

Aldo attempted to penetrate the bureaucracy once more–but he forgot about all the promised paperwork from his last attempt! Fines and fees and permits in arrears became tangible threats, and he had to break off his attempt to get to Maude’s office, escaping the red tape just before it snapped around him.

Wolfram decided to help figure out the ghost problem. Stoic, night after night, he sat awake in the pitch darkness of the basement, trying to tune in to the pathos and horror of the mewling scratching ghost. He ended up laying near the door, open to the weird supernatural desperation on the other side, coming to understand it. As he did, it absorbed his name and identity, crying out in the back of the mirror.

Determined to not only get Maude to sign off on his ownership of the theater, but now planning to get her in his pocket for future favors, Aldo paced her maid while she went to the market. He tried to convince the maid to help him, but she feared torture and refused. His pitch did not go unnoticed, however, and Maude’s agents reported his effort to her.

On his way home the next day he noticed children watching him and the bluecoats get all inattentive. His danger sense tingled, and he found he had to escape mounted bluecoats, using his blinking ability from being Chosen.

The increased attention on the Unrecommendables resulted in Wolfram’s friend Omar being swept up by bluecoats for questioning. Rather than trusting him not to crack, Wolfram paid a prince’s ransom to get him out relatively unharmed, for which Omar was grateful. A grateful assassin is sure to eventually be a useful assassin.

After consulting with Wolfram, Duster tried to loosen and repel the ghost at the door without making a gap so other ghosts would come. Wolfram’s insights helped in this delicate matter. Attuning with and then Invoking the ghost, Duster learned it was a prisoner from over a century ago, when their lair was a hidden dungeon; she died desperately scritching at the door to get OUT, but was confused in death. Now she clawed at the door to get IN, and should she realize the difference, her fearful wrath could be very bad. Duster disentangled and released her spirit.

Duster was also approached by Slick, who stole a box and found it bound shut by a spirit. The spirit’s essence was bound to the box; release would kill it. But it had forgotten much of what it was. Duster managed to untangle it, finding it was a noble boy who wanted to protect his sister from life on the streets; he had been sacrificed to bind the box shut. Inside, Duster saw rows of teeth in velvet padding; best not to ask questions about that. Slick left very happy.

Worldstage Theater Cleansing

Finally it was time to clear the two critic ghosts lethally haunting the Worldstage Theater. Before they went, Wolfram sent the adept gang to get a fine spirit anchor. They tried to go through Jimmy Two Fingers, who is crazy, but this time the crazy did not work out for them. Instead, Aldo went to the Dimmer Sisters. They loaned him a fine spirit anchor, just because they are friends.

Well armed and backed up by the adept gang (who wore all their charms and amulets), they faced the theater. Aldo blinked up to the ledge and let himself into the second floor, and carefully navigated down to the main door and unbarred it to let them in. They saw evidence of many accidents all around them.

Everyone but Aldo headed to Box 4, where the critics were dug in while alive, and where they died. Aldo headed to the main stage, avoiding a falling light along the way. Duster saw the tattered remains of spirits all over the theater, like an audience.

To gain the critics’ attention, Aldo switched to his native tongue of Skovlan and delivered a sad poetry cycle, revealing an artistic soul under all his bluster and cunning. The tattered ghosts were pulled under the stage, or up towards Box Four; Duster realized they faced critics who animated and armored themselves with artists, not spectators, and drew power from them in death as they had in life. Vetta, one of the adepts, freaked out and ran screaming.

Realizing his danger as his breath chilled to be visible, Aldo switched over to a snarky clog dance, and barely evaded the wrathful strike of one of the critics. Meanwhile another snatched Duster by the throat, up in the box.

(Wolfram also went to the Dimmer Sisters, in secret, to borrow a blank book and a lightning hook. They gave him this equipment, on the condition he would spend a night in their mansion. He was happy to agree.)

Wolfram threw down the book, and tried to use the lightning hook to drag the critic spirit into it (so it could write out its reviews endlessly.) The spirit resisted and backhanded him off the balcony, he twisted through space and crashed down through the rotten seating below. Fortunately he rose unhurt, and grimly strode towards the stairs to rejoin the battle in the box above. He avoided an “accident” along the way.

The critic gripping Duster was rebuked by the whisper’s power, and as it released him and oriented on Vincen, Duster hurled down his own spirit anchor and began binding the critic ghost to it. Meanwhile Aldo blinked up to the balcony to help, as the ghost pursing him broke off and went after Wolfram.

As Duster locked one of the ghosts in the spirit anchor, the other struck at Wolfram, who barely evaded the blow and came up with his electroplasmically charged ammunition. He fired one shot into the center mass of the critic ghost, who knocked his gun away. Then he came up with the other gun and fired through its head. It tried to infect him with supernatural fear, but he rejected its intimidation, his teeth glittering as he sneered at it.

Meanwhile Aldo took the empty fine spirit anchor, and blinked to catch up with Wolfram. He thrust the spirit anchor into the ghost’s mass, trying to use his amateur guesswork to bind the ghost to the anchor. It repelled him painfully.

Meanwhile back in Box Four, Duster created an etheric breeze, dragging ghosts away from the ruptured critic, taking the initiative. Wolfram chambered another round, lined up, and blew the deadly ghost away.

Before they left, they found Vetta huddled in a corner, her hair pure white. She was relieved to see them alive. Exhausted and victorious, the crew left the theater. Now it was ready to be a vessel for their future plans.

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One Response to Blades in the Dark: A Night at the Theater

  1. Pingback: Summary of Blades in the Dark Worldbuilding | Fictive Fantasies

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