Wolfram disappeared unexpectedly for a while, probably on walkabout for the Forgotten Gods. Duster was called back to Carrow to take care of some business there.
So it was that Aldo was the only one to answer the call when Lysander summoned the Unrecommendables. Lysander was NOT happy. A tough gang broke into the fifth floor using clever manipulation of ladders, beat up his security, and stole twelve of his favorite workers (fancy lads and ladies.) Now Lysander had questions. Was the theater ready to begin? Not yet. What was his protection crew going to do about his missing employees? Retrieve them.
To assist towards that end, Lysander insisted the Unrecommendables allow Joben, a tough cutter from the Dagger Isles, to join their crew. (Fortunately he came with a gang of rooks led by Harmony, a clever lady.) Aldo welcomed Joben into the crew, and introduced him around, then the scoundrels got busy figuring out what happened with the Tenpenny Court Upstairs Network abduction.
Joben sent Harmony and the rooks to see what they could find out. She was worried as she reported back; a group called the Wax Masks had been doing smaller-scale abductions all over the neighborhood, and they were tough. Because they were spirits riding borrowed bodies, they were stronger and tougher and faster than a person would be. Harmony hoped they wouldn’t make enemies of this up-and-coming crew.
Together, Joben and Aldo went to see Baz, Aldo’s friend from way back, leader of the Lampblacks (and enemy to Lysander.) Baz was happy to see them, and introduced them to Severen, new leader of the Red Sashes (reduced to a temple, fencing school, and drug hookup business supervised by the Crows now.) Severen offered a truce to the Unrecommendables, along with a fine dagger. Aldo was happy to accept.
Aldo was not happy that Baz grabbed his arm and muttered that he should leave this abduction thing alone. He didn’t like the look in Baz’ eye as they discussed it.
Aldo consulted with Vincen, leader of the adept gang. Vincen explained he won a bet with another adept, since he said the Unrecommendables would go head-on at this new and very dangerous group earlier rather than later. On a more somber note, he knew the Crows had done some checking into the Wax Mask, which was named after their leader and also after their habit for riding hollows (and hollowing out the original owners). As they talked it over, Vincen suggested Baz might be making a play on the Crows, and bringing in an outside crew to help. Aldo did not like the implications, not one bit.
Aldo and Joben began recruiting replacements for the workers Lysander lost–no easy feat, as he was a great recruiter and had a rapport with his employees. As soon as he heard what they were up to, he came to the Phrenological Emporium and confronted Aldo, who assured him that rescue would happen later but this was to keep the business afloat in the meantime. Lysander grudgingly accepted that rationale.
Burning through their reserve funds, Joben and Aldo networked and cajoled their way across the city, convincing a few key independent operators to work for Lysander, then using that name recognition power to bring more independents on board. Finishing out their funds and dipping into the theater fund, they threw a party in an abandoned church.
Lysander was mostly persuaded to accept this gesture, but he required a little more money to seal the deal. Then he took his new employees home, and the relieved but exhausted scoundrels wrapped it up. (Early on in the party Harmony’s rooks chafed under Joben’s tone-deaf social instruction, and they sent him off to the hagfish pits to bet on the races and leave the party alone.)
Looking for Quick Coin
They need a score, and fast. They decided to go for something easy, and checked into who might know about old Red Sash hidden money. They found out about Old Kurzwile, a blind bookkeeper for the Red Sashes, who was supposed to know of such scores. Unfortunately, as Joben got this intelligence, Marsden (gang leader for the Black Eyes, a Lampblack gang) also overheard. A race!
Aldo got to a contact, Tanya, a circus performing knife thrower who was reputed to know where Old Kurzwile was hidden. Marsden was hot on his heels, in spite of Joben leading a diversion to pull the eager Lampblack gangers off the scent. The circus crowd called for the matter to be won in a sing-off, which Aldo handily managed; he was escorted out while Marsden was delayed.
Aldo found himself in a dark barge where the blind scribe lived with his birds. Old Kurzwile was eerie, his voice deep and his manner strange. He agreed to help Aldo on behalf of his master, whose scent was on Aldo. Kurzwile told him that some forbidden books, the Kasdan Poetry Cycle, were hidden in the Delavian Estate in the couch in the carriage house.
Old Kurzwile also told him that he would need to help Isaac, a pale white boy who came out from a back room (was there the sound of a massive bird in there?) Aldo found Isaac unsettlingly familiar, and gave him a chocolate bar to make friends. (Isaac ate it without taking the wrapper off first.) Kurzwile said Isaac would need Aldo’s help. Aldo agreed, but left him there (which was apparently okay).
Kurzwile also said he would die that very night, and soon. Aldo took his leave before it happened, as Kurzwile requested.
The Delavian Estate
Aldo sent his adepts to check out the place’s mystical defenses; they found twig carving alarms on the doors and windows, but not on the carriage house. Also, an invisible mastiff prowled the grounds. They could distract it for up to twenty minutes, if they prepared.
Joben scouted the place in person, watching the guards from a nearby rooftop. There were more than he expected, and they had vantage points of their own. He was noticed, and a couple guards sent to bring him in for questioning.
He tried to escape the roof gracefully, to no avail. He tried to play the part of the buffoon, but they weren’t buying it. The guards detained him, and as they descended the close quarters of the stairwell, Joben snapped into action. One of them slashed his armor to ribbons, then he drew his trench knife and killed them both. He ran, taking the long way to the Emporium, and reported his findings.
Sobered but determined, the crew laid their plans.
The night of the heist, the adepts lured the invisible mastiff away. Joben and Aldo crept up to the carriage house, but rounded the corner and confronted two guards! Aldo teleported behind one and shivved him, but the other put up a hell of a fight against Joben, trying to raise the alarm before both ganged up on him. Before Joben snapped his neck, the guard carved a nasty cut down the big man’s ribs.
Aldo blinked up to the balcony, noting the room was converted as a prison to keep someone IN. He entered the room, and found the pale child who looked just like Isaac, and said his name was Isaac, but had no memory of meeting Aldo before.
Aldo quickly retrieved the books from inside the couch (Isaac had read some of them, and they were naughty, with symbolic sex acts then more explicit ones.) Laden with books, they escaped (noting that there was a panorama/painting designed to fool the eye that the whole loft was visible from below.) Down the ladder, not the stairs (to avoid the cemetery gun) and rendezvousing with Joben outside.
They raced for where they left the ladder propped against the wall to get out, barely escaping ahead of the invisible mastiff named Hurricane (who drank in their scent as they retreated.)
Aldo dropped the forbidden books off with Amancio to be fenced, getting 2 Coin. They took Isaac home to see what he would come to remember over time.