Aldo, Wolfram, Duster, and Joben were all present.
Turns out Flint, a spirit trafficker from Carrow (and Duster’s best friend), was pulled in by the Inspectors and grilled for two weeks about illegal leviathan blood traffic in the Crow’s Foot neighborhood. The Unrecommendables didn’t get involved, but that’s just as well, as Flint was canny. He pretended to be even crazier than he was, then gave up the Red Sashes and some of their defunct safe houses and dead agents as smugglers. The Inspectors eventually let him go, and he came by the Emporium to be celebrated. While there he made eyes at one of the coven members, Kyra, and developed a pathetic crush.
After Aldo recovered stress, he sorted out the heat on the crew by consorting with his bluecoat friends.
Wolfram recovered stress then started looking into Inspector Kiva’s motives for cracking down on the leviathan blood trade. She must have a reason to go after the smugglers with such passion. (1/4) As he asked around, people talked about him, the guy who’s asking.
Duster and Joben focused on getting the theater renovated. As Duster relied on Harmony and the grifter gang’s good taste in decorating, Joben hired work crews and supervised the labor. (6 Coin, 6/10)
Unfortunately, with time on their hands, Tallow and his gang got into a ruckus with a Crow gang of Pinfeathers. The fighting got rough, and one of Tallow’s thugs, Freiderich, decapitated one of the Pinfeathers with a broken window. This insult could not go unanswered. Utrecht met with the Unrecommendables, noting that the murder had panache at least. The Crows would be satisfied if they could publicly beat Freiderich up, hopefully not to death but no promises.
Aldo counter-offered generously, and they ended up agreeing that the Crows would get Freiderich’s thugging services for a period of time (and he could return to the Unrecommendables afterwards if he wanted) and to sweeten the weregild pot the Unrecommendables promised 4 Coin of illegal leviathan blood. Utrecht was pleased.
A Demander for the Suppliers
Meanwhile, a man in a black outfit and black mask dropped off an empty bottle like was used to sell leviathan blood back at the Emporium, with notice of a place and time for a meeting (an old abandoned hagfish arena, midnight.) The crew decided to risk checking it out, leaving Wolfram covering the arena with a rifle as the other three went to talk to the mysterious figure.
He said he represented someone who was interested in purchasing the leviathan blood, but could not go into business because he was blackmailed by the Inspectors to give up the first smugglers he contacted. If they could arrange for a dupe, to get the pressure and Inspectors off him, then he would buy blood from them. They could think it over and respond the following night.
Warehouses and Alleys
They pulled back, except for Wolfram; he saw a distracted zombie-like woman, and followed her to where there was a warehouse full of distracted zombie-like people. Not as placid as hollows, but not themselves either; he recognized their clothes as being from the Wax Mask barge.
Then a figure in tattered clothes on a rooftop by his alley accosted him. Irritated by Wolfram’s flippancy, he ordered a mob of hollows to swarm Wolfram, who gunned them down. The battle attracted the attention of bluecoats, who almost caught up as Wolfram was gunning down the last of the mob. He led them on a merry chase, ending when he leaped across a gap and the first bluecoat that leaped after was clubbed midair, to fall to the cobbles by the canal in great pain. Wolfram escaped back. (+2 Heat)
They decided to find someone to frame, to go into business with the mystery buyer. They picked Salvan Drixle, a High Priest of the Path of Echoes (a mystery cult that cut across class lines but mostly appealed to the wealthy and students, suggesting electroplasmic entities were full of wisdom and should be protected and nurtured instead of destroyed.)
Turns out Wolfram robbed Drixle of an idol to a Forgotten God. It was a couple years ago, when Wolfram first came to Duskwall, and he stole the idol to give it to other secret worshipers so they showed him the shrines and helped him worship the Forgotten Gods here.
Drixle operated out of an old broken refinery on the docks where leviathan blood was formerly pumped out of the ships. Since then, Whispers had been brought in to reinforce the interior of the buildings, and they were swarming with captured ghosts that would attack intruders on Drixle’s command. He actually held services inside one of the huge iron tanks, three stories tall, that used to hold the undying blood itself.
Joben found out Harlesski was a lovely Iruvian adept who was Drixle’s right-hand operative and trusted confidant; they could use her as an intermediary contact to get his attention.
Aldo nosed around to find out who Drixle was pursuing to join his cult, who was out of reach; he came up with Lady Noventell, an albino aristocrat descended from the family that first financed leviathan hunting ships. (Lady Noventell got word back from her agents that Aldo Nyman was asking about her in connection to mystery cults.)
Wolfram used Harmony and her gang to find out where Noventell shops for clothing for her servants, and commission a workable likeness of clothing so they could pretend to represent her.
Duster used the adepts and scored massive success. He discovered the glyphs sealing the furious ghosts in, and also discovered there were shelves with hundreds of bottles with hanks of hair on them holding ghosts hostage inside. He also contacted an angry ghost, Stonebreaker, who promised to help if he promised to free the ghosts. He agreed. Afterwards, he moved around the outside of the building, drilling in behind each glyph so he could break them all more or less at once on demand. (Super critical success!)
They strode up to the hidden temple in their black and red outfits, masquerading as servants of Lady Noventell. Harlesski escorted them in to where the repulsive cult leader Drixle reclined on a bed in the skull of a massive sea monster. Aldo (going as “Simon”) gave him a lacquer box with a scroll explaining the Lady would consider joining him if he would become a blood dealer for her.
The offer infuriated Drixle, who kicked the kneeling Aldo and beat him with a stick (somewhat ineffectually) until he was winded. Then the REAL plan kicked in; Wolfram explained they were sent on this lame mission by Maude Selvericus, a bureaucrat who was upset with him for some reason. They were to frame him, using a small barrel of real leviathan blood. Joben protested the reveal, while Duster just looked so, so ashamed.
Wary but greedy, Drixle agreed to let them live if their story checked out. He released them with a mild beating, save Aldo, who he kept as insurance. Aldo had a forged mini-ledger with leviathan blood transactions, naming names, and he hurled himself at the high priest as though to beg for mercy. Though he was repulsed by far too intimate a groping of the sweaty and perfumed cultist, he managed to hide the ledger in a secret pocket in the silken robe. He was then shoved back on the stiff pillows as Drixle suited up, taking Harlesski and his eight porters and palanquin chair to get the blood.
Of course, Drixle walked into a trap. Joben had spread word through Harmony’s gang to the Inspectors that a smuggler would be after a barrel in an old greenhouse that was purchased on the sly, and Aldo paid off one of Maude Selvericus’ many enemies to serve as a witness that Maude sold the greenhouse to Drixle under the table in exchange for a cut of the illegal leviathan blood profits. Drixle was doomed, walking right into the trap. He got a good kicking from the bluecoats, and was dragged off into custody.
Meanwhile, the rest of the Unrecommendables knew they had to move fast to rescue Aldo. Knowing that there would be spirit chaos, Duster had gotten a very fine spiritbane charm and given it to Aldo in advance. Aldo tried to activate it, and the energy drew the ghost of a little girl; she asked if she could leave with him, he said yes, and she lent her aid to attuning to the charm but being safe within its influence.
Outside, Duster raised his hand, felt the places he bored into the wall behind the glyphs, and as he had prepared to do, he broke them. It took a minute, and he was all sweaty when it was done, but he managed it. The ghostnado was triggered inside, the mortal guards screaming as all the pent up ghosts raged.
Duster ran into the building, and was almost immediately attacked by masses of ghosts; he sensed Stonebreaker, the ghost he had promised freedom in exchange for help. Stonebreaker wanted to ride him, and he consented; Stonebreaker gave him supernatural strength and used his body to start killing guards.
Aldo crawled to the doorway of the iron bottle, to where he could see the exit and maybe teleport over to it. The ghost girl helped bat spirits away. He dropped out of space–drifting over a river of electroplasmic spirits, he encountered the Outsider in the Void, who mused on his involvement to this point and wondered where the blood would go. Then he dropped back into space, behind the possessed Duster.
As Duster tore a guard in half, Aldo tried to distract him; the whisper’s head spun around as though he had no neck, and Aldo kissed him on the mouth to try and break him out of it. The whisper fought free of Stonebreaker, releasing him in a gout of electroplasmic energy, and they unsteadily escaped together. Spirit Warden special teams raced towards the location as they limped away.
A Deal is Struck
They returned to the Emporium and found the man in black waiting for them, telling them that his employer was ready to strike a deal. They rode the carriage to Brightstone, one of the nicest estates in the city, then to the Smithwylde estate (run by Gallery Smithwylde.)
They drove over his extensive estate, noting his radiant garden, ending up in his armory. He met with them. He walked with a strut somewhere between mincing and gallant, he himself was somewhere between dandy and captain of industry. He told them he wanted more leviathan blood than the law and tarriffs allowed, and he would have it from them, all they had to give. He would possibly meet with them every few months. But if they breathed a word of his involvement, he would have them flayed and used for leather in his very fancy motorcar. They were then dismissed and sent home. He did give them a signing bonus; a huge chest of Tychorian minted silver ingots worth 4 Coin.
That last mess with the mystery cult bumped them up to 5 Heat, but they might suggest it was totally worth it.