Kindyl and Devin returned from the previous session. They sailed to New Orleans, where they met up with Dr. Gryffin (a former army medic) and Jarl, a huge strong soldier who fought in the battle of St. Louis but left the army without leave. (All Jarl had for gear was a tribble and a flashbang.) Dr. Gryffin, on the other hand, had a very nice shotgun and some arcana–kickers, boots that allowed him to kick any door open.
The Job: Barrows Privateers
All of them had served with Sgt. Barry Rodgers. He was out of the military now, and hired on to Baroness Scrodd of Vornheim, one of the fey treaty cities where fey and humans live in relative harmony. The Baroness was responsible for maintaining the peace and order of the Barrowmaze highlands, where the ruling class of Vornheim bury their exotic deceased.
The recent Tellurian War had pulled at many seals, releasing energy leaks into the Barrowmaze so it was unacceptably restless. The Baroness set up an Assayer’s Camp, where her representative received grave goods and paid the grave robbers a fair price in dollars. The goods could then be potentially repatriated to the graves, or kept, at her discretion. Wealth and magical items intensified the restless effect, so they needed to come out of the barrows. That was her interpretation, and she hired a small army to work it out.
To get to Vornheim, they would need to take the New Orleans Special train from New Orleans to Grenada, Mississippi. From there, he arranged transport to Chicago, and from there through a special portal to Vornheim.
The New Orleans Special
They boarded the train in the evening, and Sgt. Darmott assigned them to the gun on the armory train car with instructions to stay out of the train itself. He settled himself comfortably in the armory car below them.
They heard screams from down the line after the train had been going a while. Jarl checked it out, looking down to see a couple pixies loading hapless passengers up with fairy dust that made them blind, or horny, or hallucinating. Without waiting for permission, he dropped down and muscled the door open, confronting the fairies.
They sprayed him with dust, and he was lost in hallucinations as they stabbed him repeatedly.
Meanwhile the doctor checked with the sergeant, who instructed them to go “handle it.” They followed Jarl and saw his sorry condition. Doc managed a lucky shot with the shotgun, smearing one pixie. The other stabbed him right up his nose, putting him out for the count.
Kindyl whipped her wolf mantle cloak over a fairy who was burrowing in a passenger’s hair, trapping it in there; Jarl shot the woman while hallucinating, but moments later Kindyl tracked the fairy’s movements under the coat, snatched it from the other side, and wrung the life from it.
As a corporal led a team into the car to restore order, the doctors treated the injured woman; she would live. No one noticed that Jarl relieved a hallucinating man of his pistols. The Doc then told the man there was no god; that seemed oddly like a relief to him. Doc also assured him the law would go easy with him for shooting that woman while he hallucinated, because she’d live. No one seemed to notice Jarl was the one who shot her.
Death by Pixie
Much later, they were approached on the roof by Cpl. Sullivan, a shifty and dangerous man looking for people who could handle themselves. He suggested they all take a look around the supply car together, but they suspected he just wanted to implicate them and use them as patsies. His gunners looked on, grim, as he pitched the idea.
Then he belched repeatedly, and fell over dead, his chest bursting open as half a dozen pixies flew up. There was a brief and brutal battle where the veterans wiped all but one pixie out. Jarl also snaked the dead corporal’s keys and rifle. Again no one seemed to notice!
One of the corporal’s gunners grimly suggested that he must have angered the wrong person; there were poisons that could do that to a man. Then they went to report to the sergeant (and presumably one of them got a field promotion.)
The roof riders figured this was their chance to take the dead corporal’s keys and get into trouble.
The Baggage Car Caper
They used the keys to check out the contents of the baggage cars. They left the Doc with the corporal’s corpse on the roof of the train, to offer a cover story; also, if they were fast enough they could put the keys back on the body as though they never left.
The overall take of the first car was disappointing bulk goods. The second car was almost all mail. The third car had custom race horses; since Doc requested drugs, Devin was looking for them when a stable hand interrupted him and demanded an explanation.
They could not appease him, so they knocked him out and dragged him to the mail car. There, they put some swag in his pants and gave him the key. Then they searched for shiny lootables.
Devin just found mail; bleh. Jarl found a top-secret communications bag, and they put that down hoping its breach would be blamed on the stable boy. Kendyl found some mail to Duke Helderschipp, noting he needed jewelry to cover unexpected expenses. Yoink!
They raced to get back in time for the cover story to hold. However, the sergeant got to the roof first. After hearing from Doc, he went to check the supply cars; to stall, Doc tried to stage the body sliding down and him catching it to keep it from falling. He wasn’t strong enough, and the body actually fell. Furious, the sergeant called for the train to stop, and sent a team to collect the body.
By the time that was all sorted out, the keys were of course safe on the patsy and all the roof riders were in their places.
After a travel montage and some shopping to buy armor and such, they arrived by wagon at the Assayer’s Camp about four miles from the Barrowmaze plain.
They fenced the take from the train there, figuring the Baroness could scrub it clean enough. Jarl took part of his share and had iron bullets blessed by a priest of Vorn.
They noticed there were some mentally unstable adventurers in various states of disorientation in the mess tent. They didn’t worry about it.
The next morning they took their guide and hiked to the mound they were assigned to explore.
Rather than go through the lengthy process of breaking the door slab, Doc used his kicker arcana and kicked the massive stone slab in half.
Below, they found a weird fountain with unusual water, and some murals depicting water and energy flow that made Kindyl vaguely ill. Jarl noticed the bronze door leading deeper in, with symbols that indicated it could only be opened by putting water on it. He also noted a couple murals designed to keep something in; not terribly malignant, but some water-themed creature.
Doc kicked the brass door in, his arcana overcoming the magic of the door. The deep-seated bronze tore the walls out as it broke. In the next room, they took the time to hunt for all the aquamarine stones scattered from the center of the room by the shattering door.
Jarl read to them the inscription over the arch over one exit to the room: “Here lies Glossmira–Thrice Cursed Bitch of the Deep.” Huh.
Jarl used his massive muscles to spin the door lock wheel, unlocking the door. It was mounted on a pivot. They opened it, peering into the darkness beyond. An oceanic scene, murals and ankle-deep water on the floor.
They wedged the door open with a chunk of bronze, and tied Kendyl and Doc to the door as they ventured warily inside. They saw a steel box, a stone coffin with no lid that constantly swelled with water, and a weird trident mounted on the wall.
Kendyl carefully opened the chest and was thrilled to see it had thousands of fey coins! Meanwhile Doc peered into the coffin and saw a pale corpse under the water, with silvery tattoos and empty eyes–that snapped open.
The buried corpse rose, basically ignoring the gunfire that rattled off her (even the blessed bullet didn’t do much damage.) Then she started breathing in, an impossible quantity of air. That was all the warning the tomb raiders needed; this was about to get ugly.
Devin helped Jarl move the bronze door chunk out of the way as Doc helped Kendyl drag the coin chest off the pedestal. They were making a run for it when Glossmira screamed.
The scream tore into them at a bone-deep life connection existential level, nearly destroying their sanity. Jarl and Devin lost their composure and ran away; somehow Doc and Kendyl persevered enough to keep dragging the chest.
The keening shriek was awakening the fountain as they ran past and out into the night, but they escaped before it could act.
Doc and Kendyl managed to get back to Assayer’s Camp in reasonable time. Devin found his way back in the night. Adventurers heading out the next morning found Jarl, and sent him back to the camp.
Their haul was rich enough they could retire or move on, and it was a close call they survived, so they figured maybe they’d had enough.