Aldo liberally spent wealth in socializing with this bluecoat friends, reducing Heat from 6 to 3. Then he went wild with the shopping, getting finery for the crew, their gangs, and employees for the upcoming grand opening of the Worldsedge Theater featuring Lysander’s masterpiece, “The Toils of the Hunting Hawk.”
Alerted to the crew’s need for him by bluecoats sniffing around asking about his activities and location, Joben returned to find that Lysander needed some more inspiration to finish the middle duet, a key part of the whole performance. His first attempt to motivate his friend was derailed by old stories and liberal alcohol, but then he focused in and gave his friend advice and motivation to finish. It may not be perfect, but locked away in his head it could reach no one. It must come out!
Duster supervised the completion of the theater, hurling money at contractors hand over fist to get things ready in time.
Wolfram spent time in solitude with his strange gods, then re-entered the flurry of preparation in time to assist Harmony in getting the diplomatic invitations just right, and the seating appropriately worked out.
After all, Lyssa would be there with the Crows, and Baz with the Lampblacks, as well as Lady Noventell (who wanted to see the people who impersonated her agents) and Jettilyn, the weird whisper frenemy, and even the mysterious Lord Scurlock, vampire noble!
Wolfram got most of the invitations squared away with Harmony’s help, leaving the weirdo ones to Duster, who used the adepts to assist in finishing diplomatic invites and seating arrangements.
The biggest surprise was that the Dimmer Sisters planned to come out of their isolation and solitude to attend the event! Delighted, Wolfram planned to be at their disposal all evening.
The Big Day
Of course there were technical glitches and artistic drama to handle as the countdown approached zero. Aldo gave Lysander an inspirational speech to prepare him for the greatest performance of his life.
Meanwhile Joben managed Tallow and the security staff. Duster roamed backstage and the crowds, sniffing out trouble. Vincen’s gang circulated among the patrons, looking for potential threats. Harmony worked the event with her rooks. Wolfram attached himself to the Dimmer Sisters, and Aldo greeted everyone else.
He met Baz, who thought this whole thing was ridiculous. He had a nice meeting with Severin, the Red Sash leader. Lyssa figured she would have to fend off an assassination attempt at this thing, and Aldo tried to convince her it wouldn’t be from him or the Unrecommendables. He had to offer extra hospitality to Lady Noventell and her people, as she decided whether or not to be offended.
Duster picked up the slack, greeting the late-ish Count Scurlock and escorting his entourage to their seats.
The Inspector Wants the Sisters
Joben was the only one left to greet the dozen Inspectors and another dozen bluecoats that arrived as the operetta was just starting. It was Inspector Kiva, and she had a fat stack of warrants for the arrest of the Dimmer Sisters that no one else had the courage or might to enforce!
Joben offered to be helpful and bring the Sisters down, and Kiva assigned her right-hand man, Simmons to go along and help. (And supervise, and guard against double-cross.)
As Joben caught the attention of the other members of the crew, he got them to converge and all head up the stairs to get the Sisters together. Of course, that was not their actual plan.
Wolfram flashed back to when they originally managed the invites, delivering them with mutters that this would be a trap to put a stop to Inspector Kiva overreaching her position and making life difficult for everyone. All the guests at the operetta knew that Kiva was going to finally get her come-uppance, and they could be part of it.
They even went so far as to hire clerks to sift the collection of outstanding warrants to consolidate enough actionable bounty on the Sisters that Kiva would not be able to resist trying to arrest them.
So, no one was surprised when Joben knifed Simmons. They dragged the body up to the Sisters’ box, where one of the sisters released a possessing spirit to take over Simmons’ corpse.
The crew returned to Inspector Kiva, pointing out that Simmons went against orders and was getting all chatty, not helping bring them down at all. They showed her the box, where Simmons was socializing.
Angry, Inspector Kiva took a half dozen of her hardest Inspectors, and headed up to get the Sisters and Simmons.
Death to Scurlock
What she did not know was that Duster had talked with Scurlock ahead of time. The vampire suggested he had attracted enough attention and it was time for him to die again, get out of the public eye.
So, as soon as Kiva was out of sight, Scurlock used his supernatural strength to bound up to the Dimmer Sisters’ box. He was waiting for Kiva when she arrived.
He baited her, giving her his gun because hers could not hurt such as he. He mocked her inability to act, her cowardice. He provoked her, profoundly, and she shot him. Was it mind control? Nothing could be proven.
Wrecked, the vampire tumbled off the balcony and fell among wailing distraught followers (who may have preserved his spirit in a specially contained canister for later implantation in a new host.) Scurlock was obviously dead, in front of many witnesses.
Famed for taunting officers of the law, Scurlock was legal and not to be shot. He paid dearly for the privileges he was extended, and the bluecoats and inspectors honored those agreements. Everyone wants to shoot Scurlock, and everyone knows that’s career suicide (and maybe more literal suicide.)
Wolfram leaped on Kiva, yelling at the officers to restrain her. She was put under arrest and taken to the carriage she arrived in, leaving as a prisoner.
Strange and Powerful Art
The show went on, without an interruption. Lysander and the other performers powered through the duet in the middle, all the way to the trailing off ending where the captain is lured out of his body and dispersed across the Ink Sea, damaging his humanity to nothingness.
Reactions were powerful but odd. Enthused clapping, sobbing, violence, self-harm, and catatonia all flowed in the wake of a performance inspired and peculiar enough to thin the Veil.
Aldo had prepared an offsite venue for the after-party, and he socialized with many leaving groups. Some insulted the garbage that was put on (like Baz and Severin) while others were thoughtful or moved by the strange offering.
Those with occult background were the last to leave. The Sisters took their fresh corpse and left. The Carrowites were left marveling in the resonant aftermath of the performance.
Wolfram went looking for Lysander, who was hanging himself in his dressing room. Wolfram watched him step off the chair and twist, choking, for a bit before he cut him down. Lysander struggled with the departure of his sublime art and the unendurable return of mundanity, but agreed his suicide attempt was hasty. He went upstairs with Wolfram to drink and be merry and reflective in turns.
Aldo was headed to talk to the Carrowites when he was interrupted by the sound of a gunshot, which attracted all the members of the crew.
As Joben was making the rounds, he saw the guards out front helping round up some chickens. He also noticed the door to the ticket room had been forced, and he checked to see some street thugs trying to rip off the box office take.
He attempted to subdue them and one shot him in the shoulder; the rest of his people descended on the spot and the thieves got a good kicking. Still, they had spunk, especially the girl that led them. Wolfram pointed out he had a list of enemies, she said her name was Sixfinger Sally (and it almost certainly was NOT her name.)
The crew let the thieves go after a bit more of a beating, feeling magnanimous with the night’s big wins.
Everybody headed out but Aldo, who went to talk with Child, equipped with her favorite cigars and peat-flavored whiskey. After a brief conversation, they climbed up on the stage, where the Veil had thinned and where Aldo had once faced down ghosts, and made a baby. Turns out she had always had a crush on him, since she first saw him. No need to tell her about the son she would bear.
Days passed. All signs of Isaac were gone as though he had never been. Business was good, as bookings were set up for the theater. Life was finding a new normal.
The crew celebrated with a feast on a pair of sharks and assorted foodstuffs inserted in cavities cut in the corpses. They talked of the future, figuring a percentage of how much of their efforts should be legal or otherwise, and whether they might extend their blood smuggling on the bigger city stage.
With dreams in the hazy future and success in the solid now, the crew celebrated their survival and success.
It was a good day to be scoundrels in Duskwall.