Six months after the opening of the Worldstage Theater (now renamed the Lysandarium) the Unrecommendables were living well on the spoils of their modest enterprises.
Aldo got a comfortable big drafty house, and lived there with Child, who was now six months pregnant and occupying her free time whittling sharp wooden toys for the baby. Child was happy to be close to Aldo and more distant from Carrow.
Meanwhile there were also rooms for Wolfram, Duster, and Joben to live in secure quarters on the premises. Duster was off on some sort of vacation or something in Carrow, and Joben was spending time fulfilling a mysterious obligation.
Each member of the crew was getting a decent cut of the wealth generated by their enterprises, and life was overall pretty good.
Wolfram took to collecting dusty tomes and poring over them for knowledge, but found that exasperating, and was planning to take a more active people-centric tack. He started looking in on ways to get use from the old processions or parades in Forgotten God worship, using them to harness power over leviathans. If he could figure out how to lure them, and how to discover their names, he would have impossible wealth and power open to him.
Meanwhile, Aldo decided it was time to find out more about the Outsider. Taking on the persona of “Hermann Nix” he started asking questions and probing into the subject matter. While the Forgotten Gods are considered distasteful by the general population, the Outsider and related artifacts are illegal, so Aldo had to tread more carefully as he began his investigation.
Ratnuts Frame Up
Some brand-new rookie punk crew called the Ratnuts stole a set of canticles from the early days of the church from the Coralmass Museum. Then they set it on fire, and left evidence at the scene that pointed at the Unrecommendables. He heat was on, so the Unrecommendables had to take a little vacation from their comfortable homes to come up with a counter.
They decided to hit the Ratnuts, take the canticles back, and deliver them to the bluecoats with some evidence linking the theft back to the actual thieves.
Goods in Motion
Wolfram tracked the Ratnuts hiding place to an outbuilding controlled by the Lampblacks, who were the purchasers for the stolen canticles. The place was defended by some gondoliers and a Lampblack gang called the Rubs. The Ratnut leader was Berrick. Aldo made friends with Eduardo, a gondolier who didn’t approve of gondolier involvement in this sordid business. Eduardo told them if the Ratnuts were threatened, the plan was to take an escape boat into the catacomb canals to lose pursuit and hide.
On the night of the attack, Aldo and Wolfram moved on the Ratnut hideout in a gondola rowed by their own tough gang. Aldo had an extra fancy hat, and Wolfram had some fake oversize pistols, to make sure the Ratnuts could visually identify them at a distance.
Sure enough, the Ratnuts took their chest of songbooks and scurried into their boat, trying to escape. Some of the Rubs thought about boarding the Unrecommendable boat in the heat of the chase, but Wolfram’s steely determination backed them down. The Rubs and Ratnuts fired on the Unrecommendables a few times, but Wolfram and Aldo seemed impossible to hit.
As the chase approached the mouth of the canal catacombs, smoke billowed up out of the water (due to some special effects from the adept gang) and Jakes, their assassin, sprang aboard and snatched the chest (with Eduardo running interference in the confusion.) The assassin managed to get the chest off the boat, and with the help of the adepts, the prize was vanished into side streets. The Unrecommendables attack boat veered off, leaving the confused Ratnuts to find they had been robbed somehow.
All’s Well That Ends Well
Aldo used his connection to Laroze, his bluecoat buddy, to have the bluecoats find the canticles in the Ratnuts lair (which was abandoned since before the heist.) Laroze even got a medal for his work in returning the valuable artifact to the museum. The heat went way down on the Unrecommendables, who obviously had nothing to do with this after all. Aldo pushed his advantage with a little celebrating with the bluecoats, reducing the heat even further.
Meanwhile, Wolfram spent some time in Carrow, forming some relationships or at least becoming a familiar sight before pressing questions about how human sacrifices lure leviathans, and related matters. He found out Duster was on a pilgramage or mission of sorts, with the most powerful whispers and adepts of Carrow, to the lighthouse that stood on the promontory overlooking the landscape. Wolfram had trouble fitting in, and the tension mounted the longer he was there, so he eventually left; better luck next time.
Also, either the Ratnuts or a friend of theirs attached a ghost to Wolfram’s shadow. It tried jump scares and horrible startling moments a few times, and he had enough; he went to visit the Dimmer Sisters. As soon as he was on the property, his ghost tag-a-long fell victim to a hell hound. While he was there, he chatted up Marcy, the Dimmer Sisters’ butler. She asked very specific questions about the sea and sky conditions for leviathan hunting, and he was very animated in his response. She got all excited by the conversation, as did he, and they had an almost violent carnal encounter. When she took off her corset he saw that her torso was marked with glyphs that were very sensitive. With a shrug, he took the encounter in stride and figured it was always great to visit the Dimmer Sisters household.
Aldo figured it was time to be more serious about finding some talismans from the Outsider, so he put out some questions to see what might be good sources. He found out about an Iruvian barge, “The Loaded Maw,” under Captain Syriks (a whisper.) The barge had about 20 people, and it had been in town buying or otherwise collecting talismans like what Aldo described. The barge was supposed to leave some time in the next couple days.
Wolfram and Aldo decided to take a closer look. They got in a boat with the adepts, slipping up on the barge from the water side. As they approached, the keel crossed a ghost chained just below the water, who screamed down into the crushing death of the depths; a spectral sea mine. This was part of the plan to get captured, to get aboard and get closer to the goods.
Iruvians lined the decks with firearms, insisting the boat come closer or be shot up. They meekly complied, and the Iruvians lowered a knotted rope. Wolfram and Aldo climbed up, then the adepts tossed more smokerock in the water, and the billowing clouds gave them cover to escape. One of the volleys of shot connected with a fleeing adept, but there was no way to know which one or how serious it was.
The Unrecommendables were relieved of their obvious tools and weapons. The captain told them the plan had succeeded; they heard there was a new Chosen One in Duskwall, and he knew if they went after talismans that the Chosen One would come to him. The captain planned to take him to Iruvia and put him in a prison where he could not affect the outcome of fate and the timeline for the rest of his most likely unnaturally long life.
Then they were hurled into the barge brig. A fierce young woman was also there, the daughter of a cult leader, held hostage so he would give the Iruvians his talisman. When she found out who she was with, she was very upset; she knew the Chosen One was the cause for supernatural unrest in the city. And besides, she was upset because they framed Drexel, a high priest of the Forgotten Gods, the same ones her family served. She threw a chamber pot at Wolfram when he told her who he was with, and when she found out Aldo was the Chosen one, she attacked him somewhat ineffectually. She sulked when she realized there wasn’t much she could do to her fellow prisoners.
One guard looked after them, so Aldo teleported behind him and pushed him into Wolfram’s range, where he was knocked senseless. Freed, they raced to where the siren call of the talismans drew Aldo. Two guards protected the warded door, but as Wolfram disarmed and incapacitated one, Aldo blinked behind the other and–
While he was between, outside the world, he was intercepted by the Outsider. A somewhat cryptic monologue reminded Aldo that his decisions were going to have a great impact on unfolding events. Then Aldo dropped back into reality and knocked the second guard out. As time ran out and reinforcements closed in, he locked onto the talismens in the Ghost Field on the other side of the warded door. Blinking without seeing, he entered the room and saw five talismans, guarded by a dog-sized scorpion!
Scooping up most of the glyphs, he teleported back out, fast, before he could be pinched or stung. Upon landing, he could see through the gaps in reality as time slowed for him, and the sight had distressing implications.They made a break for the exit, cutting their way through the guards to get up to the deck. That was the signal for their toughs, led by Tallow, to throw smoke bombs and help cover the escape. Tallow was surprised by Iruvian guards on the dock side, and there was pitched fighting.
Wolfram won through to the gang, and showed them how to administer a proper stomping. Aldo tried to stay close to the young woman who was escaping with them, but he lost his footing in the smoke and violence. She ran down the gangplank as several Iruvians piled on Aldo, whipping fabric over his head and trying to stab him–
He teleported clear, but missed, tumbling into the air too high, and as he fell he tried again–
And vanished altogether.
The rest of the crew escaped, with their gangs. Aldo’s disappearance would be a mystery to solve later; for now, a clean getaway had to be enough.