Three scoundrels formed an impromptu gang for the Crows, determined to operate as shadows, based out of a pawn shop, serving Stella.
- Mist aka Sessereth, a Whisper known for “consorting” with ghosts. ::nudge, wink::
- Shadow aka Wester, a Lurk known for hanging out in rafters socially, and animal-style parkour.
- Wind aka Victor Lock, a Hound known for his vengeful streak.
Stella told them that Lady Polonia Brogan, an ugly and dull noblewoman who was widely desired because she is heir to the Brogan fortune, was upset. Lady Brogan had been seeing Dr. Crechelle, a powerful occult expert on dreams. Her agents found a fake will leaving everything to him, which steamed her something fierce. She wanted the locket she gave him retrieved.
The gang took the job, and did some background checking over the next few days.
- Shadow found out Dr. Crechelle’s house was built on an old foundation. The Ventsworth family had a special license for a dynastic hive, keeping the spirits of nine generations instead of allowing them to be destroyed. The hive was under their mansion. Centuries ago, the mansion was leveled down to the hive basement, then a new house built on the old hive. That’s where Crechelle lives. As far as anyone knows, the Ventsworth family notables are still in the hive, and totally insane. Also, there were some new centipedes in the area, an invasive species making a mess of the local wildlife; their bite causes painful hallucinations.
- Mist researched the Ventsworths until he found an heir to imitate. It might help in dealing with the family if he could pretend to be one of them. He even went to his witch rival (former lover) and she painted runes on his skin to help him bluff ghosts. As far as the ghosts would know, Mist would be Archibald Ventsworth.
- Wind persuaded his buddy Veleris, the spy, to infiltrate the house. Veleris couldn’t manage it as the head of the House Guard, but he got in as a sommelier for a few days to re-certify some wines in the cellar. Veleris agreed to help if Wind would take his niece to a party; she had a reputation as an angry young woman prone to outbursts. Wind happily agreed.
Breaking the Wall
They arrived at the wall leading into the hive from the sewers. It was sheathed in inscribed metal.
Mist sank deep into meditation to pull a lightning storm around a few blocks, to cause cover and distraction. Shadow faded back into the tunnels, standing guard. That left Wind to heft his wrecking tools and try to batter his way into the hive.
As he worked, the noise attracted the attention of some centipedes the length of an arm. They reared to challenge Wind, and Shadow attacked them from behind. Apparently, the centipede blood roused a mess of them that converged on the location. When he saw that Wind had explosives and meant to collapse the tunnel, he pranced over the centipedes to get next to Wind–who was overrun by masses of centipedes. Wind pulled him out, but they were overmatched by the many-legged menaces. Both of them were bit, but doggedly resisted the hallucinations.
Wind fired guns into the mass, and Mist roused from his meditation. He quickly pulled out some arcane implements and conducted a ritual to repel the centipedes. Once they were gone and everyone had a chance to catch their breath, he resumed his ritual. (He left traces of his energy in the house arcane objects above as he pulled the storm together. He also left a taste for his energy embedded in the centipedes. Unlikely either of those problems would develop later.)
The storm was crackling and pouring above as Wind pounded away at the wall, using acid to peel away some metal plates then banging a hole in the stone beyond.
Mist peered in, seeing many disjointed dancers and strange ballroom echoes. He was accosted by a ghost of a gay former lover for his persona, Archibald Ventsworth. He played along with the romantic reunion, even promising to do a favor for the courtier, so the courtier introduced him to the ghost at the center of the hive, the one whose will drove all things in this insane place–Auntie Sally.
Her speech was disjointed, as she was a half-step out of time, but she communicated well enough. Mist told her about the doctor’s house above, and how he wished to ruin the doctor; she liked that, as she was profoundly consumed with rage and cruelty. She agreed to grant them passage, if he would let her out. Mist agreed. The only way she could get out was to ride in a host, so they did some ballroom dancing until she slipped into him. (The other ghosts that were obliviously ballroom dancing alone had danced with her as she tore their minds to shreds, and the echo was all that was left.)
Meanwhile Shadow was struggling to survey the place, but it was a tangled and menacing mess. He attuned so he could see ghosts well enough to evade them. Left alone, Wind tried to attune to see the ghosts too, but failed; he bonded with his badger, who attuned easier as a natural creature. As long as the badger didn’t move, Wind could see.
The three rendezvoused at the far end of the hive, where there was a three story staircase shaft that had been filled in, the top sealed. They clambered to the top, and the rapidly-tiring Mist conducted a ritual to open the way without opening it to the ghosts. Shadow rapidly scouted, finding that the broken wall opened into the heavily-secured wine cellar of Dr. Crechelle. (Mist had also procured a prayer mat to temporarily seal the way they came in, so ghosts wouldn’t flood the sewer.) The badger’s connection to Wind broke as they moved past the barrier, but now they were in the house.
In the House
They saw blood stains (from interrogations maybe? Hopefully?) and a bunk bed (for secure dreaming, surely.) Wind helped himself to a couple bottles of really expensive wine, rounding out his pockets. Then he mounted the stairs and rapped on the door, and his spy friend opened the way, then retreated to resume his alias.
Wind tucked some demolitions explosives in a corner, to possibly tremble the house’s structure should they need to escape this way.
They crept into the house, looking for Crechelle’s chambers. Everything was going well until they rounded a corner and came face to face with two of the House Guard!
Wind remembered when he had dealt with his sentinel rival, purchasing two single-use silencers off her. She wanted a weekend with his badger; she liked the badger more than she liked him, and she liked putting him off balance. He grudgingly agreed.
Chances were good they were going to have a reckoning later–he pulled the trigger on his silenced pistols, and the silencers didn’t work AT ALL. Shattering booms resounded, killing the two guards as Shadow and Mist helped tackle them. Then it was all about fleeing, pell-mell, through the rousing house.
They hid, panting, in the alcoves of statues in the upper gallery of the art display area. They had a rapid hushed whisper conversation about what to do next. Shadow remembers a conversation he had with his rival, a former bluecoat, about whether there was any loose talk of what Crechelle might do if the house alarm was raised. His smirking rival confirmed that of course the old man ran for the highly secure wine cellar.
So… they decided to return to the wine cellar to set an ambush. They crept through the house, avoiding all guards, and got in position.
They waited for an hour, and… nothing.
Then they heard a weird modulating tone. The doctor had an electroplasmic dowser, seeking out powerful energy that did not belong in the house. He had the captain of the house guard with him, and he was closing in.
The End Game
Sure that the doctor was tracking Auntie Sally, Mist politely asked her to exit him. She made an agonizing wrench as she tore out through his sinuses, choosing to be visible. She blinked up to where the doctor and guard were at the top of the stairs, and there was screaming.
Feeling bold and opportunistic, Shadow darted up the stairs. He saw the doctor laid out and twitching, the guard convulsively dying with the ghosts hand in his face. He patted down the doctor, coming up with the locket (yes!) and some other jewelry. He tried to escape, but was too slow, as Auntie Sally oriented on him. Only his hastily invoked spiritbane charm bought him enough time to topple down the stairs, and with the others, race for the hole down into the hive.
Wind turned, and hurled the lantern at the explosive powder he planted earlier. It didn’t go off at once, but fire was splashed all around; it was just a matter of time.
They got to the bottom of the shaft, and realized there was no longer a controlling force managing the insane ghosts. Just then, the explosive detonated above, and fortune favored the scoundrels; the gossip ghosts oriented on it, and a vast gush of most of the ghosts piled up through the shaft and into the mansion, wreaking untold havoc as the scoundrels raced through the mostly-empty hive and escaped into the sewers.
Success! For them. The Crows had to deal with a LOT of heat for this one, and some determined and furious Spirit Wardens as well as angry aristocrats and incensed historians. Such is the life of the rogue.
Special thanks to Jeremiah, Jason, and Shawn for playing!