Previous adventure: Soulsword. Adventure two! Everyone returned but Ashes the Spider. Here are their preferred vices:
- Echo. (Iris) An Akorosian Whisper. Opium.
- Needles. (Matthew) An Iruvian Cutter. Familial obligation to maintain a hidden shrine to the Forsaken Legion, by burning objects of power.
- Pledge. (Elizabeth) An Akorosizan Slide. Theater and related luxuries.
- Zero. (Simon) An Iruvian Hound. Exotic tobacco laced with other drugs.
- Deadlock. (Shaun) A Dagger Islander Lurk. ALL THE DRUGS.
They got 8 coin from their last heist, selling off Skovlander rare treasures (except for the sword and dagger.) They paid off the Crows, to keep the peace. Since one of the Skovlander guards was killed, they ended up with 4 Heat, and they got 3 Rep.
For an entanglement, they found themselves under attack by the Grinders. A Skovlander woman approached Zero while he was buying eels and shrooms for supper, and tried to shoot him in the face. He made a quick getaway, but she cornered him–along with her two tough Skovlander buddies. The three of them attacked the harried Hound, and he called in his hunting cat to even up the odds, startling them with the leaping creature and a couple pistol shots. After a brutal fight, two bluecoats rounded the corner in time to see him bathed in the arterial spray of the Skovlander on the ground getting knifed by the embattled Iruvian.
The bluecoats pursued him, and the net closed around him as he scrambled around the crew’s hunting grounds. Only a pre-prepared escape tunnel let him slip the net of the bluecoats before he was surrounded and treated to a proper kicking. He warned the rest of the crew, and they were far more cautious, keeping an eye out for Skovlanders.
Turns out she was a killer in the employ of the Grinders (-1 faction), a group of Skovlander agitators. It couldn’t be a coincidence that both they and Ulf were Skovlanders, or that Ulf did not move against them directly.
Deadlock started investigating how to put together some potential buyers who don’t like Skovlanders who might be able to afford the sword with Ulf’s life force. Others helped in that process as well. Zero also began a process of putting together a cohort to answer to him personally, lookouts to keep the crew’s hunting grounds aware of threats so no one would get caught off guard again.
Several crew also worked the gossip circuit to try and reduce the heat on the crew.
Needles showed up after a couple days, her scars reduced to scabs; she was proper stabbed, but she was pushed back against the red-hot shield wall of the Forsaken Legion, and they shoved her back into the world, her work in their service not yet completed. The experience made her more vicious.
Red Sashes Return
Baszo had a pleasant lunch with Pledge, and gave her a job; he was contacted by someone in the government, and he didn’t want that work as he was doing significant work to rebuild the Lampblack hold in their territory after an incident. Pledge decided to look into it, going to the permit office with an application to the Spark Grounds, for long-term camping. The permit was escalated to the back office, because there were questions.
That was the coded signal that put them in touch with Holtz Clermont, city clerk. He told them the Red Sashes used to be big business in Crow’s Foot, but they lost a gang war and were reduced to a gang attached to the Lampblacks. However, with new leadership from Masterblade Solomon Trusaan, they were becoming a crew again. The Lampblacks recently had some disruptive events, and the Red Sashes were looking to emerge as a faction once more. Money from Iruvian nobility who were related to former and current Red Sashes let them rebuild their base, and now they have ambition.
Apparently they got their hands on some decisive clue about the location of Limptwitches’ Stash. Limptwitch was a whisper who interrogated ghosts to find treasure, and he built up this fantastical cave of wonders called the Grotto. He died in Ironhook under heavy interrogation, but never gave up its location. The Red Sashes think they know where it is.
Furthermore they are looking to hire Lord Orlan Booker, a bored aristocrat who plans intricate scores and sells the information to crews who act on it. The Red Sashes must want Booker to organize their attempt to harvest the Grotto for themselves, giving them sufficient wealth and arcane power to rise through the ranks meteorically.
Pledge agreed her crew would do something about it.
Under the Temple
Zero took his friend Valeris the spy into the sewers under the Red Sash temple base, and got super lucky; they found a massive stone seal on a wall, obscured by filth, that was a Spirit Warden rapid-entry seal. The Red Sashes had sanctioned ghosts under their temple, and Deadlock was pretty sure he could trick the door into opening even without a custom Spirit Warden gauntlet of authority.
Needles cozied up to some of the Iruvian countrymen and found out that they had ghost hounds in an enclosure below, because they taught techniques for killing ghosts as well as people, and they needed a supply to practice; the Spirit Wardens gave them permission to turn hounds into ghosts for practice purposes.
Echo talked to her friend Quellen the witch about how to neutralize the threat of ghost hounds. Quellen prepared a ritual for her, so if she stood in a circle of salt and quicksilver and snapped the neck of a mirrorcat, that would shiver the Mirror like a tympani, and the ghosts would be disrupted; but it could be damaging to people as well, so control the radius.
[Radiant energy works great with plants, and okay with insects and fish, but with mammals? It doesn’t go well, and it’s really unethical to continue experiments, considering the disasters that have resulted. But mirrorcats have electroplasmic nodes fused in their spines, and it turns their eyes to something like molten silver, mirrored spheres. They are stiles in the fence that is the Mirror, so that skilled individuals can use them to traverse the barrier without the barrier being dismantled.]
Meanwhile, Ulf Ironborn was not talking to anyone; not his friends, not his enemies. He prepared the funeral for his son, and sent him out on a pyre boat, and still he was not talking. Everyone around the Skovlanders was tense, wondering if there would be war.
Raiding the Catacombs
On a dark and stormy night, they splashed through the runoff underground, getting to the sealed wall.
Deadlock managed to use wrecking tools, arcane implements, and lockpicks to simulate the effect of the spirit warden gauntlet, with Zero’s help. As they tampered, a long-dormant aetheric alarm began to activate; Echo managed the docile mirrorcat and also managed to shut the alarm down. They unlocked the seal, and Echo prepared the ritual. Deadlock rolled the stone door aside, but slipped and could not run fast enough as the pale hound ghosts closed in.
Zero activated the ritual anyway by snapping the mirrorcat’s neck, buffeting Deadlock, but he resisted the effects and the hounds were dispersed for up to five minutes. The crew went into the catacombs under the Iruvian temple, and found a large chamber with a stone column holding the hound skulls that bound the hounds to this location.
Zero also found a human skull (so there must be a human ghost down here too, and that was NOT supposed to happen!) and he triggered the secret catch to open the stone column, revealing a treasure hunter’s diary. They took the book and retreated the way they came, sealing the chamber behind themselves.
The bluecoats swept up Valeris for skulking in the sewers, and the crew paid them off to get the spy back unquestioned. Their secrecy was so good, and their strike so surgical, they got no coin, rep, or heat. Yet.
Various members of the crew asked around about a good buyer for the sword with Ulf’s spirit, culminating in Pledge talking with Mercy, an extortionist (who was Needles’ friend.) Mercy sat on her four-poster throne with its curtains, on a dais, flanked by windows, holding her cup enchanted to detect poison. She suggested they not think in terms of factions, but in terms of the remarkable nature of the sword itself. She set up a meeting for them with the Dimmer Sisters, who would surely pay a handsome sum for the sword. The meeting was set for three days.
Echo checked with Flint, a spirit trafficker, to see about supplies to taxiderm the mirrorcat corpse.
Looking at the treasure hunter’s book, they saw that Limptwitch figured out how to make a ghost door to get into the sealed off catacombs under the Rowan House, one of the Six Towers that gave that district its name and one of two that were still owned by their aristocratic families centuries later. The Grotto must be down there somewhere.
A Night at the Theater
It wasn’t about money, and it wasn’t about violence; it was about savvy, and prestige, and audacity. The crew found out that Lord Booker, the heist planner, went to the theater two nights a month, and during those visits he met with customers who wanted to buy scores. They decided it was time he knew who they were.
Security at his favored theater was tight, with elite guards. Deadbolt tried to scope the situation but ended up sort of stalking the ladies room, so he was escorted out. Zero’s scouting was interrupted by a Grinder trying to shiv him; there were several Grinders there, not for Booker but for the crew. The guards took the Grinder to the basement, and sent Zero outside.
Echo managed to corral a number of emissaries of the Cyphers (-1 faction) so they couldn’t reach Booker, making a hole for Pledge to get an uninterrupted chat with Needles at her elbow. Booker had a bodyguard of his own, an attractive woman with a silver cane; the cane-wielding bodyguards checked each other out as the slide got down to business.
Pledge explained to Booker the Red Sashes did not have the information they claimed to have, and that she felt he should know that so they don’t waste his time. And she said they might have reasons to work together in the future. (This revelation triggered 3 Rep and 2 Heat from their previous exploit.)
The crew strutted out, business done.
Meanwhile, outside, Derrit (a big Skovlander enforcer) and his people brought a message from the Grinder leader, Hutton, to Deadbolt and Zero. The Grinders wanted a gift from the crew in two days, or it would be war. (The gift was hinted to be Ulf’s sword.) They turned and vanished into the turgid night.
Two days until the much tougher Grinder crew would face off with the crew, and three days until they would meet to sell Ulf Ironborn’s sword to the Dimmer Sisters…
[Grinders, -2. Ulf Ironborn, -2. Red Sashes, -2. Lampblacks, +1.]