- Pledge. (Elizabeth) An Akorosizan Slide.
- Deadlock. (Shaun) A Dagger Islander Lurk.
- Echo. (Iris) An Akorosian Whisper.
- Needles. (Matthew) An Iruvian Cutter.
- Zero. (Simon) An Iruvian Hound.
Flush with Coin and low on stress, the Clockworkers were positioned to really DO something. They looked around their new turf and found out Madame Phylo of the Redbud in Shaver’s Row was annoyed with the Shaggy Six; a pack of Skovs who left their territory to come to Shaver’s Row to drink and party, then return home leaving unpaid bills, broken furniture, and savaged locals. Without much Crowfeather presence, they would likely get worse, as the bluecoats just surround the area and monitor the situation until the Six leave on their own.
Freeplay 1: The Shaggy Six
They acquired a mass of Nightwort, a cheap and nasty knockout drug. They deployed their gang of lookouts to keep an eye out for the Shaggy Six. When the Six showed up, headed for the Gecko (a popular Dagger Islands themed bar, which means Industrial Gothic Tiki) the Clockworkers got enough notice to get in position.
There were only four members in the Shaggy Six, but one of them had a pet landeel (like a shark, with legs instead of fins, about 5 feet long and an appendage-amputating bite.) They picked fights with some locals, but Pledge pulled the locals over to drink with her and Echo. Deadlock dosed the Skov drinks, and the Skovs (who didn’t START drinking here) didn’t detect the drugs. They were incapacitated, and Needles fired some sleepy darts from her cane into the landeel. The bluecoats picked them up (they were already wanted for plenty of stuff, no need to frame them) and carted them away.
Freeplay 2: Humphry and the Betting Cages
Looking around their territory, they decided they’d like to take over the betting cages of the hagfish arena (now that they had Shaver’s Row; they might take this thing over one piece at a time.) The betting cages were a well-established information drop and money laundromat.
The man in charge was not with the Crows. He was a big Tycherosian named Humphry, and he had Tycherosian help. He ran a side business of selling custom bred pets, focusing on dewlap hounds (lizards with bacteria-loaded bites that were ugly-cute, big dog sized, and scaled instead of furred.)
They contemplated kidnapping and relocating him, or selling him to his enemies, or killing him outright. They decided to hang on to that “savvy” reputation and offer him something else he wanted more. Zero was still keen to steal the most amazing stud goat in Doskvol, Sparticus. Maybe offer him that magnificent goat for his experiments in breeding monsters, in exchange for his spot at the hagfish arena? Better check and make sure he’s into it before going to all the effort of stealing one of the hardest-to-fence objects in the city.
Pledge and Needles worked through Klyra, who owned a tavern and bought a dewlap hound (named “Snippy Snippy”) who agreed to vouch for them and set up a meet with Humphry so they could buy a dewlap hound of their own.
Escorted back to his throne room, they saw the stylish and magnificently-horned Tycherosian vamping on his throne (it had human skulls bolted on the arms, with something tasty on them, so the dewlap hound would lick them, distressing some visitors.) They got a tour of the breeding facility (some of it anyway) and found out he also had gas-belching burricks he had recently refined in their bloodlines.
They bought a dewlap hound egg, and he painted a sigil for Needles’ name on the egg so the creature would enter the world through her name and imprint on her.
They also pitched the idea of trading Sparticus for his business here; they managed to paint a captivating picture of what could be possible with such strong genetics, and they successfully got him excited about the idea. Now all they had to do was steal Sparticus, the best-defended goat in Doskvol.
To Steal the Emperor Goat
They had to spread some Coin around to basically buy time to do this heist right. Zero dressed in a gilly suit to observe the defenses for a couple weeks. Sparticus was owned by Baron Launius Krek IV, and his estate was in southern Barrowcleft against the massive outer wall, with an interior wall and a moat. On one side, eeleries, dark paddies of knee-deep water twitching with weeds and eels. On the other, radiant fields with glowing willows and crops planted in circles around them. The inner wall was staffed with snipers, and there was practically no cover. The main gate was one way in, and there was a sally port out to a greenspace on the other side, and that was it.
They found out a caravan came and went every three days, led by Captain Veers. Chael, a vicious thug, also knew they were connected to the Hive; he went to find out more, but sort of started punching people and got arrested. Both Veers and the baron were known to like antiques.
Zero smuggled Echo out to review the situation in the Ghost Field, and Echo saw that there was a reserve tank of electroplasm in a Ghost Field backup station. Even if something happened to the tanks on this side of the Mirror, the lightning wall would persist for a while. Also, that the design of the big electroplasmic fences was to pull in nearby ghosts, shred them, and use their energy for the fence; the harder they were hit, the more energy they drew from their attackers. More importantly, there was a ghost door between the outside of the inner wall by a water runoff, and the door to a tower to one of the lightning wall projectors inside the compound.
They studied an old diagram they found of making a harness that had syringes all slaved to a leather pull strap, so you put it on the goat and when you pulled the strap several syringes simultaneously injected to knock the goat out. After all, if Sparticus decided he didn’t want to be stolen, what would they do? He was stronger than all of them together, standing six foot at the shoulder. Deadlock cobbled together the harness and spent plenty of cash to get the best knockout drugs the crew could get their hands on.
Into the Compound
They borrowed an old goat, Minnie, and a wagon, and had their gang pull out any old furniture that looked like antiques, filling the wagon. They figured they’d fall in line with the caravan and get in; the baron liked a little mini market set up in his compound that he could visit without bothering to go into the city.
One bad engagement roll later, they were isolated in the murder hole between the gate into the tunnel through the wall and the gate out, portcullises down and arrow slits open. They presented the papers that Deadlock had forged (and spent a pretty penny on) and the papers were just good enough. They were escorted in to set up their wares, and it turns out after the urchins loaded the cart, they went out shopping for leviathan-hunter-related antiques and bought some actual pieces for their cover; fortunately, their wares stood up to cursory inspection.
While Pledge set up, the others slipped over to where some hats and coats of local servants were on a fencepost. There were pagodas for goats, with fresh fields for frolicking and grazing, and mangers. Then there was a palace, erected for Sparticus, the Emperor of Goats.
Getting to Sparticus
They surreptitiously sprinkled goat amp in the mangers of as many goats as they could, then blew the tiny horn summoning goats to supper. The goats were confused by the change of schedule, but obediently trotted out to their mangers, and moments later there was free-form pandemonium as goats were freaking out all over the place.
With the snipers busy trying to figure out what the hell was going on, the crew clambered up the back of the goat palace and through the vent, seeing the box seats overlooking the fresh grass and waterfall to care for Sparticus, Emperor of Goats. He was magnificent, almost glowing, with his recurve horns and double bar pupils in golden orbs. The goat ignored them, but his guardian did not.
A figure in lacquer armor with waterproofed fabrics and a mask drew a long sword and leaped into the rafters, ambushing them; they were all engaged with looking for the guardian, spotting him in time to cue Needles to fight him, and Needles dodged his savage attack. The four of them (plus Zero’s cat) kept the lone warrior busy, darting in strikes where they could, and put the guardian down. Needles knelt on his back and slit his throat, releasing black blood. Not wanting to think about that any further, they turned their attention to the goat, who seemed unbothered by the battle.
Deadlock figured out how to lower the elegant drawbridge, and Echo reached through the Ghost Field to touch the animal’s consciousness. She formed some kind of connection, so the goat would be patient and obedient–to a point. Deadlock and Zero managed to get the harness on the massive beast, and they led him out of his palace.
Getting Sparticus Out
All the snipers and servants and guards immediately oriented on Sparticus when the magnificent creature entered the open space. They acted fast, with Deadlock hurling a smokebomb in the air that detonated to cover a fairly large area, and they held on to Sparticus as Echo guided the giant goat towards the base of the lightning tower.
She used her spirit mask to unfold the ghost door, borrowing some of the incredible vitality of the Emperor of Goats, startled to feel a touch of the energy of the broken sun in his bones. The Ghost Door had been created by the Spirit Wardens, but there was some consonance between the beaks of the deathseeker crows and the horns of this gladiator goat, reducing the difficulty.
The door opened, and the four rogues plus the Emperor of Goats passed through. They found themselves in a chill space with black and blue-rimed stone breathing fog. They navigated quickly to the exit, but before they reached it, the goat’s guardian came for them, hurling a spear on a chain and nailing Needles in the back, ready to reel her back. The guardian’s slit throat was leaking black blood as though there was no gravity, and it formed a macabre cloak behind him.
Needles was not to be trifled with, and she dropped to her knees and resisted the tug, so the blade flipped free and twirled back towards the guardian that pursued them; they made the most of the moment and pushed through, exiting the Ghost Field and reaching the living side of the Mirror between the inner wall and the moat.
Back to Town
Echo managed to persuade Sparticus to swim the moat with them holding on, and Sparticus’ patience was just about exhausted. They headed back to the road, trusting that the shenanigans inside would keep the snipers busy, and putting a camo tarp over the Emperor of Goats to hide his glory.
They reached the road, where the urchin gang brought a heavy wagon intended for moving stone from the quarry through town. Coaxing Sparticus on it, Deadlock then pulled the leather strap and fired the injectors, knocking the noble beast out cold (and cementing its dislike of him for all time.)
The crew headed back to Crow’s Foot, using some gondoliers who owed them a favor and sneaking through back routes to get home without revealing their intensely valuable, illegal, and deadly cargo.
Meanwhile, Pledge was left on her own. She had prepared for this by purchasing an antique spyglass enchanted to color demonic energies yellow, and she offered it to Captain Veers if he would vouch for her; she became his niece, and six hours later they were allowed to return to the city.
All the money they would make from this through side channels was choked off by either the need for absolute secrecy or the costs of restraints and care for the monster. They got a 3 Rep boost; it wasn’t clear what they had to do with it, but they were near it, and it was the most audacious theft in years. Deadlock’s work with harnesses and syringes paid off, and they got lots of tips and tricks for carrying stuff subtly.
The Hive was furious, and loomed large to make their lives miserable for the foreseeable future; they sent a diplomatic envoy to the Hive, targeting Captain Veers as he might be somewhat sympathetic, and offered to do a heist for them (now they proved they are capable) as a symbolic offering to make peace. The Hive reluctantly accepted their counter proposal.
They cleared off stress and Heat. Needles finished cementing her friendship with Madame Phylo of the Redbud on behalf of the crew. Echo finished decoding one of the two ledgers stolen from the Crowfeathers and sold it to Lyssa for 4 Coin, helping the somewhat depleted coffers of the crew.
As they settled in to taking over the betting cages as well as Shaver’s Row it was time to get ready for whatever the Hive might want next.