Dark Moon Rising

the Hollow Heart of Five Fingers
10th Session
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The sun set had set on Five Fingers, and last of the deep blue had vanished from the skies when the Bell Row Troubleshooters managed to recover from their wounds. They spent hours deliberating in the offices over what they should do with Torgus and Cecilia, the two hired killers on their hands. Toad, who’d recently come back from fact-checking Selric, continued furtive conversation with Opifera until finally it began to dawn on the ogrun that maybe these mercenary friends of Apu’s might yet have bloody intentions. He eyed suspiciously and asked about their plans, while casually putting on his gloves. The tight room stiffened. Toad fingered his polearm, while Opifera shifted in her seat. Torgus smelled a fight and resigned himself to a “conversation” but in the last moment Toad suggested Torgus go out for some drinks.

This cleared the way for a more open conversation on the situation. Under the dim orange glow of the lantern, Opifera argued that Cecelia should be killed, while Apu advocated patience. Fewer dead would make fewer blood debts in Five Fingers. Sister Helga tentatively supported Apu’s more generous route. In the meantime, Fabrizio, who’d come in with Toad quietly made sure Cecilia’s bonds were tight. While he thought about taking her armor, he decided it would draw unnecessary, uncomfortable attention to himself. He slipped a couple daggers off her, though, and made his way back downstairs. When Torgus came back he could only guess at how close the Bell Row Troubleshooters came to killing his partner and doing him in. But in the end, he left with Cecilia and no blood was shed.

Not long later, Selric arrived to seal the deal. He’d follow from a distance, a witness to their endeavor. Apu and Sister Helga, exhausted from the night already, rested for another hour. The night had now settled fully into its blackness. Apu awoke sometime after midnight and cast a seeking and tracing spell on the mask. From there they took a gondola across the water to the north side of Captain’s, while Apu directed them through the dark waters. Soon enough they saw the Old Colossus looming over the unsettled waters. It was here that the den of the Forgotten Ones cult was said to lie, deep in the belly of Captain’s Isle, within the caves behind the huge metal warmachine. Its husk hung from the cliff, imbedded in the rocks by silt, erosion, and a system of supports built by the junkers said to live here.

Once they docked the gondola driver pushed away, leaving them to their fate. Far above, some of the cliffside buildings twinkled, but no one would hear or see anyone in the shadows at the foot of Captain’s. Even Selric’s boat had fallen behind in the darkness. Fabrizio quickly led them up the side of the cliffs through the darkness, on slippery steps. The others followed more slowly, but eventually they climbed their way to the hollow chest of the colossus. Inside they found the junkers who called after them with jeers. But their hearts were full of confidence. They met her cries, and her spits with cold warnings. When she wouldn’t quiet, Fabrizio drew his sword and held it to her neck. On an after thought, though, Opifera came back to quietly extract her secret knowledge. With a little bit of pressure, and the added leverage that Fabrizio’s threats gave her, she found out that a secret sea cave allowed the cultists to enter or leave by boat, but the gobber hag warned that this little piece of information, “wouldn’t save” them, that they’d “pick [their]corpses for [their] shiny trinkets” and that “those who are inside” would “make use of their flesh.” Her meaningless babble followed them into the caves until the solitude of the caves swallowed all sound entirely, except for the faint static sound of the waves and the wind beating the cave entrance. Soon even that dwindled, leaving just the quiet dripping of the damp walls.

But they were not alone. Fabrizio who had stayed to the back saw a fleeting shape in the darkness. He looked more closely and saw the caves were riddled with small holes which led to other holes in the ceiling and the walls. Inside these tiny caves, he could barely hear a chortle, and then a click-clack sound. And soon it was returned. He quickly alerted his allies, just in time to see over half a dozen small creatures drop from the ceiling with malicious glee in their eyes. Their faces were half-rotten, their bodies emaciated, they closed in quickly. Fabrizio lunged at one in the back before the others could act, while Sister Helga concentrated on another to root it in its place. Opifera swung at the largest one. They were surrounded by the things, and every time they slashed, the creatures seemed to gain even more strength. Toad cursed as he impaled one, shattering its ribs, and yet it seemed to purposefully writhe on his polearm to rend its own flesh. As if that wasn’t enough, the thing didn’t even fall. Instead its dug its own fingers in its flesh to relish the pain of the open wound. Opifera fought madly to keep several from her and Apu as he tried to weaken their wills- but that too, failed. They shrugged off fear and pain and kept closing in, recklessly. Fabrizio fought off several, while Sister Helga spent herself on another and another, rooting each of them in place. And finally, one saw Apu open and rent his chest its rusty bayonet blade. But at that moment, they found that these abominations were mortal yet. Slowly, one by one, they began to drop, there broken bodies no longer able to support their bloodlust.

After that, they knew they had to move quickly if they were going to make it out alive. They passed through a wondrous cavern of stalagtites and stalagmites and met a old man with wrong eyes. He guarded a chamber covered in ruins of the old ones. It seemed to be their spot. They’d passed another main cavern, but this chamber had the proper markings. It greeted them, strangely ingratiating with its purple gleaming eyes:

“Bound to this receiving chamber I am, to let no trespasser pass, and no interloper to loiter these halls. I do so hope you and I could become friends though, and that you might in the very least visit me from time to time, and we could talk of things alive and things which continue on that bawdy surface you call home.” They looked at it suspiciously, so it continued, “I doubt without my help that you will find much of value in this wall. And if you did, I must admit, I could never abide. I’d have to sound my alarm. So what say you, are you friend or foe?” And without a heartbeat’s rest, Apu cast a silent sphere on it. Quietly and firmly he said, “Kill it.” It shook its finger at him, but before it even took another breath Fabrizio and Toad stuck it through the chest. It crumpled silently to the ground, taking its secrets and its suffering with it to the grave. Again, they were in no mood now to waste and risk the manipulations of a bound and likely deadly guardian. Toad and Fabrizio dragged the body into the main cavern, where they beheaded it with an unusual amount of difficulty. When they dropped the body into the shadows below they saw two man-sized worms slither hungrily from the darkness. In a flash they spit an acid on the thing and quickly enveloped their meal. It was only later through a conversation with a colleague that Apu realized the creature blocking their path was likely a fae and probably unwilling in its role.

After disposing of the guardian the group drew back into the inner chamber, just as Sister Helga found the grooves which marked some kind of complex lock on the wall. The others paused to think about what to do, but Apu was in no mood to be stopped. He worked his magick again, and opened a hole in the wall.

Inside they found a spellcaster, and while he tried to entrance them with a tale of his philosophical pursuits, Sister Helga and Fabrizio resisted. The others froze in their spots, but Sister Helga’s will held out, and Fabrizio turned back to help his companions. Together, they made short work of the caster and freed the rest of the company. This left them free to explore several rooms. While Apu, Opifera, and Toad examined the library, Fabrizio heard a melancholy song coming from the end of the hall. Unbeknownst to the others, he snuck away and while they went across the hall to investigate the aisles of preserved creatures and jars of specimens the caster had accumulated. Finally, after several minutes had passed, several members of the company noticed Fabrizio was gone.

They decide to make their way down the hall. The song, it seemed, called to them, as if someone sang to keep themselves sane, or to stave of their loneliness, or maybe, just maybe to call for help without words, but through the simple melancholy tones. Apu remained unconvinced, though, and cautioned everyone to fill their ears with wax. “We know these use the sound of their voices to entrap their victims. We must take precautions.” But Toad and Opifera couldn’t wait- not with Fabrizio’s life in the balance. Toad returned, “We can’t wait that long. He might need us right now. Follow when you’re ready.” And everyone crept down the hall without Apu. Apu scrambled to melt the wax off a candle and mash it into his ears.

When he walked down the hallway alone, he saw no sign of his friends. The corridor twisted and opened into a large chamber. There a strange woman or thing reclined in a porcelain basin. Behind her was a deep abyss, a hole which led straight down. And in front of her were several pews set in the large domed chamber. Her skin was ivory, but her eyes were smooth black. Black horns grew from her head, and while her upper body was that of a woman, her lower half was a mass of purple tentacles. Her fingers extended in long black nails. And her mouth, despite the sound that came from it, was stiched shut except for tiny holes which she exposed as she worked her mouth subtly. Fabrizio was wound in spider’s silk and lay at her feet. Toad and Sister Helga were bound, but Opifera still held her ground- although in secret. The others continued to listen to the haunting melody coming from between the stitched lips of the enchantress. Their eyes were half closed, oblivious to their fate, lost in the lines of her melody, touched in some deeper part of their souls.

Apu tried to act the same, and approached the enchantress, unsure if he was walking straight into death. When he was close he silently began casting his spell, but his fingers moved, giving away his treachery. Luckily, Opifera saw her chance and drew her sword in a flash. Apu threw his effort into a dispelling spell, severing the magick of her song. With the lure of her voice gone, the company awoke to the nightmare. In the meantime Opifera cut into the enchantress, but found her to be surprisingly lithe. Each time her sword only fell on a tentacle, sending the small limb flying but the enchantress ignored her wounds. In her rage, the enchantress swiped at Apu and took his offending hand. And then she ripped his belly, from the navel and below. And everyone, as they gathered their weapons, as they pulled their wits together, heard the ever louder sound of insect chatter approaching.

Opifera was spending all of her will resisting the enchantress’s terrible enchanting gaze, while Sister Helga managed to at least root the witch to her place. Finally, Fabrizio climbed out of the basin, having torn his way out of the spider silk, and run the witch through from behind. All the while Toad was screaming for them to run. They had hardly noticed, but three enormous spiders with strange mandibles had climbed from the abyss to answer the call of their master. The next few moments were a bloody mess. Opifera barely fended off one spider who attacked from behind, ripping its way through a pew. Toad stood his ground and ruptured the hard shell of one spider with his polearm, but his luck and his strength was shortlived. The other spider tore into his leg and his chest. He tried to use the length of his polearm to his advantage and hold off the spiders while the others clamored for the exit, but eventually the spiders tore into him again and again, weakening him with their poison. As he went down, Apu who also only recently pulled himself off the floor, called, “Toad has fallen!” The remaining troubleshooters all looked at one another- one bit her lip another grimaced, and another furrowed his eyebrows. But in the end, their decision was clear. Opifera was the first to turn around on her heels and join Apu. Together they all dragged Toad into the narrow hallway, while Opifera who was barely standing, cut and slashed madly behind her…until at long last, she retreated into the safety of the inner hall. They all made their way back into the first chamber, where they met the fae.

After resting and heeling they went back in, but the body of the enchantress was missing, as were the spiders. And Felelle had slipped away some how, but he did leave the wretched mask. And so they left with what they came for. And a rather unsure victory.

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the Half-Handed BRT and Holy Dregs, Sister!
11th Session
logged by opifera and feydras

After our adventurers returned from the hellish cave beneath Captain’s they welcomed a few weeks of rest. But those weeks of rest may have not been as restful as they had hoped. During the first week, Opifera had hoped to increase her fencing skills, and Ano happily stepped up for an office duel. (Note: He had been bragging for weeks about how he’s never been injured.) Ano struck Opifera’s hoove. Stung by the pain, Opifera returned with a wild swing accidentally lopping off Ano’s hand in one neat blow. “AGGGRRRHHHHH!”
She stared in disbelief at the bloody hand on the floor. “AGHHH! Get sister Helga!” the gobber screamed.
“I’m so sorry, Ano…I didn’t mean to…” Opifera moved to pick up his hand.
“GO GET HER NOW!”
Stepping into the room Sister Helga appeared and shook her head in surprise. “I’m sorry I can only stop the bleeding. The hand, perhaps Apu can fix.”
After considerable effort tracking him down Apu complained he had enough to do regrowing his own hand. Possibly he could get to it in the next week. Feeling awful about the accident Opifera takes Ano down to Cruicible Alley and hires a healer to regrow the hand paying a tidy sum in the process. This doesn’t quiet, but at least lessens Ano’s grumbling. The healer cautions that it will be weeks before the hand can be used again and in the meantime it will probably itch fiercely.
Meanwhile Sister Helga stops by more and more frequently impatiently looking for the oft absent mage Apu. “I don’t mean to be rude, but I really do want to find Inquisitor Greyvine.” When she tracks him down he is not excited about tracking down the missing Morrowan without fully armed backup from the guild. Apu reminds Sister Helga that Greyvine disappeared tracking down Thamarite cultists. The first attempt fails as Helga is unable to gather enough guild members to satisfy the mage. The BRT has built up a steady stream of clients in recent weeks, due mostly to the highly public part they played in extinguishing the den of the Forgotten One cultists. With all the jobs the guildmembers are rarely onsite together.
Due to the taxing nature of his location incantation a week passes before Apu is able to attempt the difficult spell again. Opifera and the one-handed Ano agree to accompany Helga and the mage. Apu suggests waiting for others but noone is available so he leads the way from Dicers across to Captain’s Isle and over an hour later they end up in the Captain’s Prow district only a handful of blocks where they last met with Greyvine at the Toadstool. Apu stops abruptly in the middle of the street “She’s here.”
Looking around Opifera asks “Can you see her?”
Ano shakes his head “No, but she is less than ten feet away, directly beneath us.”
Looking around for a way to get beneath street level Ano finds a nearby sewer grate and begins to strip.
“What are you doing Ano!? You’re not going down there by yourself, you only have one hand!” Opifera protests.
“Don’t you worry, this is what I do: I sneak. Unless you want to go stomping down there and alert whatever is lurking of your presence, be my guest. Help me lift this grate.”
Opifera hesitates. “How will we know you’re all right?”
“If I’m not back in thirty minutes, come on down.”
Somewhat satisfied, Opifera gives Ano a hand with the grate. Before he slips out of sight Apu reaches down and touches him uttering a few strange words. With the aid of the Apu’s spell the gobber can now see the heat patterns radiating from the raw sewage tunnels.
Sister Helga looks around nervously. “I really hope Sister Greyvine is okay.”
Opifera turns to Apu, “I really don’t like sending him down there by himself.” Apu shrugs. “What choice do we have when you’re the only one who can fight?” The minutes pass by slowly. Ano returns within fifteen. “There is are at least two gobbers down there but I didn’t get far enough in to see Greyvine.”
Apu frowns and with one long word turns himself to air. His scouting, enhanced by the same blurry heat vision confirms the two gobbers and recognizes a human shape where his divination tells him Greyvine should be. He returns to the surface.
“Well, let’s go.” Opifera starts, raring for a fight. A muted argument errupts. Apu and Ano, both with only one hand, are nervous about poking into dark tunnels looking for trouble with only one capable warrior. Opifera is insulted that anyone should think she can’t handle two gobbers and Sister Helga points out convincingly this may be their only chance at rescuing Inquisitor Greyvine. The two women prove the most persuasive and the four BellRow Troubleshooters light a lantern and climb down the narrow hole into the narrow sewage tunnel.
The sewers reek with the stench of onion, rotting meat, and excrement. With Opifera in the lead, their approach did not go unnoticed. Thirty feet ahead the sewers opened up into the circular room Ano and Apu had scouted but they find it empty. “They’re not here.” Opifera whispers back to Ano. She pushes on chosing the left of the two tunnels and only takes a couple steps before a large dreg charges her shrieking, bared steel in hand. Opifera dodges the vicious thing’s first blow and swings back striking it’s left leg. Behind her, more cries come as two goblinsized dregs drop from the ceiling in front of Ano, Apu and Sister Helga. One swings wildly at the lantern and the other drops on top of Ano clawing and ripping at him savagely. Ano sweeps out his pistol and in one fluid motion plants it into the beast and pulls the trigger. The shot’s impact sends the thing smashing against the wall and reeling in delight. Ano skitters back unnerved. With a gesture Sister Helga casts a tanglefoot spell which trips the other dreg as the large dreg swings again at Opifera. She ducks with an easy grace and strikes the hard into the creatures arm. Again Opifera and the large dreg clash and her skill proves the better. She hits the thing in the chest so hard it knocks it to the ground unconscious but smiling happily. Opifera pulls her blade back to swing again but Sister Helga interupts her shouting “It’s Pauline Greyvine! Don’t kill her!”
Dancing back and forth, Ano continued his fight with the mad dregg, while the tanglefoot dregg suddenly attacked the mad one, protecting Ano. Apu smiled smugly.

The fight over the four BRT stared at the horribly disfigured Sister Greyvine.
“We need to take her with us.” Sister Helga breaks the silence.
“And do what with her?” Opifera asks. “What could do this to her? Do you know Apu?”
Gravely he looked at her. “Maybe…” he mutters. “There’s nothing I can do for her, but perhaps the Church of Morrow can.”
They drag the unconscious remnant of the Greyvine out of the sewers and to the nearby Morrowan Church of the Waters. After a brief meeting with Father Ronolvo they are directed back to the Morrowan cathedral on Dicers. It was there that the inquisitor kept her office. At the cathedral Sister Helga introduces Apu and Opifera to Prelate Daltry and the Morrowan nods a curt welcome to the gobber before turning his attention to the horrible figure that was Pauline Greyvine. The Prelate discusses the situation at length with Apu and defers to his occult knowledge. It is Apu’s theory that Inquisitor Greyvine was forced to eat of the flesh of the Forgotten Ones and that is what decomposed and mutated her body into this. Daltry takes her into custody and at Apu’s stern urging binds and confines her thoroughly. He sends out the call to awaken the church’s divine and arcane healers to attend to her. Opifera, Sister Helga, Apu and Ano slink back to the BRT guildhouse and collapse in exhaustion. Before long though Opifera stands and decides she and Helga need a strong drink. Hardly protesting Sister Helga allows herself to be led from bar to bar and the two soon lose themselves in alcohol, seldom having to buy any drinks themselves.

When morning rolls around Sister Helga is still drunk. “Oh, my head.” “That just means you need to do it more often!” Opifera smiles cheerfully. But the spirit is forced as the four make their back to the church to discuss what will happen to Inquisitor Greyvine. Sister Helga clutches her head attempting to hide her pain but is eyed by the Prelate.
Ano intervenes. “Sister Helga, weren’t you going to take me on the grand tour?” The two walk off together through the church and away from the other priests.
Apu follows a worried Prelate Daltry to the basement. Opifera was right behind them. “Apu only.” One of the priests tries to interpose himself in front of the satyr.
“Well, you see father, I prefer not to let my party out of my sight. If you would like Apu to accompany you, I’m coming as well.”
Prelate Daltry pauses to consider, then nods to the priest and continues down the hall. While Apu and the priest discuss Sister Greyvine’s condition, Opifera notices the guards have their hands on their swords the entire time, eying Apu. She steps back defensively, but they ignore her. When Apu and the Prelate finish their discussion Opifera trails behind so she can keep her eyes on the suspicious guards. They don’t take any hostile action but Opifera is growing wary of this church business.
Before the BRT leaves the church the Prelate corners Ano aside for a brief, but intense conversation and the gobber leaves Daltry’s office head hanging and eager to get away from the church.

That night the tension at the guildhouse is cut in the usual way. Once the drinks start flowing Ano challenges Opifera to a drinking contest and Toad joins in. “Come on sister, it’ll be fun,” Opifera attempts to convince Helga out for another night of carousing.
“I’ll never go out again with you after last night!” the Sister responds.
“We’ll see about that” Opifera promises.
At the Swiggling Pig Ano announces “Let’s see who can hold the most liquor. Who ever passes out first losses.” The game goes on for hours and empty bottles litter the table alongside greasy bowls of fried pork. The contest is close but Opifera is the first to pass out. She later claims in her defense it was because she had just been out drinking the night before. Toad put up a valiant effort but was next to fall, leaving our one-handed gobber the victor and a royal richer. Of course he was the only one conscious to pay the bar tab.

The next week goes by fairly uneventfully. Fabrizio returns to the guildhouse to check in and evades Opifera’s questions about his wherebouts. He scowls in disgust at the stupidity of Ano’s lost hand. Still, he stays for dinner and is readying to leave when a knock at the door interupts the group. Opening the door a large bald man, armed with blade and pistol walks in carrying a large duffel sack. He introduces himself as Dorian and tells them Mr. Jackery has another job for them if they are interested. This one pays, and pays well. “And all you have to do is kill a few dozen of your old friends.”


Other events in the city during the three weeks between the end of the last story arc and the end of this week’s adventure…

Interludes – mostly between session 10 & 11

Week 1 events

  • city watch storms the caverns and collapses the cultist den causing significant damage to the street level buildings
  • various underworld groups are stirred up beneath Captain’s Isle
    • a string of murders followed including a watch captain on Captains
    • Forgotten One artifacts begin appearing on the blackmarket for high prices
  • At Sister Helga’s urging Apu casts seeker to locate the missing Inquisitor Greyvine
    • Apu gets a bearing north but the hunt is aborted due to lack of available guildmembers

Week 2 events

  • major turf war errupts on Hospice
    • starts on the west end but spills into center making the island especially dangerous to travel on
    • Killbride and Waernuk are the main factions
    • the Church requires supplies to be delivered and Helga asks the BRT for help doing this
    • mission is successful and the BRT is paid $300 for job but are encouraged to donate it to cause. Some do, some don’t.
  • Apu recasts seeker and with Sister Helga leads Opifera and Ano to Captains
    • Events recounted above

Week 3 events

  • increase in Kalapuran presence on island
  • Hospice war continues –
    • lots of gun battles and collateral damage
    • trollkin gang is dominating
    • Kilbride gets pushed nearly off the island
  • Greyvine is not recovering under intense care
    • cure insanity only calms her temporarily and allows her to sleep
    • normally doesn’t sleep without magic but instead flails against anyone near her
    • she is kept in Suspended Animation by Apu who checks on her every few days to be sure her mutation/degradation has halted
  • skilled mages from the church examine and experiment on Greyvine attempting to cure her but have no success.
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Blood Bath
12th Session

“The job is straightforward, but not simple. Mr. Jackery wants you to hit the Dicer’s Laggers in their base early in the morning, just before sun up. The Driftwolves will be running back up but they’ll stay outside to kill anyone fleeing. The killing inside will be left to you, and they’ll be plenty of it.” The muscular Dorian Bull squints his eyes at the assembled BellRow Troubleshooters and coughs before continuing. “The Laggers are hurting badly tonight, half their ranks is still on Hospice warring with the Cripplers. Of the rest at their base at least half are injured and exhausted. This is the time to hit them. This something you all can handle or am I talking to the wrong people?”
Opifera’s eyes move around the room. Apu, Fabrizio, Sister Helga, Natalia, and Vaun give her a quiet nod and she turns to Dorian. “We’ll take it”.
The room erupts in chatter about weapons and equipment and whose shop might be open tonight for some last minute purchases. Vaun takes Sister Helga aside and holds a brief, muted conversation. With a grunt Dorian pulls the duffle from his shoulder and opens it onto the BRT’s worn table. Inside is a collection of goodies. “This is for the job. Keep what you don’t use.”
Inside is an old carbine, loaded plus 2 extra shots, a rusted blunderbuss loaded with iron shavings, a small gem, a tin of salve, and two blackpowder grenades. “These…” Dorians points to the grenades with emphasis, “should be used with restraint. No fires. Something burns down you don’t get paid. Mr. Jackery insisted I be clear with that. Got it?” Complete the job and Mr. Jackery will contact you tomorrow for payment. After a few more questions Dorian leaves the group to prepare.

It’s cloudy and drizzling as the BRT picks their way through the sleeping predawn streets towards Crucible Alley. There’s a breeze coming strong off the water that at first smells salty but turns to rotting fish as they near the middle of the island. Cod Row is several blocks to Riverside but when the wind is reversed the stench can carry all to the guildhouse. Passing under the shadow of Dicer’s Cathedral the troupe slides into Crucible Alley beyond and slows to a more cautionary pace. Down four blocks and turning a corner the street ends in three stories of stacked cheap apartments. They look welded together by a poorly trained smith. The bottom flour has suit stained windows the size of arrow slits and a large cargo door. This is their destination. Across from the doors something darts into an alley and out of sight. The group moves forward to get a closer look while Fabrizio hangs back in the shadows. Vaun takes the lead and slides around the corner blade in hand threateningly. He meets the barrel of a rifle pointed at him by a frightened thug. Both spit angry whispers demanding to know who the other is and when it is learned that this is one of the Driftwolves Vaun steps back out of the alley to the flustered man’s whispered cursing.

The BRT crosses the dimly lit courtyard and approaches the door. Natalia looks through a crack and her eye meets another. She tenses, her body tight as coiled wire and the door is slid open with a quiet creak. “Come inside, quickly but very quietly” comes a scratchy whisper. The voice comes from a small sweating man with spectacles. He frantically waves off attempts to speak. The large room beyond him is crowded with sewing tables, bolts of thread and spinning wheels. A single candle burns beneath a glass cover, the only light in the dark room. Through the far wall the stairs begin and then turn abruptly to the left. To the left lies a doorless room carpeted with old blankets and at least a dozen sleeping women. The sweating man waves the troupe to the back stairwell negotiating the tables and stools with familiar ease. He cringes at every creak and bump made and once he reaches the stairwell he splits his nervous attention between the group and darkness above. Opifera tries, she really does, but hooves on wood just aren’t very quiet. From the adjacent room one of the sleeping women, almost an adult opens her eyes and drinks in the strange sight. Her expressionless gaze meets Opifera’s and she watches the group cross room and enter the stairwell. Fabrizio hangs back in the sewing room near the door one with the dark.

Flaking plaster walls contrast with the sturdy wooden stairs that lead up to an iron bound oak door branded with two daggers in a circle, the Dicer’s Laggers’ symbol. Your man unlocks the door with a click, almost loud in the dark silence. Wiping sweat from his brow he catches a glance before squeezing past and bumping down the steps not quite as careful and quiet as he had been coming up.
“Harris, that you?” a voice from the other side of the door. Vaun stands in front with Opifera next. The door is pulled open by a thick hand revealing a thick man in light armor. His right hand rests on the hilt of a small sword and he wears a pistol. Suddenly everything goes completely silent. It feels erie and wrong to move without sound but Vaun and Opifera take immediate advantage slicing the startled guard’s head nearly off. Fabrizio rejoins the group.

Beyond the bloody mess that used to be a man is a small room dominated by a table dressed and set up with fruit. A single oil light hangs from the wall shedding a dirty light. Checking a door to the left they find a closet and move quickly to the exit to their right. Creeping down a carpeted hall the BRT follows the snores, groans and snorts into the main sleeping room of the Dicer’s Laggers. Fabrizio falls easily into the task and crosses the room to set to business. Vaun, Opifera and Natalia soon join him and the four move carefully through the room punching blades gruesomely through an eye of each sleeper. Some stir, a few shake convulsing but most just jerk rigidly and die quiet. Sister Helga abstains from the gore but waits ready to support her team should they need her. Apu is gone, nowhere to be seen since shortly after he cast the blanket of silence that made this work possible. Inside of a minute the assassins have ended nearly a dozen Laggers.

No one is quite sure what sets everything off but by the time the Laggers are alerted there are few left alive in the ground beds. From a shelf overlooking the common room guns fire. Opifera is the first up the ladder to the shelf, despite Vaun’s warning, and is the first back down as she leaps back and lands hard narrowly missing a deadly gun blast waiting for her. Undaunted Opifera scampers up the ladder again, with Vaun close behind, and engages with a swordsman, trollkin and gunner. The priest and quickly engages the trollkin in the corner while Opifera keeps the swordsmen at bay with arcing swings. Before the swordsman moves to flank he’s taken apart by a rifleshot from below. Natalia’s aim is true. In the shadows of the shelf the gunner, an elven woman used the distractions to line up yet another shot. This one hits true and blows through Opifera knocking her to the ground. No small feat. Vaun grimaces but is locked in swordplay with the lumbering trollkin. A distraction now could lose him his head. In the next instant Sister Helga is atop the self and casting a spell on the badly bleeding Opifera. With Morrow’s grace she pulls her sorcerous magicks binding and sealing the satyr’s horrible wound, closing it. Opifera shakes her head briefly and is on her feet. In the same moment, Vaun quickly whispers a prayer and whips his sword into the trollkin’s skull, crushing it and dropping him. He turns to the elf and roars, and in response she drops the rifle. While Opifera struggles to her feet, Vaun runs past her towards the ground level commanding “Let her live”. The Sister follows. Opifera stares down the elf who cowers over the trollkin in the upper room’s corner. Considering only for the briefest moment Opifera swings at the elf thinking to finish her off but the elf leaps backwards nimbly and then reverses off the wall and pushes through the corner revealing a dark hole she slips down. Opifera snorts in disgust. At least now she doesn’t have to guard a prisoner.

Down below Fabrizio has finished off the horrified wakening Laggers with a cold percission that resembles flourish. Natalia gives him a wary eye and meets the others coming down the ladder. Sister Helga, Fabrizio, Natalia and an unusually quick Vaun push through the room’s nearest door and into an alcove. Running right they catch a Lagger trying to squeeze down the shitter. Vaun meets his gaze for a moment and warns, “Leave and you die,” then turns on his heels. The crew takes the other passage and finds the Dicer’s Lagger’s infirmary. Rows of dying men lie on hard slats most unmoving. A handful of beds are empty with signs of recent use. An ugly man in smudged doctor’s apron stands and raises his hands to show he is weaponless. I’m unarmed. Recognition crosses his face as he looks at Fabrizio. His expression turns to relief and confusion when the swordsman barks at him “You are one of us now, in our guild got it?”
“Huh?”
“You want to live, right?”
“Yes! Please Fabrizio yes!”
“Then you are a BellRow Troubleshooter now!”
“Yes, yes. Okay.”
Vaun turns his back on the dying as Fabrizio gets his hands dirty speeding them along. Sister Helga averts her gaze and the doctor stands by silently.

In the next room Natalia begins rooting through the possessions of the dead. Opifera objects “We are not looters Natalia” but she is ignored. Vaun and Helga join the two and gather up guns and blades, as many as they can carry. Bristling head to toe with awkwardly carried weapons the BRT leaves the building through the blood splattered infirmary and jogs down the alley into the streets. They get a hundred feet on when Opifera in the back pauses to answer a call from a man with a rifle. He draws up nearer and she can make out the jagged line of a poorly healed scar traced across his entire face. A chunk of his nose is missing. “You remember me?!” he spits half in rage and half in joy as he raises a large rifle to aim between her eyes. Loaded down with gear Opifera struggles to pull her sword but is unable to. The shot BOOMS in the crisp chill air but Opifera, no stranger to gunmen, jerks aside anticipating the shot. The bullet grazes past Natalia before rickocheting off the brick alley wall. Murderous rage fights with reason as the scarred man’s face fills red. Only when Natalia raises a rifle in return does he gather the sense to run and this time Natalia’s shot does not find its mark. “A story there?” Natalia looks to Opifera. She grunts and turns with her heavy load. It is a long walk to the guildhouse. The BRT tries to stay out of the mainfaires but some crossings are inevitable. Once they lumber out of the unnaturally quiet Crucible Alley and away from the massacre the traffic of morning begins to pick up. The troupe is greeted with an equal share of averted eyes and dead eyed stares but no one stops them or even talks directly to them. Almost an hour later soaked in sweat and stinking of soured adrenaline they push through the guildhouse door to find Toad and Ano holding the battered body of Apu, dried blood spurted from his nose and crusted across his lips.
“We found him like this…” Ano sputters.
“He’s dead” completes Toad.

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Blood Money
13th Session
Sister Helga rushes to Apu’s side and after a brief examination and an annoyed glance at Toad and Ano tells the others that Apu is not dead. Invoking Morrow the Sister channels her sorcerous power into Apu healing the worst of his wounds. He gasps, erupts into a coughing fit and turns his head to hack a clog of bloody mucus onto the floor. “We’re definitely getting a new place now” Toad mutters. Apu waves off questions and sleeps for most of the day. At lunch he eats voraciously before falling back to sleep. He explains that it was the strain of his silencing charm that tore his body to that degree and he doesn’t plan on doing anything like that again. He is pleased to hear the job was a success.

Late afternoon an old, hobbling gobber named Dusky drops into the guild and delivers a plain white envelope with a note inside inviting the guild to dinner at sunset at the Baize Hand of Fate, a large upscale gambling hall just across the bridge on Chasers Ilse. It is signed by K. Jackery.
No one but Opifera seems eager to meet their employer but they haven’t received payment yet so Opifera cleans up and Ano offers to accompany her. He didn’t participate in the current job but feels he needs to represent the guild and meet with Jackery again. Opifera cleans up and the two set off.
On their way across town an old woman accosts Opifera accusing her of murdering her “little Tanner” who apparently was only 17. The old woman responds to Opifera’s confused protests with sobs and goes so far as to pummel her in the chest and call her a beast before the crone’s friend pulls her off with a terrified glance at the satyr. The woman leaves sobbing.
Arriving at the Blaise Hand of Fate the doorman, an ogrun dressed in a frilled white shirt and embroidered vest nods and lets them inside. Inside gambling pits, tables and betting wheels fill a large room in front of them generating plenty of noise from an active crowd. Everyone here is dressed up, armed, and seems to be enjoying themselves. A hostess stands to the right nervously eyeing the gobber and satyr. Spotted, she confirms their identity and leads them through a well appointed dinning room and into a private meeting room. Inside is a large table set and well stocked for eight. Kervain Jackery sits at its head with Dorian Bull standing behind him. To the left three large diamond shaped, smoked windows look out over the gambling hall mostly blunting the boisterous sounds.
Jackery is welcoming and the food, oysters, sweet meats and breads, is excellent. The Drus crimeboss makes some small talk about flowers before turning the conversation to buisness. He hears Opifera’s explaination of events and questions her on her ambush in the streets. She dismisses it as an old rival not telling him it was one of the Driftwolves, the Killbride gang supposed to be working with them on that mission. Jackery congratulates her on a job well done and pulls two three leather bags from under the table. At this point a sandy haired man in the casino room beyond the windows attempts to interupt the meeting. He jerkily approaches the window but two shots jerk him off his feet and drop him before he gets his gun fully drawn. The shots come from the gambling hall on both sides of the windows, out of range of sight. Jackery wipes his brow, almost unperturbed. Ano asks if he knew the man and Jackery replies “Just part of the business.”
The crimeboss pushes the bags to Opifera and Ano and tells them “Welcome to the family”. Ano gulps startled, but covers it immediately by grabbing another handful of clams. “The house cleaning last night served the purpose of declaring you on Killbride’s side. If there was any doubt lingering our public meeting here tonight destroyed it. I believe you’ll find the High Captain takes care of his own. If there is anything I can do to assist your guild just let me know. You can contact me through the rigrunner named Dusky.”
Ano and Opifera take the bags, jingling with coin and head towards the door. On his way out the gobber adds “Ahh, Mr. Jackery, we prefer jobs that are a little less… violent. More troubleshooting if you see what I mean.” “Truly appreciating a blood bath like todays requires a keenly developed eye for beauty Ano. Your guild has a talent for such work but I’ll keep your preference in mind.” Opifera and Apu make their way back to the guildhouse carrying the job’s payment of one thousand gold royals watching their backs for trouble. The old woman who bothered Opifera is nowhere to be seen.

The next day Ano and Opifera visit several weapon and pawn shops across Dicers and Chasers selling the spoils collected from the Dicer’s Laggers. On the island of Dicers the streets and alleys are just as busy as usual but pushing through them seems a bit easier. Frequently locals make an effort to move out of the pair’s path as they walk by. A few whisper or chuckle, but many stare, at least until eye contact is made and then they quickly avert their gaze and look busy. Not everyone seems to recognizes the satyr and gobber carrying their load of guns and blades but word of the previous morning’s masacre in Crucible Alley has definitely gotten around. Across the channel on Chasers the pair are treated normally.
The long afternoon nets a fair price for the weapons and keeping their ears open Opifera and Ano hear a few rumors about town…
  • the Five Fingers Watch on Captain’s Isle has put out a bounty on dregs. One royal per head. The attacks there have gotten worse and there is some fear they will spread.
  • Governor Doyle has opened up the city’s coffers to hire out the Sons of Thuria mercenary company to put down the gang war on Hospice between Waernuk and Killbride. The Sons are hardened vets stationed on Crane Island and number over 200. There is speculation on if they will act against both sides or favor one.

    Sister Helga is called to Hospice to tend those caught in the crossfire of the Hospice gang wars. She hears a few rumors as well…
  • The Church of the Mercy of Morrow on Hospice has been suffering harrassment from a Thamarite preacher outside their doors. He shouts blasphemies at the church and urges the refugees sheltered there to defile the church as well as the Sisters warding them.
  • corpses of old, emaciated dwarves have been turning up around Hospice. The Ebon Flame is suspected although where they are getting their dwarves is unknown as there are only a very rare few on the island.

    Later that night a nightmare wakens Apu and he crosses the island to the Cathedral of Morrow. The nightguard Jaff allows him in without arousing the Prelate. After a thorough diagnostic check up Apu confirms his fear… Pauline Greyvine’s condition is ever so slowly, but undeniably, progressing.
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In the House of Madness, Part One
14th Session

It was a chilly, sunny day when Father Daltry brought the Bell Row Troubleshooters into the cathedral study. “We’d like to employ your services as a mercenary company.” Intrigued, the company straightened in their chair. What was the occasion? They weren’t expecting real business to come of this meeting.

“We don’t have the kind of budget that some people have in this city but we’d like to pay you a fair price to escort Sister Greyvine to _ Sanitarium. There is a doctor there rumored to be able to cure people of various diseases of the mind and body. If anyone can help Greyvine, this man can. His name is Dr. Falkenheim, and he specializes in the mind and rare diseases.”

[to be continued]

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In the House of Madness, Part Two
15th Session

This space intentionally left blank

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In the House of Madness - Part Three
16th Session

[...]

Unfortunately for the entity possessing [name], the next member of the party he attempted to magically influence was Apu. While the attempt was successful, it did not result in any progress towards getting the door open, as what Apu desired was on this side of the door. After some creative spellcasting and a bit of banter, Apu, Natalia, Olifera, and Helga retired to a side chamber and spent some time enjoying each other’s company*. After the effect wore off, everyone involved was somewhat confused and more than a little embarassed.

In the end, the result was completely contrary to the goals of the entity, as Fabrizio and Vaun decided to leave the door alone. They did not want to face whatever was on the other side without the rest of the party backing them up, and were unwilling to interrupt what was going on in the side room.

[...]

[okay, I’ve covered the touchy part, someone else please fill in the rest]

  • Fortunately for all involved, long-term complications have not arisen.
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New Moons
17th Session
Storyteller signcontrast

Pauline Greyvine’s treatment has been sufficiently expensive that the Church of Morrow has need of additional funds. Prelate Daltry agreed to Sister Helga’s request to hold a fundraiser for the church and Sister Helga arranged for an evening of dance, gambling, and drink to entertain the followers of Morrow and any others with coin.

The fundraiser was a success, although the Prelate would not have been pleased by some of the things going on in the back rooms. Some Kalipurians were thrown out at gunpoint for cheating, but the incident did not disrupt the festivities overmuch. Apu made the acquaintance of a delightful lady by the name of Bellinda, and spent most of the evening in her company.

.....

The next morning, Apu returned to the new guildhall to discover Natalia, Opifera, and Sister Helga arguing about if Opifera should go to an utterly disreputable tavern known as ‘The Bowels of the Earth’ in hopes of finding Ano and Toad, who have been missing for two days. This was a completely horrible idea- even at the best of times, the Bowels is a dangerous place. During New Moons, the extreme low tides mean every sailor in town is ashore and looking for entertainment- or, having run out of coin, are looking to gain additional funds or entertainment via the most direct means on hand. It is a time when it is very unwise for attractive women or people of wealth to go near the docks alone.

Such measures were unnecessary. Apu performed a minor ritual that sufficed to determine the current location of Toad, and the Troubleshooters (formerly of Bell Row) set off to retrieve him. He turned out to be recuperating from a severe beating and near-drowning in the company of an trollkin clan the Troubleshooters had assisted some months earlier. He and Ano had been investigating the disappearance of many dead bodies in Hospice and the Chatterstones, but had not thought to get in touch with Noatam and ask what was going on. Toad does not seem to have realized that Noatam is a Necromancer, despite the cadaverous canine who accompanies him. I don’t think Toad had realized the dog is dead- maybe he thought it had an epic case of mange and scabies. Toad was healed of his injuries and left to sleep off the exhaustion. (see toad log)

After a brief rest, Apu employed the same minor ritual to locate Ano, who turned out to be mooching meals at a soup kitchen. He put off explanations of what he and Toad had been doing for later. (see The Fall in Ano’s Reflections)

As we departed the soup kitchen, an assassin tried to shoot Natalia from a rooftop, and discovered that shooting at a friend of a Wizard is only slightly less foolish than shooting at the Wizard. Natalia took the attempt on her life personally, immediately running down the alley in pursuit. Opifera and Sister Helga ran after Natalia, while Ano and Apu followed. Natalia found fresh blood on a ladder, and spotted a man with a slung rifle fleeing down the alley. She gave chase, with Sister Helga and Opifera right behind her. Not being as fleet of foot or as skilled with arms as my companions, Apu gave chase at a more deliberate pace, trying to figure out why someone would try to assassinate Natalia. Of the Bell Road Troubleshooters, she is far from the one with the most enemies.

After a moment, Apu realized that conjuring a wolf and commanding it to track by scent, while employing a Trace spell to keep track of the position of the canine, might allow him to follow the assassin while remaining out of sight. He succeeded in the conjuration and the trace, and decided to conjure two more wolves in case the assassin shot the first one.

Apu eventually caught up with Sister Helga and Opifera, who had lost sight of Natalia, and then Natalia, who had lost sight of the assassin. The wolves led the Troubleshooters the docks, where the assassin had embarked on one of the few gondolas still in operation during the new moons. When he saw us, he aimed for a moment, and then remembered what had happened the last time he shot at us, and then tried to conceal himself as much as he could. He did not hide well enough, and Natalia put her shot into a very tender bit of his anatomy.

After dismissing the wolves, Apu drew upon his powerstones to grant Natalia and Opifera the ability to walk upon air. They walked to the gondola, bound the assassin, and instructed the gondolier (who was quite terrified) to return the boat to the dock, which he did. A brief search of the assassin revealed a very nice rifle, some Urgoloan coin, and a wanted poster with a reasonable likeness of Natalia. He seems to have been some kind of bounty hunter.

The assassin is currently in Suspended Animation, stored in the basement.

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Dead of the Night I - of Bowels and Trollkin
18th Session
Storyteller signcontrast

In the streets of Captain’s Isle the Troubleshooters were intercepted by an agent of Kilbride and a meeting was arraigned. Toad shook his head in annoyance. It’s always another meeting in a mutually defensible location, both sides heavily armed and paranoid of attack. Noone can ever just say what in the stinking black water they want. The popular Five Finger’s expression struck him as morbidly funny after his recent ordeal. Grabbing the wizard the group met with Kilbride’s representative, a man who for readily apparent reasons was named Slitface. Fabrizio shadowed the shadowers of the meeting and by the end of the meeting had them effectively cowed to submission. Killbride’s agent offered the Troubleshooters 3500 royals to convince the trollkin enclave to make a strike against Waernuk, and it had to be done by tomorrow night. This seemed a considerable payment for deliverying a message and Apu was highly suspicious, both by the apparent simplicity of the job and by the specific timing. Slitface proved mostly resistant to Apu’s interrogations, however our mage did manage to raise the payment to 3800 royals. Next, with the help of Apu’s magic and a tip from Ano, the Troubleshooters scouted out the caverns beneath the Bowels bar Ano had been investigating and found a large cache of corpses hidden in a cliffside cove. With this target in mind the Troubleshooters entered the trollkin enclave to discuss the job offer. Meeting privately with Stoneborn to avoid any possible easedropping trollkin spies Toad overstepped his authority and promised the help of the Troubleshooters on the strike against Waernuk. Feeling he owed the trollkin Toad revealed the source of the offer and the admitted the possiblity, aye likelihood, it was a setup. Stoneborn considered the situation carefully and agreed to take it. A plan was made to coordinate with the trollkin at a seedy bar near the clifface above the cove. The group spent the next day gathering climbing supplies, formulating a plan, and verbally abusing Toad for promising their aid on a job that could have been an easy, no risk payment.

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Dead of the Night II -
19th Session
Storyteller signcontrast

Scaling the walls down to the cove entrance the Troubleshooters fight and overcome more guards than they had anticipated. The trollkin are ambushed on approach through a side tunnel. A monstrous worm kills all but one of their member who joins (very briefly) the group.

As the Troubleshooters try to decide how to remove or destroy the hundred or so corpses stacked in crates the two surviving guards beg to flee warning ‘their coming!’. Without notice three finely dressed gentleman corpses saunter into the room tearing the lone surviving trollkin to bits before advancing on a stunned Opifera. Toad faints (no really!) but is awaken by a word from Sister Helga.

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