Dark Moon Rising

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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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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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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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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Satisfaction not Guaranteed
9th Session
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loggers rosignol and opifera

After the capture of The Mad Hatter the BRT took a water taxi back to Captain’s to keep suspicion down. Once at the office, Opifera tied the Hatter down to bed. “Now we can do this the easy way, or we can do it the hard way. Which will it be?” Opifera started. “Just give me the mask and I’ll go” he begged. “Forget about the mask! You’re going to answer our questions. Who do you work for?” Opifera led the interrogation, while Apu read his surface thoughts and Natalia stood by with a menacing glare in her eyes. In the minutes that proceeded we found out that Bartley DeGrada had stolen the mask from a world renowned merchant vessel The Pink Seashell, two years ago while working as a dock hand. Soon after procuring the mask he got a position at Braille’s Mask Emporium through Madame Klivson creating elaborate masks for her and her “high society friends.”

It was only a year ago that he began to understand how the mask worked. He claimed it “unlocked” his talents. As for his bloodlust, he had already had a thirst for vengeance. The mask awoke those dormant desires. His madness is beyond reversal.

An hour later, a young woman dressed in the robes of Morrow knocks at the door. It’s 5am. Opifera answers the door while Natalia remains on watch and Apu rests. “Hello, my name is Sister Helga . I’m here from the Church of Morrow.” She says politely. “Sorry sister, we’re not interested in converting right now. Try next door.” “I’m not here to convert you. I’m here about Pauline Greyvine. Can I come in?” Opifera lets her in. Helga explains that Pauline has gone missing and that the church suspects us of foul play because we were the last ones she had been seen with. Despite Helga’s accusation, Opifera points out yes, we did meet with Pauline when we were hunting down Laura’s killer, but that she was on her own crusade against Thamarites. That was the last we had seen of her. Having no money to hire the BRT, Opifera offers to help Sister Helga if she can offer her services to the guild in exchange. She knew the next day could bring an ambush. One more couldn’t hurt and many of the members of the guild had suddenly gone missing. So Sister Helga was filled in on The Mad Hatter.

Once Apu had his strength back he did a little hands-on research of the mask. He found out that it secretes a substance that acts like a mind altering, addictive drug. We had no way of really knowing what the substance was without any alchemical knowledge. But Apu assured us that it is quite potent and had the ability to unlock your deepest desires in a twisted manner. With this new found knowledge, some members of the BRT were uncomfortable turning a Mask of Murderous Psychosis over to what Opifera said was probably a cult serving the Forgotten Ones. The resolution of this issue was pretty simple- Natalia smashed the mask with the butte of her gun, breaking it into many pieces. This probably didn’t destroy it permanently (the Making & Breaking college has several spells that can be used to re-assemble objects), but it would prevent it from being used for a while.

The Mad Hatter was turned over to the trollkin bounty hunter, Selric Ankoran. The bounty hunter was also willing to try to persuade the Watch to round up Felelle (the creepy gobber who wanted the mask) and his associates. We’d do this by leading the Watch to the mask after handing it over to Felelle. At twelve midnight and consecutively there after, Selric will check his mailbox for leads to Felelle.

Later that night, Felelle showed up followed by his menacing entourage (an ogrun Torgus Irongrip and a Jin woman Cecilia). The ogrun was complete muscle, while his partner was sleek, equipped with four long bladed daggers. “Where is my mask?” “Well, let me explain. We have the mask but it had a bit of an accident.” Apu replied. “Accident!” exclaimed Felelle. He looked around nervously. Torgus and Cecelia moved closer to Opifera, while Apu stood on the far side of the room. “We were able to pry it from The Mad Hatter, but Opifera has a reputation for face shots, and unfortunately the mask didn’t make it unscathed.” Apu hands Felelle the mask in a bucket. Felelle looks furious. “Your life won’t be forfeited, but you’re not getting paid!” Apu breaks in “We went through dangerous situations to bring the mask back.” “WHOLE! I NEVER ASKED FOR IT BACK BROKEN!” “You didn’t specify. You just said you wanted the mask.” Opifera spoke up. “Torgus, place the money on the desk.” Felelle instructed, picking up the bucket and sidling along the wall behind the desk. “Is that sufficient?” “Yes.” Apu answered. Felelle makes his way to the door. He places his hand on the door, “Kill them.”

Torgus made to grab Opifera, but with a stroke of incredible luck he tripped. Cecelia tossed a vial into the next room that filled the room that Natalia and Helga were in with a noxious gas. Opifera attacked Cecelia and hit on the first blow, crippling her left leg. Though down, Cecelia soon got up again. Their battle continued. Torgus finally got up and turned to give Opifera a serious blow from behind. Cecelia hit once with a small blow to the vitals, but Opifera continued to fight, despite her condition.

Apu was (eventually) able to charm the Ogrun (Torgus Irongrip) and Sister Helga used Body Control spells to trip, stun, and generally harass the other side. Meanwhile, Natalia took a shot at Felelle, just missing him. He fled from the office, while she pursued. Outside they faced off in the streets. Few pedestrians watched greedily as Felelle had placed the bag of gold down, but many steered away leaving a wide breath for the duelers. Felelle began to show signs of nervousness after his entourage failed to reappear. He fled with the mask, leaving the royals behind. Natalia quickly grabbed the royals and sprinted back up the stairs to find Opifera and Cecelia dueling in the doorway. Near death, Cecelia finally collapsed down the stairs.

The current situation is that Opifera is badly injured, Apu is exhausted, Sister Helga is very, very tired, Cecelia is unconscious and tied up on a bunk on the second floor and an extremely large Orgun (Torgus) is downstairs, and thinks Apu is an old friend. Natalia is unscathed. Despite the fact that the BRT are still standing, one slip and we would have fallen. On a side note, we need to get a new office we can plan some defenses for. Not to neglect the crumbling staircase, with a large trollkin and massive ogrun twice making their way up to the office in one day. For future reference, it may be safer to take the back entrance.

With Torgus now Apu’s friendly slave, Apu did some digging into Torgus’ history. He and Cecelia have been working together for about 7 years. They’ve been doing work for someone called Waernuk, and have an apartment on Blake Street, at the Painted Window. Torgus and Cecelia have only been working for Felelle for a couple of weeks, and don’t know where he lives, although they usually met him near something called the ‘Old Colossal’, which is near a tunnel to the undercity. Opifera recalls that there is a cave system there that may be where he is hiding out.

Apu told Torgus that Felelle has made some ‘important people’ unhappy, and that it would be a good idea to not take any more jobs from him, for someone who can ‘solve problems quietly’ would be dealing with Felelle soon. Torgus expressed his appreciation for the information.

Though Torgus is friendly now, Apu is exhausted and is not sure how much longer he can maintain his hold on him. Will our weary gang be able to take down the uninjured Torgus? Tune in next week for “Attack of the Rampaging Ogrun!”

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Unmasking the Maskmaker
8th Session
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After paying the group Felelle explains he wants the BRT to track down and kill a serial killer being called the Mad Hatter and retrieve his mask. The gobber lists a series of known victims of the killer by occupation and location. Excepting the last one, killed just a block away from the Ruby Glass, he doesn’t have the names. All the rest were murdered on Hospice. The latest victim was Sylvia Grains, a furs merchant. All the victims suffered numerous cuts before being hung for display in prominent locations. The gobber is willing to pay 50 royals a piece for the recovery of the mask and disposal of the Mad Hatter. He stresses the mask is what is most important and that it is dangerous. Felelle believes it is what made the otherwise peaceful man into a killer. The killer’s workshop is called Brail’s Mask Emporium and is located on Bellow’s Island. Felelle agrees to meet the group again later that evening to answer any further questions.

The day is spent sleeping and investigating. Opifera speaks with Ano and puts him to work gathering information while she goes off to meet with his most promising contact. From him she gets a list of each murder victim. Upon returning to the guildhouse she passes Toad and sends him out to the Octopus Den to ask around about Lelac’s murder. Toad ‘poses’ quite successfully as a customer at the upscale brothel and meets with a courtesan named Miranda. She tells him all she knows about the murder…
  • an ogrun and a trenchcoated woman were seen entering but not leaving the Octopus Den right before Lelac was found dead. Another courtesan named Gillian saw them, she works the night shift and is expensive
  • there is a back exit just outside of the room Lelac was found in
  • Lelac often spends time alone in that room smoking opium and often does business there
  • two city watch arrived to investigate as well as a trollkin she believed was unconnected to the watch
Toad returns to the guildhouse to find everyone awake. He is briefly introduced to the recent recruit Natalia Kalishnikov, a down on her luck Urgolian sharpshooter, and to the deadly, but dark Fabrizio. Turns out Apu knows Jillian, the courtesan from the Octopus Den, and is eager to interview her for the good of the investigation but the troope’s plans are interupted by a knock on the door. The gobber Fellelle is let in and answers a few more questions. He is annoyed at the lack of progress made so far. Meanwhile upstairs Apu lies in hiding casting a spell to search the gobber’s mind.
  • the maskmaker is named Bartley Degrada and he worked for Brail’s Mask Imporium
  • he will look for a blue scarf tied to the guildhouse railing when the group has the mask
  • he tells them that many want the mask but they will retrieve it for him
  • Fellelle refuses, even under semi-veiled threat, to reveal much more about his employer
  • from a few subtle hints Opifera believes Fellelle represents a cult of the forgotten Gods, cruel, inhumane insanities from before the age of men

Felelle is not gone long when a large trollkin invites himself into the guildhouse. He introduces himself as a bounty hunter with a contract from the city watch. He has been unable to catch the Mad Hatter and wants to engage the group to work his contract. He provides references on the city watch and offers to pay the group more than the gobber. The guildmembers consider and then accepts his offer and it is worked out that he will take an apartment outside of the BRT guildhouse and watch for the colored scarf signaling Felelle to pick up the mask.

Later that night Opifera, Apu, Haugin, Natalia, and Toad set out to Bellows to investigate the Mad Hatter’s old workshop in Brail’s Mask Emporium. Paying the galleon to cross to the small craftsmens’ island the group finds the building on one of the main streets. It is surrounded by a tall stone wall with several doors. Scaling the wall and slipping inside the group begins to look around while trying unsuccessfully to avoid the lanterned guardsman moving from room to room. The guardsman, turns out, is a friend of Apu’s and is quite cooperative. He answers questions and gets answers to his own but chastises the group for sneaking in instead of stopping by announced at a more reasonable hour. He tells them that the Emporium is owned by Madame Klivson. The same Madame Klivson that was supposedly Lelac’s client and was wife to the executed High Captain.

Searching Degrada’s workshop they find a series of sketches of the same mask, maps of the city, and Degrada’s work log. Fabrizio manages to open Degrada’s safe and finds a journal and a pouch. Unseen by anyone he pockets the pouch. The journal, he hands to Toad who scoops up the all the papers. Downstairs Natalia spots a figure creeping into the building and gives chase. The creeper turns out to be the Mad Hatter, Bartley Degrada himself and the whole group runs after him, some more directly, and hence effectively, than others. Natalia reaches him first and shoots and stabs him in the legs multiple times. Degrada runs on, moving with an inhuman vigor. He makes it as far as the top of the wall before he is stabbed, grabbed and drug back to the ground. He rips his mask off and reveals that the mask seems to have melded with his skin becoming a part of him. The BRT renders him unconscious and binds him and carefully stows the mask wrapped in an old cloth. Apu pays his friend, the security guard a handful of royals and appologizes for the disturbance they have caused. The guard nods thankfully and tells him the money should easily cover the mess and pay for replacement windows. “Windows?” someone asks. “We’d better get going before we attract anymore attention” urges Toad.

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Trinket in the Gibbet
7th Session
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The crisp morning starts with a low rumbling from outside. Further down Bell Row the avenue is crowded with celebrants for the day’s parade. It’s Governor’s Rest and the city gathers to cheer and cajole the governor as he is marched ‘captive’ through the streets. Most of the city takes the day off, including much of the Five Finger’s watch. A portly pipe smoking man hanging out near their Guildhouse catches the attention of the Troubleshooters and after a few brief words is invited inside to discuss a potential job.

The man identifies himself as Graham, an agent for an employer on Crane Island. He is unaware of the exact details of the job other than to say that it involves the procurement of an object and is time sensitive. Apu corrects him saying we call that type of job a ‘recovery’. The man nods smiling. The group agrees to hear out the offer in more detail and receives instructions and directions to meet their potential employer at Blaggard’s Manse, a mercenary bar on Crane Island at dusk.

On the boat ride over the group gets a rundown of Crane Island and what to expect from the dock guards by Baharudin, their Jinn gondola pilot. He follows them up the lift once they dock and persistently reminds them to tip the guards a blackpenny. They do and find it shuts up the interrogating guard. A few minutes walk brings them to the doors of their location.

Blaggard’s Manse is a large, well appointed bar with a floor to ceiling windows overlooking the oceanside. To the right a wide stairwell climbs up to another level and on the left a long mahogany bar stretches covering most of the wall. The place is crowded with veterans and successful mercenaries tonight exchanging stories and maybe looking for a solid contract. As Haugin and Opifera compete for the barkeep’s attention a squat, ugly man waves them over to a big, round table in the darkest corner of the room. The Troubleshooters collect their drinks and join him almost immediately regretting it. The stranger’s skin is spotted with blackened crusty scabs, several cracked and oozing blood. Haugin and Opifera shuffle their chairs nervously away from the grotesque man, Grig seems not to notice, and Apu stares intently nodding to himself. Satisfied Apu mutters ‘not contagious’ and opens the conversation. The man introduces himself as Toad and explains he was told by Graham to meet up with the group for tonight’s job. He mentioned he’s seen a lot of traffic up and down the stairs tonight. Another round later the group leisurely makes it’s way upstairs to a private room and their job offer.

Frankau Lelac cuts to the chase quickly. He needs the Troubleshooters to aquire a necklace for the widow of a man executed over a dozen years ago. The necklace lies on the man’s body which is stuffed in a gibbet suspended above Five Finger’s city square on Captain’s Isle. He offers the group 30 royals a person but Opifera spurred by mumbled prodding from Toad talks him up to 35 (total 175 royals). Lelac insists the necklace is not enchanted and his client’s desire for it is purely sentimental. He describes the locket as a silver crescent shaped medallion. When asked he reveals his client is Madam Klivson. Haugin asks if she is the Madam Klivson who was married to the High Captain Klivson executed by the city for arson and the pieces fit together. “Why I suppose she is” Lelac remarks. The BRT takes the contract and agree to deliver the medallion to Lelac at the Octopus Den in the Emerald District by dawn. Haugin vows to Frankau that he, Fabrizio, will get the job done! The group leaves the room with a suggestive wise crack about uses of their employer’s boyish bodyguard.

A handful of city watch guard the city square tonight mostly standing and talking to one another but occassionally patroling the perimeter to stamp off the damp night air. A heavy fog sits over the square, unusual in its thickness this far into the island. After a cursory scouting a handful of plans are discarded. Opifera suggests creating a diversion with passionate kissing beneath the rows of hanging gibbets but thinks twice about it upon considering her selection of partners. Apu transforms Grig into elemental air and the gobber slips effortlessly up joining the fog. Several minutes pass before Grig returns to meet Apu, Haugin, Opifera and Toad huddled in the garden adjacent to the city square. He reports he has found the necklace but has also found another group of thieves looking to make the score. Perched on the roof just above them a gobber is watching and around the corner wait his three friends. Grig returns to the air to retrieve the necklace and the other four start around the corner to intercept the others Apu rhythmically counting softly to himself.

Grig finds the other gobber is already started across the catwalk toward High Captain Klivson’s gibbet. Racing across the chains and trying not to be heard or seen the enemy gobber slips and one of his three knives comes free of its sheath. The light clang on the stones is enough to alert the guards below. Nearing the Klivson’s gibbet Grig’s body transforms suddenly gaining substance and mass. Shooting out a quick hand he snatches the rusted iron cage saving him from a nasty fall and scrambling, he pulls himself up. Within seconds he pulls the necklace from the broken bones and rotted debris and darts back to the catwalk. The guards below are shouting threateningly at the other gobber who ignores them intent only on tackling Grig. With a brace and a great leap Grig clears the distance between the catwalk and the nearest building behind which the others are engaged in a violent showdown. He scampers away with the prize.

Meanwhile the others round the corner weapons bare to find two humans and a maul weilding trollkin circling to ambush them in the garden. A lot of whispered blustering and sizing each other up preceeds the bloodspilling. The woman announces herself as Sescha Isallende, leader of the Pistoleres Sangre. She is armed with a thin blade and a pistol. A trollkin flexes and snorts, eager to be unleashed while the man in back makes use of the time to cast a spell transforming himself into a large snarling wolf. Close enough to spit on each other both sides see combat is unavoidable and the smiling pistolero offers to buy any survivors a drink. Toad tells her he’ll take her up on that and makes a lunging stab igniting the powderkeg.

Springing forward Opifera closes with the trollkin breaking his charge. The ugly brute snarls and sweeps his huge maul in an arc landing a crushing blow to Opifera’s chest cracking ribs. Staggered, but still standing Opifera meets the troll’s shocked eyes with her own sneer and carves her heavy cutlass across his chest ripping through bone and hide. She hops back at the last moment narrowly avoiding the spray of blood. It’s almost impossible to get the stench of troll guts out of your fur. Wild eyed and disbelieving the trollkin’s hammer slips from his grasp as he falls to the ground.

Bleeding from a punctured gut the pistolero squeezes a shot off at Toad who tumbles backward rolling away from her aim. Despite being directly in the line of fire the same bullet somehow misses Haugin, who oblivous to the danger pulls back his harpoon for a throw. He pitches the barbed spear and it sinks deep into the wolf as it leaps to rend Toad. With a strong pull he jerks the beast off balance and gains its baleful glare. It struggles, twisting in vain, trying to pull Haugin’s grip loose but only succeeds in tightening the wrapped cord around his arm. Haugin jerks again. The wolf yelps in piteous animal pain but its eyes glint with human intelligence as it weighs it’s options. Toad slips warily past the snapping wolf towards the wounded pistolero. She jabs Toad puncturing his leathers with her offhand blade before stepping back behind her allies. While Haugin and the wolf struggle Apu is busily muttering strange magics guarded by the wounded Opifera. Toad and the pistolero face off trading parries and demands. With a mighty tug Haugin rips the barbed harpoon out of the huge wolf’s chest and the beast collapses in a heap of blood and hair. When the wolf falls the pistolero admits she underestimated the group. Conceeding to Toad’s demands she drops her sword and, very reluctantly, her pistol in exchange for her freedom. When Toad yells at her retreating shadow where he can get that drink she shouts back the Steam Girl Parlor. He makes a mental note never to go near the place. He’s never had any luck with women, especially ones that try to kill him.

When the bloody trollkin rises to answer Apu’s command the other three are already running out of the alley and down the street. Under Apu’s direction the brute lifts and carries the wolf and together they turn towards the watchmen rounding the far corner. Apu confronts them head on feigning fury at being ambushed in the alley. Apu identifies himself as a member of the Order of the Golden Crucible and quickly and smoothly moves the conversation from the guards interogating him to him belittling the guards. In the space of a few minutes he has them apologizing and trying to politely hurry him along.

Meanwhile Grig catches up with the rest of the group and delivers the necklace. Worried that they may be jumped by yet another group Haugin, Grig, and Toad settle in at a bar just outside of the Emerald District called the Ruby Glass. Apu is missing again, but Haugin informs Toad this is not unusual. Opifera goes to the meeting at the Octopus Den alone and emptyhanded. After a brief conversation with the doorman she is directed down a long hallway full of curtained archways to a room in the back. Giggles and moans float on the heady opium laden air and outlines of bodies and pillows can be seen through the shear curtains. She hears heavy footfalls as she pushes open the unlocked door to the back room. Opifera steps inside and finds Frankau Lelac dangling from the ceiling. Hanging dead, his eyes bulged, tongue wagging and fine linen pants shitstained. The corpse still sways slightly from side to side despite a lack of any air in the stifling room. Opifera backs out immediately and walks briskly to the front door, her mind now oblivious to the temptations of only seconds before. The doorman eyes her curiously as she starts past him and asks if there was any problems. She points back in and offers ‘he’s dead’ before hurrying back into the street waving off further questions. She hasn’t walked far when a smirking gobber falls into step next to her.

Back at the Ruby Glass the three others are waiting and drinking when Opifera leads the rough looking gobber named Felelle in and sits him down. The gobber explains that he is willing to pay for the necklace, 30 royal each and the promise of another job paying 50 a piece. He persistently waves off questions but is eventually dickered up to 35 royal a piece. Felelle then leaves to collect the coin and returns at dawn for the necklace and details of the new job. Taking the medallion, the gobber twists it open and pulls out a small piece of chalk from inside. It was this everyone was after.

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Monsters & Ghosts
6th Session continued

The sun was just splitting the horizon when Ano slipped down a drop line to Festering Street below. All the streets on this part of Hospice carried names related to disease mirroring the condition of the locals. Someone’s idea of a sick joke he guessed. Picking his way across the still waking streets Ano began his delicate dance of trying to look inconspicuous but not to be trifled with. He wasn’t a fearful gobber but he was bright enough to realize that he was much more vulnerable down here than hopping across the rigs above. Rigrunners make nice targets for those with nothing to loose, in other words, most of Five Fingers and pretty much all of Hospice. His delivery, some contracts from a loader’s union on Chasers, wasn’t anything sellable but thugs didn’t bother to check that type of thing out before bashing you in the head repeatedly and stealing your satchel.

As he neared the morning’s destination, the trollkin enclave of Kithgrav, the buildings changed shape. The multistoried, piecemealed hovels transformed almost at a line to sturdier squat structures using a suprising amount of stone. He wondered where the trolls got it from. His thoughts were interrupted by a quarrel just ahead. Two trollkin were in a heated argument over family honor and some theft. Smelling a job Ano’s ears perked up. After getting the jist of the trouble Ano begins to sell the services of the BellRow Troubleshooters to the trolls exagerating the guild’s expertise and experience, as well as their reasonable rates. Before midday the guild has a new contract and Apu, Fabrizio, Opifera, and Ano are on the job.

The subchieftain Feral Stoneborn explains to the Troubleshooters that a sacred tribal artifact had been stolen from an altar at the center of the enclave. The stolen token was the tooth of a giant, one of a set of five, each carved with different markings. Stoneborn suspects a lieutenant of Waernuks was involved. The lieutenant, there for collections, recently eyed the altar and made a passing, irreverant comment about the teeth. Stoneborn’s righthand, Uglor informs the Troubleshooters that his son of 13 summers, Utimo, has been missing since the night of the theft. He believes Utimo must have tried to prevent the theft and been killed in the process. His bristling tone prevents the group from offering any suggestion of the youth’s guilt. Only marginally cooperative, Stoneborn refuses to allow the group to handle the sacred teeth but does allow Apu to examine them and offers a rough translation of the glyphs. The stolen tooth carries an inscribed glyph symbolizing strength and the tribe believes it carries the full strength of the giant who once possessed it. With a little work Apu is able to recreate the missing glyph and using the other teeth he casts a powerful seeking spell to locate the missing totem. Apu gets a glimpse of a dark hole as well as an urge directing him westward across the island. Feral directs a young trollkin named Maug to follow the group until they find the tooth.

Whether it’s a reputation earned from their scuffle with one of Waernuk’s gangs on these streets a few weeks ago or only the bright afternoon sun to credit the Troubleshooters find no trouble crossing Hospice today.

Apu leads across the island uncomfortably near the Chatterstones. He stops the group outside a crumbling threestory standing alone between two long rows of apartments. The ancient building is dark at first glance but Fabrizio soon notices lights flickering within and creeps forward for a closer look. He doesn’t see much but he hears the sounds of clinking metal, possibly coins falling together in a heap. Determined not to be left out of the action this time, Opifera leads Fabrizio into the building followed by a more cautious Ano and lastly Apu who conjures a light with his magic. Convinced they’ve found the totem and reluctant to enter the building, Maug runs off to report to his kin. The large entry and immediately adjoining rooms are filled only with furniture, all badly decayed beyond recognition. A set of collapsed stairs lead up but beyond them lies a kitchen. The clinking sounds and whispered giggles come from that direction. Apu nods and the group moves into the kitchen. In the center of the next room lies a large iron potbellied stove, coated in dust, but seemingly in good condition. The stove is secured shut with a thick chain wrapped twice around the stove and padlocked. Around the room lie a half dozen human skeletons lodged in clamp-jaw beartraps, all long ago rusted to impotence. Small bits of cloth or pieces of rotted armor stick to a few of the skeletons. The air here is dry and choked with a dust kicked up with every step. The sounds have stopped and the only sounds are the cautious footsteps of the group. Apu leads on, and through a small doorway to the left.

Just beyond the kitchen Apu’s light shines into what must have been a small pantry at one time. The walls and floor are bare but central to the closet-like room is the mouth of a well. “The tooth is down there” Apu remarks and settles to the ground to catch a rest. Opifera and Fabrizio step forward for a closer look and in an instant ghostly hands materialize pushing Fabrizio down into the well. Opifera resists a similar push pulling herself back from the hole with a scowl.

Down below Fabrizio brushes himself off, and convinced he didn’t break anything, begins to look around. Apu cautiously leans his staff over the edge of the well throwing some light below. Opifera and Ano call down the well for Fabrizio, but he ignores their calls. The bottom of the well is dry and covered with a collection of broken and mostly decayed bodies. The stench is horrible. In the darkest corner of the hole a small figure is curled up and quivering. Fabrizio pulls his blade and pokes gently at it. Noticing him for the first time it croaks begging for water. He vigorously interogates the shaking young trollkin about the missing totem but the child continues to beg for water, his eyes rolled back in his head. Fabrizio pokes him hard with his blade and the troll cries out with pain. His eyes swim to focus and he throws the missing totem to the swordsman. Fabrizio grabs the tooth and after unsuccessfully trying to activate its supernatural powers he tucks it into his shirt. He then calls up to his worried friends above. While they discuss how to retrieve the two below Fabrizio renews his interogation and learns that this is indeed the young Utimo. The trollkin admits to borrowing the sacred totem. He planned to use it in a fight at the waterfront arena but he got trapped in this well when he slipped in the building to dodge a local gang. Someone he couldn’t see pushed him and he has been alone except for taunting voices for the last two days. He is starved and his voice croaks with lack of water. Satisfied, Fabrizio gives him a swig of wine.

About this time Grig and Utimo’s father Uglor come running into the house led by the trollkin youth Maug. Out of breath, they pick their way quickly through the house following the conversation in the well room. Grig darts behind feverishly whispering to himself and looking around nervously. With some rope and muscle Utimo and Fabrizio are hauled up the well and the totem is returned to the trollkin’s care. Uglor is incensed to learn of his son’s actions and drags him out of the building with a combination of barking beratement and savage blows of his fist. Maug follows the two eager to be away from the unsettling presences in the building.

Filling in Grig the curious Troubleshooters return to the kitchen and poke around the large potbelly stove. Ano takes a try at the heavy lock, rusty with age. Grig warns him “’they’ don’t want you to do that.” When Ano pauses, looking puzzled at him, Grig urges “open it, do it anyway!” in a rushed voice. Faces appear screaming and taunting and hands push and shove at the gobber but Ano manages to trick the huge lock apart with a snapping tick. Prying the large iron door of the oven open reveals a odd box hidden among the ashes. Ano takes it. The stirring of the spirits dies and tension fills the room. The sturdy wooden box is in good shape, reinforced with brass and a little larger than a cigar box. Inside the box is lined with a very thin sheet of dull metal scratched through to the wood in a delicate intersecting pattern. Inside the box lies a large chunk of polished amber.

With the box open the spirits erupt again in a cacaphony of screams and shouts, louder than ever. With lightening reflexes Grig snags the amber from the box in Ano’s hands and runs for the door. He bolts past Apu and ducks between the legs of the startled Opifera. Opifera looses no time in turning to give the gobber chase. Outside the building she calls at him but he mutters something incomprehensible about the guildhouse and is soon up in the rigs scampering spiderlike across the precarious lines. Exiting the building Apu and Ano shrug in confusion and decide to split up. Apu turns himself to air and rides the river winds back to the guildhouse on Dicers while Ano heads back across the island to Kithgrav to see about getting paid.

Opifera arrives at the guildhouse to find Grig leaning over the amber rubbing it with his grubby little hands. This gesture, combined with the look of greedy lust in his eyes, looks almost obscene. Seeing Opifera Grig’s grin deadens and he tells Opifera the amber is worth very little and suggests she let him sell it for the group. Suddenly, Grig convulses and his eyes narrow into a squint. Opifera eyes him suspiciously as he mutters and murmers arguing with someone only he can hear. After a minute or two Grig drops the amber onto the table and jerks back. He tells Opifera there is someone inside the amber. Her name is Ginny and she is rude. He doesn’t know how long she has been trapped but she knows at least some of the spirits that were in the building they found the box in and knows something about what it does. She wants desperately to be freed, in fact she demands it. It is about this time that Apu arrives and is filled in to the situation. He questions the gobber intently before falling silent considering the possibilities.

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Murder on the Roe - wrap-up
6th Session

Apu paces the guildhouse most of the morning stopping frequently to scribble down a sentence or two before considering it and scratching it out. In his mind he is going over contingency plans debating whether to stay in the city or flee before the law tracks them down. The debacle at Sole Manor would not be difficult to trace to them given even a mediocre wizard. The air in the guildhouse is electric with anticipation. When a knock comes, shortly after lunch Opifera and Ano exchange alarmed glances and the knock continues for some minutes before Opifera answers the door.

Livy lets herself into the small front office saying “I came as soon as I could. I heard about the fire, is Jules dead then?” When she confirms that she goes on to warn that Maurt is furious with the group and doesn’t know if he’ll be able to keep this underwraps. “He urged me to flee town to avoid getting tied up in it but my life is here now and anyway I needed to talk with you and find out what happened.” Despite her quick speech Livy looks years younger today. She is smiling and looks more relaxed than you’ve seen her. “I’m just glad the bastard is dead. I should have done this long ago. Before the monster killed my little sister. Thank you.” She looks at each of you smiling and then reaches into her jacket. “I’ve brought the payment we agreed upon” she pulls out a heavy silk coin purse. “100 royals for finding Laura’s murderer and another 200 for killing him. I’ve thought a lot about our last conversation and I think you are right. Laura is in Morrow’s hands now. I don’t want to see her dead body anymore, it’ll just make everything worse. But I want to pay you for that job just the same. Think of it as a thank you.” The purse contains 400 golden royals in total. After you look over the coins Livy stands up, smiles while wiping a tear from her cheek, pats Apu’s hands and leaves the office.

The next several days are harried and a streak of business keeps the BellRow Troubleshooters almost to busy to worry about the murder investigation. Then one day Lars Hutch, an unshaven, crude watch investigator from Captain’s Isle stops into the guild. He asks a few questions about the job Mr. Sole hired the guild for but doesn’t seem particularly interested in the answers. He bums one of Ano’s cigars and scowls threateningly when he learns the pantry has nothing by way of a midday pick-me up drink. He’s gone inside of fifteen minutes.

So ends the case of the murder of Laura Soles.

Extra XP is awarded for completing the story arc.

Notes from the GM:

This adventure was an experiment for me. Boiled down it was really a romantic tragedy disguised as a mystery and it focused most heavily on one character. The character of Ano in the story was present at the death of Laura Soles and participated in the framing of her husband Jules. The rest of the group did not know this and never guessed it throughout the adventure although they came pretty close. Ano’s player and I met before the first game session and roleplayed out the death scene in which Laura, a dear friend of Ano’s whom he had fallen in love with, informed him that she had swallowed poison to end her life as it was the only way to escape her abusive husband. In her naviate she had stolen Jule’s favorite dagger and asked Ano to stab her with it to implicate him in her death. She asked Ano to make sure that Jules paid for her death. A devastated Ano panicked, mourned, and did his best to cover his tracks. He then wrote the note found in Session 2 and pretended to find it kickstarting off the adventure. Throughout the adventure Ano had the difficult job of working constantly behind the scenes to keep the group on the trail of Jules and keep the ever surfacing clues pointed away from him. Ano’s player managed to do this with slipped notes, frantic miming from the kitchen when he hoped noone was watching, and emails and phone calls between sessions detailing his plans for the next session which almost invariably went ary. More amazingly he did all this while still keeping in mind how he thought Ano would feel and reacting appropriately, often adding to the danger of the group catching on.

As GM I was worried how the mystery would play out and especially how the group would react when they found out they were essentially being played. I made a strong commitment to play out the adventure as fairly as possible without a predetermined outcome. I would neither lead the group to discover Ano’s involvement nor steer them away from him and towards Jules. I attempted to play the characters in the story as driven by their own emotions and designs, some of which have yet to come to fruition. Ano’s player definitely had the element of the unexpected on his side but I made sure there were a handful of clues that he needed to intersect, bury, or explain away. All in all, I am very pleased with the way the adventure played out. It was fun, I think especially for me and for Ano’s player. The rest of the players were good sports about it. The players all now know what happened but their characters still don’t. In any case now it’s time to move on to something different. The next session was a one-shot.

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Murder on the Roe - die jules die
5th Session

The next morning the BellRow Troubleshooters are sitting around the table eating breakfast when Selma Toms comes calling. Only Grig is missing, having slipped out before the rest awoke. Toms, the owner of the Bell Row Clockwerks, has some guard work escorting a couple crates of windhass calitripators on deliveries to a dozen locations across Captain’s Isle. It should take most of the afternoon he explains. This job isn’t yet paying the bills so Haugin takes the work and heads out.

Later that day Apu, Opifera and Ano return to the Three Coins in Crucible Alley to meet with Livy and her evasive lover. Maurt turns out to be a lanky Ord with a few visible scars. He is good looking and dressed in fine clothes. He carries a shortsword and a large pistol of Yammish make. The two sit hand in hand and Maurt is initially quiet but after Livy answers a few questions he turns the interogation on the group wanting to know more about the guild, where their loyalties lie, what their motivation in this case is, and how serious they are. Apparently satisfied with their answers he turns to Livy and asks her if she is sure this is what she wants to do. She nods and squeezes his hand. Maurt admits they have proven Jules is guilty however without more solid evidence the law can have no hold on a man with his wealth and position. The only sure way to see that he pays for Laura’s death is with his own. Livy interupts and in a choked voice tells the group she will pay them 200 royals for the death of Jules Sole. The three BellRow Troubleshooters exchange nervous glances and Apu balks. Maurt goes on to explain that he can has friends in the investigator’s office and in the courts and can divert any serious inquiry provided the group can make the death look convincingly accidental. The group excuses themselves to privately discuss the offer. Apu expresses his disgust and questions the group’s direction should it begin taking assassination contracts. Opifera is doubtful of Jule’s actual guilt but believes that he clearly deserves to die regardless. She and Ano convince Apu to accept Livy’s offer.

The three walk back to the guildhall in silence. As they round the last bend they find Haugin stumbling back from the Swiggling Pig dragging along a man looking for work. The man is dressed in finely tailored, but well worn clothes and wears a thin blade at his hip. He smells of wine but his eyes hint he is far more alert than Haugin. He is cagey about his identity but eager to prove his skill. Opifera jumps at the challenge and Apu and Ano join her and the stranger out in the back alley while Haugin collapses into his bunk to sleep off the night’s revelry. The stranger’s bladework is too fancy for anything coming from the Fingers. In his hands the light blade cuts and parries Opifera’s larger cutlass with ease. He strikes true and takes no counter. It doesn’t take long before Opifera yields impressed. The stranger introduces himself as Fabrizio Moretti but then adds, as a hasty afterthought, a warning not to call him that in public. The Troubleshooters are wary of this impetuous bladesman but admit his skills would be valuable, especially considering Haugin’s current incapacitation. After some delicate questions about his moral character they present him a contract and sign him into the BellRow Troubleshooters.

The plan was a good one, if a bit too rushed. Apu’s attempts to slow down the planning are thwarted by Ano’s eagerness to finish the job. Ano and Fabrizio sneak into Sole Manor and steal up to Jule’s suite on the top floor where they open a window. Apu and Opifera sit in the shadows of the connected distillery outside awaiting a signal from the other two. At the signal Apu turns himself and Opifera to air and they enter through the open window. They then see to it that the ‘grieving’ Jules takes a suicidal jump from his suite to the ground or better yet off the nearby cliff. It all might have worked too… if it hadn’t been for that damned dog.

On alert after the break in and theft of his jewelry two nights ago Jules sleeps uneasily even with the additional guards. Ano and Fabrizio steal quietly into the manor’s kitchen and through the dinning room. Ano leads the way up the stairs into Jule’s suite. As he rounds the top of the stairs he comes face to face and face with the two headed argus hound he had tangled with on his last visit. It gives off a low, throaty growl and Ano stumbles back a step. Fabrizio leaps forward and stabs at the beast hoping to finish it quickly and quietly. The blow grazes it and the hound erupts in a frenzy of barking and biting. Fabrizio brings the beast down but too slowly and too messily. As they start up the stairs again they find Jules at the top aiming a double barreled rifle at his invaders. With lightning speed Fabrizio bounds up the stairs and moves his blade to guard the man’s weapon. The two square off, with each step trying to find the best ground. Jules holds his shot painfully aware that if his finger twitches his opponent could knock the gun aside. Unseen Ano slips up behind Jules flanking him. A shout from below interupts the standoff and Ano plunges his knife into Jule’s back. Enraged Jules spins to meet his attacker and Fabrizio pushes past the two and down the stairs to deal with the newcomer. A gunblast greets the bladesman narrowly missing him. Upstairs Ano dives and thrusts nearly oblivious to Jule’s wild shots as he fires his rifle at the gobber. A bullet blows through the wall behind him as Ano sinks another stab into Jules piercing his lungs. As Jules gasps Ano pulls the blade out and sinks it deep back into the man’s chest. Recognition and terror play across Jule’s face and he mutters ‘you…’ in a feeble voice as he collapses onto the frenzied gobber.

Downstairs Fabrizio has battled Jule’s two guards back slashing across their faces. The gunman falls screaming, his eyes raked out and bleeding. The second guard backs away grimly attempting to fend off the bladesman. Fabrizio takes a hacking cut to his chest before ripping his blade across the guard’s face puncturing his eye. The guard crawls backward begging for mercy. Breathing heavily, Fabrizio limps towards him. Opifera bursts into the dining room followed closely by Apu. They watch with horror as Fabrizio pulls his sword straight above the screaming guard’s head but do nothing to stop him as he plunges the thin blade through the man’s remaining eye and deep into his head. The guard’s body twitches violently in protest for many seconds after he is dead.

Apu turns to air and moves through the lower levels of the house. His exploration is cut short by a trio of guards entering the manor basement from the connected distillery. He rushes upstairs, materializes and with jerky gestures scatters splashes of fire across the room setting drapes and couches smoldering. Responding to muffled weeping from behind a door Fabrizio enters and approaches the sobbing woman hiding beneath her covers with his blade drawn. She begs to be left alive. Opifera pushes past Fabrizio and sternly commands him out of the room. He hesitates, but conceeds. Opifera calms the hysterical woman and leads her out of the manor followed by Fabrizio. Apu hears the guards coming up the stairs shouting and is forced to abandon his firestarting attempts in the lounge. He races past Ano, through the kitchen and out the back door. Ano scampers behind them all but pauses in the kitchen at the huge mechanikal stove. With the strength of desperation he pulls and yanks at the contraption forcing away the burner input and pumping every gear he sees up to full. In the next room the guards shout and run upstairs to find Jules as they discover the bloody, mutilated bodies of their fellow guards. The stove roars to full power as it spits sparks and chunks of flaming coal onto the floor and bouncing off the walls. Ano flees the manor chasing to catch up with after the rest of the group.

For hours the blaze can be seen eating up Sole Manor and the attached Island Rum Runners distillery. Across the channel on Dicer’s island a gobber sits alone on the roof of the BellRow Troubleshooter’s guildhouse watching the manor burn and collapse around the husband of the woman he loved.

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