Hix…into the Hook
There had been two scenes I wanted to play out since I knew Hix was going into Ironhook. We did one at the start of the session and squeezed the second into the end. Good times.
An armored carriage driven by goats through the camped streets of dunslough provided a grim view of the indentured district. Workers in the radiant energy fields toiled ceaselessly while less skilled laborers carried heavy loads of supplies while watched closely by harsh taskmasters. Panning up somewhat to get a better view of the district we saw incredible damage done throughout. Smoldering buildings, dead Spirit Wardens, and other evidence of the recent spectral invasion.
When the carriage arrived a surly Blue Coat with a riding crop in one hand and heavy ring of keys in another, opened it and barked a command. One at a time the convicts within, each chained to the next, began spilling out of the carriage, and at the end of the chain gang we saw Hix, moving along but wincing at he pain of the manacle clasped around her disfigured arm.
As they approached she saw the dehumanizing process as convicts that had arrived before her were being processed. Each of them stripped down, searched, and sent inside with little or know instruction or attention. There must have been some wires crossed because two of the guards were arguing with each other and as they did, Hix caught sight of a familiar face in the line beside her. Irelen was standing between several other, much tougher looking individuals. His head was hanging low and he was avoinding eye contact with everyone.
Hix, like she does, began talking to those around her, and asked what kind of inspection the guards would do. How…for example…might someone be able to smuggle a spirit bottle inside. Brie, a frequent tenant in Ironhook was happy to describe in detail the callous process of inspection. “If you wan to bring something in either swallow it or put it in your ass.”
Hix looked at Irelen, uncomfortably shuffling across from her and then looked ahead and saw the archaic lightning gate that all inmates had to pass through to get in. The machine was a relic, but she was also fairly certain that if spectral energy did try to pass through it, the energy (and possibly everything around it) would be incinerated. She had no desire to help Augus or Irelen, but her duty to the Keeper of the Flame pressed her to action. She slipped a small metal shaving she found on the ground into her mouth, and when we was pressed to go forward stalled until Irelen had caught up with her, and then monumentally shorted out the lightning filed by grounding it while they both passed through. [One Desperate as all hell Wreck roll (Note: Had this been part of a score, I probably would have first asked for action to sneak in the metal, maybe prowl or finesse, and then another to stall the guards, but I decided the really important part was whether or not she helped Irelen make it safely into the hook. Result: Partial success].
Hix did it, but by the time she gave up on the “strange coughing fit” she had earned the ire of the prison guards and in addition to several kicks and shoves, once they had her inside they took her deep down, under the earth into the natural caverns below. With a dim torch they pushed her further and further forward as the ceiling shrunk lower and lower, until finally she had to crawl to continue. They they closed a gate behind her and left her in a cramped hole, not even big enough to stand up in or lie down in, and walked away, leaving her in the dark as well [Serious consequence: Solitary]
Eyes Everywhere in Crows Foot
Arquo went to talk to Stiener about the work they could do for the Coalridge workers while Harland and Elke headed to the Leaky Bucket, which they were told had been rebuilt since the Red Sashes burned it down. Crows Foot was just as menacing as it always is. Sneak thieves and cut purses on every corner, brutes and killers in every alley. The took their trusty gondola but even in the canals didn’t feel safe.
As they were passing through one particularly dark and narrow section, Harland was sure he saw eyes in every window and rooftop staring at him. He drew out his gun and fired into the black sky and yelled out that he saw them, he saw them all! His display sent the eyes of Crows Foot scurrying but also made them remember his name [Risky Command with a Devil’s bargain that everyone would know he was in Crows’ Foot. Full success]
The New Leaky Bucket
Having been haphazardly rebuilt as quickly as possible, the Leaky Bucket was up and running, but had leaks in the ceiling for all different reasons. Instead of sagging under the weight of decades of tar and shingles, it was now simply assembled hastily and will probably be patched one way or another for decades to come. Bits of the old building remained. A few charred benches and tables could still be used. The old mirror, now blackened with soot was still behind the bar. And some of the bottles, now indistinguishable from each other except for their shape, miraculously maintained their contents in drinkable form. Or perhaps some just didn’t patrons just weren’t that discriminating.
When the arrived there was a table with two sarsaparillas waiting for them. A friendly jibe taken at the students after everyone heard that Harland had fired at the lookouts. A less friendly response was that soon into their meeting, one of Grace’s agents made his way into the Bucket as well to spy on Harland and discover what dirt he could.
A job from Bazso
Bazso greeted Elke fondly and gave a respectful nod to Harland once Elke vouched for him. Bazso had a job that he thought Elke would be perfect for. There were two people that needed to die – no, he wasn’t asking them to kill anyone – but they needed to be found in a different location than their death. Preferably moved faster than the Deathseeker Crows would find them.
Normally he’d just put the bodies on a carriage and drop them off, but in this case they needed to be inside the North Hook Company offices, and those are too well guarded for his people to sneak bodies into. He hoped that Elke, with her…talents, could animated the bodies to appear living long enough to get them inside their offices. Elke said she would need use of his circlet once more, which he accepted as the cost of this kind of work despite his disdain for loosing track of it.
The original offer for the work was six coin, a handsome sum, but Harland was feeling desperate and in need of quick infusion of slugs, so he pushed for more and haggled his way all the way up to nine coin, with the small caveat that they would do the entire job (i.e. killing the people as well). Elke was wrapped up in considering the ingredients she’d need for her ritual and didn’t notice the change of terms. [Desperate Sway. Partial Success]
Bazso agreed. Their targets were Erin and Lannock and they could be found in the Hound’s Tooth, a Billhook controlled brothel in a section of Crows Foot that was otherwise controlled by the Lampblacks and the Crows in equal measure. The DSS didn’t ask for any more information about their marks so they left it at that.
The right stuff for the job
Harland confided with Arquo about his arrangement and Arquo, not the sentimental type, shrugged at the transnational nature of the work. Kill people, get money. That’s fine. What he wasn’t fine was the fact that Bazso was playing them NINE BLASTED COIN to kill two people and Bazso had offered Arquo a mere coin in the memory of his sister who had served the Lampblacks unto her death!
The agreed that killing poisoned people was easier that killing fully lucid people and so Harland set off to the Society’s Laboratory (read: the Lab in Jayan hall that nobody else is allowed into else the student patrol might have some words with them) to brew some Drown Powder. A fine dust that incapacitates by giving the sensation of drowning. Yikes!
Softening up the Marks
Arquo and Jadvyga headed to the Hounds Tooth and in time Arquo noticed that the bouncer out front was wearing the bloodstained apron signature to the Billhooks. He was keen to keep his head down so no one would be suspicious of them as they entered [Full Success on the Engagement roll, meaning they stated with a controlled situation]. Jadvyga went first and Arquo slipped by and the door man leered.
Inside was a common room filled with people luxuriating, fried food, and many libations. The weren’t immediately approached by anyone so they sat down to get a lay of the land. Arquo didn’t know this Lannock figure, but he had met Erin before, she is the sister of Tarvul (the Billhooks leader) and he knew she wasn’t someone to be trifled with. He could also tell she wasn’t in a any of the common rooms but that there was a catwalk upstairs with several closed curtains and doors.
Eventually the were approached by the host, a young delicate man with smooth curves all over. He was dressed only in trousers and it was clear his bare feet and chest had been oiled recently. He sought to offer any pleasures they desired by Arquo indicated that his companion was nervous, this was her first time, and so they wanted to spend a bit more time just taking it all in [Controlled consort that ended with a minor complication of the host returning soon].
They went upstairs and this time made an active search to find Erin and Lannock and while they found them, it wasn’t before they first upset another couple in congress and brought the host back to find out the cause of some minor commotion.
Arquo ended up in one of the private rooms, and then subsequently was kicked out when they determined he couldn’t pay [Bad result on a Lifestyle roll as he had no coin in him] but that bought Jadvyga enough time that with her near superhuman speed she was able to drop the drown powder in the drinks meant for Erin and Lannock and then bolt out a window before anyone caught sight of her [Desperate Prowl, pushing herself to use the Devil’s Footsteps. Partial success]. She made it out but all her speed did not help her prepare for the fall on to hard cobblestone below. She rolled with the land but still sprain her ankle badly [Harm 3, resisted with prowess down to Harm 2].
As the prison guard walked out of the dank cell with his feeble torch we swiped through town and through time to Frost holding a torch of his own and setting it down before asking, nay, begging Hix not to turn herself in. “That place. It will break you. Please Hix, don’t do this. Send someone else. Send Elke. She was actually caught in the act!” But Hix was optimistic, she was sure she’d make friend and do just fine. Everything would work out. Frost blew out his lantern and we returned to Hix cold and alone in the dark. Far from Frost and farther still from the Keeper of the Flame.
Oh my, this entire session.
Hix in Jail. So good.
Arquo’s anger about Bazso.
Harland talking Bazso up and agreeing to kill Erin and Lannock. Elke oblivious to it all.
Elke’s fascination with the potential power of the circlet and her preparations to animate not one but two bodies at once with it!
What could have improved
I wasn’t feeling very inventive when I was thinking of complications at the Hound’s Tooth. Mostly I thought it made sense for the host to want to make sure nobody was partaking of their services (including using their spaces) without paying, so his attention was a constant thorn in their sides. I think I could have done more with Erin and Lannock though.
I forgot to tell Jadvyga that she was sickened (Level 1 Harm) after applying the Drown Powder to the drinks.