Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Tillam's Thoughts 2

[This post and the next two soon to follow contains over 2 months worth of play reports summed up. For more details on our adventures follow the live tweets for mmaranda, or check out the compilations from those tweets here: ]

Tillam was sitting on boat, eating fish and hardtack, again. He sat thinking. How did it come to this. Two weeks ago! TWO WEEKS I was a reputable clockmaker and locksmith. A man with a shop a career and a chance at setting his sight on possibly becoming one of the Cittadini. Then I got two visits in less than 24 hours that changed everything. The first, the clockwork priest hasn't returned, but he will... Hell that business involves Dad and even Got Ren an SPQV to come looking for me. Only thing I could tell him was Dad did some speculative trade with the “Punchline”. I provided him what books I could. My hope is that he'll be able to track down the money that was made there, maybe even provide a clue to Dad's location, really he's the least of my worries but the money would be good.

The second that was what got me here. That damned Banacek Giovanni came collecting a debt I couldn’t pay, so to ease my fiunacial burden he offered me a deal I couldn’t refuse ‘Break into the Ferrante house and retrieve a box’. I’d be working for a Bruthalese named Alexi.”

A day after that I had entered the sewers with “Sausage Fingers” Xan as a guide and and a Scraeling named Hrothgar. That ill fated reconnaissance resulted in Xan dieing a terrible death after stepping on some kind of poison sewer fish. Hrothgar and I got him out of the sewers and started looking for an apothecary. We wound up in a shop called the Magic Box where there was a Cebalese named Caleb. He seemed genuinely concerned and cut us a deal on treatment. Although he tried his best to help he was unsuccessful and Xan succumbed to the poison there. Caleb was fortunately able to dispose of the body, and ultimately that was worth the cost of treatment alone. His services weren’t cheap and we had to leave most of Xan’s gear with him to pay for the attempt. Meanwhile Alexi started staking out the the Ferrante house. It seemed he was stockpiling wine. After running a little more information gathering we learned he was doing that in preparation for a big celebration after the Stabientia Blues game. We also learned a great deal of his security team would be with him during that game. Leaving the house relatively empty. So that was when we planned to approach. The Blue’s game was 4 days away. Preparation of supplies and equipment to travel the sewers and deal with noxious gasses, poisoned fish, intelligent hordes of rats, and possibly getting lost down there began. Alexi, also decided to hire a little muscle before we went in. He got three Bruthalese men, possible related to Banacek  named, the leader of the group was named Luigi the other two were his brother and cousin.

That went well until we were just under Ferrante’s house. There was a second team, that was hired by, Ingrid, a Scraeling, who also got Hrothgar in touch with us. They dropped pretty quickly and we would have mopped the floor with them except for their Omulian mage. He put half of us to sleep. I was able to throw a few daggers at him and take him out of the fight but after that one of their warriors, cracked me on the head. Not sure what happened in detail but I was told Hrothgar woke up from the magical snooze and with the help of the hired muscle took apart anyone that got in his way. After people were revived from the fight and we had some time to search the other team we proceeded on into the subbasement of the Ferrante house. Alexi produced a map, from the markings on it it looked like it was my father’s handwriting and secret script. I never learned his code. But still, knowing he had done the work allowed me to guess where traps were.  Alexi, also found a scroll of protection from undead on the other team.

Armed with the map and the scroll we proceeded a little too boldly. I missed a pressure plate on the floor causing hundreds of gallons of water to come flooding down on us. Sewer water and lord knows what else to come streaming down a side pipe. It was an old trap and disrepair prevented it from doing any harm to us. As we moved forward I spotted a classic pit trap/choke point and navigated our way around it. But that is as far as we got before things went terrible. We reached a closed portcullis. While we began to deal with that, noises started coming from a side tunnel, shufflings and groanings and a stench like I’ve never experienced. It was then that we saw the guardians. They were zombies or something like it. Undead, a creation out of nightmares. These things shambled out. I used the scroll as quickly as I could but they came on more quickly. Swarming us assulting not only our bodies but our senses as well. We forced out way past the gate. But lost several of out support. Leaving just Luigi, Hrothgar, Alexi, and myself. We ducked down a secret passage marked on the map. When we got tot he other end we met with what remained of a third team of people trying to crack Ferrante’s house. This team now consisted of two survivors Giovanni and his bodyguard Nero. The rest fell to undead like those we had fled from. It seems Banacek learned of the double cross and came to help us out. When he saw there was a fight he went on with his team.

After we regrouped we found the entry to the actual basement of Ferrante’s house. We moved up and forward reeking of undead ichor and the sewers. As we progressed a time delayed trap caught the last of our spare muscle. We progressed deeper into the basement. We had to be careful, but were able to successfully evade the staff moving about. Yet there was something strange as we came to the location of Ferrante’s vault and the presumed location of our target. There was another man and he seemed to be threatening one of the servants. Hrothgar was first to approach and we were able to determine that he was there to collect the team Ingrid sent. Though perhaps that team was to keep Hrothgar alive if he didn’t put up a fight. Either way I was needed to open the safe the box was in and that I did. But far more interesting than the safe, and the box, that was never opened, was the structure that took up the bulk of this treasurery. It was an elaborate printing press. What he was printing and why he needed that much paper, and ink was beyond me. Also the full details of how it worked would have taken me weeks to suss out. This machine did not just impress type set letters onto paper. It did more than that. It seemed almost as though it could cast the plates that other printing machines could use. As if printing on paper was a secondary goal of this. Regardless I couldn't spend much time inspecting that device. I had a safe to crack and a debt to have lifted. So I retrieved it and put it in the hands of Banacek. We used Kiin (the man hired to extract the other team) and the servant he was pushing around to bring us to the wine. We put the box in the wine. Quickly bathed in fresh water and wine and began acting as porters for the stuff. The plan was to take it out of the building and away.

As we executed this plan, we found things made even easier because some Shan Li was dominating the Pai Gow Poker table. Turns out that crazy Shan Li was Mr. Hu the luckiest guy I know. As we were almost out of the building Banacek and Alexi spotted a woman on a balcony. They left me with Nero, Hrothgar, and Kiin to bring the box back to the drop point. We were able to give Kiin the slip. But not long enough. As we started up the rock Kiin and a ship full of people ambushed us. He had Caleb with him. We had little option but surrender.

Kiin was friendlier to Hrothgar than me or Nero. But Hrothgar seemed as blindsided by Kiin’s actions as anyone. He also advocated for my safety so I am still inclined to trust him. In the end we were hustled onto a boat and travelled to Terminalia. During the travel we established that Ingrid set us, and Hrothgar, up. Again to Hrothgar’s honor and credibility he said he would talk to Ingrid on my behalf to see about me getting paid. I also seems Kiin hasn’t performed many secret operations and was working well below scale. Eventually we pulled into a dock near a warehouse. I was left in the boat with Nero and a crew of Shan Li. The rest went into the warehouse with the box. They came back with money and no box. The decision was made that night to see Ingrid and try to get to the bottom of the details.

We took, what I learned later to be, Kiin’s boat up the canals towards The Wyvern’s Sting. This was Ingrid’s bar/base, I say was because when we arrived the place was on fire. Some were trying to put it out and others were negotiating looting rights. Either way there were no Skraeling to be found. Hrothgar began looking for a secret entrance, Kiin, Caleb and Nero were looking for witnesses or to determine if there were any Skraeling hiding in the area. Mr. Hu and I heard a child calling for help from inside the conflagration. Somewhere on the second floor. Scaling the building was relatively easy but inside was smoke and burning death. As we moved through the building we were cutoff from each other. Mr. Hu was able to go through the entire building and he found the boy. I however, found a dead body being consumed by a giant raven. It was confused by my stature and I was able to escape without it eating me. I was unfortunately unable to save the creature.

It took us some time to regroup after that. Hrothgar had found signs of a fight a blood leading out of the secret exit. Kiin, Caleb, and Nero hadn’t been able to learn much but they did catch Mr. Hu as he jumped out a window with a young Shan Li, boy named, Ping. I was able to calm him down. We learned the boy had no family but an old man who by all account perished in the blaze. By now dawn was starting to break and we were all exhausted. The rest of the group was separating with plans to rest for a few hours before meeting up at lunch tomorrow. As we drifted apart I found Ping following me. Realizing he had no place to go, I took the orphan in. If he is smart enough he can become my apprentice; if not then he’ll apprentice to somebody else in a career needing less finesse of both mind and hand. But in the meantime he can be a focus for Aunt Fiora and he might even be able to help her around the house. As we took a gondola home he told me some details of what happened.

It seems The "Fancy Boys", a gang or as we later pieced together possibly members of house Dandolo, torched the building. The were in Ping’s words  “6 Varna (Shan-Li for Varonian) wearing fancy overcoats. Dark colors but very rich.” He claims they walked up to the Wyvern's Sting fought with somebody and then torched the place. Seems like they used Molotov cocktails. Nasty business that. We finally reached home. I set him up in what used to be my room. Then I collapsed on my bed stinking of ash, sweat, and stale wine.



To be continued in the next post. Broken up to keep it short enough that people might still read it.