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RunePunk: ScatterPoint Stories [Spoilers]
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In ScatterPoint, when things get way beyond words, my preferred course of action is to...
Engage in the voracious thrill of hand to hand combat.
33%
 33%  [ 7 ]
Fast draw a firearm and solve my problem with an explosion of hot lead.
33%
 33%  [ 7 ]
Elegantly sketch a rune of power that succinctly makes my point for me.
9%
 9%  [ 2 ]
Subtly call upon the blessings of Umbriel to aid me in my vindication.
0%
 0%  [ 0 ]
Rely on the synergistic foundation of applied and theoretical science used in an inventive manner.
4%
 4%  [ 1 ]
Run…run fast…run now !!!
19%
 19%  [ 4 ]
Total Votes : 21

Author Message
Marcos
Novice


Joined: 28 Apr 2006
Posts: 98
Location: Hickory, NC

PostPosted: Mon Mar 19, 2007 9:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bill wrote:
Mark,

Very nice balance of detail and description covering game actions and rolls! You have captured much of a vision of Scatterpoint with terrific prose and excellent coverage! I love the little details that are often overlooked in briefer descriptions. You certainly are taking the effort to make the setting come alive. I will blantantly steal much of your descriptions for my running of the game and must thank you in advance for the words to describe the vision!

Again, very well done!


Bill,

Thank you for the kind words and please feel free to steal as much as my vision of ScatterPoint as you like. Though to be honest, Sean did a terrific job of placing the seeds for that vision all throughout the campaign setting material. All I am doing is making sure that they sprout like witchgrass after a runestorm. Smile

Also, I would be remiss not mention that two of my players are kind enough to play editor for my session summaries. They help make sure that I do not look too bad and for that I am very grateful. #1icon_bow

I hope that you have as much fun as my group and I are having with RunePunk and I would love to read any tales you may have of your group’s adventures.

Good gaming.
_________________
Mark

Second watch. Roll for surprise.
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Marcos
Novice


Joined: 28 Apr 2006
Posts: 98
Location: Hickory, NC

PostPosted: Mon Mar 19, 2007 9:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

6th of Veil 1107p.t. (Post Tempest) [continued]

As Veruna went to inform the Malakar of the slain slag rats, Katryn and Roxton searched the ruined kitchen looking for anything of value. Meanwhile, Nicodemus and Jonathon moved through the kitchen’s opposite door to see what lay beyond.

The tinkerer and retriever’s searches were not in vain, as Roxton discovered a dark ebony box with tarnished silver hinges and locking clasp. The box was a roughly rectangular shape and as he pulled it forth from the slag rat nest, he felt something shift inside. Immediately Katryn was by his side, her curiosity aroused at discovering what the case contained.

The inventor pulled forth a set of lock picks and set about defeating the box’s clasp. Katryn’s first attempt was thwarted, so Roxton asked if he could use her tools for a moment. The retriever, having observed Katryn’s first efforts, attempted a different approach and the locking clasp sprang open.

Within the box lay a razor-edged stiletto etched with runes. The weapon had a burnished steel cross-guard and an orb shaped pommel. The hilt was wrapped in black leather and as Roxton lifted it clear, he was amazed at how light the weapon was in his hand. There was no doubt the weapon was runic.

While the treasure-seeking duo were busy securing their prize, the runecaster and shadowpriest inspected the hall beyond the kitchen. The hall ran to the right of the kitchen’s exit, with a door directly opposite and two others further down on either side. The hall terminated at a wall of grime-covered glass that glowed faintly with the setting sun. Before the glass wall the floor was covered in a field of razor-sharp shards. Set at the apex of the wall the pair could see the partial opening of what had been one of the tower’s windows.

The pair decided to check the door across the hall and as Nicodemus opened the thin stone door, it fell askew from its damaged upper hinge, screeching alarmingly against the flagstone floor. Beyond laid the ruined remains of Colrac Manor’s pantry. Trash lay strewn about the floor and the smell of mold and age hung heavy in the air.

By this time Veruna had rejoined the group, having received a terse and garbled acknowledgment of her offer through the Night Stalker’s barricaded door as they devoured the rations she had given them. As the Malakar joined up with Roxton and Katryn, the retriever offered her the runic dagger since Veruna tended to fight hand to hand.

The wayfinder declined saying that she didn’t really need a rune weapon and quickly made her way out of the kitchen so that the pair could not push the issue. Roxton shrugged and handed the stiletto over to Katryn who gladly accepted.

Veruna joined Nicodemus and Keeganfall in the far hallway just as the pair finished searching in the pantry. The wayfinder detected the sound of a faint lullaby emanating from one of the closed doors warded by the glass shards. Motioning to the others, the three fell back into the kitchen to discuss their options with Katryn and Roxton.

As Veruna related what she had heard, Roxton asked Nicodemus what he thought it might be. The runecaster sarcastically answered that the sound was most likely the unquiet dead and should be avoided. Of more pressing concern was the field of glass shards the group would need to pass through to reach the window that led into the inverted glass tower piercing the center of Colrac Manor.

Roxton proposed the use of the stone doors to make a walking plank to circumvent the dangerous area of shards. The others agreed and Katryn set to work with her tool kit to remove the doors from their hinges.

A short time later the two doors the group had taken from the kitchen and pantry formed a bridge covering the glass-covered expanse. Throughout their noisy removal of the doors and the subsequent dropping of the doors to form the bridge, the sound of the faint lullaby never wavered.

Roxton took the lead and decided that he was not comfortable with leaving an unsecured room behind the group. The retriever told the others to be ready and with violent force sent the door crashing into the room with the mysterious singing.

Following Sloan were Veruna and Katryn. The three sprang into the room to witness a midair disruption within what had been Colrac Manor’s barracks. One wall had been replaced with the faintly glowing wall of the glass tower and in that light the shade of a petite, attractive woman became manifest.

As the shade coalesced, the tempo of its lullaby transformed into shrieks reminiscent of Talus-spawned horror. A terrifying apparition that sparked with runic energy replaced the woman’s image. Her delicate hands became disproportionate hooked talons, her long hair a writhing mane, her eyes red points of light, and her sweet features twisted with hate and rage.

The sight overwhelmed Roxton with battle rage and he lunged forward only to watch his rapier cut through the Fury with no effect. Katryn held on to her sanity and sent flaring white bolts from her L.A.S.E.R. flashing through the apparition to ricochet off of the glass wall. Veruna pulled her short sword and maneuvered to flank the creature as it closed with the retriever.

The Fury slashed in at Roxton, her intangible claws solidifying just long enough to tear his LeatherJack short coat. Moments later the retriever was forced to spring backwards as Veruna’s short sword slashed through the Fury without effect. Thinking quickly, Sloan hollered for Katryn to use the rune dagger they had discovered.

By this point Nicodemus and Keeganfall had cleared the doorway into the former barracks. The runecaster, his prediction confirmed, shrugged off the horrific sight but the shadowpriest was stunned, the blood draining from his already pale features.

Seeing the foes arrayed against her, the Fury drew upon the ambient runic energy of ScatterPoint, her eyes going a deep black as she screamed forth a cloying cloud of swirling, greasy, charcoal-colored fog that flowed over everyone but Veruna. The cloud seized the minds of the enveloped jobbers and the four were assailed with all of the despair, anguish, sorrow, and madness that seemed to be infused throughout the environs of city.

Roxton felt his limbs seizing up as he fought to hold onto his sanity. Drawing upon his father’s disciplined training, the retriever clumsily slashed again at the Fury to no effect. As Sloan hollered again for the rune dagger, he heard Katryn’s anguished sobs and knew that her mind had been overwhelmed by the Fury’s gloom.

Katryn had indeed succumbed to the Fury’s unleashed torment and the inventor was paralyzed by the emotional overload thrust upon her. Desperately, in the recesses of her mind, she fought to regain her sense of self.

Nicodemus’ training and willpower had given him the edge to throw off the Fury’s mental assault. However, the images and feelings the gloom had provoked awakened the simmering rage that Nicodemus suppressed. With a curse at the Fury, the runecaster moved through the door’s threshold and sketched the symbol for his runic bolt. The rune blazed out with red energy, but the Fury evaded the attack, and the rune seared into the glass tower behind her. The Fury turned her attention from Roxton to this new threat with a snarl.

Meanwhile, the gloom’s assault had given Jonathon the momentary benefit of eclipsing his sight of the Fury. No stranger to depression and bouts of self-doubt and loathing, the shadowpriest easily overcame the gloom’s effects. Realizing that Katryn was paralyzed by the gloom, Keeganfall moved to attempt to aid her.

Seeing that the Fury was unharmed by normal steel and knowing that the group did not have the time to retrieve the rune dagger from Katryn, Veruna dropped her short sword and flexed forth her fighting talons.

The black claws sprang from the backs of her hands and runic energy sparked about their edges. The wayfinder swung in hard at the Fury, counting on the speed of her assault to prevent it from dodging. Veruna’s short blond hair sparked as her claws found purchase within the runic energy of the spirit. As the Malakar finished the follow through of her swing, the Fury disintegrated in a rage-filled scream.

The group paused to catch their breath as Katryn’s sobs quieted and Roxton shook off the last of the lethargy that had gripped his limbs. Veruna quickly sheathed her claws, but not before her fellow jobbers had witnessed how she had defeated the Fury.

Veruna proceeded to explain to the group that she was Malakar and possessed the ability to shape shift. To emphasize her tale, the wayfinder first laid out a larger set of Barren muckers, knowing that she would need to change into more accommodating garb. After a brief withdrawal to adjust clothing, Veruna returned to the group and then slowly released her held form that was so reminiscent of her mother. Within moments she was her normal, dusky grey-skinned self.

Katryn was intrigued by Veruna’s abilities and began badgering her with requests for details and other possible forms, but the men of the group seemed to take Veruna’s revelation in stride. Veruna was gladdened to see the group react so seemingly positive to her heritage. After a few further questions concerning just what her shape shifting allowed her to do, the jobbers made ready to venture into the inverted glass tower.

The group moved to the opening they had discovered at the end of the hall that permitted access into the glass tower. Keeganfall was the first up and through the window, securing a rope to aid the others’ climb in through the window. He shouted back that the room appeared to be some sort of cellblock.

Moments later all of the jobbers were within the inverted tower. Thick glass walls, their semi-opaque interiors showing fragmentation, surrounded the group. As Jonathon had informed them, a series of glass walled cells dominated the circumference of the room. Bent bars of blackened metal lay scattered on what was once the ceiling, cluttering an area already covered with dust and glass fragments. A curving passageway led off to the group’s right.

As the group looked around, Roxton pulled forth his dark lamp and lit it to provide them some illumination as the light within the tower began fading with the onset of night. The jobbers discussed what the cells might have been used for while Katryn gave the bars a closer look. The inventor saw that the mangled metal had been etched with runes, now tarnished, their power long since expended. Taking a fragement of a bar for future study, Katryn moved to catch up to the group as they began following the curved passageway.

The passageway was a half circle about the circumference of the tower. Above their heads the jobbers noted inverted sculpted glass benches, obviously attached in some manner to the room’s previous floor. Dust stirred in the wake of their passage, lending credence that the Stone Keepers were unaware of the opening the group had used to gain admittance to the tower.

At the end of the passage was a glass door, framed with more of the strange black metal. The door’s inverted latch proved to be locked, so Roxton and Katryn applied their skills once more and the group’s entry was obtained.

Stepping into the room over the lintel, the group deduced that the chamber had once been a lavishly appointed bedroom. The partially crushed frame of a glass four-poster bed was scattered against one of walls, moldy linens torn and rotting black against the posts. A standard glass door stood in the wall to the group’s left and a sliding glass door, slightly ajar, was across the room.

Nicodemus and Katryn checked the sliding door, while Roxton listened at the one to the left. Keeganfall, his Andari eyesight the best in the group, kept watch in the recently traveled passageway while Veruna searched the ruined bedroom.

The sliding door turned out to be a walk-in closet. A large circle of charred clothing lay around a medium sized black metal chest. A tarnished rune could be seen above the intricate lock, but Nicodemus could not make it out against the dark metal. Katryn told the runecaster to wait a moment and, using pieces of the poster bed and scraps of the bedding, made a serviceable mop to wipe off the blackened rune.

Nicodemus took the cobbled together mop and pulled the closet door closed until he had just enough of a gap to maneuver the mop against the rune. Blue electricity discharged in a flash of eldritch energy, burning away the accumulated dust and filling the closet with a rank odor mixed with ozone.

Sarcastically, the runecaster stated that the symbol was apparently a warding rune. Nicodemus then thought back to his training and determined that the rune was probably deactivated if the proper key was used. Deciding caution was a wise course regarding the chest, the pair decided to wait to find out what secrets it contained.

While Katryn and Nicodemus were busy with the chest, Roxton called Keeganfall over to peer through the lock of the second door since the retriever hadn’t heard anything behind it. The Andari’s eyes picked out enough details of the room beyond to tell Roxton that he believed it to be some sort of laboratory.

After Veruna finished her own search, which turned up nothing of value, Roxton and Katryn picked the lock and access to the laboratory was achieved. In the light of the dark lamp the jobbers saw inverted glass tables still mounted to the floor turned ceiling, the contents they had once held littered about the now ceiling turned floor. Across the lab was a stairway now turned into a steep ramp roofed by the stairs, which appeared as triangular glass stalactites.

As the jobbers searched they found a human skeleton, its once fine robes rotted to its bones. At its waist was a decaying leather belt to which were clipped a set of ornate keys.

Beyond the crumpled remains rested another set of skeletons. The additional skeletons were a pair of what appeared to be large growlers, a canine-like breed of predators that stalked the barrens. It was obvious to the jobbers that the remains had been arranged with care to show what they had once been.

Nicodemus and Katryn took the keys and found the one whose end was shaped like the rune of defense upon the chest. Moments later they were removing a hardened leather pouch of coins and two scroll tubes from the chest’s interior.

The coins were of heavy gold, their value now worthless in ScatterPoint as money but possibly worth a fortune in royals to the right collector. The scroll tubes contained letters of credit, also worthless beyond their possible value as collectibles. Hoping that Lady Tela might be tempted by their finds, Katryn stowed the coins and letters in her backpack.

Seeing the arranged skeletons, Veruna attempted to ascertain when they had been reassembled. However, the wayfinder’s skills were not equal to the task and all Veruna could determine was that they had been assembled quite some time before.

Having secured the contents of the chest and finding nothing else of value in the ruined laboratory, the jobbers made ready to ascend to the next level of the inverted tower. Keeganfall wrapped the end of Veruna’s tanglevine rope about his waist and nimbly made his way up the steep ramp. At the top he rounded a slight turn and shortly thereafter hollered down that the rope had been secured. Then, while Keeganfall waited upon his companions to join him, he took in the bizarre upside down level he found himself on.

Multiple walls descended from the current ceiling. The walls stopped just short of the ground ceiling turned, leaving a four-foot gap. Peering underneath these opaque glass partitions, the Andari could easily see what appeared to be black steel hurdles and areas of the floor covered in a scattering of metal caltrops. It was then that he caught a flash of movement out of the corner of his grey eye and whipped his rapier from its sheath.

It was as Katryn was making ready to ascend that the group heard the shadowpriest exclaim in surprise. As the inventor hurried up the ramp, the tanglevine rope pulled taut by Veruna, she heard Jonathon yell down that he had seen movement.

The group tried to make their way as quickly as they could up the steep ramp, but in their haste they slipped and slid, causing their ascent to be slowed. Roxton was able to reach the top, but Nicodemus continued to be thwarted in his climbing attempts. The runecaster was quickly becoming exasperated as Veruna kept urging him from the bottom of the ramp to get to where the others were being threatened.

Nicodemus, his frustration at its peak, drew the rune of spirit calling into the air, summoning a spirit to aid him in his ascent. Immediately a spirit answered, appearing as a translucent female human of red energy. The runic spirit scooped up the Bloodrune scion and rushed him to the top of the ramp. However, the ambient rune energies that suffused the area had found an open conduit through Nicodemus and energy continued to pour through him like water through a sieve.

The called spirit was the sole recipient of this power and as Nicodemus struggled to regain control of the runic energies that coursed through him, the spirit fed. The womanly form became more and more solid in appearance. Unconsciously, the runecaster imprinted the spirit with his memories, such that her features took on the likeness of his mother. Even more profound was the fact that instinctively Nicodemus imbued sentience upon the spirit, including his knowledge of runecasting. Finally, as he managed to lock down on the outpouring of runic energy, the runecaster was able to bind the rune wraith to his will.

While this transpired, the inventor, retriever, and shadowpriest found themselves staring at the slavering jaws of three large-chested growlers. The beasts were three and a half feet tall at the shoulders, with massive canine heads, luminous yellow eyes, and sharp white fangs. Long coats of grey and brown fur covered sculpted muscled frames and long lean legs ended in sharp black nails that clicked upon the glass floor.

With their ears flat against their skulls, the Stone Keepers’ “gone dogs” attacked. Keeganfall’s blade work held one at bay and Roxton just managed to send a bullet into another as the mutated growler was flickering in and out of sight. As the gone dog dropped from the echoing shot and slid down the ramp, Katryn activated her K.E.V.L.A.R while pulling forth the rune dagger.

The inventor lashed out, but the gone dog’s flickering form caused her to miss just as the distortion field about her thwarted its return bite. Jonathon, meanwhile, managed to flick his cloak into his attacker’s maw, narrowly avoiding having his shin crushed by the its snapping jaws.

As the growler spit the shadowpriest’s cloak out of its mouth, Roxton began maneuvering around the other one. However, both gone dogs gated away before the retriever could take his shot. Soon after, Sloan heard the gone dogs baying above them in the tower.

By this point Nicodemus was recovering from the strain of having inadvertently summoned a rune wraith servant. In his dazed state he gave voice to his disbelief and with that slip of the tongue bequeathed the name “Kay” upon his arcane companion. Muttering that he could have thought that through better, the runecaster shook his head, bringing himself back to the present situation.

The jobbers, now reunited, proceeded to make their way by ducking underneath the maze of partial walls. Across the chamber that made up the maze, the companions arrived at another opaque glass door framed in metal. A quick shuffle through the keys found the one they needed. Roxton listened at the door and, hearing nothing, he tried the latch and shoved the door open with his shoulder.

Only years of training in service with his father saved the retriever as he sprang backwards from the stroke of a massive glass axe with a witchgrass haft. The razor-edged blade sheared through the brim of Sloan’s slouch hat and skipped off of the front of his LeatherJack short coat. Behind that haft was a Stone Keeper armored in a patched leather corselet and carrying a scrap metal shield.

At the same moment three gone dogs materialized amongst the jobbers scattered through the maze of walls and attacked. The growlers sprang with ferocity, their sharp white teeth bared and gnashing. Only the edgy readiness of the group prevented the surprise attack from causing serious damage and then the jobbers went on the offensive.

Roxton lunged forcefully into the Stone Keeper while the raver was still off balance from his axe stroke. The retriever’s rapier skewered through the leather corselet up to the hilt and with a powerful thrust, Roxton flung the dying raver from his blade as he stalked into the room. There he saw another two ravers waiting, as well as a third upon the ramp leading to another tier of the tower.

Katryn, her L.A.S.E.R low on power, opted to continue trying her hand at dagger fighting. First the inventor flicked the switch on her belt, activating her K.E.V.L.A.R. A shimmering distortion appeared about her lean form as she drew the rune blade, its hilt fitting snugly in her hand, and thrust out at the gone dog threatening her. However, her inexperience was telling as the gone dog’s flickering form caused her to over shoot her mark.

Meanwhile, Keeganfall recited the blessings of shadows over his rapier causing the weapon to seemingly drink in the ambient light until it became a shard of blackness in his hand. However, the time it took to evoke the prayer of Umbriel was costly for the Andari as the momentary distraction allowed the gone dog to bury its huge jaws into his upper thigh. Jonathon choked back a scream as blood flowed heavily down his leg.

At that same moment Nicodemus and his new companion, Kay, double-teamed the flickering gone dog that gnashed at him. The rune wraith’s hands were bent into elongated claws of red energy and a corona blazed about her, as she swung hard at the threat to her master. The rune wraith landed a glancing blow to stun the gone dog. However, the beast shook it off and leapt for Nicodemus’ throat.

The runecaster held his sword cane out like a staff and caught the growler’s open maw, forcing the beast down and to the side. A second later the rune wraith ended the gone dog’s threat permanently.

By this time Veruna had joined Roxton in the newly opened room, her fighting talons extended and swinging in sharp arcs. Her claws killed one foe outright and scored through the shield of another of the Stone Keepers, causing the raver to go berserk. As the frothing berserker tossed aside his shield and took his axe in both hands, two additional ravers descended the ramp so that the odds facing the human and Malakar became two to one.

As the Stone Keeper reinforcements hurtled into the chamber, Roxton dodged aside, seeking to get his back to the wall. The retriever’s maneuver was partially successful as he gained the wall, but at the cost of a deeply slashed shoulder.

In the hall, Keeganfall skirted painfully sideways around his gone dog to allow Nicodemus and Kay to move up and support him. Once they had distracted the flickering growler, the shadowpriest plunged his black blade into its chest.

Black light surged from the wound, rapidly changing to red followed by white as the growler’s life energy was fed into the injured Andari. Jonathon gasped as he felt a heady rush from the growler’s essence surging through him, regenerating the damage done to his injured thigh. Shaking off the burst of euphoria, the shadowpriest looked around to see where he might be needed next.

Katryn squared off once more against the gone dog and timed her thrust to the growler’s flickering form. The blow struck true, the rune stiletto skewering cleanly into the beast’s skull.

Veruna and Roxton had their hands full with the four Stone Keeper ravers who harried the pair relentlessly. Veruna had the berserker’s full attention as well as one of his fellows. Despite her efforts at defense, the wayfinder had been clipped a couple of times, the minor wounds stinging but not debilitating.

Roxton, his shoulder awash in blood, continued to defend himself as best he was able to against his two assailants. His rapier continued to ward off the axe swings, but the retriever was tiring and the pain of his wound hindered his ability to mount an effective counter attack. It was then that the tide of the battle changed.

Freed up from her growler’s assault, Katryn moved towards the doorway beyond which Roxton and Veruna fought. As the inventor approached, she saw that one of the Stone Keepers, his attention focused on Veruna, had placed his back to the door. Katryn steadied her grip on the rune dagger and, with a violent thrust, pierced the raver through the back and into his heart. He fell forward, dead before he reached the floor.

Behind Katryn came Jonathon, Nicodemus and Kay. The three jobbers thrust and swung at the Stone Keepers and with the odds changing, provided Veruna with the opening she needed.

Veruna ducked the last down stroke of the berserker’s axe just as Nicodemus struck the berserker with his sword cane about the raver’s head. Veruna seized the opportunity and with a haymaker punched her fighting claw up through the raver’s chin with such force as to put the end of her claw up through the top of the raver’s skull.

At the same instant, Katryn was dodging through the room to come to Roxton’s aid. The Stone Keeper, his attention still captured by Roxton’s deft swordplay, was caught off guard and the inventor stabbed him hard in the side. A moment later and Veruna leapt over and landed the killing strike.

The jobbers had taken a beating and as Jonathon tended to Roxton’s shoulder Veruna suggested that the companions should look to finding a secure area to rest in. Despite the drain from his runecasting, Nicodemus looked over the group and said he felt confident that there couldn’t be much more left. After all, only one level remained and several Stone Keepers and gone dogs had already fallen to the group’s assault. As far as they knew, only one Stone Keeper and a gone dog were left, the pair having been spied by Veruna and Roxton when the reinforcements had originally charged forth.

Roxton looked up from where he was being tended and concurred. His shoulder was now tightly bandaged and the swigs of gloom from the shadowpriest’s flask had eased the pain to a dull ache. The retriever rose, sheathed his rapier, and drew forth his PitchPit pistol.

Their course set, the bloodied and battered jobbers climbed the last glass ramp. The chamber above had been badly damaged in the tower’s original fall and the assorted nooks were filled with poorly cured hides. The smell of unwashed bodies and animal musk was heavy in the air. From beyond the only door leading to the other area of the tower, the group could hear what sounded like a person having a conversation with himself.

Edging to the door the group looked into what was once a chapel to Paranor, the ancient god of peace and light, now converted to the vindication of the white marble statue the group sought. In addition to the statue, broken statuary gathered from all over Fallen littered the floor about the flanking columns that led to the inverted altar and the statue beneath it.

The statue in question was in the likeness of the angels told of in the Forgotten Fables, only with ruined feathered wings and missing a fragment of his left eye. The hand that had been stolen from Lady Tela had been seamlessly attached and only the faintest outlines could be seen where other parts of the statue had been reassembled.

A young man stood before the statue in poor-fitting courtier’s clothes with a rapier at his waist and a massive gone dog at his side. He was lit by the reflected glow of lamps set about the curving wall. Several seemingly unrelated emotions and mannerisms could be seen playing across his face and bearing as he turned to face Roxton, Veruna, and Jonathon, who had passed through the chamber’s door with Nicodemus, Kay and Katryn following slightly behind.

As the group watched, the boy spoke with three distinct personalities that seemed to be arguing as to what course of action should be taken regarding the jobbers. One personality had the cadence and tone of a male religious leader, the second that of a weary female scholar, and the third personality was that of a frightened male child. In addition, the companions could see a nimbus of rolling ectoplasmic energy translucently swirling about the youth as he became agitated.

Roxton spoke out, asking his companions if this was the statue that they sought. When Veruna answered that it was, the youth, using the voice of the female scholar, began to cry out to the other personalities that the jobbers must not be allowed to have it. Before that personality could finish what she was saying, Roxton decided that negotiating for the statue was not going to be an option. Quickly, he raised his PitchPit and the handgun roared, the bullet streaking in at the youth.

The ectoplasmic cloud coalesced, deflecting the shot that in turn ricocheted off of the statue. As Veruna watched, the fragments of the statue were arrested in mid-flight and pulled back onto the sculpture where they rejoined with no evidence of having been sheared off.

With the attack made, the young boy screamed in inarticulate rage and motioned at the scattered statuary that littered the floor. Four puppets of stone and runic energy rose from the debris forming a skirmish line to defend the now levitating youth. At the same moment, the huge gone dog had gated to confront Roxton and lunged in at him, jaws snapping inches from the retriever’s face.

The masonry puppets clashed violently with the jobbers as they attempted to spread out to bring their combined talents to bear. Keeganfall held the doorway as Veruna skirted off to the left trying to create space so that Nicodemus’ rune wraith could join the fray. From the doorway Katryn adjusted the energy matrix of her K.E.V.L.A.R. so that it projected to the unit attached to Veruna’s belt and then activated it. Immediately, Veruna’s form was enveloped with a shimmering protective field. Nicodemus drew upon his reserves and bestowed the rune of armor upon Kay as she leapt forward to join the jobber’s defense.

Veruna’s rune sharp claws decapitated one of the masonry puppets even as her Malakar resistance soaked up the punishment that the automatons were dishing out. However, the Stone Keeper leader gestured towards the scarred bust of an ancient noble and the masonry soared across the chamber striking the wayfinder in her shoulder.

Roxton evaded the mutated growler and stroked the trigger of his PitchPit. The round blasted into the maelstrom about the youth, punching through the Stone Keeper’s insane leader, knocking the wind out of him.

Nicodemus pressed the attack on the youth and a beam of red energy blazed forth, the rune burning through the spirit cloud and scorching the youth’s side. The sound of a screaming multitude was the result as the Stone Keeper leader reeled.

Jonathon, Katryn, Veruna, and Kay fought against the animated statuary, the runic energy crackling off of the assorted stone bodies. The shadowpriest and rune wraith successfully double-teamed one stone construct, turning it back into rubble. Katryn drew her firearm and sent streaking white flares through the fray. The ectoplasmic cloud turned the metal shards away from the deranged youth at its center even as Veruna traded strikes with another of the puppets.

The Stone Keeper leader recovered enough focus and with hate-filled eyes sent a wave of masonry crashing into Roxton. The retriever was pummeled by the onslaught though the storm of debris also thwarted the growler’s attack.

Nicodemus meanwhile drew upon the last of his runic energy and shaped the rune of attack in the air. As the symbol blazed forth, it cut through the youth’s protections, ending the threat he posed to the jobbers. The ectoplasmic cloud dispersed and the runic energy about the masonry guardians crackled away as the formerly animated stone fell loudly upon the glass floor. A moment later Veruna put the growler down as well.

The group wearily took stock of their situation as Keeganfall recited the prayers of healing over the battered Sloan. As the shadows from Keeganfall’s hands became white light flowing out of Roxton’s wounds, a consensus was reached that with the tower secured, the jobbers would spend the night. The group then decided upon a series of watches as they inspected the object of their battle in greater detail.

It quickly became apparent that some arcane force was at work in regards to the statue. Through experimentation the group learned that they could break off a piece of the fallen angelic form and a magnetic-like pull from the larger portion of the statue would rejoin the smaller portion to it. This was true even if multiple pieces were removed and then those pieces matched up. All that was missing from the statue was a fragment of the figure’s left eye.

While the why and wherefore could not be answered, the group was gladdened by the discovery of the statue’s properties for it meant it could be broken up into manageable portions for the trek out of the Fringe and back into GreyMesa proper. Veruna said that she would seek out the Night Stalkers in the morning and negotiate for their aid in transporting the statue to Blackstone Church. There the jobbers hoped to be able to secure the use of a wagon for the trek up the mesa’s tunnels. The tentative plan settled, the jobbers wrapped themselves in their cloaks, jackets or blankets and set to recovering their strength.


7th of Veil 1107p.t. (Post Tempest)

Veruna met with the Night Stalker leader Kra that morning and managed to secure his hunting party’s aid in transporting the statue to Blackstone Church. The only problem, from the group’s point of view, was that the Night Stalkers insisted on preserving all of the fresh meat that the growlers and slag rats represented for their tribe. The wayfinder managed to get the Malakar to agree to move out the following morning by gladhanding the Night Stalker’s help in exchange for the Stone Keepers’ former residence.

The departure time set, the jobbers spent the remainder of the day within the upper reaches of the inverted glass tower. After seeing to the bodies of the Stone Keepers, Roxton, Nicodemus, and Keeganfall worked at breaking and wrapping pieces of the statue into manageable bundles for the trek out the following day. Once packaged in the assorted odiferous clothes and blankets found in the Stone Keeper’s refuge, the jobbers relayed the bundles down to the ground floor of the inverted tower. They then carried the statue bundles over into the ruins of Colrac Manor so the group would be able to head out at first light.

That evening Veruna joined the other Malakar for a dinner of roasted slag rat and then she rejoined the group as they settled in for another night in the reaches of Fallen.
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Talahar
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 03, 2007 1:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

whoa, that was one loooooong post Very Happy
i very much like the concept of the inverted glass tower...
that's in the plotpoints/savage tales or of your own doing?
(i just got the book, so i dont know yet Wink )
another thing i just realized:
did the other PLAYERS know that veruna was a malakar in disguise?
or did they think the character was human until she unsheathed the claws to dispose of the ghostly fury?
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Muse
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 03, 2007 3:37 pm    Post subject: Veruna Reply with quote

Actually, the players already knew Veruna was a Malakar. I was trying really hard not to "spill the beans" in game until the right moment! It was still a tense moment - good roleplayers in this group.
Mark is doing a great job as GM, isn't he? No, the inverted tower is not in the book. I know he was inspired by some other game, but not sure what - he should answer you soon and post the next writeup.
Enjoy reading - we enjoy playing!

aka Veruna
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Marcos
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 03, 2007 6:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Talahar wrote:
whoa, that was one loooooong post Very Happy
i very much like the concept of the inverted glass tower...
that's in the plotpoints/savage tales or of your own doing?
(i just got the book, so i dont know yet Wink )
another thing i just realized:
did the other PLAYERS know that veruna was a malakar in disguise?
or did they think the character was human until she unsheathed the claws to dispose of the ghostly fury?


Talahar,

You are right that it was a long post. I jokingly told Muse that we might need to switch to shorter playing times just to reduce how much writing I am putting into the session summaries. Her reply was I just needed to trim the flavor text. Laughing

Regardless, I am sometimes amazed at how much my group gets accomplished at the table in a single session. Of course, they are all fantastic players, so I guess maybe it shouldn’t be surprising after all.

As for the inverted glass tower, that comes from the Dungeon adventure Fallen by Keith Baker, the creator of Eberron. The adventure to me was a good transition scenario to help build the characters’ experience while helping to further introduce the RunePunk setting.

Muse already addressed the metagame knowledge vs. PC knowledge, but it was a nice moment at the table and I think it played well.

Thank you for following the thread and look for the next summary below.

Good gaming,
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Marcos
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 03, 2007 6:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

8th of Veil 1107p.t. (Post Tempest)

The group awoke to the familiar site of the inverted shrine to Paranor. The light coming through the thick web-patterned glass was faint. The diffuse light lent an almost surreal feel to the chamber that caused Nicodemus to give voice to his thoughts, mumbling that he must be dreaming that they were still in the fringe.

Veruna readily dispelled that notion and proceeded to ready her backpack for travel, changing back into her human form. As she finished, with the rest of the jobbers collecting their few belongings, she inquired if Brother Keeganfall was intending to say some words over the bodies of the slain Stone Keepers.

The Andari shadowpriest looked up from where he was contemplating his last few tanglevine smokes and the last couple of draughts of gloom that remained in his flask. The past couple of days had dwindled his supply of both vices substantially. He hoped that the group would be back into GreyMesa proper by the evening.

Still, the Malakar’s words reminded Jonathon that he was priest in the service of Umbriel and that he should be taking that duty more seriously. However, he could not but help to ask Veruna wryly if she intended to take the Stone Keeper’s bodies all the way to the Tombs in ChalkChain.

Veruna replied that she just felt like something should be done to help the boy’s spirit rest easy in whatever afterlife awaited him. Keeganfall was about to make another snide remark, then looked over at where Nicodemus’ runewraith stood waiting on her master. That sight, coupled with the memories of the group’s battle with the Fury and the possessed boy, caused the shadowpriest to instead say that he would do what he was able, but he did not know if it would be enough.

With the matter of last rites settled, Roxton volunteered to accompany Jonathon to where the jobbers had arrayed the bodies of the slain. The others proceeded on down to where the Night Stalker hunters and the prepared packs of statuary were waiting.

When Katryn, Nicodemus, Kay, and Veruna entered the Night Stalker’s camp within Colrac manor, the smell of roasted and smoked meat permeated the air. The smell reminded Katryn and Nicodemus that they had partaken of nothing more than the half rations Veruna had presented two nights before. The inventor and runecaster both held their grumbling appetites in check while settling in to wait on Roxton and Jonathon to join them.

Moments later, the jobbers were all reunited, with Keeganfall finishing the last pull of his tanglevine smoke to hold his appetite in check. Roxton, however, decided that marching out of Fallen with a pack weighing over a hundred pounds on an empty stomach was not all that desirable.

The retriever approached Kra, the Malakar leader, and asked after some of the Night Stalker’s slag rat jerky. Kra reached into his belt pouch and pulled forth an undercooked strip of reddish-grey meat. The retriever gladly accepted and made a show of consuming the offering with relish.

The Night Stalkers responded well to Sloan’s efforts and, with the mood lightened, the jobbers and Malakar hunters set off through the ruins of Fallen on their way back to Blackstone Church. There the jobbers hoped to be able to procure a wagon or cart to transport the statue pieces back into GreyMesa since the Night Stalkers offer of aid ended at the church.

Outside the red granite walls of Colrac Manor, the sky was the color of a deep bruise and flashes of heat lightning raced across the sky out towards the barrens followed by the low ominous rumble of thunder. Veruna remarked that maybe a runestorm was coming, to which Roxton sarcastically replied that a runestorm was just what the group needed.

Not rising to the bait, the Malakar wayfinder moved to the front of the marching order, took a compass bearing, and began leading the group through the area’s rubble strewn streets. Veruna concentrated on choosing a path that presented the easiest means of travel since each member of the group was severely weighed down with the makeshift packs.

The jobbers and their pack bearers made good time thanks to Veruna’s skill at choosing the path. However, the weight of the packs, coupled with the strain of the last couple of days, had the companions concentrating more on placing one foot in front of another and less on conversation. Only the sound of harsh breathing and the occasional sound of distant thunder marked the journey through the shattered terrain.

Almost three hours after leaving Colrac Manor, the group came to the outskirts of Blackstone Church’s plaza. Unlike before, no fringers occupied the areas near the converted metal barrel fires and nowhere were the half-feral children which had previously been seen running amok through the nearby alleyways.

An ominous feeling began to rise among the group until the sound of singing was heard coming through the one open door of the church. Realizing that some sort of service must be underway, Roxton suggested that Brother Keeganfall move forward to enter the church just to verify this and to get some idea how long the group would need to wait. As the Andari left his pack and moved forward, the remaining jobbers and Night Stalkers gratefully removed the packs from their sore shoulders as well.

Using the packs as impromptu seating, the group watched as Jonathon lightly moved up the stairs of the church and gazed into the sanctuary. After a moment, all but Nicodemus saw the shadowpriest give the slightest of nods, turn, and begin moving back across the plaza.

Nicodemus rubbed at his eyes, his sight having been blurry since the group’s departure from the former Stone Keeper’s hold. At first he had attributed it to the lack of decent food and rest, now the runecaster began to fear that something else had occurred.

Katryn noticed the runecaster’s actions and inquired if all was well. When Nicodemus lowered his hand, the inventor saw that his eyes were heavily bloodshot despite his claim that he was fine. Katryn, concerned, recommended that Jonathon be asked to take a look at Nicodemus’ eyes to make sure he was all right. When the shadowpriest arrived back, stating that he had gotten Sister Roberts’ attention and that the service should be over shortly, Katryn did just that.

As Brother Keeganfall examined the runecaster’s eyes, he asked Nicodemus why he had not mentioned anything before now about his blurry vision and headaches. Nicodemus replied that he had not noticed anything different until the group had left the tower.

Jonathon, his examination finished, stated that as far as he could determine, the unexpected strain of Nicodemus’ manifesting of the runewraith had damaged his eyes. The shadowpriest went on to state that at this point the damage was completely beyond his ability to cure and that most likely Nicodemus would need to see a trained physician for spectacles.

Meanwhile, Veruna had been talking with Kra about the Night Stalker hunters staying to meet Sister Roberts rather than immediately setting back out for their tribe. The wayfinder, having been deeply affected by the health and plight of the Night Stalkers, wanted desperately for Kra to seek help for his people outside of his tribe. The young Malakar used every argument she could think of and eventually convinced Kra to stay.

Soon the services ended and the group saw the fringer congregation departing the church. Sister Roberts stood at the door shaking hands or saying a personal word with each member. As those members moved past the shadowpriestess heading back to their homes, the jobbers saw that the size of the sister’s flock was quite substantial.

Some of the men stopped when they saw the group camped at the edge of the plaza and Roxton rose in case any trouble was brewing. However, despite the presence of the Night Stalkers, the jobbers were recognized from their first visit. That recognition, along with a reassuring nod from Sister Roberts, prevented any unwanted confrontation.

As the group waited patiently for the shadowpriestess to become available, they noticed that the last person out of the church was obviously not a regular member. In fact, the man was completing some type of transaction with the Sister as the jobbers saw a pouch of coins exchanged for a small vial.

The man then proceeded down the steps until he noticed the companions at the plaza’s edge. Altering his course, the man crossed the open expanse obviously taking in the group’s ragged appearance and their makeshift packs.

As the man drew closer, the jobbers saw that he was late middle aged, with short cropped grey hair, weathered skin, and a long legged stride. He was dressed in a tattered long coat of dark brown LeatherJack, the hilt of a sword peeking above his right shoulder. At his waist was a holstered PitchPit pistol and about his neck hung a ragged scarf. Coming to a stop before the jobbers, the man extended his right hand covered in a fingerless glove, fixed them with blue eyes behind a perpetual squint, and introduced himself as Randal Shaw.

Roxton shook hands with the man, giving his name in return. As Shaw proceeded to greet each jobber in turn, several of them noticed the keen interest Shaw took in their gear and general well being. Once introductions were finished, Shaw proceeded to say that he was a sifter working the fringe and inquired if the group were the same.

Katryn answered that they were not, just that their latest job had been to retrieve some statuary remnants that were worthless except to the eccentric collector that had commissioned them. Roxton winced at Katryn’s attempt at nonchalance, but Shaw seemed to take the inventor’s comment in stride. Wishing the group a safe journey back into GreyMesa, the professed sifter turned and walked back across the plaza and into the fringe beyond.

Roxton noted the direction that Shaw took and was not reassured to see that the man was heading in the direction that the group intended to travel. Meanwhile, Veruna, Nicodemus with Kay, and Jonathon made their way over to where Sister Roberts awaited them at the top of the church steps dressed in her formal church garb of black and white robes. Once with the Sister, the runecaster told Kay to watch Shaw’s departure and the three jobbers entered the sanctuary.

Once they were inside, Veruna launched into her request that the Sister aid the Night Stalker tribe with whatever resources she could. The young wayfinder cited the poor conditions in which the Malakar lived along with the malnutrition that contributed to disease and sickness hoping to evoke the shadowpriestess’ compassion.

Once Veruna paused, Sister Roberts said that she would talk with the Night Stalkers, but that it would have to be the Night Stalkers’ desire to be aided otherwise there was not much she could do for them. In addition, the Night Stalkers would have to be willing to come to Blackstone Church to receive that aid as Sister Roberts’ duty was with her established congregation. Finally, the shadowpriestess said that such aid would not be without cost, to which Veruna replied that she was more than willing to make donations to facilitate that aid.

During this exchange, Nicodemus became exasperated and said that he was going to join his arcane companion on the church steps. Once outside, the runecaster rubbed at his eyes, muttering under his breath about the sudden altruistic streak Veruna was showing.

When Sister Roberts had finished her reply to Veruna’s impassioned plea, Brother Keeganfall mentioned that the group was also looking to acquire a handcart or wagon that they could use for their remaining trip into GreyMesa. Realizing that she had completely forgotten why the others had been seeking to stop at the church, Veruna silently chided herself and tried to keep a self-conscious blush from reaching her cheeks.

Sister Roberts said that a couple of families in her flock did indeed have handcarts or wagons, but she doubted if any would be comfortable with the idea of departing with the group and going all the way into the city at the top of the mesa. Jonathon said that was all right since the group would prefer to purchase the item outright so as not to have to worry with returning it.

The Sister nodded in understanding and said that she would speak with the families to see who might be interested, but that it would be up to the group to close any deal. Keeganfall said that was fine and stated that he and Veruna would rejoin their companions and make ready to negotiate for the cart or wagon as the case may be. With that, the Malakar and Andari collected the runecaster along with his runewraith and the four rejoined the others at the packs of statuary.

The jobbers talked over what their options were in terms of royals and trade goods to secure a conveyance for the statuary. When it became apparent that money alone was not going to be enough, several of them offered up equipment that they were willing to do without, depending on how the negotiations unfolded. The available funds and equipment settled, the jobbers decided that Veruna and Nicodemus would be the ones to handle the haggling for the group with the opening offer being in royals.

About the time the jobbers had finished their deliberations, they noticed that Sister Roberts was standing with an older human male across the plaza. The wayfinder and runecaster walked over, Nicodemus leaving Kay behind to keep from setting the fringer on edge.

The small man was dressed in clean, if thin-threaded, clothing, with wispy hair, light brown eyes, and a pale complexion. Sister Roberts introduced him as Owen and the man took each of the companions’ hands in turn with a feather light grip.

Owen said that he did have a cart that he would be willing to sell and led the Malakar and human over to a nearby building. There withered witchgrass poles covered an opening into the dilapidated structure and, when Owen removed them, revealed a weathered wooden handcart.

The handcart was overly long, with metal-rimmed wheels and a reinforced axle. The near petrified wood had a grayish cast to it and the long hand poles were polished smooth from years of use.

Once the pair had a chance to look the handcart over, Veruna began the negotiations by offering some of the group’s equipment, namely her short sword and Katryn’s spare FlintFlicker Fifty. Nicodemus seethed and quickly turned to look away as he fought to get his composure back. Owen, his eyes wide from the sight of the oiled firearm, explained that while the offer was generous, he did not think that he would be able to sell the FlintFlicker for anywhere near what it was worth.

Nicodemus turned back around and took charge of the negotiations at that point, smoothly transitioning from the offered weapons to actual royals. In the end, the runecaster’s efforts at gladhanding obtained the handcart for the jobbers at a cost of a hundred royals and Veruna’s short sword.

The runecaster let Veruna lift and pull the heavy handcart over to the others while he replaced the witchgrass poles. He then rejoined his companions, instructing Kay to assist Roxton, Keeganfall, and Katryn with the loading of the handcart.

Veruna meanwhile made introductions between Kra and Sister Roberts. As the Night Stalker leader and the shadowpriestess talked, the wayfinder stood by, nodding encouragingly to Kra as he listened to what Sister Roberts had to say. By the time the handcart was loaded, the Night Stalker had agreed to bring his people by periodically to see the Sister.

The arrangement made between the Sister and the Night Stalkers, the jobbers made ready to depart with Veruna impulsively hugging Kra and his hunters goodbye. When the farewells were finished, the jobbers divided themselves about the cart.

Jonathon and Katryn were paired on one pole; Veruna and Nicodemus were paired on the other pole, with Roxton and Kay pushing the handcart from the back. With a slow steady pull and push, the handcart began to roll slowly forward and soon the jobbers were once more underway back to GreyMesa.

Over an hour had passed as the jobbers made their steady way through the streets smelling of ammonia-tinged coal smoke. The group guided the handcart across broken rubble and over deeply pockmarked intersections. Only the sound of the group’s labored breathing interspersed with the occasional yowling of hunting cats echoing off of the decrepit structures kept them company during the march from Blackstone Church.

It was the sudden silence of the hunting cats that brought Roxton out of his thoughts at the back of the wagon while at the same moment Nicodemus, looking up from his feet to stretch his tightening back, caught the reflection of light from the third story of a ruined building. However, those slight warnings were not enough for the pair to alert their companions as the report of a heavy rifle and the sharp crack of a pistol heralded the arrival of a reaper ambush.

The rifle round shattered the ground behind the rune wraith while a second later Jonathon was clipped across his ribs by the pistol shooter. From the nearby alleyways several men closed on the wagon. The four that charged the back of the handcart were armored in ChainJack coats, with reinforced shields of metal-rimmed witchgrass and swinging morning stars. The other two attacking the front of the cart appeared to be hired grubs from the Fringe, metal pipes serving as clubs.
Nicodemus dodged the metal pipe swung at him and deftly sketched a rune of power, sending a ruby bolt scorching into the darkened window from which the rifle shot had originated. When no cry of pain came forth, the runecaster knew that his damaged eyesight had caused him to miss.

At the wagon, Roxton whipped out his rapier and lunged forcefully at one of the ChainJack-armored foes. The blade skittered off of the metal rings instead of parting them and only the retriever’s forward step spared him a brutal hit to his ribs.

Now that the moment of surprise had passed, the jobbers surged into the fray. Nicodemus dodged another shot of the rifle, the bullet clipping the near petrified pole at his side. The runecaster sent another stream of ruby light into the sniper position to keep the assailant concerned for his own hide while Nicodemus yelled that he had paid for the cart.

Veruna meanwhile unsheathed her fighting talons and the grub coming at her barely managed to skip backwards to avoid the Malakar’s swing. The grub's own return stroke was batted away and the pair faced off in the ruined street.

At the cart’s back, Kay swung wildly with her runic claws, smashing through the top of a reaper’s shield and scoring him across the chest. As the foe fell back, his partner unleashed an overhead swing that the rune wraith barely felt.

Roxton parried and dodged the two assailants pressing him into the rune wraith’s back. Setting his heels, the retriever surged forward trying to open up some space to work his blade. The move worked and a moment later Roxton’s rapier passed over a too low shield and through a reaper’s neck.

Brother Keeganfall had managed to shake off the momentary shock of being shot and with a flourish of his cloak drew his rapier, running it through the grub threatening Katryn. The inventor ducked a whistling round from the pistol sniper and drew forth her own unique firearm to aim up at the shadowy silhouette that threatened her.

More rounds peppered the handcart and ground as the reaper snipers sent another volley down at the jobbers. Nicodemus barely saw that the rifleman had fallen back from the third story window and yelled that to the group.

The runecaster’s cry was eclipsed moments later as one of the reapers yelled out in anguish and smashed his morning star into Roxton’s shoulder. The pain sucked the breath out of the retriever and Sloan knew that his shoulder had popped out of its socket.

Before the reaper could press his attack, Katryn made a snap decision. The young inventor sent a single shard of white flame from her L.A.S.E.R. at the pistol sniper, spun and shot two more shards from the hip at Roxton’s assailant. The first bolt of magnesium compound sent the silhouette of the pistol sniper backwards, and the other two scored Roxton’s ChainJack-armored reaper through the side, forcing him to stagger.

Jonathon rushed the reaper, hoping to capitalize on Katryn’s hits, but the reaper managed to bring his shield up. The shield block caused the shadowpriest’s rapier to bend dangerously from the force of the Andari’s thrust and Jonathon spun away to relieve the strained steel.

Finishing his spin, the Andari thrust again and the reaper fell forward dead into the street. At Roxton’s back, the rune wraith continued to occupy her assailants with wide sweeping swings of her elongated claws. However for each time she successfully drove one back, the other pressed the attack.

Meanwhile, Nicodemus sent a runic bolt burning through the grub battling Veruna. As the fringer fell, the runecaster yelled for the wayfinder to get the rifleman before he could get away and moved to help his rune wraith.

Veruna turned on the ball of her foot and shot away like a crossbow bolt to the building entrance from which the rifleman had been shooting. As she rushed the door, the Malakar caught a flash of metal and then pain blossomed in her chest.

Another ChainJack-armored reaper stood ready at the building’s entrance and his morning star had connected solidly into Veruna’s chest. The excruciating pain, coupled with the shock of the surprise, caused the passer’s concentration to fail and with the sound of tearing clothing Veruna reverted to her true form.

Moments later another battle cry sounded at the wayfinder’s back as a grub rushed from across the street and swung his steel pipe into Veruna’s kidneys. Gasping and reeling in pain, her vision swimming, the wayfinder cried for help.

Roxton shook his head clear, trying to force the throbbing of his shoulder from his thoughts. At that moment, Veruna’s anguished cry echoed from the street ahead. The cry aided Sloan’s concentration and the retriever rushed forward, his steps sure on the uneven pavement.

Katryn had been looking to see if she could spot the rifleman when Veruna’s cry reached her ears. The inventor turned from her survey of the nearby alley way, sighted, and sent three white burning shards streaming at Veruna’s foes.

The grub in the street saw the blazing white rounds and dodged away. However, the armored foe could not see out of the doorway past Veruna’s true form and as he caught the flash of white, he inadvertently turned to see what it was and the shard blasted into his face.

As the reaper fell backward, blood shooting upward from the force of his fall, Veruna used one hand and pushed herself upright. Glaring menacingly, the Malakar raised her fighting talons, and turned to face the pipe-wielding fringer.

At the handcart, Nicodemus caught one of Kay’s foes in the back of the neck with a full force swing of his sword cane. With a sickening crack the man’s head lolled sideways and he fell dead at the rune wraith’s feet. The other reaper, seeing the odds had turned so quickly against him, dropped his morning star and shield, asking for quarter.

Keeganfall placed the tip of his sword to the man’s neck and snarled for him to sit on his hands. With a pale face, the man dropped to the ground to comply and Jonathon jerked his head to where the fighting was still going on. With a nod, Nicodemus, along with Kay, raced off.

Before the building entrance, Katryn reached down to her odd belt and flipped a switch, beaming an activation signal to the small box on Veruna’s belt. With a shimmer like that of a heat mirage, the K.E.V.L.A.R. field enveloped the Malakar. Katryn then raised her L.A.S.E.R and sent another couple of burning shards to keep the grub off balance.

Veruna, now cloaked in the K.E.V.L.A.R. field, swung in hard at the grub, but the pain in her chest caused her to unconsciously check her swing and the grub maneuvered towards the open door and the escape it offered.

Seeing that Veruna and Katryn appeared to have matters in hand, Roxton changed the direction of his run so that he entered the nearby alleyway next to the rifleman’s building. The retriever’s sharp eyes caught the sight of a fleeing shadow on the street beyond and he moved swiftly after.

As Roxton gained the corner of the building he slowed and took a quick peek, not wanting to catch a bullet. The move afforded Roxton a clear glimpse of the jobbers’ assailant and as he set back off the others heard Roxton’s yell for Shaw echoing off of the weathered and scarred buildings.

Roxton’s cry made up Nicodemus’ mind concerning helping the Malakar or getting the sniper. Leaving Katryn and Veruna to handle their remaining opponent, the runecaster and his rune wraith sped along the parallel street hoping to head Shaw off to prevent the sifter’s escape. With each stride the former cloudbreather’s lungs burned and as the ruins hurtled by the runecaster’s anger rose. In moments Kay reflected her master’s emotional state, her runic corona blazing crimson as she rushed behind.

Katryn heard Roxton’s yell and the swift strides of Nicodemus along with Kay rushing by. However, her eyes never left the fringer as he attempted to position himself so that Veruna screened him from the inventor’s deadly gadget. With a slight exhale of breath, Katryn stroked the trigger and two shards burned past Veruna’s shoulder to punch out the grub’s eyes.

Her foe accounted for, Veruna rushed back to where Keeganfall watched over the handcart of statuary and the remaining reaper. Seeing how badly she was wounded, the Andari admonished Veruna to go easy. He then proceeded to recite the prayers of healing over her wounds, shadowy light flowing from his hands.

The retriever’s stride ate up the trash-strewn road until Sloan came to yet another corner. A quick look, his PitchPit leading, and Roxton squeezed off a hurried shot where he saw Shaw crouched at the far corner, rifle at the ready.

The PitchPit’s round gouged the old stone, peppering Shaw in a cloud of masonry powder. With a hearty cry of “All’s fair in the Fringe!” the sifter fired his BleakStone rifle, showering Roxton in turn with masonry chips where he had ducked back for cover.

“I’ll put it on your tombstone!” thundered Roxton in reply, followed by a yell to his fellow jobbers that Shaw was once again running.

Katryn, hearing the gunfire, moved off to try to catch up with the retriever while Nicodemus and Kay continued to vector in to head off Shaw’s line of retreat. At the handcart, Veruna screamed obscenities in the direction of the ongoing fight. As she paused for breath, Jonathon commented dryly on the Malakar’s piety and continued into another prayer of healing.

Several blocks away Shaw’s flight was about to be put to an end. Nicodemus and Kay had gained the advantage with their sprint while the sifter’s flight had been hampered by Roxton’s dogged pursuit. As the sifter raced to put distance between himself and the retriever, he failed to notice the crimson glow racing at him from a nearby alley.

Nicodemus, his lungs afire, saw the older man running into view and bellowed “Shaw! Learn what happens when you cross a Bloodrune and make him run!”

As Shaw turned at his cry, Nicodemus, with Kay mirroring his actions, sketched three runes of power into the air. Six ruby lances of runic energy burned forth and despite Shaw’s desperate twisting roll, two burned deeply into his body. Moments later, Roxton’s pistol thundered from down the street and the reeling sifter spun at the bullet’s impact.

Amazingly enough Shaw still stood, but the runecaster’s ire was up and vengeance consumed his mind. Kay moved past her master, her runic claws punching into the sifter’s LeatherJack.

Blood flowed in heavy rivulets at the sifter’s feet as he weaved drunkenly, his body dying but his mind still fighting. Roxton shook his head in disgusted pity and then put the PitchPit to Shaw’s head, ending the sifter’s misery.

“Why didn’t you just kill him clean?” asked the retriever as he lowered his smoking pistol.

“I save that luxury for my friends” was the runecaster’s terse reply. Nicodemus then ordered Kay to strip Shaw’s body of everything of worth.

Roxton turned slowly away to head back when he saw Katryn, and behind her Veruna, rushing towards them. Moving past them, the retriever said he was going to rejoin Keeganfall to have his shoulder tended, leaving the four to handle looting the sifter’s remains.

Roxton was soon at the handcart and, after Jonathon set his shoulder back into joint, the pair questioned their captive.

The reaper looked to be in his late teens, with careless blond hair and light blue eyes. His ChainJack was rent from the rune wraith’s claws and his narrow features sported a couple of days’ worth of beard beneath a layer of sweat and grime. A dagger rested at the small of his back and a small purse hung at the front, near the buckle.

The reaper identified himself as Fredrick Scott and said that he was one of Shaw’s sellswords. The crew had been plying the sifter sites in ScarFall and CringePick until Shaw had decided to try his luck in GreyMesa’s fringe, hoping to turn a quick profit. Unfortunately, the reaper crew had found slim pickings and some misfortune. As a result, Shaw and his crew had been ready to cut their losses, resupply, and venture back into the barrens. That was until the reaper leader had seen the jobbers and their bulging packs.

Shaw had rushed back to the reaper’s camp and hurriedly explained the ambush he had in mind. He had mistakenly presumed that the jobbers would be weighed down with those packs, but had hired some fringer grubs to help absorb the brunt of any of the fighting. Obviously, things had not turned out that way.

Fredrick went out of his way to be helpful and accommodating. The sell sword answered any questions put to him and often expounded on his answers if he thought it would be of interest or of use to the companions.

Once the group had returned to the handcart, Fredrick led Roxton and Brother Keeganfall to the reapers’ nearby camp. The pair gathered what foodstuffs or items of value they could find or Fredrick volunteered, including Shaw’s hidden strongbox. Roxton, satisfied at Fredrick’s cooperation, told the sell sword to gather his pack and strike out, his freedom assured. Fredrick thanked Roxton and said that if he ever would have need of his services in ScarFall or CringePick, the retriever had but to ask.

Once the sell sword was on his way, Roxton asked Keeganfall if he had ever heard of the name Bloodrune. The Andari thought a moment as he lit one of the tanglevine cigarettes from the packs of smokes he had recovered in the reapers’ stores.

Jonathon said that he thought that the name may have been in the papers a few weeks back, but wasn’t certain. When the shadowpriest asked why the retriever was interested in the name, Roxton said that it was not anything important and the matter was dropped.

When the group was once more reunited, they gathered the spoils of war they had won, distributed what gear was desired or needed, and concealed the rest in the handcart hoping to avoid paying taxes on what could be considered trade goods. In Shaw’s customized LeatherJack, the jobbers found the strongbox’s key and divided what royals were contained therein. Afterwards, the companions ate a hearty lunch from the recovered supplies, with even Nicodemus savoring the canned meat as it quieted his hunger pains. Sated, the group resumed their positions about the handcart and set back off.

Approximately another hour later the group entered the tunnels at the mesa’s floor for the long trek back to the district above. As before, dark lamps set in burnished copper alcoves lighted the lower levels of the mesa tunnels. Whitecloaks patrolled the tunnels, taking note of the filth-covered jobbers, but not hindering their slow, steady progress. Occasionally other traders were seen, including a group of Malakar leading a massive skirr, laden with customized packing harnesses.

When the group reached the levels containing the lifts, they learned that, unlike on Free-day, there was a fee of twenty-five royals to move the handcart and themselves. Beyond those lifts, the jobbers toiled their way ever upwards until they reached the base of the massive incline that led to the massive steel gates of GreyMesa.

The area was awash in the brilliant arc lights that chased all the shadows away from the intimidating edifice that was the gate. In addition, the gleaming lights revealed a tax collecting station had been set up at the base of the incline near the massive steam-powered slab that acted as a perpendicular lift.

A squad of young whitecloaks, along with a city bureaucrat dressed in a finely tailored suit of dark blue, the phoenix symbol of ScatterPoint emblazoned on his lapel, manned the station. As the group brought the handcart forward, the whitecloaks moved in a crescent formation to watch over the bureaucrat as he came forward to inspect the handcart and assess the fees he would charge the would-be traders.

The bureaucrat was a small man, with thinning brown hair, a sharply angled nose, and dark eyes. That nose crinkled up as he approached and the jobbers saw a grimace of disgust as the small man caught the smell emanating off of them.

The official’s name was Edgar Trafford and he seemed to take great pleasure in the small power he wielded in the city district’s name. In addition, Nicodemus could tell, after just a few moments of interaction with the petty bureaucrat, that he was a follower of the society pages and knew the gossip that surrounded his family’s name.

After several of Official Trafford’s snide remarks, Nicodemus patience was severely strained and the runecaster made a mental note to pay Edgar a visit at another date to remind the man of his station. Still, the Bloodrune scion knew that he was not the only one fed up with the weaselly man, as several of the whitecloaks rolled their eyes behind the man’s back and seemed to take great joy from making the official’s life more complicated with seeming innocence obscuring deliberate thought.

The ordeal of the assessed tax and lift fees settled, with the jobbers’ coin purses almost depleted, the companions processed through the main gates. The whitecloaks recorded their names, finding the previous journal entries of their departure and amending the record to show that Kay was now among them.

Once the whitecloaks finished, Brother Keeganfall moved off to the tunnel wall and entered the aptly named Hole in the Wall. The Andari ordered a full tumbler of gloom and slated his thirst with one long swallow. He then rejoined his companions and the weary jobbers proceeded up the last long spiral into GreyMesa proper.

Emerging from the last lift the group found themselves once more in the near claustrophobic bustle of the city district. The smells of the nearby flywheels competed against the smells of the nearby rail factories overlaid with the subtle nuances of massed humanity. Additionally, the sounds of the city settled about the jobbers as a steady drone of conversation, shuffling feet, and low humming power, interspersed with the distant shrill of shift whistles and the clacking racket of trains thundering over metal trestles. The shadowed alleys and tinted amber arc lights were a telling contrast to the last days spent where the ScatterPoint sky was not eclipsed by soaring structures and tiered roadways.

The jobbers heaved their battle-worn handcart into a nearby alleyway, their battered appearance and obvious weapons warning away any curious cotters or grubs. The group knew that they had gained the city district just minutes before the workday’s end when a steady stream of work weary cotters would flood the streets. In their exhausted state the mere thought of maneuvering the long, heavily laden, handcart was more than the group wanted to tackle. Still, they needed a place to store the cart and reassemble the statue for presentation to Lady Kaelys Tela.

The group decided that Roxton and Katryn would head out to find and rent some nearby short-term public storage space. The others would stay with the handcart and once storage was obtained, the group would brave the cotter filled streets for the last push of the day.

Roxton and Katryn made good time despite the crowds and as the pair passed one of the countless alleyways, she noticed a pair of Ferren Bluecoats leaning on their sword canes. The Ferren took note of the inventor’s passing and Katryn felt certain that she had been recognized despite the grime that caked her.

Roxton sensed the change in Katryn’s demeanor and asked what was wrong. The inventor put her arm through the retriever’s and leaned her head on his shoulder. Then, playing the affectionate couple, Katryn related the events that had led the jobbers to Lady Winterwood’s service. Roxton took the revelation in stride, the warmth of the inventor’s lean body next to his dispelling any disquiet he felt at knowing he might be involved with a crime syndicate’s vendetta.

Soon after, the pair found the public storage service Katryn remembered her father using when she was an apprentice. As they made their way into the office, both Katryn and Roxton noted that the Bluecoats had trailed them but seemed content just to watch the jobbers.

The fees for a ten by ten storage area were reasonable and after the exchange of money and signed papers, the pair were handed the keys to a sheet metal shed. Katryn asked for the rental contract and Roxton’s eyes went up as he saw her joy at what she dubbed her first workshop. Muttering happily to herself, the day’s fatigue seemingly banished, Katryn stowed the paperwork, snaked her arm back through Roxton’s, and led the retriever back to their friends.

Reunited, the group made their arrangements for the night’s watch of the statue. Jonathon said that he was already overdue back at the church and would not be able to help guard the statue overnight. Rather, he would pen a letter to Lady Kaelys Tela and request an audience for the group. In addition, since he could not guarantee his availability on the morrow, the shadowpriest asked that someone swing by the church to either meet him or, at the least, to find out the lady’s reply.

Nicodemus said that he wanted a couple of hours to get cleaned up and then he, along with Kay, would guard the statue overnight. Veruna volunteered to watch the statue until Nicodemus returned and Jonathon said he could linger a couple of more hours so no one would be left alone.

The arrangements settled, the group maneuvered the handcart to the storage facility. Veruna and Jonathon were locked in, Nicodemus and Kay went to get cleaned up, and Roxton escorted Katryn to her lodgings. Later, Nicodemus relieved the Andari and the Malakar to take the watch with his rune wraith bodyguard. The night passed without incident, other than Nicodemus and Kay emptying the cart to reassemble the statue therein.

Towards the end, Nicodemus removed a portion of the statue’s ruined feathered wings to keep for himself. He could not bring himself to allow something that might be of the Talus to be so callously handed over without taking some sort of action that could serve as a contingency against a possibly darker design. Hoping that the small bit of pilfering would be enough, Nicodemus collapsed in the bedroll Veruna left behind to slumber in dreamless sleep.
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Marcos
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 03, 2007 6:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

9th of Veil 1107p.t. (Post Tempest)

The group awoke in their respective lodgings. Veruna was up early and decided to purchase some breakfast for herself and Nicodemus. The Malakar found a nearby bakery and purchased some scones before meeting the sleepy eyed runecaster and his crimson glowing bodyguard.

Meanwhile, Roxton and Katryn met and rode the passenger lifts to the middle levels of the city district to try and meet with Jonathon. The pair learned from a letter that the church greeter had for them that the Andari was going to be indisposed for an unknown amount of time.

From the sarcastic tone of the letter, Roxton surmised that Jonathon’s return to the church had been forestalled as long as possible the night before. However, the letter went on to say that Jonathon had retained the GreyMesa messenger service to deliver a letter to Silvervine. In that letter he requested an afternoon audience for the group and asked that Lady Tela send her reply to the storage facility in his name with an acceptable time. The note concluded with Jonathon’s wishes for success and instructions to leave any monies received from the Cloudbreather for him at the church.

Eventually Roxton, Katryn, Nicodemus, and Veruna were reunited at the storage facility. Lady Kaelys Tela had indeed left a message at the facility gate for Jonathon. Roxton took possession of the letter from the watchman and read that the storm-torn Andari would receive them for tea.

At this point, Nicodemus brought forth the feathered portion of the statue that he had held back. The runecaster explained that he felt, after what the group had faced in the glass tower, that no good could come of the statue being made whole. So, to safe guard against that possibility, he was going to retain the statue’s fragment.

The others listened to Nicodemus’ explanation and after a bit of discussion the group was in agreement concerning the runecaster’s position and his chosen course of action. That settled, the group made plans to transport the reassembled statue in the handcart under a large tarp. Roxton proposed the use of hired porters to haul the statue up into the cloudbreather levels so as to spare the group the exertion that would leave them unpresentable. The others agreed and that afternoon found the jobbers outside of the manor home known as Silvervine.

Kurt-184 was waiting for them, the massive overwrought’s burnished red chassis gleaming in the wan sunshine. The overwrought watcher waited for the retriever to pay his hired help and send them on their way before approaching.

Kurt-184 confirmed that the group was expected, though he questioned Roxton’s presence and considered Kay a weapon that needed to be stowed with the group’s other belongings. Nicodemus was amused by Kurt’s presumption that by keeping Kay with the gear, he was somehow furthering his mistress’ safety, but let it pass without comment.

Kurt-184 moved to take the handcart, taking the poles in his massive steel hands, and slowly began to move the massive statue in through the gates of Silvervine. Once within the courtyard, the overwrought closed the gates and instructed the group to accompany him into the foyer. There he confirmed the removal of the jobbers’ weaponry and Kay’s compliance to remain in the foyer. Kurt-184 then bade the group head into the sitting room where Lady Kaelys awaited them before taking the cart once more and with a steady tread towed it around the back of the manor home.

Lady Kaelys Tela rose to greet the jobbers as they entered the avant-garde sitting room filled with so many rare and often risqué works of art. The exotic storm-torn looked every inch the Elven beauty described in the Forgotten Fables, wearing a gown of platinum sewn rubies with a plunging neckline and an open back that showed off her lithely muscled form. Her long golden tresses were worked into an intricate coif that accentuated her almond shaped eyes of blue and a radiant smile matched the mischievousness found in those alien eyes.

In a finely cultured voice she inquired as to the group’s success and Nicodemus took the lead in talking on behalf of the jobbers. The runecaster confirmed that they had been very successful and motioned out the floor to ceiling glass windows at the sight of Kurt-184 bringing the cart and its covered statue into view.

The group could tell that the covered statue had Lady Tela’s full attention. Especially when Kurt-184 removed the tarp and the statue of the fallen angel gleamed brilliantly in the afternoon sun.

The storm-torn touched the window’s frame and uttered a word of power. As the glass seemingly melted away, Lady Tela strode out onto the manicured grounds of her estate to better view the life-like work of art.

Nicodemus accompanied her and explained that the statue had a very unique property that was sure to be of interest. The runecaster then enlisted the overwrought’s cooperation and had Kurt-184 break off the original hand that the group had been sent to recover. When the statue pulled the hand back onto itself and mended the damage, Nicodemus could tell that Kaelys was very pleased.

The lady returned into the sitting room and moved to the bar. With a snap of her long pale fingers she summoned a male rune wraith that glowed bluish-white and was garbed in fine butler’s garb. The Andari announced that a celebration was called for and ordered the rune wraith butler to pour ransom for the group and to bring some biscotti to dine upon.

Lady Tela turned back to the group, waited until everyone had a fine crystal wineglass of ransom, the effervescent draughts a deep red, and toasted the group’s success. She then asked the jobbers to tell her of their adventure so she would have those details for when she entertained on the upcoming Free-day.

Nicodemus casually demonstrated to the group how the biscotti was to be eaten and then told of the group’s adventure, omitting the details concerning the Night Stalkers and the possessed young man that had led the Stone Keepers. The runecaster, no stranger to high-end social engagements, paced his tale well, such that he ended with only a swallow of his ransom remaining to avoid a possibly awkward silence.

Lady Kaelys Tela was well pleased and asked the group how they would like their reward, in coin or as letters of credit. Since none of the jobbers had accounts with any financial institutions, they opted for the coin, though Veruna asked with whom the lady banked.

Lady Tela laughed and said that she banked with High Tower Traders. Veruna asked if she would be willing to give the group a recommendation, to which the storm-torn replied she would be happy to. She went on to say that there was a good chance a recommendation from her might make the bank think that the jobbers had more wealth than was actually the case, resulting in additional fees for special processing. With that, the lady excused herself to make the arrangements for their payment, leaving a half-finished glass of ransom forgotten on the tea table.

Soon the group was bidding farewell to the Lady in Silvervine’s foyer, Kaelys having walked the group out personally, still overcome with her good fortune through the jobbers’ efforts. Seizing the opportunity to catch Lady Tela in such a generous mood, Katryn brought forth the coins and writs that the group had recovered in the ruined tower.

Lady Tela listened to Katryn’s offer, inspected the goods, and paid the jobbers the equivalent value in royals that the coins and writs represented. The business concluded, the group turn to collect their weapons, along with leather bank satchels that held their promised payment, which later inspection revealed to be fifteen hundred royals apiece, including Jonathon’s share.

Upon seeing Kay, Lady Kaelys remarked that Nicodemus honored his family with his talents and wished the group success in their future endeavors. The group bid their employer farewell and soon was once more upon the streets of GreyMesa.

As the group made their way along the bustling streets and ramps that led back downward to the shadowed levels that they currently called home, Roxton remarked that if all their jobs paid as well as this one had, they could definitely count him in. The others replied that they had an arrangement with Lady Marissa Winterwood, but that the lady would most likely be agreeable to adding another retainer. Then, talking of their plans for their money, the four jobbers made their way to the Church of Twilight to deliver Jonathon his share before sending word to Lady Winterwood that their first commission had ended very successfully.
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Talahar
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 03, 2007 7:34 pm    Post subject: Re: Veruna Reply with quote

Muse wrote:
Actually, the players already knew Veruna was a Malakar. I was trying really hard not to "spill the beans" in game until the right moment! It was still a tense moment - good roleplayers in this group.
Mark is doing a great job as GM, isn't he? No, the inverted tower is not in the book. I know he was inspired by some other game, but not sure what - he should answer you soon and post the next writeup.
Enjoy reading - we enjoy playing!

aka Veruna

yeah, even from the writeups i got that it was either a great job of keeping things secret or a bunch of great roleplayers....
(keeping stuff secret is usually bound to constantly writing notes to the GM and short sessions of "i'll go with her into the next room for a solo session, just talk amongst yourselfs..." - that sort of thing just doesnt fly to well with many players... :-/)
but the players as audience approach is usually much more rewarding, for everyone Smile
(if the players know what they are doing Wink )
and yikes, another two long posts.... i replyed first, now i'm gonna read them ^^
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2007 9:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

23rd of Veil 1107p.t. (Post Tempest)

It had been almost two weeks since the jobbers’ successful completion of Lady Kaelys Tela’s commission and during that time each had added to GreyMesa’s economy by enjoying their rich reward of royals in a variety of ways.

Katryn and Veruna had decided to become roommates and had found a modest sized flat away from the noise of the train lines. After some frugal furniture purchases, both had expanded her respective wardrobe, with Veruna adopting the form of a younger city dweller rather than the appearance of her mother from years before. In addition, where Veruna had donated almost half of her earnings to the Blackstone Church to aid Sister Faye Robert’s efforts in the Fringe, Katryn spent some of her earnings on securing the storage building as a workshop to be shared with Nicodemus.

Nicodemus meanwhile had used a small portion of his monies to secure his cotter level lodgings for another month and to aid in Katryn’s securing of the workshop. The majority of his reward he spent on a pair of finely made spectacles to compensate for his damaged eyesight and on a finely made suit of LeatherJack. What little remained of his earnings the runecaster placed in a small bank account, holding a pittance for walking around money.

Roxton, like the inventor and wayfinder, spent his time finding new lodgings and clothing consummate with a jobber’s lifestyle. In addition, the retriever joined The Final Riposte, a modest boyar club specializing in fencing and other cultured sports activities. Of course, the possession of a retriever’s license along with a sizable donation helped to assist Sloan’s acceptance into the club.

Unlike his companions, Jonathon’s activities were sharply curtailed by his mentor within the Church of Twilight. The majority of the shadowpriest’s time was spent in instruction and meditation in an attempt to help center Brother Keeganfall’s his spirit. On the few opportunities the Andari had to slip away, he spent his reward securing his vices, renting a flophouse for his future use, and purchasing an ethereal ghostblade as a contingency against runic threats.

Now the jobbers had received a summons from Lady Winterwood regarding a possible retrieval commission. The five companions had decided to meet at the steps of the Hall of Shadows and proceed to Lady Winterwood’s apartments from there.

This morning promised to be a fine day and as Nicodemus, Katryn, Roxton and Veruna approached the Church of Twilight, they saw Brother Keeganfall sitting on the steps awaiting their arrival. The Andari shadowpriest seemed to be in fine spirits and the group was put off by the uncharacteristic jovialness that he displayed. As the five walked away, with Jonathon animatedly catching up on what everyone had been up to, Nicodemus muttered to Roxton that he thought he preferred the old Jonathon better.

The jobbers made their way through the district of GreyMesa, walking the ramps, taking the lifts, and traversing the soaring bridges as they rose ever upward into the domain of the Cloudbreathers. Here the ambient lighting was tinged with the colors of the strong sunlight that gleamed off of the fine buildings. The smell of clean air along with the subdued tones of ambient noises were a stark contrast to the noisy, polluted and shadowed tiers that resided below.

The jobbers soon arrived outside of Lady Winterwood’s apartments with Jonathon finishing a last smoke, his jovial attitude still seeming out of character to his companions. At Nicodemus’ knock, the Andari retriever opened the door looking lovely in a fine dress of red and white.

Lady Winterwood’s auburn hair was held back in a red silken scarf and her hazel eyes gleamed with a smile that lit her features. Unlike the exotic stormtorn Lady Tela, who exhibited the avant-garde of fashion and excess, Lady Winterwood possessed a noble and reserved demeanor that conveyed genuine respect and friendship to the five companions.

Lady Winterwood bade the jobbers to see to their belongings in the front hall. She then turned to Veruna, remarking pleasantly to the wayfinder that she liked her new dress, with the unspoken compliment on the Malakar’s new form. As the lady moved back towards the sitting room, she left Veruna taken aback and surprised at how she had known Veruna was a shape shifter.

The jobbers made their way to the sitting room with its familiar fine antique furnishings, tasteful art pieces, well-crafted clockworks, and preserved witchgrass flowers that were dyed in pastel hues within crystal vases. The smell of finely brewed tanglevine tea filled the air along with the scent of Lady Winterwood’s perfume. The chairs had been arranged for the teatime meeting and tea cookies and sugar cubes were tastefully arranged on fine china next to porcelain cups.

The lady and the jobbers caught up on the group’s recent activities while enjoying the fine tea and cookies. Once settled, Lady Winterwood moved the conversation to the retrieval commission she had for them.

Lady Winterwood explained to the group that she had recently received two retrieval job offers that asked for her specifically by name, but would have conflicting timing. One of the retrieval offers involved the recovery of a cloudbreather’s wayward son as discreetly as possible. The other involved the return of a contract-breaking chemist that had been recently seen in the employ of Alkemico Affiliates near the GreyMesa Eye, the central rail line hub of the city district.

Since not all of the jobbers possessed the experience in the nuances of the higher strata of the district, Lady Winterwood had decided that she would undertake the retrieval of the missing Cloudbreather scion. If the companions were interested in undertaking the recovery of the chemist, Lady Winterwood offered ten percent of the final reward as her commission and trusted the jobbers would complete the retrieval satisfactorily.

The companions asked what the offered reward was for the retrieval and Lady Winterwood informed them that it was three thousand royals with a bonus if the chemist could be retrieved before the Spring Equinox. The lady then handed the contract to Nicodemus while proceeding to inform them that the chemist’s name was Dr. Edward McDermott.

Katryn perked up at the name, drawing her wayward gaze from the nearby clockworks and quieting her muttered musings on their operation. She recalled that her father had done work for the chemist after the doctor had been injured in an explosion at Chemical Crafting. When she said as much, Nicodemus remarked that Chemical Crafting was the same name listed in the retrieval contract as the factory the doctor was in breach of contract with.

Lady Winterwood informed the companions that she would most likely be out of contact once she began her retrieval of the cloudbreather’s son. If they had to reach her, she suggested that they leave a message in her mail slot and she would try to check back in periodically.

The jobbers thanked the lady for her hospitality and for the commission. Gathering their gear, the five took their leave of Lady Winterwood and began their trek back downward through the district of GreyMesa. As they walked the group began laying out what course of action they would take in the fulfillment of the retrieval of Dr. Edward McDermott.

It was decided that Katryn and Nicodemus would pay a visit to James Standish to see what additional information they could gain about the wayward chemist. Standish was listed as the contact at Chemical Crafting and the group wanted some more information about McDermott.

Veruna and Roxton meanwhile would head to the area of The Eye to see if they could locate any Alkemico Affiliates holdings in that area. Jonathon would work his way to Alkemico Affiliates’ main offices to see what information he could gain as far as the chemist’s assigned location by the factory management.

Veruna and Roxton made their way downward through GreyMesa, changing their route to take them towards The Eye, the massive rail line hub that cemented GreyMesa’s prominent role in the affairs of ScatterPoint. As the pair descended, the air took on the tang of bitter, acrid smoke and the noise of the various rail lines filled the air with the chugging sound of locomotive engines, shrill whistles, and the screech of wheels braking on the metal lines.

Asking about, the pair was given directions to an Alkemico Affiliates chemical foundry and warehouse that was located near the rail line hub. Following the directions through the early lunchtime press of cotters, Veruna and Roxton were crossing over a ramp when they saw the Alkemico Affiliates holdings several streets over through the towering buildings and elevated rail line supports.

The Alkemico Affiliates facility was a massive, dual building affair that was elevated on two tremendous platforms of stone and steel. Each of the platforms was supported by massive girders that were buried deeply in the bedrock of GreyMesa, with the warehousing area set higher than the accompanying foundry building. The gap between the two locations was spanned by a connecting Spiral, or railway, also supported by metal crossbeams. The Spiral ran in a figure eight pattern that allowed a small steam engine, towing four small cars, to enter and exit each building at their far opposite walls.

From the warehouse location could be seen a junction line that allowed Alkemico Affiliates’ dedicated engine to haul finished goods to the main rail platforms for shipment or to receive raw materials for use in the foundry. Encompassing each building was a tall steel fence, with openings for the steam engine as it ran the Spiral, and gated entrances from which ramps descended into the arc lit shadows beneath the patchwork of girders and smoke stacks.

Within those fences could be seen some workers milling about, either exiting to the streets below or walking the ramps up to the factory or warehouse. Veruna could make out humans and Ferren, while Roxton caught a glimpse of battered Overwrought near the foundry’s train exit. Just as they were ready to start down to the streets and ramps beneath the odd looking facility, Roxton caught sight of a hot air balloon making its way through the towering buildings and maneuvering to the warehouse structure.

The balloon was a patchwork pattern of blues and greens affixed to its enclosed basket by thick steel cables. The basket itself was brass and steel, the size of a large carriage and oval shaped, thick in the middle and tapering at either end. Jets of flame could be seen flickering on and off from the basket’s center top, controlling the lift of the balloon, while fixed mounted propellers could be seen on the underside, providing propulsion. An oversized rudder determined direction by eclipsing one propeller or another as needed. Brass rimmed portholes provided the occupants with the view needed to pilot the exotic airship.

The balloon’s basket was soon lost from sight as it finished its decent to alight on the warehouse’s roof. Only the gentle sway of the semi-deflated balloon gave any clue as to its presence at the warehouse.

Taking their bearings, Veruna and Roxton shook off the truly uncommon sight that they had just witnessed. The pair pressed onward and soon the din of industry dominated all sound, forcing the two to almost shout at each other to be heard.

Factories and tenements were in abundance, the former belching chemical laden air from massive smoke stacks and the latter covered with the resulting grime and soot. A greasy sensation settled into the jobbers’ skin and clothes as their boots sloshed through puddles of condensed water. The light of the flickering arc lamps was washed out through the low hanging fog trapped in the close confines of the crowded streets and ramps.

The wayfinder and retriever walked the shadowed streets, the smell of the chemical laden air having fallen below their conscious level of discomfort. They jostled their way through the milling cotters and before long they discovered a flywheel that serviced the Alkemico Affiliates’ cotters as they took their lunch breaks.

Known as Draughts and Drafts, the interior was lit with oil lamps at the tables. The lamps were topped with diffusers of tanglevine incense to improve the air quality of the flywheel and burnished copper casks gleamed behind the well-worn bar of dented brass.

Veruna and Roxton observed the factory workers as they came in to grab bowls of Cotter’s Chowder or slabs of preformed vat meat, roasted on metal skewers. The clientele was predominately human though several Ferren were also in attendance. None of the Overwrought seemed to be present. It was soon apparent to the jobbers which poor cotters worked in the foundry area and which were the fortunate ones to work in the warehouse.

The foundry area workers were garbed in thick cloth overalls, overlaid with chemical stained smocks of heavy newt leather with filter masks hanging about their necks on worn cloth straps. The warehouse workers by contrast were in light cloth overalls, with no masks or smocks.

Before long, Veruna and Roxton had gained the camaraderie of one of the Alkemico Affiliates warehouse foremen. The foreman had decided on a liquid lunch, which between Veruna’s flirtation and Roxton’s covering of the tab had the foreman going on about the recent happenings at the Spiral-joined factory.

The jobbers learned that the factory had recently undergone a major refit when one of Alkemico’s new chemists had come on board approximately six months ago. The foreman described the new chemist as surly and a real pain to work with. In addition, the foreman mentioned that the chemist was never seen without being accompanied by a creature that looked like some Talus-spawned, Malakar half-breed child known as Mr. Grommet.

The foreman’s description of the creature was given with verve, with comments such as “an abomination that no decent man would condone to exist” or “a degenerate demon child the color of bile.” Veruna felt her anger rising at the man’s obvious bigotry against the Malakar and excused herself just before Roxton began intervening.

As the wayfarer departed to the privy, Sloan persuaded the foreman that lunch was concluded, settled up the tab, and moved to meet Veruna when she reemerged. The pair exited Draughts and Drafts and were once more in the smog filled environs beneath the Alkemico Affiliates property.

Roxton bade Veruna to start back to Brass Tacks to meet their companions and to tell them what they had learned. He then stated that he wanted to watch the foundry and warehouse a while longer to verify the timing of the locomotive, the shift changes, and to see if there was anything else of note occurring. He told the shape shifter that he would rejoin them at her and Katryn’s apartment by dinnertime.

Katryn and Nicodemus had meanwhile proceeded to one of GreyMesa’s libraries. Nicodemus knew that without some address information he and Katryn would waste valuable time searching for Chemical Crafting’s main office.

The runecaster took advantage of his runecasting license to gain free admittance to the library. Once inside, having left Katryn reluctantly waiting outside, Nicodemus sought out the business section and within a few minutes had Chemical Crafting’s address and a basic overview of what products they produced.

Replacing the research materials, Nicodemus borrowed a quill, an ink vial, and some paper to quickly pen a letter of introduction to present at Chemical Crafting’s office. Once completed, he rejoined Katryn and the pair made their way into the middle tiers of GreyMesa.

Soon the two jobbers stood on the bustling street outside of Chemical Crafting’s main office. The structure was made up of three towering sections that took up an entire block of the area. Each section had a façade of worked brick and masonry and it was evident that routine maintenance was conducted to keep the brickwork clean of grime.

To the jobber’s right appeared to be an actual factory operation; the large smoke stacks coughing forth white plumes of vapor that dissipated rapidly due to large metal fans that hummed on the factory’s roof. Few windows were evident and the only exterior entrance to the factory portion seemed to be metal rollup freight doors.

The center section appeared to be housing for Chemical Crafting’s cotters. Small windows formed a checkerboard pattern of glass and stone across the building’s street front. The center rose several stories and some of the upper level windows were opened to the street air.

The far left section had a glassed-in revolving doorway. A small awning covered the approach to the entryway and large windows were evident from the second story on up. Moving through the revolving doorway Nicodemus and Katryn saw a well-appointed foyer, with an unoccupied receptionist desk to their left and a side lounge to their right. At the far end of the polished stone foyer was a bank of burnished steel elevators and two additional doors set to either side.

A large human male dressed in a business suit that did little to conceal his massive frame halted the two jobbers. Nicodemus smoothly handed the note he had addressed to James Standish to the doorman and stated his desire to see the fellow, though he and his companion did not have an appointment. The doorman looked over the note and ushered the jobbers into the small decently appointed lounge, stating that he would return momentarily with Standish’s answer.

A few minutes later the doorman returned to escort the jobbers to Mr. Standish. Nicodemus and Katryn were led through the door to the right of the elevators and up a few flights of stairs. At each landing were doors that led onto the corresponding floors.

Reaching the sixth floor, the doorman led them into a narrow hall set with witchgrass framed doors, the names of the occupants stenciled on brass mounting plates. Reaching an open door, the doorman lightly knocked and announced that Mr. Standish’s visitors had arrived. With that the doorman motioned the pair in to the small office and proceeded back to the stairs.

The office was sparsely appointed. A small metal desk topped with a witchgrass veneer dominated the available space. Closed accounting ledgers rested on the top of the desk in the center, next to several quills and ink vials. A small glass oil lamp resided at one corner of the desk, the other occupied by a few additional reams of paperwork. Before the desk were two worn metal chairs, while behind the desk rose Mr. Standish from a polished witchgrass chair set on rollers.

Mr. James Standish was a middle-aged man, with thinning brown hair, squinting brown eyes, and pale skin. His business suit hung on his five foot five rail-thin frame like that of a scarecrow from the Forgotten Fables. Nicodemus could see that the accountant’s hands were soft, except where an ink stained callus was evident on his right middle finger as he extended his hand in greeting.

Glancing down at the note the doorman had given him; Standish greeted the runecaster as Mr. Bloodrune and the inventor as Ms. Romney. The man was possessed of a nervous energy and brusque demeanor as he shook their hands and bid them to be seated. He then moved to close his office door before resuming his seat behind the desk.

The jobbers explained that they were looking for additional information concerning Dr. Edward McDermott. The accountant answered that he would try to help them as much as he was able but stated that he obviously did not know the man personally.

As the jobbers asked their questions it soon became obvious that Standish was on edge. The man had a habit of rubbing his palms together and seemed unable to articulate why Dr. McDermott would have broken his contract with Chemical Crafting. Finally Nicodemus asked if he could see the personnel file for the chemist and Standish said that he would check with personnel to see what he could arrange. He then rose and exited the room, closing the door behind him.

Nicodemus instructed Kay to follow the accountant, the rune wraith having been ordered to accompany the runecaster in an ethereal state in order to be a more unobtrusive bodyguard. A whispered confirmation of the command followed and the arcane companion left the office.

At the same time, Katryn slid behind Standish’s desk. Starting with the accounting ledger, the inventor did a quick thumb-through to sate her curiosity about what it contained. Finding little of interest, she handed the ledger to Nicodemus and turned her attention to the desk itself.

The inventor saw that the desk had a central drawer while along the right hand side were three additional ones. Testing the drawers, Katryn discovered that they were locked. Immediately she pulled forth her collection of picks from a utility pocket and set to work.

Moments later the inventor was rewarded with the click of the central lock. Pulling back the center drawer she saw unsharpened quills, a small penknife, and various other bits of useful accountant paraphernalia. The top right hand drawer contained additional ledgers like the one the runecaster was flipping through. Before she could proceed further, both the jobbers heard movement in the outside hall.

Katryn immediately relocked the desk and slid around to her chair while Nicodemus replaced the ledger, which he recognized contained the job entries of a low level functionary. He then moved to greet Standish as he entered, obscuring Katryn as she regained her chair.

The accountant was startled to find the jobber standing and waiting for him. Nicodemus made the excuse that he needed to use the privy and asked if Standish could direct him there. Standish acquiesced and handed Katryn a folder containing loose sheaves of paper. The two men then exited the office for the end of the hall.

Katryn set the folder on the desk and moved back around to the desk drawers. She easily unlocked the desk again and looked in its two remaining drawers. The middle drawer contained a PitchPit Pistol set on a folded towel. The bottom drawer contained two money satchels and a small lockbox.

Barely holding her curiosity in check regarding the lockbox, Katryn closed the drawers and relocked the desk. She then resumed her seat and picked up the folder, looking through the paperwork Standish had brought.

Nicodemus finished his business in the privy and redirected Kay to stay with him rather than Standish. The runecaster rejoined Standish and soon all three were once more in the accountant’s office.

Katryn handed the file over to Nicodemus and commented that he should take a look. The request was genuine since Katryn had not had much time at all due to her rifling of the desk. The runecaster looked over the paperwork and readily determined that no contract information or any disciplinary reports or negative comments at all concerning the doctor’s performance were contained within it. The chemist’s accident was included along with references that following the accident Dr. McDermott had perfected a formula for a healing elixir that could be mass produced, which Standish confirmed.

The jobbers had many questions about why McDermott might have left, but realized that Standish wasn’t going to be of any more help. Thanking the accountant for his time, they allowed him to escort them from the building and said that they would be in touch once they had retrieved the chemist. The interview concluded, Nicodemus and Katryn made their way to Brass Tacks to meet with the others.

Later that afternoon Nicodemus, Katryn, and Veruna met Brother Keeganfall at Brass Tacks. The flywheel was subdued, with the staff working at preparing for the evening rush. The Andari shadowpriest had chosen the table near the back door and his fellow jobbers could see that he had already finished a couple of glasses of gloom by the upturned tumblers on the table.

Seating themselves, each told the others of their findings for the day. Jonathon related that he had confirmed that Dr. McDermott was working at the Alkemico Affiliates facility near The Eye. What puzzled the Andari was the fact that the information was not all that hard to come by, considering that the chemist was supposedly in breach of contract.

Nicodemus and Katryn were also puzzled by their interview of James Standish. If Standish was indeed as he appeared, it seemed strange that a lowly functionary was the contact point for a retrieval of such a skilled chemist as McDermott seemed to be.

Not wanting to continue discussing their commission in public, the group decided to retire back to Katryn’s and Veruna’s flat to await Roxton’s return. The jobbers hoped that the retriever’s afternoon stakeout of the facility would glean them some new information.

That evening, just after the dinner hour, Roxton knocked at the ladies’ residence and was admitted by Veruna. Upon entering he saw that all of his companions awaited his arrival, with Nicodemus enjoying a cup of tanglevine tea that Veruna had prepared for him, Katryn tinkering with her new Synchronized Integrated Targeting Engine that she had recently affixed to her LASER, and Jonathon reclining in the armchair near the windows.

The retriever related that little out of the ordinary had occurred at the Alkemico Affiliates facility, though he had determined the shift schedules for both buildings and had a decent accounting on the number of security related cotters that were at the site. He then listened to what Nicodemus and Katryn had discovered along with Jonathon’s confirmation of the chemist’s whereabouts being the facility near The Eye.

The group discussed again all that they had learned and as the conversation began to circle around on itself, Nicodemus had Kay materialize. He asked his arcane companion what she had witnessed when she had followed Standish back at the Chemical Crafting office.

The rune wraith stated that Standish had gone to a room filled with filing cabinets. There the accountant had pulled forth a large file and had proceeded to remove several documents that he sat on top of the cabinets. Afterwards he exited the room with the thinner file that he presented to Katryn when Nicodemus asked to use the privy.

The rune wraith’s account raised the group’s curiosity about the truthfulness of what Nicodemus and Katryn had been told as well as the information Standish had left out. Nicodemus asked Kay if she would be able to relocate the file room within Chemical Crafting and be able to gain the complete file if it were there. The rune wraith answered that she believed she would be able to.

The group discussed their options and decided that more information was needed and that the file was too important to ignore. The jobbers decided to go to a flywheel near Chemical Crafting and have Kay make an attempt to liberate the file for their perusal.

An hour or so later the jobbers entered the flywheel known as Doc’s Drinks. It was a modest sized establishment a couple of blocks away from the Chemical Crafting complex. The flywheel had red leather furnishings and copper topped tables. The clientele was predominately upward rising factory managers and lower tiered boyars dressed in modest suits and dresses.

The jobbers’ royals saw their way to a private dining room closed off from the common room by heavy red drapes. Once within, with orders placed and the drapes closed, Nicodemus summoned forth Kay and gave her detailed instructions on what he wanted done. After the rune wraith recited them back to the runecaster’s satisfaction, Kay dematerialized and exited the dining room.

The jobbers’ meals of fresh food arrived with Roxton stating that the tab for the food was on him. The others graciously accepted and as their server exited the dining room, Kay materialized with the file. Nicodemus took the file and began reading through it, passing the pages on to Roxton for his review as well.

Both jobbers saw that the contract between Dr. McDermott and Chemical Crafting had ended amicably between the two over six months prior. From what the two investigators could tell, Alkemico Affiliates had bought out McDermott’s contract after the chemist had successfully perfected a mass produced healing serum for Chemical Crafting. In addition, the chemist’s pay rate was within the file and the amount of royals the doctor earned showed that he was fairly compensated for his work.

The jobbers discussed what the file revealed, which was that for all intents and purposes there seemed to be no legal basis for Chemical Crafting’s contracted retrieval of the chemist. In fact, the retrieval of the chemist, in light of the pilfered documents, amounted to kidnapping.

They went on discussing everything about the retrieval that seemed off: Based on what the jobbers knew of the company involved and Lady Winterwood’s professional standing, it seemed unlikely that Chemical Crafting would have known to ask for her by name. The timing of the two retrieval orders to Lady Winterwood’s specific attention that would force her to chose one or the other without additional help. The discrepancy in the type of retrievals she received that assured that the McDermott retrieval would need to be commissioned out. The contract’s statement that the chemist had gone missing about two weeks prior whereas the documents in Chemical Crafting showed the principles had parted amicably months before. The fact that the retrieval contract’s contact was a lowly accountant functionary along with Standish’s reaction to Nicodemus’ and Katryn’s visit.

As the group went back and forth discussing what they knew and what they should do, Nicodemus thought about everything that they had covered and announced he thought he knew who was behind the false retrieval job: the Bluecoats. After the jobbers’ aid of Lady Winterwood in the affair of the locket, it stood to reason that the Bluecoat claw had lost face. If that was true, the whole retrieval scheme could be the claw’s way of damaging Lady Winterwood’s reputation while at the same time achieving revenge on the jobbers.

The others thought about what the runecaster proposed and decided that Nicodemus’ theory made the most sense. The group decided to send word to Lady Winterwood to let her know all that they had discovered and deduced. Nicodemus sent Kay to return the file while the jobbers left to return to the ladies’ home to plan their next course of action.

Once back at the ladies’ flat, the jobbers determined to turn the tables on the Bluecoats or whoever else was behind the manipulation. Katryn proposed to send a meeting request to Dr. McDermott, using her family connection to the chemist via her father’s name to help make that happen. Provided that the chemist accepted, Veruna would accompany Katryn so that she could observe the chemist first hand so as to be able to assume the doctor’s form.

The group would then send word to James Standish saying the chemist had been recovered. Once the meeting place was known, the group would go to the exchange, with Veruna playing the part of the chemist. Provided the ruse worked, the group would then show those responsible the folly of crossing the jobbers and their allies.

The rough outline of the plan set and the letter penned to Lady Winterwood, the men took their leave of the ladies to rest up for the next day’s events.
_________________
Mark

Second watch. Roll for surprise.
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Marcos
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Joined: 28 Apr 2006
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Location: Hickory, NC

PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2007 9:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

24th of Veil 1107p.t. (Post Tempest)

The morning had passed by with the jobbers attending to the delivery of their respective letters and taking care of personal business. By the afternoon, Katryn and Veruna were climbing the acrid smelling ramp to the gate entrance of the Alkemico Affiliates warehouse building. The pair felt the thunderous rattle of the steam engine as it churned along its figure eight track overhead and the screech of its whistle hurt their ears.

As the din subsided somewhat, Katryn presented her invitation from Dr. McDermott for afternoon tea. The guard entered the small shack next to the gate and the inventor saw him use a telegraph to relay a request to the warehouse for confirmation. A few moments passed and the guard listened to the reply and then proceeded to escort the two jobbers into the warehouse.

The interior of the warehouse was divided into the rail bay for the dedicated steam engine and a massive amount of storage space for raw materials and finished goods packed in witchgrass crates and metal barrels. Above the warehousing section was a series of interconnected crosswalks with movable crane assemblies that the workers could use to transport goods throughout the facility.

The guard led the pair past the catwalk level up to the third floor of the building where the door opened to reveal modest living quarters. The walls had been painted in shades of blue and green while smooth witchgrass paneled floors gleamed in the soft glow of the gas lamps that were set in niches near the ceiling.

The ladies noticed that the ambient noise of the factory and the nearby rail yards was markedly reduced and Katryn presumed that some soundproofing materials had been used to insulate the living areas. The guard led the wayfinder and the inventor into what was obviously a dining area, which was furnished in metal tables with padded wooden seating.

The guard invited the chemist’s visitors to be seated and said that the doctor should be along shortly. Moments later Katryn and Veruna looked up to see Dr. Edward McDermott hobbling into the dining room, leaning heavily on a stout witchgrass cane.

The chemist was middle aged with thick red hair and a handlebar mustache of the same color. He was dressed in fine grey pants, a suit coat of light blue that matched the color of his pale eyes, and sturdy brown boots. The chain of a gold pocket watch was evident at his green vest and a brace of brass and steel encased his right leg.

Above the chemist’s left shoulder peeked a bizarre looking creature with green, wart covered skin and dark eyes like coal. Oversized hands held onto the doctor’s coat and small bat-like wings flapped periodically to hold the creature’s balance as Dr. McDermott limped into the room. As the chemist moved to take his seat, the small child-like creature sniffed its pug nose at the jobbers and swung around the doctor’s arm to seat itself on the tabletop.

Dr. McDermott and Katryn exchanged pleasantries, with the chemist remembering the inventor’s father well. Katryn introduced Veruna and Dr McDermott introduced his homunculus, Mr. Grommet. Katryn then proceeded to inquire after any possible work, explaining that she was now a journeyman inventor and looking to expand her range of contacts. The chemist listened patiently and regretfully informed Katryn that at this time Alkemico Affiliates provided for any needed help he might have.

As the two conversed, Mr. Grommet drifted off to sleep, faint snores escaping his wing draped, curled up form. Veruna, however, studied the chemist with keen interest. The Malakar shape shifter worked at memorizing the nuances of the chemist’s mannerisms, the details of his face, skin, and hands. When the visit came to a close, the wayfinder watched how the chemist moved, committing his leaning gait to memory.

As the jobbers left Alkemico Affiliates, Veruna told Katryn that she was confident that she would be able to impersonate the chemist for the planned ruse. All she would need was a suitable change of clothes and a convincing leg brace. Katryn said that she would get the materials to fashion a brace that could easily be discarded when true mobility was required and on the way back the two stopped to purchase the needed clothing and materials.

Once the companions were reunited that evening at the workshop, Veruna practiced her shape shifting. Meanwhile, Nicodemus sent word to James Standish that the chemist was in custody and the meeting location was needed. Roxton checked over his gear and rested up from his and Nicodemus’ sparring earlier that afternoon at The Last Riposte. Katryn worked on Veruna’s costume brace and Jonathon enjoyed his vices of tanglevine smoke and gloom.

Word soon came back that the jobbers were to deliver the chemist to a nearby rail depot. The companions readied their gear and Roxton hailed a wide carriage drawn by two newts for transportation to the meeting place. The newts were large bipedal lizards standing over nine feet tall, with skin the color of rust and oval shaped reptilian eyes that reflected gold in the street lamps. Once ensconced within the carriage, its wheels clattering over the cobblestones, Veruna shape shifted into Dr. McDermott’s likeness and attached the mock brace.

The carriage ride was soon over and the jobbers disembarked on dark streets near the abandoned rail depot, which consisted of a brick and mortar train office and ticket counter. Worn stone steps rose on either side of the loading platform beside rusted train tracks.

Brother Keeganfall took the lead, with Roxton manhandling “the chemist”, followed by Nicodemus, his rune wraith ethereal, and Katryn. As Jonathon climbed the stairs, his twilight sight revealed nine Ferren Bluecoats waiting for the jobbers. The shadowpriest paused in his ascent, whispered back over his shoulder to his companions the number of foes before them, and proceeded to finish mounting the train platform, stepping to his left to clear the stairs.

The remainder of the jobbers could see only dimly outlined shadows whose silhouettes were highlighted by the thin gleams of unsheathed sword canes and readied firearms. However, Roxton and Kay detected the scraping of boots on the train station’s roof and knew that more Bluecoats had them all well covered.

The jobbers continued to run the bluff as planned, with Roxton speaking for the team and using his best mercenary speak to carry the plan forward. As the retriever and the Bluecoat claw bantered back and forth, the Ferren shifted their positions to better cover the jobbers, going so far as to switch on a hand held arc lamp to supposedly ease the jobbers’ suspicions. In the commotion, Nicodemus instructed the ethereal Kay to climb to the train station roof and to attack the Ferren on his command.

Soon Roxton and the claw reached the subject of the payment for the delivery of the chemist. The claw motioned to a closed leather satchel at his feet and the retriever sent the shape shifted Veruna hobbling forward, growling to the “chemist” to bring the satchel back over.

The tension climbed and at Roxton’s order, Veruna opened the satchel revealing the dim gleam of worthless brass bits filling the case. Spitting a curse, the retriever raised his own FlintFlicker Fifty from where it had been concealed at his side and fired at the claw. The round whipped through the air where the Ferren leader had been, the claw having surged forward to grab the “chemist”. With that the fight was on.

Katryn thumbed the controls at her belt, broadcasting a signal to the box concealed on Veruna’s shape shifted form, while the wayfinder crouched to release the fake leg brace. Instantly the heat shimmer of the activated KEVLAR appeared about the “chemist,” though the Ferren claw still managed to secure a hold in Veruna’s collar. At the same time the reports of pistols echoed off of the nearby buildings, the muzzle flashes lighting up the dock in jets of flame.

Nicodemus yelled to Kay, triggering the previously dictated command he had imposed upon the rune wraith. Kay materialized upon the roof of the train station, her form blazing with red light as she rushed the Ferren snipers. Caught off guard, one Ferren watched his companion’s throat get ripped out before the rune wraith’s sanguineous glowing claws scored him across his chest knocking the breath from him.

On the platform, Nicodemus dealt with his own precarious situation. The runecaster sketched hurriedly on his arm and the rune of armor faded into his body. Moments later the rune flashed red as Bluecoat sword canes stabbed in hard, Jonathon having failed to stem the Ferren rush along the jobbers’ flank.

The Ferren claw pumped his legs backwards, dragging the shape-shifted wayfinder along the ground and into the train station office. There, out of sight, Veruna arched her back, trying to regain her footing to break the claw’s hold. However, the leverage was with the Bluecoat enforcer and Veruna’s efforts were stymied. Frustrated, Veruna flexed her forearms, unsheathing her rune-sharp claws, startling the Ferren enforcer. Out on the platform, the jobbers continued to dodge pistol fire even as the Bluecoat swordsmen charged, their blades gleaming red in Kay’s ruby glow.

Two Bluecoats who had sneaked along the rail tracks jumped Katryn where the inventor had taken cover to return fire with her LASER. The first jab caught her LeatherJack and was turned. The second punched through, scoring her ribs and spinning her about. The pain sucked the inventor’s breath away and Katryn felt warm blood flowing down her side.

Roxton dropped his pistol and drew forth his rapier, the retriever’s recent practice paying off as he parried away the thrusting sword canes. Realizing that Veruna was out of sight and that the Ferren had the advantage of numbers, Roxton began to taunt the Bluecoats to put them off balance, comparing their heritage to that of slag rats. The ploy worked as the group of swordsmen about the retriever sacrificed their defenses in their eagerness to run the slandering human through.

Nicodemus’ rune of protection flashed again as the Bluecoat blades thrust and cut at him. Not taking the time to sketch an offensive rune, Nicodemus lashed out wildly using his own sword cane like a club. The Ferren dodged the attack and readied themselves once more.

Jonathon shifted his stance, realizing that Katryn was being pressed below the platform even as Nicodemus was being forced against the train station’s wall. Gambling that his swordsmanship was up to the task, the shadowpriest dropped his defensive stance and lunged in hard at one of the Bluecoats assaulting Nicodemus. The blade struck true, impaling the Ferren through the side. However, Jonathon did not hesitate to see the results, pivoting on his foot and leaping down to the rail tracks to aid the inventor even as a pistol round punched through his flaring cloak.

In the train station, Veruna surged and broke the startled Ferren’s hold of her collar. The wayfinder spun and lashed with her claws forcing the enforcer to scramble backwards.

“So you’re the midwife, or should I say Malakar?” spat the Bluecoat leader.

“Not that you will live long enough to tell anyone” growled Veruna as the two circled each other.

Maneuvering for a run to the train station’s main doorway, the Ferren enforcer feinted and then bolted away, his legs bounding over the room’s benches. Veruna swung out wide, her claws nicking the Bluecoat’s LeatherJack, hurrying the enforcer along his way.

Kay finished the Bluecoats on the station’s roof and gazed down upon the platform below. Immediately the Bluecoat pistoleers who were still alive sent a stream of scorching lead at her, the rounds skipping off of the roof’s edge and Kay’s suit of ChainJack.

Nicodemus glared in annoyance at the attack on his arcane companion and used the respite of Jonathon’s attack to shift his focus to the pistoleers. Rapidly the runecaster sketched red symbols into the air and twin beams of runic energy blazed across the platform. One missed its mark, the shifting shadows ruining the shot. The other scorched into the pistoleer’s chest, rocking him backward.

Roxton felt the stabs of the Ferren swordsmen even as his LeatherJack short coat absorbed the brunt of the punishment. Undaunted, the retriever continued his tirade of insults and taunts even as his rapier played rapidly back and forth parrying blows and looking for openings. The retriever knew that the shift in the fight needed to come soon as his arm burned with fatigue. A stream of blazing white metal shards heralded that shift, as Katryn swept her LASER in a killing arc.

Moments before, Brother Keeganfall had recited the prayers of healing over Katryn even as he blocked the Bluecoats accosting the wounded inventor. The shadow energy had quickly gone from a black light to a white glow as it closed the wound along the inventor’s ribs. As the pain faded, Katryn steadied her arm and stroked the LASER’s trigger in rapid succession, the Synchronized Integrated Targeting Engine aiding her aim.

The first volley blasted through a Ferren’s rib cage, sending him to the ground. The next punched through the bridge of a swordsman’s snout, flipping him backwards. The last clipped another swordsman’s ear, distracting the Ferren.

Nicodemus continued to sketch attack runes, the energy lancing through the Ferren Bluecoats, even as Kay’s claws ripped into the others. Roxton’s swordsmanship dropped another, even as his taunts continued to distract the remaining assailants.

Meanwhile, out in front of the train station, the Bluecoat enforcer and Veruna continued their struggle. The wayfinder had been clipped by one of the enforcer’s pistol shots and the pain had caused her claw strikes to miss. Both could hear the sounds of combat fading at the rail platform and Veruna saw the enforcer’s eyes widen as she heard two of the Ferren fleeing behind her.

“You should have left well enough alone jobber!” sneered the enforcer with forced bravado as he fired his FlintFlicker Fifty.

“And leave you wondering which face was mine?” taunted the Malakar as she dodged the shot. “I wouldn’t want to cause you that pain,” she added as she squared up to charge.

The enforcer snarled an unintelligent reply and turned to run. As he passed the edge of the train station, Katryn caught the motion out of the corner of her eye. Spinning, the inventor rushed forward, her LASER spitting forth streams of super heated shrapnel.

The barrage caught the Ferren in the side, spinning him about even as his LeatherJack absorbed the hits. Shocked and off balance by the unexpected attack, the enforcer was struck again by three more shards as Katryn continued to close. Reeling, the Bluecoat leader caught his balance and gasped out that he would reveal who was behind the commission if the jobbers spared him.

Too late, Nicodemus caught the Ferren’s call for parley as ruby lances of energy struck the Ferren full on. The enforcer’s body went sailing through the air and came down hard on the cobblestone streets, his life’s blood streaming out of his chest and sides.

Jonathon moved to tend to Veruna’s wounds even as Roxton and Kay finished off the last Ferren swordsmen on the platform. Soon after, the group gathered around the incapacitated and dying enforcer. There, Katryn revealed what the Bluecoat leader had called out before falling.

Briefly the group debated about the worth of saving the Ferren’s life versus the information he might have. In addition, they discussed possibly saving the Ferren only to dispatch him once the information was learned. Jonathon stated that he would refuse to tend the Ferren if the end result was that the group was going to kill him anyway. Roxton seconded the shadowpriest, citing that the Bluecoat enforcer had called for quarter and the proper thing to do was to honor it.

The jobbers soon reached a consensus and the Andari shadowpriest recited a prayer of healing over the Ferren. The wounds were severe and the shadow light flowed out a deep red color, showing that a great deal of damage still remained. However, Jonathon announced that the Ferren was stabilized and the jobbers carried the enforcer back into the train station. There, Jonathon began performing more mundane healing while his companions searched the fallen and kept a watch in case the Bluecoats returned or any whitecloaks investigated.
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razorwise
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PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2007 10:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bravo! Again, good stuff!

You truly make the unique flavor of RunePunk shine through as your group gets ever more deeply entrenched in the intrigues of the city.

Thanks so much for sharing. Smile

Sincerely,

Sean
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Marcos
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PostPosted: Wed May 23, 2007 6:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

razorwise wrote:
Bravo! Again, good stuff!

You truly make the unique flavor of RunePunk shine through as your group gets ever more deeply entrenched in the intrigues of the city.

Thanks so much for sharing. Smile

Sincerely,

Sean


Sean,

It’s my pleasure. Smile

I am glad you are enjoying my group’s adventures as much as they seem to be and look for the next installment below.

Good gaming,
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Marcos
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PostPosted: Wed May 23, 2007 6:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

24th of Veil 1107p.t. continued

The Ferren Bluecoat’s nose stung as the brutal smell of concentrated ammonia filled his snout. Shocked back into consciousness, Twitch Skytower looked up through watering eyes into the faces of the jobbers who had thwarted his chance at vengeance.

The Andari shadowpriest, his long cloak falling back around his street priest garb, was rising up and back as a tall, lean human in a slouch hat squatted down beside him. Beyond him stood the human runecaster, his rune wraith glowing crimson behind him. To the Claw’s left stood the supposed chemist and the female inventor. From the bundles of LeatherJack at their feet, he knew his men had paid the ultimate price for service in the Bluecoats.

Roxton looked into the Ferren’s eyes and stated flatly that what he had to say had better be good, since his request for quarter had been honored. Twitch took in the hard eyes and the low tone of voice that the human used. Any thoughts of bartering left his mind and Twitch began laying out his failed plot.

The Ferren confirmed much of what the jobbers had already deduced. When Roxton growled that he wasn’t telling them anything new, Twitch gave up the client that truly wanted Dr. McDermott; GlitterGlam Industries.

Only Nicodemus’ iron will kept him from visibly reacting to the name of the business that had destroyed his family and their reputation. Only the slight flaring of Kay’s corona betrayed the runecaster’s recognition of the name.

Twitch went on to say that he didn’t know what exactly GlitterGlam wanted with the chemist, but the pay would have been good. When the retriever asked just how much was offered, Twitch said that the advance had been three thousand royals, but most of that would now have to go to paying the debt owed the families of the slain Ferren Bluecoats.

The jobbers asked a few more questions of the Claw, but realized that Twitch had little more to tell them. With that, the interrogation came to a close with Roxton informing the Ferren that their agreement was now concluded and that if any additional action were to be taken against the jobbers, no quarter would be honored. Twitch stated that he understood and with that the jobbers left Twitch bound in the rail station for his compatriots to find and release.

The jobbers hailed another newt drawn carriage and made their way back towards their dwellings. Along the way it was decided that Roxton and Jonathon would see to the selling of the recovered weapons. The recovered Bluecoat LeatherJacks would all be deposited in dumpsters and alleyways about the lower tiers of GreyMesa, except for the one in the best condition that Veruna would keep for a possible future disguise.

It was also decided that Nicodemus would pen a letter to Lady Winterwood revealing all that they had learned and to inform her how Twitch had been taken care. In addition, Katryn and Veruna would pay a visit to Dr. McDermott to let him know of GlitterGlam Industries’ interest in him.

Their plans set, the jobbers retired for the evening.
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Marcos
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PostPosted: Wed May 23, 2007 6:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

29th of Veil 1107p.t.

A week had passed since the jobbers had been involved with Twitch’s plot to ruin Lady Winterwood’s and their reputations. The week had been uneventful, with Lady Winterwood thanking them for their efforts on her behalf, the selling of the victory spoils, and warning Dr. McDermott of GlitterGlam Industries’ interest.

During the downtime, Roxton had looked into other possible retrieval jobs; Nicodemus and Katryn spent their time on their respective crafting projects while Veruna had delved into new alleys and neighborhoods of the district. Jonathon, after helping Roxton fence the Ferren goods, had been kept busy with his church related responsibilities.

This morning, at exactly 9 am, Nicodemus, Roxton, and the ladies each received a knock at their doors. Investigation revealed young human and Andari shadowpriest acolytes bearing sealed missives. The missives were invitations from Chancellor Gregory Peake for a lunch meeting at the Hall of Shadow at noon that day. Each missive addressed the jobbers by their true names, which set Veruna on edge. Each of the jobbers informed the shadowacolytes that they would attend, whereupon Roxton and Nicodemus each proceeded to Veruna and Katryn’s residence to compare notes.

The men arrived and the four jobbers verified that each of the others had received the invitations. Roxton speculated that Jonathon must have done something to garner the Church’s interest. At that, Nicodemus revealed that Chancellor Peake was the highest-ranking member of the Church of Twilight in GreyMesa and that any meeting with such a personage should be taken very seriously.

The jobbers talked over what the invitation might be in relation to, but soon realized that any such discussion was fruitless as they had no information to go on. The four then decided that they needed to have appropriate clothing for their meeting and hurried to secure a fair cloudbreather ensemble.

Near noon the four jobbers made their way through the bustling streets of GreyMesa’s middle tiers. Boyars and cotters both thronged the streets and the din of humanity filled the air.

Arriving at the Hall of Shadow, the jobbers saw the same shadowacolytes awaiting them upon the marble stairs. Each acolyte fell into step with the respective companion they had delivered the missive to. The group then proceeded into the shadowed halls of the massive cathedral.

The acolytes guided the jobbers through the dimly lit and muted halls of the church. About the main sanctuary could be seen various shadowpriests and priestesses of each race in conversation with each other or the many petitioners that sought the blessings of Umbriel’s representatives.

Beyond the sanctuary were the private halls of the clergy, where the jobbers were led to a bank of lifts. The acolytes motioned the companions into the lift, where it carried them high into the private chambers of the shadowpriests.

Soon the jobbers were led from marbled hallways into a long, rectangular dining hall, where a massive stained glass window depicting Umbriel dominated the far wall. Before the exquisitely crafted window was a large table, covered in a fine black and white patterned linen cloth. At the far end of the table were set six place settings of fine silver utensils, delicate china, and gleaming crystal goblets. One setting resided at the head of the table with two to the right hand side and the remaining three to the left. In the center of the table were several decanters holding glee, gloom, and ransom.

Rising at the head of the table was an older gentleman dressed in the formal black and white robes of a high priest of shadow. The human man appeared to be in his late fifties, with short-cropped black hair graying at the temples. His skin was very pale, lending his dark blue eyes a startling depth.

At the furthest setting away on the left rose Jonathon, dressed in his formal church robes. The Andari seemed ill at ease and the others could see where a tumbler of gloom rested half empty at his place setting.

Chancellor Gregory Peake welcomed each of the jobbers by name and invited them to join him for lunch. The jobbers choose their seating, with Roxton assisting Katryn to a seat on the Chancellor’s right. Veruna nervously sat next to her and the gentlemen joined Jonathon.

Nicodemus could detect a certain amount of weariness in Chancellor Peake as the high priest of shadow made small talk with the companions. Throughout the exchange, the Chancellor interspersed the conversation with subtle references that the Church of Twilight knew almost everything about each of them and their families. The companions took the inferences in stride, though Veruna fought hard to hold her anxiety in check, constantly trying to observe what utensils to use, what dishes to start with, and what topics to contribute to, complicated by the fact she was awestruck at meeting a leader of her faith.

As the lunch of fresh meat and vegetables began to draw to a close along with the interview, the Chancellor moved the conversation to the true purpose he had for summoning the five jobbers to the Hall of Shadow by asking Nicodemus what he knew of the Society of Entropy. The runecaster thought for a moment before answering that he believed it was some sort of social club for the wealthy.

The Chancellor nodded and went on to inform the jobbers that the Society of Entropy was not just any social club, but an exclusive social club in the upper tiers of GreyMesa, headed by Lord Angst, a famous poet, and Lady Ennui, an equally famous socialite, both of whom were ancient Andari. Membership was by invitation only and such invites were seldom offered, thereby increasing the mystique and desirability of the membership by all manner of wealthy, influential or famous Oddfellows and cloudbreathers.

The Chancellor went on to say that a shadowpriestess, Sister Lucinda Cannondale, went missing there several days prior. She had been undercover on a simple fact finding mission when she had dropped out of sight and out of contact. Chancellor Peake needed the jobbers to learn her fate and recover her or discover what had happened to her. He stressed that the group’s existing connection to the church influenced his decision to request this service of them, a seemingly innocuous comment that made Jonathan noticeably still.

Katryn remarked that it seemed incredible that anyone would go against the Church. The Chancellor smiled thinly and remarked that by being undercover, Sister Cannondale would not have befitted from the protection normally enjoyed by the clergy of Umbriel. Veruna jumped at the chance to volunteer that the group would be happy to find the missing Sister, to which Katryn kicked the Malakar passer under the table.

The Chancellor nodded his appreciation and informed the jobbers that the next day, being the Spring Equinox, guaranteed that the Society of Entropy would be hosting a party since Lord Angst and Lady Ennui always celebrated the Andari naming holidays. The Chancellor wanted the companions to infiltrate the party and discover what had become of the missing priestess of shadow. To aid the companions in gaining admittance, Chancellor Peake would call in a favor of Lord Alexander Topper, a member of the Society of Entropy.

Chancellor Peake rose and walked over to the nearby sideboard. There he gathered up six letters, one of which was affixed with a wax seal. As he went about gathering the letters, the Chancellor remarked that Lord Topper knew nothing of the missing Sister and would merely be told that the jobbers needed training on how to move in cloudbreather society. In addition, the Chancellor would see to it that suitable transportation was arranged for the jobbers to be picked up at the Hall of Shadows tomorrow evening.

The Chancellor handed the notes to Roxton, stating that there were five bank notes for one thousand royals each to cover their expenses in the investigation of Sister Cannondale. The sixth letter with the seal was to be given to Lord Topper. The Chancellor then gave the jobbers Sister Cannondale’s description, stating that she was most likely dressed in cloudbreather fashion as part of her cover. With that the Chancellor motioned to the acolytes to escort the jobbers out and the lunch interview was concluded.

As soon as the jobbers were out into the marble halls, Jonathon dismissed the acolytes so that the companions could talk with a modicum of privacy. Veruna asked Jonathon if he knew Sister Cannondale, to which the Andari replied that he and Lucy knew each other. When she asked if Jonathon had ever done any assignments like what Lucinda was doing, Brother Keeganfall gave her a ludicrous look at the question and said he just needed a moment to get his gear.

As the four waited for the shadowpriest, they discussed their options for infiltrating the party and what equipment to bring. Nicodemus decided that he would to go to the library to research the Society of Entropy parties. Katryn stated that she would work on concealing her K.E.V.L.A.R. and a runic dagger in her gown. Roxton, along with Veruna, decided that they would frequent some of the upper tier boyar teahouses, Roxton to research poetry and Veruna to practice blending in with upper society.

When Jonathon rejoined them, he stated he would take his gear over to his rented apartment and then look into purchasing appropriate attire. Their immediate plans set, Roxton distributed the bank notes and the jobbers went their separate ways.

Nicodemus utilized his runecasting license and gained admittance to one of the larger libraries in GreyMesa. The runecaster spent a large amount of the afternoon going through the archives looking for references to the Society of Entropy. Nicodemus discovered that the original society had been formed nearly three hundred years prior after the founders, Lord Angst and Lady Ennui, had leapt together into the Well of Mourning in ChalkChain to emerge as Andari.

The pair had formed the club shortly thereafter as a venue for Lord Angst’s poetry and an outlet for Lady Ennui’s society fix. Even then, the social club had catered to the wealthy, famous, and influential of ScatterPoint. Eventually the Society’s notoriety faded along with the Andari couple’s public appearances. Then approximately three years ago, the Society of Entropy was reborn through the aid of a Malakar Oddfellow known as Heretic.

Nicodemus learned that Heretic, a horrendously ugly Malakar who publicly displayed a refined sense of culture and wealth, had been instrumental in restoring Lord Angst’s and Lady Ennui’s interest in ScatterPoint’s social scene. In addition, once the Society of Entropy had reformed, with its mystique and desirability firmly reestablished, Heretic had opened The Vertigo Club. The Vertigo Club was open to the public and supposedly offered any member of society that could meet the cover charge a taste of what it was like to live as a cloudbreather. The avant-garde nature of The Vertigo Club, coupled with the Malakar’s relationship with Lord Angst and Lady Ennui, had cemented Heretic’s reputation as one of ScatterPoint’s Oddfellows.

Nicodemus pressed on through the archives, but found no particular mention concerning what type of party the Society of Entropy typically held regarding the equinoxes or solstices. Deciding that his investigation of the Society would garner little more in the way of useful information, Nicodemus took some time to learn more about GlitterGlam Industries, the runecrafting company that had emerged as the prominent leader in the runecrafting industry following his own family’s financial and reputational ruin. Once finished, the Bloodrune scion made his way back to Katryn and Veruna’s flat to see what the rest of the group had learned or thought of regarding the new assignment.

Katryn answered the runecaster’s knock and let the tired Nicodemus into the apartment. He could see that Katryn had been busy as she made her way back into the center of the sitting room where her formal gown hung amidst strewn sewing kits, fabric swatches, delicate wiring, and fine tools. The inventor, dressed in her more comfortable working clothes, had spent the better part of the afternoon talking herself through being a seamstress. Just before Nicodemus had arrived, she had successfully concealed her K.E.V.L.A.R. belt into her formal gown, along with her runic stiletto. Now that Katryn had figured out how to best do the concealment, all that remained was to wait for Veruna to return from her outing with Roxton and she would be able to easily fit a hidden projection box into her roommate’s gown.

Roxton and Veruna spent the afternoon frequenting teahouses in the middle and upper boyar levels of GreyMesa. As the retriever had suspected, many anarchy-minded boyar youths spent their idle time espousing social criticisms or maudlin love-struck poetry. For every ten or more of the atrocious, if passionate recitals, the jobbers heard one semi-decent work. To help pass the time, Roxton searched about and purchased a chapbook of Lord Angst’s poetry while Veruna socialized with the companions of those performers whose works showed merit.

Skimming through the chapbook while Veruna enjoyed her role as a slumming cloudbreather, the retriever saw that the Andari lord was given to intricate pieces possessed of dark humor, depressing melancholy, unrequited love, or bittersweet joy and sorrow. Roxton found the works well done, but too spiraling for his enjoyment. Committing some of the shorter pieces to memory for use at the upcoming party, he resolved to pass the chapbook to Jonathon figuring the moody shadowpriest would enjoy the works immensely.

Soon Veruna and Roxton, having had their fill of tanglevine tea and poor poetry, made their way back down to the tiers of GreyMesa where the wayfinder and inventor lived. Approaching the door to the ladies’ flat, the two heard the sound of soft music and hushed voices. Not sure of what exactly was occurring between Nicodemus and Katryn, based on the snippets of conversation they overheard through the door, the pair decided to go and have dinner rather than intrude.

It was late that night when Veruna ventured back to the apartment. She’d had a wonderful dinner with Roxton and was still beaming from his compliments as they had parted company. Entering she saw that Katryn had dozed off on their couch and was awaking at her entry.

The Malakar asked what Katryn had been up to for the afternoon and evening. Katryn replied that she had finished her gown’s adjustments and then Nicodemus had come over after his visit to the library. The two had waited for the others before finally deciding to have some dinner, and then Nicodemus had offered to teach her some cloudbreather dances.

Veruna stood puzzled, for the snatches of conversation she and Roxton had heard through the door had led her to believe something else might have been transpiring between the runecaster and the inventor. The Malakar remarked that she had heard the expression known as a euphemism and asked if dancing was being used in such a manner. Katryn looked at her roommate askance and asked if she was drunk to which Veruna hurriedly replied yes and rushed off to her room.
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Marcos
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PostPosted: Wed May 23, 2007 6:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

30th of Veil 1107p.t.

Late morning of the Spring Equinox saw the jobbers convening at their usual meeting place; Veruna’s and Katryn’s apartment. The companions reviewed what Nicodemus had discovered about the Society of Entropy and Roxton presented the insights he had gleaned about Lord Angst from the chapbook before handing it over to Jonathon.

The five talked over what, if any, equipment to bring and what refinements to their attire they should make to suitably impress and blend in at the Society’s party that evening. Once those decisions had been made, the group split up to do their last minute shopping, with plans to meet at the Hall of Shadow for their arranged transportation.

The evening air was crisp outside of the Hall of Shadows as the jobbers reconvened for the evening’s investigation into the matter of the missing priestess of shadow. Each had spent a couple of month’s wages on their attire and the five drew many an eye as they awaited their conveyance to the Society of Entropy.

Nicodemus had decided on attire appropriate for his lost lineage. He was garbed in a finely tailored suit of deep burgundy trimmed in white. His topcoat was flatteringly cut and white silk gloves held his polished sword cane. His dark shoes clipped on the stone stairs as he walked up to where Roxton, Katryn, and Veruna waited.

Roxton had settled on a charcoal grey suit with a fine black pinstripe. Gloves of light grey covered his hands, which in turn held a walking stick with a silver knob and tip. A silver fob watch gleamed at his vest pocket and his head was topped with a well-made black felt hat, wrapped with a grey silk band. His freshly shaved features wore an easy smile as he felt the excitement of the job beginning to build within him.

Katryn struck a stunning figure in her emerald green gown that set her hazel eyes a sparkle. Her reddish-gold hair had been pinned up in soft curled tendrils, with some falling artfully to rest lightly on her bare shoulders. A small handbag contained her necessities (which included a set of lock picks and Roxton’s loaned multiplex knife), while accents of fine jewelry completed her ensemble.

Veruna’s pale blue outfit of formal attire had been upgraded with several pieces of fine jewelry as well. However, the most striking accoutrement was her chosen form for the evening, that of an Andari. Veruna had captured the race’s signature opal-like pallor for her skin tone and her hair was the white of freshly fallen snow. She had styled it in an upswept wave that was held in place with jeweled combs. Her chosen eye color was a deep amethyst that went with her intricate necklace and the ring on her right hand.

Jonathon, stepping from a recently arrived carriage, commented on Veruna’s selection for the evening, inquiring as to what name she had chosen for her stunning new form.

“Veruna Stormrune” was her reply as she looked over the shadowpriest. Jonathon smiled thinly and suggested that Veruna should keep to Andari naming conventions if she wanted to help her disguise.

“Stormfall then”, smiled Veruna as she took in the shadowpriest’s attire.

Brother Keeganfall had chosen to wear a finely tailored suit of dark black along with a top hat of the same hue. The dark clothing made his pale complexion seem ghost-like in the evening lighting and his slicked back hair, fastened into a pony tail, lent his features a severe, thin look. White silk gloves covered his hands and his rapier hung at his side in a new sheath. A golden chain showed at his vest pocket, as did a gold stickpin in his tie.

The companions had no sooner begun complimenting each other on their choices in wardrobe when the sound of steam and rushing machinery reached their ears. Looking down the street, the jobbers saw the unusual sight of a steam-powered carriage racing towards them.

It was a large contraption of finely polished wooden veneer, gleaming brass fixtures, and shiny steel trim. The machine had the appearance of an oversized carriage typical of the cloudbreather districts with the exception of a small chimney on the roof that belched forth clouds of white steam.

A gentleman in butler’s attire, wearing a short brimmed suede cap and clear goggles sat at the driver’s bench. Instead of reigns his gloved hands gripped a large brass steering wheel with which he guided the steam carriage, which slowed and came to a stop that perfectly positioned the passenger door in front of the waiting jobbers.

The driver pulled at the large lever that set the parking brake, removed his hat and goggles, and climbed down to greet the jobbers. The companions could see he was in his late forties with thin graying brown hair, brown eyes, and the air of one used to serving those of prestige and wealth.

In cultured, clipped tones the driver asked to see their invitation. Roxton handed over the sealed letter from the Chancellor. The driver noted the seal and handed the letter back to the retriever while his eyes widened slightly at the sight of “two” Andari.

The driver recovered his composure quickly and requested that the Andari lady and gentleman make themselves comfortable in the center of the carriage benches so as to prevent any unfortunate mishaps with the machinery. He then lowered the carriage steps and opened the passenger door, which was set with exquisite stained glass done in an abstract pattern. While the others climbed into the unusual conveyance, Katryn began questioning the driver about the engine and various other parts of the incredible contraption. She was finally forced to board it herself after several throat clearings and stern looks from her companions.

The interior of the coach was done in fine witchgrass paneling with deep brown leather benches that could comfortably hold four people each. Recessed lighting provided intimate illumination and when the door was closed after the jobbers were seated, the group was impressed at the level of soundproofing that was in the carriage.

The driver’s voice came through a brass speaking tube as he informed the group that they were about to be heading off. The jobbers felt a slight rocking and then the faint sensation of travel could be felt.

A short time later the jobbers felt the steam carriage come to a halt and the driver announced through the speaking tube that they had arrived at the Society of Entropy. Moments later the carriage door opened revealing the imposing granite façade of the Society’s meeting place.

The structure was located high in the cloudbreather tiers of GreyMesa and had two massive witchgrass doors that had been exquisitely carved. Flickering gas lamps provided illumination for the entryway and the jobbers could see the waiting carriages of the Society’s members nearby. All were fine conveyances, many pulled by exotic looking newts or gleaming Overwrought.

Katryn, not seeing any servants waiting to allow entrance, asked the driver where they could find Lord Alexander Topper. The driver drolly remarked he was most likely to be found at the bar trying to be the life of the party. Katryn then began to inquire if the driver thought Lord Topper would allow her to study the steam carriage, at which point Nicodemus took her arm and steered her towards the door that the others were already approaching.

As the group advanced, the right hand door glided silently inward, revealing the finely decorated entry hall, with several human servants, a reception desk, and another set of fine witchgrass doors set with brass. One of the cultured servants inquired as to their names and Nicodemus said they were guests of Lord Topper. The servant checked a list at the reception desk to confirm their statement and finding everything in order, motioned for Roxton, Nicodemus, and Jonathon to check their belongings. The men did so and another of the servants moved to open the inner doors.

The melodic sounds of a finely played lute rose slightly above the steady drone of ongoing conversations as the doors opened. Entering, the jobbers saw a massive circular room that tiered downward in three concentric circles, along with another set of exquisite doors opposite the ones the five entered through. The room was intimately lit with fine gas lamp fixtures set about the uppermost tier and flickering candles set at the multitude of tables. The scent of expensive perfumes mingled with the tantalizing odors of succulently prepared hors d’oeuvres, and high-end tanglevine tobacco smoke.

Four stairways set at the compass points provided access to each of the three levels. About the circumference of each of the levels were set circular booths done in fine sanguineous red leather with shining dark marble tables. At the lowest tier was set a circular bar of darkly stained witchgrass topped with white marble and lit by a hanging gas chandelier. A steady stream of servants could be seen serving orders of food and drink to the finely dressed groups of patrons seated and wandering about the chamber.

The sounds of the lute led the jobbers to their host for the evening, Lord Alexander Topper. He appeared to be in his late twenties or early thirties with shoulder length wavy blond hair, tanned skin, and bright hazel eyes. The lord was dressed in fine brown britches tucked into dark leather riding boots and he wore an open hunter green vest over a fine silk shirt the color of cream. Finishing his rendition of an original work set to evoke thoughts of the Forgotten Fables, the young lord handed his lute to a nearby servant while accepting the smattering of polite applause the gathering offered.

Once the applause died down, the jobbers introduced themselves as Roxton handed Lord Topper the sealed letter from the Chancellor. The lord glanced at the seal, broke it and quickly scanned the contents of the letter. He then refolded the letter and placed it in his inner vest pocket.

The lord looked over the jobbers, lingering on Katryn and Veruna. The jobbers could tell that he had recognized Nicodemus and the greeting he gave the runecaster was cool. To Jonathon and Roxton he gave a polite handshake each and for the ladies it was a soft, quick kiss to the backs of their offered hands.

Roxton complimented the lord on his lute playing and Alexander thanked him. The lord in turn inquired if Roxton pursued any of the arts. The retriever replied that he was something of an amateur poet, to which Lord Topper laughed broadly and clapped Roxton on the shoulder, stating that the retriever would have to perform for them.

While Roxton exchanged pleasantries with Alexander, Nicodemus moved over to the bar and obtained glasses of ransom for the lord, himself and Katryn. The inventor smiled in appreciation, took a small sip of the expensive beverage, and then set it down as if forgotten, privately relishing her role that allowed such extravagance.

Nicodemus followed suit and the pair moved off to mingle with the other members and guests of the Society of Entropy. Jonathon and Veruna took their leave of Lord Topper as well, leaving Roxton to carry on his conversation, and moved around to the far side of the bar.

Once seated, the shadowpriest ordered a tumbler of gloom for himself as he withdrew a gold cigarette holder from his inner breast pocket. Extracting a high-end tanglevine smoke, he allowed one of the bartenders to give him a light as Veruna ordered herself a glass of ransom.

The Malakar knew that something had been bothering the Andari ever since they had all met at the Hall of Shadow earlier that evening. She had reminded the shadowpriest to smile a couple of times already and when she had taken his arm to come down the stairs the wayfinder could feel tension radiating off of him like the stretched limbs of a Malakar crossbow.

Deciding that Jonathon wished to be alone for the moment and growing exasperated with his melancholy, Veruna decided to mingle with the Society members as well. The passer looked about for a likely place to start and saw a youthful looking Andari lady seated nearby observing the crowd. Moving over, Veruna introduced herself and the lady, Felicia Spring, invited her to join her.

On the middle tier of the Society’s chamber, Nicodemus and Katryn strolled around looking to see if they might spot Sister Cannondale. A string quartet had taken up performing after Lord Topper’s recital and music floated softly amidst the room. However, the music did little to quiet the many snide remarks Nicodemus was meant to overhear as he strolled about with Katryn on his arm.

The runecaster felt tension building behind his eyes, but years of instruction by his elders helped prevent the Bloodrune scion from showing any negative emotions upon his countenance. He was privately congratulating himself when a female voice called his name as he passed one of the tables by the stairway. Nicodemus turned and fought back a surge of memories and emotions as he looked down at the shyly smiling face of Lady Abigail Strom, his former paramour during his freshman year at the University Towers in RiddleRock.

Abigail was a petite woman, standing just shy of five feet in height. She had her dark hair trimmed short and her pale blue eyes glistened with held tears. A gown of red and gold did little to obscure her pregnancy and a wedding band of white gold could be seen on the hand that unconsciously held her full belly.

Nicodemus recovered his composure and made introductions as Katryn arched her eyebrow at the runecaster’s dissembling that the young lady before them had been just a friend. Abigail took her cue from Nicodemus, and tried to smile even as she fought back the tears that threatened to spill forth.

Abigail said that she had been married to Lord Shawn Jacobs shortly after her return from her first year at the University and that they were expecting their first child in a couple of months. When asked where her husband was, Abigail sighed and said that her husband was preoccupied with business out of town. She went on to elaborate that if her husband knew just how much time she spent at the Society while he was away there would be even more tension at home than there was already.

The young lady changed the topic, inquiring after Nicodemus and how he was doing after what had befallen his family. However, before Nicodemus could answer, Abigail broke down crying, voicing her sorrow at all that had happened those months ago.

Nicodemus comforted his former lover and moved her back to her seat. He reassured her that everything was fine and once she was settled made excuses so that he and Katryn could move away before even more attention was called to them.

The runecaster saw that they had moved near the closed doors across the chamber from the entrance and caught the attention of one of the servants. A bit of acting by Katryn and fast talking by Nicodemus saw the servant agreeing to allow the pair ten minutes in the reserved chambers for a moment’s “intimacy”.

On the floor near the bar Veruna was enjoying herself immensely. Felicia Spring turned out to be a society page gossip columnist for the GreyMesa Gazette. The young Andari seemed to know an inordinate amount of facts and speculation on almost all of the Society of Entropy members. Veruna found herself laughing and enjoying the tidbits of juicy gossip Felicia shared. For her part, Felicia seemed to take enjoyment in having such an attentive audience. The pair paused in their laughter when Lord Alexander Topper rang a silver fork against his crystal goblet calling for everyone’s attention.

Most of the lower and second tier complied with the young lord’s wishes and Alexander, his hand on Roxton’s shoulder, announced that his new friend was going to recite a poem for the members’ enjoyment. Roxton stood at the lord’s side, his mind racing over the works he had heard and read the previous day even as cursed himself for his impulsive claim at being a poet.

Sloan’s agile mind seized on one of Lord Angst’s own works and he knew that if he could impress the members with his rendition of it, gaining the information the group needed concerning Sister Cannondale would be that much easier to come by. Clearing his throat, the retriever moved to where he could be seen and launched into his recital, his rich baritone carrying clearly to the upper tier.

Roxton had chosen one of Lord Angst’s shorter works, but also one of the earliest ones to achieve fame. Sloan worked to make sure that he infused it with emotion and poignant pacing. The society members listened with rapt attention and it seemed as if Roxton held them spellbound.

In the private chamber, Katryn took in the plush furnishings and tasteful works of art hanging on the dark paneled walls as Nicodemus collapsed into one of the leather armchairs, his head held in his hands. Deep red carpet covered the floor and three doors of carved witchgrass exited off of the main room at the compass points. A small bar of dark wood and marble stood off to one corner and flickering gaslights lent the room a diffused cast.

The inventor inquired if the runecaster was all right. Nicodemus looked up, stating that he had been okay with the sly comments, the personal slights and sneering looks, but seeing Abigail had been almost more than he could bear.

Katryn gave Nicodemus a sympathetic look and then reminded him that they had only a few moments before the servant would be looking for them to exit. Nicodemus took a deep breath, stood, called Kay to keep watch, and proceeded to the eastern door while Katryn moved to the western one.

The eastern door revealed an intimate library setting, with more of the dark paneling and deep carpet of the central parlor. Plush leather furniture and exquisitely carved side tables made up the furnishings while adjustable crystal gas lamps provided illumination. The literary works on the shelves were primarily poetry, with Lord Angst’s works predominately featured. Skimming the Andari poet’s work, Nicodemus came to the conclusion that some of Lord Angst’s writings made Jonathon’s worst spirals seem like the proverbial ray of sunshine.

Across the room, Katryn’s investigation revealed a short hallway with five doors. Two were set in the north wall with two others opposite them in the south wall; the fifth door was at the far end of the hallway.

Katryn moved to the first door to the north and it opened to reveal an intimate sitting room done in a macabre motif. The stark, dark leather furniture of the room was lit by recessed arc lights that shone through red colored glass and made odd shadows on the flagstone flooring. Works of gothic erotica hung upon the wall displaying shocking and unsettling detail. Katryn’s quick search of the room revealed concealed cabinets beneath the leather seating, which held leather restraints and short leather scourges.

The inventor then moved to the door across the hall to the south and it opened to reveal another intimate sitting room. The crème colored, overstuffed leather furniture of the room was lit by recessed arc lights that shone through golden colored glass. As in the previous chamber, works of erotic art hung upon the wall. However, unlike the artwork in the other room, these had been done in a more evocative and romantic style. Another quick search revealed satin pillows and various scented massage oils concealed beneath the love seats upon the thickly carpeted floor.

Surprised at her discoveries, Katryn quickly looked into the remaining rooms. The second northern door revealed another romantically themed chamber while the second one to the south revealed an additional macabre chamber. The door at the end of the hallway opened onto a spiral wrought iron staircase that led downward.

Closing the doors, Katryn moved to rejoin Nicodemus. Each shared with the other their discoveries and together they decided to check the sole remaining door in the parlor. It opened to reveal a set of shallow stairs proceeding downward through a small circular chamber that tiered about a central dais that possessed a finely crafted podium. About the circumference of each tier were comfortable leather chairs set at mounted marble desks. The chamber was lit by recessed arc lights that softly illuminated each chair as well as the central podium.

The runecaster was closing the door of the circular room when both he and Katryn detected the faint sound of applause coming through the main parlor door. Looking up in alarm, the pair rushed to the outer door to listen to what was occurring in the main room.

As Roxton finished the last refrain of the poem, the ensuing silence stretched upward to the highest tier of the room. The Society of Entropy had been completely captivated by Roxton’s performance even as the retriever himself had become lost in the recital. The sound of clapping from the main doors of the room caught everyone by surprise and looking upward, it was revealed to be from Lord Angst and Lady Ennui with their entourage.

The ancient Andari lord was tall and his long limbs were covered by a finely tailored suit of dark and light browns with a starched pale yellow shirt. Horn-rimmed, lightly tinted spectacles obscured Lord Angst’s eyes and his hair flared out wildly like a white-grey corona about his head.

By contrast, the petite Lady Ennui was garbed in an exquisite gown the shade of luminescent pearl. Her dark hair was pulled back and styled in tight curls that hung to her bare shoulders. Rouge, eyeliner, and dark lipstick accented her pale, beaming features as she exclaimed that Roxton’s rendition of her husband’s work made her feel as if she were alive once more.

The lady took her lord’s arm and the pair made their way down to the bar amidst the cheering and applause for Roxton’s impressing of Lord Angst. Their entourage trailed behind, made up of attractive humans and Andari in fine formal wear. About the periphery roamed half a dozen Malakar bodyguards, their deep red skin contrasting sinisterly with their all black dress suits.

Felicia whispered conspiratorially with Veruna, inquiring who Lord Topper’s guest was that had so successfully garnered the jaded Lord Angst’s attention. Veruna smiled and said she believed he was known as Rocks Sloane and spelled it so for her. The gossip columnist scribbled hurriedly into her small note pad as Veruna suppressed her laughter at Roxton’s expense and turned to watch the retriever greet the famous poet.

Roxton put on his best smile while at the same time trying to appear humbled by the Andari poet’s praise. In truth, Sloan was slightly embarrassed that he had done so well for it was the last thing he had thought would occur when he set out for the night’s activities. Pulling his mind back to the present, Roxton took the lord’s hand in a firm clasp and accepted Lord Angst’s congratulations along with his invitation to what the lord jested was his Sanctum Sanctorum.

As the lord and lady began maneuvering towards the stairs, Lady Ennui caught sight of Veruna seated with Felicia Spring. The petite Andari seemed to glide over to their table and she inquired who Felicia’s friend was.

Veruna, slightly inebriated from the ransom and high society culture, boldly extended her hand and introduced herself. Lady Ennui smiled at the passer’s boldness and held the Malakar’s hand, commenting on her loveliness while staring at Veruna for a long moment. Releasing the wayfinder’s hand, Lady Ennui asked Veruna if she would like to join the others in the private lounge.

Veruna quickly accepted and hurriedly asked the lady if her escort could accompany her. Veruna motioned over to where Jonathon rose from his seat at the bar, having watched the exchange while finishing his gloom.

Lady Ennui accepted Jonathon’s bow over her hand, and as she had with Veruna, studied the Andari shadowpriest before laughing and bidding him to join the entourage that was even then filing up into the private lounge.

Before the first of the entourage had reached the doors to the private lounge, Nicodemus and Katryn had already fled into the short hallway and down it to the far door leading to the wrought iron staircase. While the pair had listened to the applause, Nicodemus had ordered Kay to become ethereal and to go see what was going on. When his arcane companion reported back that two prominent Andari with thirty-some followers had entered the main room, the runecaster and inventor knew they had to get scarce.

Wall-mounted gas lamps that flickered dimly within orange tinted bulbs lit the wrought iron staircase. The descent ended in a short stone passageway that led to a set of double doors from which the sounds and smells of a working kitchen could be ascertained. Creeping forward, Katryn and Nicodemus cracked the doors slightly ajar and peered forth.

As they expected, a bustling kitchen greeted their sight. Multiple cooks and wait staff surged back and forth preparing or clearing dishes. Several stainless steel tables gleamed under the bright arc lights and multiple ovens and grills filled the room with a heavy heat.

A stream of servants could be seen moving up and down the wrought iron staircase that led up to the bar in the main room delivering empty trays or transporting full ones. On the far side of the room could be seen the servant and delivery doors, while to the jobbers’ left was a massive, steel freezer.

On a nearby side table were laid out several prepared trays intended for the private lounge. Next to the table stood a group of attractive servants making themselves ready to transport the platters up the staircase behind the jobbers.

Quietly shutting the door, Nicodemus and Katryn hurriedly discussed their options. A sneak through the kitchens seemed out of the question. That left the option of returning up the stairs and attempting to lose themselves in the private lounge long enough to escape back into the main room of the social club. Hearing the servants making ready to transport the platters, they retreated back up the staircase.

The private lounge was filled with the sound of pleasant laughter and conversation. Lord Angst offered Roxton fifty-year-old gloom and the attractive young debutante that brought Sloan his drink lingered invitingly on the retriever’s arm. She was slightly shorter than Roxton, with straight pale blonde hair that hung to her shapely waist and cloud blue eyes, and was wearing a revealing gown of midnight blue satin.

Roxton pulled his gaze from the young lady as the Andari poet asked after Roxton’s own poetry. Lord Angst mentioned that he sometimes visited the more prominent teahouses that catered to the arts incognito. He didn’t recall having ever seen Roxton at any of them and so pressed him to give another recital before the evening was out.

Across the room, Veruna snuggled up to Jonathon, attempting to get the shadowpriest to relax. The Malakar could feel that her Andari friend was wound like one of the springs in Katryn’s inventions. Jonathon, trying to be accommodating and knowing that their cover depended on maintaining the façade of a couple, placed his arm awkwardly about Veruna’s shoulder.

The wayfinder had the impression that it had been a very long time since Jonathon had held anyone or had been at any social gathering that wasn’t a smoke-filled flywheel. Rather than continue to put her friend ill at ease, Veruna disengaged herself and moved to see what delectable treats the servants were in the process of delivering to the private room.

Moments before the servants had reached the hall from the spiral staircase, Nicodemus and Katryn had ducked into the southern room of gothic erotica after Kay pronounced it unoccupied. The two had caught the sound of laughter and conversation from the private lounge, but knew that they could not emerge until someone began using the sitting rooms. So they had decided to hole up and have Kay keep watch ethereally to notify them if anyone approached the room.

Roxton found himself enjoying the attention of the assembled cloudbreathers and the beautiful woman hanging on his arm. He had acquiesced to the young lady’s request to do a private reading and inquired if any other poets had been recently entertained, thinking that a poet might have been Sister Cannondale’s cover.

The lady mentioned that it had been quite some time since anyone had caught the lord and lady’s attention. Roxton remarked that it brought to mind Lord Angst’s piece involving the Well of Mourning and how he had been reborn with Lady Ennui.

The debutante swooned and Lord Angst, catching the sight, volunteered the use of one of the western hallway’s rooms for a moment of solitude. Roxton attempted to resist, but the debutante was persistent and soon the retriever was being led into the western hall.

Veruna mingled with the assorted members of the entourage and noticed that the cloudbreathers ignored the servants almost completely, but that the servants noted everything that occurred and were always on hand the moment their presence was requested. The Malakar determined that if Sister Cannondale had managed to gain admittance to the private gatherings of the Society, then the servants would most likely have some useful information regarding her.

Veruna spied a young male waiter and maneuvered to gain his attention. Once he approached, Veruna made a request for a delectable her mother had once mentioned: chocolate. The waiter took the order and moments later returned with a small silver plate upon which were arranged thin squares of light and dark brown chocolates embossed with a stylized E.

As Veruna sampled the rich treat, she inquired after a “friend” of hers that might have been at a previous party. She gave the servant Sister Cannondale’s description and the waiter, looking nervously about, whispered that she had been at the Society about a week ago mingling with a member of Lord Angst and Lady Ennui’s entourage, Lord Arthur Shaw of BlackShackle. Not wanting to call attention by delaying the servant any longer, Veruna thanked him for the plate of chocolates and made her way across the room to where Lord Angst and Jonathon were exchanging pleasantries.

Katryn sighed in disgust as she and Nicodemus finished searching for a secret door out of the macabre sitting room. The inventor was frustrated at the box they had become trapped in and was restless, knowing that every moment brought the pair closer to possible discovery.

Abruptly Kay announced from the ether that Roxton had entered the hallway and that he was moving to the door in the company of a young woman. Nicodemus crossed quickly to the door and turned the lock.

Outside in the hall, Roxton heard the lock click in the door just as he was about to reach for the knob. Not knowing his companions were within, the retriever spun to his right and led the young debutante into the romantically themed room to the north.

Across the hall, Nicodemus decided that he and Katryn needed more information and sent Kay ethereally to briefly eavesdrop on Roxton and whomever he was with. The arcane companion complied and returned momentarily to report that Roxton and the young woman were engaged in an activity that did not involve talking.

“Oh, really!” exclaimed Katryn indignantly before realizing she had spoken out loud.

Nicodemus gave the inventor a quizzical look, but the red tinted lighting obscured Katryn’s flushed face. The runecaster then ordered Kay to seek out Veruna or Jonathon and to discreetly inform them of his and Katryn’s predicament.

Roxton pushed himself back from the young woman’s amorous attentions, attempting to catch his breath after her passionate kiss. He could feel his pulse thudding in his head and knew that his face had become flushed. However, he steeled himself and tried to think of how to ask after Sister Cannondale without completely blowing his cover. Then, thinking of how the young lady seemed to thrive on the thrill of their current encounter, Roxton decided a half-truth would serve him exceedingly well.

The retriever and debutante exchanged yet another long kiss and when they finally pulled apart, Roxton proceeded to ask after the missing priestess. He spun a tale of being a gentleman adventurer who had been retained by a missing lady’s brother. He gave the debutante Lucinda’s description, asking the young woman if she recalled seeing her.

The debutante teased with Roxton’s collar and gave a playful frown that Roxton would ask after another woman while being with her. Still the retriever’s bluff worked as he hoped and the woman mentioned that the lady he sought had attracted the attention of Lord Arthur Shaw, a Society member out of BlackShackle. The debutante had watched the pair retire back to the more gothic chambers and had later overheard Lady Ennui laughing that Lord Shaw had returned to his home in BlackShackle, preoccupied with his new plaything.

Roxton took in the information and decided that if he stayed away any longer from the party, he would be risking his cover as a poet. Making excuses with genuine regret, Roxton persuaded the lady that they would finish what they had begun in more private surroundings at a later date. He then rose from the overstuffed love seat, straightened his jacket as best he could, and escorted the debutante back to the private lounge.

Veruna joined Jonathon and the shadowpriest made introductions. Lord Angst peered at Veruna for a moment before Lady Ennui joined him on his arm.

The lady inquired how Veruna and Jonathon were enjoying themselves and both conveyed their compliments on such a lovely evening. Veruna then inquired after Lord Shaw. Lady Ennui laughed and remarked that Lord Shaw had found himself a diversion and was currently away in BlackShackle. The Andari lady then inquired if Veruna also shared Shaw’s fiendish appetites.

The Malakar shook her head and said that she did not. Lord Angst looked to be ready to say something, but looking over Veruna’s shoulder, excused himself and moved towards the western door, Lady Ennui a step behind.

Jonathon and Veruna turned to watch them pass and saw Roxton emerging with the young debutante still pressed against him. They both could see that Roxton’s attire was askew and his light brown locks were mussed.

Jonathon pulled forth his cigarette case, removed one, and proceeded to tap it down. “This ought to be good,” he quipped before putting the cigarette in his lips and lighting it with his battered bronze lighter.

The lord and lady asked after Roxton’s enjoyment so far, with Lord Angst smiling and asking him if the muse had struck. Roxton smiled back and said that it had indeed. Disentangling himself from the young lady, he moved to the center of the room while Lord Angst called for silence.

Roxton knew that he could not chance using one of the poems he had heard the previous day while he and Veruna had visited the teahouses. Lord Angst had already mentioned that he sometimes listened at such establishments incognito to hear the up and coming poets. Instead, Roxton thought of the adventures he had participated in as his father had trained him in the art of retrieving and swordplay. Calling upon those experiences, the retriever settled into a steady cadence and for the second time that evening succeeded where he had believed he had no talent.

The collected audience applauded Sloan’s recital and Lord Angst complemented Roxton for breaking away from his own style of poetry to present something that was a nice change of pace. The lord then proceeded to critique the retriever’s performance, offering advice on where the off the cuff poem could be improved. By this point the debutante had resettled on Roxton’s arm.

Across the room, Jonathon listened as Nicodemus’ arcane companion whispered her master’s and Katryn’s plight into his ear. Turning to Veruna as if speaking to her, he gave the rune wraith a message for Nicodemus and Katryn, advising them to bluff their way through the kitchens and to rendezvous back at the steam carriage.

Moments later Kay recited back what Jonathon had advised to Nicodemus and Katryn. The pair thought quickly and decided that inebriated partygoers who were having an affair that was in danger of being exposed offered the best cover.

Nicodemus remarked that they had to be convincing and surprised Katryn by kissing her on her lips. The inventor was taken aback and the Bloodrune scion smiled mischievously.

“The lipstick” he said with mirth while pointing at his now lightly smeared lips. Katryn smiled in reply and the two unlocked the door. The hallway was clear and the pair hurried down the wrought iron staircase.

The kitchens were still busy and the jobbers were halfway across before several of the servants and cooking staff noticed them. Nicodemus wasted no time selecting one of the lead servants and explaining that he and his companion needed a way out of the club. Katryn chimed in, remarking that if her husband caught them, before letting her voice trail off as she clutched melodramatically at the runecaster’s arm.

The servant smiled knowingly, obviously no stranger to just such a scenario, and directed them to what the jobbers had already determined was the servant’s entrance. They both smiled graciously, Nicodemus pressing royals into the man’s palm as he shook his hand in gratitude, before they darted through the offered exit.

The door led to a long stone tunnel lit by evenly spaced arc lights burning with a sulfurous glow. The tunnel sloped upwards and emerged on the side street beside the Society of Entropy’s lodge. The night air was cold against their skin and Nicodemus draped his arm about Katryn’s shoulder. Before long they had located Lord Topper’s steam carriage and climbed aboard while Lord Topper’s servant gave them only the briefest of glances.

Inside Roxton finally found a spare moment to meet with his two remaining companions. He told them what he had discovered about Sister Cannondale’s likely fate. When he noticed the looks Jonathon and Veruna were giving him, he opened his arms and stressed that information was all that he had been after. Jonathon just shook his head and lit another tanglevine cigarette while Veruna relayed what she had learned from the servant and what had become of Nicodemus and Katryn.

The three decided that they had most likely gained all the information that they would be able to. Roxton remarked that he would find his own way home and Jonathon and Veruna moved to take leave of their hosts.

Out in the steam carriage, Nicodemus had searched the interior of the coach with purpose and had uncovered Lord Topper’s concealed selection of gloom and ransom. The two jobbers helped themselves with a thirst and rapidly both became very intoxicated. Nicodemus drank to drown the swirling memories of the life that had been taken from him, while Katryn tossed back the bottle of gloom in an attempt to avoid the upsetting thought that she had been wrong about Roxton being interested in her as anything more than a friend.

Lord Angst and Lady Ennui smiled graciously as Jonathon and Veruna took their leave of the Andari couple. As Veruna and Lady Ennui exchanged a brief hug goodbye, the poet’s wife hinted that if Veruna desired there might just be a place in the Society for her. Veruna pulled back smiling and said that she and Jonathon planned to be doing some traveling.

“After all, we have eons,” laughed the wayfinder, to which both Lord Angst and Lady Ennui joined in her laughter.

As the jobbers turned away and began walking back through the doors to the main chamber of the Society’s lodge, the shadowpriest leaned in close to Veruna and commented sourly “Thanks for reminding me.”

Shortly thereafter Veruna and Brother Keeganfall arrived at the steam carriage to find their companions well into their cups. Veruna pulled Katryn over to the backbench, withholding for later the chocolate she had saved so that her friend would not miss out on such a rare treat. Jonathon meanwhile retrieved Nicodemus’ chit and went back to gather the runecaster’s belongings. Once he returned, the Andari instructed the driver that they were finished for the evening and to take them on back to the Hall of Shadow.

Some time later that night, Roxton too took his leave of the lord and lady. He had finally learned the debutante’s name, Maria Sauvignon, and the young woman had been quite the distraction for the jobber.

Roxton declined Lord Angst’s offer to use his coach and had one of the servants call a cab for Maria and one for himself. Outside in the cool night air, Maria tried once more to persuade the retriever to accompany her home.

Roxton declined with genuine regret, saying, “The flame will burn the hotter for the waiting.” With that he gave Maria one more tender kiss, saw the young lady into her coach, and paid the fare before climbing exhaustedly into his own. As the wheels droned on the streets and ramps toward the middle districts under the blazing arc lights and the glowing silhouette of the nearby runetowers, Roxton knew that dawn would be upon him all too soon.
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Savage Jason
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PostPosted: Wed May 23, 2007 8:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have to admit, I'm very envious, Marcos. I wish I could get my players to put this kind of passion into their characters.
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Captain Blood
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PostPosted: Sat May 26, 2007 9:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Collectively as GM and players we have about 130 yrs experience at the table. Marcos and I have gamed together for 26yrs. He is the one that brought me into the gaming community. Blast his eyes! #1astrosmiley2 As a group we have gamed together for the last 15 yrs, so there is a lot of trust at the table and we are able to cut loose and have fun with the characters.
Marcos is also a perfectionist when it comes to running his games. He strives for those descriptions to make the world its own reality so that you can’t help but be sucked into the story. Anytime we have a rough session it falls squarely on the players shoulders. In the posts Marcos credits his players, and with good reason! Laughing But he does not give himself enough credit for taking the time and expending the energy in creating the game. I hope that passion shines through clearly to others in his session write ups as it does to us at the table.
#drink
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Muse
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PostPosted: Sun May 27, 2007 8:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I want to second the hard work and intensity Marcos puts into the game as GM and jump on the "me too" wagon to credit my fellow players. We're all busy people with REAL normal lives, homes, jobs, etc. So coming to a game with only halfway intentions is not in our book. We all join in to be the best every time. Well, ok, most of the time, since real life does intervene. Can you imagine how many hours of work Marcos must put into the ScatterPoint game? Now do you appreciate how nice a book Sean Preston has written and how much LESS time Marcos has to put into the story, since it's all laid out there?

BTW, Blood, I was a complete newbie 15 years ago when you ran that game for me and Saint Beth. So how old are you? 130 years, indeed! Smile We're not so long in the tooth as all that!

I'd also like to say that even though we've been gaming together for more than 10 years, this is the first campaign we've tried in a long time - like 3 years? So I think we were all ready to tackle deep characters and more willing to put our characters in "growth" situations. And, I want to say, about the latest session... I blame the jellybeans.
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Captain Blood
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PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2007 9:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

130 yrs collectivly meaning if you take all the years each player has been playing it adds up to 130 yrs, those rumors about Marcos' longivity are just that, rumors! #1chaos
So you wanna hawg the bennies I was going for with my post? Trying to jump on the kiss up band wagon? Sneaky
You're soooo transparent. TSK TSK! Laughing
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Muse
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PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2007 8:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ah, you saw right through me. Not embarrassed in the least. Hopefully you saw me flattering both the GM and the author? That should be good for an extra benny next time I see Mr. Preston! Smile
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