Through the Breach

Metempsychosis in Malifaux
The Party attacks Osiris and his army.

IMG_1316.JPGWith an intimidating crew of Mr. H’s Five, Lazarus, a Gatling gun manned by two Friekorpsmenn, and a horde of constructs (including Komodo Ryu), the strike team set off toward Horniege’s controlled Blood-stained Arena. At first approach, it was obvious something was wrong with the surrounding area. With little warning, the team was attacked by a swooping swarm of clockwork pigeons that were roosting in the Crooked Clock Tower, and the team chose to run and take cover into the Arena over standing and fighting off the deadly flock.

Inside the Arena, as the crew feared, more of Horniege’s army seemed to be complete, while the demon-horn-crowned mastermind himself casually draped himself on a massive silvery scrap pile thrown, with Chloe hovering close by. Surprised that the humans came back so willing to their death, Lazarus broke Horniege’s monologue and challenged him to face his crimes against humanity. Taking glee in “decommissioning the failed prototype,” Horniege attached himself to his thrown, which unfolded into the massive Strangealloy scorpion Osiris.

Bullets, magic, and constructs began to fly. While intimidating to behold and quick to close distance, the new Neverdead shells proved to be cumbersome in combat, and it was obvious only Osiris provided any meaningful ranged threat. While the new Gatling gun repeatedly jammed, Ave threw out two Contender’s Flasks, spawning the Pale Rider and Ashes and Dust. Cho’ko’s constructs surged forward, preventing the Neverdead from pressing a melee-advantaged into the ranged crew.

While things seemed to be going well at the off, Osiris revealed he had been preparing for a fight. Two crystalline pillars that Cho’ko accurately identified as massive Death’s Chandeliers pulsed with blood-red light, weakening the heroes’ resolve while not touching the Neverdead. Determined to prevent a second pulse, Cho’ko piloted her Ryu towards the closest Chandelier, but it was the fallen Ashen Core that was able to switch the pillar into a venomous lime-green to the Five’s benefit.

With concentrated fire, Osiris finally fell under the hail of lead, most damaging of which was Ave’s saved Blackfire-coated rounds, which etched and rapidly corroded the Strangealloy body. Mantic now, Osiris seemed not to give up so easily, enacting his Apophis Edict to eject his tail section and become a massive platinum viper.

Seeing their alpha dropped so quickly, denying the last chance of resummoning or the eternal life Horniege must have promised the Soulstone wraiths, the Neverdead began to compromise their Soulstone cores in a desperate attempt to take out any enemy close to them. Frustrated with their lack of faith, Horniege began to retreat from the fireteam, but not quickly enough, as the Apophis frame too crumped as quickly as the scorpion frame under concentrated fire.

Shrieking in horror, Chloe quickly made a move to scoop-up the Osiris head and beat feet while the Neverdead made their last stand. Undaunted by the chaos, Lazarus fired a fatal shot at the Nephilim succubus, drenching the head in caustic black blood, damaging the Soulstone core beyond sanity. As Osiris screamed unintelligibly and each Neverdead detonated their aetheric conflagration, Lazarus strode forward and smashed the last remnant of the Osiris nightmare.

With the Neverdead threat finally neutralized, our heroes got to enjoy the end-credit montage that comes with a happily-ever-after. Using the 4-lade Soulstone that was found in one of the Chandeliers and the Last Will and Testament of Arthur Beswick, James returned to Earth briefly to get his family affairs and business in order, but rounded back into Malifaux to follow his father’s parting words of following his heart for adventure. Cho’ko claimed Horniege’s Arena as her own, and while she can still be seen with James in the day, she frequents the QZ at night to continue her dealings with her Whisperer. Ave finally got in contact with her estranged family, and with the tales she told, Lucius’ vouching, and her ability to fire El Corazon, she was welcomed with open arms into Latigo.

However, questions remain. What are the intentions of the White Rabbit? Will Harvey pursue revenge on the Five? Will Lucius ever call on the crew again? Fates and Destiny are fickle, even for the Fated, but there will always be one certainty in Malifaux:

Bad Things Happen.

An unedited recording of this session can be found here and here.

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Ampersand Accord
The Party meets Lazarus

Androids_playing_Poker_24x30.jpgAfter the brief Beswick Reunion, the Party couldn’t afford to get too distracted and stay focused on the overwhelming Neverdead threat. To pass the time until the midnight unlocking of Ampersand, Cho’ko begins work on Komodo Ryu in Hoffaman’s Enclave Workshop, and back at the hotel, Dr. McMourning removed the body of the late Beswick.

With minutes to spare, the Party headed to the Qi and Gong to get ready for Ampersand. Using James’ accurate time-piece, they opened the third door North behind the Qi and Gong, just as English Ivan described. Inside they found a vaulted, pitch dark room, with only a wooden floor to ground the massive indoor space. Only the keenest of eyes could possibly see a light source in the far distance, far further than the Qi is deep, but they marched forward, fumbling in the dark.

But as the Party ventured deeper, other light sources began to glow: different sizes, colors, and brightnesses began to follow the Party like a clinging constellation of stars. But, after Ave triggered her Strangemetal Shirt, they soon found the stories to be true, as each light was a different defunk construct mechanically eyeing them with a mixture of curiosity and suspicion.

When the party finally found the primary source of lighting in the center of Ampersand, they were greeted by a very strange sight; a collection of anthropomorphic constructs playing poker with gears and cogs for chips. When the game finally ended, the winner revealed himself to be Lazarus himself. With only a little convincing, Lazarus offered to organize a Freikorps strike team and finally realize his revenge on Horniege once and for all, fulfilling Cho’ko’s destiny step when an additional mining construct offered to be the primary Soulstone component for her second creation.

An uneditted recording of this session can be found here.

Image taken from I Love My Walls.

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Familial Forgiveness
The Party is visited by Beswick's past

nautilushotel.jpgAfter the near-miss with the unmasked-megalomaniac that once was Dr. Horniege, Mr. H’s Five report in completeness to Lucius Mattheson on the state of Horniege, his Neverdead army, and the war factory that has been created in the Blood-soaked Arena. Resolved to eradicate the threat, Lucius offers to give the Party command of a small Guild strike team, unless they can recruit one unnamed individual who might have an axe to grind against Horniege. Not naming the person by name, Lucius only wrote a word on a card to help them find the place the contact might be; Ampersand.

Before launching their investigation too heavily, the Party first wanted to cash out the Vault tickets that Horniege absentmindedly threw their way in their last meeting. From these tickets, James found a stack of damning Project Lazarus and Project Osiris documents, which he only took a small sample to read later. Ave on the other hand found a sizable drawer that contained beautiful and polished pneumatic limbs, ambidextrous attachments for one full arm and one full leg replacement. Before leaving, however, Ave was able to pilfer one other poorly-locked drawer and gained what would later be identified as an Alp horn. Cho’ko was naturally ecstatic at the wonderful pneumatic craftsmanship of Ave’s finds, and was resolved to immediately attach these new superior parts.

While Cho’ko went under the knife to upgrade herself, James and Ave began the search for Ampersand. Initial leads were completely useless, and it wasn’t until they intimidated a street urchin in the Industrial Zone that they learned that Ampersand was an urban legend, a sanctuary for discontinued, decommissioned, or run-away Guild and Arcanist constructs, a place regarded to have the same level of reality as the Island of Misfit Toys. Pressing the ragamuffin further finally came up with a lead on another name, English Ivan, who’s famed heists, which recently focused on the capture of several Peacekeepers, might have a useful affinity towards Ampersand, assuming it’s a real place.

Heading towards a bar in the Burns to follow this flimsy lead, James and Ave find Phil, who grills them on the purpose of their visit until English Ivan summons them from a side room. Proving to be a friend at the right price (the cost of one bag of Soulstone powder this time), English Ivan revealed that Ampersand is indeed a real place, but changes location every night. Tonight, Ampersand will be in the back alleys of the Qi and Gong in Little Kingdom.

Returning to retrieve Cho’ko, who’s now excited to use her new pneumatics to finally create her much discussed Komodo Ryu, they resolve to first visit James’ visitor from Earthside. A quick visit to the train station validates James’ fear; his father, Arthur Beswick, is now in Malifaux. The station thankfully also provided the hotel he’s staying at in Downtown, so the Party resolved to head there directly.

In front of Room 202, the Party meets a familiar face; Tanika-san, the family butler. Only allowing James through, James finds his father strapped to a steampunk gurney, health obviously failing. With his dying breath, the two Beswick men forgave each other for past failings. As a final gift, Arthur gave James the Sapphire Lexicon, which enraged the Nothing Beast when James not to ascend with the Grimoire and Obliteration’s Gifts, fulfilling his final destiny step.

An unedited recording of this session can be found here.

Image taken from willy111’s Photobucket.

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Melani's Malevolence
The Party reports to Lucius and fight their way into the QZ

neverdead.jpgAfter fulfilling the disastrous summons from Harvey, Mr. H’s Five felt it was high time to return to the waiting Horniege. Collecting the Steam Trunk and settling their tab at the Gear and Sprocket, they headed their way to a QZ entrance.

Trudging through the still new snow, however, they found however their closest gate to their HQ was closed and unmanned, barring their way back. Disheartened and unsure how to proceed, they were approached by a disheveled Drew, who claimed Harvey survived the hostile Ten Thunder takeover, and implored the Party to follow him to the wounded crime-boss. Naturally skeptical of Drew’s story, but still clueless how to proceed on their current objective, the Party followed him to an abandoned building in one of the neighboring slums.

Inside, Drew ducked away in the darkness, and Lucius Mattheson revealed himself and some of his cronies from the shadows. Lucius demanded an update from the crew, and while they were hesitant to divulge Horniege’s covert operations, the Party opted to tell the whole truth to avoid Lucius far more dangerous ire. After inspecting the contents of their Trunk, Lucius revealed some of his suspicions about Horniege’s new devious goals, in response to the Five’s updates. After revealing some family history for Ave in response to some of the Vault items inside the trunk, Ave manifested her fourth Destiny step by accepting a Brusker-Ortega wedding ring from Lucius.

To confirm Lucius’ suspicions, he charged the Five (the only humans that Horniege would allow into his sanctum) to still deliver the filled Trunk to Horniege, but pump him for information and report back if Horniege proves to be as nefarious as Lucius knows. Giving each of the five a fountain-pen sized gadget and explaining it will return them to safety if things go awry, Lucius directed them to a sewers entrance that should get them close to the Arena.

Navigating the Undercity seemed to be direct enough, until the Party encountered a sobbing woman, who turned out to be a beaten-down Melani. Screaming for blood and revenge for keeping her away from Horniege, Melani and her minions attacked. Desperate to reach their goal instead of engaging Melani in a lengthy brawl, the Party sprinted for a man hole exit with the Trunk, but managed to eliminate the disturbed Woe before making their exit.

Using the Crooked Clocktower as a guide, the Party finally made it back to the Arena, but much has changed in their days of absence. With the interior looking more like the inside of a pocket watch than the bare stone arena previously, Horniege’s head seemed to have created multiple soulstone-powered constructs to make an army instead of making a replacement body as he claimed. With all the parts delivered, Horniege thanked the Party for their services, tossed two last remaining Vault tickets, and promptly began to ignore their presence. When pressed on the Arena’s remodel and constructs, Horniege freely explained his true intentions, since the Five were as good as dead now.

Horniege was never human, even before his Robotic Rebirth. He was a Mimic, an infiltrator inside the Guild, and while the on-paper intent of his Project Lazarus was to help mankind towards a better, more complex construct under Guild servitude, Horniege’s intentions were always to use the Project’s techniques and science to enslave the Malifaux colonists and drive the Guild out of Malifaux. Lazarus’ success proved too temperamental and free-willed to control, and after Lazarus’ explosive closure, Horniege founded Project Osiris to continue the work not to subjugate humanity, but to breath life back into his own fallen kind the Neverborn. Using the soulstones provided by a new Woe companion, Chloe, Horniege has successfully revived ancient Neverborn consciousness and souls from her stolen soulstones. As a protest against the name Neverborn, he named these new Strangemetal constructs the Neverdie, and set the partially-made army upon the Five.

With quick reactions, Cho’ko activated her pen-teleporter, sending the entire crew safely to an all too familiar location; Lucius’ office. With his unmasked face turned away from them as he sips tea overlooking Downtown, we close with Lucius hissing the questions, “What do you have to report?”

An uneditted recording of this session can be found here.
Image taken from New Phyrexia art from Magic: the Gathering TCG.

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Ten Thunder Tiff
The Party gets snowed in and meets Chikyu

snow.jpgAfter collecting all the parts Dr. Horniege requested in the Industrial Zone, Mr. H’s Five were ready to return to their new HQ. However, Malifaux proved to be a fickle mistress, as a heavy snow in the middle of the summer’s day began to fall. Since they had taken the best part of the day to collect all of Horniege’s parts, the Party thought it best to camp out on the colonized-side of the QZ wall before attempting a return (especially if Ave’s illusion will be ruined in the snow-covered streets). A quick search yielded a few prospects of workers’ hostels and hired rooms where they could weather the storm, but the team committed to the Gear and Sprocket.

After negotiating a reasonable fee and a decent collateral with the bartender downstairs, the Party rented two rooms for the night. While most used this time to rest, Ave and Mirra’s room had a knock at the middle of the night, which they didn’t answer.

The following morning, the Party found a note in front of the Ave/Mirra door, which appeared to be in Harvey’s hasty handwriting, warning them of a mutual danger and pleading them to come back. Suspicious of the legitimacy of the note, and anxious to return to Horniege, the team still felt it important to check in with Harvey. To protect Horniege’s project and parts, the steam trunk was left in the Gear and Sprocket while they investigate the situation.

While the snow had slowed since the night before, deep drifts ranging from one to a couple feet carpeted all of Malifaux. Making slow time to the Howling Syndicate hideout, the Party found the place undisturbed with not footprints since the snow, albeit Mirra noted the strange snow banks purged from the roof of the building, which shouldn’t happen for such a bland, blocky building top.

Inside proved to be unsettling. Completely dark and lifeless, the Five began to explore the inside after turning the gas lamps on. Finding evidence of multiple struggles and smashed smuggling goods, the Party began to conclude Harvey’s hideout was raided by someone no longer here. In the debris, Cho’ko and James recovered a strange Neverborn stone totem, while Ave and Mirra were unsettled to see all of Drew’s accounting notes defiled by red markings, all of which seemed to point specifically to the movements and dealings of the Five with Harvey.

From the shadows above, drops of shadows began to fall to the floor noiselessly onto the floor. Afraid of attack, the Five grouped up, hands on weapons. The shadows materialized and revealed a circle of eight black-and-orange clothed Three Kingdom ninjas, most of which brandishing wicked-looking weapons of the Orient.

One of these warriors, though unarmed, stepped forward and introduced himself as Chikyu. Apparently, he and his faction has been the true power behind Harvey’s ascension, but when he failed to deliver them the Emerald Tome, Chikyu took a hostile takeover of Harvey’s Syndicate and has tortured him for leads on the Tome. Assuring that Harvey is still alive, Chikyu has used Drew’s notes to conclude confident that the Party has the Tome still, and now demands its return, threatening with earthen hands that glow with Soulstone light.

James did his best parlay with Chikyu, but it became obvious that since they would have to retrieve the Tome from the Gear and Sprocket and reveal Horniege’s work to an outsider, no compromise seemed to be reached for the handoff. In desperation, Cho’ko attempted to cast Sleep, however the failed spell only forced the ninjas’ hands to reciprocate. One of the other unarmed individuals, who removed his mask to reveal the grotesque face of the double-agent Bill, crushed the Party into the ground with a manipulation of gravity, paralyzed and completely helpless to Chikyu.

Before Chikyu and his ninjas could descend on incapacitated Party, a distracting, drunken singing began to emanate from the above duct-work of the warehouse. In a loud crash, a pile of gremlins in similar robes landed between Chikyu, Bill, and the Five. Slowly recovering from the surprise of their arrival, the drunken leader began shouting at Chikyu for not completing their transaction for Tome for distillery parts. When Chikyu didn’t give a satisfactory response (namely, he didn’t have a full distillery in his pocket right that second), the gremlin martial artists all lunged at the encircled Ten Thunder agents. Seeing an opening, Ave Shrugged Off Bill’s influence and invisibly retreated from the fighting, while the others did the same retreat when a particularly high-jumping gremlin grappled with Bill’s face. Since Mirra chose to retreat with the others instead of “shattering the stone” of either the Totem or Chikyu’s hands, she denied her second Destiny step.

To cover their tracks, James threw in one of Ave’s sticks of dynamite and detonated it with his pistol as they made their way out into the cold summer air once more, sprinting away from the whooping chaos of the blurred fighting inside.

An unedited recording of this session can be found here.
Photo taken from System-X.info.

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Arcanist Acquisitions
The Party acquires components for Horniege

bazaar.jpgWith sunrise breaking over the Blood-soaked Arena after the Midnight Mashup, the Party began to grill Horniege on exactly what happened the night before. While Horniege defended himself weakly, leaving several unanswered questions, he purposed a new mission for the Party.

In exchange for two more Vault account tickets, Horniege compiled a final list of parts to complete his new body form. Offering his steam trunk and pigeon, Horniege admitted his last request for parts can only be found in unregulated Arcanist black markets, most likely in the Industrial Zone or one of the New Construction Zones.

With previously gained tickets, the group was anxious to collect a few payments via Vault withdrawals; however with the Guild ever watchful of the groups comings and goings through the Quarantine Zone, the steam trunk may prove to be too suspicious while passing the Guild checkpoint. To cover their intentions, Ave successfully cast Boon of the Thief on the trunk, noisily sneaking it past the incompetent Guards.

Back in the colonized portion of Malifaux, the Five first head to the Vault, making some withdrawals. Using two new account tickets, the Party explored the accounts of “Hampton” and “Busker.” The Hampton account proved to be valuable, since inside contained an expensive Chesterfield Model 1897 (Fated Almanac, page 167) and a box of shells. The Busker account proved to be more puzzling; the drawer was filled with framed pictures of the same family over and over again. After some exploring, a false bottom was found, where a Project Lazarus head and an empty Midnight Egg, both similar to Horniege’s, was pocketed.

With some wealth gained from the Vault, the Five began exploring the seedier parts of Arcanist territory to find Horniege’s parts. While initially at a dead end, the criminal experience of Ave and Mirra finally began to open some doors. By trading the unique prototype Lazarus gear and a few other purchases completed Horniege’s list.

As the Party began to head back to the QZ, Cho’ko picked up a curious manual that was co-written by her sensei back Earthside. Similarly, James briefly scried a chilling image of himself in a dish of quicksilver, fulfilling his next destiny step.

This session does not have a recording.
Image taken from Curious Expeditions’ Flickr.

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Midnight Mashup
The Party reinforce and defend their new HQ

126543518667.jpgAfter clearing out the Blood-soaked Arena during the Quarantine Zone Quarrel, Mr. H’s Five began to worry about the nightfall descending on the Quarantine Zone. Dr. Horniege recommended the Party salvage anything they can from the Arena to shore up the defenses of the building.

In short, the Arena appeared to have four entry points. The wide, common audience entrance they first used, two smaller service entrances, and a sizable hole in the overhead dome of the ceiling. Around the stadium and the storage attics above, the Party found various materials to stopper these entries.

Numerous pots and rotting casks contained three useful fluids were found; Blackfire Poison, Liquid Soot, and Gremlin’s Spit. In addition to these, random bits of timber, wooden boxes, armor, melee weapons, and six Contender Flasks were also collected. With these, the Party placed these resources in various arrangements at each entry point to board up any Neverborn threat. During this time, Horniege unpacked his steam trunk and began to replicate his workshop. After several hours of work, Night finally arrived.

While the first hours of the first night watch yielded no threats (but by no means was silent), around midnight, knocking visitors began to announce their presence around the Arena. With the Party roused, a lone, parasolled woman revealed herself at the front entrance, pleading for help. She identified herself as Melani, but when she was very deadpan in the fact she was there to kill them, James shot her in the head, igniting a deafening scream and literally her head.

This called forth a whole host of horrors from the dark, including a stream Sorrows, Waldgeists, two Mature Nephilim, Teddy, Lelu, and Lilitu. To push back this roiling horde, not only were several casks detonated, two Bottles were thrown, summoning a Young Nephilim and the Mechanical Rider for their cause. In the chaos, Cho’ko relied on a triggered destiny step to repel the monsters.

Before a particularly large Nephilim could deliver a killing blow to the Rider or Cho’ko, Horniege appeared at the top of the attic steps, effectively scaring the Neverborn with only a few stern words. Stunned by Horniege’s power over the horrors, the Party is now completely lost and skeptical on what other secrets Horniege may be hiding.

This session does not have a recording.
Image found in the Giant in the Playground forums.

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Quarantine Zone Quarrel
The Party venture to find a new secluded hideout

qzstreets.jpgWith Mr. H’s Five now in the very dangerous territory of Malifaux’s Quarantine Zone, the Party did their best to scramble to find a functional, covert HQ outside the reach of spying eyes. Several aspects were considered; distance from the Guild‘s separation wall, size of the building, and the defensiblity of the structure. Using stealth, navigation, and other tracking skills, the Party quickly (and more importantly, quietly) discovered a large, one-story warehouse-like structure under the shadow of an unnerving, swaying clock tower, which seemed to match most of Dr. Horniege’s requests for his new workshop.

The interior proved to be an impressive sight. A massive, indoor gladiatorial arena, littered with rusting weapons, oxidizing machinery, and rotting timber, all under the glow of massive, glowing red quartz crystals that have upthrusted through the packed earth of the arena. Horniege immediately fell in love with the vaulted, defensible space, and asked Ave, Cho’ko, and James to investigate and clear the below basement tunnels while his mechanical bird scouted the attics above.

The tunnels below the Arena proved to be slightly labyrinthine, mostly natural stone. It seemed to be one of Horniege’s easier missions until the Party completed their survey of the deserted, bare tunnels. After spreading out and finding all dead ends, all sorts of undead horrors began clawing and disinter out from the loose earth. Shambling corpses of M&SU prospectors, a few familiar rotting Belles, and one particularly unsettling, screaming Hanged descended upon the Party, who thankfully had the foresight to remain armed after finding the Arena.

Engaging with the voracious undead seemed fairly easy in the beginning, but the Crooked Men began to crack open unfathomably deep pits around the combatants, filled with clawing and grabbing arms of the damned. While Ave and James took measures to keep away from these fissures, Cho’ko was entranced by these portals, seeing welcoming and beckoning gestures from the vindictive flailing the others saw. While originally skeptical, her Whisperer patron assured a promise of power if she relented into the embrace of these undying servants. Sensing Cho’ko loosening grip to reality, James tried to stop her as she began to slowly shuffle into one portal. With tear-streaming eyes, Cho’ko turned and admitted to James, “… I can’t do this… I can’t leave you… I don’t know if I can live without you!”… and promptly GRABBED JAMES AND PULLED HIM INTO THE PIT WITH HER! Rude!

While James immediately began to combat dirt-clogging suffocation and fend off the claws, Cho’ko enjoyed a warm as she conversed with her Whisperer. What was bargained for or promised is only known by Cho’ko, but while Ave fought for her life alone above ground in an unimaginably fight, James and Cho’ko were violently vomitted back into the tunnels, and Cho’ko strangely now had command of the Crooked Men. Turning the tide with new allies, the Party and deceased miners quickly dispatched the Belles and Hanged. With their task fulfilled and old master slain, the undead dredges crumpled to dust. Unnerved, but honestly grateful, by Cho’ko’s new power, the Party looted the corpses, finding a new volume to their Grimoire collection; the Ruby Folio.

Now with the Arena secure, twilight is beginning to fall over the Quarantine Zone. What horrors will stalk the streets and how will the Party defend their new home? Time will tell…

From this session, Cho’ko chose to embrace her next Destiny step and became a Graverobber, while Ave’s revelation from the Hanged’s whispers unlocked her pathway to a Neverborn Hunter.

An unedited recording of this session can be found HERE.

Image taken from Glading.com.

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Fissured Fealty
The Party must choose between Horniege or Harvey

steam_trunk.jpg After escaping the treacherous swamp, Mr. H’s Five returned to their hideout and began licking their wounds. An annoying beggar was stationed outside when they first approached, but since only Ave flipped a coin into the beggar’s cup, James denied his third Destiny step. Dr. Horniege immediately began work on his construct body with the harvested Strangemetal, and the Party members fractured in several different directions, purchasing replacement clothing, gaining a first aid kit, and storing The Emerald Tome in the Vault while in Malifaux proper.

However, it became apparent that the Party’s movements and past choices are starting to catch up with them. A curt note was posted on the inside of the front door. In Harvey’s handwriting, the note demands the Party visit him ASAP, most likely to demand his 60% share of the Enclave raid during Morgue Mayhem. While the Party was able to hide this disturbing communique from Horniege briefly, the small Soulstone still detected the threat.

This launched Horniege into an accusatory tirade; very uncharacteristic to the Doctor’s previous disposition. Horniege claimed the actions of the Five has brought unwanted attention to his works, and the only option is to move his (and their) hideout without delay. While the Party was taken aback by Horniege’s outburst, the member’s agreed to help with the move if they could settle things with Harvey first. Horniege begrudgingly agreed.

By the command of the note, the Party returned to Harvey’s safe house for the meeting. While in the past the small basement has served to be a modest warehouse of smuggled goods, the room was completely empty of goods and help, save Harvey’s core group of affiliates. Harvey immediately requested his cut of the Enclave Job, but when the Party explained not much profit was gained from the affair and that nothing was worth handing over, Harvey explained their debt could be forgiven by a different service.

Harvey explained the recovered Emerald Tome has gone missing, and that it was partially John’s fault as delivery courier. The Tome had gone missing mid-transit to an unnamed employer.To demonstrate his frustration, power, and (as detected by James) desperation, Harvey ordered Bill to kill John, execution style right in front of the Party to cow them into subservience. With John’s bloody body slumped on the floor by a strange mental attack, Harvey explained recovery of the Tome was his priority number one, and all would be forgiven if the Party would re-recover the Tome that they first retrieved from Captain Greenbeard. Startled by the butchery Harvey had just ordered on his own men, the Party left stunned by the request.

Midway to Horniege’s Workshop, James pulled Ave and Cho’ko into a dark alley to discuss their next move, because it is apparent now that Harvey and Horniege want two different things from their service; Harvey wants a quick, Malifaux-centric investigation to recover the Tome they already have, while Horniege wants to go underground, possibly making a new hideout in the Quarentine Zone (QZ). Loyalties and motivations of each member were questioned, but a group consensus was still found; Horniege seems to have quasi-approval and protection from the Governor’s Secretary, while Harvey seems to have recently become erratic and a pawn to another higher power. In the end, the group agreed to keep their Tome a secret and align with Horniege. Since this turned group loyalty away from Horniege, this too denied Ave’s third Destiny step.

When the Party returned, Horniege had completely gutted his small apartment and had in minutes constructed a Steam Trunk out of construct pieces and bookshelf timber to carry himself and his incomplete body outside. Horniege then provided fool-proof Guild papers that would allow them access to the QZ, where they can continue his work unmolested. With fresh gear and iron-clad passports, the Five then left Downtown and the Slums behind and entered the gates into the QZ.

An unedited recording of this session can be found here.

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Dungeon Defiance
The Party descend and exit the Ziggurat

watcher.jpgAfter solving the devilish Abacus Puzzle and harvesting a few more Strangemetal beads, Mr. H’s Five unlocked the crystal-encrusted elevator for the deeper parts of the Ziggurat. With some prompting from Dr. Horniege, the Party activated the central dais and began to descend once more deeper into the structure.

After yet another dark, eternal descent, the Five arrived to another cavern crafted from the same chunks of circular stone tiles as the surface. By using Horniege’s head as a lantern once more, the Party was able to take better bearings of the small room. With the illumination’s help, Ave was the first to realize the party had been in the room before; the small foyer was an exact replica to the above-ground entrance at the beginning of the Ziggurat, except it was flipped perfectly upside down! Instead of the Bayou beyond the entrance, however, a rickety rope bridge extended into the featureless darkness. The effect caused a mutual feeling of familiarity, vertigo, and nausea in those who could see the mirrored image.

Draped next to the elevator dais was an desiccated corpse of a human explorer. While his or her scraps of clothing seemed modern or at least contemporary in style, the ancient bones of the body hinted at an impossible death before eve, the First Breach. Looting the corpse yielded a Strangemetal Shirt and a few leather pinch bags of 0-Lade Soulstone powder.

Uncertain how to proceed, the Five began to venture onto the wooden rope bridge. After a few minutes of cautious crawling, however, a presence began to be felt by each member. As the Five traveled farther down the bridge, each of their taken senses began to fire once more. Ave smelt the foul smell of death and decay, Cho’ko felt the slimy, cold scales some something reptilian on her phantom hands, and James beheld a nightmarish winged centipede crawling the opposite way of the bridge towards them. The creature reared up, and with a booming voice gave one commandment: LEAVE.

While this scattered the rest of the Party, James attempted to parley with the creature. When it seemed unflinching its commands and reasoning, The Nothing Beast gave a hint to James to simply stand tall and brave and slay the beast. When the winged Watcher finally charged James in frustration, James instinctively slashed with his silver letter opener, inexplicably killing the creature in a violent explosion, fulfilling his second destiny step. This collapsed the bridge, but with cooperation, each of the Five climbed back to the under-foyer unscathed.

Satisfied with their Strangemetal collection and rattled by the strange underside of the Malifaux plane, Horniege and the Five quickly retreated back to the surface, each regaining their lost senses and arriving back to Pancho’s keelboat, anxious to return to Malifaux City.

An unedited recording of this session can be found here.

Image taken from the Cthulhu Wars Kickstarter Page.

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