And so our story speeds along, swiftly approaching the end of it’s first story arc – The Claw! But before that, our intrepid heroes of questionable morals try to earn some favor with the religious factions in the city…
Whilst the party was busy busting grave robbers and throwing the Burnt District into a mad panic on their 6th evening in Port Vladovar, Genpi headed to the Merchant’s Docks with Larina to meet with Overseer Oleg at the Tonkov Slaughterhouse. The plan was for the Burning Lead to “inherit” whatever agreement the Cranemen had had with Tonkov, but Genpi’s attention was almost immediately split between his mission and the fact that a cargo ship had docked with the slaughterhouse.
Normally this would be unsurprising, but as far a Genpi was aware, no cargo ships had a Khadoran Navy Ironclad escort. Making sure not too appear to inquisitive, he led Larina into the slaughterhouse, the guards recognizing them both from their separate dealings with Oleg. Upon reaching Oleg’s office, the pair heard an argument occurring inside before they were permitted entry. Inside, they found Oleg in the company of a member of the Greylord’s Covenant, the Khadoran Empire’s magic assembly. They were also akin to a secret police force, and the man’s presence made Genpi seriously worried. However, he masked his unease thanks to his experiences as a member of the CRS, and got down to business.
Overseer Oleg saw no reason to deny the Burning Lead the agreement that had originally belonged to the Cranemen, especially with the leader of the Cranemen being present there as well. The agreement was simple – bring the Claw to justice so the Burnt District would become more secure, allowing the slaughterhouse to continue operations without having to worry about paranoid workers. Genpi agreed to the task set to him, and excused himself along with Larina. They headed back to The Captain’s Daughter in silence, lost in their own thoughts. There, they went to sleep, though their rest was interrupted by the ringing of Church bells and panicked cries of townsfolk later in the evening…
The next morning the group convened at the tavern to plan their activities. The urchins were out gathering scrap for the scrapyard, and the tavern had been tidied. It was still missing an upper floor, and the few folks who came wanted nothing more than to drown their sorrows and fears. Eliminating the Claw and making the streets safer would surely boost business, Genpi realized. But that would have to wait, as Olliver and Raksha suggested the group deal with the haunted house that Father Erin had mentioned to them the previous day. The Church of Morrow Ascendant was proving to be a useful ally, though Raksha wished to get her weapon blessed before engaging a potential spirit – otherwise, she would be unable to harm it, and the mere though rankled her.
Remembering the words of Father Erin, and how he was currently preoccupied with dealing with the dead bodies of the Burnt District, the group reluctantly headed to the Menite shrine in the city. The shrine turned out to be a tall tower, built in the Sul style, with a wall around it guarded by Temple Flameguard. The shrine was situated in what had once been a market square, now walled off to make it impossible to access the tower without passing through the main gate. Approaching the open gate, the party managed to pass without difficulty until it was Genpi’s turn, who found his way barred by the spears of the two guards flanking the entrance onto the shrine’s grounds. Dog was also forbidden entry, so Genpi proposed he wait outside and watch Dog, whilst the human members of the party went inside to deal with the Menites.
Larkin agreed with this idea, and the trio of humans entered the shrine grounds, which were all landscaped into a beautiful garden, with various acolytes meditating despite the chill air. Paying the surroundings no mind, Olliver, Larkin and Raksha entered the shrine itself, finding it to be a prayer space flanked by two staircases leading to the next floor of the circular tower. Moving to the altar, they passed a Paladin of the Wall, standing silently and watching them, paying careful attention to the mechanika items carried by Olliver and Larkin. The Hierophant of the shrine, a man named Amon Alhara, was polite but cool with the party, recognizing them as mercenaries and thugs. Upon explaining their purpose (hunting spirits and needing divine help), Hierophant Alhara agreed to bless Raksha’s hammer in exchange for her aid in hunting down someone alongside the shrine’s reclaimer – whose quarters were in the basement beneath the tower.
Raksha saw no issue with making such an agreement since she was a bounty hunter – tracking down people for others is what she did. And so she shook hands with the Hierophant. As soon as she did she felt a strange sensation, as if something had tugged at her soul. This immediately put her on the defensive as she demanded to know what just happened. The Hierophant, amused, informed her that she had just made a contract in the shrine of the Lawgiver. She was now mystically bound to complete her contract, which infuriated the wild woman no end, though she managed to control her temper and Hierophant Alhara proceeded to bless her hammer as they had agreed.
With that done, the party swiftly left the shrine and headed to where the Merchant’s District gave way to the Burnt District. There they swiftly located the supposedly haunted house, which used to belong to an alchemist. Now it was sealed shut by orders of the Winter Guard. Genpi laid out a swift plan of action – he would go in through a window, whilst the humans would enter through the door. This would force any entity inside to chose which group to go for. Olliver saw no issue with using Genpi as bait for a potentially murderous specter.
Genpi leaped in through a window into what appeared to be a storage room filled with crates and boxes. All were packed with straw and had vials – some empty, some cracked, a few full. Meanwhile, the others entered the house through the main door and headed down a long corridor before the door leading outside snapped shut behind them and locked itself, leaving Dog outside. The group pressed onwards, and discovered that the room beyond the corridor was filled with a cloud of gas. Olliver, being an alchemist, merely shrugged, put on his mask, and walked through. Larkin, seeking to follow him but not having the benefits of a mask, and not knowing what the gas was, pressed himself up against the wall and carefully tried to move around the cloud.
Meanwhile, a disembodied voice had begun accusing Genpi of disturbing it’s work, and the gobber found himself begin attacked by thrown glass vials. He wisely chose to jump inside a crate for protection, pistols drawn as he sought out a target. Olliver meanwhile stepped back out of the cloud to communicate to the party that they were clearly in an alchemical lab, and that they needed to loot this place once they were done.All of a sudden, Larkin leveled his pistol and shot Raksha, alarming Olliver enough to aim his weapon at her too, demanding what was going on. Larkin, stammering, explained he had no idea what was going on, making Olliver glare at him accusingly. At that point, Raksha exclaimed in shock as she was compelled to smash her hammer into Olliver’s head, staggering the man.
Realizing the ghost was possessing them, Raksha set to trying to tear down the door leading outside, whilst Larkin had Dog help from the other side. Meanwhile, Olliver pushed on deeper into the building, making it to a small room with a crucible, where the ghost materialized, accusing him of trying to steal his formulas. Olliver was not in the mood to trade words with a dead man, and shot the ghost, to no effect. By this point, the door leading outside had been torn off it’s hinges by Dog, and the gas cloud began to be sucked outside. Raksha headed out and jumped in through the window Genpi used to enter the building, whilst Larkin dashed around the diminishing gas cloud, clambering onto an alchemical workbench in the process to get a good line of sight to the ghost. This resulted in him running across some acidic vials and taking damage whilst taking aim.
Realizing that the group was in trouble, Genpi scuttled into the main room and hid under a table, keeping himself out of the ghost’s sights. Raksha set to smashing the various crates in the storage room to prevent the ghost having things to throw at them. Of course, taking a hammer to volatile chemicals ended badly, and one of the crates exploded in her face. Hearing the explosion, the ghost phased into the storage room, and influenced her to drop her blessed hammer and draw her crossbow. Olliver chased after it, and ran to Raksha, dropping his slug gun in the process and tearing the crossbow from the bounty hunter’s hands and hurling it to one side, disarming her before she could attack the party again.
Regaining her senses, the wild woman picked up her hammer and prepared to attack the ghost, which phased behind her and continued to hurl abuse and chemicals at her and Olliver. Fed up with the spiritual shenanigans by this point, Genpi popped out from beneath the table with Final Word, and gunned the ghost down, ending the fight. Battered and weary, the party set to looting the alchemical lab under Olliver’s guidance. They realize that someone had been in the house before them and taken some books and vials, but they are too weary to do anything about it, and merely chalked it up to regular looters before making their way back to the Church of Morrow Ascendant.
Father Erin welcomed them back, glad to see them still alive, even if badly beaten. He listened to their story whilst preparing to heal Raksha, and was not happy to learn that the woman had made an agreement with the Hierophant in the shrine. Her word was now bound by divine law to be fulfilled. Still, he made sure to reward the group as much as he was able. In addition to being magically healed, Raksha was offered Voychek’s aid in studying medicine, whilst Genpi received a cash reward and access to the Church’s library. Olliver and Larkin also requested permission to access the library, so as to better study the arcane arts. And so they began to learn how to read magical runes.
As evening came, the group thanked Father Erin for his aid and set off for home, eager to get some rest before heading to the Orphanage of Ascendant Gordenn the following day…
Join us next time for the thrilling two-part finale to Act 1 of Port Vladovar: Game of Shadows – The Claw that Rocked the Cradle.