Monday was Blades in the Dark and I want to do this writeup before tonight when I run Night's Black Agents and get too far behind on game writeups and like drown in a sea of them AAAAAAAA EGG.
Another fine "day" in Duskwall. One Eye is talking with Jul, a blood dealer. He tells her something interesting - Dundridge & Sons, the famous tailors in Nightmarket, bought some blood from him for treating the fabric of a new cloak made on commission. He's not sure who commissioned it, but it it's got alchemical treatments in it, it's for someone with money and someone with mystical or spiritual concerns. In addition, stealing said cloak would give the thieves a great deal of bargaining power or just something cool to fence. One Eye is skeptical (what's Jul getting out of this, after all?).
Meanwhile, Copper is heading to the track and hails a carriage. The driver turns out to be Grull, a known scoundrel himself. Knowing that the Widdershins gang has reputation for smuggling weird shit, he mentions that he's got a line on someone who would pay well for some eggs from the deathseeker crows that the Spirit Wardens breed. Time isn't really a factor, but they'd need to be delivered to Grull quickly after theft. He drops Copper off at the track, where her dog comes in third.
Also in a carriage is Cage, but a carriage of a different sort - the Bluecoats picked him up. Captain Vale talks to him, and says she feels kind of bad that Widdershins is on the outs with the Gondoliers. Cage presses and she admits that really, she's afraid the gang will start blowing up roads next, and she uses those roads. She tells him that a Gondolier named Strain went missing, and his boat was found washed up in the Docks. If someone were to find out what happened to Strain, probably the Gondoliers would be happy about it.
The gang meets up at the lair later on to discuss their options. They figure the cloak isn't a great choice; there's no immediate promise of money and they don't really trust that Jul isn't feeding them bad intel. The egg-theft sounds like a good heist, but it involves stealing from the Spirit Wardens (who are already not fans of the crew) and from the Belleweather Crematorium, no less - spirit guards, human security with sparkcraft weapons, plus the crew would need to keep it very quiet so they don't wind up going to war with the Wardens. Cage, in particular, isn't a fan of this - he's a former Warden and knows what they're capable of.
They decide that although they might not make money off it, investigating the disappearance of Strain would be a good way to mend some fences with the Gondoliers. Plus, his boat washed up by the docks, meaning the leviathan hunters probably know something and they're friendly with the crew. They head down to the Docks to ask around.
Siren talks to Noggs, a former shipmate (she's a former leviathan hunter, remember) and Noggs appears willing to talk, but not here. She arranges to meet him for a drink later. One Eye goes to Ink Lane and finds a tattoo artist who is hurting for business. She talks to him about the prospect of a hallucinogenic tattoo, and learns that he put a tattoo on a Gondolier some days back - a warding glyph - but messed it up because the Gondolier didn't tell him that he'd put blood in the ink he supplied. Apparently word had gotten out and they were blaming him. One Eye promised to trade information and try and spread the word that this hadn't been his fault, if he'd help them out, so he drew a sketch of the glyph for her.
Copper wandered through the Menagerie, and found a cage with a weird striped wolf-thing. Captain Rye, the proprietor, tells her it was given to him by a sailor, who called it a "devil wolf" - they used it to kill rats on their ship, but it's hellish fast. Copper, in love, runs off to One Eye and gets her to loan her a coin to buy it (some haggling occurs). She buys the wolf and puts it on a leash.
Siren meets with Noggs, but when he's about to talk, he glances over her shoulder, gets spooked, makes an excuse and leaves. Cage, meanwhile, goes out to where folks sell cheap goods on the Docks, and tries to attune to the spiritual madness in the area, narrowing down what might have happened to Strain. He gets lost in it, though, and winds up wading into the water as the others walk toward him. Siren notices something slithering towards him, and shoots it.
That snaps him out of the reverie and he tries to grab the thing in front of him (thinking maybe it's a ghost), but it wraps tentacles around him and tries to drag him under. Copper, struggling to control her new doggie, rips the monster off him and tosses it back into the drink, and they stagger up on land ("I thought they stayed out at sea!" says Copper. "That was a baby," says Siren. "That's why we don't go in the water.").
The crew confers, and they figure that Strain must have known something was coming. Cage looks at the sketch, but isn't sure what it means - he's a got a hookup, though. Since Strain brought blood to the tattooist, One Eye figures that she'll check in with Jul. Siren and Copper decide to look around and see if they can find out where his boat went.
One Eye heads back to Brightmarket, breaks into Jul's workshop, and rigs it up so that with a flick of a switch she can ruin his supply or spray him with toxic leviathan blood. When he gets back, she threatens him, so he talks - he didn't sell Strain the blood (he doesn't work the Docks), but he heard that a colleague did. Mixing blood into a warding glyph means that you're trying to ward of a particular person or, if the blood is alchemically treated, that some powerful magic is going on, which is what Jul suspects was happening. He has never met Strain, though, and doesn't know what happened there.
Copper and Siren find where the boat washed up, and Copper asks around (loudly) until she learns that a captain named Laudis took it to turn into a lifeboat. They find Laudis' ship and talk with the captain, who tells them that when he found the boat, it was washed up on the shore. Based on when he found it, the boat must have been out in the bay, which is too far from shore for a Gondolier's boat. He found no blood on the boat, just a bunch of broken glass (which he didn't keep). He figures something slithered up out of the sea and dragged Strain down. Laudis also reveals that he lost his left hand (now replaced with a wicked-looking pronged prosthetic) at the blade of the captain of the ship Siren used to crew, so that tenses things up a bit.
Cage talks to Flint, his buddy who traffics in spirits. Flint guesses that, based on the glyph, either Strain was trying to protect himself from something specific and personal or he was taking spirit traffic work on the side. Cage brings Flint back to the lair to have a seance - if Strain is dead, maybe they can summon him (unless he's in a bottle somewhere).
Back at the lair, Cage and Flint (and the others) call up Strain, and see him in the scrying pool, but realize he's still alive. Copper attunes herself a little more closely than she should, and hears the ocean. The shadows make her think she's under something - a bridge, maybe? Also she feels pain on her chest, like her skin is itching.
The crew figures that they know enough to go and find Strain - he got himself into some kind of trouble, and needs rescue. And if that results in a reward from the Gondoliers, well, so be it.