Friday, September 14, 2018

Blades in the Dark: Into the Deathlands!

Last time, on Blades in the Dark, the crew stole some very valuable eggs. This time...well, read on.

The Widdershins has had a couple of weeks to recover since the egg-job. During that time, they've noted that there's a nearby tavern that seems to be selling low-importance contraband. They don't see that any particular gang runs it, so it might be a good front to add to their claims. Likewise, there's a stretch of turf in Nightmarket that the Rail Jacks claim (it's near to Gaddoc Station), and if they felt like muscling in on that, they could probably take it.

Siren is at the Red Lamp, a brothel in Silkshore, spending some of her hard-earned Coin, and the madame, Tesslyn, takes a meeting with her. Seems Tesslyn is looking for a fence to get rid of some expensive trinkets, and she's heard of a fellow called Hammer who might be able to handle the work. She doesn't know him, though, and she wants Widdershins to scope him out first. She's willing to give them a box of expensive baubles to fence, they keep half of whatever they can negotiate out of Hammer and then they have a useful contact. Siren says she's interested and brings that back to the crew.

Meanwhile, though, Cage is meeting with Lord Penderyn (after previously getting back into his good graces, recall). Penderyn tells him that he has an important job for the crew - there's a mystical artifact that Penderyn needs, but it's out in the Deathlands. He gives Cage a ring to put on, and then tells him the name of the Artifact - it's the Eye of Kotar. If Cage tries to say that to the crew, though, the ring will burn him. Just a precaution.

The crew meets up and Cage pushes to recover the Eye, though of course he has to frame it as "a ritual component." The others initially think that maybe getting the tavern might be better short-term, but Cage pushes and Siren is curious, so they decide to go for the bigger score. They decide to go to the Rail Jack turf and try and make some friends, since they'll need to get out into the Deathlands somehow.

The bar they find, though, isn't exactly friendly to them. Some of the Jacks recognize them from their escapades back here, and the name "Twelves" keeps getting murmured. Finally Copper, with characteristic subtlety, asks who "Twelves" is, and a very large man named Spur tells her he was a Rail Jack who died fixing the alchemical mess the crew made of the place...and then punches her in the face.

The scenes starts to get ugly, and Siren apologizes and asks what the crew can do to make amends. Spur says that Twelves left behind a widow and twelve children, and well, it'd be nice to have something to give his twelve children so they don't go hungry. Siren gets the hint, the crew pools their resources (and winds up having to sell off some stash), and pays off the Rail Jacks.

They stay and drink with them, and One Eye and Spur come to an agreement - they'll transport the crew into the Deathlands, stop the train as close as they can to the artifact's supposed location, and wait an hour. If they're not there when the train leaves, well, they're gonna have a long walk back. The crew agrees, and goes home to prep. They all go heavy (no point in not) and Copper buys some supplies, and they board the train.

The first problem is that they're in a cargo hold, and it's quickly filled with cargo. They have almost no room and they have to get to the door. One Eye throws some oil around that makes the crates weightless, and they eventually managed to tie them back so they can get out. The train stops, Copper opens the door...and now they're in the Deathlands.

Everything is ash, petrified trees, and ruin. They hop down and start walking, guided by Cage's map. A pack of mutated pig creatures comes toward them, but they hide behind trees and wait them out, and they head back toward the train ("This may be an issue later," notes One Eye prophetically).

In an ashen riverbed, they find a ghost, obviously stuck here since the Cataclysm and hungry for essence. Cage dominates it, though, and orders it to find the Eye. Siren's head starts itching, and she feels a strange hunger...

The ghost leads them on, down a hill into a valley, and then a bunch of people with spears and slings appear on the ridge above them. Copper greets them nonchalantly, and the Scavengers decide that these folks are more useful dead, so they launch spears.

The crew avoids the initial barrage, and Siren unleashes a barrage of suppressing fire while the crew charges up the hill. Cage finds one of their little hidey holes and dips out of sight, while Siren shoots one dead while Copper routs the rest of them. The Scavengers flee, but the ghost is long gone. Cage pulls out a dowsing rod to track it, and it and Siren's head start to glow. The crew follows the rod into the wastes, until they find a small settlement and the rest of the Scavengers.

As they approach, they run into a pit trap. Copper falls in, One-Eye jumps back, and Cage and Siren jump forward and avoid it...but now they're close to the Scavengers and their fellows are a ways behind. The Scavengers' leader, Lady Thorn, addresses them and asks what they're seeking, and Cage notes that something in a pouch hanging on her belt is glowing. He tells her that's what they're after, and she identifies it - the Eye of Kotar. She also notes that Siren is carrying Kotar's spirit within her, and that makes Lady Thorn very nervous.

Copper and One Eye get out of the pit and join them, and Lady Thorn asks why she should give this immensely powerful artifact to them. One Eye tells her that they were just here to do a job, and Thorn notes ruefully that any number of the Scavengers (all of whom are former Ironhook inmates given the choice between execution or life in the Deathlands) were "just doing a job." She tells them, after some conversation, that she'd feel more comfortable giving the Eye to the Spirit Wardens - they, after all, know what they're doing. Cage reveals his mask, showing that he was a Spirit Warden, but Thorn nods over their shoulder.

Approaching them is a sleigh drawn by a captive horror, carrying four Spirit Wardens. They approach and one of them dismounts, and looks at the mask Cage is holding, and at Button, Copper's weird demon-wolf...and then pulls a sparkcraft rifle off his back. Apparently he recognizes Widdershins.