Previous Session: The Jaws of a Trap
The Orphans are nervous - these are bigger stakes than they've ever had on the table before. The very fate of their Wicked Mother is in the balance!
They're not entirely sure that they can trust Setarra in this, but they will sneak aboard the Hotspur (again) and capture Captain Dunvil while he is doing his paperwork; suborn the Demon at the heart of the ship and enact an occult ritual to discern any trap that might be waiting for the Wicked Mother when she manifests in Duskwall.
Then they will thwart the ambush She Who Slays in Darkness have arranged with the Guardian of the Gates, and kill them all in an all-out assault. Two worlds will collide tonight, and only one will see the dawn.
Boarding the Hotspur is much easier this time; after all there was nothing so foolishly reckless as boarding a Leviathan Hunter on the high seas. The ship is not even at anchor in the harbour, it's tied up at the wharf, it's taking on supplies after having piped ashore the Leviathan blood to a refinery.
They take their boat across the channel and tie up on the stern - much less prone to discovery that just boarding from the shore. They've been given the ship's schedule by Quess the Spider's friend Avon, who is the Bosun's Mate, and they climb up onto the deck out of sight of the lone sentry. Since this is a stealth mission, Monger the Cutter is staying behind to take care of the boat and act as a tactical reserve (he's the cavalry).
They make their way below, down the main hatch which will lead to the captain's cabin...
As soon as they are on the lower deck, lanterns are opened all around them and a dozen armed sailors (not just sailors, leviathan hunters) are revealed with Captain Dunvil commanding them.
-Think you can singe my beard twice!
Avon stands amongst them, either he's playing along or he's betrayed Quess and the Orphans.
Gap the Lurk pulls out a bomb that Strangford prepared, one with a charge of Standstill poison in it, and declares that they'll be in serious trouble if they don't stand down; a fire aboard a ship is a terrible thing.
Dunvil steps forward, pointing the pistol at Gap's face and pulls the trigger! Gap dodges to one side, taking the round in his shoulder. He runs directly at the captain and kicks him in the chest, vaulting up to the roof beams and then chucking the bomb up to airburst in the middle of the assembled sailors.
The others go for cover, a barrel or mealie bag will protect them a little from the blast - however the bomb just lands heavily on the table and bounces with a clang into a bowl of stew. Did Gap arm it properly?
Fancy Frank the Hound kicks into action, running a guy through with his sword. GhostBlade the Whisper smashes another across the face with her lantern. Fancy Frank is on the back foot, as two more confront him with long knives and pistols and he is sure this isn't the job he signed up to as a tracker and sniper!
GhostBlade yells to Monger through the Darkness that Binds them to get in here, his assistance is required! Monger clambers up from the boat, busting through the gunwale in his heavy gear. Running down the main hatch he sees carnage in front of him.
Gap has thoroughly confused the captain now, spinning around him and the two sailors nearby while using his cloak to great effect - the two sailors shoot each other in the dizzying display and Gap wraps up the captain in his cloak, punching him in the kidney to subdue him. Dunvil hasn't given up the fight though, he stabs back with his reversed sabre and the blade punches through Gap's ribs. Gap struggles through it and koshes Dunvil into submission.
Fancy Frank is now beset by two and even his twin pistols only buy him some addition time. They literally have him over a barrel when GhostBlade slams into the back of one of them. Fancy Frank uses the distraction to kick one away and stab him in the throat, although he does take a knife to the knee and he'll be hobbling for weeks (he'd not be walking again at all except for his fancy knee-high cavalry boots!).
With their captain captured and most of the mates killed, the other half dozen charge for the stairs up to the main deck. Whether or not they saw Monger coming down is in doubt, but they have a fight on their hands - Monger is almost overwhelmed in the rush but decapitates one with his cleaver before being pushes back to the steps; he stabs and elbows and bites his way back to his feet and only two survive - they're later spotted swimming the channel to the safety of the far shore.
Stepping across the threshold GhostBlade feels the pressure, like she just dived into a stormy sea. Tyraxis' attention whips over to her, but she wades through it like it's nothing.
Monger was going to drag Captain Dunvil inside, but his stoic visage cracks a little and he stays outside. Fancy Frank goes up on deck to act as sentry, glad of the open skies. Gap was never going to go inside that thing.
GhostBlade's ritual is based on an attunement she received from Setarra (while they didn't want to invite her to this, they are relying on her knowledge and skills). It will identify and diffuse the danger which the larger summoning/gate-opening ritual will lay upon the Wicked Mother.
Tendrils from GhostBlade's soul, black-tinged red, erupt from her soul and clasp onto the beating demon heart. Monger throws in one of the surviving sailors and she kills him, slowly and painfully over almost an hour - every ounce of anguish the poor sailor feels feeds the connection, and on the point where his death is imminent, she cuts out and eats his heart.
She knows that from now to eternity, she will not be able to sit comfortably in the presence of a demon; she can already feel her skin itch in its presence. And then she feels another presence touch the skin of the Hotspur...
Fancy Frank sees the impossibly sleek shark demon climb aboard. Its inhuman eyes regard him as he fails to track the intrusion with his rifle. It brushes past him with its gash of a smile and he shudders as the cold goes through to his bones.
Below, Setarra points out to GhostBlade that her ritual is not as successful as she hoped - it won't allow her to change the point the Wicked Mother will appear; and that will allow their enemies to keep their significant advantage.
Setarra makes an offer to GhostBlade
-Serve me, and I will intervene to change the Wicked Mother's path into the city
That's unacceptable to GhostBlade, and as she shakes her head, Monger loosens his shoulders, readying for a confrontation. Setarra doesn't even change stance, but they're sure she notices.
-Or maybe, allow me to remain here and I will guard the captain and Tyraxis from any outside interference before your plan goes ahead. Then I will have what remains on the ship.
GhostBlade doesn't like that either, and her counter-offer of a year and a day of service after they're finished with the summoning meets with instant rejection from Setarra.
She loses patience, and moves to leave with an aggressive snarl. Fancy Frank has been wondering what's going on and is making his way down to them. He's at the top of the stairs when she's climbing up and he reacts badly to her demeanour.
He draws a pistol and aims at her, but her arm snakes out to grab at his foot and use him as a club to beat back Monger (who's lifted his cleaver). But Fancy Frank leaps back, and crawls back into the depths of the store room.
Setarra faces off Monger, who's ready to go to war, but trying to convince her it's not necessary (and that Fancy Frank's behaviour just confirms that he's an asshole). She walks away, but stops by at the corner where Fancy Frank is hiding and palms away his pistol. She leans in close to his face and whispers
-Kristov, I'll be visiting you in your dreams
The Orphans have left behind half of their Thugs and Adepts behind to guard the Hotspur and its contents while the rest of events play out - they can't leave their opponents realise that they've stolen a march on them.
The location that the Guardian of the Gates has chose for the Wicked Mother to appear is the Ankhayat Park near the Silkshore - actually their Sanctuary is just across the canal from it. Waiting for the jaws of the trap to close around the Wicked Mother is a large party - they've organised for the various community leaders of Charhollow to be there for a celebration in the park - it's the Feast of St. Natira. Posters and (limited) free food and drink have guaranteed that about a hundred people have attended.
In the centre of the park is a large gazebo, it is there where she will be summoned.
Across the city, near the Strangford Estate, the cult of She Who Slays in Darkness has a large tower block, at least half of which is given over to their activities. That morning, Fancy Frank and Gap snuck in to plant a large firebomb. It's set to go off at any moment now, and hopefully it'll forestall any reinforcements and prove a significant distraction.
The Wicked Mother appears in the centre of the gazebo, but it's obvious that she cannot pass the barrier. At that moment, a dark figure emerges from the shadows: She Who Slays in Darkness has come...
GhostBlade hurriedly enacts the ritual that she has prepared, knowing the nature of the trap they have the Wicked Mother helplessly caught in; but she needs help to do so quickly enough. Gap steps to the fore, already haunted by this upcoming Apocalypse, the Lurk stabs out his eye with his knife and grabs a smouldering coal from the grills to cauterize the wound. The effort proves to be just the agony and sacrifice the Whisper needs to fuel the ritual!
Elsewhere throughout the crowd a dozen of so acolytes of the rival cult unveil themselves and attack. Monger is waiting for them, with the remaining handful of their thugs and the fight is quick and brutal. Fancy Frank joins in, shooting as many as he can in the back before numbers start to tell. Their explosion across the city goes off, and gives them a chance to scramble into a defensive position.
However, She Who Slays in Darkness is now confronting the Wicked Mother. A flurry of slashes leaves their patron reeling, and then the coup de grace; a blade plunged into her heart - but as it goes through her heart, the blade melts! Gap has opened his soul to her, and she is feeding on his life-energy.
Monger leads the counter charge, scrambling to get through the crowd to protect the Wicked Mother; but there's no way he'll get there in time.
Fancy Frank draws a bead on She Who Slays in Darkness with his finest pistol, loaded with electroplasmic ammunition and focuses; and shoots. The round pierces the skull and the god falls to the ground. Purple energy floods from the wound, first evaporating like a mist, but then coalescing as the Wicked Mother descends upon her and consumes her rival.