The session begins with the PC's meeting with Avna, the leader of the Skin Hags, and Magosh, a representative from Jared, a Sethian city to the west. Magosh seeks to find Willip and negotiate with him for the technology to extract water from the air in the hopes of easing the effects of the drought, which is apparently effecting the Sethian lands as much as it is Nod and the surround regions.
In light of the fact that Hamish has employed us to track down and kill Willip we elect not to mention this to the Avna or Magosh and allow them to continue to assume we were simply interrogated about the events at the Crooked Inn and then released. The search for Willip is beginning to look profitable though so we pitch in and inform Avna that we're aware the Black Garrote likely has him. When Talman relays the events at the Crooked Inn from his perspective, including Marken taking Willip and fleeing the city guard, Avna is delighted to finally have a reliable lead to follow. Magosh then offers us a hefty fee to pitch in and provide Avna access to our contacts among the Black Garrote, which we readily accept.
After some discussion we decide to seek out Eisig's contact first, as he's lower down the chain of command in the Black Garrote and least likely to bring the rest of them down on our heads. With Avna and two of her Skin Hag bodyguards in tow we head out for the residence of Havilim, a mid-level soldier for the Black Garrote.
In the aftermath of the nearly city-wide water riot we find the street choked with debris (and corpses in many cases) but otherwise almost devoid of traffic. The city guard we meet along the way routinely stop to question us but don't seem interested in giving anyone a hard time. Most of them are wounded or at least greatly fatigued from the dealing with the riots last night.
Presently we reach Havilim's abode and case it for a while. Like every other slightly higher class home in the city (where the rioters expected to find private water caches) the walls surrounding the cramped yard have been breached in several places, blackened by fire and are littered here and there with the bodies of rioters who fell to the building's defenders. We're both relieved and concerned to find the front gate of the place smashed open and three armored mercenaries, likely hired to defend the place, dead on the ground just inside. Following the walk up the short steps to the front door of the place we find it bashed in as well, with bodies of rioters again laying here and there within. From where we stand in the entryway we can hear movement from the far side of the house.
Eisig motions for the others to stop and hang back while he sneaks ahead to spy things out. He manages to pass through the den and down the hall to the door to the rear yard without being detected. There he can peek around the doorframe and see his contact, Havilim, and four more mercenaries busy piling debris (including several bodies) from the house onto a raging bonfire.
Back in the den Jobina rapidly becomes bored waiting for Eisig to sneak around. She hasn't failed to notice the luscious appointments of the little house she's standing in either. A quick glance to the side and she can see a private study near to hand with what appears to be a pair of bronze candleholders sitting on a desk. Figuring there's looting to be done here (and still desperately desiring to secure something to present to the guild) she sneaks as best she can away from the group and into the study. Only Talman notices her slip away and he alerts everyone else when he whispers harshly for her to get back with the group.
Jobina waves him off and makes for the candlestick holders, cramming them in her bag while looking around for anything else of worth. She finds Beckah has joined her and the two set about working together to dig up a few odds and ends that should fetch a profit later. Talman fumes but stays on hand to back up Eisig should he require it. The Skin Hags just look eager to kill someone.
By the time Eisig returns to report what he's seen the two girls are returning to the group with their bags just a bit heavier. Talman gives them a good glare but we carry on with our plan to lay hold of Havilim. With both of Avna's bodyguards armed with slings we send them around to each corner of the house with Eisig accompanying the one heading to the northwest corner. Talman, Beckah, Jobina and Avna gather quietly near the back door and wait for us to make the first attack. Once we're in position and haven't been detected Eisig fires the first shot, signaling the two slingers to pitch in and the rest to charge out the back door.
Eisig spends three turns taking carefully aim and still manages to remain undetected. He takes a shot against the nearest mercenary, aiming to plant an arrow through his neck and dropping four Plot Point tokens on the shot. As the unaware merc is an easy target he hits just exactly hard enough to drop the mercenary with that one shot.
Eisig immediately notches another arrow and fires again, as his Initiative comes first in the lineup. He doesn't bother aiming for anything specific this time and just lets loose at the next nearest mercenary, notches again and lets loose a second time. His first arrow lands and pierces the mercenary's leather armor but the second hares off.
Talman takes his cue from the ruckus outside and charges out with his broadsword ready to strike. He elects to run rather than sprint so not to bring himself in range of attack without any actions left.
Beckah, Jobina and Avna all follow suit, running toward the group of mercenaries but not quite putting themselves in range of attack.
Avna's two bodyguards finally pitch in and sling their stones toward the mercs, each picking targets closest to them. Neither lands a hit but do at least contribute to the mayhem.
Havilim surprises us all by jumping and dashing for the pile of debris near the wall, climbing clumsily up it with the clear intention of scaling the wall and escaping down the alleyway.
The mercenaries all seem to be the quick thinking and loyal kind. They draw swords and drop back to cover Havilim, putting the bonfire between us and them.
Eisig again cuts loose with two shots, this time shooting at Havilim in the hopes of knocking him off that pile. He aims for his legs, adding +4 to the difficulty of his shots but Havilim can't dodge while climbing with his back to Eisig so must rely on innate defense. One shot hits and renders that leg useless. Havilim fails an Endurance check and tumbles back down the debris pile.
Talman continues running forward to flank the north most mercenary, forcing the others to move around if they wish to attack him. Considering that we outnumber our opponents and have already killed one this doesn't come near his idea of a glorious death in battle so he fights smart, making one attack against his target and saving his remaining actions for dodges. His blow lands well, badly wounding the merc.
Beckah is armed only with her pick-knife so she wisely opts to back up Talman and dashes for his side. She likewise makes one attack, saving her remaining actions for defense considering there are still three mercenaries close at hand. The mercenary dodges her attack.
Jobina follows Beckah's example and sprints around to Talman's far side to cover his flank there.
Avna is next in initiative and runs for the mercenary south of Havilim. She doesn't quite reach him this turn.
Avna's two bodyguards both run up a bit to put the mercenaries still visible to them within close range. They fire off again at their targets. Only one hits, smacking the mercenary Talman is engaged with, but only bruising him slightly through his armor.
Havilim takes to his feet again but finds he's unable to climb the debris pile with an arrow stuck in his leg. He cowers near the wall hoping his bodyguards can repel the attackers.
The mercenary facing Talman is badly wounded and has used up all his actions on dodging so he falls back to the wall behind the next closest merc's flank. He in turn steps forward to engage Talman and attacks. Talman successfully dodges.
With the final mercenary facing an axe-wielding, bald headed, tattooed Skin Hag charging at him screaming, he bravely elects to meet her head on and jumps forward. Avna dodges his attack easily.
Having such good luck with his bow so far, Eisig sticks with it and steps up to let two more arrows fly at the only clear target he has, the merc facing Avna. He hits both times and pierces the leather armor enough to draw blood.
Talman is now facing only one man, with the first out of action and the other dealing with Avna. He lets loose with everything he's got on his opponent, cutting the man down with three strokes.
Beckah and Jobina are both acting in concert so they leap over the fallen merc to flank the one facing Avna. They each attack once after the short run and drop the man dead before Avna can even make her first attack. Which doesn't please her one bit.
With his comrades dead, his employer hobbled and himself badly wounded the remaining merc throws down his sword and surrenders while Havilim begins begging for his life before we've even turned to deal with him. Before we can however, Avna launches into a screaming fit at Jobina and Beckah for dropping her opponent before she could slay him.
Beckah remains reticent, trying to calm Avna, but Jobina is in full battle-fury and snaps right back at her. In moments the rest of us are required to separate the two before it comes to blows. Avna finally breaks off with a fierce promise to kill anyone (glaring directly at Jobina) who interferes in her battles again. When she stomps off back to her bodyguards our attempts to redirect Jobina result in her stalking over to stab the wounded mercenary in the neck to ease her fury. Beckah at least stays on task and we set her to interrogating Havilim concerning Willip's whereabouts. The rest of us decide leaving Jobina alone for a bit might be a good idea.
When Havilim hesitates at revealing where Marken has taken Willip, Beckah pours on the pressure by making use of the arrow sticking through his leg. Havilim starts singing soon enough and we're directed to a compound across town deep in Black Garrote territory. There we are told Marken delivered Willip directly to Uri, leader of the Black Garrote.
We leave immediately and begin the long hike across the city to the northeast quarter. Here we find the Black Garrote and the Dockrats have apparently teamed together to protect this portion of the city from the riots last night as we can see small mixed bands of both on several street corners. The signs of looting, destruction and general mayhem are still evident here and there but far less so than in the rest of the city. Having cleaned up a bit before leaving we're able to blend in with the scattered crowds in the streets and pass into the quarter without drawing attention to ourselves.
Before we've gotten too far we're suddenly confronted with an attractive woman dressed in fine wool and seemingly solid gold pins in her hair. Jobina immediately draws up short with a gasp and the rest of us take notice. The woman then addresses Jobina and orders her to follow, which she does without so much as an explanation to the rest of us. When we chime in, demanding her identity and just what's going on we finally get her attention. Yet we can see Jobina standing behind the woman, plainly warning us off from challenging her. When Avna beats us all to the punch and threatens the woman to explain herself or take a hand axe to the skull the woman simply smiles and instructs Jobina to, "Bring your friends along as well." At Jobina's warning look we finally let the matter drop for the moment and tag along, wondering who this woman is who has her so intimidated.
Around the corner and down the street a couple of blocks we come to small eatery occupying the corner. In and around this shop a veritable army of mercenaries lounge about, bearing the badges of no less than three separate groups. Along the two neighboring streets on the opposite sides small pockets of Black Garrote soldiers are gathered and the two forces eye one another menacingly even as we pass through into the shop. Considering there's an small army of mercs not in the employ of the Black Garrote camped out in the northeast quarter the animosity is not at all surprising.
Inside the establishment we're surprised to find well over two dozen very attractive young women scurrying about the place tending to several more. Those in turn all appear to have been wounded and occupy cots and makeshift beds scattered about the place. We follow Jobina and the strange woman through the dining hall and into the back rooms where we at last come to a halt before four more attractive older women, each with a rather disturbingly keen eye and authoritative manner. Clearly these are the leaders of whatever rabble we've stumbled into.
As we stand about ignored completely Jobina launches into an explanation concerning why she's so far behind in paying her dues and we finally realize we're dealing with the Black Widows. The woman in charge here waves off Jobina's excuses and instructs her to report concerning the events at the Crooked Inn last week, most especially the man known as Willip. In due course she's laid out the details, calling on the rest of us to support her statements and fill in the blanks on things she didn't witness herself.
The woman then informs Jobina (and the rest of us secondhand) that the Black Garrote leadership hosted a huge celebration just two days after that incident, featuring the requisite drunken orgy which the Black Widows were happy to thoroughly infiltrate with their own agents. The celebration was rumored to concern Uri having tortured information from the man called Willip concerning a magical water fountain in the cliffs outside the city somewhere. The party was supposed to kick off an expedition to the cliffs to secure that fountain and the never-ending source of water it represented. The Black Widows naturally nipped that in the bud by slaughtering Uri, his bodyguards and every drunken Black Garrote in the compound while they slept.
Which leads to the current predicament. The Black Widows have been chased down and cornered here, now forced to occupy this building in the middle of hostile territory surrounded by Black Garrote soldiers who outnumber them three to one (counting the mercenaries they've hired at the last minute). The Black Widow leadership now trapped here face the inevitable assault once the opposing force reorganizes, assuming they don't simply outbid them with the mercenaries and turn their own forces against them. With that pronouncement we're casually informed that we're all drafted into the defense and Jobina is seized by two burly looking women to be dragged into another room and punished for failing to pay her dues.
During the course of all this Beckah has caught the golden-pinned woman eyeing her appraisingly and this has led to a stare down between the two of them which has been slowly escalating the whole while. When the Black Widow leader makes her judgment Beckah calmly announces she intends to walk right out of here and anyone who tries to stop had better be ready to fight. Talman and Eisig, ever impulsive, are immediately on board with that idea. To which the golden-pinned lady pulls two pins from her hair and twirls them about, clearly ready to tackle Beckah personally.
Before a fight can break out there's a commotion in the dining hall and a young Black Widow pops in to report that a small band of Black Garrote are in the street demanding to speak with them. The eldest and most senior Black Widow waves us all out of her way as if we didn't just prepare to start a fight and glides gracefully past us outside. The golden-pin woman thankfully follows (with a sneer at Beckah in parting) and even the two burly women drop Jobina to scurry after. Not wanting to be out of the loop and a little tired already of everything happening without us we all tag along as well to find the women deep in negotiations with three Black Garrote lieutenants in the street outside.
As the negotiations proceed Jobina finds she's still sore about being manhandled by the burly Black Widow enforcers and the threat of flogging by her superiors. Judging from the glare in the golden-pinned woman's direction Beckah is spoiling for a fight with her as well. Talman meanwhile is itching to fight anyone and everyone consider there's practically a handful of small armies at hand all ready to throw down at the drop of a hat, which presents the possibility of fulfilling his Death Wish complication. Eisig is the only one not interested in a fight, wanting nothing more at the moment than to get a look at the magic fountain up in the cliffs outside of town.
We're all (except Eisig) a bit disappointed when it begins to look as if an agreement is being come to. With the Black Garrote badly weakened by the loss of most of their senior leadership and the Black Widows being weak by comparison to begin with, it would behoove both parties to forgo fighting any longer or risk some other organization taking advantage of it. As the subject of partnership in securing Willip's fountain is tentatively broached Avna surprised everyone by breaking in and demanding a spot in this coalition for the Skin Hags. Though the Black Garrote leader openly scoffs at the idea the Black Widow elder reminds him that the Skin Hags may have just been elevated to a respectable threat by their own now weakened condition. Further, equal share in a infinitely flowing fountain is still an infinite portion and neither party will suffer by adding a third group to the mix.
Eventually an agreement is forged and the three parties join forces. Avna immediately sends her two bodyguards off the rouse the Skin Hags, seemingly relying on us for protection while they're away. Avna noticeably fails to mention the foreigners who've hired her gang on and we likewise don't bring up the subject. From the smirk she tosses in our direction it would seem she has a scheme brewing.
As the Black Garrote and Black Widows gather around the commanders of their armed forces to reorganize things we finally spot a very broken looking Willip shackled in the back of a wagon down the street, surrounded by several Black Garrote soldiers. We later see him transferred into the temporary headquarters the Black Garrote are setting up for themselves down the street.
With the two forces joined together and organizing things for an expedition to the cliffs outside the city we have a couple of days to rest and make preparations ourselves. When the Black Garrote's supplies make themselves available we leap at the chance to secure some quality weaponry and (at last!) some leather armor and shields. Once we've geared up and topped off our supplies it's late evening so we head for the small shop where the Black Widows have headquartered. There we find Avna already meeting with a couple of her lieutenants and moving to stake claim to a small apartment complex down the street. When Skin Hags and their enforcers start arriving late that night, turning out the residents of the apartment complex onto the street, we move into our own private room there.
The following day we keep our activities light in order to shake off some stun damage and hopefully drop a Wound or two as well. During the day the Skin Hag ranks have swelled to over forty and represent about a quarter of the total force that will be marching out. When it occurs to ask why Hamish hasn't sent his troops in to quell the insurrection going on here in the northeast quarter we discover that he has been gathering his entire army in one of the cities bordering the lands of the Seth for the last two weeks. As such Enoch is largely protected only by the city guard, which itself has been reduced in strength as many of it's members having been folded over into the army. Naturally the various criminal organizations in the city have been taking advantage of this, which unfortunately includes the rioters tearing up half the city recently.
On the evening of the second day we're called out to the intersection where the three forces have converged to meet and discuss the upcoming expedition. The entire meeting soon proves ultimately to be nothing more than an opportunity for the three groups to brawl, drink and generally integrate with one another. A huge block party, essentially.
We take advantage of that to mingle and make some contacts in all three groups and gather what other information we might be behind on. It would seem we've missed a lot while we were held up in Hamish's fortress.
During the course of this one of the mid-level Black Widows approaches us and Jobina is informed that a rather scruffy looking Black Garrote lieutenant has expressed interest in her. She recommends that Jobina spend the evening with him, insinuating that this might provide an opportunity to pay her dues. The lieutenant in question is known to wear fine jewelry and Jobina could lay claim to some of it while he sleeps if she's quite careful.
Though Jobina is eager to pay her dues and avoid the punishment her superiors have thankfully seemed to forgotten about for the moment, she isn't particularly eager to spend the evening with some Black Garrote thug. When the lieutenant in question pops up a moment later, Jobina's superior officer pours on the charm and makes introductions. To everyone's surprise Talman steps in, claiming that Jobina is his for the night and that the thug can piss off. While the Black Garrote lieutenant blusters Jobina's officer points out to Talman that her services are likely more than he can afford. He doesn't come across as someone with any amount of free coin at hand.
When Talman asks the thug if he has the coin to afford Jobina's services for the night and he responds that he certainly does, Talman simply shrugs and assures the Black Widow officer that he'll have the coin on hand in a moment. With that he draws his broadsword and takes the Black Garrote lieutenant by surprise.
With the lieutenant as an Easy target for the moment, Talman drops 2 Plot Point tokens on the strike and aims for the head. His Out of Luck complication kicks in but the reroll is even higher so his first strike lands true, gashing the lieutenant viciously across the face. To Talman's surprise the incredible strike not only doesn't decapitate the man, it doesn't even drop him.
The Black Garrote officer takes the Initiative and draws his own sword. He levels a massive furry of quick strikes against Talman that make it clear that Talman may have bitten off more than he can chew. All four slashes land despite Talman dodging three of them, displaying some truly intimidating swordsmanship. Thankfully the lieutenant rolls low on Wound damage but it's still enough to drop Talman dead already.
Talman immediately takes his Second Wind for the day, having had no Stun damage earlier and not needing it then. This puts him exactly one point shy of his total Life Points in wounds and stun. He then levels every attack he can, hoping to kill his opponent before he can attack again, dropping all six of his remaining Plot Point tokens on the first strike. After three dodges this leaves him only two attacks.
Talman's first strike hits hard, piercing the Black Garrote officer through his armor and dropping him instantly. Unfortunately Talman also botches his second attack and his broadsword is now stuck fast in the dying officer's chest plate just when every Black Garrote thug within a hundred yards catches wise to what's going on.
With the possibility that every Black Garrote in the area is about to come down on Talman's head, Jobina calls Widow's rights and lays claim to Talman. Claiming Talman as her client for the evening thus renders him untouchable to the other Black Widows and they're likewise compelled to defend him (technically until Jobina robs and/or kills him herself but that's beside the point).
By now of course everyone's already good and drunk. As the Black Garrote thugs nearby surge forward to rail against Talman and draw swords several Black Widows are already ordering nearby mercenaries in their employ to defend Talman and Jobina. Eisig and Beckah likewise decide to be team players for a moment and draw blades, jumping to Talman's flank (who's still at 1 Life Point and struggling to get his broadsword out of the dead lieutenant). Avna and the Skin Hags naturally hang back to enjoy the show.
In due course someone is bold enough to strike at someone else somewhere out of sight in the mass of angry people and we find ourselves in an all-out battle in the street. The various leaders and lieutenants on both sides yell for everyone to calm down and stop fighting until they realize no one's listening, then change tactics in order to seize the advantage. They start organizing their furious drunken troops and issuing battle orders.
As we're thankfully at the edge of the raging conflict we work together to grab Talman and drag him away from the mess before some Black Garrote breaks through and kills him. He resists a bit, having finally found the glorious battle his Death Wish has been looking for but Eisig smacks him one time in the head (dropping 2 Plot Point tokens on the hit). Surprisingly, he fails his Endurance check and Eisig has knocked him out cold. We then drag him quickly back toward the Skin Hag headquarters and are grateful to find the Hags flank and cover us in the process.
While we work together to tend to Talman we're surprised when Avna pops up and congratulates us, apparently assuming we set the whole thing up. We're on hand to witness her issue orders to her enforcers to engage the two groups battling down the street once their numbers dwindle down to a more manageable level. Within the hour the slaughter has escalated to the point where the Skin Hags can jump in. As they do so we realize none of them are drunk and are well-organized for a fight. It would seem Avna had anticipated the night's events.
By sunup Talman is conscious again and one of the Skin Hags has been kind enough to retrieve his sword for him. Both the Black Garrote and Black Widows have been routed from the area and the Skin Hags have laid siege to the building where Willip is being kept. Just an hour later we spy Hags on the rooftop tossing archers off the sides to their deaths and cheering their victory down to their sisters below. Willip is brought out, still shackled, and dragged before Avna for questioning.
Besides all that Jobina has managed to secure Talman's pouch of gold coins while he was unconscious. That in addition to her own wealth finally gives her enough coin to catch up dues to the guild. While she's relieved to have finally collected enough to pay her dues as well as having done so in an appropriate manner (by Black Widow reckoning) it's disappointing that there's no one on hand to turn the coin over to. All the Black Widows in the area are dead.
Jobina spends the day tending to Talman, ostensibly out of gratitude for his very flattering behavior last night but in reality to keep him too distracted to realize she's robbed him. Beckah spends the day looting the corpses for coin and jewelry and Eisig is at Avna's side to witness Willip's interrogation, being obsessed with the magical water machine everyone's so interested in.
[Jobina purchases 4 Skill Points, increases her Pick-Knife specialty skill to d12 and purchases the Shield general skill at d2]
[Talman purchases 2 Skill Points and increases his Broadsword speciality skill to d12]
[Beckah purchases 4 Skill Points, increases her Pick-Knife specialty skill to d8 and her Dodge specialty skill to d12]
[Eisig purchases 2 Skill Points and increases his Throwing specialty skill to d10]
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