Something Wicked This Way Comes
2nd of Valiance, 6th Year of Factol Jamis’s Reign
The group has managed (somehow) to successfully complete a mission! There are still questions about that mysterious tiefling, Ghieena (Crown Guard still assumes that there is something dreadfully wrong about her), but they largely take a day off to relax and enjoy the spoils of winning. Speaking of Crown Guard, he makes a mysterious deal with a demon named Shivam, who has followed the group to Sigil. After taking a relaxing day-off, the group decides that the unfinished business with Pelchskull should be investigated. A bladeling named Jidika has been looking into his murder, and has been looking for our heroes to see what they know.
Knowing that dealing with the Minder’s Guild is often dicey when one side tends to negotiate with one hand holding a weapon, Crown Guard asks for some help from a Sons of Mercy factotum, Haster Mensen. He arranges a meeting between the Jidika and the group so that words (rather than swords) can be drawn. Present are:
Crown Guard, who is going to pin this whole thing on Ghieena somehow.
Soliloquy, who is going to spend half this write-up reading.
Santher, whom the dabus are now imitating (There’s a joke in there. It’s something about Santher being strange and your mom’s a whore).
Captain Lu, who hasn’t met a murder that won’t stop him from investigating a bar.
Upon arriving at a Sons of Mercy hangout (complete with Sons of Mercy backup, should the need arise), the PCs find themselves across the table from a grim dwarf cutter named Narcovi. A sodkiller herself, she immediately starts grilling them heavily on their recent movements.
“Where were you yesterday? Two nights before? Three? When were you last to the Beastlands? Describe your “journey” with Pelchskull.”
She inscribes some of these details in her notebook. She refuses to answer questions about this meeting and what this is about… but where is Jidika? Isn’t she whom they were supposed to meet here?
After about an hour of brutal questions, Narcovi stands up to leave. “Stay in the Cage cutters, we want to know where to find you.”
Captain Lu protests, “And wha’ ‘xactly should stop us from leavin’ the Cage?”
Norcovi glares back at him: “Well cutter, the dark of it is that Factotum Jidika is no longer with us; someone put her in the dead-book last night. And you’re all prime suspects. If you’re telling the truth, then take my advice and keep your head low.”
Afterwards, Haster fills in some of the gaps that Narvoci didn’t mention.
“There’s been a string of murders this last week. Of course, there’s sadly nothing unusual with a berk losing his head in the Cage, but if these murders are bothering the Sellswords then it’s probably serious.”
Haster doesn’t know the specifics of the murders; he’s not investigating after all, and no one from the Martyrs has been involved. Luckily, someone shows up who does.
A well-defined humanoid with perfectly coifed hair, silver eyes, and a slightly green tint to his skin steps into the room. “Indeed.” Soliloquy recognizes him as the factor of the [[Mind’s Eye]] named Itheros (a Zenythri). “I would speak with you.”
Itheros cuts to the dark of it; the chant that the Mind’s Eye is hearing indicates that an incident in their past is likely the source of this chaos.
“As some of you may know, before her Grace expelled us from Sigil, the Mind’s Eye did not exist," says Itheros. “We were comprised of two factions: The Believers of the Source, and the Sign of One. The Believers of the Source – similar to the Mind’s Eye today – believed that we can all achieve god-hood; if we challenge ourselves, we will be reincarnated into a more powerful form, eventually reaching the level of the gods. Our… the… past Factol of the Godsmen – Ambar Vergrove – set about a plan to help individuals along the path to godhood. It was known as Harbringer House.”
The Zenythril continues. “Harbringer house is a place where the Godsmen brought individuals who they believed had the “spark” of godhood. Some of the individuals that were brought to the house were more… cooperative… than others. When her Grace expelled us from Sigil, our new Factol – Ombidias – made the decision that the experiment was a failure. The inhabitants were released, and the key to the structure – the Planarity – was hidden away on Pandemonium. We have been recently informed that this is no longer the case."
The Zenythril pauses momentarily. “We believe that Harbringer House lies in the centre of all of this. We seek a deal; we believe that some of the former inhabitants of Harbringer House are behind the murders that have been occurring within the city. We have been charged with tracking down the Planarity to once again seal the structure behind us. Because of this, we do not have the manpower to track down the killer. Especially because of the gruesome nature of this case, we would prefer that this business does not soil the good name of the Mind’s Eye. We seek a group that can put a stop to whomever is killing these individuals while keeping the who business in the dark. We have heard of your success in freeing Vartus Timlin, and believe that you therefore might be the ones to aid us."
The group nervously laughs between themselves; they considered the incident with Timlin to be a failure, but perhaps not every faction has seen it that way. They agree to a hefty sum for tracking down the killer (as per the Planebuster Charter, 1002g; a sum divisible by 6), and get the chant on the string of killings.
There have been seven individuals murdered thus far that draw attention:
- 17th of Passion: Old Favur (male human), member of the Mind’s Eye, and former custodian of the Harbringer House, killed near his former place of employment.
- 17th of Passion (same day): Pelchskull (male human), Xaositect, killed by a poisoned arrow while in Sodkiller custody).
- 18th of Passion: Vienna (female bariaur), member of the Athar, killed in a faction residence near the Shattered Temple.
- 19th of Passion: Lini (female Wilden), namer of the [[Mind’s Eye]], killed in a bar called the Ascension.
- 20th of Passion: Fassa (male human), member of the Fraternity of Order, killed in one of the Court’s libraries.
- 21st of Passion: Keluk the Grey (male githzari), another Athar, killed in the Parted Veil Bookshop (found in the Shattered Temple District).
- 1st of Valiance (yesterday): Jidika (female bladeling), Sodkiller; killed on Harmonium Street near City Barracks.
With several crime scenes to visit, Captain Lu suggests going to check out the murder of the Wilden, Lini; it’s the most likely place to serve him a drink.
“Just one more thing…”
note: the following is an attempt at summing up the investigation. Players took notes about what they found/did not find, and it is that which should be referred to.
The players start with the fourth victim, the Wilden Lini. The Ascension, a drinking establishment run by a Githyanki known as Julius the Ninth Test. As it’s still morning in the Cage, the only activity going on in the place is a fairly typical delivery. A dabus hangs in one spot of the pub, scrubbing away at a spot on the floor. Lu orders the house special (ethereal ale: the drink that evaporates on the tongue), and starts asking the cutter some questions about Lini.
The group is told that Lini was a prime, whom Julius had taken in. He felt she was too wild, and needed some guidance. She took a keen shining to the philosophy of the Mind’s Eye, and began to work for Julius at his establishment. She was closing the place up alone when she was brutally murdered; Julius found her when the bar opened. He let (the now deceased) Jidika handle the investigation, but he does mention a few details. Lini was found with several slashes across her chest, although Julius does not know what weapon exactly caused them (he’s no doctor). He does remember there being a note pinned to her chest however, which the PCs would eventually learn read “Chaos is the only law, washed clean in the blood of order”.
The dabus was busy scrubbing in a spot near where Lini was killed; Soliloquy finds an lingering aura of evil emanating from the spot.
They group next checks the site of the sixth murder, where the Athar Monk (and Githzerai) named Keluk the Gray was found. The bookshop is pretty much what one would expect of an Athar-run establishment, filled wall to wall with screed and propaganda decrying the “so-called gods” that run around the multiverse begging to be worshiped. A small mess and an overturned table indicate the spot where Keluk was murdered.
The owner, a gnome named Kesto Brighteyes, is quite distraught over the whole affair (he had his store closed for a full day) but allows the PCs to investigate. He tells them that Keluk was killed by a bladed weapon and had a note on him, but Kesto didn’t examine either so he can’t properly comment. Jidika had already picked over the crime scene, but the PCs do find a footprint faintly made from talc powder under a fallen book. They question Kesto about Keluk, and find that he was doing some research; Crown Guard is suspicious about why Kesto would allow a “stranger” to be in his establishment alone, but Kesto affirms that Keluk may have been a (relatively) new member, but he felt he could trust him. Soliloquy borrows some Athar reading material, to the gnome’s delight.
On their way to the courts, a group of men dressed in amber and silver robes step through from a portal near the PCs. They cheerfully ask for directions to Bloodgem Park. When questioned about why they wish to go there, one of the men replies, “We’ve heard the words of Trolan and have fallen in love with the Lady. Now we’ve come to show her our love and devotion.”
Most of the party takes a healthy step back; worshiping the Lady of Pain is on the “do not do ever” list of things that a cutter does if they wish to live to see a ripe old age while in Sigil. Crown Guard attempts to threaten them into going back into the portal to wherever they’re from, but Captain Lu steps in front of him and gives them some directions as to hwo to reach their destination. They may be barmy, but a berk has a right to decide his or her path in life, even if the end result is virtual “suicide”.
The party then heads to Sigil’s courts to investigate the murder of the Guvner Fassa. Getting into the murder scene takes some work; two Sodkillers bar entrance to anyone who doesn’t have the permission of Quinn Eyestone. After some negotiation, the party passes some jink (40g) into their hands in order to pass.
The scene is perhaps the most bizarre yet; four dabus are scrubbing all corners of the room (including the ceiling). Like the one they met at the Ascension bar, here doesn’t appear to be any “mess”. In one corner, furniture and books are piled. A man behind them describes the scene.
“They’ve been at it since the body was removed three days ago.”
Turning around, the PCs see Quinn Eyestone himself, and two flushed Sodkillers. “I’ve never seen the dabus behave like this, cleaning the same spots over and over. It doesn’t bode well for the Cage, I fear. But enough about our silent friends. Do you have business here?”
Our heroes explain their mission, and Quinn tells them everything he knows. The victim, Fassa, was here late at night exploring a particularly tricky axiom (his attempts to describe it go right over everyone’s head). The body was found in the morning by custodial staff. Quinn noted that Fassa was found with a look of terror, and had precisely four cuts in his chest, and with a note that contained the same passage (“Chaos is the only law, washed clean in the blood of order”). In regards to the dabus, Quinn tells them that they’ve been coming by every two hours to clean and scrub. He doesn’t know why, but fears that (since the dabus are a reflection of the Her Serenity’s will) this dreadful string of murders are a prelude to an event that might shake Sigil itself.
Soliloquy notices that one of the dabus is intently cleaning away from the others; examining his work, she notices that he is dusting a book (over and over) titled “Powers and Demigods”. Opening it, she finds some blood on the chapter titled “Divine Ascension”. She asks Quinn to borrow the tome, hoping to see if there are any clues inside as to the murderer’s motives.
Murder, Lunch, and then more Murder
On their way to have some lunch (to allow Soliloquy time to pour over her new reading material), the group once again encounters a group of humanoids in amber and silver robes, this time being harassed by some of the locals. It’s quite apparent that these “cultists” who worship the Lady of Pain are causing a disturbance, and some are trying to take measures to make sure that they make it clear to Her Grace that they actively oppose such worship. Crown Guard steps in to make sure that the cultists aren’t harmed, and aside from a few taunts (“don’t know why anyone would want to protect some barmy who’s penning their own name in the dead-book”) they allow the cultists to head to Bloodgem Park.
Captain Lu brings them to one of his hang-outs, the “Square Bar”. Soliloquy tries seeing if there is any ritual that the “Powers and Demigods” book lists as being related to these murders. Sadly, nothing comes up; there are certainly rituals that involve sacrifice, but there isn’t anything that necessarily ties these killings together. As they group is relaxing when they overhear a group of four Athar talking about the murders. They’re obviously uptight; they’ve lost two of their kin, and are worried about losing a third. Santher and Crown Guard strike up a conversation, and hear some rumours (some fantastical, some chant they already know), but nothing that is especially revelatory.
As they’re heading to another crime scene, the group sudden finds themselves surrounded by a large group of Indeps. They charge the group as having stolen from a distressed lady, and seek to teach them a lesson. Drawing weapons (swords, maces, and clubs) they charge the party. The fight starts off somewhat sketchy, with some of the more skilled members pushing Lu into some a clump of razor vine, but Soliloquy uses her magic to ensnare the attackers on the dreaded weed herself. From there, it doesn’t take long for the group to push back their attackers.
Putting the fear into one of the Free Leaguers, Captain Lu demands what the dark is behind their attack. The terrified human tells it straight: they were told by an crying blonde woman that the group had stolen some of her possessions. The description (much to Crown Guard’s chagrin) does not match the tiefling Ghieena. In fact, the description doesn’t match anyone they’ve met, and that can only mean one thing: Someone doesn’t like the Planebuster’s investigating these killings.
With few clues and a lot more mysteries: who’s killing these people? Why? Is there a connection to the cultists? Who doesn’t want them sticking their noses into this dark? And how does it all tie into Harbinger House?
Those answers will have to wait until another day…
Of course Ghieena wouldn’t do it herself. She knows there’s too much of a chance of us beating the information out of our attackers. She wasn’t taking the chance so she sent someone else to send these guys after us.
Most master villains work from the background after all.
That’s more or less how the Captain remembers it all going down. However he’d also point out two of the “fanciful rumours” overheard at lunch were possible signs relating to the lady cut into (some) of the bodies, and Factor Quinn Eyestone beefind up his personal security enough to get the tounges wagging. Both could just be chatter, but it’s worth keeping an eye open as we check the remaining sites.
Also, the phrase that’s been pinned (as far as we know) to most/all of the bodies was an old one made famous by Prince Zaskangi (sp?) – a fairly notorious ancient serial killer.