Monday, August 29, 2016

And Another

And a third session.

People of Interest:
Dom Poe, a strong and cruel brute.
Aria Noir, a tiny thief who wants to take over the world.
Alice Lepidoptera, a runaway princess of some faroff jungle monarchy.

People Met:
Brady Katz, a friendly ginger bartender.

One wooden lockbox, containing:
A picture of Jenny Bones and the mysterious assailant, dated five years ago.
A latex nose.
Pearl earrings and a pearl necklace
Two notes saying "I'm sorry", "It's okay."

One cleaver and one boning knife.
Files on Zitia Chrime and Fernando Du Sade.
Really cool fashion!

The assailant's fingers.

After Aria tried to fix Dom's damaged shoulder with vodka before Brady intervened with proper medical equipment, they decided to figure out exactly what is inside the mysterious wooden lockbox they stole from Jenny Bones in the first session; it turned out to be a lot of suggestive stuff. A nose that's obviously Jenny's, an old photograph of her and someone wearing the assailant's distinctive spiked boots, money with attached apologies. Sinister. The party felt temporarily bad about stealing a disfigured woman's prosthetics, then they moved on with their lives.

What followed was a lot of shopping in faux-Goodwill and faux-Cabellas. Aria ended up trading in her ruined cape for "a modest shawl in gold-trimmed black with matching veiled hat, leg armor done in dull steel: sabatons with false clawed toes and a talon heel; thighs, calves honeycombed with metal hexagons"; Alice went for "a flouncy plunging collar and sleeves of delicate periwinkle lace over a sort of silvered chainmail leotard;" Dom got pants and shoes, keeping the bar apron he got.
Then they got weapons: a recurve bow and archery training set, a switchblade, and lead-lined gloves, respectively.

After shopping, they wandered back to The Yellow Sign bar. The party then broke up to do different tasks.

Alice worked the investigation angle, actively listening for local rumor that might be pertinent to their investigation. This kind of worked.
A duo who got increasingly drunk were one-upping one another about unsettling body parts: the first was claiming they saw someone throw fingers into the bay while a girl in red ran away, while the second said he saw a bloated body with a face that had collapsed in on itself and was covered in smoking sores. Alice asked a little more about this, found out that the guy saw the body before dawn, and also saw an ambulance that was the wrong shape showing up before he could get a call out retrieve the body.

Aria worked the criminal angle, going after people's money. She flirted with a dude first, then subtly picked wallets on her way to the women's restroom. She got a couple hundred dollars total, four credits cards, and a driver's license. She apparently didn't feel bad at all stealing from an activist.

Dom worked the employment angle, going to the bar's co-owner Yan and mostly listening to the guy talk while getting a job application. It was revealed that Dom does in fact have a last name, and that last name is Poe.

The party then reconvened after spending hours in the bar and only buying one drink, much to the non-Brady Katz bartender's increasing impatience. They left and ended up getting an inexpensive hostel room to stay at, using a stolen credit card to pay for about two weeks.
Alice decided to get up early at dawn to take a winding walk through the streets of The Ward of Sleeping Fish. It was a beautiful dawn, spoiled only by the fact she went right by Viper House collections and tried to follow an agent who went out into the early morning city.

The agent then ran back into Viper House after recognizing Alice from being around the day before, around when that false bomb went off. She fled back into the collections house, yelling about spies, and Alice was left with no resort but to go back to her friends. Aria, however, was intrigued by the possibility of working for another collections agency, decided to go to the only non-residential space on Cobra Street: a liquor store.
Any mention of collections agencies greatly upset the salesperson, who asserted everyone in the business was ruthless and a bunch of assholes, but said he could get her a meeting later.

While the session was winding down, with both lodging and employment accounted for, Alice wanted to check for feasible places that could be the 'rooftops' mentioned by her assailant. Reasonably the party thought a belltower in a really old church was likely, and went there before being stopped by a croaky-voiced individual.

Monday, August 15, 2016


In a town center, off a side street just barely around the corner from bustling productivity, there is a house at the end of a tiny alleyway. This house is huge, rambling, creaking, made of clay bricks and cyclopian stones and huge heavy tiles and dark-stained wood panels. It has a hundred windows and two dozen chimneys, three front doors and a veranda that counts as a street on its own. It has doors that go into other buildings, but only open one way. It is the size of a whole district but does not take up significant space. Its belltower blocks out the sun in daytime and the moon in nighttime.

At night this house is lit up like a furnace. Cats bask on its roofs and windowsills for warmth; moths flutter around its chimneys, chasing light; a corps of Kanalsknechts in waterproof oilskins slosh in the house’s waterways; twice as many staff in clay masks maintain the house’s integrity. Everything smells like woodsmoke and coalsmoke and ash.

The house takes in three whole carriages of food every dusk, and exports a dozen tightly-sealed steel barrel every dawn. These drums are sold at a midnight auction, always to the same twelve people. Subsequently, the barrels disappear.

There is exactly one map detailing the house’s layout. It goes unused and sun-faded in a glass case in the vast attic.

The owners of this house are nine smoke-sorcerers of ill repute:

Haunt, may or may not be Forgiven in disguise. Unforgivable asshole, fair and blonde and blue-eyed, hands sewn together at the palms in a mockery of sanctity—this does not impair them, they have a bubbling belt of flesh at their hips that can form limbs and swells whenever they speak. It may burst one day. Dotes on Apathe in hopes of kindling love.

Isolat, deceptively quiet. Keeps constant sheets of smoke underneath their skin and between their body parts, able to fold themselves into essentially taking up no space. No one can explain how this actually works. Missing their left-hand middle finger, their right big toe, both their ears, portions of their scalp, and at least half of their teeth at any given time; they are wagering these parts against Toothchild in a high-stakes bet.

Forgiven, may or may not be Haunt in disguise. Very particular smoke-sorcerer, all kinds of sustaining wards and scented bandages to cover rotting putrid fetid body-horror and a very active brain. Their smoke is their cells and every instance of sorcery strips away more tissue layers, but they have inconceivable prescience over what that smoke experiences as an extension of themselves.

Toothchild, all smog-oozing sores and huge pores and a bare back like a toad’s. Youngest but the most hateful. May split their limbs into thinner, weaker ones; the same goes for their eyes and their teeth which are too numerous to count and crowd all the way down into the child’s guts. Knows every possible language, is very smug about this talent. Is wagering their heart against Isolat in a high-stakes bet.

Brine, like a wet cat made to walk on its hind legs: bandy-legged, stringy, glaring. Crusted over with foul stinking salt, eyes red-rimmed. Stolen mouths and throats adorn their forearms and talk all in unison and belch heavy clouds of smoke as a medium for sorcery. Survives only on a diet of tears—in desperate times saltwater will suffice.

Bittern Bitten, sold their peace of mind at a bargain price, then sold their future for a premium. Routinely writes up extensive information about themselves only to promptly burn it in a cage in their lungs; this is extremely convenient since the ink is purloined magic and the information itself confusing for the things tracking them down. Has running bets with Spittle.

Spittle, carries a lantern made from his own skull and carries his eyes and desiccated brains in a free hand. Stomach enchanted to carry oil rather than gastric acid, able to expectorate messy gouts of flame. Has the best memory out of all the smoke-sorcerers but extorts favors from them in exchange.

Apathe, who sleeps and in that sleep conjures up hopes in the form of oily, pungent smoke. These hopes inevitably take the approximate shape of Apathe themselves, forget their purpose, and continue maintaining the sleeping body that dreamed them. Fairly harmless.

Heckser, the most terrible among them all. Majordomo of the Lodge of Death, dabbles in poor decision-making and excessive drug consumption. Is actually a hollowed out skin filled with a stew of different smoke sorceries; this has led to Heckser becoming bizarre, present in different forms in different places. A sort of ur-magic user, an essential notion present in smoke itself.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Unclean Things

I write about the devil a lot.

In the approximate center of a flat heath or bog, there is a tree. This tree is bent and coiled, growing down towards the ground then upwards again, strangled with a persistent leafless creeper that visibly grows from inside the tree. Its bark peels off in patches and dissolves under sunlight; its flowers are delicate pearly-pink and pop open from their buds every gentle night; its roots are deep and tangled and can be found all across the heath in knots piled over themselves.

Beneath this tree is The Devil. 

The tree was recently planted as a flowering stake in The Devil's neck, pinning the creature into a hasty grave while it was being buried alive. The Devil is now broken up and scattered along the tree's roots in a dozen dozen forever-rotting pieces, leaking ambient sin instead of blood or lymph and getting waterlogged with acidified groundwater. The Devil is still very much alive, but immobile.

As a consequence of containing The Devil, the tree's seeds and trunk extrude a pungent vegetable oil if pressed down on; in fact, the whole tree’s interior is spongy, sodden, almost mushy. No seeds from the tree will grow anywhere, and branches cut from it will putrefy in hours, but the oil remains stable.

There is a family who live on the edge of this heath or bog, who go down to the tree and take its oil and mix it with caustic potash burned from the bog-salt, who make soap by the pound.

The soap is plain, scentless, vaguely blue, and lathers nicely when used. It has a mottled texture like large pores, or marrow.

Washing with it physically cleanses you from past sin: a whole layer of skin blisters, hardens, goes opaque and splits away from your body in a solid layer. Tiny, worm-like fibers on the inside of the skin writhe and die as they are exposed, physical filth crystalizes and freezes in bubbles on the surface.

The soap making family insists that these skins must be torn apart with sharpened salt and burned, as they will move of their own free will—notably, always back towards the tree, to become agents of The Devil and commune only as sin made physical can. One skin has already done this, endlessly scratching at the ground to break roots apart. The family calls it Toad, for its scuttling movements, cramped body, and the layers upon layers of cauliflower growths that cover it.