Unfortunately, the player of Sarin wasn’t able to make it this session. However, a great time was still had and hopefully for the next time we’re able to play everyone is afoot. This story arc is starting to come to a close, and the rising actions have become very interesting in my opinion.
Hunting Implies Potential Failure; He Went Killing
After the events of downtime four, Orin was charged with a furious zeal unlike anything he had previously experienced. He wanted vengeance. He wanted blood. And he knew just where to get it- from that bastard Dragon-Blood that thought he could get away with blinding the Kid in one eye. He walked tall, his features grim. The dawn was just breaking way into early morning, and the cool chill of ascending wood was causing dew to paint the buildings in a slight shimmer. The chill did little to slow him.
Gregor, meanwhile, found himself dejected. Previously he had been unable to find any of his comrades, and found himself in a very lonely lace. Freshly cleaned, he trod out of a 24-hour bath house, only to find himself being snatched at and spun towards the direction of the bastion district by a very motivated Orin. Elated, Gregor follows Orin like a puppy as Orin relates his plan for revenge- to hunt down the one who harmed the kid and ensure he no longer breathes.
Throughfares and alleys blended together as Orin marched wordless through the Nexus district. Grabbing a young thug who was attempting to court a woman, he called in his one and only favor to Spitjack, a major player in the gangs of the Nighthammer district—who likewise, had eyes all over the Nexus district and Sentinel Hill. Their job would be to delay whatever support came for the prince of the earth.
His senses sharp, he could smell the perfumed-and-polished stink of the one who called himself Lovis Dupri, the man who arranged for thugs to harass the kid. Orin noted the mark, and Gregor concealed himself in a nearby alley as Orin took to the rooftops of Bastion. Lovis would get no warning.
Tasting sweetness of the Bastion air around him, Orin aimed steadily upon Lovis, waiting for the right moment as the terrestrial looked over a variety of trinkets brought traditionally through all of Nexus during the handcart festival, which signified the beginning of this season’s guild caravans leaving the city. Lovis had found an excellent set of earrings, and could not wait to give them to his favorite courtesan.
That is, until Orin let loose a sapphire elm arrow that exploded the eye of Lovis Dupri as well as two other arrows that sank deep into his prey’s collarbone and effectively shattered the left portion of it. “For Nighthammer!”, he exclaimed as the dragon-blood roared.
Gregor’s joy of reconnection was quickly quenched in the blood of the dragon-blooded mark. Any sane man knew this was suicide- any sane man knew running was the safer option. This wasn’t Gregor’s style, charging in blindly. There needed to be a course of action. Planning. Prudence. Master Simon’s words rang true— these people will lead only to more pain. Gregor slipped away, and hurried along to Maxwell’s to inform them.
The Battle In Bastion
Meanwhile, Orin was by no means home free. Crippled but enraged, Lovis summoned forth a bolt of searing fire to destroy the gnat that defied the will of the dragons. Orin dove backwards in an attempt to fall over the crest of the roof and dodge the bolt completely; and while he was not hit where the dragon-blooded wanted to hit, the bolt still caught brave Orin in the knee, bursting with a searing heat he had never known before. This did not dissuade Orin as he rained down more vengeance while jumping into the wide street below, which was filled with noble shops and various handcart-wielding merchants, looking to ply their wares.
Had this have been any other man, any other time, Orin surely would have succeeded. But Lovis was a prince of the earth, and had the very essence of fire on his side. Every arrow Orin now shot was vaporized in the sheer heat Lovis was emanating- indeed, it appeared as though he turned into the purest fire for a second. This magic could not hold, Orin thought. Perhaps if he kept going—
But Lovis gave him no time to think. He pursued Orin, ready to decimate the mortal that sought to took on a god. Orin looked frantically, and saw his opening just as Lovis jumped down to the street below to meet him. A china shop, no doubt with imports from the southwest! Surely if Orin did not survive, he could at least make the bastard who harmed his ward pay for it, and pay for it dearly. Orin fired another barrage as he jumped, staggered due to the still-searing pain in his knee, and crashed into the window of the china shop. Lovis flared into elemental brilliance as the arrows sought their home in his flesh, and were vaporized accordingly.
The mortal, that day, could be said to have meant business. But no matter, Lovis knew the mortal was trapped. He would smoke him out by setting the building on fire with his very rage. And so he did. Orin made himself upright and watched in a mixture of grim determination and mild horror as the tiles on the roof began to flare, melt, and seep into the building- coating priceless china in black, goopy, blindingly hot drops of pitch.
Orin launched himself into the back door, tumbling through and into the alley below. He saw a means of egress- a sewer opening that lead who-knows-where. He made a run for it, and Lovis smiled. None could escape the power of the dragons, and he roared as such as he lobbed a white-hot ball of magma at Orin’s general location. While the burst of lava did not directly hit Orin, it showered out from its point of contact, coating the area around him- as well as himself. Orin screamed in fury and pain as he jumped into the sewer. The sewer shuddered and collapsed behind him, leaving him alone in a fetid pool. He was dying, one way or the other. Darkness rushed in upon him, and he wondered briefly if this was the design of the dragons leading him back to a lower incarnation. While the flames were doused, his wounds screamed for tending and salvation.
And out there, somewhere in the dark, a honey-sweet feminine voice offered just that. “Give up your name”, it said. Orin quipped back that he had no need for it. “Cut your ties from this world, from fate”. Orin responded that in his time, neither the world nor fate has done a damn thing for him. The third question echoed in his mind—“Serve me, without question or fail”.
“So long as I get my revenge”, he thought. The darkness retreated as quickly as it had surrounded him, and he found himself made whole. Strong. He knew what must be done in that moment, and was at once on his way.
A burden of soul and spark, sinewous and sanguine
Gregor sprinted into Maxwell’s home, only to find him preparing diligently for the trial he was to have that night. Breathlessly he described the events at hand to Maxwell, and Maxwell gave pause- if only because Gregor had gotten there before one of the many couriers that dropped off information on fairly steady basis. Maxwell had little to offer in the way of consolation or direction, and this troubled Gregor further- his Sifu’s words rang true once more. Maxwell and Gregor knew that without Orin alive, The Kid would need to be taken care of- Maxwell knowing out of connection to the streets from his days as a guttersnipe, and Gregor knowing that at the very least, the child could be useful for other purposes. So they traveled to the Nighthammer district with Maxwell’s secretary, Felicity, in tow.
When they arrived upon the scene of Orin’s house, Gregor knocked. No one ever knocked at Orin’s. So when Rat opened the door, his blade was drawn and immediately at the throat of Gregor (Who, as we know, is the opener of doors). After explaining why they were here, and the kid acknowledging them, Rat hesitantly let them in.
Upon hearing The Kid’s story, Maxwell and Gregor recanted what they knew of Orin’s condition; The Kid, understandably, broke into silent and furious tears- his recently removed eye secreting a mixture of tears and blood. This continued even as Orin, amazingly, walked in and downstairs without even a hint of acknowledgement to his former comrades.
But, this was not Orin. Orin was dead. The Soot-Eyed Guardian had come to ensure The Kid’s survival, and to prepare for the long nights of cold blood, bitter vengeance, and violent action that were ahead. And so, the Soot-Eyed Guardian took The Kid’s savings, placed them in front of the Kid, informed the lot of them of what must be done, and when questioned by Gregor as to how he was still alive, Gregor was informed that the Soot-Eyed guardian had nothing to say to him. And as swiftly as he entered, he left. The Kid was the first to note that the man who entered and exited did not seem to be Orin—the blood-tears streaming down his face turned black in his presence, and the Kid fainted shortly after Soot’s departure.
Playing at tragedians
The kid was taken swiftly to a solid and discreet doctor, who did what he could for the child and thought the black substance to be a sign of poison that was working its way out of his system. After treating the eye socket with herbs and ensuring the wound was sealing properly, he released the Kid back into the care of Rat and the party. They took him to the one place he could be observed easily—Maxwell’s home.
The Kid was put to rest, and Maxwell resumed his preparations. All was calm—until a loud, man-sized scream/gasp/choke came from an upstairs room. Maxwell knew immediately who it was—Gordo, his trusted sidekick and well-worked muscle.
Gordo was found dead, his face frozen into a look of sheer terror. The hole in his chest was where his heart should be, and the space it occupied laid hollow, barren. His body was surprisingly cool, despite the scream only moments ago and the flood of now-congealing blood that had covered the floor. Left neatly on the nightstand next to Gordo’s bed, there was a note. Gregor picked it up while Maxwell despaired at his friends death. It read:
You need to learn whom you can trust. This worm had been selling you down the river for years, and you hadn’t even the sight to notice. You have been done a favor, and he is but one of many.
The script was fine, spider-like. For Gregor, this was the final proof. Simon had been right all this time. Getting close to people meant giving them the power to hurt you, and then trusting that they wouldn’t. He dropped the note and left the house for his flat. Gregor would have no more of this.
Maxwell knew of no one that wrote like this. Who would kill Gordo? How was it a favor? Could any of his family truly have turned? How could he not have noticed? Maxwell decided he needed to cope in the only way he knew how—
Meanwhile, Gregor returned to his flat, and found his sifu waiting for him, nonchalant as ever. He acknowledged Simon’s wisdom and suggested that he resume his training immediately. Simon, however, had other ideas. To Gregor’s utter amazement, his sifu asked him to go back, and finish what was started with that damnable old woman and her noodle shop. He tried to argue with Simon on this point, pointing out the apparent hypocrisy: that there was no point to doing anything for the sake of others if it only brought you pain in the end. At this point, Simon made his intent clear. Gregor had been involved in this things beginning, and Simon would not continue training him until he brought about its ultimate end. To this, Gregor agreed; his Sifu returned his beloved switchglaive, Gregor’s strongest link to what seemed like a past life, and he left for Maxwell’s house in the morning.
Within the three hours he had before his trial, Maxwell had become dangerously intoxicated. Snifters and glasses were put aside for bottles and barrels, and Gregor merely took it as another, irrefutable sign.
Maxwell procured a handcart, and was brought to the trial.
The trial in itself wasn’t much to speak of. Maxwell arrived stone-drunk and alone, while Lovis arrived furious and mostly broken. They both offered up their opening statements, but both were in too much pain to truly be effective. Maxwell put forward a telling blow in his opening with revealing nformation about the manufactory under the Crescent Moon- a fact that Lovis could not refute, and did not have a clear enough mind to dance around. Lovis called for a recess in which they could better prepare their defenses, and at the mercy of the tribunal they were given two days to ready themselves.
The night passed slowly for Maxwell, who drank himself steadily deeper into stupor. He mulled on the events to date, the people he had lost, and what the future held. He needed to destroy those who made Nelaya’s tears. The Kid was a target, and nothing was sacred to them. They weren’t even proper businessmen- Nexus would be better off with them dead. Maxwell fell asleep on his books of notes and planning. As the night rolled on, one of the twins made a stop, dropping off some long waited-for information.
The morning came, and Gregor returned… driven. Gregor and Maxwell came up with a plan between nettle tea and reading the overnight report. They would take their fight to the major manufactory the twins had discovered in the Firewander district, preferably destroying it and the ringleader in one fell swoop. They’d need a man on the inside (Which they had), luck (Which they… Had?), and explosives. Lots of explosives.
Gregor, having seen what he knew to possibly be the finest craftsman in Nexus, asked The Kid for some advice- and it just so happened he knew an alchemist’s apprentice who was crazy enough to not ask questions, and skilled enough to get the job done.
Maxwell and Gregor left for the alchemist’s shop. Just as they arrived there was what sounded like a small explosion and smoke started pouring out of the windows. Giving each other a wary look, they knocked on the door and was greeted by a small, soot faced girl. Much to Maxwell’s chagrin, creation is a smaller world than he had expected. The same apprentice the Kid mentioned turned out to be none other than Sorsha, a member of his “family”. Sorsha was young, naive, usually filthy and unkempt, and possessed a brilliant mind that was, most of the time, eccentric.
After procuring her a solid lunch of charred meats best left undisclosed and what appeared to be a slop of sauce and swamp rice (Her favorite meal), Maxwell and Gregor were able to talk her into crafting explosives to do the job of destroying a building.
The party headed back to Maxwells, and made preparations to raid the manufactory.
And not too far off, The Soot-Eyed Guardian prepared for his hunt.