Exalted: Ghost of a Chance

Abyssal Game, Part 1
Fetch me that thingie!

After months of training and preparation, five Deathknights – Castellan of the Clockdust Reaches (Midnight), Dirge of Silence (Day), Thrice-Damned Blackguard (Dusk), Stance (Daybreak) and Song (Midnight) were summoned to their Lord’s meeting chamber. This rarest of occurences – meeting with the Omniscient Purveyor of Deleterious Intent – heralded their first assignment: to meet with the god Gowaijen, Minister of That Which is Lost to the Sands, find what it is he had lost and return it. In his own way, the Purveyor made it known to the Deathknights that he would prefer they return this item to him rather than to the god with whom they would shortly become aquainted. After receiving their assurances that he would not be disappointed, the Watcher (as the Deathlord is also known) dismissed them from his reality-bending audience hall.

The Abyssals trouped down through the tower of the Crimson Fastness to confer with Niraba Fallsong and receive further instruction on their mission. She gave them the location of Gowaijen’s sanctum, Chebetkun, which was three days south and west of the Dolorous Atelier. Further, she said, they would need to make at least part of the journey in Creation. After completing their requisitions for their trip, Fallsong added that Blackguard was allowed to select one other of the Watcher’s servants attend them… even if it need be Fallsong herself. After some discussion and banter with Castellan, Blackguard requested Acolyte of Oblivion’s Bliss, an older Midnight caste Deathknight, accompany them. All six Deathknights made preparations to leave in the morning, spending their remaining hours in various pursuits.

They set out from Bastion and the Crimson Fastness into a throng of cheering from mortals and ghosts alike. Making their way to the edge of the Atelier took several days longer than anticipated due in part to the large train of servants and accoutrement. The group stopped at a town at the edge of the Atelier’s borders in Creation and Acolyte revealed he’d brought along a Sorcery Capturing Cord – courtesy of the somewhat-unhinged Daybreak called Ten Thousand Plagues – that would allow them to cross from the Underworld into Creation and enable them to travel a few days longer in the Underworld.

A few days out from the Atelier and into the wild desert of the southern Underworld they made their crossing, pausing only to don what grave trappings they had seen fit to bring along to ease their discomfort. Castellan made a sacrifice of a snake-headed charm Blackguard brought along and summoned one of the servitors of Gowaijen, a monk wreathed in a swirl of burning pages and who “spoke” only in the flaming letters as those pages passed into view of the observers. The guide lead them onward for a day or more through the scorching dunes to the rock of Chebetkun and the home of Gowaijen.

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Ghost of a Chance, Part 17
Drops run together

Gaias, Koria and Mimiu assessed their situation and decided to wait things out until Deacon could find them. They knew the rendezvous point should be nearby, but did not want to risk wandering further away. Mimiu was injured badly from the crushing she received from the boat. Fortunately, they did not have to wait long before they were found. Unfortunately, what found them was not Deacon. A strange and frightsome creature attacked them from the tunnels to either side of them, spitting poisonous barbs and making leaping glides at them with membranous wings between too many legs. Attacking the weakest of them, it nearly managed to kill Mimiu. Koria was able to stabilize her sister and Gaias chased the thing off down the tunnels.

Hearing the sounds of battle over their conversation, Second, Azagael and Jay worked to make their way towards the noise. The difficulty of navigate through the starry cavern delayed them, and they arrived several minutes after the battle ceased. No longer satisfied to simply wait around for Deacon, the group formed up and got underway. Azagael took the form of a horse once more, but Koria decided she would rather carry her unconscious sister. A scant few minutes later, the creature came back, attacking from the rear of the party and launching it’s venom at Gaias for injuring it earlier and trying once more to retrieve its lost meal. Koria dropped Mimiu to the ground and drew her weapon and Azagael stood over the unconscious woman protectively. Denied easy access to it’s target, the creature attack Koria next. Gaias took advantage of it’s split attention and scorched the thing with the righteous fire of the Sun. Badly burned and smelling awful, the creature fled at top speed. The group chose not to give chase, believing it would not return after facing such resistance.

Ominous Whispers sat for what seemed an interminable length of time with only the screeching of the balls of light to keep her company. She took shelter within her own mind, focusing her attention on an internal litany and continuing to feign unconsciousness. She woke from this state when something brushed past her, and she realized her companions were being lifted from the floor shortly before she herself was. Whoever was carrying them seemed to be careful about them and did not notice that she was not in the same state as Shade, Sana and Blood Moon. They were carried through the Labyrinth to a large room with a sound-confusing amount of things in it. Whispers was placed on a stone table and left unbound. An imperious male voice ordered that one of her companions (she guessed it was Sana) be placed in a cage to be dealt with later and returned to ordering about what seemed a large number of servants. She heard the sounds of heavy things being moved about and was unable to replace her Ghost-Seeing Blindfold without betraying that she was awake. She resolved to wait until she had an good opportunity to kill whoever this person was and escape.

Whispers next heard an odd clicking noise like claws on stone and smelled a foul stench like burned flesh and bile. It whimpered, and the imperious voiced man threw something through the air towards whatever made the noise. It snatched the thing out of the air with a chomp and moved toward the end of the room where Whispers surmised the cages were kept. She heard the thing flop down onto the ground and, in a soft but three-voiced whisper, it said, “Kill me. Please.” The next thing she heard was the thing’s life breath escaping, something she’d heard many times before. The imperious man did not seem to notice and continued ordering the servants about. The next interruption did bear his notice, though, as two large and mobile cages of bone and sinew walked themselves into the room. Toki and Maya inhabited one while Aruda was inside the other. The three of them took in their situation quickly. The man across the room stood in a long, stained coat and wore an odd device over one eye as he ordered ten ghosts about. The ghosts were shifting large, obviously heavy boxes across the floor to prop them against the wall. The boxes were made of metal and bone, soulsteel and orichalcum and decorated horrifically. Against the wall to one side were the stone tables on which Shade and Ominous Whispers lay and the other side of the room held several cages. Sana was slumped in the corner of one cage, a second was empty, and at the floor near a third sat the corpse of a strange, many-legged creature. Inside that cage was an unkempt, scruffy looking man who stared at them intently but said nothing.

To be continued…

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Ghost of a Chance, Part 16
Putting the pieces together

The travelers had been split into four groups to make the run down the tunnel, and each had been urged to keep moving by the porters. One by one, they realized they had not encountered the other groups and called a stop. They all found themselves in an area where the walls had been carefully sanded and carved. Much of the carvings were indecipherable due to advanced age but each discovered words etched in the stone walls in their native language. To their shock, they realized the walls were actually displaying their thoughts as they thought them and read them upon the wall. After some experimentation, each group discovered that they could not read the thoughts of the other people in their group nor of any other group.

Deacon left Whispers, Shade, Blood Moon, Sana and one of the porters near where he’d found them telling them to stay put while he searched for the others. Some time later, Gaias’ group heard him pacing down the corridors. Gaias, Koria, Mimiu (two Dragon-Blooded sisters) and two porters were told that the Labyrinth had shifted and the place they were in now was known as the maze of the mind. Deacon mixed a concoction with the blood payment from Koria and set it aflame, following the smoke through the maze. Using the smoke, which was naturally pulled toward the center of the maze, they navigated around its perimeter and out to a dark riverbank. Pointing, Deacon told them that across the black water and out of the range of their light was another riverbank that he would use as their rendezvous. Taking another blood payment from Mimiu, Deacon placed the blood in his mouth and spat it out along the shoreline. Five boats made from flesh-coated rib cages rose from the water to carry them across the river and Deacon took his leave to find the others. The boats moved of their own will and, not long into their journey across the river, the boats began to grab and hold at the travelers. Fearing to break the boats and dump themselves into the water, they resisted as long as they could. The boats reached the bank and carried them up the shore and down another tunnel. Gaias managed to break free of his boat and chased after the two boats that held Koria and Mimiu. Breaking them free, the three of them pondered what to do next.

Second, Azagael, Jay and two porters were in the next group that encountered Deacon. He told them about the Labyrinth shifting and said that since they were near the edge of the Maze of the Mind that he could take them through the Starhollow to the rendezvous point. They followed Deacon into an area where all the surfaces of the cave – walls, floor, ceiling – appear clear as crystal and filled with glowing, multi-colored stars. Second grabbed onto Deacon’s cloak to avoid losing him and each of them had difficulty staying upright on the slippery, invisible floor. Breaking free from Second’s grasp, Deacon turned a corner a little too quickly and Second hit a wall made of stars. Trying to back out and turn around, he found himself caught up in a glass coffin, cut off from the others of the group. Calling around got no response, though Azagael said he was still able to see him. Each of the travelers felt the world shift crazily when the porters tipped over their glass star-coffins and started sliding them along the slippery floor. Azagael shifted into his god body and kicked his way free, chasing down one of the porters to question. The porters ran off, but Azagael broke Jay and Second free and Second called a halt until Deacon returned to continue leading them. In the silence that followed, the trio heard the sounds of battle from nearby.

The third group consisted of Maya, Toki, Aruda (one of the Dragon-Blooded students) and two porters. Deacon told them they had wandered too close to the center when they pointed out that they could see thoughts that didn’t belong to them on the walls. The thoughts were in Foresttongue, and Deacon left for a moment to try to get his bearings. They heard a strange growl that seemed to come from multiple voices at once and Deacon demanded another blood payment from Maya. He poured the blood in a line on the floor and a barricade of bone spears shot from the floor to protect them from whatever lurked at the center of the maze. Toki was disappointed to be prevented from eating whatever it was, but followed the group away from the snarling thing. The bones began to sprout suddenly across the corridor and the travelers found themselves caught up in bone cages. Maya and Toki managed to keep from being separated, but Aruda and the porters were caged separately. The cages proved mobile and began to walk their captives down the hallways. They noticed belatedly that Deacon was nowhere to be seen but decided that their cages were serving as conveyances to the rendezvous he’d mentioned and sat back for the ride.

Back near the entrance to the maze, Whispers, Shade, Sana and Blood Moon waited with one of the porters for Deacon to return. One of them noticed strange balls of flickering light approaching them slowly down one of the corridors. When they got within four yards, the lights started up a screaming alarum that, when they got within two yards, caused them to feel nauseous and shaky. Sana tried attacking one of them, but it flew into his face and he fell, limp, to the ground. Blood Moon likewise tried and fell. Shade examined them for a few seconds and believed them to be hypnotized. He suggested they try calming their minds, closing their eyes and ears to the sight and sound. While Shade failed at his attempt, Whispers had some limited success. The strange lights could not hypnotize the blind woman. When the lights hit him, Shade experienced a feeling of falling through the world and into a hellish world where all his worst nightmares had come to pass. Whispers could only sit amongst her fallen companions amidst the screeching sounds of the lights and hope for rescue.

To be continued…

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Ghost of a Chance, Part 15
How much is it worth to you?

Faced with limited Resources (“Welcome to Corneria!” “I like puns!”), Pak San-Toki and Stalwart Second left the group to hunt down enough comestibles for the next two weeks for the twelve person crew. The fee they had paid to Shuko had been entirely funded by Jay’s gambling winnings since few of the group had a regular talent with which they made money and Toki, as a Lunar, was used to being self-sufficient. A few days later, with all the supplies ready, they waited only for confirmation that Whispers would accompany them.

Shade and Whispers were both released from their current responsibilities with the Guild and informed that they were to consider traveling to and socializing in Thorns to be their current – and only – mission. Until such time as they were to undertake this mission, their funds and other employment opportunities were to be curtailed. Shade was asked to keep a close eye on Whispers’ dealings while Whispers was cautioned to be sure she shared information with Shade. Clear that her position was somewhat tenuous and yet relieved to be free from the mountain of paperwork, Whispers left the inn with the rest of them at sundown to meet the helldiver known as Deacon.

Deacon appeared to them, a ragged ghost in a black-brimmed had and heavy boots and carrying a long, iron staff. With her Ghost-Seeing Blindfold, Whispers perceived him as the most powerful entity she’d ever encountered. She evaluated him as more powerful even than the nemissary that had been following Shade. All twelve travelers (eleven exalts and a horse, to be precise) were presented the same sales pitch. In exchange for a safe journey through the Labyrinth to Karuth Vlan, Deacon required each traveler to pay in one of three currencies: a possession, a pint of blood, or a night of passion. Whispers and Aruda, one of the Dragon-Blooded, gave a personal possession. Jay and Toki both proffered a night of passion, though Jay unsuccessfully tried to dictate the terms under which he’d pay and Toki also offered a pint of blood. The rest agreed to pay for their passage in blood offered willingly and only when asked.

With the payment settled, Deacon performed a ritual that transported the entire group to the Underworld location corresponding to the blind alley in which they met Deacon. Seven ghost porters whose faces had been moliated to close their mouths and enlarge their ears, eyes and nose waited there to hurriedly repack their gear. One of the porters identified the box Gaias carried with his brother’s remains inside. Deacon proclaimed it was dangerous to bring such a powerful fetter along with them and directed the porter to pack it with non-essential equipment in case the remains had to be left behind.

Demanding his blood payment from Toki, Deacon cast another ritual that caused the street to open into a steep ramp downward. Descending, they found themselves in the Labyrinth. The cave they were in was lit by a vegetable phosphorescence as well as by the magical materials each carried. Whispers Ghost-Seeing Blindfold registered the environment as nothing but blankness and so she removed it and stowed it with her other Artifact. Deacon led them through the cave, populated by bizzare looking and strangely attractive fungi, and listed for them his rules of operation. Among them were “Don’t touch anything,” and “If you get lost, stay put.” Beyond the cave, a howling wind whipped through the tunnels carrying ash and sand and scouring their skin. Deacon informed them that the bulk of their journey would be made through the Cavern of the Prophet.

The Cavern floor was covered with grey sand which blew through the air and obscured vision. The porters tied the travelers around the waists into groups in case of sinkholes. They passed tall, jagged pillars and occasionally the winds would die down for a few breaths before roaring back. After hours of walking, Deacon called a halt to rest and sleep saying that no one need keep watch since he and the porters had lost the mortal’s need for sleep. Upon waking, they saw that several pillars had grown up around their camp. Touching one cause it to explode and send shards of obsidian shrapnel and oozing pus into their group. They decided to remain encamped until Maya could finish using her healing Artifact to tend their wounds.

Hours of walking later brought them to a large hill made of ever shifting ash that Deacon proclaimed was the Prophet. Climbing up the hill, they saw that it was in fact a giant face made of ash that spoke in a strange language in long stanzas before pausing. At each pause, the winds died down only to pick back up with the prophet’s speech. The group left the prophet alone and continued on quickly after they rested. They would rest once more before reached the end of the cavern. The exit was much the same as the entrance, appearing as a tunnel in the rock face. Sand and ash blasted out of the tunnel at incredible speeds only pausing for a few seconds every couple of minutes. The porters tied them into smaller groups of five and each group ran into the tunnel during a lull in the wind. As each group rounded a corner to be safe from the wind, the porters with them urged them on further. Several minutes later the next group would make the run. The last group consisted of Whispers, Shade, Blood Moon (Shade’s barghest Familiar), Sana (a Dragon-Blooded student), and one porter. Shade tripped while running and the rest of the group dragged themselves to safety after experiencing several seconds of blasting wind and paused there to rest. A few minutes later, Deacon made the run through the tunnel and arrived to see them injured and alone. “Where is everyone else?” he asked.

To be continued…

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Ghost of a Chance, Part 14
Go forth and party

Turning to face his mentor for the first time in over two seasons, Gaias discovered that Adamant Rose was expecting a child. Gaias gingerly told Adamant Rose the bare-bones version of the events in the Underworld, culminating in the decision to escape through the Labyrinth and not return to search for her Lunar mate, Howls Justice. The two began a verbal joust that ended in the training ring. Stalwart Second interrupted the duel to protect Gaias, afraid that Rose might kill him. Rose called him out and told him she would deal with him later, ending the fight by disarming Gaias. In front of everyone, she told him he was only as good a fighter as the sword he couldn’t hold since no one would follow him for fear he would leave them behind. She then left the ring and walked back to the temple to plan a rescue mission to the Underworld.

Second followed her closely and told her she didn’t have to be so hard on Gaias if she was only trying to teach him a lesson. Rose disagreed, saying that violence is the only lesson Gaias will understand. Rose told Second that, whatever happened after this night, she no longer had anything to teach Gaias. The rest, she said, he would have to learn for himself. The pair came to an uneasy truce when Second realized Rose truly had Gaias’ best interests at heart and he left her to her planning. Gaias returned to the temple to find Rose’s Dragon-Blooded students packing, either to follow her into the Underworld or to leave the school while she was gone. Gaias approached Rose and made a sincere apology for his words and actions. He then asked for her to remain with the school for one year and allow him the chance to return and rescue Howls Justice so that he could correct his mistakes. Conflicted between her desire to save her husband and her desire to see her best student grow, Rose took until dawn to tell him that she would stay and let him seek his redemption.

Gaias went to Rose’s students and his friends and asked them to join him in rescuing Justice. Nine Willows in Autumn, Senmai and Rami stayed behind, but Pak San-Toki, Maya and five Dragon-Blooded decided to join him. The next day, they left the temple at dawn and were met on the road by the monks and children of the temple and Rami who led them all in one last toast and a bawdy song to see the heroes on their way.

In Nexus, Whispers had finally been given leave to rest after three days of filling out paperwork and answering questions. She’d deduced that her superiors were treating her like a potential spy because of something Shade had said when he reported and resolved to question him about it when next they met. Returning to the inn, she ran into the group returning from their journey and was informed that they meant to hire a helldiver to take them back to Karuth Vlan. Eager to be free of Nexus and the Guild’s overweaning bureaucracy (even if it meant a journey through the Labyrinth again), Whispers signed on for the trip and sought out Shade for a conference. Satisfied with Shade’s reasoning and not asking for too many details, Whisper’s resolved to deal with the investigation amicably until the group left for the Underworld. At least, she reasoned, there was a larger than miniscule chance she might run into Typhon again.

Stalwart Second, Maya, and Jay – one of the Dragon-Blooded students – searched the markets of Nexus for a helldiver for hire. In the strange market east of Bastion, they found a ghost-blooded salesman named Shuko who offered to sell them the name and location of the only helldiver he knew who could take such large crew through the Labyrinth. Shuko made a point to say that he did not want to know any details about their trip other than their destination and how many people would be going. They returned several hours later with Whispers, who managed to bargain him down on the price. Shuko provided the contact information for a helldiver named Deacon and a suggested list of supplies and sent them on their way.

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Ghost of a Chance, Part 13
Sticky Situations

Landing at inner docks of the Nexus Pool, the group split up to take care of errands. Most retreated from the seasonal rains to a comfortable inn, but Whispers and Shade both headed for the Guild Headquarters while Stalwart Second left to find a proper stable to house Azagael.

Second met Telta, a god-blooded Marukani woman, at the stable. The two got along well, and Telta surprised him by laying a blessing on Azagael. Unfortunately, things did not go as she planned; Bored and frustrated that his rider wouldn’t make a move on the pretty woman, Azagael discovered he could turn into a half-man, half-horse and gave the entire stable enough to gossip about for a season.

At the Guild tower, Shade and Whispers made their reports on their activities since they abruptly left Marita. Shade added that he felt Whispers had developed inappropriate ties to Typhon, an emissary for a foreign power that was hostile to the Guild. Faced with this information, the Guild began an audit of Whisper’s dealings and contacts that would keep her busy filling out paperwork and answering questions for several days. Shade managed to promote his own reputation in the meanwhile, letting several key people in the Guild know that he would be willing and able to gather information about the inner workings of Thorns for them.

The next morning, the group dispersed throughout the streets of Nexus, searching for the safe house for Adamant Rose’s school. Shade found it and they planned their journey to the school that afternoon. They walked north of Nexus across the river dam and into the forested hills to the temple of Lho Myu Jin, a local forest god. While on the way there, Gaias practiced and pondered what he would say to Adamant Rose when he got there about her husband, Howls Justice. The group was still divided on whether they had done the right thing in not going back into the Underworld to search for him after their escape from Karuth Vlan. Gaias settled on telling Rose the truth of the matter.

The monks at the temple greeted the group and began giving the newcomers a tour. There they met a young Solar named Maya who had been traveling with her Lunar mate, Pak San-Toki, a student of Adamant Rose. Gaias went alone to the training grounds where Rose and her students were practicing, saying he needed to do this himself. When he arrived at the training grounds, Rose scolded him for being gone so long and ordered him into a sparring competition with Pak San-Toki. Delaying the inevitable, Gaias sparred with Toki and won using his new Daiklave, though his form still met with critique from Rose.

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Ghost of a Chance, Part 12
It all flows downstream

Bundled onto the Tiger’s Heart at first light, the party settled in for a two month journey west to Nexus. Willow and Mai billed themselves as a scholar and her student, while Ominous Whispers and Rami played at being nobility. Stalwart Second and Gaias signed on as thier bodyguards, respectively, and Shade was listed as Whispers’ page. Willow studied her book, taught Mai and performed other scholarly services. Second and Gaias offered to teach her the basics of combat in return for instruction on matters of the occult.

The boat made a brief stop to load cargo, resupply and exchange passengers in the trading post of Alsia to the east of Great Forks. Some of the cargo was occupied, and a rat beastman named Versalis was found and chased about by the cook and a guard. Shade stepped in, saying that she was his pet and had been with him since Marita. The steward responded that if such was the case, he would be charged retroactively for her feeding and berthing to which he agreed. Mai spoke with her in broken Foresttongue and learned she was fairly intelligent. Second and Willow taught her Riverspeak and how to read and write and she grudgingly agreed to let Willow dress her up.

Soon thereafter, each of them began to notice things going missing. The problem spread to most of the passenger list and very quickly the company steward had a very large, angry customer base to contend with. Several passengers were accused of the thefts every day and their belongings searched only to come up with nothing. Mai found a cache of the items during a casual search of the ship, but left it in place. Shade, Gaias and Second determined that Versalis had been the one filching the items when Blood Moon wasn’t able to detect any strange scent in their rooms. Versalis fessed up, but had trouble understanding why what she’d done was wrong. She agreed to gather up all the items she’d cached around the ship and brought them all back to Shade’s room. Unsure how to return them, the men called the rest of the party together. After they’d been pondering leaving the items in a big pile at various places on the ship, Rami suggested that Willow proclaim she’d discovered a “thief spirit” on board and charge a fee to banish it. Though somewhat against the ethics of the idea, she agreed and Stalwart Second sold the idea to the company steward. That evening, Willow drew a summoning circle and pretended to enact a banishment rite all the while apologizing for her rudeness to the local spirit court in an obscure dialect of Old Realm. Mai and others used sleight of hand to disperse the stolen items amongst the crowd and, several hours later, it had all been returned.

The Tiger’s Heart made landfall in Great Forks where they spent two days. Most of the party took advantage of the opportunity to stretch their legs. Curious where the nemissary had gotten to or if they had even followed at all, Shade searched the ship with the aid of Blood Moon. Overhearing a conversation between two of the foremen, Shade sent Blood Moon to investigate the rented slaves that rowed the ship. The soul-sucked crew were largely unhelpful, but Blood Moon reported that one of them smelled about a week dead. The nemissary in the slave didn’t respond to the presence of the immaterial barghest, so Shade left him alone for the time being. The trip from there was largely uneventful until a few days before they reached Nexus. A patrol boat from Lookshy pulled alongside the Tiger’s Heart and boarded her looking for Anathema. Everyone was questioned and the cargo was searched. Though the Dragon Blooded did find some objectionable information about the party (namely that they had scammed the steward and were associates of Typhon), they moved on shortly after boarding.

When Nexus was almost in sight, the passengers and crew began to complain of a sickness that quickly spread to everyone on board. The captain ordered the rowers to maintain a position and a warning flag was flown to keep others away and quarantine the ship. Willow and Second helped where they could without revealing their power, but when Mai continued to deteriorate Willow pulled out the stops and used her magic as well as her skill to heal her. Several days later and with only a small loss of life, the Tiger’s Heart approached Nexus.

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Ghost of a Chance, Part 11
Friends in low places

While pondering reading choices in the library of Typhon’s villa, Willow found a partly completed puzzle box displayed on one of the shelves. Taking it down, she solved it quickly and felt a momentary brush of essence but was unable to determine what effect it might have had. Inside the box was a scrap of parchment with an encrypted message on it. She replaced the box and took the paper to decode in her room.

Stalwart Second left to continue his search for the missing servant, Bikry. Following his last lead down to the docks, he found them in commotion as a body had recently washed up. Second navigated some byzantine dockside bureaucracy and finally managed to find out that the body did belong to Bikry. Wrapping the man in several cloths “borrowed” from the storage room at the clerk’s office, Second transported the corpse through town to the wooded hills outside of Typhon’s villa. There he informed the shocked Anaes that Bikry had been found in the river, stabbed to death. The pair solemnly saw him to his final rest in the woods at sundown. Second promised Anaes he would get to the bottom of what had happened to Bikry.

Shade and Whispers returned from their errand at the Guild office. Rami approached Whispers to complain that merchants backed by the Guild had been actively blocking him from making purchases in Marita. According to those he’d spoken to, he was being singled out as a guest of Typhon who had attracted the Guild’s ire for some unknown reason. Whispers promised to look into the matter and went to speak with Typhon. Typhon mentioned he was backing a certain anti-Guild Councillor and his cadre as a personal favor and that that might have attracted the negative attention. The pair could not come up with why the Guild would target only one of Typhon’s guests, however they supposed Rami might simply be the one that was easiest to affect due to his frequent activity in the market place. When Whispers asked what Typhon planned to do about the matter, he deflected her attention by asking her to attend a ball with him the following evening. She agreed and left, only realizing later what he’d done.

Shade went in search of the nemissary only to be ambushed by the same in the garden of the villa. The fight began simply, but escalated quickly, with first Shade then the nemissary using Charm after Charm. As it wore on, Shade’s personal banner filled the sky with gleaming light. Finally surrendering to ensnarement in a net of blackened magic, Shade insisted he had proved that he could at least defend himself. The nemissary laughed at him and knocked him, still bound, to the ground. Advising him to make himself scarce, the nemissary left Shade to roll on the ground and walked out of the villa into the night.

The rest of the party freed Shade from the net and took him inside to wait for his anima to die down. They Assembled to discuss their plans going forward since the presence of an Anathema had been revealed to all in a several-mile radius. Typhon explained that he was easily the biggest target since he had enemies on the council that had been waiting for him to make a mistake. Insisting that there was no reason that any of his guests should also take a fall, he arranged for passage for everyone out of Marita on a river boat bound for Nexus. After bried meetings with Ominous Whispers and Nine Willows in Autumn, he was clapped in irons and taken away. Perhaps with some small amount of guilt, Shade attempted to determine what would be done with Typhon but was unable to glean anything but rumors in the short time he had to investigate.

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Ghost of a Chance, Part 10
"It would be a lot simpler if you'd just had syphilis..."

Willow and Mai perused the library for books to take with them to read in the park but were interrupted by Second who asked if Willow would examine something for him back in his room. Willow, being a masterful physician, assumed the problem was medical in nature and much hilarity arose from the ensuing misunderstanding. Examining the jewelry, Willow confirmed her belief that it was genuine and expensive but did not know how to determine who had owned it without asking either Typhon, Shade or Ominous Whispers. Believing a solution involving subterfuge to be the order for the day, Willow summoned her handmaid Mai. Mai suggested that several of the pieces could be hidden among certain people in town and those people could be observed. Depending on their reactions, they might be able to find out where the jewelry came from. Keeping back the bulk of the jewelry for later sale, Mai hid several pieces among her clothing and left to carry out their plan.

Ominous Whispers and Shade left for the offices of Councillor Senarran, their target with Shade masquerading as a simple servant for the blind diplomat. They met with Senarran and Whispers was able to quickly convince the man that his anti-Guild rhetoric was a mistake and that he needed to cease drumming up trouble in his country back home where the Guild was preparing to renegotiate their trade agreements. Luckily for the councillor, Whispers opted for civil discourse rather than blackmail or a more physical solution. The pair spent many hours discussing how the councillor might use the upcoming negotiations as an opportunity to better his country’s standing with the Guild.

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Ghost of a Chance, Part 9
Cloak and dagger deals

Second and Rami concluded that the jewelry Second had found was genuine, very expensive and very likely stolen. Rami could not decipher the documents, but recognized the characters as Guild correspondance. Believing Whispers to be a Guild agent – though she had never confirmed this – Rami proposed he would ask her and Shade about the documents. Though unable to read them, he was able to identify five separate documents by their penmanship and took one sheet from each document up to the library where Whispers and Shade studied. Claiming he had been approached by “a friend”, Rami asked the pair for help reading the documents. After Rami left so they could discuss in private, they discovered that all five sheets were parts from different documents and all seemed to have a common theme: blackmail information on Guild members. They surmised that Rami’s friend had come across one of several courier’s drops or that the documents had been stolen by a Guild agent and separated for safe-keeping. Summoning Rami again, they told him they could not return the pages because they needed to be returned immediately and would make sure to keep his name out of any official inquiries. Whispers and Shade left to return the pages, asking if the documents they belonged to were missing. The archivist was unable to find the documents and a full scale audit of the archives began. They left their information so they could be contacted again if need be. They then returned to the villa to continue their work.

The following morning, Gaias, Second and Willow (who had been woken up too early by her estimations) examined the bones and determined that they likely belonged to Gaias brother. Gaias’ ability to spy through walls was also revealed to the other two and he was given a stern warning not to use it inappropriately. Rami pulled Second aside to discuss what Shade and Whispers had told him the night before. Second asked Rami to examine the jewelry for enchantment or traps, though he didn’t find any. Second and Gaias then went speak with Typhon regarding their deal in his office. After some harsh words, Typhon agreed to give the release Gaias from his oaths and allow him to keep the remains of his brother so that they could be properly buried. Gaias apologized for his earlier behavior thanked Typhon.

After their deal, the group gathered for a more civil breakfast at which Typhon offered them a formal tour of the grounds. Both Ominous Whispers and Willow paid particular attention to the methods their host had used to ward his home and possessions. Several interesting books and paintings were discussed and Typhon took his leave to return to his work at the Council Hall in town.

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