The #SavageWorlds #RIFTS heroes take on the Federation of Magic at the Southeast Fortress and find the Seal of Solomon! Featuring Bob, Jung Soo, Brendan, Frank, Ron, and Frankie of the Roll20 gang. #TTRPG #RPG #SWADE
The heroes have learned that Hamelin, the avatar of the dark Tyrant Plague, needs only the spirit ring of Kirai Ankoku to activate the machine that will raise him to godhood. While Zai carries the wounded Providence to the Governor-General’s mansion for treatment, Bal, Bernard and Anna Mae pursue Hamelin to Kirai’s tower in the Quarantine Zone.
As Anna Mae dashes through the streets of Malifaux City, she glances down an alleyway and comes to a screeching halt. Standing in the alley is a man who has apparently died by hanging and whose skin is covered in yellow glowing runes. Anna Mae yells, “Stop,” and Bal and Bernard come back to look down the alley as well.
“Whatcha lookin’ at?” asks Bernard. Anna Mae realizes that only she can see the man; she also remembers that she has seen him before – hanging from the tree in front of the Governor-General’s mansion.
“We don’t really got time to stare into the void,” says Bernard. “How about we do that later?” Bal and Bernard take off, and Anna Mae follows for a moment and then doubles back. She calls a greeting to the hanged man and he walks over to her, removes the noose from his neck, and hands it to her, then vanishes.
Looking back, Bal sees Anna Mae holding the noose. “Looks like she lost her marbles but got a rope,” he mutters, and keeps running.
As Zai approaches the Governor-General’s mansion, the guards accost her. “Who are you?” they demand. “Tell Lucius to fix this,” she says, sets Providence down, and whirls to run for Kirai’s tower.
As Bal, Bernard, and Anna Mae approach the tower, they hear the sounds of a great battle. Turning the corner, they find a massive melee. On one side, Hamelin leads a horde of rats, plague zombies, and plague gamin, with a few plague golems in the front line. On the other, a few humans led by Kirai head a massive force of terrifying spirit creatures leavened with undead zombies. Kirai screams continuously, her ring glowing with a blinding green light. All three heroes freeze for a moment, uncertain what to do.
Bernard looks up and sees winged plague gamin fighting in the air against flying ghosts. Lighting off his jetpack, he soars into the air to take them down; unfortunately, one of the gamin latches on to his arm, throwing off the controls and sending Bernard crashing into a wall. Anna Mae begins lecturing the plague zombies about the evils of violence; with the magical energy of Malifaux powering her academic skill, she causes several to hesitate, giving Kirai’s forces a moment of breathing room. Overall, however, the forces of Plague are clearly winning the day.
Back in the city, Zai frantically looks for a way to get to the tower faster. She commandeers a Guild construct, but with no idea of how to drive it, she only manages to travel slightly faster than she could on foot.
In the battle, Kirai’s forces are badly battered. Bernard returns to the sky, only to be struck again by the flying gamin and injured. Bal cooly takes shots at the approaching horde, slowing them, but Anna Mae is cut off and badly hurt by a force of rats. The heroes hear Kirai’s scream abruptly stop, and then the sound of sobbing. Kirai is collapsed on the ground – all of the ghosts have vanished, and one of Hamelin’s orphans is running away with his hand glowing green from the force of Kirai’s ring. Bal aims carefully and takes a shot at the orphan, killing it. The ring flies from its open hand and rolls along the cobblestones; then a rat seizes it in its jaws and dives into the sewers.
A loud clanking announces Zai’s arrival on her “borrowed” construct. The heroes climb aboard and head back towards the entrance to the Necropolis, expecting that Hamelin will head for his machine. As they head back, a large patrol of Guild Guards appears, led by the healed Providence. Providence climbs aboard and heals the wounded Bernard and Anna Mae, asking “What happened? What happened?”
From the back of the patrol, Captain Dashel appears. “You have the ring?” he asks.
“No, follow us!” says Bal, gunning the construct for a bit of extra speed.
“Y’all aren’t so good at acquiring artifacts, are you?” says Dashel as he gestures for the guards to follow.
“You were sitting on your ass while we were out there fighting!” yells Bernard as the construct pulls away.
Looking at her comrades, Providence notices Anna Mae’s rope. “Do you know that rope is infused with the Grave Spirit?” she asks. Anna Mae gasps, then explains that she learned from Lucius that the Grave Spirit was brought into this world by Titania, Queen of Malifaux, in the ancient battle against the Tyrants. The Grave Spirit was brought to destroy them, but also corrupted the Malifaux natives and led to the first necromancers. Zai is shocked – this is not the Malifaux she remembers – does she want to spend her immortal existence here?
The heroes abandon their construct at the sewer entrance and run through the Necropolis, retracing their earlier path. As they run, they see ghostly forms moving through the corridors, similar to those they saw fighting with Kirai. Anna Mae begins shouting directions at the ghosts, hoping they would follow.
At the machine chamber, the strange engine is glowing with blue-green energy. Parts of it are moving, some in an expected mechanical way and some with eerie biological flows. At the control panel is Hamelin, who cackles, “You’re too late – soon I will be a god!”
“Enough talk!” yells Bal, and Zoraida’s voice in his head says <<STALL>>
“Hamelin, I’m going to punch your machine apart!” yells Bernard.
“You can try!” laughs Hamelin.
Zai enters the room in a burst of illusory fireworks, scattering colorful butterflies rather than sparks and distracting Hamelin from the others’ actions. She throws a knife at him, which sticks in his body and then flows down it, clattering to the floor. Anna Mae freezes in panic. Providence’s eyes glaze over as the latent rat disease sinks into her, and she detonates a freezing blast right on the heroes, slowing them down.
“Snap out of it, soldier!” yells Bal, slapping Providence.
Bernard runs towards Hamelin. “Hey, Hamelin! I got a taste of your rats and I have to say I think you’d taste better! Guess what’s going to happen to your fingers?” Hamelin just laughs, rips one of his own fingers off, and tosses it to the Gremlin; from the stump, vermin flow out and regenerate the finger in seconds. For a moment, Hamelin’s will tries to override Bernard’s, but his Gremlin stubbornness carries him through. A swarm of rats erupts between Bernard and Hamelin and forms into a human shape, roaring with rage.
Providence, shocked by Bal’s slap, breaks free of Hamelin’s control and collapses. Bernard launches into the air, the flames from his jetpack washing over the rat-man and setting it on fire. Adding to the fiery chaos, Zai summons a fire gamin. Bal charges Hamelin and batters at him with his relic hammer, but Hamelin’s vermin form simply oozes around the blows as the avatar laughs in Bal’s face.
Providence stands back up. “Hey, what… you took over my mind! I hate it when people do that!”
Bernard, flying above, mocks the enemy. “I know you want in, Hamelin!” Anna Mae holds up the noose, hoping for some reaction from Hamelin. She believes it is important, but isn’t sure whether she should be putting it on herself or trying to lasso Hamelin. Unfortunately, Hamelin doesn’t react, his focus on his furious melee with Bal. Zai summons another gamin and commands both to sabotage the machine to the best of their ability.
Bernard zooms through the air to punch the machine with full force, badly denting it. As he does, the rat-man snags his leg and sends him crashing into a support pillar, badly injuring him. Providence runs forward, firing a bolt of ice at Hamelin, who simply absorbs it. As he does, he sees Anna Mae’s noose and seems to pale in fear. He sends a blast of plague energy at Bernard and the gamin, and knocks Bernard out of the sky. Bernard slumps to the ground unconscious, his jetpack sputtering as he releases the controls. “You won’t stop me now!” laughs Hamelin, pulling a lever on the machine. The intensity of the glow from the machine increases tenfold, and the machine parts rapidly speed up.
While Hamelin is distracted, Bal finally gets in a good hit with the relic hammer, staggering the vermin avatar. Providence moves up to heal Bernard, while Zai’s gamin tear at the machine innards and Zai throws another knife at Hamelin, which passes through his body without effect.
Suddenly, Kirai runs into the room, brandishing an enormous pair of shears. “Get out of my way,” she hisses.
In Bal’s head, he hears Zoraida’s voice again. <<FINISH HIM>> Hamelin looks afraid as Kirai brandishes the shears at the rat-man, and the beast dissolves into a puddle of steaming slime. Anna Mae looks at the noose in her hand, and suddenly realizes it is meant for Hamelin. Bernard lunges at the machine at claws at Kirai’s ring. In a blast of blue-green energy, he is hurled backwards – but in the same glow, he suddenly grows to a height of six feet, his clothes tearing away as his body expands.
“The god-making machine worked for me!” crows Bernard, still shaking from the energy shock.
Providence fires another ice bolt, and one of Hamelin’s arms is blasted off, freezing and shattering as it hits the ground. Kirai steps forward. “Give me my ring back,” she snarls, and stabs Hamelin through the chest with her shears.
There is a moment of total silence. The blue-green energy from the machine pours into Hamelin, and for a moment he begins to grow – then he explodes in a shower of vermin.
And then the heroes are somewhere else. They stand in the Bayou, and from the sky comes a sound of screaming. A cage formed of living flame plummets from the heavens and crashes in the swamp, exploding and forming a massive crater. In Bal’s mind, Zoraida speaks. <<CHERUFE IS FREE>> she laments.
There is a moment of darkness, and visions fill the heroes’ minds. A gremlin and his pig expanding to three times their normal size. Zoraida transformed into a beautiful woman floating above the swamp. Sonia Criid wreathed in flame, striding through the city, twelve feet tall. Ramos clad in armor like a titan bursting forth from Hollow Point. And then… another moment of darkness.
In the machine chamber, Kirai takes the ring from the half-melted machine and puts it back on her finger. Ghosts and spirits flow into the room and disappear into her shears.
Bal hears Zoraida’s voice once more. <<THE AVATARS HAVE WOKEN>>
And that brings Savage Malifaux to a close for now. Look here for new adventures as playtests begin on new products from Happy Monster Press!
Guided by the prophecies of the Tyrant of Winter, the heroes are exploring the Necropolis underneath Malifaux City for an ancient device that could allow the Tyrant Plague to ascend to godhood.
The group moves through a corridor in the Necropolis and approaches a torch-lit space, proceeding very cautiously. The corridor opens into an immense cave, within which is an insanely complex device like nothing any of the heroes have ever seen. The arcs and curves of the machine seem to bend in ways that human eyes cannot follow.
Working on the machine are four small children guarded by another dozen rats, and supervised by a strange man. Looking closely, Anna Mae sees that the man’s skin seems to be shell over a swarm of writhing vermin. The man sees the heroes and cackles, “I’ve been expecting you…” and runs out the door. “Only one piece left!” his voice trails off into the distance. The rats charge, biting at Bal and Bernard but without effect. Anna Mae freezes in panic, but fortunately behind the battle lines. Providence draws on the power of December and produces a frigid blast of ice shards in the midst of the rats, freezing and shattering several of them. Bal swings his relic hammer and crushes another rat. The small children begin throwing rocks at the heroes; one ricochets off Bernard’s rocket pack.
“I just polished that,” yells Bernard. “Ehh, you’re not worth punching,” he adds to the child who hit his pack, then runs over and kicks a rat into the air and punches it into the wall behind. Zai catches another rat across the back with a thrown dagger.
Providence runs forward to one of the children and picks him up. “You look tasty and helpless. I’m going to eat you and all of your friends.” Shocked, one of the children runs for the corridors.
Anna Mae steps up and begins a droning lecture about parental responsibility and societal norms, stupefying the two remaining children. “Shut up, lady,” one of them mutters. Zai quickly casts an illusion on Providence to make her seem more intimidating as Bal smashes another rat. The last surviving rat attempts to bite both Bal and Bernard, but can’t connect with either.
The last two children shake off their confusion and run, but Anna Mae manages to snag one of them by the wrist. The other yells, “Boss is gonna get you!” as she runs out of the room.
Bernard sighs. “Rats again. When am I going to get something interesting to punch!” and flattens the last rat.
“What about the machine?” suggests Providence.
“Hey, there’s an idea!” grins Bernard, moving over towards it.
“Don’t punch the machine until we know what it does!” shouts Zai. “We don’t want to destroy the city!”
Anna Mae drags her child over to some rocks. “Sit down here,” she demands.
“I’m not doing anything with you, lady,” the child replies, struggling against her grip.
Thinking fast, Zai transforms herself into the strange man who left the room first, the man she thinks of as “the rat guy”. As she strides forward, the child beams. “Boss Hamelin! You came back for me! Get these guys – especially this lady, she’s so mean and boring! Get her, get her!”
“Hey, Providence,” yells Bernard. “You want me to punch that little twerp for you?” He pauses. “Aww, but he’s so cute and harmless. No meat on him either. I just gotta go check out this thing” He walks over and starts poking at the machine. “I’m looking for the big red self-destruct button!”
Bal heads for the machine as well and examines it. The machine makes no sense from an engineering perspective. Bal can tell that it is soul stone powered, and that somewhere in the huge contraption, there must be a whole lot of stones because there's a lot of energy running through this thing. But there are mysterious fluids and what looks like it might be steam or some other vaporous thing and there's electrical stuff happening and arcane plasma is flowing around, and it's just really messed up and he doesn’t have the first idea how to do anything to it, or whether smashing it would be good or bad. Smashing it might shut it down, or it might destroy the city, it's really not clear. Bal also notices as he looks over what he thinks might be the control panel, and what the orphans we're working on, that there is an area of the control panel that has a small cavity in the shape of a small hollow cylinder, basically the shape of a ring. It's surrounded by glowing green serpent iconography. Thinking back, Bal believes that the shape matches Kirai’s spirit ring. “I think the missing piece is back on Kirai’s finger,” he announces.
Providence drags her child over to the shape-shifted Zai. “Boss, boss,” the child cries, “Get this lady off me! She says she’s gonna eat me!” Providence giggles in a slightly unstable fashion, and both children cry “Hamelin, save us!”
Zai replies, “They can’t see me right now,” pointing at the other heroes, “or hear me.”
“Wow, cool!” says the smaller child.
“I’m going to help you break free. You’re going to take an important part from the machine and bring it to me, OK?”
“But, Hamelin, we’re almost finished, right? You didn’t tell us how to take things out.”
“Oh, well, I’m sure you can figure it out.”
“We’ll give it a try boss, but you know, you didn’t tell us how. How do we do this?”
“Just think about the way the last piece went in and do the opposite of that.”
“Oh, that sounds simple, OK!” Providence and Anna feign confusion, and the children scamper over to the machine as Bal steps out of the way. The children open a panel and yank at something within. An enormous blast of coruscating blue-green energy pours over them like slow-moving liquid light. For a moment, the light oscillates, and the skeletons of the children are visible through their translucent flesh, and then they explode.
Taken aback, Bal blurts, “Well that shed some light on the situation.”
Providence goes over to the machine and begins poking at it. “Now where are those soulstones…” she mutters, opening the panel that the children just opened. “Anybody got a crowbar?”
“I think we should leave, right now,” says Bal. “That ring is on the surface – let’s go get it.”
“Yeah, I didn’t sign up to be turned into jelly and exploded!” adds Bernard.
Seeing Anna Mae’s distress about the children, Zai says, “I’m 100% sure those were undead.” Zai and Anna Mae head out of the room, with Bal and Bernard following.
“Guys, I need a crowbar. Guys? Hey guys, wait up!” Providence shouts as she follows the group.
Partway back up to Malifaux City, the group hears strange, liquid groaning sounds coming from behind them. As they turn to look, hideous creatures emerge, seemingly formed of mucus and slime and bubbling with foul greenish vapors. “Those are plague gamins and plague golems!” exclaims Providence. Immediately the heroes make a run for it, with the hideous creatures pursuing. Distracted by the novelty, Providence falls behind the group, and the gamin catch up to her, clawing her badly. Providence collapses to the ground, unconscious and bleeding out. Bal ducks back to pick her up, dodging the gamin, and Anna Mae quickly administers first aid as the group continues to run. Zai casts confusing illusions behind them, fortunately distracting and slowing the golems.
“Give her to me,” yells Bernard.
“Please, take her,” replies Bal, handing the limp Providence over. Bernard kicks his jetpack into gear and carefully pilots himself and Providence through the maze of corridors. Bal stumbles as he hands over Providence, and the gamin start to catch up to him, but he shoots and runs, hitting another of the gamin and killing it before sprinting away. As Bernard flies forwards, Bal grabs onto his jetpack harness for a minute.
“Hey, one at a time!” protests Bernard. He kicks Bal off his harness, but the burst of speed still helps. Zai summons a flame gamin to attack the plague golems. As the heroes flee, the flame gamin claw futilely at the plague golems, only to be crushed, bursting into flaming explosions without any apparent effect on their enemies. Zai drops in another gamin in an attempt to delay the golems, and Anna Mae fires her shotgun back towards them, but with no effect. The fire gamin, however, delay the plague golems long enough for the heroes to escape.
None of the heroes have any ability with healing, but they all make an attempt to patch up Providence – unfortunately without success. Bal and Zai carry her the rest of the way to the surface where, after a brief debate, Zai takes her to Lucius at the Governor-General’s palace to be healed, and the other three heroes head for Kirai’s tower to try to intercept Hamelin…
RIFTS Earth: SET Alpha-1-2 encounters a crashed ship that came from outer space. Featuring Jung Soo, Brendan, Frank, Ron, Frankie, and Bob of the Roll20 Gang.
Guided by the prophecies of the Tyrant of Winter, the heroes are exploring the Necropolis underneath Malifaux City for an ancient device that could allow the Tyrant Plague to ascend to godhood.
After defeating the zombies at the Necropolis entrance, the heroes have two options – a staircase down to the south and a passage west. Taking the stairs, they begin a thorough exploration of this section of the Necropolis. Bernard comments loudly as they proceed through the tunnels, chattering about everything he sees. Zai periodically summons a water gamin as a scout to proceed through the tunnels.
The Necropolis is strange; twisted columns and unnaturally-curved archways lead to passages lit with glowing green flames that give off no heat. Passages turn abruptly into dead ends for no discernable reasons. Here and there niches hold skulls, only a few of them appearing human. After a time of exploration, the heroes reach a section of collapsed wall revealing a narrow passage to a chamber beyond. Zai summons a water gamin to investigate the room, and it quickly returns. “Boss, there’s a big ol’ box in there and a couple statues and some really weird stuff on the walls.”
“Good work,” intones Zai. Providence immediately wedges her way into the room. There she finds a box made of stone bound with metal. Flanking the box are two bronze statues, eight feet tall, and each carrying a chain with a ball on one end and a spike on the other. On the walls are strange mandalas with the suggestion of thorned vines. Anna Mae peers into the room and suggests that the mandalas and therefore the room are ancient Malifaux work, while Providence inspects the statues. Bal also enters the room but lingers cautiously near the door.
After a long pause, Providence touches one of the statues and casts object reading from her new grimoire. She scans backwards in time, reaching a point approximately six months earlier when the wall crashes inwards and two humans enter the room. The humans, having bashed the wall in with hammers, walk over to the chest. As they reach for the chest, Providence’s view is obscured by black and white confetti and a loud roaring fills her ears. When the image clears, she sees one of the humans dragging the bloody body of the other back through the crack in the wall. Scanning further back in time reveals nothing.
Curious, Providence pokes at the statue’s chain, but it is entirely rigid as though welded. After a careful examination of the chest, she finds that caution has the better of her natural curiosity and exits the room with Bal. The heroes continue through the labyrinth and, some time later, find a large room that appears to have been fitted out as a laboratory for a Resurrectionist. Pieces of bodies and bits of flesh lie scattered in the room. A rack of surgical and sewing instruments lies on one wall, while another has a bench of alchemical equipment and shelves of vials and beakers containing mysterious substances. “Hey, it’s a human factory!” exclaims Bernard.
Zai summons a metal gamin and has it test the substances; to her disappointment, none of them are corrosive. Anna Mae checks for books or notes, but finds nothing. Zai scoops up random tools for her stage magic kit, and the others scrounge anything they think might be useful. Zai also takes a couple of severed fingers from the floor, and the heroes proceed.
An hour later, Anna Mae notices a faint glow from a pile of rubble in a corner of the passageway. She heads over to the pile and the others follow. She moves one of the rocks in the pile and discovers a small Soulstone, which she pockets after a brief glance at the others. The heroes continue for some time until Bal hears a noise in the corridor ahead and motions them all for silence.
Zai orders her mannequin to poke its head around the corner and the entire group hears a “Hey, what’s going on there?” from a human voice. Bal takes up a firing crouch with Tawny. A hail of bullets flies down the corridor, punching multiple holes through the mannequin, which drops to the ground, inert, wood splinters flying in all directions. Seeing that the approaching people are hostile, the group falls back up a short staircase and takes position to ambush the attackers. Zai casts an illusion of her mannequin at the bottom of the stairs as a distraction and it is greeted by another hail of gunfire. “Just a fake, boys!” a voice cries out.
Bal ducks around the corner and sees a cluster of men in ragged clothes with revolvers and knives at the base of the stairs. He blasts them with Tawny’s shotgun and rifle barrels, shredding one of the men and nailing another through the chest. “Take cover, boys!” shouts one of the survivors. Before they can, Providence pops around the corner and puts a bullet through another man’s eye, and then pulls power from his departing soul to fuel her magic.
Bernard yells at the remaining men “I’m going to eat your friends, mate! They look delicious!”, thoroughly unnerving the survivors. Zai summons a whiskey gamin, which rolls down the stairs spewing moonshine. Bal kills another man with Tawny, and Bernard charges down the stairs.
One of the last two men yells, “I’m gonna gut you, Gremlin!” at Bernard. Bernard simply steps up and punches him in the throat, killing him. Zai explodes her whiskey gamin, staggering Bernard and finishing off the last human. The heroes collect the guns and knives from the fallen and move on.
A short time later, Providence triggers a pit trap, and Bernard, paying no attention to his surroundings, falls in as well. Fortunately, neither is seriously hurt, and Bal quickly lowers a rope for them to climb up. A few minutes later, the passage opens out into an enormous room crisscrossed with staircases. Three exits lead from the room, two guarded by moving bronze statues, and six glowing runes are embedded in the walls.
Zai summons a metal gamin. “Why don’t you take a stroll down that way?” she suggests.
“How long should I keep strolling, boss?”
“Until something exciting happens.”
The gamin heads into the passage and disappears around a corner. After a long wait, Zai feels the energy from her spell dissipate as the gamin un-summons itself. Providence decides to explore the corridor, and enters it with Bal. They determine after a fair stretch that this passage leads to a large complex, and return to the rest of the group without event. There they find that Zai has been entertaining Anna Mae and Bernard with magic tricks.
Deciding that the guarded passages are more promising, the group begins an investigation of the runes. Anna Mae determines that each glowing rune is a single Malifaux letter, and each is a different color. Working her way around the room, she finds the letters T O G O U L.
“What’s a togoul?” asks Bernard.
“Sounds like some sort of infection you get in the swamp,” suggests Zai.
“I’ve never had a togoul, and I’ve lived in the swamp all my life!” protests Bernard.
Examining the rune, Providence concludes they are likely connected in a single spell that spans the entire room. She approaches the “L” rune and casts her Object Reading spell. As her vision fades into the spell, she observes the light on the rune fade. Moving back through time, she sees the same sequence repeated many times over the last six months – a human approaches, touches the “L” rune, then goes to the “O” rune and touches that, then disappears upstairs for a bit, then comes back down and touches the “U” rune, then disappears back upstairs. Each rune darkens as it is touched. Providence reports this information and Anna Mae suggests that, based on her knowledge of Malifaux culture, the letters are probably more significant than the numbers.
Providence touches the “O” rune, then ascends the stairs and touches the other “O” rune with her Object Reading power. The rune darkens and then lights back up, there is a gong sound in the room, and all four statues briefly look at Providence. However, Providence is able to observe the other half of the process and sees that the order to touch the runes is L O G O U T. She does so, and the statues freeze at attention next to the exits. After a quick check for traps with a gamin, the group heads south and downstairs.
After an hour of peaceful exploration, Bernard and Anna Mae trigger a pit trap, falling into a hole filled with flames. Providence and Zai react quickly, summoning a water gamin and an ice pillar; neither extinguishes the fire, but the pillar provides hand-holds to allow Bernard and Anna Mae to escape relatively unharmed. Providence patches the two up and the group continues to explore. Around an hour later, they hear a clattering sound. Zai recognizes it as the sound of skeletal feet on stone. “Skeletons!” she hisses. The heroes take up stealthy positions, and hear the footsteps slowly stop just around a corner ahead. Bal curses under his breath and leans around the corner, firing Tawny’s shotgun barrel into a skeleton, who reels backwards into its five companions.
The skeletons charge around the corner right into Bernard’s fist; the gremlin rocks the skeleton back, but another swings a sword at him and stabs him through the arm. A third skeleton swings at Bal but misses, and then the remaining three fire crossbows. One hits Bal and deflects off his armored coat into the wall, causing him to duck and yell. Anna Mae steps up and fires over Bernard’s head, killing one skeleton and sending the one behind it reeling. Zai summons a round metal gamin, and Providence reaches for Bernard. She casts “Instill Youth” and de-ages Bernard, removing his wound. “I’m young and virile!” cackles Bernard.
From his crouch, Bal seizes the sword from the fallen skeleton and slashes it upwards, shattering another of the undead. Providence attacks with her own rune-carved sword and crushes another skeleton. Zai bowls her gamin into the skeletons, requiring them to dodge out of the way. Bal moves in and slaughters another of the undead with his borrowed sword, and the last skeleton swipes at Zai’s gamin. Anna Mae finishes the last skeleton with her tri-barrel shotgun pistol.
The heroes continue their exploration until they hear strange thumpings from ahead and see torchlight. They move in to peer around the corner, only for Bal to slip and fall flat on his face in plain view of the… partygoers? A strange gathering seems underway in the Necropolis, with men in fancy dress dancing with undead showgirls, a zombie band, and socialites perusing trays of hors d’oeuvres. “Oh, my friends! We’re not too late! Yes? Yes?” exclaims Zai. “Our costumes are on point!” This bluff seems successful, as the party continues unabated.
One of the gentlemen moves over and says, “Well, aren’t you the pretty one! Shall we dance? Love the mask.”
His dance partner approaches and extends an undead hand to Bal. “I hope you are better on the dance floor than you are walking in corridors.” She twirls him into the throng and asks, “So, are you a student at Transmortis too?”
“Maybe in a past life,” mutters Bal, and his partner giggles.
A lab-coated gentleman proffers a tray to Anna Mae and asks, “Would you care for a canape?” Anna Mae accepts one but stealthily tucks it into a pocket. Providence steps up and immediately takes one, and asserts it is delicious.
Zai spends some time chatting up the partygoers, and determines most of the living are students at an institution in the Necropolis called Transmortis University, apparently some sort of necromantic educational facility.
Working their way through the crowd, the heroes find an exit leading south and descend into a lower level of the Necropolis. They continue their explorations until they hear the approaching sound of metal feet. Providence quickly uses her Warrior’s Gift spell to grant Bernard the ability to pre-emptively strike at any opponent who approaches, while Zai peers around the corner with a mirror from her stage magic kit. She reports this and Providence proposes, in a whisper, “I can cast an ice pillar in their midst once they get a bit closer. Raise your hand if you think that’s a bad idea.”
“I don’t know that it’s a good idea, but I also don’t know that it’s a bad one,” mutters Anna Mae.
“Look, if it’s got flesh, I shoot it,” says Bal. At that point, the armored constructs round the corner, raising swords over their shields. Anna Mae freezes and ducks into an alcove, while Zai summons an ice gamin and Providence drops an ice pillar into the center of the construct formation, sending them smashing into the walls. Bernard swings with his right fist and, just for a moment, triggers his jetpack with his left hand; his rocket-boosted punch knocks the head clean off one of the enemy.
“That’s what you get!” yells Bernard, apropos of nothing.
Bal races into the corridor, then yells, “My powder’s wet, boys, you’re on your own!” diving to the floor. Providence casts Warrior’s Gift again on Bernard, giving him the ability to retaliate when someone misses him with an an attack. Bernard promptly finds an opening between the shields of two constructs and punches one’s leg off, sending it crashing to the ground in a shower of sparks. Bal stands up and dusts himself off, looking a bit sheepish, then blasts another construct with Tawny’s shotgun barrel. Anna Mae attempts to distract the constructs with a detailed discussion of early Malifaux poetry, while Zai sends her gamin in to explode among the three remaining constructs, destroying all of them.
A short distance up the corridor, Bal feels a strange pull to enter one of the side chambers. Deciding to go with it, he enters, and sees the source of the pull – a long-handled hammer partially embedded in the floor. The hammer’s head is graved with runes that glow with an eldritch blue-green fire. Even as Anna Mae recognizes the weapon as ancient Malifaux workmanship, Bal lifts it easily with one hand. “Got myself a new toy,” he grins. Providence rushes up and touches the hammer, casting Object Reading, which, curiously, the hammer seems to resist. 100 years of time scanning reveals that exactly nothing has happened until Bal just picked the hammer up.
Bal has a strange sense in his mind, and states it out loud. “This here’s my relic hammer. Yeah.”
Zai recognizes the term. Relic hammers were forged in the war against the Tyrants. They were designed to fight the forces of a specific Tyrant, although which is not clear from the markings on the hammer.
“That’s weak,” says Bernard, and punches the hammer. A wave of force knocks him back into the wall of the chamber. “Yeah, that hammer’s weak,” he continues when he gets his breath back. “If it were me, I’d have punched me through the wall.”
“We’re making so much noise,” worries Anna Mae.
After another hour of walking, the heroes turn a corner and crash directly into a dozen dog-sized rats. Two immediately bite Providence and Bernard, but only Bernard is injured. Providence immediately summons an ice pillar at the corner, blocking most of it and exploding two of the rats into her and Bernard’s faces. Bernard licks the rat remains. “Gross!” he yells, surprised at the foul taste. Providence takes a lick as well and spits it out. Bernard thinks about the taste for a minute and realizes the rats are diseased.
Zai throws a dagger through the gap between the ice pillar and the wall and strikes a rat squarely between the eyes, killing it. Bal shoots another with Tawny. Bernard continues shaking and spitting out rat blood. Anna Mae takes a turn with her rifle and shoots another rat dead. One of the rats squeezes its head through the gap and bites at the confused Bernard, but cannot quite reach him; the remaining rats begin gnawing on the pillar itself. Providence fires wildly and grazes one of the gnawing rats, then Bal shoulders everyone aside and slams the rat attacking Bernard with his new hammer into the floor.
Shaking off his confusion, Bernard steps up and punches a rat left-handed, sending it slamming into a wall and dropping to the floor dead. With most of their number dead, the rats flee. Providence dismisses the ice pillar and the group proceeds further into the Necropolis.
The group approaches another torch-lit space, proceeding very cautiously. The corridor opens into an immense cave, within which is an insanely complex device like nothing any of the heroes have ever seen. The arcs and curves of the machine seem to bend in ways that human eyes cannot follow. Working on the machine are four small children guarded by another dozen rats, and supervised by a strange man. Looking closely, Anna Mae sees that the man’s skin seems to be shell over a swarm of writhing vermin. The man sees the heroes and cackles, “I’ve been expecting you…” and runs out the door.