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…