Players: Chris V, Chris L, Joe
The story picked up the next morning. As Duban’s preparing for the day, Jamal runs in and tells him there’s been a fight at the north-east gate. Something to do with the Obsidian Claws. Everyone gets their stuff together, and head out.
At the gate, there’s a bunch of dead Obsidian Claws next to a rank of camels, loaded for travel. Duban goes in to look at the bodies, Farouk tries to overhear gossip. and Fazzik gets high up and starts surveying the crowd.
Getting in close, Duban can tell that some of the bodies were stabbed in the back, and that some of the corpses are using weapons of a different mark to the others. The brothers are less lucky; Farouk can’t pick out any useful information from the chatter and Fazzik can’t pick out anyone paying particular attention to the investigators. The crowd shift away from the bodies, though, as a large squad of Hand and Eye heavies move in. As soon as their sergeant starts calling for witnesses, Duban goes up and tells them what he found out. They’re thankful, and tell him to drop by a guardhouse if he finds out anything more.
As Duban heads home, Fazzik notices someone break off from the crowd, blend in with another group and start following him. Duban makes his way home through the twisty back routes, and soon there’s no group for the stalker to blend in with. There’s a moment of uncertainty as both Fazzik and his quarry seem undecided what to do next. Then, in an instant, there’s an arrow where he used to be and he’s darting down a side alley.
A very quick range and cover follows. The guy breaks out knives and starts scrambling up to the rooftops, Fazzik edges round to get a line of sight on him, and Duban runs to the alleyway to get a glimpse of him and help out Fazzik. Fazzik wins the first volley easily, lines up the arrow, and launches a superb shot that pins the stalker to the wall and outright slays him.
There then follows a farcical sequence wherein Fazzik tries to get the body down from the wall, fails, Duban considers pulling him down, decides not to, Fazzik cuts the clothes off the corpse and rifles through his pockets, the corpse falls down of its own accord, and they stuff it in a barrel and roll it home. Over the course of this, they work out that he was a member of another tiny guild – the Ebon Boars.
While this was going on, Farouk was busy in his own way. Firstly, he went to seek the Obsidian Claws, but as he failed the Circles test they were all locked up in their guildhouse having an emergency meeting. Still, he wasn’t discouraged. With his comprehensive disguise kit and extensive wardrobe, he disguised himself as a prosperous merchant and went to seek an audience with Mukhtar, head of the Red Blades. At the gates, he presents himself as a trader in information who can tell them of the Obsidian Claws’s plans. A difficult falsehood test is passed, and he’s taken inside. This time, Mukhtar receives him in his office, which is plush and fancy. He greets Farouk with a handshake, exchanges pleasantries, and then they get down to business, haggling over the information.
Eventually they decide that in exchange for Farouk giving him information on the Claws, he will let him in to the Red Blade’s plans. Farouk makes up a very convincing lie that the Obsidian Claws were planning on going deep into the Elf hunting grounds, and strangely enough Mukhtar reveals that his guild were already expecting them to take that course of action! Farouk hides his surprise, though, and Mukhtar goes on to tell him of the Red Blade’s plans; to increase their hold on the city by welcoming smaller guilds into their fold and disposing of them if they don’t want to join. Soon, he says, they will move against the Obsidian Claws and gain wealth and glory. Their deal concluded, they shake hands and Farouk leaves.
Everyone meets up back at the guildhouse for lunch. There’s some discussion of what to do next, and the body is rolled down to the basement. Lunch is interrupted, though, by a voice calling to see if anyone’s in – it’s Mara ibn Maliq! Farouq quickly hides himself among the guards eating lunch, as Duban goes to talk to his sister.
He goes out into the courtyard and sees her curiously looking round at the house, a servant at her side carrying shopping. They warmly greet each other, but she’s soon inquiring about their investigation into the missing luxuries, as apparently the Orchid has a party planned. Unfortunately, there’s not much to report; the Hand knows that they were definitely offloaded from the rat’s boats, and never made it to the guild’s warehouses, but that’s about it. Mara looks disappointed, and reveals that she kinda has an ulterior motive; she thought this could be a good way to get Duban and Shari talking again. It’s clear that Duban’s rejection of the Desert Orchid hurt her too, and she wants him to try and make amends.
Duban’s too busy thinking about this to notice the momentary look of shock on Mara’s face as Farouk leans round a corner and waves. Through an extended sequence of nonverbal communication, he motions for her to come inside and talk. After some small talk with Duban, Mara excuses herself to go find the bathroom, and quickly seeks out Farouk. A brief, whispered discussion in the bathroom along the lines of “What are you doing here?!”, “What are you doing here?!”, “You’re in his Guild?!”, “You’re his sister?!” etc follows, and they resolve to meet up that night at Farouk’s secret shack. Mara makes her exit, though not before asking if anyone else can smell something rotting.
As Duban helps her and her servant carry their boxes back to the Desert Orchid, Farouk and Fazzik head off to the outer city to solve the mystery of the missing shipments. As they investigate, though, it becomes clear to them that only one group is big enough to have taken all these shipments and hidden them through the outer city; their father’s gang. Meanwhile, Duban is welcomed to the Desert Orchid, and manages to get a list of the missing provisions from the Orchid’s Maitre D.
Little else happens that evening; Farouk and Mara meet up and share a bottle of Mukhtar’s finest wine, and Fazzik scouts the outer city some more. In the morning, Duban gathers everyone together in the shrine, and performs a small ritual calling Zarus to bless Fazzik’s scouting efforts that day. It’s a great success, and as Fazzik’s eyes are covered in shadow he finds he can see other people and their relations to others more clearly (+1D to streetwise). This is a great help as he and Farouk go to find their father’s storehouses.
Working together, they eventually find a row of houses that they know will have their basements linked for storage. Guards posted in covert locations watching the street make it certain that this is the place. As the brothers watch, the shutters to the basement open, and a group of cloaked figures carrying boxes climb out. They load them onto a waiting cart, nod to the guards, and are off. Although they’re clearly guild members, the bothers decide getting the Orchid’s goods back are a higher priority. They hatch a plan; Fazzik goes to steal a cart (and succeeds), while Farouq bluffs the guards into thinking he’s back with the gang and that the Desert Orchid have paid up (ridiculously enough, he succeeds too). Soon, the cart’s loaded, and Farouq drives it off and goes to meet Duban. One of the guards goes to tell the boss about the deal, though.
Fazzik stays behind to see what happens, and soon sees a group of thugs marching down the street lead by his father, Jamil. There’s a brief, terse confrontation, and then quick as a flash Jamil is stabbing the guard in the gut. In the space of a few minutes, he’s got the guards carrying the crates from the basement up and off to numerous other storehouses. Jamil checks the rooftops with a quick glance, but fails to spot Fazzik. Then, he’s off.
At the Desert Orchid, the Maitre D is extremely grateful to receive the crates of supplies, and shows Duban up to his mother’s office. As he enters Shari looks up from her overcrowded desk, and gives him a calculating look. There follows a tense discussion; she makes it very clear that although the Desert Orchid is very grateful for the Hand of Zarus’ aid, she personally has in no way forgiven Duban for what she sees as his betrayal. She even hints that she doesn’t think Zarus is even a god worthy of respect. Still, she promises to let the other guilds know who got the Orchid’s supplies back for them.
It’s late at night at the guildhouse. Only Fazzik is in a position to notice when there’s a strange sound in the grounds, and he immediately sends Jamal to warn the others. He climbs down, and after some scouting finds one of the guild’s enforcers. He’s dead, his neck cut. Glancing quickly back at the guildhouse, he can just make out two shadowy figures going into the first and second floors. Fezzik quickly draws and looses an arrow, catching the one in the top floor.
(Meanwhile, Farouk sitting in his barricaded room hears an ‘Erk’ noise outside his room, and then silence.)
Fezzik quickly gathers the help of two of the guards, and battle is joined. I handled this with a range and cover, which I reckon was the right system as it focuses on who gets the drop on who. Not sure, though, if bows were appropriate for the situation. In future, I might go with melee and short-range weapons only. Fazzik and the guards sweep through the compound, putting arrows into one assassin after another. As they are driven off, Fazzik takes to the roof to try for one more shot on the final unwounded assassin. This proves to be incautious, however, and even as his arrow takes down the fleeing man another shot comes from a far rooftop, driving deep into Fazzik’s chest and delivering a mortal wound!
Fazzik spends the Persona to not just die, but urgently needs medical attention. Jamal drags him down to the shrine, and as Duban urgently gathers the guild together in prayer Farouk runs to circle up a surgeon. He finds one still up at this late hour, and cajoles him into racing back to the guild. Meanwhile, Duban is leading the guild in one of the most challenging prayers he’s ever tried: a miracle to halt Fazzik’s bleeding and save his life. Pulling on the will of the guild and the benediction of Zuban, he rolls an amazing 11 successes! The guild courtyard falls into a strange twilight as all its darkness is pulled into the shrine room, pouring into Fazzik. Nobody keeps their cool in the face of this terrifying sight, and Farouk’s surgeon flees screaming as the shadows envelop Fazzik in a cocoon of darkness. Finally, the ritual is done; not only is Fazzik’s mortal wound treated, it’s downgraded to a Traumatic. Even so, he’ll be out of it for at least 4 months.