Crispin says nothing as Jack eagerly reaches for one of his sandwiches. The man hesitates only briefly, then nods a quiet approval, and pushes an additional sandwich in Jack's direction as well. "S'a pretty good eye, mate! Yeah, I'm Shifter. But, I don't hold stock with the Prince, or those savages among the Wild-Kind!" Crispin straightens his back with pride. "I'm an Independent Contractor!"
Crispin takes a large bite from his own sandwich, and waves the remains around as he addresses Jack. "You're the one that stole the boat and crashed it into Fire+Water before you ran off shrieking like a lunatic, right? You sound... different than I remember. Did you just get over a cold or something?"
Cripsin sighs at Oaks talk of threats. "Look, big guy, just don't take it personal, right?...I don't want to knife anyone anymore than I wanna poison em'...but try to look at it from my point of view. Coulda' just hollered and got your friend collared right then and there today! I chose to play the long game because it seemed the sharper play... And I don't intend to get burned about it!"
Cripsin, gruffly sipping his beer, points it like an accusation at Oak. "If you have the brass to let out all the animals on the Ark, you," here he points at Jack. "Are the sort of person to either rip, shit, or piss over every piece of fabric inside of SPLASH, and you," here he points to Urixes. "Robbed a Casino, you're all probably capable of anything. Certainly the murder of a Barista. I'm just doing my due diligence not to die!"
"Now," Crispin says, smiling devilishly at Urixes. "What's the plan here? Do we wait til dark, head towards where you stashed the loot? Is it gonna be all of us? Even at night, these two are gonna draw attention. Might be a good call to split up...or," he adds hopefully, a grin coming over his face. "...I could go alone! Bring the stash back, take my cut, tell you where to find the key to the antidote, and we could wish each other a nice life!" Crispin's eyes practically glow as he considers the possibilities. Taking another sip of beer, he muses, "Shit, you could keep the Safehouse, at that point..."
Barnabas nods to the Changeling. “I apologize. Place is usually a lot more welcoming of strangers, I can assure you!” The black robed priest goes to put on his hat and coat. As he grabs the rifle upon the table, he turns back to Fig Guerra and the Scurry once more:
“Watch the place while I’m gone then, you two. I’ll be giving this one an escort. We’re going to seek testimonials from the Sea of Sighs. Then, I’ll be checkin’ in with Orthro…see how that eye of his is doing, and I’ll make sure he doesn’t overcharge our young friend here...”
As he pulls on the coat and turns to leave, he takes in Arno’s tale of Evvdia, and the sinking of Villam. His face whitens, and his jowls tighten. The eyes turn into small pinpricks of pure hatred within his wizened brow. With a shuffle quicker than the Changeling would’ve credited him for, he strides over to the wall of the Hunter’s Most Wanted, and plucks three of the portraits from their ranks. The Scurry, *BUZZING* with irritation, follows Barnabas’s movements from just behind, angry at their work being taken down…
Barnabas places the three mugshots before Arno. “This the demon?”, he asks, pointing at a dead-accurate, 100% faithful depiction of Evvdia. Barnabas can already see recognition in Arno’s eyes…”Uh-huh, uh-huh…and what about these other two, you recognize them?” The pictures Barnabas places before the Druid are of Urixes (definitely him, although doing something different with his hair, and tattoos in places they aren’t now. The word ALIVE is written very clearly on the bottom of the page, and underlined more than twice), and of a third party, whom Arno doesn’t recognize at all. Clearly of demon heritage, though, from the picture:(The information sketched upon the mugshot affirms this character to be “Chic the Brick”, a Bulezau Demon and known murderer/drug supplier/child trafficker. Last known location is marked: ? In *brilliant* bold colors across the bottom it reads “DEAD OR ALIVE”)
Barnabas’s eyes watch Arno fiercly, hungrily. He nods, once he finishes questioning the Changeling. “Yeh…alright. So here’s what’s gonna happen. Fig? Close up shop fer the day: I want you to go see the Queen, an’ tell her what you just heard discussed. Every word.”
“Sir?” croaks Fig, with respectful confusion.
Barnabas withdraws a pouch of snuff from a front pocket, and takes a deep, loud *SNIFF*. Shaking his head from the rush, he replies, “Queen needs to know what this little one is suggesting. Immediately. If what he’s saying is true…and I’m beginning to suspect it is…then we need this whole goddamned place on high-alert.”
“We’re already on high-alert!” replies Fig, openly irritated. “What with her “not-friends” rousting the place, the Professor’s “demonstration”, the dignitaries in town…the strikes….” Fig’s eyes now widen too, and she turns to look at Barnabas and Arno with a dawning horror. “Oh shit…we’re sitting on a powder keg!”
“R-i-g-h-t,” says Barnabas, grinning now that the woman has caught up. “So you know own business, then. Now get to it!” Fig is already closing shutters and locking containers, now eager and on board with what’s occurring. “Scurry!” Barnabas yells over the buzzing of the bees, who float before him and calm to a yellow and black glimmer. “Summon “the Scallywags”, *just* in case! Set them as eyes about the city!” The pile of bees seems to…nod?....and then, with a whirl of sound and movement, the hive *BUZZES* out the door and into the streets of Chaff…
Barnabas turns back to the Changeling. When Arno wasn’t looking, he’d retrieved a strange, gaudy looking monocle from his front pocket, and jammed it into his right eye. “Get yer’ “Skin” on, lad!” The man says, shouldering his rifle. “Then we’re gonna take yer’ walk to Sea of Sighs…and on the way, yer gonna tell me everything you know about Evvdia, Urixes, and Chic the Brick….”
”So you can confirm the reports: that Villam has been destroyed? I knew some of the lesser details, but this information should help us quite a bit, thank you!”
”You mentioned the Rak’ta and Chameleons leaving the island Villam…we’ve seen some sudden activity in town these past few days among our lizardfolk population. Lot o’ gathering an meeting in secret kind of stuff. An’ you showed up in the guise of a lizardfolk: know anything going on I should be worried about?”
”This “Wild Bunch” moniker you said you picked up with some of your Crew…who were the other members, may I ask? I’m assuming the Tiefling was one…”
”You said you ran into Doppelgangers on the planar ship. To your knowledge, did any leave at that time to come the “other” way? Did Evvdia discuss any plans with any of the doppelgangers there to enter the Expanse, or its neighboring regions? Do you want me to take a look at your Crew, make sure everyone is…you know,” Barnabas tweaks the gaudy monocle within his eye several times, and winks knowingly to the Shifter. “Would be a curtesy if you’re concerned…”
”Do you have any idea where the vessel could be now?”
”This Tiefling shipmate…is he still part of your Crew? Any chance I could catch a word with him? What do you think Evvdia means, when she said he “wasn’t hers”? Was this like, in a figurative sense…literal…can you add anything to that?...”
”When you say Evvdia may have been released, what do you mean? Into the Expanse? Elsewhere? Do you have any idea where she might be right now?”
Crispin eats his sandwich as he takes in all of what Urixes and Jack have to tell him. The man’s ears turn a violent bright pink as Urixes insults him, but he breathes deeply and attempts to appear unconcerned. As the Tiefling threatens him, the Shifter makes himself a smaller and smaller target, curling up almost into a ball. The Shifter, trying to look away as best he can from the terrifying sounds and sights, quietly takes in the information Urixes has to share, not moving from the floor. But once the Wild Bunch are done, Crisping finishes his meal, slowly. After he finally, silently finishes his beer, the stern man turns to face Urixes, wiping the mess from his face and with fatalism in his eyes. He’s quivering, in a way that’s only barely noticeable…but still holds his ground:
“Yeah…you could wipe me out, between the three of you. Knew that coming in the door. But ye’d have to catch me first. And if I go down…and I don’t check in with certain people regularly?. This house will become a lot less safe. Trust me,”
The Shifter stands up to face the Wild Bunch, and *HISSES* towards Urixes. “And you think a Cat doesn’t know about nine lives? Been dead at least four times, myself…”
“All the same,” he says, straightening his back and pacing near the hidden murphy bed. “…and you say it wasn’t actually you? Hrrrm…well, that certainly changes things.” Crispin taps his hip, where it looks like the hilt of a knife is concealed. He makes frustrated mutterings as he paces, clearly on edge and agitated. Finally, he comes to a decision about something, and *HUFFS* with frustration. He turns back to the group, now attempting congeniality and diplomacy.
“Alright, so you say you weren’t the criminals. But that means someone else came through…used your faces to pull a job? I suppose, in that case, it would be “neighborly” of me to let you know what these “fellows” accomplished in your names…”
“The one who looked like Jack, as I said before, ruined the insides of the classy threads shop, SPLASH. They say he either ripped, shit, or pissed on every single fabric in the place. Did about 6,000gp in damages, from what the Owner keeps saying…”
“He stole a boat from the Shipyard, some little cruiser, an’ crashed it into the kilns at FIRE + WATER…”
“An’ he trashed the insides of Othro’s Oddities, and when the Big Fellow himself floated over to stop him, he stabbed him right in his big eye!”
”Oak is supposed to be the one they saw loitering around the Ark, asking questions about the vicious types, right before half their animals got loosed in the city…”
“He was also seen near the Shipyard warehouses, specifically the one where the Professor keeps his experiments. One of em’ got banged up pretty badly, so I’ve heard…it’s the reason he had to cancel his demonstrations today.”
“And he was seen near the Cartographer’s Ship, before the whole thing burned to a crisp…”
”An then there’s you, Demon-Kind. Someone raised the freshly dead, over at the Home of the Final Voyage.”
“Someone imported a parasitic flower from Ozoro’s remedy shop, and planted it over half the boardwalks in the city…”
“And then, of course, there was the Casino incident. You…well, I guess not you…made a big score, somewhere in the neighborhood of 20,000gp, all within about an hour. He got accused of cheating, but before the ships authorities could get to him, he’d disappeared. If you don’t know where the money is, it might still be out there somewhere….” The Shifter’s eyes light up greedily.
”Of course, before all this, from what I’d heard, Oak and Jack had already drank the tap dry at every Tavern in town, and ate out stock in half the kitchens besides. An’ then at the end o' things, they ran together a posse, an' the group was nearly apprehended by Gorgeous Grigmar and his crew at sea, but they put up a hell of a fight, kicked em’ off Ship, an managed to escape!”
Crispin, still clearly making adjustments to the Wild Bunch not being the crew he thought they were, turns and attempts to tangle with the situation:
“Alright, so you’re not the big score I thought you were….maybe a bit more trouble than you’re worth…but I can still make this work! I’ll tell you what,” Crispin says, turning to Urixes. “With my sincere apologies for the misunderstanding, I can sell you this whole place…and the antidote…for 300gp. More than a deal, for the safety and security you all need in a pinch, yeah? Of course,” the stern man says, carefully appraising Jack and Oak. “I’d need the money up front, and to be well out of here first. Rather not get my throat ripped out just for doing favors. I’ll write down the location of the antidote, and the key to the box on a slip of paper, an stick it to the front door as I leave: you can all fish it out while I go…”
“After that, I’m gonna get the fuck out of this City,” Crispin says, shaking his head incredulously. “This cat knows trouble when he sees it, and this place seems like it’s sailing into a big batch of it! I intend to be well gone when it hits! So what do you say,” the stern man asks, extending a wary hand towards the group. “Do we have a deal, then?”
Barnabas makes some additional notes from Arno’s interview. He keeps stopping to look up and scan the neighborhood around. The priest seems, tense, on edge; as if something were wrong, but he didn’t want to spook Arno by saying so…
“Thank you for your forthright information,” he nods, clearly grateful. He speaks up only three times while Arno explains things. Once, as they discuss Slevin. “I’ll be stopping by the Ship to interview your “sweet dwarf lady”; you all are in port for what was it, three, four days? Just to double-check, you understand…” Once in regards to talk of the Tiefling, “Sure I’ll finally be making this one’s acquaintance, lad, sooner rather than later this time.” The final time, to gently, but firmly correct Arno on the Great Snake. “Six. It were six Keys ter’ break “the Teeth”.” The black robed priest smiles with lips only, and shrugs humbly. “Bit of a historical an’ religious buff…it’s me hobby…”
As Arno speaks up for their Shifter friends: “If…when, we get to your friends, they’re likely to come under our protection…at least before we talk to the Queen,” Barnabas says, noncommittal but not unkindly to Rak’ta*Arno. “But if all you say ends up to be true, I don’t see “Deputies” being entirely out of the question. It’s a….well, we’ll need to get their names cleared first. But let’s just say for now, I appreciate the offer and will take it under consideration!”
The hustle and bustle from midday has died down, and a strange feel is in the air. Around the pair, the streets have become quietly menacing. People seem to peek with fear from behind shuttered windows, and the pirates passing through do so in a hurry, with eyes cast down.
From somewhere in the distance, a drunken voice screams at the top of its lungs, “Then-fook,-y-o-o-u-tooooooo!” The sound of a bottle breaking on wood, and then another. Feet scamper, and men holler with unrestrained bloodlust.
Barnabas finishes up with the notebook as you reach the Pleasure Craft, and he looks around warily. “Hrrmph. Bad business in the air tonight. Stay nearby, alright?” The two climb the gangplank, and enter the side of the Sea of Sighs. A man behind the desk, eyes freshly blackened and nose patched up with plaster, greets the two happily!
“Afternoon, Sheriff Barnabas!” the man (Mr. Pryce) eagerly welcomes the pair. “And, to your handsome Rak’ta friend there. I assume,” the man says, leaning over the desk pointedly. “That you’re here to protect us from the building unpleasantness?”
“Tell us what’s going on, Mr. Pryce,” Barnabas says, leaning intently against the counter.
Mr. Pryce looks around, making sure no one is coming from the front door or behind. Then he leans in, “The workers, especially the old Union workers, are absolutely furious. The Dogs shut down the Marauder’s Market today….are aiming to keep it shut down through the evening an’ tomorrow even!”
“I’d heard,” Barnabas says, nodding somberly.
“Well, the Union crew spent their forced “day-off” getting piss-drunk and working themselves up!” whispers Mr. Pryce. “They already had it out with Pom in the middle of the market, and now they’ve been gathering around town, arming themselves. An as if to piss em’ off, the Wild Kind and Dogs have been getting rowdy in town, showing off, breaking things. There’s fear that things are about to get very hot!”
“Of course they are,” breathes Barnabas (Arno isn’t sure if he’s whispering to them, or just himself) “Listen,” the priest says to Mr. Pryce. “I need to go conduct a quick interview with the Owner of “the Love Revolution”. Can you watch my friend, make sure they stay fully safe until I get back?”
“Errr, yes sir,” Mr. Pryce says, nodding respectfully over towards Arno. “But I must say once again, I am afraid the tension out there is about to pop any single…”
“Yeh, yeh, I can feel it myself.” Barnabas says, pushing past. “That’s why I need to confirm some facts from my friends immediately. Just a quick word if you will…” Barnabas says, and disappears past the proprietor.
”Deal!” says the Cat too-quickly, grabbing Oak’s fist and deftly shaking his hand, just the once. With a somber, respectful nod towards the Shifters and the Tiefling, Crispin adjusts his collar with pride. Withdrawing a roll of receipt paper and a quill from one of his many pouches, he begins to sketch something upon the end of the paper, as he inches slowly towards the front door.
“Look, you’re right, big guy, some mistakes got made!” Cripsin says, eyes firmly upon the paper. “But I said I was sorry, alright? Just hope you guys don’t spend so long in the Expanse, that you end of with your own list o’ mistakes!” He finishes his note, and places it inside one of the pouches, turning expectantly back towards the Bunch. Hand extending, he asks: “Well? Shall we complete our business then?”
"And mister Tiefling...may I have my cloak returned to me, please?"
Mr. Pryce bites his upper lip apprehensively. Arms crossed and pouting, he responds, “I don’t think you’re deputy to anyone!” Then banging noises come from outside somewhere nearby, and the man unconsciously goes to pat the plaster on his nose. He turns back to Rak’ta*Arno, having quickly changed his tune. “Errr…all the same, though, if Barnabas wants me to keep a close eye, I suppose we should probably look after each other…”
The man clears his throat, puts up a solitary “patience, please” finger, and takes a long, strong drink from a nearby glass of water. Arno takes in the Entry Room as he does so: lush tables and chairs (many more than the room really needs); beautiful, sturdy looking shelves with expensive knick-knacks upon them; curtains, carpets and drapes similar in style (though much cheaper) than the ones at the Camel. The exit back towards the pleasure craft’s rooms are heart shaped, joined to a large, circular door which seals the Ship tightly from the inside. The walk up doors Arno and Barnabas just walked through are sturdy and double-latched, but aged, and the hinges incredibly creaky. Two port-style windows look out upon a suddenly darkening afternoon in Chaff. Outside, gangs of people begin to gather on street corners, looking outwardly suspicious and not seeming to care…
“What I think…” Mr. Pryce finally says, placing the water down with a quaking hand, and beginning to fiddle with something unseen beneath the counter. “…is that the city is building to a full-blown riot. Haven’t seen one but once in this town, decade back when the Storms wouldn’t leave for a whole season…and then the Queen put it down post-haste. I hope she’s ready to do it again now…”
Mr. Pryce withdraws a pistol (the same type as Jack’s, but much smaller) nervously from beneath the counter, and places it in his front pocket with a certain amount of disdain. He fishes around in his back pocket and continues: “This time, it’s been the bad trading disputes. The liquor shortage. Trader’s Union being slaughtered. Then those Bandits ran through town the other day, just striking the hornet’s nest,” Mr. Pryce sighs and fiddles with a cigarette, talking more to himself than to Arno at this point. “The Casino…the Professor, and all the out of towners. Should’ve been easy to see where it could go so wrong. So why didn’t she stop it…?”
As Arno listens, they take the opportunity to subtly peer out the window, taking in the affect of the crowds which are gathering. There seem to be five types of groups out in the quickly souring crowds:
- Tightly packed groups of Civilians, trying to stay together for protection and just get safely where they’re going
- Wild-Kind, visiting the town for a special event, worked up, drunk, and boisterous, walking around like they own this town
- Union Men, well-armored and marching-well organized. Camouflaged under standard sailor gear, and blending in almost seamlessly with the crowds
- Opportunists: Marauders, Murderers, Scumbags and Worse. Degenerates smart enough to take advantage of the situation for foul deeds and the excuse to be sadistic
- The Queen’s Men, walking around and attempting to keep order and calm people down
- The Sun Prince’s Dogs, walking around in tight, professional formation. Drawing ire on purpose at this point and practically daring the crowd to have a go at them
Mr. Pryce is right. Things haven’t reached a head yet, but Arno would be surprised if ten, fifteen more minutes passed before one of these groups choose violence and sets the whole powder keg alight!
Crispin, with a smile and a wink, takes Oak's money and disappears into the crowds floating around Chaff.
His note leads to a key hidden underneath one of the Ship's floorboards, which seems to work for the front door, the exit-door below the Ship, as well as the safe hidden under the Murphy bed.
The safe *SNAPS* open to reveal several items:
- A single dose of 5oz. liquid (the poison antidote Urixes sought);
- A change of clothes, simple (only fits Jack);
- A change of clothes, fancy (only fits Jack);
- A keyring containing x5 lockpick
- A small supply of Hardtack, and two canteens: one containing water, one containing whiskey
The clear leader in this area grins with malice as the Shifter walks out to confront the Dogs amongst the gathering. He listens attentively (if with a somewhat impatient affect) as the Changeling attempts to trick the group into vacating the area. As Arno finishes with a flourish, the Shifter’s eyes narrow dangerously. He gives a pompous laugh, doubling over as his fellows join in. Wiping away a single tear, the man is just about to respond, when one of his Shifter comrades grabs his shoulder. The rattish looking companion leans over and whispers something hurriedly into the Shifter’s ear. The man stops, nods once with understanding, then turns back to Arno, licking his lips.
“Ahhh, I see….so you’re one of the “Big Fish” they were talking about! Apologies for the rude reception, Mate. Name’s Grime: welcome to Chaff!”
From over his ear, the taunting calls start up from an anonymous face in the crowd.“BASTARDS! Low down, cheating rat-BASTARDS!” The mood grows tense enough to spring, and the civilians begin to push together in a desperate attempt to flee, crushing against each other until people are nearly falling into the waters…
“RUN HOME, fore’ we take more from you than just yer LIVELIHOODS!” Grime spits back at the crowd, making an obscene gesture, as his crew menacingly stares down the increasingly agitated native pirates. The shifters turns back to Arno, charming once more. “I’d love to help ya’, Changer, I really would: but my orders come from Pom them’self. An they say we’re officially done eating shit from these PEASANTS!” He shouts this at a group of aged sailors, who nearly trip over each other in an effort to squirm past him without coming too close.
Grime scratches his beard, smiling as the mood in the air grows increasingly fraught. “Tell ya what I can do, to help, though,” he says, pointing a wagging but congenial finger at Arno. “…we will take our little party up the street a ways. But if I were you? I’d head back into Sea of Sighs right now? Find you a nice bird’, an’ then lock those doors up real tight til’ tomorrow. Lay low until things…blow over, alright?” He winks, reassuring. “Me an’ the boys? We’ll make sure Pom comes to find you when it’s all been….settled. Don’t say Grime never didya’ any favours, eh?”
Weapons start to come out in the crowd, and torches become lit midday. A bottle flies through the air and hits Grime in the side of the arm, just below the shoulder. His eyes flash feral. With a final, fanged smile at Arno, he nods to one of his friends, straightens his suit, and departs to engage with the swarm of pirates beginning to accumulate to the north-end of Old Towne Road…
Jack rests casually about the cabin, stripping down in the back room next to Oak. As he admires the look of the formal attire on himself, nearby, Oak attempts to keep his concentration on fixing the Ship’s hidden exit. Using his Carpentry skills, the Barbarian is able to adjust and secure the door with some patience, a keen eye, and the sharpened side of his Axe. Pulling the last screw as tightly as he can against the wood, Oak finds the steady flow of liquid which had been seeping into the vessels floorboards begin to slow. He nods to himself, quietly satisfied at the work.
Shortly after Urixes and Arno finish their communication in the other room, a tiny *BANGING* arrives upon the sturdy front door. When the door isn’t immediately answered, the banging starts in earnest upon both the door and one of the barred windows:
“Ey’, open up!” chimes in a tiny voice from outside, which Jack recognizes immediately. “Crispin! Catty-little-shit! You never checked-in, daft bastard! D’ye get knifed, or what?”
“Oh-ho-ho!” replies another child from nearby, eyes intently peering inside one of the barred windows nearby. “Jim, y’know who it is in there? The little ratter from the burrito shop! The one who caught us out!”
“Fuck me!” says Jim disbelievingly. From the hull of the ship, the three Wild Bunch hear little hands and feet scamper about, and eventually end up at the other barred window. Peering inside, Jim gasps in delight. “No shit! The wolfy-terror from earlier…no wonder the Cat paid us off!”
“So…we’s gonna have to stab em, since Cripsin ain’t about…?” asks his friend, suddenly worried.
“Fuck no, Tim!” scoffs Jim, throwing something heavy at the lad that smacks off the side of the safehouse. “They’d straight-kill us! An’ sides, we need to fuck off out of here! Mister,” the foul mouthed little lad decides to share with Jack after a few measured moments. “Hey! You and your fellow criminals might want to fuck off out of here too!”
“Elroy’s got his cannons out!” Tim shares, thrilled to panting.
“Yeh’, and Fire an’ Water dropped down their ironsides!” Jim responds, rocking back-and-forth on the bars of the window. “An’ I saw Wild-Things coming down the street with FIRE-BOMBS!”
“Ye’all might wanna get the fook out of here, misters!” says Tim in earnest, before his face disappears and he scuttles away….
“’Less you can get this heap going,” Jim says with smirking doubt. “Cutthroat Alley’s gonna light up tonigh!” And then Jim is gone as well.
Outside, through the barred windows, the group can quickly deduce that the boys were telling the truth. Screaming crowds begin to swarm over every inch of the boardwalk; some simply scared and some utterly furious. The shop across from the Safehouse (FIRE + WATER) has draped spiked iron barricades along the side of its hull, and armed guards watch the streets warily (and guns at the-ready) from the tops railings of the Ship. Across the west end of Cutthroat Alley, the sound of gunshots break out, and across the boardwalks, the swarm of pirates begin to panic…
”Ashes’ here’s just profit an’ power elsewhere!” Grime chortles back over his shoulder, as he departs with speed towards the armed crowd. “You need to decide whether yer’ gonna be the predator out here….or the prey!” And with that, him and his group lunge for the enraged pirates, weapons clashing, crowd pressing down on each other, teeth *BARED*!…
Some of the cursing pirates are ready for the fight; have been waiting for it! As those seeking their aggression fall upon one another, the majority of people seeking safe passage find themselves running in a panic across Old Towne Road!
Arno’s Wolves (at first) form a stopgap at the center of the crowd. As the city’s pirates swell across the streets, people bunch up against the line right at the edge of their ready-jaws, afraid to confront the large lupines. An unlucky few citizens, bumbling into people in front of them or crushed by the swell from behind, are knocked down into the waters below the boardwalk! But eventually, first one person…and then another…tests the limits of the wolves’ aggression.
As the Good-Boys show no signs of attacking, the peaceful among the masses begin to trample through the area, making their way safely out of the melee! Some force themselves up the gangplank behind Arno, to take refuge inside Sea of Sighs; some take to ropes and riggings, finding their way among the hulls of the larger Ships along the central hub, scampering to safety and hiding along top decks. A handful help-up fallen companions from the waters, or seek their way to the South…(whether these are headed towards their homes, seeking to help, or a further danger, Arno couldn’t say.)Geth roll 4d6 bludgeoning damage (Crowd vs. Wolves)
OOC: Split as you like amongst the 8!
Barnabas finally emerges from the Ship behind Arno, running down the length of the Sea of Sighs gangplank just as the situation to the North comes to an end. Grime and his Shifters companions finish the fight victorious, standing over a good half-dozen or more men who challenged their group. Parts of the boardwalk lie damaged or burning. A sudden hail of gunfire comes from the north, and the Prince’s Dogs hit the deck,*HISSING*! Taking to ropes and running along the sides of Ships, the Shifters head towards the chaos.
Barnabas, sweating and red-faced, arrives panting next to the Changeling. Taking a moment to collect himself, the man assesses the state of the riot. The street at this end of Ye Olde Towne road has been mainly cleared thanks to Arno’s intervention: The Nimble Weasel secured, and guarded along the railings. Behind the priest, the Sea of Sighs withdraws their own gangplank, and is beginning to clear their top decks. To the north lie the dead and a few wounded, rolling around in the aftermath of Grime’s assault. To the South, the riot is picking up steam, and it looks like the crowds are growing to unsustainable sizes…
“Yer name’s cleared, all of your friends,” Barnabas finally forces out between labored breaths. “The Elves’ proved your alibi checks out; an’ more than that. They ID’ed the others….the ones who took yer’ Shapes. Same Ship they fled in, same clothes, headed in a separate direction the day after they joined your group on the ride in!” Barnabas’s eyes are aflame with anger (and Arno senses, just the slightest hint of fear). “They’ve decided on war…It’s a setup,” he mutters. “This whole damn thing is a setup!”
The Priest listens as the sounds of howling and screaming emanate from the South. His jaw clenches, and he turns back with a barely restrained patience to Arno. “Whatever’s happening here, your group’s been placed right in the center of it….something tells me, I need to keep any eye on you, for both our goods!” He shakes in frustration as rising smoke starts to build around Chaff, and looks the Changeling deeply in the eyes. “I think the Prince’s Dogs mean to do to Chaff what they did to the Trader’s Union: take us off the map. This is the one “common” community in the Expanse. If they can break it apart, make it so it’s no longer a safe place to go?…they’ll be most of their way to owning everything out here.”
“I need to bring this information to the Queen, and get her army mobilized in the right direction immediately,’ Barnabas stresses. “But I can’t have this city burn down on my watch, either…I’m not sure…I don’t….” The man looks genuinely conflicted (Arno’s pretty sure, with even a small nudge, they could encourage the man in a logical direction…)
Once Jack knows what he’s looking for, some more of the rugged-tub’s ragged design becomes apparent:
What had seemed to be huge unwieldy anchoring boards, propped up to help to hold together planks in the walls, are actually giant,makeshift paddles (mismatched, irregularly shaped, and constructed from four different types of wood, but likely very effective, if you were strong enough to wield them)
The anchor line is just outside the secret backdoor. The chain looks to be incredibly long, much bigger than the one on the curse. Jack can imagine, with the chain fully pulled up, the anchor and line would probably take up nearly all of one of the backrooms…
What had seemed to be a bit of shoddy craftsmanship among some of the overhead boards turns out to hide a sealed hatch to above. Standing atop someone’s shoulders, the Shifter is able to unseal the hatch, and reveal a ladder which drops down to the floor. Once Jack climbs up to examine the Deck of the S.S. “Oak”, he finds a rough looking but probably serviceable Ship. The mast is whole (although the main sail lies in a rough looking heap nearby, and he’s not sure of the condition); the ship is tied twice to the boardwalk, at bow and stern, with simple woven ropes (likely meant to hold the tub steady in a storm); the Wheel is firmly stuck, but the mechanism underneath seems to be intact.
The railings provide roughly zero-cover from the streets down below. Anyone who glanced over to notice the S.S. Oak would be able to immediately take note of all aboard her Deck. A few rough housings have been jury-rigged along each sides, likely designed to hold the irregular oars from below. Jack also finds about a dozen tin pails up top, each containing roughly half an inch of rainwater.
Down on the boardwalks, three different fights have broken out. A group of Wild-Kind and some of the armored Union Men have found each other on the streets, and the knives are out and swinging! Another group in the mad crowds, black-clothed and far from one another, begin pushing aside the teeming throngs of pirates, yelling for people to move, demanding to be let out! The panic builds, and people start to shove against one another, then begin to crush one another. Another gunshot from the West, and crowds are surging along Drummer Street! From somewhere in the masses, a black-robed, masked figure throws a bottle, which *EXPLODES* into flame along the front barricade of FIRE+WATER! Nervously, the guards above attempt to find the firebug in the crowd, holding their fire for the moment lest they hit innocent people and make the situation worsen…
At the head of a ragtag, hard looking team of roughnecks, Rak’ta*Arno marches defiantly to the south, head held high and lizard-eyes peering expertly around the smoky din and clamor of the riot, ready to address troubles that threatened the poor civilians…
The wolves lead the way, nipping at heels to hold the front line (and keeping the crowd’s swell from building enough to crush them once more). Just behind the canines, the pirates who have risen to Arno’s cause steadily march in silent procession, hands clenched to rapiers, or scimitars, or (in a few, rare cases) pistols or long guns. The newly assembled crew hold steady, waiting for the Rak’ta or the Priest to call them to action, while (to the man) they call on aggressive friends to calm and move on as they come upon them, or dart forward to pull innocents from the crowd and show them to safety
A knife is suddenly thrown from the departing masses, catching one of the marching Changeling's crew in the eye! As the man falls down screaming, the Changeling’s group charges forward, and the crowds clash! The summoned wolves bite at heels and allow the defenseless through to the north, as the rest of Arno’s posse are fallen upon by a group of men dressed all in black; masked, and waving daggers. A battle ensues!
Arno instantly jumps to take the lead of the strangers, calling on the defenders to hold together and keep their backs to the nearby ship hulls! Barnabas, running before the dogs and *BLASTING* his musket into the air in an attempt to distract, calls on the group to pair up, and go back-to-back as close to one of the Wolves as they can get! The tactics falling together in unnatural fashion during the heated street fight, the ragtag posse pulls the impossible and manages to clear the crowd and lead them north, while at the same time efficiently putting down the black-masked assailants which hide ready to strike amongst the masses.
Stooping down, Barnabas pulls a mask from one of the aggressors, checking the man’s identity. “…I know this one. Mercenary. Real scumbag, too...” He turns to look at Arno to say something, but is distracted by the sound of gunshots and explosives from the passage to the south, where the sound of battle rings loudly. Yelling over the din, he says, “They’ve paid off these black-cloaked, masked fellas to be agitators in the crowd, get things nice an’ worked up. How long have they been planning all this?…” This last bit is to himself only, but Arno reads it from his lips all the same.
“…the Queen an her people are jest south o’ here,” Barnabas readily informs Arno, likely unaware of the trickle of blood running from his nose down to his chin at the moment. “Sounds like Queen’s Men an’ Prince’s Dogs clashing down there right now…they’re probably needin' our help!...”Arno isn’t so sure, though. The people who disappeared to safety just now, each of them, ran to the North. Because to the East and West, steady fires have broken out, and the smoke has grown so thick one can barely see! Arno feels the hairs on the back of their neck stand up staring into the smoke: whatever’s really going on here with the Prince’s Dogs is happening in those crowd-cleared, smoke filled alleys. But the potential deadly dangers down those roads are strong enough right now that the Changeling can smell it….
- Grappling lines have been thrown up from the rioters on the streets, landing and catching along the railings of FIRE + WATER (just over the barricades). The shop’s Guards (now that you’re looking, only about seven of them) are trying to cut the ropes and get the quickly encroaching rioters down, but its fast becoming a losing battle for them (No one, luckily, has thought to grapple on to the slowly departing Ship on the corner…)
- Several fights have broken out on the street in the middle of the crowds. Well-armed Unioners have found and gone to war with any Wild-Kind and or Prince’s Dogs they find in the streets, indiscriminately. The Queen’s Men seem to be (very slowly) arriving in an attempt to help from the south, but their advance is only adding to the crush of the crowds.
- Below the surface of the ocean, Tritons and Merfolk are floating a few feet down, keeping a wary eye on the proceedings upon the boardwalk. These folk seem to maintain a separate, underwater section of Chaff below the city for those water breathing types. Is their careful appraisal the actions of a people looking to defend what’s theirs…or hoping to profit on the misfortune of topsiders?
- From the tall gutters of Tick-Tock Tower nearby, Orphans hang from the edges of the edifice, jeering and taunting down at the crowds below. Those that don’t spend their time to mock the scared in the crowd cast fishing lines into the masses, looking for easy scores; or daring one another to swing down to the crowds below and take advantage of the panic in person.
- Some are simply in danger, and found in the wrong place at the wrong time. A guard at FIRE+WATER, telling his companions to hold fire, finds his leg caught in a grappling line, and is dragged yelling into the crowd down below. A young couple (older teenagers, from the look of them) are crushed by the swelling crowds against the sides of the SS OAK, and cling to one another for safety. An orphan girl, proudly but thoughtlessly swinging down from Tick Tock Tower, overshoots her mark and lands in the waters to the east. Smoke begins to fill the boardwalk, and it soon becomes apparent that the wood wrapped into FIRE+WATER’s barricades has caught fire from within, and is quickly growing…