Information Gathering in the Refutation
Scythia is healed by the infernal warp power of the Biomancer/Pyrokine Gallus, saved from her near death experience. She awakes from her burns hearing beautiful hymns to the Emperor of Mankind …
Gallus. Dominatus. Gallus. Gallus Dominatus.
Only wait. They’re not. They’re to Gallus himself. The light blue hue of power covers her skin as it knits itself back together almost completely, leaving only light burn scars behind.
The acolytes share information on what Septimus Dexter, The White Scholar, told them before he was killed.
The Pilgrims of Hayte.
The Grand Conjunction.
The Festival of Tattered Fates.
The period of darkness where Quaddis is moved beyond the emperor’s light.
The involvement of the Widower.
And his last words, about the Spider Bride.
Librarium Servitors enter the room to begin cleaning up the mess, and are ordered by Cortez to begin searching for volumes on the Widower or the Spider Bride as part of their research.
Scythia remembers some Legends around the Angevin Crusade, the time of Soloman and Faustino Sophano, and the Widower, who was a monster of darkness, an assassin of unparalleled skill, that no weapon could harm and no lock could bar entry.
The servitors return with a few noteworthy volumes on the History of Xicarph. In some of the earliest tales, the Widower is mentioned in the earliest tales as an enforcer who keeps the game of power as the struggle for dominance in the new imperial realm carved from the Calyx Expanse is forged into the Calixis Sector from spilling into Xicarph.
There is nothing regarding the Spider Bride.
All pages containing anything that might be related to the most recent Sophano bloodlines have been ripped out of the geneaology book. Anything that might say how many people survived Erasmus’ eradication is gone.
There is a record of Gabriel Sophano and his estate, nephew of Faustino, the first one that was given power over Xicarph. At the center of his estate is a masterpiece grand Steel Clock.
The acolytes debate what to do next, search for the Heron Mask? … search for more cultists? Seek out the Spider Bride, both due to Dexter’s last words, and the contract from Papa Grist?
They leave to try and find the Spider Bride in the Pleasure Gardens.
Meeting the Spider Bride in the Twilight Gardens
The warband of acolytes makes their way through a district with some rich stores and many well to do estates until they find an avenue that seems to head in the direction they want to go.
The estates end and a section of marble domed pavilions and courtyards change into botanical gardens where many courtesans offer many rare pleasures. They take what you can only assume are their customers up the steps into a hazy area to the end of your vision.
Some of them come up to the party, with exquisitely made clothes and the angular faces common to Calixian nobility. They speak to you in perfect Scintillan High Gothic:
Courtesan: “Welcome to the Twilight Gardens. Can I help you?”
Wollsey: I’m sorry ladies. You can’t afford me.
Courtesan: Oh I’m sure it’s quite the opposite. What can I do for you?
Wollsey: We’re just … browsing around.
Courtesan: … Browsing … in the Twilight Gardens.
Scythia: Do you sell advice, or just y our bodies?
Courtesan: If its advice that you seek, I can take you to the one who sells it.
The courtesan near Wollsey begins to get a little “friendly”, but just a tease.
Wollsey: Who is this one who offers advice?
Courtesan: Do I need to speak her name?
Scythia: You are just at the edge of her little web, aren’t you?
Courtesan: Yes, I am.
Titus mutters something about this being a trap under his breath.
Courtesan: The Spider Bride accepts an audience with all comers, and if you can meet her price, then she shall give you what you seek.
Wollsey: And if we can’t?
Courtesan: Then you will be escorted out the way you entered.
Gallus: Probably unceremoniously.
Courtesan: Why on Quaddis would we do that? That depends upon what you seek.
Gallus inquires about the price of the courtesan herself, but when he says that she has nothing to offer, she offers that perhaps arrangements can be made with the Spider Bride.
Titus is nervous. He watches the nobles escorted up the stairs by the courtesans, where they pass though a void shield into a beyond area where anything could be taking place. Other nobles emerge from the shield and walk back down the stairway into the streets of Xicarph. Courtesans seems to come and go up and down the stairs at will.
While Gallus, Scythia and Wollsey chat up their courtesan, Titus falls in behind one of the small parties going up the stairs and passes through the void sheild. Inside the constant light from above is dimmed into a dull twilight by the shielding. Silk pavillions and grottos, many surrounded by their own partial or full void shielding are in every direction. Before he realizes it, another courtesan has his arm and is escorting him. He quickly comes to the understanding that it would be very easy to lose ones sense of direction within this odd shifting area if unescorted. Titus rebuffs the courtesan on his arm.
Courtesan: Don’t worry. I am tasked with taking you to the Spider Bride. Are your friends going to come along too?
The rest of the warband does end up following along.
Gallus: C’mon Scythia. Join us.
Scythia: I feel plenty out of place, but alright.
[GM: C’mon Maptool, you piece of shit.]
[Angus: I can see we’re going to have a lot of fun making fun of Scythia.]
[Brian: Poor Scythia. ]
[Angus: Well, she is this haggard old nun. ]
[Brian: Way over her head. ]
[Angus: You know what happens to people in over their head. They burn fate points.]
[Brian: Ding Ding Ding. I got fireballed and tried to dodge out of the way but didnt’ dodge far enough. I drew a weapon and did an invocation, and I parried, and I dodged, and I was dead.]
[Eric: One fireball and a few fire bolts.]
[Player conversation continues]
The courtesans disappear back into the forest as the warband finds themselves in a large structure that must sit within the Twilight Gardens, but can’t be seen from the outside. The inside is filled with columns, and is entirely dark. At the center of the structure, bathed in torchlight, is a woman in ornate red and black silk expensive clothing. She has a mask over her face that covers everything but her mouth that is made of silver and jewels. Her black hair comes out from behind the masquerade mask.
Many courtesans hover near the edge of the torchlight within the building.
Spider Bride: Welcome travellers.
Gallus: I understand you answer questions. Is this soothsaying?
Spider Bride: I know many things.
Gallus: So how does this work.
Spider Bride: The way it works is either you pay me or you do things for me.
Wollsey: What sort of things?
Spider Bride: FIrst, I will ask a question and you will tell me the answer. Why did Papa Grist send you here?"
Wollsey: To kill you obviously.
Spider Bride: I expected as much.
Gallus: (quickly interjects) That’s not the real reason we came.
[Brian: I’m just thinking to myself, I coulda been that dumbass. I’m trying to bite my toungue lest I say anything and you just come out and say it! I’m so confused about how to be an Acolyte! Aaaargh!!!!!]
Gallus: Do we only get one question?
Spider Bride: Oh, I’m not going to answer anything for you yet. I already knew that. I just wanted to see how you would answer. Why are you here then? Why have you come? Tell me, shall we get on with it?
Gallus: No. We’re here for questions and answers. We want to know why a criminal would want you dead.
Spider Bride: I’ve been … “interrupting” … his business. He’s not from Xicarph. He needs to go.
Gallus: I see.
Wollsey: We have many questions.
Gallus: How much do answers cost?
Spider Bride: For you? Answers come with deeds.
Gallus (looking around at the warband) … all of us?
Spider Bride: The time has come for a choice. Papa Grist, or me. Who will it be? Either way you will make an enemy. You need to make a choice.
Cortez: Why would we choose you over Papa Grist?
Spider Bride: I don’t know. Either you kill me or you do what I say.
Titus: There are other choices that that.
Gallus: We could leave.
Spider Bride: You could. But Papa Grist won’t wait forever. You’ll have to come back here either eventually. I’m not the only one who’s been keeping an eye on you. He will come for you, eventually.
Titus, Cortez, and Wollsey examine and count the women hovering at the edge of the torchlight. They are all obviously noblewomen, wearing scanty scandalous tight fitting clothing, and unarmed. There’s no obvious place for them to hide weaponry.
In warband cant
Gallus: I would ask questions.
Cortez: We’ll get no answers.
Gallus: Are you sure?
Cortez: If you wish to ask, go ahead, but you are only delaying the inevitable. She is correct, we will eventually have kill either her or Papa Grist.
Wollsey: I’m more concerned with her than Papa Grist.
Cortez: The question is, kill which one gets us closer to our mission?
Titus asks Gallus to ask if she knows a way into the Sophano Palace, Gabriel Sophano.
Gallus: Do you know a way into Gabriel Sophano?
Spider Bride: Yes.
*Titus: Can you provide it to us?
Spider Bride: Yes. I have tickets to get into the palace for the Revel of Darkness.
Titus: What must we do to obtain these tickets?
Spider Bride: You must do something I want. I tire with the stuggle with Papa Grist. It bores me. I want it to be done, so I think I may give him a gift, to end things on the right note so he won’t have a problem leaving anymore.
She reaches from behind her throne and pulls out a hat box out and set it in front of her.
[Brian: Filled with spiders!]
Spider Bride: Deliver him this gift.
Wollsey: And in exchange you will answer our questions?
Spider Bride: I will answer questions and provide you with the tickets.
Titus: And if we asked Papa Grist for tickets in exchange for your head in a box, could he provide them for us?
Spider Bride: He’s a man of resources. I’m sure he has likely acquired some of his own. The choice is yours.
There is a tense silence.
Wollsey: Agreed. We’ll deliver your package.
Spider Bride: I’ll be watching.
[GM: Okay who takes the hat box?]
[Brian: I’m not touching anything you fucking lay out!!]
[Angus: I’ll take the hat box.]
[Brian: Let it be known, sister Scythia picks up no objects…]
The Spider Bride’s courtesans escort the warband to the edge of the gardens.
Gallus scans the hat box for signs of psychic activity, but everything is entirely normal. The warband talks about their next move, with some of the newcomers wonder if walking up to the person is a typical Inquisition tactic. As the group emerges from the last void shield, they notice a “garland” has been strung amonst the marble domes and poles of the lower Twilight Gardens where they first met the courtesans.
Tracing it back to its source, there is a man, bent over backwards in half, stuck into a spike at the top of one of the buildings, and his intestines have been used to decorate the gardens. One of the passersby mutters “The Widower’s Work!” and quickly goes about their business…
Titus watches out for people following the group as they make their way back to Papa Grist’s, and notices a Heron Mask among the crowd, never close, but never far. The warband gets back to The Fates Wheel without further incident.
Gallus and Cortez stay outside, while Titus, Wollsey and Scythia take off their armor and deliver the silver hat box to Papa Grist in his office.
Wollsey: We’ve brought you her head.
Papa Grist: Oh, joyous day, with her out the way this glorious city and all its wonders will be mine! That bitch and the new guy she has working for her has screwed me over so bad … I’m going to have my men hunt down that monster next, wherever he is.
Wollsey and Scythia slowly back up as Papa Grist takes the lid off the silver hat box, beginning to draw their weapons.
As soon as the lid comes off, an eight legged spidery robot pops out of the hat box, launches itself at Papa Grist, clamps down its thorax over his head, when it quickly closes cutting off his head with a loud clang, so that its now a spider body with Papa Grists face coming right out of the metal. His body drops do the ground instantly.
Crackmarrow (alarmed) What the fuck!?!?!? Kill these muther fuckers, they just offed Papa Grist!
(more to be transcribed)