From Gutter With Love

Posted in Whispers of Mana-Yood-Sushai Campaign Reports by tales on 26 May 2021

During the intervening downtime Krodofel, angling for forbidden meats, ran afoul of a mysterious butcher and found himself dangling in a cage.

Against their better judgement, the party set out to rescue him.

Leaving Volish Hill they came to the Bridge of Regrets, where forlorn young men chain mementos of love spurned or soured. The ogre Hax broke open one of the boxes, and found to his cost that not all of these lost loves were remembered fondly

They prevailed upon one of the forlorn youths to lead them to Pillager's Steakhouse. Pillager - a hearty bugbear woman - was looking forward to butchering the Quasit. Gallows pointed out that he was probably inedible and explained that despite everything they'd rather like him back.

Pillager named a price for the imp and Sauri arm-wrestled her for it; the brute strength of the bugbear against the tailored muscle of the bioroid. Pillager snarled and glowered but could make no progress, the two seeming evenly matched, until with a sudden and sickening snap two of the polymer cords reinforcing Sauri's muscles came loose from the joint. Espi healed her body but could do little for her bruised pride, while Gallows paid up.

They left, however, on good terms, with Pillager considering an offer to expand into Turnabout, running the opulent alms house Ulim had charged Gallows with opening in that wretched place.

Passing the Fadicé Theatre of the Obscene they inquired about tickets to the shows out of morbid curiosity, and then came to two blocks of seedy tenements on the edge of Pentacle, one occupied by minor priests and acolytes, the other by petty officials.

In the Tenements of State the bureaucrat at the front desk insisted they fill out the required forms before venturing to the upper floors, asking for directions or for that matter leaving. They beat a hasty retreat.

They also pointedly stayed out of the rivalry between the two blocks, obtaining directions from the acolytes of the Tenements of Faith to a Shrine of the Sibilant Maiden, where Gallows might pray and so take the first steps toward membership of the Guild of Guides.

The trip there was interrupted only by an encounter with some local toughs which Krodofel needlessly escalated to violence. Once there Gallows prayed to the Maiden who granted him a vision, explaining that he might have her blessing, but not necessarily the blessing of Foravion.

They completed their explorations of Gutter with a trip to the Milktongue Observatory, which proved to be a cavernous space holding a titanic microscope, owned by the slovenly yet ebullient scholar Belemester Milktongue.

They talked him into a trip down the Sewer River to Bar Saturn, where he might make contact with representatives of Caenn and the reawakened Spire, fellow scholars of the vivimantic sciences, and they got along so well he left Espi (who had thought to bring him snacks) in charge of the observatory in his absence.

A quiet week passed, and Krodofel, feeling something resembling gratitude toward Gallows, resolved to sneak into the palace to spy on his mortal enemy. He returned to find Gallows in the midst of a duel with Sauri for the right to bear Razor. Gallows lost his temper and a drew his blaster, recovered from the Alkaline Wastes, winning the duel in dishonourable fashion. Razor was incensed and repudiated him.

Once the bickering died down the party set out again and came upon the overgrown and dilapidated mansion of their old friend Miminasouri, for whom Sauri was named. They explored the mansion, fought the jellies that had been growing in jars in the kitchen, and found the bedroom and a diary from the youth of their late companion. The bones of her mother still lay in the bed upstairs, so they returned later to lay her to rest.

They decided to dress up for the show at the Fadicé Theatre, hoping to make contacts among the nobles who could perhaps secure them an invitation to the palace where they might confront Callazzo. At the Vertical Market they bickered with haughty aristocrats, but learned from them the name Rickety Rain's Haberdashery, which they sought out in Cusp.

As they passed through the gaudy district of the Inquisitors they discovered an inverted prison, and quarreled with the jailer guarding the door, leaving him a gift of one of the jellies from the mansion kitchen. They also came upon a young man being cruelly punished by the Inquisitors; Colenotorino, an unfortunate candy barker who masqueraded as a noble.

Gallows had him set free using his supernatural knowledge of the Crooked Law, and the lad was excited to learn they were associates of the Guides, rubbing shoulders with what he imagined must be the dashing and sophisticated creme of Zyanese society.

He mentioned in passing the Knowing Bee Sweetworks, and the party resolved to venture into the abandoned factory after the show.

At the Fadicé Theatre, they saw many strange sights - a woman with the body of a puppet, her organs in jars within its whicker framework; two men whose bodies were hives to warring tribes of insects; and a sad-eyed girl of jellied candy over a bronze skeleton, to whom Colentorino looked with both professional admiration and human sympathy.

The majority of the party members - being swords, bioroids, and living statues - were fascinated, but Gallows, thinking back to the horrors of Owlshadow and the things Callazzo called up, was sick to his stomach, and eager to depart.

At the Sweetworks that night they slew the monstrous and drove out the wretched, earning the gratitude of the lone caretaker of that place. With his help and that of Colentorino they resolved to restore the factory to its former glory.

After a few days rest at the Stables of the Guides, they realised Hax the Ogre had been absent for a while so resolved to look for him in Turnabout. In light-fingered mood, Krodofel 'borrowed' Gallow's pistol.

"Let him have it, I'm sure he'll only hurt himself," said Gallows, prophetically.

They got lost on the way to the steps down to Pentacle and came upon a cliff edge where a lone elm grew, perhaps the only elm in the city, as they are not native to the lands of dream.

The elm was home to a dryad, lonely in this land where the trees were just trees and the winds held only demons.

They took a cutting of her tree in the hopes of growing a suitable dwelling for her back in Ghinor; Gallows was sullen about helping, reiterating his distaste of the fae, and the story of the time he got blinded giving the stink-eye to a nymph and wouldn't admit it was brought up once more, to his chagrin.

Retracing their steps they came upon a man in fine clothes shaking and convulsing; he began to deliver dire prophecies, vomited violently and fell dead of a seizure. Espi sought to help him but it was too late, and Krodofel started licking up the vomit to everyone's continued disgust.

They moved on hastily and left the body where it fell; at the Vertical Market they chartered Roseferry, a charming little flying cloud driven by the melody of a magical harp, and soared above the city. As they flew Razor quizzed Gallows on his aversion to ever being seen as heroic. Gallows deflected the question, pointing out how Espi and Sauri were obvious hero material, unlike him, but at length admitted that because he held himself responsible for the deaths of the Wheel, he didn't want anyone to remember his name; he didn't feel he deserved to be remembered.

They caught sight of Hax trudging around the Sink, a vile sewer lake, and upon landing saw a woman being abducted into a drain by two hooded figures. Giving chase, they came upon the Sink-Lair of Jaerd, a lurid toad so vile and obsequious even the other toads couldn't tolerate him, and Lorambirado, a filthy, bearded priest of fawning self-pity.

The unwholesome pair were leading a gang of desperate cannibals, Turnabout sewer-dwellers and orphaned white swine, and about to butcher a poor clerk's daughter.

When the party demanded he stop at once, the toad acted wounded: "to imagine that I have the power to cannibalize anyone; I am a helpless observer to the preparation of this delicious meal, all I can do is provide her the honour of savouring the flesh when it is placed before me - it would be rude to both her and my cohabitees to refuse."

The bearded priest, when threatened, accused them of being violent oppressors of the poor and marginalised, who merely seek an honest meal.

There was much rolling of eyes until he cast Performative Parlay, a charm spell affecting everyone except for the target, rendering his protests, whining self-justifications, and insincere apologies supernaturally persuasive.

Krodofel fired the blaster, not hitting anyone but alarming everyone.

enter image description here

During the battle that ensued Hax and Espi cast spells on the girl to protect her from the cannibals. Sauri, unaffected by the Parlay, expressed her disgust for the priest and fought him alone, as he cast another disingenuous spell - this time to heal his wounds by confessing that he surely deserved them.

Annataromie was the name of their intended victim, and once freed she offered to guide them to Shovefast's Dwilling, where Gallows got into a pointless argument with the owner of one of the houses there, who wanted 1gp each for them to climb his stairs to reach the makeshift bridge from where they could converse with the giant.

Espi cut this short by simply paying for everyone; "you realise you've undermined me here," he complained, but she was unapologetic.

They all went to talk with the giant, save Gallows who went instead to chat up the man's wife in the hopes of annoying him and thus winning a tiny and pointless victory.

Hax learned from the giant how to get to the city of the Archivists sought by his master, the Yellow Enchanter. Whether this knowledge will lead to good or ill only the Enchanter's cursed staff knows, and will probably lie about it.