The Court of Rooks decide to keep the pressure on the Dimmer Sisters, and seize on an opportunity brought to them by their Bluecoats contact, Laroze. (He also scolds them for their Ironhook break-in and the resulting heat.) The Dimmer Sisters are protected by the Red Sashes, a gang of Iruvian mercenaries and criminals – killers too skilled for even Les to take on. But the leader of the Red Sashes is a collector of fine art. She wants a painting by the master painter Rafello, called ‘The Widow Weeps’. The painting has been purchased by the mysterious Lord Scurlock, and is currently held in the vault of the Seven Keys Bank, waiting to be collected tomorrow by his men. If the Rooks can steal it first and hand it over, the Sashes may withdraw their support from the Sisters.
The next day, Sparrow and the Magpie sneak into the bank via a side door while Les and Patch come in the front. posing as wealthy nobles seeking to open an account. The infiltration isn’t as smooth as the Magpie would like – she just wants to be stealthy – but they came prepared with false papers showing them as Scurlock’s servants. They manage to bluff their way down into the vaults, while Les distracts the bank’s staff by being appalling rude to them.
Sparrow and the Magpie obtain the painting, which shows a disturbing scene of a weeping woman washing her hands in a river choked with human remains; they can both feel some kind of unnatural power clinging to the image. Meanwhile, the real team of Scurlock’s servants arrive! Patch manages to surreptitiously inject their leader with a euphoric drug, and the security staff scramble to control the scene as he freaks out.
Still acting like bastard nobles, Patch and Les go down to the vault as Sparrow and the Magpie come out carrying the painting – they swap glances as they pass on the stairs, but stay in character. As a further distraction, Sparrow breaks the bank’s supernatural wards to allow angry spirits to enter, while the Magpie wraps the painting to hide it from onlookers; they leave the bank as all hell breaks loose in the foyer. Downstairs, Les and Patch sneer at the vaults, then storm out complaining about everything.
Later that night, the Rooks meet with the Red Sashes to hand over the painting. The Iruvians are happy with their prize – although the Magpie is greatly unnerved to see that her own face is now visible in the painting’s river of corpses. The gang agree to withdraw their protection from the Dimmer Sisters, leaving the witches vulnerable to the Rooks.
The crew is now in a prime position to take down their enemy – but in the tumult of the robbery, they didn’t think to steal any other valuables for themselves. Once again, they’re low on coin – and if Lord Scurlock learns who stole his prized painting, he will not be happy…