Rule of Three

Monster of the Week - Session 1
Local History

The call comes in to Agent Smint early on the morning of September 10th – a body has been discovered at Yarra Bend Park, not far from the secret B Wing offices in Northcote. The body is badly decomposed, as if it had been rotting for weeks – but has been identified as a park groundskeeper that was alive and at work just last night. Smint calls Dr Cavendish and Abul Abin Aziz, who come to meet him at the doctor’s lab, where Onyx is currently recuperating in the infirmary. After breakfast at the lab, the team decide to split up again – Abul and Cavendish head to the Victoria Police Centre in Flinders Street to examine the body, while Smint and Onyx go to Yarra Bend to investigate the crime scene.

It’s a wet morning in the Park, thanks to heavy rains the day before, and police have blocked the access bridge over the Eastern Freeway; fortunately Smint’s credentials let him enter and take charge of the scene. The body was found in the mini-golf area of the Yarra Bend Golf Course, near the centre of the Park; the sergeant on the scene tells Smint that the body was horrifically decomposed to the point of leaking fluids and falling apart. Onyx reads the sergeant’s memories of the body and realises that the groundskeeper’s decomposition obscured the fact that he bore defensive wounds – the man was attacked by something. Smint examines the scene and finds a strange footprint under part of the mini-golf range, long and thin like a kangaroo’s but with large claws at the toes. Before they can investigate further, the Golf Course manager, Roger Overton, arrives to petition the police to re-open the park for business; Smint and Onyx persuade the sergeant to take Overton away for questioning. With the police gone, they decide to search for whatever attacked the groundskeeper; Onyx knows (somehow) of a hidden gully and cave in the far reaches of the park, near the Freeway, and they set off to explore.

At the Police Centre, Cavendish shows his temporary B Wing credentials to gain access to the Morgue. The body is in a shocking state, flesh rotted away to bone and covered in sores and cankers, maggots crawling in its wounds. As medical science struggles for answers, Abul tries a different route and uses magic to view the man’s death; she has a vision where she sees him running panicked through the park at night, hiding in the mini-golf area and then being attacked, bitten and killed by a horrible creature – a pallid humanoid with spindly limbs, a distended belly, red slime across its legs and groin and a great triangular jaw filled with broken teeth. (Before her vision ends, she gets the sensation that some presence has become aware of her.) It reminds her of the ghuls of Arabic myth, which dwell in burial grounds and drink blood. Cavendish searches online to see whether there are any cemeteries in the Yarra Bend region and discovers the Wikipedia entry for the old Yarra Bend Asylum – its cemetery was buried and covered up decades ago by… a practice fairway of the Golf Course. He phones Smint with the information, and he and Abul get ready to join them. Just before they leave the morgue, he checks a sample of the victim’s blood and realises what has happened to the body – it’s been broken down by some strange, super-rapid form of syphilis.

Smint and Onyx explore the far corner of the Golf Course, now on the lookout for open graves as well as the cave. They find a strangely quiet region by the banks of the Yarra, and Onyx projects his senses back through time to see the course engulf the old cemetery not far from where they stand – and further back still, to a time when Aboriginal warriors and elders imprisoned the creature under a sacred rock on the same site. (Smint is unnerved by this, and his suspicious about Onyx return.) As they investigate the site further, Smint sees a glint of light from a tree, and realises that some kind of apparatus has been placed about three metres up, and that wires connect some of the trees. The two of them argue about who should investigate, but under some telepathic pressure Smint takes the lead, climbing the tree as Onyx waits below. He finds five trees connected by copper wires in the form of a pentagram, with red sealing wax at their junctures; the pentagram is connected to an old Walkman, taped to the tree, with a tape in it and PAUSE depressed.

Smint hesitates a moment, then pushes PLAY – just as the creature bursts from the undergrowth and lunges at Onyx!

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Lady Blackbird - Session 3
Love and Flames

On the darkside of Nightport – a tidal-locked hive of scum and villainy with eternal night and day on different halves – Cyrus Vance and Snargle run from an angry mob of criminals, having stolen a map of the secret route through the Remnants from local scoundrels. Kale and Naomi snipe from The Owl to assist them, but Vance is cornered and has to reveal the tiny scrap of void sorcery he carries in his blood to teleport to a rooftop and be collected.

The crew escape Nightport and begin their voyage to the Remnants, only to realise that the ‘map’ is in fact just a sky-shanty, with lyrics that reveal landmarks and passageways through the asteroid field. More, Lady Blackbird reveals that her destination is the fortress of Uriah Flint, the pirate king and her lover – which draws a dramatic emotional reaction from Cyrus, who was more enamoured of the Lady than anyone had realised.

Tensions on board The Owl are high as they finally reach the Remnants – and become more so when they are attacked by The Blade of Justice, an Imperial frigate commanded by Cyrus’ former lover Karla Duran! Fortunately they cleverly out-maneuver the Blade and target its engines with The Owl’s gun, leaving it disabled in the outer ring of asteroids. They press on, and Lady Blackbird tells Naomi of how she and the pirate king fell in love eight years ago, when she was his prisoner – and how she rescued Naomi from the slave pits because she didn’t want her to go through a miserable life with no opportunity to find love herself.

Finally they get through the Remnants to find the sky pirates’ fortress – a great coral asteroid and a castle assembled from wrecked skyships – and are brought before the dashing and handsome Uriah Flint! At first he treats them as prisoners and verbally spars with Cyrus, but when Lady Blackbird reveals herself the long-separated lovers embrace and kiss, and Flint throws a massive feast and party! …in which he drugs the travellers into unconsciousness.

Cyrus, Kale, Naomi and Snargle wake in chains in the bow of a pirate ship making its way back through the Remnants. Flint admits that his love for the Lady has long since cooled, and he’s more interested in collecting the bounty for her return and Vance’s capture. The travellers manage to escape and fight their way to the bridge, where Flint holds Lady Blackbird captive in void-spider-silk bonds that drain her sorcerous power. As they attempt to rescue her, Flint reveals his own power – he is a disgraced Flameblood scion who can magically summon and control fire.

As Flint and Cyrus duel, Naomi is shot and Kale kills the pilot, leaving the ship to plough into a massive asteroid just as Cyrus confesses his love for Lady Blackbird. (Meanwhile Snargle rushes to untether The Owl, which is being towed along behind.) The battle spills out onto the planetoid, a grassy savannah that soon ignites from Flint’s sorcery. Trying to locate the Lady, Naomi drinks the last remains of the squid ink concoction she got in Haven and touches the consciousness of the giant sky-squid that has followed in their wake – and also finds the Lady, being dragged away by the wounded Flint. Battling through flames, Cyrus engages Flint in a bloody, burning brawl, giving his all to finally batter the pirate king unconscious. All seems lost when two more pirate ships arrive, guns blazing – only to be torn apart by the sky-squid as Snargle brings in The Owl to rescue the crew!

At last leaving the Remnants behind, Cyrus cuts a deal with Karla Duran, handing over Uriah Flint in exchange for a period of freedom. As the Imperial ship leaves, The Owl charts a course back to the Free Worlds, Lady Blackbird comes to terms with the failure of her dreams, and all aboard – smuggler and aristocrat, bodyguard and first mate – look out into the Wild Blue, at open skies, second chances, friendship and freedom.

It is enough.

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Lady Blackbird - Session 2
Terror in the Argone Swamps

Lost in Haven, Naomi Bishop is rescued (sort of) by Chester Halfbait, a disreputable junk-merchant who claims to be an exiled noble. His sorcerous gifts let him see the future and he warns that Lady Blackbird’s own Stormblood sorcery threaten to destroy the town! Chester gives Naomi a concoction of squid ink and his own magical essences; when she drinks it, she goes into a hallucinatory trance and sees the whole of Haven, even touching the mind of a distant sky squid before seeing the kidnappers loading the Lady into a carriage, somewhere in the local argone swamps. When she comes to her senses, she sets off at a run to rescue her mistress – just as a severe storm sets in…

In the docking towers on the edge of town, Snargle prepares the Owl for its journey to the Remnants and a rendezvous with Lady Blackbird’s lover – and while rifling through the Lady’s belongings, Kale Arkam discovers that said lover is Uriah Flint, the infamous and deadly pirate king! The pair prepare to search Haven for Cyrus Vance (who’s trying to escape his old flame, Imperial Captain Varla Duran) – but before they do, Kale spots a nearby skyship with a suspicious number of guns. He distracts the crew while Snargle sneaks on board and disables the ship’s controls, and the two return to the Owl just as Cyrus makes it back. As the storm gains strength, they take the Owl on a dangerous flight into the swamps, sure that their passengers must be involved…

Naomi pounds through the marshes despite being slightly mauled by a crocodile, tracking the storm’s centre while avoiding lightning bolts that are igniting the swamp’s argone geysers into deadly spark-fountains. She finds it centred on a crocodile-drawn carriage, piloted by armed bounty hunters and headed for the sky-docks, just as the Owl – crawling with ball lightning – soars into view! Kale magically leaps from the ship onto the carriage, Naomi tears the crocodiles free from their yoke, and Snargle flips the Owl on its back so that Cyrus can dangle upside-down from a hatch and shoot the kidnappers as they race past! They free the unconscious Lady just before a huge lightning bolt blows the carriage apart; once she comes to her senses, she dissipates the storm and everyone gets on the Owl for a hasty getaway.

But for all that they are safe and sound, tensions bubble up on board the ship as it moves through the Blue. Lady Blackbird admits that, like most noble scions, she has great sorcerous power – which means she appointed Naomi as a bodyguard more from pity than from need, a confession that greatly upsets Naomi. Meanwhile, Kale tells Cyrus that they’re headed for a meeting with Uriah Flint, and is irritated that the captain seems more concerned with Lady Blackbird than with his crew.

The mood subdued, the Owl makes for the remnants – followed not just by an unmarked Imperial ship but also by a great, hungry sky-squid…

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Lady Blackbird - Session 1
Escape From the Empire's Clutches

Having been captured by the Hand of Sorrow on the edge of Imperial Space, the crew of The Owl (as well as Lady Blackbird and her bodyguard) have been imprisoned in the brig while the captain checks their identification via wireless.

After breaking free from their cells with a mixture of subtlety (Kale) and extreme violence (Naomi), the prisoners retrieve their tools and weapons from storage lockers and make their way to the engineering deck, where Cyrus bamboozles two barrels of fuel (sky squid ink) from the crew as Kale disables the Hand’s engines. Sneaking up to the main deck, Snargle and Kale clear a path through stealth and distraction, leaving Cyrus and Naomi free to escort Lady Blackbird to The Owl, start her engines and maneuver away from the paralysed Hand and away to freedom!

The flight to the Free Worlds and Haven takes the better part of a day, during which Kale confronts Lady Blackbird over the meaning of love, the crew of The Owl weigh their next move and Lady Blackbird advises Naomi that they will look for new passage on Haven.

Reaching Haven, Naomi and the Lady head into the city while Cyrus and Snargle meet with a local fixer, Bluth, looking for knowledge of the true course through the Remnants. Bluth can’t help them, but advises them to meet with a contact of his, Jezebel Canter, on the outlaw world of Nightport – and that there is a hefty price on Cyrus’ head. Meanwhile, Naomi and the Lady discover the intricacies of Free Worlds cuisine in a local tavern – but the Lady is kidnapped by someone impersonating a waiter!

Naomi pursues the kidnappers’ crocodile-drawn carriage, but they escape, leaving her lost in Haven; Kale and Snargle prepare The Owl for a fast getaway; and searching for the Lady, Cyrus meets an old flame, Karla Duran, now a captain in the Imperial fleet, and runs away from her entourage of marines…

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