Web of Velvet and Steel

Session 2

Seduction and Vendetta

Bianca lead the Heroes out into the streets, informing them their next contact was located in a ruined warehouse along the main canal. As Bianca moved to lead the Heroes towards their goal, Dräken stopped her and recommended a better route that would be more effective in avoiding Villanova patrols. As the Heroes began to follow Dräken through the twisted alleys of Villanova Island, Orfeo hung back to make certain they were not followed and noticed a dark figure hidden in the shadows on the roof of The Courtesan’s Key. The figure’s eyes seemed to glow with blue flames, and then suddenly it moved and disappeared into the shadow’s of the city. Orefo did notice however that various other figures shadowed the Heroes from the rooftops, as they progressed through the city.

Arriving at the warehouse, Bianca gave a staccato knock, the door was opened and she lead the
Heroes into the building. Inside they encountered a figured heavily cloaked and robed in black, it’s hands sheathed in heavy leather gloves. Two swordsmen, wearing masks, flanked the hooded figure. In a rapid flood of Montaigne dialect, Bianca explained the Heroes situation, the figure reacting in anger and annoyance. Elise overheard the figure demand extra money for the unexpected situation and for the requirement of transporting so many individuals in one trip. Bianca hesitated but, having no choice, paid the extra amount demanded. The figure gestured to the Swordsmen and they left the room to prevent anyone from entering until the ritual inside was completed.

The hooded figure removed it’s gloves, and shook it’s arms free from the long concealing sleeves, revealing small feminine hands and arms, bloodstained with the indelible hallmarks of Porté sorcery. The figure removed a dagger from its belt and cut deep gashes into it’s own arms, then, the blood dripping off it’s hands it ripped open a portal to elsewhere in the air. The figure’s gravelly voice snarled out warnings about the dangers of the transit, directing the Heroes to form a chain by linking hands, and dragged the heroes through the portal.

The transit through the walkway was unnerving, the Heroes experiencing the sibilant whispers, and mist fingered caresses of the denizens of the walkway. The Heroes all heeded the figure’s warnings however and kept their eyes tightly shut, and their hands clasped in a chain. When warmth and noise returned to their senses the Heroes discovered they were in a different warehouse, surrounded by guardsmen dressed in Caligari livery. The figure collected the final installment of its payment, retrieved a bloodstained needle, and retreated back through the portal, the gateway closing behind.

Bianca then lead the Heroes out the doors and into a grand gondola, which then began to move along the canal towards the golden gates of Castello di Caligari. The city here was awash with Carnivale celebrations as well, and the Heroes did their best to enjoy the celebrations around them. Dräken sampled the food on offer and gazed at the beautiful courtesans lining the bridges and streets. Thors acquired and drank multiple bottles of Falici wine, trusting to his constitution to keep his head clear. Orfeo kept vigil, his eyes tracking for any hidden threats using the crowds as cover. Elise bought a bottle of champaign and shared it with Bianca, who sipped some politely. Elise then attempted to put her arm around Bianca’s shoulders, but Bianca seemed very uncomfortable about this and moved Elise’s hands to the back of her neck instead.

As the gondola passed through the Castle’s gates the Heroes noticed a figure standing on the castle’s docks. He was a tall and roguishly handsome man, dressed in rich clothing, with a pair of heavily worn and bloodstained dueling gloves hanging from his belt. As the boat approached he began calling insults at Bianca, calling her a whore, and casting the Heroes in the roles her clients. Bianca informed the Heroes that the man was her cousin Alfredo, who she had been betrothed to when she was a young girl, but Prince Caligari had broken the engagement and Alfredo had never gotten over the insult to his honor. In the years since he had gone out of his way to insult Bianca, and that he would collect what was his the instant Prince Caligari tired of her.

Dräken had little tolerance for bullies, and stepped up to defend Bianca from her cousin’s abuses. With utter contempt, Alfredo spit into Dräken’s face, causing Dräken to challenge Alfredo to a duel. This seemed to delight Alfredo, who managed to soundly defeat Dräken, slashing his chin open to the bone. The duel completed Alfredo and his men left the Heroes, insulting them even at the last. Apologizing for her cousin’s behavior, Bianca lead the Heroes into the castle to meet Prince Caligari.

Within an elegantly appointed throne room the heroes finally came face to face with their host, an elderly man who appeared to be in his late eighties, but who moved and spoke with the vigor of a man half his age. Bianca was sent from the room to change, as she was still wearing the Courtesan’s clothing she had donned to meet the heros. Once she had departed Prince Caligari attended to his guests, had medical attention given to Dräken, and ascertained they had all they needed. He then informed the Heroes of his reasons for gathering them all together.

Recent seismic activity in the Vestini Islands had reveled, what his agents believed, was the lost mansion of Count Donatello Vestini, a noted occultist who had disappeared 200 years ago. Count Vestini was a well known collector of Syrneth artifacts, and his home was said to contain a vault full of the precious items. Caligari knew Vestini would never give his consent to Caligari raiding the mansion, and as Caligari was engaged in delicate trade negotiations with Vestini he couldn’t just ignore the implied prohibition. His agents had made him aware of events in the past of each of the Heroes, and he had decided that by utilizing their differing backgrounds and nationalities it might be enough to hide his own involvement in the prospective looting.

He proposed that the Heroes mount an expedition to the mansion, utilizing a ship Caligari had acquired from the Explorer’s Society, and funded and supplied by Caligari. The Heroes were to loot the mansion collecting all Syrneth artifacts and valuables that they could lay their hands upon. Caligari would take possession of any and all Artifacts the Heros could acquire, but they would be free to keep any other valuables they managed to collect from the mansion, and in addition Caligari would pay each of the Heroes who consented to go 1,000 Guilders for their services. The only condition he would not bend upon was that a member of his family must accompany the Heroes to make certain they abided by the terms of the agreement. To that end he had sent for his Grandson Alfredo to serve as Captain and overseer of their expedition. Elise asked if Bianca would be accompanying them, but Caligari informed them that he had another use for her at the present time. As Caligari expected the Heroes to set off as soon as possible Elise asked if she might have a moment to speak with Bianca before the Heroes left. Caligari agreed, sending Thors with Elise.

Elise and Thors were admitted to Bianca’s chambers by her maid, who discreetly left once they were inside the room. When Bianca was told that she wasn’t to accompany the Heroes on the expedition to the island, and that Alfredo would be serving as the Captain of the voyage the blood drained out of her face. She knew what Alfredo was like and that because of Dräken’s earlier intervention, Alfredo would likely attempt to murder the Heroes once they had completed their mission on the island, then claim to Prince Caligari that they had succumbed to injuries sustained while looting the mansion. She begged Elise not to go, or to find a way to prevent Alfredo from traveling with them. Elise remembered that Caligari had only insisted that a member of his family must accompany them, not that it must be Alfredo. Elise believed that if the Heroes made Bianca’s presence on the expedition a requirement of their acceptance that Caligari would eventually relent and agree to their terms. Thors was sent to bring this information to the rest of the Heroes in Caligari’s throne room.

Once Elise and Bianca were alone, Elise began to whisper words of affection and love to Bianca in an attempt to seduce her. Bianca used her Sorté abilities to determine the truth of Elise’s words and saw the beginnings of a powerful Cups strand begin to form, joining the two women together. This knowledge, coupled with the impressions left on her by Elise’s selfless defense of her person earlier in the evening overwhelmed her and she yielded to Elise’s advances.

While Elise was speaking, among other things, with Bianca, Orfeo began to speak with Alfredo about the coming expedition, attempting to ascertain Alfredo’s motivations. Alfredo’s anger made his speech careless, and he dropped enough hints during the conversation to convince Orfeo that murder would indeed be attempted once the Heroes had returned from the mansion. Orfeo, in a moment of carelessness himself, accused Alfredo of such before everyone present. Alfredo immediately challenged Orfeo to a duel to the death. Caligari prevented the duel from occurring however, as he still had need of Orfeo’s services. Thors then arrived, informing all those present as to what had been agreed in Bianca’s chambers, Caligary relented and Alfredo then stormed out, swearing Vengeance against Orfeo.

The heros then wait for some time until a smiling Elise, and a blushing Bianca re-enter the room. The Fate Witches in the room react badly to Bianca’s presence, rapidly exiting as soon as they catch sight of her. As the Heroes no longer have a Captain they must first make a detour to the Caligari Merchant fleet’s offices to hire one for their voyage. Caligari’s support quickly finds them a new captain and the expedition sets out on its journey.

During the two day voyage the Heroes spend the time in very personal ways. At the start of the voyage the Captain offers his cabin for Bianca’s use, and she requests that Elise be allowed to stay in the cabin with her as her personal Swordsman. The two spend the initial voyage engaged in lovemaking and discussions of Philosophy. Bianca’s emotions lead her to be less guarded than normal and she hints that she is not only far more educated than even many Courtesans but that she also studied at the University located in Caligari territory on mainland Vodacce. During their conversations Elise hints at the existence of Sophia’s Daughters to gage Bianca’s reactions and interest in the society and it’s goal of improving the rights of woman in Vodacce.

The Castillian Don spent the majority of his time aloft, assisting the crewmen on watch, and seeing to the spiritual needs of anyone who seeks his consul. Additionally, when he caught the eye of two of the women in the crew he performed a more personal confessional service for each of them. Dräken spent the time assisting the crew as a deckhand, exercising, and practicing his fighting techniques. The repor he developed working with the crew caused many of them to take an interest in his conditioning exercises, and soon he began to instruct groups of off-duty sailors in the basics of hand to hand combat. Orfeo explored the ship and used his skills as a blacksmith to help reinforce and protect the ships supply of metal tools and goods, and he also saw to the crew’s small supply of weapons. Thors spent his days outside Bianca’s cabin, drinking huge amounts of Grog, and gambling with any off duty sailor who desired to.

During the evening of the second day of the voyage the Heroes ship approached the island on which the mansion is located, only to discover it guarded by a small Brigantine flying Villanova Colors. Although the Hero’s ship attempted to avoid action the Brigantine managed to close with them, and its crew snarled the Hero’s ship in grappling lines. Waves of boarders began to disembark onto the Hero’s ship, but the Hero’s managed to repel the boarder’s and when the crew of the Villanova ship judged the battle turning against them they cut the grappling lines and fled, leaving the defeated borders to the Hero’s mercy.

While the Heroes discussed what to do with the prisoners and examined the best way to approach the cliffs, Elise noticed that one of the defeated boarders had been only pretending to be unconscious. As Bianca crossed close to him he sprang at her, his belaying pin aimed to crack her skull open. Elise’s quick action knocked him off balance, and his strike connected with Bianca’s arm, rather than her head. The blow was savage enough to break her arm however, preventing her from being able to make the ascent up the cliffs. Elise quickly dispatched the assassin, and Dräken, sensing there could be additional boarders laying low on the ship, began a systematic search of the ship from bottom to top, locating an enemy sailor hiding himself among the rigging. Dräken escorted him to the brig with the other prisoners.

Their ship dropped anchor as close to the cliffs as possible, as there was no harbor, and seismic activity continued to cause sections of the cliff to fall away into the sea. Before leaving Bianca pulled Elise close and gave her a passionate kiss, bestowing fates blessings on her. She also gave Elise her Black Pearl ring for luck. Once the Heroes made their preparations they embarked in the ship’s longboat for the cliffs.

Once at the base of the cliffs, Thors used his bow to shoot a grappling arrow up the the entrance to the mansion, 100 feet above. The Castillian Don tied the longboat to the rope to prevent it from drifting away, and the Heroes made the long ascent up the rope, Orfeo leading the way. The only incident to occur happened to Elise, who lost her grip very close to the top, but was saved from a fall by the other Heroes close to her. The Heros discovered the Mansion in a ruinous state, tremors continually shaking the earth, dislodging sections of the building. The Heroes are currently exploring the building, hoping to discover a trove of Artifacts and wealth and escape before the building collapses around them. Their greatest find so far is a Syrneth device of metal clockwork contained within a seemingly unbreakable crystal sphere. Dräken currently carries the device, strapped to his back with rope.

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