Expectation- Through The Breach setting

Here's the basic information for the town of Expectation, a prosperous mining town to the north of Malifaux, in which the initial stages of my local Through the Breach roleplaying game campaign will be set.

Expectation. Pop 142

Expectation is 2 days ride to the north and west of Malifaux city, in the foothills of the great mountains that dominate the skyline. Founded only half a dozen years ago when a team of prospectors found a natural ravine with obvious Soulstone seams as well as some other valuable minerals on an expedition. The town was originally built over several ancient stone buildings that the expedition found nearby, but over the years Expectation has grown in size with a bank, doctor, blacksmith and M&SU office all adding to the main streets amenities. With it's population mainly in nearby farmsteads, but swelled by the miners nearby, and a growing export business of fossil fuels and Soulstones, Expectation is considered a prosperous example of the pioneering spirit of the people of Malifaux, and good luck stories from the town feature heavily in guild publications. In fact good luck tends to happen more often than not in Expectation, unusually so as far as the authorities are concerned, which is all well and good when it serves the Guild propaganda machine, but the absolute lack of Neverborn, Arcanist or any other assaults on Expectation despite its location means the town has more than one curious eye turned towards it.

Below is a map of the centre of Expectation, as well as some notes on its inhabitants.

1) Bank of Malifaux and Guild Mayor’s office

This Three storey building looms over the centre of the square, its shadow falling across both the sheriff’s office and the Gallows at various times during the day. The first floor is the town bank, initially designed for the holding of the miner’s scrip and the valuable commodities that are bartered between the local landowners it has expanded into holding land grants, loans and even the purchase of indentured workers. The ground floor has a standard desk across the whole frontage, with iron railings up to the ceiling and a small heavy door to one side. Behind this counter there is the Safe and safety deposit boxes as well as the stairs to the upper floor. On the second floor is the banker’s sleeping quarters, as well as the offices for the clerks and the guild officials. The third floor is entirely dedicated to the Guild officer’s luxury, and contains elegant rooms with a bedchamber, hosting room and even a plumbed bathing room.

2) Bonnie’s General Store

Bonnie Hayrick was one of the first traders to come through the Breach during its first opening, she opened up a general store in Malifaux itself, and did pretty well for herself before one day she just packed her wares and shipped back out to earth . Shortly after that the Breach infamously closed, sending the prices of Bonnie’s stock- Razorspine venom, Cerberus pelts and Bayou gator leather- through the roof. Though Bonnie is long gone, many store owners in the smaller townships name their stores after her, in the hopes of gaining some of her famed luck. The store is a standard 2 storey building, with two downstairs rooms full of stock, and an upstairs for the owner Jesse Princeton and his family to live in.

3) Cahill’s Undertakers

Emily Cahill has been the undertaker in Expectation ever since there was enough wood to build the first coffins, although she specialised in cremations in more recent times. A large stone oven in the back of her two storey property has seen many a Miner pass on his way peacefully, and if living above the large room that holds the coffins and corpses bothers Emily or her family, they don’t mention it to anyone.

4) Drunk-tank

One of the ancient stone buildings that attracted prospectors to this spot as a building site, the drunk-tank has an eerie quality that echoes from its blue-grey walls, meaning none but the irretrievably inebriated could possibly spend the night here. Thin windows and a forged steel door keep the drunks in, and the night out.

5) Expectation orphans School

When the open crevice into the earth that started the Soulstone mining in Expectation was found, the guild began immediately scouting round for an area that would be good to build on, over the next ridge they found a cluster of buildings, older than human occupation they were deemed perfect for the job. The largest, a giant three story building, was immediately conscripted as the guild offices, however during construction of the rest of the town the Guild overseers and guards resident in the old building complained of headaches and waking up after horrific nightmares. Despite a visit from the guilds exorcists and witch hunters, the building remained as eerie as ever, and was deemed unfit for civilised habitation. It seemed a waste of a good site however, and the guild decided to put it to another use, housing one of the most common creations of soulstone mining- orphans. Since then the Expectation orphans school has grown into an establishment that during the day teaches all the local children alongside orphans in its cavernous main room downstairs, and up the two spiral stairs to the sides of the main doors during the evening it houses the orphans of Expectation mines in a series of smaller rooms branching off a central corridor. In a small back room downstairs their rather haggard overseer and teacher Pieter Despin sleeps, an ancient guild guard seemingly untroubled by whatever spirits inhabit the place.

6) Expectation Surgery

There’s always work for a good surgeon in Malifaux, and if Expectation had such a good surgeon then the casualty rates of the mines may not be quite so bad. In truth a motley selection of barbers, dentists, doctors and butchers have made their way in and out of the doors of Expectations surgery, and the post is currently awaiting its newest arrival from Malifaux. A two storey house, it is connected to the explorers league and M&SU buildings as one block, downstairs is the main surgical room, as well as a private chamber to the rear for privileged clients, upstairs is the surgeons quarters and small library, which has been gathering dust for a few years as the last Surgeon could barely read at all.

7) Explorers League

An unofficial organisation, The Explorers League is the name of a series of private clubs and hostelries scattered around Malifaux’s smaller towns and villages. Designed to cater to rich and flamboyant young men from Earthside who journey to Malifaux’s wilds for the thrill of the hunt. Downstairs is a quiet lounge and private bar/store, whilst upstairs has four separate bedrooms, all well-appointed and served with indoor plumbing. Whilst most of the residents consider these earth-siders with scorn, the unused pelts and furs they bring back (if they come back) from hunts are an added export for the towns coffers. For those with permission, the store has access to a much higher quality range of weaponry and ammunition than the general store, though they are obviously priced somewhat higher than usual to get the most from the visitor’s deep purses.

8) Jorge’s Blacksmiths

Both of the low, one storey houses that skirt the Southern edge of Expectation are owned by one man, Jorge Staydt. Jorge is a master blacksmith who moved out to Expectation at the start of the mining operation, seeing the opportunity to make his fortune by opening both a blacksmiths and farriers in the new venture. His plan worked out well, building his stone forge inside one of the resilient small stone structures left behind from ancient Malifaux, his trade was so good he managed to purchase a fine house just outside town, where he now resides. Other than the large stone forge the smithy is made up of two rooms, one large open area around the forge, with tools and stock hanging from racks on the walls, and a smaller locked room for expensive wares. Jorge is no whitesmith however, and there is little in the way of arms and armour here, other than the great mining hammers and picks he spends most of his time creating that is.

9) Jorge’s Farriers

Jorge’s son Louis runs the Farriers, and he makes sure that the stock they hold is of the highest quality and greatest range, seeing in it the chance to build a fortune like his fathers. Whilst the main room is laid out and tidied to an exceptional standard, displaying anything and everything a man could want for his horse, Louis back room sleeping area is a mess of cut leather and half made straps, cinches and saddles, with sketches of new designs plastered across the far wall.

10) M&SU office

Wherever there is mining, you will find the M&SU. On the surface this regional field office exists to keep an eye on the treatment of the miners, ensure their living conditions are up to standards and that the Guild pays them a fair amount for their efforts. In reality it keeps tabs on the Guild’s operations in this area, watching the shipments and ensuring the Union gets its ‘cut’ of any Soulstones its agents in the mine collect. The last of the two storey house block in the west of the town, the ground floor has the union offices as well as a private meeting room, there is also a small store for union members, with safety clothing, lamps, explosives and other useful mining equipment on obvious sale, as well as some more esoteric goods hidden beneath a trap in the floor. Upstairs the two local union representatives live in shared quarters, these reps are changed regularly to avoid Guild scrutiny, and their quarters also double as a safe-house for guild operatives in the area.

11) Mason’s Livery Stable

Paul Mason is a long-time friend of Jorge Staydt, and when Jorge began to find success out in Expectation he invited Paul to move his livery business from another mining town and set up shop next door, even going so far as to loan him the scrip to build the stable itself. Having paid off his debt years ago, the two now share an easy friendship that is rare in the wilds of Malifaux, Paul’s massive 6’8” frame only seems at home in the stables he lives above, dwarfing any other doorway except that of the schoolhouse, he still lives alone (almost) though by choice rather than fate, saying he prefers the company of horses to women at any rate. The downstairs of the stables is well tended and clean, with space to house 11 horses, stairs to the rear lead to two living quarters. Paul’s spacious rooms take up most of the space, and those of ‘Whut?’ take up the rest. Whut? is Paul’s main eccentricity, a gremlin Hog Whisperer who actually tried whisperin' to the hogs... he quickly found that whilst the Hog’s paid him no mind other than sizing him up for lunch, the four legged things humans rode were more than happy to comply to his chattering. Where Paul met the aged Grem is still a mystery, but between the two of them there are few mounts they cannot bend to their will, either through Gremlin cunning, or Paul’s brute strength.

12) Miners Bunkhouses

The dark wilds of Malifaux are not exactly easy to navigate even in the best of conditions, but to a drunken miner stumbling back to the mine’s large shared dorm in the dark they become pretty much deadly. After the losses began to mount up, the mine had two options- ban the miners from drinking in town, or provide somewhere for them to sleep it off. Option one was much debated before the M&SU rep pointed out how unhappy a drinking ban would make the miners, and how ‘unproductive’ unhappy miners could be, this left option two, and after a brief discussion the great philanthropist Ramos himself sent funds to build a series of small bunkhouses, sited north of the Sheriff’s office to help keep the peace, these small one storey houses have a large communal area with table, chairs and a range, as well as two smaller rooms with 4 double bunks in each, which miners are allowed to use  on a rotating weekly basis.  

13) Salinka’s Saloon and Casino ‘Down Tools’

Ivor Salinka came to Malifaux with a handful of scrip and a dream, and from that humble start, and a great deal of card-sharping, he built the edifice to leisure that is the ‘Down Tools’, a miners saloon through and through. Ivor fitted out the downstairs with an extensive bar, large floor area and a raised stage to one side, whilst out the back three rooms hold the stores, kitchen and an invitation only Casino in one corner. From either of the stairs out front you access the upper storey with its mezzanine balconies and surrounding rooms for patrons, whilst the rear staircase leads first to the dressing room of whichever entertainer is currently in residence, then to Salinka’s own extensive stateroom, usually unoccupied as Salinka is to be found in the crowd of miners and townsfolk that flock to his bar each night, there is little that happens within a day’s ride of Expectation that Ivor does not know.

14) Sheriff’s office

A hard bitten pistolier who made his name Earthside, Luke Courtson is the current Guild sponsored and M&SU backed  Sheriff of Expectation, and has held the role for several years. Thickly built and sporting a thick beard, Courtson talks rarely, except when needed, and is still somewhat of a mystery to the populace. His clockwork seeker pistol and pneumatic leg attest to a life of hardship and violence in his past, but his even temper and ability to judge a situation has stopped many a brawl before it goes too far. And if it does go too far the two reinforced cells in the back of the Sheriff’s office, behind the battered desk and locked weapon’s cabinet, have held more than their share of folks with the intention of doing bad things to one another, and in the very worst cases, it’s only a short walk from the door of the office to the waiting gallows

Expectations Miscreants

My current group of Fated have been exploring Expectation and it's surrounding area, below you can find a transcript of their first foray into the world Through the Breach.

It took a while to decide whether I would write up my party's adventures, they tend to the... unusual. but after all, this is Malifaux, so maybe they aren't that unusual after all.

A Prelude, and a Warning (or three)

This is a story that is eventually going to get dark. I mean really dark. If you have any sort of moral qualms or ethics, and have even the remotest chance of being offended by the actions of a group of filthy miscreants doing nefarious deeds you may want to stop reading here.
If you’re still reading you’re either a terrible person, or you don’t believe me, seriously there isn’t going to be any happy endings here. Actually, now I think about it there definitely will be at least one happy ending, but it’s the kind you pay for in a seedy room with a companion of low virtue. See what I mean? Hopefully this has given you an inkling of what is to follow and the dubious or disbelieving will now realise that there are plenty of great stories over in the Iron Quill, and that they probably don’t want to carry on past this paragraph.
Still here? You're pretty messed up, you know that? Ah well, two warnings are pretty good, but the third beats all as they say, so I’d stop now if I were you. This here is the adventures of a group of individuals who have no secret team name, no allegiance to each other, few ties to anyone but themselves, and even less loyalty. They aren’t so much a team at all really, more what happens when all the good guys leave town, and what’s left have to get their hands dirty. Dirtier, sorry. These are not heroes, they are just the bad things that happen to other people, and sometimes, on a good day, those other people are even worse than they are.

The day of the Expectation murders started just like any other in the small mining boom town in the northern mountains, new arrivals came by coach and rail, the ore shipped out back to the city, and the people bustling about their business as usual. The first visitor that stood out was the twisted, garbling witch that the sheriff’s posse had found in the night, the sun hadn’t even rose when they dragged him back to town and threw him in prison, his effects confiscated to await his ‘trial’. Sheriff Courtson was an honest man, an ex-guild guard that served his time and left for more reputable work, but he had seen enough foul magic in Malifaux to recognise a Ressurectionist when he saw one, he’d hang, but he’d follow due process first.

The second visitor was more noticeable by his stench than his sight; Lyle Bucktooth, a rough looking individual in tattered dungarees who stank of pigs and Bayou. Lyle arrived on foot, rare enough by itself in a town this far from anywhere, (even a day’s ride from Ridley) carrying a battered sack, and a serviceable shotgun. Installing himself in Salinka’s saloon and paying for a room, he seemed content to sip the local whiskey and stare out at the street, like he was waiting for someone, or something, to arrive. The bar around him emptied pretty fast at this point, his pungent presence forcing the regulars closer to the stage at the rear rather than the warmer spots by the windows, but something about the hermit spoke of violence, and none there had the grit to ask him to leave.

For our next visitors we have to step slightly outside town to the carriage travelling in from Ridley, the stage took longer than the train at the newly built station, but it was cheap, and it was reliable. Inside we find a motley cast, The first to catch your eye (indeed to catch anyone’s eye that looked in) would be Huckleberry Sin, the tall three kingdoms gentleman in the shining green silk tuxedo, yellow shirt and crimson necktie, his green hat perched over his eyes  to hide the fact he was studying the other two passengers intently. Next to him a buxom, blonde haired woman in a performers travelling gown sat wafting her face with a collapsible fan; beautiful and serene, many miners had dreamed about Eva Beldame the night after her show.  Her obvious beauty, his handsome face and the fact that they both seemed dressed for a show (possibly a circus in Sin’s case) may make you think they travelled together, but whereas Eva was a genuine showgirl on loan to the town from the Star itself, Sin was nothing more than a street pimp from the alleys of Malifaux. An overseer of a small brothel he was here tracking down the john that sold his girls out to the local guards for not paying protection. This had lost Sin custom, a couple of good girls, and worse:- some of his hard earned rep. The gold rings that glittered across Sin’s knuckles were better than a set of brass knuckles in a fight, and the decorated three barrelled pistol at his hip wasn’t just for show. The third occupant was the focus of both Eva and Sin’s attention, dressed in a finely tailored suit just a little out of season, and more than a little worn, he slumped in the corner, just as unconscious as he was when the filthy, rotund man in the top hat that hailed the carriage as it left Malifaux dumped him through the door.

Tarquin was a member of the De Walt aristocracy, farmers back in Africa, his fortunes were bright despite his rather poisonous attitude to everything beneath him (which was to say- everything), educated and erudite, he was busy making his father proud at university when he found a book that opened his mind to new possibilities, and he started on the path of the graverobber. This path first took him away from his cosseted life in society, then through the Breach and eventually to a graveyard on the outskirts of Malifaux’s more affluent areas. The guild had chased him for almost an hour when the sound of a shovel on the back of his head brought him blackness, which he was only now shaking off, to find his medical bag and books beside him on this bumpy carriage ride, and a folded note in his breast pocket

You owe me.
Find Meridian’s eye.

As the carriage rode in to town it passed a small but gruesome procession; three noblemen fresh from the breach, out with an explorer’s league party to hunt legendary beasts, they had come north from the footprints and stumbled upon a small herd of Bayou boars both angry and lost. Did I mention angry? That is possibly a poor word for the uncontrolled fury with which the beasts launched themselves at the small party of humans; in fact their little jolly to Malifaux would have ended there had they not had the foresight to hire one of Ridley’s more violent Scrappers. Despite her grace and looks, Kato Kimberley Kallous is at heart more than a little psychotic, possibly from too many Noh theatre shows about Samurai heroes, and after a very short stint as an Oiran she was sent to learn sword techniques in the Old Kingdom by her Ten Thunders uncle. These techniques were put to good use defending her erstwhile employers against the rampaging porcine threat, especially backed up by the gunfighter Erdig Vax the explorers guild had attached to the party, inevitably the five dead pigs were being dragged behind the horses as they approached their lodgings for this evening in the Explorers League house in Expectation.

Reaching town just before sunset the aristocrats, the two brothers went by the name of Du Bray, and thought money could buy them anything, even survival (which actually had worked out for them so far I suppose..) With them was the wastrel Henry Pocks, a Malifaux resident who had joined the well-armed party at the last moment, and joked with the brothers as they headed to their lodgings across the street from the Saloon, the eldest brother giving Kato orders to skin the boars and prepare them for tomorrows dinner. In the Saloon itself our friends Eva, Huckleberry and Tarquin had each taken rooms and now sat apart, Huck and Tarquin seemingly unbothered by the stench of the wandering hermit, (Tarquin genuinely thought all ‘poor people’ smelt that bad, and Huck was still brooding revenge). Lyle himself seemed smitten with Eva on sight, barely taking his eyes off her for the first hour. He was distracted however by the sight of Kato brutally attempting to skin one of the boars outside with what appeared to be a Nodachi, not exactly the right tool for the job. Craftsmanship aside, Lyle had spent two days herding those misbegotten creatures across the damn river and releasing them on the plains, but as he saw the mercenary become increasingly bathed in the pigs blood he realised that if the Hag was right (and when you grow up as the only other human in the Bayou, best to assume the Hag is always right) the pig’s blood was marking out the sword wielding savage before him as the tool of prophecy he was sent to protect, which wasn’t going to easy by the look of things. Sighing, Lyle drank the last of his whiskey, and went out to offer the poor girl a hand, if the pigs had to be butchered, they may as well be done properly after all.

So, our cast is assembled, yokels, necromancers, pimps, wastrels, entertainers and porcine corpses. The sleepy town was so far blissfully unaware of the death that would stalk it’s streets before the night was over, and luckily so. After all their ignorance is a form of protection, just as you, the reader, have so far seen nothing of the darkness promised earlier, are protected from the bad things in store by your own ignorance of these events. However like the poor townsfolk who are about to find out exactly how bad things can get in Malifaux, the poor protection ignorance provides you is about to be shredded like the skin of the Boar that the mercenary just rather inexpertly butchered.

Next time, that is. 

Welcome back, nice to have the repeat custom, unusual, but nice nonetheless.

Now, where did we leave our group of ne’er-do-wells? Ah, of course some time has passed since we spoke and those tasks left uncompleted are complete, with only a small amount of violence, and this inflicted upon those who are already past the point of caring, therefore instead of their prior locations we now find most of our cast assembled (of course) in Salinka’s Saloon. 

Huckleberry Sin has barely moved, although his demeanour has greatly changed, now rather than brooding he has become a glowing bon viveur, chatting to all who approach, especially Salinka’s saloon girls, who are all very much taken by the charming eastern gentleman with the sharp suit. He has spent more on drinks and food than Tarquin certainly, who after has managed to irritate most of the staff and townsfolk with his offish behaviour and pretentious manner, indeed it seems that his eyes struggle to peer in any direction other than down his nose, although they did manage to slide (along with most of the bars occupants) along to the feminine figure of Kade as she descended the stairs, her gleaming leather armour cleaned of pig detritus and her weapon shining on her back. With a nod to Lyle who had retaken his seat by the window, Kade called for food and took a seat closest to the fire, laying her long blade on the table in front of her, a ward against conversation and company both. Although perhaps not as overtly cheery as the green-clad pimp, the second happiest person in the room was surely Lyle Bucktooth, he had found his ward without any real issue, and gained 4 boarskins to boot, the Bayou toughened leather would either sell for a good price in the traders or be useful for his own wardrobe, a good day made even more so by the cheap whiskey and pretty faces around him, much better than the Bayou in many ways, but less homely he thought.

Over the next few hours the townsfolk drifted in, along with a good contingent of miners from their shared bunks north of town, the rumour that Salinka had new talent in meant that the few other saloons on the outskirts would be losing trade tonight, Salinka only ever paid for the best, and it was rumoured he had Union connections, was it true that a genuine showgirl was to appear? The tables filled quickly, and at the only empty seats were around the glowering mercenary and Lyle. When Eva took to the stage and began her set, singing a slow song about home, hearth and heartsickness, the entire saloon was transfixed, bewitched by her beauty and the magic in her voice (all except Tarquin, who decided he had seen better, and that she could do with a little more voice training). The spell her voice wove around the room had a particularly strong effect on young Lyle, who could barely take his eyes from the stage. Her first song led to a second, and time seemed to stop for a moment in Salinka’s. This beautiful tableau was then totally ruined forevermore in the minds of those present when 2000lb of fleshless zombie pig complete with mechanical rear legs and a noxious cloud of bile and smoke leaking from its rear end smashed through the wall of the saloon and landed on the stage.

The silence that followed the abominations entrance was brief, as the screams of the townsfolk shattered it almost immediately, the rush for the door or the rear of the room an animalistic swarm, terrified beyond measure. Of course some in the room reacted differently, (luckily for us as otherwise this story would have been far less interesting) Eva herself frantically began dodging the beasts assaults as a few miners close to the stage rushed to aid her, the first was disembowelled on its foetid tusks, the second smashed into the side wall with enough force to push his head through it, and the last knocked to the ground and trampled into the stage boards. The threat to the angelic vision that Lyle had only just encountered (having spent most of his life in the Bayou or wilderness he had rarely encountered human women, especially such beauty as Eva) was too much for him, and the blast of his shotgun rang out across the room, shredding one of the piston’s on the beasts rear. The abomapig turned at this, and was caught square in the face by the second shot, which dazed it just long enough for the bejewelled fist of Huckleberry to cave in its skull with a series of well placed blows. As the innocents flocked outside more screams were heard, another of the horrific creations was in the street, tearing into the crowd with abandon, the bloodied corpses of several miners and two of Salinka’s girls lay at its feet, trails of gore and intestines testimony to its porcine rage even in death. As it swung it’s snout toward another of Salinka’s girls, prostrate on the floor before it,  the abomination found  another figure instead, The first swing of Kade’s blade severed the boars jaw from its face, the second drove it back to its rotting haunches,  and the final blow came from Tarquin’s revolver, driving  it’s bullet deep into the beast’s decomposing brain.

The inhabitants of the town stood in shock, the violence had lasted only minutes, but eight dead townsfolk lay in mute testimony to the horror that had taken place. They weren’t going to enjoy the peace long however, as the sound of gunfire and squealing came from the sheriff’s office up the road,  followed by a single agonising scream….

Why the strangers felt they needed to help at all is a mystery, but now they are involved as it were it seems natural that we follow them, if for no other reason, than curiosity at their motives. And if you think that next time they will be shown to be the good guys after all, think again

Surprisingly the sheriff was still alive by the time Tarquin kicked the door to his office open and burst in, followed quickly by a bloodlusting Kade, a bemused Lyle, and Huckleberry and Eva (he insisted she accompany him 'for her protection'). The sheriff’s leg was in tatters, with the half built form of another of the ex-pigs, melded with all manner of steel and iron attempting to finish the job by dragging itself up his torso. A scuffle ensued, which involved Kade's sword, Huckleberry's fist and a good deal of gore, but the beast was soon done, and Tarquin began stitching up the good sheriff's leg. After a short discussion it was revealed that the sheriff believed the creatures were attempting to rescue the miserable wretch in cell number one. The populace it seemed had come to much the same conclusion, and a noise outside drew the party into the street, where an angry mob had formed, surrounding the jail they were held off at this point only by the guild guards and their sergeant, who had arrived from the bank (late, as usual for members of regular law enforcement in irregular situations). 

Now we must step into the mind of Tarquin for a second, as distasteful and grim a prospect as that may seem. Since he first crossed the breach he felt the draw of necromancy pull him to the darkest corners of Malifaux, but despite his searches, his bribes and research the ability to raise the dead, to create servants to fulfil his every whim (including the one involving a human caterpillar and a vat of pigs blood) eluded him. perhaps this wretch had secrets to pass on, something, anything? That would finally unlock the key to the darkest of power. He resolved to keep the criminal alive, and in doing so spoke up to both the sheriff and the crowd. 

"I am an officially sanctioned defense lawyer, sent by the guild to represent this man, to ensure he receives a free and fair trial, and that justice is served in full, disperse immediately, lest the good sheriff and his men here be forced to waste their bullets on you, rather than on the horrors that stalk this town"

The crowd wavered, guild lawyers wore masks didn't they? And they had never heard of one so far from Malifaux before? But then there had never been an imprisoned resurrectionist in town either? The burly miners at the front retained their indignity and rage, but at the back the regular townsfolk were beginning to slip away, thinning the mob and giving hope to Tarquin. With a flourish he drew the note, with its rich paper and dark seal from his pocket and brandished it above his head.

"This writ from Lucius himself gives me the power to prosecute and fine any man or woman that impedes my investigation, and stands in the way of justice. I implore you to step away or I will order these men to open fire"

Now miners aren't all that great at reading, nor understanding the complexities of the law, but the harsh voice and condescending manner of the clearly educated and erudite man stood before them was enough to convince them that they did not want to call this man's bluff. The Miners finally began to drift away, leaving the guild guards looking strangely at Tarquin. The sheriff nodded his way, a doctor and a lawyer both, this man may be an arrogant bastard, but he was useful to have around. Limping back into the sheriff’s office, he indicated a locked cabinet on the wall, where the 'defendant's' goods were stored. Tarquin took them into his care, and no sooner than he touched the bag than a coarse, unspoken whisper entered his mind. 

"Read me... I am all you crave... all you need... all you can be."

Tarquin's head is about to become too full for us to remain with him, so perhaps it is time to visit the slighty less disturbed but definitely grubbier point of view of Lyle Bucktooth.  Lyle had spent the time during Tarquin’s crowd pacification with his attention split between the shapely forms of Eva and Kade, the rather solitary life he had as a tracker not quite preparing him to protect two damsels in distress, especially when one of the damsels is causing more distress than she’s feeling and seems determined to cut as many things in half as possible. After seeing the irritating posh guy slump into one of the sheriff’s seats with a tatty book in hand, Lyle started to do some maths, one pig they killed in the bar, one pig in the street, one in the sheriff’s office... One and one and one made… Lyle’s head hurt, this was a common side effect of maths (Lyle’s Mah taught him to count with whacks to the back of his head from her spoon, which had a somewhat permanent effect on him) and though he had to really buckle down to finish the sum he was pretty sure there was either one left or three. Definitely one of those numbers. Either way it meant that both of the ladies that he was trying to look after were still in trouble, and if anyone here could track a pig, it was him, time to step up and hunt the damned things down. He walked into the street and trailed his hand in the dirt, followed by a bemused Kade and Huckleberry. Sniffing the air he licked his index finger (tasted good, not sure what of, he spent a minute or so sucking something particularly juicy from under a fingernail) He (eventually) raised the spit sodden finger into the air and held it into the wind. As he did so an explosion rent the air, the sound of yet more gunfire and screaming coming from the explorer’s guild, red flames licking out of the doorway. Lyle turned to his spectators and nodded, speaking calmly with the wisdom of a born tracker;

“Dey’s to da south”

What Tarquin learnt from the book in that short time must be revealed later, but suffice to say all present were surprised to see him stride from the sheriff’s office, cane in hand and direct them toward the sound of gunfire.  Kade needed no such direction, as she sprinted toward the sound (followed by Lyle) Huckleberry came too, still dragging the bewildered Ms Beldame with him. The front door was too busy being a blazing inferno to let them in, so the group of mismatched saviours went to use the back. Or in fact the really big hole left in the side wall by a semi-robotic leviathan of revenge seeking bacon. Kade’s enthusiasm for a brawl was somewhat dimmed by the fact her armour slowed her advance, so the first through the broken planks was Lyle, then Huckleberry, with Tarquin wisely seeking safety at the rear.

The scene that greeted the fated as they entered the explorers guild could best be described as the anti-barbecue from hell, two of the abominations stood pinning a group of four humans into a corner, another two lay on the floor beneath the nightmares feet, A lantern had exploded in the doorway, the flames giving the scene an unearthly shade. Two of the figures were firing hunting rifles at the pigs, whilst a third was hammering heavy pistol shells into them, some of which were glowing in an unusual way, especially to the eyes of Kade (who’s ability to sense the mystical we will go into more detail later) Lyle’s shotgun added to the cacophony, driving the closer beast to its knees, and the triple barrelled pistol in Huck’s hand served to distract the second. In the corner the elder Du Bray brother (or the younger, I really don’t like them so wasn’t paying attention, I’m not sure anyone cares) shouted out to his rescuers.

“Keep at it fellows! We’ve got them on the backfoot!”

The gurgling squeal of a immense throat slit by a disturbingly large sword signalled the end of the closest beast, and with the last shell in his shotgun’s breach Lyle shredded the intestines of the last abomination. Racking the slide Lyle turned to the terrified Du Bray’s, his face covered in Ichor, the burning building lighting it in harsh shadows.

“Pigs have hooves. Stupid.”

The gunsmiths pistols disappeared into his coat as he hurled a mop bucket at the flames, stamping on the last embers he turned to thank the four intruders, he was interrupted however by a cold, harsh voice cutting across him. Huckleberry has stepped into the light to reload his pistol, and as he slipped the third bullet into it's chamber the Du Bray’s and their other companion stepped up to do the same. The light from the remaining lantern had fallen across the face of the fourth man, and their eyes had met.


Huckleberry’s voice carried with it the threat of a thousand years of death, an inhuman hiss that did not fail to chill the heart of those in the room, the effect it had on Henry Pocks was even more pronounced. He had heard the tales of what happened to those foolish enough to damage Huckleberry Sin’s girls, men staked out in the quarantine zone with half their skin taken from them, or castrated and half drowned with the flesh they had lost stretched and pinned across their faces, you did not anger Sin, and Pocks had done just that. He didn’t mean to give the guild Sin’s address, or tell them about the ‘unusual’ services Sin offered, but they had been so persuasive, and offered so much money... When he heard Sin had escaped he thought he’d be safe out here in the wilds with a gunsmith and a swordswoman between him and danger, now he looked into the eyes of Sin and knew no human could be this evil, only a fiend in stolen flesh had the power to drive such fear into him. He fell to his knees, sobbing for forgiveness, he emptied his pockets, his wallet, his holster, he placed all his worldly goods on the table and he begged for mercy.

Huckleberry Sin showed mercy for the first time that day. He put all three barrels against Pocks skull and he spread the back of the wastrels head across the floor of the explorers guild.

They say that people in Malifaux either die inside, or just plain die. Perhaps that explains why almost no-one in the room so much as batted an eye at the cold blooded execution they had just witnessed. Lyle cared little for human life in general, the Du Bray’s little for those below them in station. Tarquin was too engrossed in the book (again) so only Kade and the gunsmith looked at Sin as he calmly took the wastrels weapon and holstered it at his other hip. Their eyes met and with the simple words ‘personal matter’ the subject was closed.

The gunsmith walked to the bar and grabbed a bottle, sitting at one of the remaining tables he offered it to Kade, who swigged it back before passing it to Tarquin, who giving it a disgusted look passed it straight to Lyle before sitting at another seat, eyes still pinned to the stolen grimoire. Eva stepped gently in the back door and fell back, horrified more by the calm, quiet demeanour of the humans who stood amongst the chaos of blood and intestines, brains and corpses, than by the devastation itself.

A quiet in the storm, this first tale concludes soon. One of our ‘heroes’ at least has revealed his true colours, so will you wish to hear the rest? Perhaps not, but I will record it here nonetheless.
Once again the vagaries of time and my irresponsibility as a true record of passing events have left me lost, where did we go next? Our intrepid fated are resting in the burnt runs of a gentleman’s club, several corpses (including a steam-powered pig) litter the floor, one wall has collapsed completely but the upstairs appears fine. For now, anyway, besides the room they are accompanied by several bystanders, and an air of faint surprise after Huckleberry’s actions, but the present does not help me unravel the past, where to next?

I think Tarquin may be the solution to my amnesia, as he sits and reads his newly acquired grimoire amidst the carnage he finds that whilst most of the words are gibberish (probably written by a poor person, the penmanship is atrocious) the occasional paragraph seems to settle rather well in his mind. Rather too well actually, as the words become pictures, and those pictures begin to tell a story of a set of tools to capture a being of immense power, tools cursed to claim the souls of those around them. One of these tools stands out ever more, Meridian’s Eye, a round black stone, scarred on one side by four gouges, with a deep hole drilled at a 90 degree angle to them.  This stone is held in what for any other description is a golden harp, with 4 strings that stretch to fill the gouges left in the stone, holding the orb in a delicate oval cage.

The image of the black stone eye begins to spin in Tarquin’s memory, he had seen it, not in his dreams but within his grasp, no, not his grasp, of course he wouldn’t touch it whilst it was still inside… oh. He leapt to his feet and snapped the book closed, this burst of action startling the motley group seated around him and coming pretty close to getting him a face full of buckshot from Lyle, who was in fact beginning to enjoy himself, he hadn’t shot this many things in quite some time.

“We need to go back to jail. Now.”

His brusque manner aside, the small group had no better ideas, and rather than knock the hat from his head (Kade’s most restrained idea), they asked a few questions, to which Tarquin explained that he had an idea what was causing all this. Huckleberry had a burst of gentlemanly fervour as they left however, ushering Eva and the remaining Explorers upstairs and barricading them in the western room, with the gunsmith and a promise to return. An uncharacteristic burst of courage caused Tarquin to lead from the front, hurtling across the main street and past the gallows to the Jail, where he burst in on a surprised sheriff finishing binding his wounds.

“I must speak to my client privately, it is of the utmost importance that you leave immediately to allow me to do so”

Obviously the sheriff’s first instinct was to tell Tarquin to sod off until the morning, but here Huckleberry began to shine, with a smooth tongue and a charmed smile Huckleberry talked the sheriff into coming down to view the carnage at the explorers league, after all it was up to him to report it wasn’t it? Huckleberry led the lawman away whilst the rest of the crew gathered around the bound necromancer, who’s gibbering and wailing quietened drastically as he became aware of the company around him.  Tarquin’s words were to inspire even more wailing than usual however.

“I need his eye”

Let’s not go into too much detail on how exactly the got the stone eye out of the prisoners head, the only person with the right tools for the job had just left with the sheriff, and a massive sword isn’t the most delicate of tools, so perhaps we can forgive Kade for the mess, in any event it was Lyle who eventually worked the bauble free, and it was his knapsack that they then used to cover the ressurectionist’s head, hiding the blood, brain matter and other injuries from prying eyes. They finished cleaning up just as the sheriff returned. Tarquin’s imperious tone had carried him pretty far this evening, so he saw no reason to stop bossing people around now.

“This man is certainly a dangerous spellcaster, why he almost cast a spell on me had these good men not intervened, you must not make eye contact with him at any point do you understand? The hood must stay on him until he hangs tomorrow.”
The sheriff nodded, at least he now knew that the dishevelled mage had passed through due process, and would hang on the morrow after all, which cheered him up a little. He thanked the ‘lawyer’ for his help, and sent him on his way, grateful to have his house back, and the prisoners mutterings had certainly quietened down.

Back in the street the four strangers gathered to see what exactly Tarquin had claimed from the prisoner, and he showed them the strange stone he believed may be responsible for the creatures attacking the town, as unremarkable as it looked to most of the group, to one of them it was confirmation that something was very wrong, as it glowed and boiled with a sickly green mist in her sight. Kato had known for a long time that she could see things that others could not, even as a child she had been able to tell when a charm sold on the streets earthside was a true item, or merely an elaborate sham, since crossing the breach however that instinct had become focused into the ability to sense, and in extreme cases see, magic. Her time on Malifaux had taught her to instinctively distrust magic users,  Kato had little time for the guild in general but believed them when they said that magic needed controlling, several of her more treacherous jobs had involved guarding petty wizards in their search for power, and none of them had ended well. Kato looked at the stone with distaste, but she also noticed that the tendrils of smoke curling away from it all headed in the same direction, back toward the explorers guild. As she turned to follow its faint path her sharp eyes caught movement back in the ruined ground floor, and it wasn’t human movement. Her sword left it’s scabbard in the briefest of moments as she sprinted towards the shadows.

“We have some more company!”
Memories are a wonderful strange thing, whilst we are unable to change the past, often leading to deep regret, our memories are quite adapt at shuffling people and places around with ease, leaving a poor remembrancer such as myself lost and confused. Luckily on this occasion the words have stayed fairly true and my rather more wandering mind can use them, as a navigator uses the twin moons, and pick where I left off so long ago.

Kato may not have been the fastest runner in the town, her armour alone weighing more than most people carry with them, but the thought of more innocent lives under threat gave wings to her feet, and she arrived at the ruined building in time to see a disfigured shadow slope up the stairs. Clambering over the wreckage of the front door she was halfway up the same stairs when Huck and Lyle caught up, both brandishing their respective firearms. The top of the stairs was a maelstrom of flesh and junk, the remains of the unfortunate wastrel has somehow become fused with part of the pigs movement mechanisms, and the Explorer’s waiter had sprouted wood and brass legs from his back and chest. Disjointed and crablike the abomination was using two of these inhuman limbs to punch holes through the door into the eastern room, whilst Pocks’ mobile corpse was slamming itself against the occupied door to the west. 

The screams of the inhabitants could be clearly heard as the door was shaken on its hinges, and Pocks’ mangled face, gore still dripping from Huckleberry’s callous execution had begun to force its way through a narrow gap, hissing and spitting into the room beyond. Now Huckleberry always had a soft spot for a pretty lady, and damned if Pocks didn’t have the good manners to stay dead, he drew a bead though the ornamented banister and began ploughing shots into the beast’s side, using Pocks own weapon against his magically augmented corpse seemed somehow fitting. Kato however had followed the crab-waiter construct into the room, with a delicate flick she up-ended the creature, and a final thrust pinioned it to the wall. The blow severed the monstrosity’s spine, and as Kato stepped in to withdraw the blade the waiter, dribbling a necrotic ooze, coughed and died, dropping a thin cane to the floor, a cane that practically shone with magic in Kato’s eyes.

The scene in the corridor had reached a peak of violence some moments before, and by the time Kato returned the combined weight of fire from the Gunsmith, Lyle and Huck had succeeded in putting Pocks down, this time a dedicated ressurectionist would need a sponge and a good deal of glue to bring him back. As Kato and Tarquin arrived on the balcony a strange phenomenon occurred- a line of green vapour stretched through the air to connect a gem on the cane (the unfortunate Pocks’ last truly valuable item) to the eye in Tarquin’s pocket, and then carried on toward the eastern room, as Tarquin and Kato’s eyes followed the trail they noticed each other watching the same thing, and an understanding that both in some way had magic within them was silently formed, reinforced by the fact that the others on the landing didn’t react to the emerald smoke, even when it passed straight through them.

We pass now with that smoke into the eastern room, where Eva and the explorers had barricaded themselves in, Eva appeared quite distraught (although in reality she was trained to deal with situations such as this long before she was allowed this far from the Star) and the gunsmith, who now sported a ragged gash down one side of their face, quietly reloaded their last rounds into their custom pistols. A prompt and delicate knock on the door startled all four occupants, by its politeness amidst such destruction if nothing else, and the stern countenance of Tarquin the supposed lawyer peered through the abominations damage.

“Could I trouble you to let me in?”

The furniture was shunted aside and whilst Lyle stood guard the strangers gathered, Tarquin and Kato made a beeline straight for Eva, almost as though they were following an invisible track. Both of them stopped before her, their eye’s fixed on her brooch, an abstract golden harp she had carried for many years. As Kato’s face darkened and her hand rose Tarquin stepped in:

“Your brooch, would it be an object of old Malifaux perchance? Ah, I see from your reaction that it is, I’m afraid that the item in question may be what is drawing these beasts to you. It’s quite obviously cursed you see, we are trained at the law office to spot cursed items you know, so I am afraid I’m going to have to confiscate it..”

Eva’s hand covered the brooch, it was her one family heirloom, a remnant from her ancestors trip through the breach, and proof they had survived it. To part from it would be hard, almost impossible, she began to protest at such harsh treatment but was soon taken aside by Huckleberry, who, through smooth words and kind ministrations, managed to convince her that the item really was bad news, and that should she relinquish it he would be very grateful, and attempt to recoup its value as much as possible. Brooch in hand he nodded to Tarquin, and the trio moved downstairs once again, collecting Lyle on the way.

“I don’t know what you wanted this for rich boy, but I’m assuming it really is cursed and I didn’t just fleece a pretty bauble from a prettier lady for nothing…”

He handed the brooch to Tarquin  who removed the orb from his pocket, with a delicate clock the two pieces snapped together, the green fog growing around them and stretching to the cane.

“May I?”

He plucked the gem from its setting on the cane, and slid it flush into the hole on the Orb. A draft of cold, foetid air, like the last breath of a dying creature older than time itself crept through the room, and Tarquin and Kato saw this draft catch the air, and pass through the rear of the house, into the backstreets. Drawing her sword Kato followed, a shrugging Lyle moved with her as Tarquin gestured to Huck to move ahead while he brought up the rear (a position that to this day you are most likely to find Tarquin in any escapade I may add) once into the street the green mist led straight as an arrow to the rear window of the doctor’s surgery, and even those non-magical members of the party could now see a sickly green light emanating through the cracks in the wooden slats, and the eerie sound of a child crying from within...
 I do not portray my protagonists as heroes, because in truth they are not. Curious, self-interested and almost completely amoral in some cases, they are still capable of heroic acts, though there will almost always be gain for them in doing so. The exception to this is Kato, who whilst capable of homicidal acts that would worry even the most stoic of the guild’s torturers, has within her a core of honour and courage that drives her to deeds of true heroism, she never killed anyone in cold blood, and no amount of money could buy her loyalty where the chance of a child being harmed was concerned. This duality within her nature was one of the main reasons she still wandered as a lone mercenary instead of signing up with a troop, or even the guild itself. The cries in the doctor’s house could not have fallen on a heart more apt than Kato’s, and an army could not have stopped her entrance at that point. 

The door however, did. 

Kato’s fury vented itself as soon as they reached the building in an overhead slash deep into the sandalwood door,   by pure chance piercing between two planks, and sliding down the gap between them till it reached the wooden crossbar, where it became quite stuck indeed. This of course brought Kato to a shuddering halt, knocking her off balance in time for the others to catch up. Lyle was the first to reach her, and after helping her up proved that logic is not restricted to those of higher birth by simply turning the handle of the door, which was, inevitably, unlocked. 

The darkness inside held no fears for Lyle, his youth in the bayou teaching him that daylight and darkness were twins that held an equal amount of danger, and those too scared to run into a dark cave were as like to get snapped up by a passing gator as the ones in the cave were to find an angry denizen of any one of a hundred different species. The trick was always to be the second one in any position of danger, that way the other grem gets their face eaten and not you (for this reason the common manners in Malifaux of saying ‘after you’ at a doorway is considered a great insult by most gremlins). With this in mind Lyle stepped back for Kato to enter first, The sword wielding brawler was also unafraid of the dark building. Mainly because she’s half psychotic.

Kato stepped into to the store room at the rear of the surgery, a large icebox in the corner gave off a gentle mist that drifted across the floor, and it was this mist that had caught and reflected the green light from the main room, the open door to Kato’s left now illuminated by a curling, steaming mass of sickly green. As the mercenary stepped through the door a green blast of energy slammed into the wall by her head, reflexes honed by years of living close to death threw Kato to the floor as another blast tore through the air where she had been standing. A muscled leg shot out and the closest table was flipped over to create a flimsy barrier between Kato and the unseen assailant. As Lyle entered the room he ducked down by Kato and checked his weapon. Huck was stood just inside the doorway, two pistols drawn, both Tarquin and him hidden from the enemies sight. The walls that had been struck by the green blasts were bubbling and slowly melting, Kato looked to her companions, though she hardly knew them she had to put her faith in them to back her up, the slightest of nods from the sharply dressed Huckleberry was enough to signal the moment, as she braced her legs, and leapt over the barricade into the surgery itself. 

The room was a shambles, boxes, surgical tools and paper had been spilled across the floor, the operating chair in the centre was occupied, not by a man, but by a toddler, no more than a year or two old, it’s skin flayed from the top of its head down to its waist, and these strips of skin help the child up, hanging from the ceiling like a gore-stained marionette. Next to this screaming nightmare a figure in a white coat held a filthy scalpel, dripping with flesh blood, a man in his later years, he giggled as he raised his hand and another toxic blast screeched through the air, this time Kato didn’t even attempt to dodge, it took her in the hip as she surged to her feet towards the fiend, she sliced upwards from right, a diagonal cut that split the hysterical figures stomach open and sprayed a shower of filthy black blood across Kato, burning her flesh and armour where it touched her. Kato staggered back, the poison from her injuries clouding her senses with pain, and the bad doctor stepped in with his scalpel, thrusting it towards her face. 

Huck had stepped into the room once he was sure the lunatic in the armour had distracted whatever hellish creature was in there, slipping round the corner he saw the slash that should have killed the foetid human, and Kato’s momentary weakness. Huck can rarely be said to be a good guy, but he is a sucker for a pretty face, and the mercenaries face was definitely too pretty to allow this emaciated fool to mark it with his vile toxin. Dropping one pistol he dug into his pocket for his jewelled knuckle duster, and with reactions that bely his human appearance he stepped forward, striking the doctors elbow just before full extension, the cracking of bone and tearing of flesh a brutal counterpoint to the babies screams and madman’s gibbering. The creature stepped toward the child again, moving between it and the two would-be rescuers, holding it’s broken arm close to it’s chest it raised its arm for another toxic bolt, at this range it could barely miss one or the other of them. 

“Fire in the hole!”

Lyle was pretty sure he shouldn’t be shooting at the person he was supposed to be protecting, but at the same time he was pretty sure that the armour would stop his scrabbled together buckshot better than it would another arcane bolt of smelly green stuff. The blast of the shotgun was loud enough in the cramped room that even Tarquin, (still safely ensconced in the other room) ducked away. The pellets shredded the ragged doctor, tearing his ruined arm completely off, and blasting the ragged innards hanging from Kato’s slash into nothing more than scraps of offal on the surgery wall. The pellets also blew out all the windows, knocked Huckleberry from his feet and tore a chunk out of Kato’s thigh, as well as covering her in yet more of the brackish ichor that seem to fill the doctor. With one last gargling chuckle the doctor fell to the ground, and the babies screams halted. 

Kato looked at the filthy bushwhacker and his smoking shotgun, she knew enough about combat to know Lyle had taken an enormous risk with both her and Huck’s life firing into the scrum, but she also knew that he had probably saved her life doing so. Clamping one hand to her leg she stood and turned to the operating chair, and looked to the grisly child. Who looked back at her, and smiled. Its screams began again and Kato felt an evil presence force itself against her, pushing into her mind, jabbering and fighting, asking her to help this poor child, to turn and slice apart these fools who had come to kill it, protect me, protect me! Against one with lesser willpower this should have smashed aside their mental barriers, creating another meat puppet for the abomination on the chair to wield as an artist wields a brush, but Kato had more than just willpower to back her up. The ability to see magic she had all her life had been changed as she entered the breach, now she had her own magic, the ability to smash aside magical attacks, to blunt the spells of petty wizards and end their rituals for good. Kato’s inner fire surged forth, shredding the magical assault like a hurricane, her Odachi slashed through the air, once, twice, faster than the eyes of the watchers could follow, the first blow slicing through the strips of flesh that held the demon child up, the second crushing into its juvenile ribs and sending it flying into the shelves, it fell to the floor, but no sooner had it hit the ground than its wounds began to heal, the flayed skin pulling back towards it and dragging it to its pudgy feet.

Which is exactly when Huck dropped an oil lantern on it. During the creature’s mental battle with Kato, Huck, Lyle and Tarquin had all moved up, and now the three of them took great pleasure emptying every last round of their weapons into the burning, boiling lump of flesh until its agonising screeches finally stopped.

The four companions stood in silence as Lyle picked up a water bucket and threw it over the ruined corpse. Untouched by the fire a small bundle of mechanisms twitched where the child’s head and torso should have been. They all flinched into combat positions as the surgeries front door exploded inwards to reveal the sheriff and the two guild guards from the bank, their eyes agape as they took in the scene before them. Tarquin, the only one of the group untouched by the black blood and buckshot that had filled the room moments before, stepped forward and fired his last round into the head of the ghoulish doctor. 

“Here’s your man, he was obviously another foul resurrectionist attempting to free his comrade, but these good citizens have managed to subdue him. I suggest we burn his corpse and that of his unfortunate victim, but I believe the threat to the town to be over.”

The sheriff looked across the carnage, from the stinking corpse to the charred, fleshless infant. 

“Reckon we could have been in trouble had you strangers not been here. We don’t get this kind of thing in town often, but I’m grateful for your assistance. Why don’t you head back to the hotel and get cleaned up. The mayor wants to see you. All of you"

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