Chicago Lightning

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II

Unlike the Smitty’s driving through the Sprawl, the driver of the dusty sedan – who simply answers to “Og” – careens through the streets with what appears reckless abandon. Despite the chilly weather, he drives with his window down and pauses often to jabber with various passers by. Despite the frequent pauses for conversation, you feel that you manage to make it near to Esther’s domicile actually faster than Smitty was able, simply for the fact that Smitty was slow and tentative where Og was neither.

After a heart-pounding fifteen minutes, Og brings his sedan to a screeching halt at a nearly invisible line where the landscape changes subtly, but clearly. “End of the line, fellas. You wanna chat wit tha witch, that’s fine, but it’s your skin and not mine.”

He smiles toothily, but makes it clear that your ride with him is at its terminus.

Comments

The neighborhood is the same as before, but somehow more menacing now. Buildings hardly more than piles of crumbling, sooty brick seem to drink up the sickly yellow light of late afternoon. The dark, narrow streets are chock-a-block with Orks of all ages. Children play stickball or guide barrel hoops. Young men in conservatively cut jackets and black hats stride past, resolutely avoiding eye contact. Old women stare openly from pane-less windows.

The PCs walk under an eruv and onto Esther’s street. Ahead of them is the hanging sign of Florscheim Lock & Key, and a few paces beyond is their destination, the red brick row house they had visited just the other day.

“I ain’t goin’ first,” Azog announces.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Jamison steps out of the car, and swallows dryly.

Tugging at his tie, and stepping past the multitudinous Orc children, Jamison peers warily at the crumbling brownstone that houses the witch.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Jamison leans over to Azog. “We have a block or two, right? Wanna go over what we’re gonna say? I mean, sorry might not cut it.”

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

“I say we let Mugsy do the talking. Him and our buddy Grover, that is.”

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

“You guys can stay behind and be look outs if you like.” Mugsy says as he heads off toward the dilapidated lock and key.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

“Fine by me. You an’ the witch can have a nice chat. We’ll just…” Azog notices that a throng of ork-boys in little coats and knickerbockers have gathered. They are all staring at the visitors.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

GM:

As Azog watches, he realizes that all the boys are not just watching, but each of them is carrying a baseball sized rock, and their faces do not seem friendly.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Jamison slaps Azog on the back. “Come on, you old kitty-cat. It’s not like we would fight these kids, and they look like they mean business!”

He jogs to catch up with Mugsy.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Azog watches Jamison retreat inward and then looks back at the throng.

“Scram, kids. This is grown-up business.” He ducks inside, wondering exactly when he had turned into his own father.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

GM:

The Children jeer at you, and you have not taken more than a few steps before they begin to pelt you with rocks as you run – driving you towards Esther’s home.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Mugsy enters the outer hovel. “Esther, dear. I’ve come to make up. I saw that book destroyed and I want things to be right between us.”

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

GM

Unsurprisingly, Mugsy finds the place much as it was the last time he was here, though there is a notable lack of children coming and going. One would assume that they are either all within, or part of the mob outside.

As Mugsy listens for a reply, he listens for a response but hears nothing.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

“Nobody home? Should we have called ahead?” Azog scans about for a heat signature. He spies the same crack in the wall as before and looks inside.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

[Troll, thermographic vision. Look for persons present, or (very) recently present. 2d6+2. 6+1+2. Use technique in the dark to reroll. * New total 6+6+2=14*.]

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

GM

The tunnel definitely has seen recent use, and there is evidence of something(s) radiating heat further down, out of Azog’s eyeshot.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

“There was someone here, not too long ago. Don’t see anybody now. Down this hole is something warm. Don’t know if it’s a person or not.”

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Jamison makes a point to slip his hand through the outer pocket lining in his jacket, and unclip the holster, readying his pistol. To the untrained eye, this looks like he’s sticking his hands into his pockets. He says nothing.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

“Esther?” Mugsy calls out. He scans about for something from which to make a torch.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Azog falls in behind Mugsy, close. He peers ahead for any potential danger.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

GM:

The front entryway is neatly cleared, and once again Mugsy is reminded of an Ork’s natural lack of need for a light source.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

“Mugsy, what’s our marching order? I mean, Nicely-Nicely can see, and we can’t. But he might have caused the mess we’ll walk into. You know the lady, so, but she doesn’t know me, and I haven’t done anything that I can remember to upset her. Who goes first?”

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

“Here.” Azog unpockets a box of matches stamped “The Ambassador East.”

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

“We still need something to burn so we can see. Maybe there’s something just outside we can use.”

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

[I just remembered that we must be carrying our luggage.]

“Here.” Azog produces an ornate walking stick, wraps the end with his copy of the Tribune, and douses the lot with brandy from his flask. “It won’t last long, but enough to find the bottom.”

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

“Good show, troll-kin!” Mugsy says and then lights the contraption. He begins the descent into the warren.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Azog holds aloft the torch and falls in behind Mugsy, casting weird shadows on the wall. In his other hand he carries the luggage. So near a heat source, his thermal vision isn’t much better than the humans’ normal eyes.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Jamison puts his hand on Azog’s shoulder. He looks back at the opening they stalked through every couple of steps. His hand is still on his gun.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

GM:

As our stalwart trio descends, the darkness seems to close in around them. The hallway looks much the way it did when they first came, and one would expect that the den should be warm and cheery. But something seems…off. As you enter the den, you notice that the light fails to penetrate the darkness down the hallway leading into what Mugsy remembers to be the sleeping area of the warren.

(everyone feel free to give me rolls representing any sort of senses you are trying to extend into the darkness)

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Azog takes a sniff. [Troll 2d6+2=6+1+2. Technique to reroll. 6+4+2=12.]

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

(Nope. Blind as a bat. I have no idea, apart from what the ‘torch’ shows.)

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Umm… Combat sense? Soldier forte 6+1+2=9

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

GM:

Ethan gets a Training point for failing at a skill check.

Azog clearly smells Ork, and lots of it, along with lots of wholesome jewish food that causes his tummy to rumble. He also smells fear. Lots of it, and in heavy doses.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

“Something awful happened,” whispers Azog. “And in the middle of dinner.”

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

“Oops! And we didn’t even bring a gift. Quick, what do we have in the bags?”

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

“Mainly our costumes, unless you’d like to give her some post cards or opera glasses. Look, maybe your witch is here, and maybe she ain’t. But there sure is something. Something evil, by the smell of things.” Azog fumbles in his bag once more and produces the Gideon Bible.

“Say, you take the torch and go ahead. When we see whatever’s down there I’ll smite him with this.”

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

“Nicely, a magic book is what set this lady off in the first place. I’ll go investigate the end of the room back there. If i’m not back in ten minutes, call the coppers!” With that, he winks, and heads towards the warm spot that was indicated.

(Are my Cop Senses tingling? Roll(2d6)2: 2,2,2 Total:6. I guess not, huh? Heh. Well, nothing really seems to be wrong, except that this might be dangerous. So, I’ve no real reason to hesitate. Let’s figure out what happened!)

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

GM:

LF earns a Training Point for failed skill check.

Jamison pushes into the darkness and immediately encounters something akin to physical resistance. It raises the hackles on the back of his neck, and he can sense something trying to stop him, almost as if he is struggling against the flow of a strong river. Nonetheless, he furrows his brow and pushes into the darkness.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

“There’s something back here, gents. Like a …It’s hard to explain. It’s like I’m trying to push through a wall of pudding, or something.”

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

GM:

LF rolled 5+5+2 Law Enforcement and succeeded previously, I failed to note it.

As Jamison speaks, he has the startling sensation of pudding trying to force its way into his mouth. He manages to keep it from going in, but his words come out muffled and garbled. LF rolled 5+3+2 Law Enforcement against a similar effect, tying the DC

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Jamison shuts his mouth, as usual, and shoulders into the …effect. After all, if there’s so much effort trying to stop me, then there’s a real reason to keep going. Besides, someone might need my help.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

GM:

Jamison is able to make his way forward, but it is work to make any progress. Eventually he runs face first into an earthen wall.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

“I ain’t gonna stand here and let him press on alone. Come on, Mugsy!” Azog uses his thermographic vision to follow Jamison. If he also encounters resistance, he’ll press ahead using Troll. [2d6+2=2+6+2. Add 1 for technique. Total 11.]

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

GM:

Azog’s thermographic vision easily picks out Jamison’s path ahead, but it is distorted and blurry. He is easily able to push his way through the soup in pursuit.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Well, this must be the place, then.

Jamison pats the wall down, trying to get an idea of if there are any nooks or anything of the like, then follows the wall to the floor, and begins trying to follow the floor to a corner. This’ll help him figure out how large the room is.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Azog meets up with Jamison and adds his senses to the effort. He is feeling for doors, sniffing for air flow, etc.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

[Sniff roll produced boxcars. 12+2=14.]

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

GM:

Azog sniffs and his sniffing is somehow unaffected by the miasma. He is able to determine that there is an elderly female ork nearby, off to his right.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

What a great nose!

Azog taps his compatriots on the shoulders and heads off to the right.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Jamison clears his throat, stands, brushes off his coat, and follows Azog, seeing what he can, from the light thrown from the torch.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

“I can’t believe those guys ran into the evil pudding.” Mugsy comments to himself as he tries and fails to come up with a suitable response. He props the torch along the entrance and grabs for Azog’s coat tails.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

GM:

Mugsy dives in after Azog, attempting to catch his coattails as a guide.

Ethan, I need you to give me two rolls: one to resist the magic effect, and the other to actually grab Azog’s coat tails. Name your forte for each, and roll ’em!

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

GM:

Ethan Rolls 3+4+2 to resist the magical effect, then 3+5+2 to grab Azog’s Coattails

As Azog plods forward through the soup towards Jamison, he feels something catch on his coattails. Turning, he sees that Mugsy has managed to push through and is hanging on blindly.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

“Mugsy, you made it!” Azog points, uselessly in the gloom. “Your witch is over there somewhere. C’mon!”

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Jamison walks along the junction of the wall and the floor. Eventually, this’ll lead to the back…

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

[I’m not going down quietly!]

Azog prods Mugsy and gesticulates wildly, but his words come a garble. Strange, suffocating vapors envelop the Troll and he swoons. He only makes it a few feet in the direction of the witch before collapsing, arms splayed wide. The luggage is dropped and the torch goes out.

[Result after reroll is 2+3+2=7, not enough.]

As the darkness covers his eyes, Azog sees a vision of Mary, but it’s the flapper Mary from the photograph he found in the second-hand luggage! He struggles to remain conscious. Is this the end?

Fear not the dark of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, he hears her say.

[Motivation adds 2. New total 9. Still not enough.]

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Mugsy feels Azog go down. “Oh boy!” He thinks. “The only guy who can see in this soup is now on the floor.” Mugsy attempts to pull Azog back to where he left the torch.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

GM:

Give me some sort of roll to reflect your physical effort, Ethan!

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

[I’m thinking soldier at this point. 5+4+2=11]

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

GM:

Azog is HEAVY, but Mugsy is able to muster the oomph to lift him by the shoulders and drag him back into the entryway. Stepping out of the Evil Pudding feels like breathing again, but Mugsy just manages to arrive in time for the torch to flicker out.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Mugsy attempts to revive his friend. He takes out Azog’s Bible and whacks him with it. “The word of God compels you to arise, believer!”

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

GM:

LOL! OK, we’ll grant Azog a new roll on the basis of that action.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

[Motivation: 2d6+2=4+2+2=8]

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

GM:

Azog does not seem to rouse. Within his unconscious mind, Azog finds himself wandering on a nightmare landscape, disoriented and terrified. Azog takes 1 Wound Rank

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 
[I knew I should have saved that for later, like a trump card.] “Black Bag, Azog fell down in that goop and isn’t waking up.” Mugsy whacks the troll a few more times with the Bible for good measure. “Esther is Jewish.” He continues to muse. “Maybe a Torah would work better…” A few seconds pass while Mugsy thinks. Suddenly he shouts, “Azog, your horns are growing in! Quick, we have to get you to a barber!”
The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

“Muh. Hornses?”

[Troll: 2d6+2=5+4+2=11. If that’s not enough, I’ll try a technique to reroll.]

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Azog sits up and rubs his hatless head. "They ain’t grown out yet. Crumbs, why do I feel like a milk wagon ran over me?

“Oh! Mugsy, put down that Bible and listen: your witch is out there in the soup! She’s real close, and she ain’t movin’! You gotta help her.” He scans the dark for a heat signature, but…

[troll: 2d6+2=3+5+2=10 (after reroll)]

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

GM:

Azog can clearly see Jamison working his way along the wall, groping the seam of the floor and wall. He’s moving to Azog’s right, but there is enough earth between Azog and whatever room Esther is in, that he can’t see any more.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

“But she’s in another room and I can’t see her from here. She was close to where we were. Real close.”

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

“We need a rope. Sit tight. Yell if Jamison runs into a problem.” Mugsy grabs a dollar bill and hurries back out of the warren into the street. He slips into his best news boy voice and announces: “There’s a dollar here for whoever can get me the longest rope the fastest!”

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

GM:

As Mugsy runs for rope, and as Azog works to regain his equilibrium, Jamison’s groping yields a junction into what feels like it might be a room.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

“That’s it, Black Bag! You’re doing swell! Whew!” Azog stands and rubs his noggin. Two or three lumps are rising from his scalp, and he can’t understand why.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

GM:

Mugsy: Several of the kids pelt Mugsy with rocks as soon as he steps out the door. give me a roll to avoid getting hit But as soon as you hold the dollar aloft, several others start running for rope.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

[I went with Con Man as I’m sure this isn’t the first time he’s had to dodge things being thrown at him. Too bad it didn’t help too much. 1+3+4=8]

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

GM:

Oh good grief. I rolled one shy of Max as well! Total of 12! Feel free to narrate taking a rock to the face!

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Mugsy takes a dozen well placed rocks to his anatomy. “Ow, you little warts! Go do something useful like play baseball. I hear the White Sox could use a few good arms.”

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Slowly, steadily, and with the same stubborn pig-headedness that has pushed him along his entire life, Jamison makes his way into the room. He glances about, hoping that it will be easier to orient himself once he’s inside.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

GM:

Jamison presses into the room, fighting the “tide” of the pudding. Casting about, he attempts to get his bearings, LiaoFan rolled 2+2+2=6 on Law Enforcement but fails, instead succumbing briefly to a bout of dizziness which keeps him on the floor.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

[Okay… Okay. 2D6+2 Law Enforcement.
Roll(2d6)2:
2,2,
2
Total:6.

Well, I’m still effectively blind, I suppose. On the upside, I’m so deep in the mire that I doubt you guys can come help me now! Wheee!]

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Jamison took a moment for the world to stop swaying like a pendulum under his hands and knees, spat on the floor, and propped himself against the wall. Then, hand by hand, he continued on.

Someone needs my help.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Azog stands on the stair and frets. “Hurry up, Mugsy,” he mutters.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

GM:

Jamison drags himself along the edge of the wall towards what he hopes is someone in need of help and not a hungry monster.

Azog sits and frets.

Mugsy waits. The pelting has stopped, but several of the boys are jeering and hurling insults in Yiddish or possibly Orkish. It is a good minute before one boy comes running with what looks like several lengths of torn fabric tied together.

Jamison give me a roll to reflect overcoming the magical assault on your senses in order to listen.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Mugsy scrambles back into Azog’s heat vision after handing the winning youngster his green back. “Well, this should give us a little security.” He holds up the ‘rope’ “Can you see anything in there that we could use to lengthen this and give us more?”

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

[Do I? Troll 2d6+2=5+6+2=13.]

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

“Nothing useful. Here, let’s tie ourselves together at least. I’ll lead us in. Jamison’s around the corner. We’ll leave a strand loose to tie to him when we reach him. Let’s go!”

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Azog pushes into the goop. [Troll 2d6+2=2+4+2=8. Technique to reroll:1! Total now 1+4+2=7]

The goop pushes Azog right back. He lands on the stair in a heap.

“Blegh! Mugsy, let’s try pushing in together, what do you say?”

Azog attempts to form a “squad” with Mugsy. Is this allowed?

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

[I’ll stick with my Law Enforcement training, as that’s been beneficial so far.

Roll(2d6)2:
3,5,
2
Total:10

Bewm.]

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Jamison makes out a sound, but it’s hard to make heads-or-tails of…

_Mewling? It’s a cat…? Wait, no. It’s sobbing, maybe? Maybe… It sounds close.

Anyway, it’s something, and it needs to be checked out._ Jamison rested for a moment, and then, slowly and deliberately made his way towards the sound. A troubling thought surfaced, and was quickly batted away…

If this is the witch, how the Hell am I gonna get her out of this?

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

GM:

You are actually too powerful to form a squad, per se but I will allow you two to work together, each rolling a forte and choosing the best 2 dice and best bonus between the two of you.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

[Wow! Troll plus In the Dark technique: 2d6+2+1=*1+3*+2+1! It’s possible that neither of my dice will be used.]

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Mugsy just shakes his head. “Look, the whole reason I got this tether was so that we had an anchor. That stuff is dangerous and you’re the only one of us who can see. So, you sit here as the anchor and I’ll tie this to myself and push on in. You can direct me with the rope, tugging right or left if I need to correct course or pulling my fat out of the fire if I fall over, just like I did to you, capishe?”

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Azog glumly nods. “I gotcha.”

One end of the “rope” is now tied around Azog’s waist.

“We’ll need a code. One tug for stop. Two short tugs for left. Two long for right. ‘Shave and a haircut’ means go. If you get into trouble, tug three times and I’ll come find you.”

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

“Well, here goes.” Mugsy ties himself in and then asks, “Wheres Jamison and how is he doing?”

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

“Ahead about forty feet and then to the right (and out of sight). I’ll tug you when you’re there.”

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Jamison couldn’t make heads or tails of the swirling miasma that covered him when he opened his eyes, so he didn’t bother. There was a noise just ahead of him, and it was sobbing, as far as he could tell. He made straight for it, but it seemed to be just ahead of him.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Mugsy carefully steps back into the evil pudding, like a man in a zoot suit tries to walk into an alley blocked by two garbage cans almost touching and tries to go find Jamison.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

GM:

Mugsy, gimme a roll for moving into the Evil Pudding.

Jamison manages to begin moving, albeit very slowly, across the floor towards the sound of the sobbing. Movement is slow, and the disorientation is bordering on the physically painful.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

GM:

Mugsy barrels his way into the Evil Pudding, and shoulders his way down the hallway.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

“Attaboy, Mugsy, you’re almost there! Oh oh, I got it.” Azog tugs the rope to indicate a stop and a right turn.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

GM:

After what feels to Jamison like an eternity of pain and disorientation, his hand brushes up against something warm and covered in starched fabric. The thing initially recoils from the touch, but the sobbing sound also briefly stops.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Jamison stops. In what he hopes is a reassuring manner, Jamison pets at the sobbing thing like he might a stray cat, or one of the kids that frequented Ruby’s diner during the day. He also follows the body, hand over hand, and, on reaching the head, gives the person a slight hug.

God, at least I found her. Now, to get us back out, Jamison thought, eyes pressed shut, but somehow still seeing the swirling, heavy, brown mists around him.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

GM:

As Jamison seeks to console the figure, he reaches out and touches what he hopes is her. As soon as he embraces her, he feels a crawling sensation starting on his hand and quickly engulfing his entire body. It is as if he has been attacked by a swarm of ants, but before he can scream, she does – a high keening wail of terror and hopelessness.

Jamison takes 2 Wound Ranks, and owes the GM a plot hook related to whichever Forte he puts the first Wound Rank into.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Mugsy moves toward the sound.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

GM:

Between Azog’s steering and the unmistakeable sound of a woman in terror, Mugsy is able to navigate his way into the room.

Ethan, give me a roll to reflect your attempts to pierce the magical miasma with your senses.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

[I’m gonna keep with Law Enforcement, even though they only give basic training to resist magick in the Academy.

Roll(2d6)2:
2,4,
2
Total:8]

Jamison tries to marshal his willpower. Your body is being lied to. Don’t believe it!

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

GM:

Through sheer force of will, Jamison manages to maintain consciousness. He clings to the figure next to him, and the fire ants fade away.

Mugsy isn’t sure how, but somehow he knows that there is someone or something living right at his feet on the ground.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Mugsy reaches out to see if it’s either of his targets, Esther or Jamison.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

GM:

Indeed, he is able to ascertain both of them. Give me a die roll to resist magic when you touch Esther.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

5+5+2=10. Is this supposed to be a forte [soldier]?

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

I can’t add…

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

GM:

Soldier most definitely works, given the nature of The Great War.

Mugsy is able to resist the magical attack that he senses as soon as he touches Esther. He still can’t see but he is aware of her presence and that there is some sort of magical effect originating from her.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Mugsy grabs hold of her and fumbles around to feel if Jamison is within reach.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

GM:

Jamison is clinging to Esther for dear life, so yes, he is easily within reach.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Jamison is gritting his teeth, tears streaming down his face. He is muttering, “The room is cool, dark, and quiet,” over and over.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Securing an arm around Esther, he uses his free hand to follow the ‘rope’ back to Azog.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

GM:

Azog, you feel something pulling intermittently on the “rope”.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

From Azog’s perspective, a very short time has elapsed since the rope slackened, indicating that Mugsy had stopped advancing and let go of the rope. Now the slack has been taken up again.

“Good job, Mugsy!” It’s not the three quick tugs that would indicate distress, but a steady, hand-over-hand pull as regular as a metronome. Army training, no doubt.

Azog scans ahead and hopes to spy Mugsy (and others?) rounding the corner back into his line of sight.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

GM:

To say that it’s slow-going is an understatement. Mugsy is effectively dragging both Esther and Jamison, and as soon as Esther begins to move away from the spot, there is an upsurge in magical resistance. Esther begins to wail again, shaking.

Mugsy and Jamison, please give me another roll to resist magic.

Azog, do you have any reaction to the wailing?

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

[Roll(2d6)2:
6,3,
2
Total:11]

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Azog is fretting, but while the rope remains taut and the tugs come regularly, he won’t do anything rash.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

GM:

The magical resistance ramps us significantly as Mugsy begins dragging Esther and Jamison away, but by virtue of Jamison’s desperate mantra and Mugsy’s anti-mage combat training, they are both able to resist it’s influence. Jamison maintains his sanity, and Mugsy manages to keep dragging the two of them out of the Evil Pudding. It takes several minutes, but finally the threesome awkardly exits the Pudding and collapses in an exhausted heap on the floor at Azog’s feet. To a man they are exhausted and trembling.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Azog drops the rope and reaches down to scoop up the three of them.

[Assuming the ant-magic is still in effect, Troll: 2d6+2=5+4+2=11 (after using technique to reroll).]

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

GM:

Azog definitely senses some sort of residual magical effect emanating from Esther, but easily shrugs it off. She seems semi-conscious,and is whimpering. Jamison seems spent, and Mugsy is panting from the effort.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Azog throws the three figures over his broad shoulders fireman-style and trudges up the stairs with them.

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“Wait! Are there more people in there? She had a lot of kids.”. Mugsy puffs from his sack of potato like vantage point.

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“Ask ’er,” answers Azog tersely. He reaches the top of the stair and deposits the three on the floor. Then he looks around the room for something to offer the witch. A filled tea kettle perhaps, or some biscuits?

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Jamison rolls over and vomits repeatedly.

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GM:

Having gone up the steps, you’re effectively on the front porch. Just inside the doorframe of the old fallen brownstone, but just outside the hole going down into the warren.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

“Oh man, oh gee,” Azog lifts Jamison from the floor and tries to wipe his mouth and suit clean with a handkerchief. He can only minister to one at time; Mugsy seems in better shape, and the witch is dangerous to touch.

[Were there any victuals downstairs untainted by the miasma?]

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“Esther, Esther! Are you in there? Dear God, what happened?! Are any of your children still in that mess?”

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GM:

Esther seems unresponsive, albeit semi-conscious.

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Jamison props himself upright with some help from Azog. “God’s nails, man. God’s nails.” With that, he wipes his mouth, and spits.

He follows that with a pull from his ever-present flask. He rinses his mouth, and spits again.

“That was just… …Just horrible. Is she…

…she’s still breathing, right?" Jamison asked, a pained look on his face.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

“She’s alive.” Azog sits on his haunches and thinks a minute.

“No telling how far back the tunnels go. Might link up the whole neighborhood. So the pudding might not just be here, but all over.” He thinks a minute more.

“I got a pretty good look and a pretty good smell of the place right before I got knocked out. She’s the only one in there. The only one close enough for us to reach, anyways.

“Damn, I need a smoke.” He produced and lights a cigar, by chance not one of the joke cigars that came with the luggage (all of which is downstairs, presumably).

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Jamison takes another pull from his flask, and swallows it. He shakes his head.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

“She seems alive. Do we call for a doctor or a Mage?”

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“I wanna say, yes.” Jamison shook his head.

“I’m gonna go back downstairs, and see if there’s anything to see down there. I feel like a bump on a log up here. If you need me, just whistle.” With that, he made his way back downstairs, looking for anything out of the ordinary.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Azog stands.

“You’ll need a pair of eyes. I’s comin’ too.”

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GM:

Jamison and Azog make it back down to the Den. You may remember that the kitchen is off to the right, in darkness, but not Evil Pudding. The Pudding remains intact filling the other hallway.

The Den itself is more of a receiving area for guests. It has a few seats placed around it, and some of them are knocked over, but Azog isn’t sure if they were that way before the party arrived.

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“I, wait, you guys…” Mugsy trails into silence as they disappear back down the hole. He fumbles around his pockets until his hand clasps around the aspirin that he received from Jamison’s doctor friend.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

“Well? What do your Orkish eyes see, Azog?” After being briefed for a few sentences, he makes his way over to the den, “looking” for anything odd.

“You know what, pal? I’m thinking we need to talk to some of the kids. Maybe someone was there when whatever happened, happened.”

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

“Hmpf! ‘Goblin’ is OK, but call a Troll an Ork and you’re liable to get the horns! Don’t get that wrong in this neighborhood, ’specially.

“OK, what do we see here?”

[Azog means to scrounge for something to revive the witch. Perhaps tea or chicken soup? Since he’s rummaging someone else’s house, let’s do Thief: 2d6+2=5+2+2=9

“Let’s get Mugsy to talk to the kids outside, since he done good with them before in getting that rope.” (Azog is speaking without irony here. He isn’t aware that Mugsy got pelted for his trouble.)

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Azog manages to find a kettle and some good tea leaves (mugwort?) and to light to coal stove with his stogie. Tea will take at least fifteen minutes to prepare, and needn’t be minded.

He rummages through the cupboards and the pantry and finds a loaf of rye bread, which he slices onto a plate. There are jars of pickled vegetables and fish. She seems to be doing reasonably well for herself; despite the turn of misfortune, her many children aren’t starving. Azog half-unconsciously samples bits of everything as he works.

Finally, Azog adds some pickled cabbage and a dollop of horseradish sauce to the plate and brings it upstairs with the tea. The spread is an unusual (and perhaps unappetizing) set of choices, but the strong scent of it might serve in lieu of ammonium smelling salts to revive the old woman.

[The coal stove gives off a feeble light. Jamison has some time to investigate if he likes, or can go upstairs before Azog, or with him.]

“Here Mugsy, give her this.” Azog offers a cup and saucer of mugwort tea and a plate with an open-faced gefilte fish sandwich with sauerkraut and horseradish sauce. Yum!

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

[Mugsy has been trying to get Esther come around by various methods, minus the thumping method used earlier on Azog.]

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“Ugh, what did you do, make all those dishes out of that nasty goop?”

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“Hey! This is good grub, buddy.” And to prove it, Azog closes the sandwich, takes a large bite, then returns it to the plate. “Go on, see if she likes it. What about the tea?”

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GM:

The scent is indeed profound, nearly enough to turn Mugsy’s stomach on end.

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Jamison decides that there’s nothing more to be done topside, unless he’s needed to knock some sense into some particularly troublesome nine-year-olds. He continues to investigate.

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“Maybe it’ll work like some smelling salts.”. Mugsy wafts it in Esther’s direction.

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GM:

As Mugsy waves the sandwich under Esther’s nose, her eyes snap open and her head snaps back. Pushing him away, she struggles against his arm and bellows “Getcha treyfe hands offa me, you filthy Goy!” As she struggles she looks up and meets eyes with Mugsy, glances past him to see Azog, then blanches and shrieks.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Azog’s head jerks over his shoulder to follow the line of her gaze. But nothing is there!

“What is it?” he asks, looking about.

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GM:

YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” she shrieks.

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Azog jumps to his feet and steps back a bit. He is alarmed and confused. His eyes dart about like a cornered animal’s.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Jamison makes his way back upstairs, completely convinced, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that there is absolutely no chance of anything unusual in Esther’s hovel (that can be found be someone without a reliable light source, anyway).

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

“Esther! We came back to make amends. Azog there saw to it personally that the book was destroyed. If it wasn’t for him we couldn’t have pulled you from that goop. Look at me, Esther. Is there anyone else trapped in that stuff?”

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Jamison looked at the group. “It was a defense. A magick barrier. Something got at her, some magickal thing, and she did what she could to get it off her. Or, when it got to her, it made her do that. I dunno which it was, and I don’t know where the thing that got at her is, now.”

With that, he walked over to the lot of them, and lit a cigarette, as much to calm his nerves as anything else. His voice was that same, smooth, low baritone. “Give her a minute to collect her thoughts, Mugsy. Esther, was it? We’re here to help. What do you need done?”

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

GM:

Esther says nothing, she’s crying and shaking uncontrollably, and in general in no condition to reply.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

“Are you hurt? Should we call someone?”

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GM:

Esther continues to shake and tremble, but manages to pull herself together enough to wrap her arms around Mugsy and cling tightly. Trembling, she finally stammers out, “He…found me.”

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Jamison takes a pull on his cigarette, stone-faced as always.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

“Who found you?”

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Azog backs into Jamison, then pushes past him and down the crack out of sight.

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Jamison looks at Azog’s retreat, then continues to quietly listen to Esther.

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GM:

Esther whimpers one word that chills each of you to the bone, a word that Azog has already begun to suspect, “Marcum.”

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Azog moans like a beast and pokes his head back into the anteroom. “I’s afraid of that,” he says, shaking his head. “He deals magic gewgaws. And lead. Youse guys know him?” [apparently you do!]

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Jamison’s face sours around his cigarette. “Only by reputation, but, like your good book says, we knew him by his works at the precinct. Never saw the guy, and we certainly never got close enough to shake his hand, but all the boys downtown knew him. Good outside chance was, if there was a real string of fish being set up, Marcum’s name would get tied to it before it got pulled out of the water. Killed more people than the Spanish Flu.”

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

“Why would he be looking for you?”

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Sotto voce to Jamison: “Maybe he was looking for that book. She might’a blabbed to somebody that she’d seen it. Glad we don’t got it no more.”

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

GM:

The sobs return with greater vigor, and Esther’s body is wracked with tearful convulsions. Finally after several minutes, she gains enough control over herself to say, “He came….looking….for…..that….book. Don’t know how, he….just…knew. Something about my spell to cast….it….out.”

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Azog elbows Jamison and says, “How about that, I’s right!” His face falls. “So the pudding was my fault. No wonder it spat me out. Oh.” He hides his face in his hands.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

“Esther, what about your kids? Are they alright? I don’t think it’s going to improve his mood once he finds out that book doesn’t exist anymore. It also means that preacher might not have long to live.”

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Azog snaps to attention. “D-d-d’you think Marcum would go looking for it where we just was? Oh, Mary!”

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

GM:

At the mention of her children, Esther freezes, her eyes growing wide with fear, “I….I don’t know! He….just appeared in my den and attacked. I…Oy vey,I tried t’ resist him, but then it went all kaput, and then you were pullin’ me out, Mugsy…..Mugsy. Oh, my sweet Mugsy. My children! Mugsy! My children!” She says these last as a string of nearly random thoughts strung together.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Jamison stares at his feet for a bit, exhales a plume of cigarette smoke, and looks at Azog. "Friend-o, how would you like to set this all a-right again? I need you to find out this guy’s number. You call your people, I’ll call mine, Maybe we leave Mugsy here to sweep up this mess as best he can.

I’m gonna have a meet-and-greet with him. Explain to him, calmly, that we don’t have the book, that it was burned, as best we could tell, and that we understand his situation. It should cover everyone else. Everything I’ve heard is this guy’s a real professional. Could be, he decides that we don’t have what he wants, and I’m man enough to stop him from wasting his time killing a bunch of folks that don’t need to die. Like, say, everyone at the Salvation Army."

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

“If I can convince him that chasing our contacts would just be wasted lead for him, maybe he just disappears.”

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“He’ll find that out just by visiting the salvation army.”

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“Oh no, oh God no!”

Azog approaches Mugsy and the witch with the brim of his hat crumpling in his nervous paws.

“Mrs. Witch? I can’t tell you how sorry I am about what happened before. With the book I mean. You see, I had it of my friend that died… It’s gone now, ma’am. Preacher burnt it to a crisp with a good Bible thumpin’!

“So I’d be much obliged if you could borrow us an etherphone or a two-way crystal ball or something to warn the Preacher that Hell’s a’coming. See, my gal is with him, and another young lady too. It’s a whole mess, you see.

“We can look for your kids, ma’am, but we need to get a message out somehow. Please, ma’am.”

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

“You know, Nicely, that preacher had a decent head on his shoulders. If he tells the truth, there’s a decent outside chance that nothing happens. If Marcum shows up mad, and the preacher tries to defend his flock, that’s when things go wrong.”

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

“The truth? The truth is that the thing he’s after is burnt up, and the Preacher done it! That’d make a normal man mad, and Marcum ain’t a normal man. He’s something else.”

Azog shifts and thinks a moment.

“Mary told me the Salvation Army was a safe place from Powers and Principals. It’s possible they’re safer there than we are here. Even assuming Marcum doesn’t come back, we still have to get past all those rock-throwing little hoods out there.”

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

“Yeah, Esther. What’s up with geologic welcoming committee outside?”

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GM:

Initially, Esther seems confused by the question, then it seems to dawn on her, “Oy, my head! The last thing I said to the boys, before he came was that you three was trouble of an evil kind, and that such types needed nothing but God’s justice…” she turns apologetically to Mugsy, I was a bit worked up after that encounter, not all in my head, you see….Get me up, I’ll hae a talk with them."

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Mugsy dutifully helps the woman to her feet. “How are you feeling? Did he hurt you?”

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GM:

“I’m fine, dear,” she says, and then promptly swoons. Mugsy barely catches her and keeps her from crashing to the floor. She clings tightly to him, gripping his arm hard enough to hurt, and her eyes are screwed shut for several moments as she visibly fights through a wave of pain.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Mugsy produces the magic aspirin he received from the doc. “Here. Take this. You need it more an me.”

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GM:

Through gritted teeth, she still manages a skeptical glare, “Mugsy, you…gasp!…know I keep Kosher.”

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

“It’s an aspirin. It’s as Kosher as your divinations if you want to get all proper.”

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

GM:

Esther forces a wry grin, “Mugsy, you know too much.”

She takes the aspirin from Mugsy and gulps it down with a grimace. Almost immediately, the pill takes effect. The lines of pain on her face soften, and she stops trembling. “Mugsy, thank you,” she says huskily, “Now let me deal with these boys.”

She pushes her self up and walks slowly towards the door. All three of you can see that her body is still feeling the effects of her ordeal, but that they have been lessened enough for her to function. Almost as an afterthought, she waves her hand behind her, and suddenly something that all of you had sensed but not realized down in the den dissappears, leaving the warren feeling once more warm and cheery.

She pushes her way out the door and begins yelling in Yiddish. None of you can make it out, but the tone and inflection alone is enough to make each of you cringe inwardly with guilt and shame, despite the fact that the chastisement is not even aimed at you.

Several minutes later, she returns, face still pained but smiling. “Now, about that tea…” and for the first time you see her eyes twinkle. She takes the cup and heads downstairs, as she goes she waves a hand and the Den is filled with a cheery glow, enabling Mugsy and Jamison to see. “I don’t suppose I could get you boys to help me straighten up?”

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Something about this miniscule Ork dowager’s manner compels obedience. Azog grabs a straw broom and starts sweeping.

[Past: 2d6+2=2+5+2=9]

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GM:

LOL! You seriously just rolled to clean up effectively?

Azog hops to, and very effectively begins helping out.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Mugsy begins straightening up the mess.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Jamison looks at one of them, then the other, and back to the first.

He picks up a chair, and sets it a-right at the small table.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

GM:

Esther promptly sits at the table where Jamison righted the chair and sips her tea whilst directing our three stalwart heroes in setting her home aright. She is kindly enough about it, but is also quick to make idle comments about how none of this would have happened, had Azog not brought the book into her home. When finally everything is straightened, she finishes her tea and stands with a smile, “Thank you boys for coming to pay a visit to an old woman, it warms my heart to see that this next generation has not forgotten is forbears. We elderly are a treasure trove of wisdom, I would remind you. Don’t hesitate to come by again if you need advice or counsel.” She smiles warmly, “And Mugsy, you can come anytime you want. You know how I adore your company. It was so good to see you today, especially given that you came just in time to set right the wrongs you brought upon my home.”

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Azog is mindful enough to recover the luggage that was lost in the miasma, and almost too obtuse to pick up on all the guilt that’s laying down.

“Mrs. Witch, as I was sayin’ upstairs: I’s awful sorry about what happened before. You see, this ain’t strictly a social call. We have need of some, uh, protection.”

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

GM:

Esther stops and turns slowly towards Azog, “You of all people! Everything you put me through, and you want MORE? It ain’t enough to let an old woman sit and recover herself after you’ve put her through gehenna, you gotta keep at her til she gives you somethin’? Oh me, and here I’d thought you lads came t’ visit me on account of your kind hearts. Turns out you’re the mercenaries I feared you to be. Why oh why did I ever let myself get tangled up with you, Mugsy! Every single one of you goyim are nothing but pain for us, the true people! This is clearly His retribution on me for having been so careless and disrespectful. I shall go and tear my robes and put ashes on my head and repent, for this is simply too much to bear!”

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Jamison puts his hand on Azog’s chest, and steps between the two of them. His head is still clearly visible, over Jamison’s own. Jamison clears his throat.

“Ma’am? Pardon me, but let me say something, here. We did come to you for help. That is why we came. Nicely didn’t lie to you. We’re hunted, the lot of us, and we had no idea to whom else to turn. You are knowledgeable in such matters, so we came to you. When you were incapacitated, there was a… barrier. We pushed in, without preparation or thought for anything but you and yours. I had no idea if anyone was in there, but we couldn’t leave unless we’d tried to find that out. I found you before I was …overcome by…

At any rate, Mugsy pulled us out. Nicely had been spent against the …thing… by that time.

I have no idea what a go-henna is, ma’am, and if it’s anything like what I saw in there, I’m not sure I want to. Now, if you’ve a problem with Nicely bringing that book, that’s fair, and I doubt I could change your mind anyway. But you should know that he’s also the one that saw the book finished for good, and he never meant harm to you bringing it, at any rate.

For my own part, my man Nicely’s short on tact. You can credit him that. But he’s no bad man. I should know."

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

In the dark, Jamison was fairly sure no one could see his smirk.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

“I was letting things cool down, Esther. I didn’t know he even had that book let alone that it was cursed and sought after. I was staying way to let it simmer down and then I was going to come back and make things up to you. Luckily, we needed some more advice so we came back early and fix a wrong of which we were unaware.”

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

GM:

“Always needing more from an old woman” She sighs, “I suppose it’s a good thing I’ve not yet entered into the next life, given that you need so much from me – though some days I do think it would be betta for me. But no, then you would be left here without me, and who knows you might yet give up the ways of the goyim and join me, Mugsy. Oh, what a day that would be. But if you’re going to keep me, you might’s well spit it out and quit all this hemming and hawwing about wanting to say something and just say it. You should really consider being more direct, Mugsy.”

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

“Your benevolence humbles us.” Mugsy says as he bows his head and removes his hat. He shoots a hard glance at the other two and gives a short downward motion of his noggin. “We need to know how to get some magical protection. We expect to run up against some magical resistance and have no abilities of our own.”

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Jamison coughs slightly to cover being caught not doing the right thing, and quickly doffs his hat and nods.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Azog just stands ramrod straight and watches.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

GM:

“Magical resistance?” She grunts and nods, “You want me to cook up some charm or brew up some potion to keep you safe from another mage or some magical traps, I see.” She sighs theatrically and sips her tea with a shaky hand, “Mugsu, you know I hold you dearly. Dearly enough to remember it had been 73 days since your last visit the first time you brought these louts ovah. So you have to believe me when I tellya I’m spent. Marcum. Took everything I had to resist him and still failed. And I’k sure to have a flare up of gout to show for my efforts…”

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

“Your knowledge could be just as useful as your powers, my dear. Who do you know that might be able to aid us in this manner?”

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GM:

She nods and thinks for a moment, “I might have someone who can help, but first you had betta tell an old woman what trouble you’re about to get into…”

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

“Blood, and bodies,” Jamison muttered. “We’re trying to save children and good people, but it’ll take rash action and quick thinking to make it so, and the people we’re against will be happy to move Earth to make us missing… Once they figure who and where we are.”

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

“We’re on a mission from God,” Azog chimes in.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

“We don’t like endangering you, Esther. It might be best if you didn’t know.”

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

GM:

She shakes her head emphatically, “You’ve already endangered me, Mugsy. But I’m not going to be able to help you, this old body has taken too much of a beating for me to even think about it. But I can direct you to someone else. I cannot, however, with clear conscience, do that unless I know exactly what you are about. So it’s either you tell me what you’re about, or I don’t help you. I’m sorry Mugsy, I truly love you as a mother would her own son – but I have other children as well, and I would never risk a one of them needlessly – whether they appreciate my care and attentions or not, they are still my children.”

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Mugsy shrugs. “Suit yourself.” Mugsy proceeds to tell her about their current caper in rescuing Maeve’s kids.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Jamison excuses himself, and waits upstairs, where he can, you know, see things.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Azog notices that the witch hasn’t touched her sandwich. Without so much as an “are-you-gonna-eat=that?” he finishes it off in one bite and then follows Jamison upstairs.

[The GM said earlier that the witch lit a light downstairs.]

The porch is unlit, of course, and it’s now early evening. Azog produces a pair of cigars—from The Ambassador, not the joke cigars—and offers one to Jamison.

“So after all that the witch ain’t gonna help us? And now we’ve got this Marcum to deal with. I saw him once on a job. I watched a door while he did some talking on the other side. The folks he talked to looked awful scairt afterwards. Boots mainly used him to deliver messages like that. I never saw him let his guns do the talking, but I hear he cleared a room full of Malone’s toughs all by hisself.

“He’s in business for hisself now. Trades magical items. Knows lots about the trade, prol’ly more than Lovecraft twice over. And he drives a hard price.

“One more thing. When I laid eyes on him, he didn’t look quite like a human being. Head was too cold, hands were too warm, body signature was all wrong. I dunno what it means, but brother, it scairt me something awful to see him.”

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Jamison takes the cigar, nodding a thinks, and lights both of them with his lighter.

“The witch will either help us, or know of someone else who can. Even if not, we couldn’t just leaver her in that… …that stuff. It might have been her spell, but it wasn’t serving her when we pulled her out, you know.

Marcum won’t be a problem. He’s after something, sure, but we don’t have it. The witch didn’t have it, none of our friends have it, and there’s nothing to be done about it. The book he’s after has been destroyed, and the sooner we tell him, the faster he’ll turn his attention on someone else, God help them. he does this for the money, or maybe the power, or hell, maybe the practice. I dunno. All I do know is that he doesn’t waste bullets.

So, we’re not gonna ambush him. We’re not gonna try to trick him or trap him. We’re not coming at him with bullets, spells, or numbers. We’ll call him, set up a meeting, and I’ll go. By myself. I’ll explain everything. Either it’ll stop him from harming us and ours, or it won’t. Really, there’s not much we can do about it, either way. So, we play this one strait, and you pray for daylight."

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Azog snorts.

“That had the makings of a good plan until the bit where you went in alone. Look, I towd you before, we’re together on this. Speakin’ o’ wich, where’s Mugsy? How long should it take to bring a witch up to date? You think they’re all business or no?” Azog grins a mouthful of porcine teeth and puffs a smoke ring.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

GM:

Ethan, what details does Mugsy share? Ghouls? Allistaire Crandall? Mugsy’s family connection? Ethermancy? Lovecraft and the Byakhee? $5,000?

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

[She already knows about the $5000. He tells her about the rescuing of Maeve’s kids. The other stuff was perpetrated by the same parties, so it involves all the same people.]

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Jamison shrugs.

“Nicely, you’re not going to get anywhere with that lady being all business. He’ll say what he has to in order to make her do what she needs to do. Meanwhile, out of respect, you and I stay up here, out of earshot, and let him work his magic. He’s good with words. I kinda know how that works.

Now, then, about Marcum. Of course I go in by myself. You think Marcum ain’t used to people coming at him three or four at a time? That guy? Of course he is. Thing is, I don’t know your history, but he will. I show up with two other guys, one who’s a fast-talker, the other who looks like a truckload of beef, and he’ll think that I’m trying to dictate terms. He’ll think I’m trying to squeeze an inch in on him. He’ll start thinking defensively.

That’s the last thing any of us want. When we talk to him, he needs to see that we’re on his side, kinda. I’m all too happy to give him his book, except I don’t have it. It was destroyed. If he’s good with that, then life is beautiful. Long, even, maybe. If he gets mad that it was destroyed, he kills me, but you guys aren’t there to get aced, too.

We are, all of us, harmless to him. He needs to know that, but, more importantly, he needs to know that we know that." Jamison drew a deep pull on his cigar, exhaled slowly, and glanced at Nicely. “You follow?”

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

[There is at least one powerful mage on their side. They may be able to control undead as we ran into them in the sewers with other retainers of theirs.]

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

GM:

Mugsy spends some time explaining the situation to Esther. He tells her about Maeve, and their encounter with her and Agent Carlyle at the Venetian Room, then explains how it turns out that Boots has her kids held hostage. He mentions Lovecraft’s gruesome death at the hands of what appeared to be an ethermancer, and then vaguely references that he has indication to believe that Boots has someone doing something with the undead, having seen some in the sewers prior to coming to see Esther the first time. Notably, he deftly avoids singling out Allistaire Crandall, and he makes no reference to any personal reasons he might have for seeing Boots taken down.

When he finishes, Esther sits and ponders for a moment, and gives Mugsy The Stare, which he finds unnerving every time.

Finally she sighs, “You come to me for help, but you don’t even trust me, Mugsy. It hurts, so you know. All I’ve done for you, all I’m willing to do for you, and you still don’t trust me. I don’t know if I’m more sad for me, or more sad for you. One day, one day you’ll find out that not everyone is out to get leverage on you, my boy. But until then, I had best do what I can to keep you alive.” She reaches into her shawl and draws out a business card for a watch repair shoppe on the west side of the Warrens. It reads “Mordechai Lubov” at the top. She hands it to Mugsy and nods, “Pay a visit to my friend Mordechai, you may find that you have much to talk about,” she shrugs knowingly, “He was one of the Cockroaches.”

With that she leans back and studies him.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Azog shakes his head and draws smoke thoughtfully.

“I see no cause you should offer yourself in sacrifice (and I do think Marcum the sort to shoot you just for delivering bad news). Anyhow it’s not a risk we need to take. We don’t know that he’s looking for us. (Did the witch give us up to him?) He might have learnt that it was burnt up by his own arts for all we know (and punished the witch for it).

“So let’s not go looking for Marcum. Let’s make him find us, if he’s looking.

“However, we should get word to the Preacher to be on the lookout. Seems I owe him at least that much. I hate to see a man who done me a good turn go off to eternal paradise unnecessarily.”

He puffs, and puffs some more.

“Do you want to ask one of them young hooligans where we can find an etherphone booth? You know, maybe while we’re in Orktown we should finally get us some reliable jailbroke etherphones, the sort that can’t be traced easily. T’would make a lot easier getting around, you know.”

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

“You call it lack of trust, I call it caring for a friend. I’ve seen what happens to people when they magically rip information from your mind. You can’t get too deep if you don’t know anything. I’m still watching out for you, my dear.

So, he was one of the boys that won us the war? Mordechai, you say? We all owe him. What does he like, I’d like to take him something."

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

GM:

She smiles sadly, “Just go, Mugsy. He will be glad for any company at all.” She leans forward to pat Mugsy on the shoulder, stands up, and walks into the hallway. The lights dim behind her, leaving Mugsy with just enough light by which to find the stairs.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Jamison nods slightly, puffing his cigar.

“You’re right. We’re not that hard to find, and I’m assuming he’s looking. As far as the phones go, a bribe in a small hand’ll probably get you what you need. You get that call. We can make for a set of etherphones when we get back into town, proper.”

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Azog stifles a shudder.

“Yeah, well… When he does catch up with us, you can still do the talking.”

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Mugsy ascends from the warren. He claps his hands on each companion’s shoulder his body tilting with the effort to get to Azog’s. “Well boys, looks like our stay in this place just got a little longer. Esther can’t help us but did point us in someone’s direction. Someone whose feet all of us should be kissing. He was one of orc boys who formed the one in the one – two punch that defeated the Kaiser.”

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Azog ashes his cigar and stands up from his haunches.

“Another stop? Hm. Can we find a pay phone along the way?”

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

“If there’s one to find.” Jamison grins at Mugsy. “One of our boys who won us the War to End All Wars? I can’t wait to meet him. Azog’s right, though; we need to warn the preacher and that scowly broad at the Salvation Army that trouble might be slouching that way.”

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

“Alright, let’s not forget our cases. Azog, make sure you grab those. Black, you keep the peepers peeled for a phone booth. Let’s head back to the cabby.”

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

GM:

The cabby is notably absent. You’ll have to hoof it.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Any hope for a bus?

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

GM:

Sorry, not in the warrens. It’s kind of a no-man’s land as far as the city is concerned.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

[How about a phone?]

Azog lifts the baggage and shuffles ahead. The cab is no longer at the curb where they were dropped off, or anywhere else in sight.

“So we walk. You know, being a hero sure is a lot of work. I see why not many people do it.”

Evening falls as they walk. The Warrens are creepy at night. Many of the gas lamps are out of service, and the brick-and-mortar piles seem to stare down knowingly.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

“I need to make some better connections.” Mugsy says as he peers about the leering scennery.

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
 

Jamison nods. “I need to make some connections.”

The Central Chicago Sprawl Part II
MadDogMaddux

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