Author Topic: Crowley's Column  (Read 94 times)

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Blue41

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on: February 08, 2020, 11:39:34 AM
Needle Raised from Rifts!
By Ormund Crowley


Pictured: Wary Prospectors oversee the Needle's recovery from the Drips. One of them tried to shoot yours truly-they missed. Obviously.



Tickerfolk, travelers and ringrunners likely noticed the recent cordon of Prospectors established in the rifts within ring 99, and perhaps wondered what all the fuss was about before continuing on their way. Perhaps the sharpest among that select group noticed that the perimeter was established soon after a flaming comet crashed into our ring, heralded by stormclouds and wild explosions that no one seemed able to pinpoint. The hole this comet created was quickly forgotten in favor of the fire giant that emerged from the rubble, terrorizing the gawking onlookers at the scene before seemingly burning itself out. But it didn’t escape notice forever, for that crater went down, deep into the Drips, to a place known to a scant few. This was the resting place of the Needle.

What is the Needle? Well, no one’s saying THAT yet. Instead, they talk about what it’s capable of. Speak with the Prospectors and they’ll tell you that it’s essentially made to make groat; for in the company of their men, the device is capable of opening the way to specific seams without the messy side-effects that come from dealing with wizards, and their insatiable need to experiment.  They’ve got every reason to believe this, too, because by the time you read this, the Needle will be fully operational; protected by the finest wards and abjurations, blades and shields the Guild has to offer.

Speak with the Arbiters (though many of you won’t, and that’s why they pay guys like me) and they’ll tell you all kinds of wild stories. That the Needle is a sentient weapon designed to tear apart worlds, and responded to attempts to dismantle it in kind. That it predates the city and has only been activated twice before. The first time resulted in the obliteration of rings 110 and beyond. The second time led to the state of the rifts we see today.

The truth likely lies somewhere in the middle, despite the grave warnings of Arbiters and breezy assertions of Prospectors. What we know is that the lost Guildmaster Belacq clashed with Zelia N’dare on the use of the Needle, as he believed it was too dangerous for use. We know that Guildmaster Tchammorar has expressed similar concerns, though in the opinion of this humble reporter, it is likely driven by interest in his bottom line rather than a sense of concern for the public. These concerns will likely go unheeded, though, and it falls to smug assholes like yours truly to get these objections out now, so they can say ‘I told you so’ the next time a planar worm or fire giant pounds someone into warm jelly.



Blue41

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on: February 08, 2020, 11:46:09 AM
Dogs at the Door! Groatcloaks give their lives to fend off House Orza

By Ormund Crowley


Pictured: Butchers and Groatcloak captain Kreceilt stare down their hated foes across barricades hastily erected in the Open Door.



Stonebuilder and Guildmember Beodda Aethwin was a controversial figure in Ticker Square, and that’s to say that you’d get a different opinion on him depending on who you asked. Whether you loved or hated him, however, it can surely be said that he deserved a better end than the one he found at the hand of House Orza and Solveiga Nygaard. Or rope- because that’s how he died, hanging from a noose atop their stolen castle. The response from the Guild was swift and immediate; a bounty of ten thousand groat and induction into the Guild of Merchants for whoever brought ‘Mother Solveiga’ down. For her part, Nygaard swore to deliver similar punishment to every Guildmember until the Butchers were cast out into the streets of 99.

None of the Guildmembers seemed very concerned, but then, most of them make a point to stay far away from the streets of 99! One Guildmember, however, made it such a point to insist that the dispute was strictly between Orza and Krown that he bankrolled a mercenary company entirely to protect himself. That man was Guildmember Sloan ‘Uld’ Ulfkhur, a similarly controversial figure famous for whispers condemning the poor as shiftless, drug-addled layabouts that would be better served laboring in his ‘ash cannery’ and promoting the old slogan of ‘Ticker, not Tyranny’. His mercenary company, the Groatcloaks, were filled no less infamous. Isiden Kreceilt, who lost a hand to the Arbiters for Seamstry. Kallus Vor, not a Knave. Others!

The Groatcloaks and House Orza had their share of clashes in the Commons, when House Orza’s lackwits weren’t making whispers for meetings with them, offering groat to ‘Ticker spies’ or trying to take advantage of Sloan’s deals-deals-deals. Guildmaster Tchammorar, in a anticipatory fit of pique perhaps, saw fit to take the Groatcloaks under his wing--buying them before anyone else could be tempted to do the same. And one doesn’t outbid the master of the Adamantine Vault! Not long after, the defense contract was given to the mercenary company to be shared with the Butchers...despite Krown’s protests. Things were looking up for the Groatcloaks!

Things came to a head around the time the Temple of the Nine-Faced God fell to pieces.
« Last Edit: February 11, 2020, 11:46:05 PM by Blue41 »



Blue41

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on: February 08, 2020, 11:50:07 AM
Temple Toppled by Daft Diviner
By Ormund Crowley
Contributed by Thesputin Bobbynock


Pictured: The public gathers to witness a miscarriage of justice.



‘Apprehender’ Drusilla Peake of House Sunpurse is stark raving mad, a killer with a heart as black as pitch. It is no surprise that the people of the Peerage ward shelter her, guard her, give her the time of day-- because every single one of them rely on the same sort of fiction she tells herself every day at first light and every night before bed: that their silly titles and bloodlines and shared history makes them more valuable than you or I. Because she believed herself superior, the priests and layfolk of the Temple of the Nine Faced God had to die.

The tragedy began shortly after the usual kind of whisper from the diviner Peake. You know the ones, declaration of titles, invitations to speak, the usual blabber. Only when she was ignored, she decided to head to the temple of the Nine and paint the floor with the entrails of the priests within--apparently with the intent to reconsecrate the temple to some foul Tenth God. Then she returned to the Peerage in her bloodstained dress and declared the temple traitors, conspirators, kidnappers of the House’s long-dead heir, Phelan. Bishop Maxwell Artfall, in an uncharacteristic and impressive display, stormed the Peerage bridge to capture the mad mage while she screamed for aid for all the Houses, any House, to defend her. Having returned to the Temple, he then apparently (characteristically) deliberated what was to be done with her in the midst of the carnage.

Perhaps it was the shock that stayed Artfall’s arm. Perhaps it was the responsibility, lacking a more senior official to turn his captive over to. Whatever the case, Peake’s defenders came to her rescue and stormed the temple. The chaos was frantic, furious and ultimately calamitous to the Temple’s foundations, as it soon crumbled to little more than dust and dirt in the fray. When the smoke cleared, Peake had escaped to safety, and House Orza marched back to Castle Moonspear with a few captives of their own: Artfall and the Groatcloaks. Artfall was soon released, humbled and short a hand. Shortly after declaring himself a ‘scion of House Moonspear’, he disappeared into the deeper rings.

As for the Groatcloaks--well, now that I told you this story, we can return to that story.

This humble reporter can only piece the story together based on what was said and what we know of those involved. What we know is that the Groatcloaks eventually returned to the Peerage, their fine Guild cloaks and uniforms discarded for the hateful orange-and-black. They were flanked by House Orza’s retainers, who observed in watchful silence as Guildmember Sloan declared the Square under Orzan protection with the aid of the Groatcloaks, with a tithe to be paid for the ‘privilege.’ But as the streets quickly cleared of merchants and customers, beggars and ringrunners, Kallus Vor took a stand. The former mercenary rallied his beaten and bedraggled men to the last fight of their lives, and the ensuing battle would see nearly every Groatcloak and Orzan dead, the streets splattered in their blood. As quickly as the Square was occupied, it was freed at the cost of the Groatcloak company.

We honor their memory. Thank you for your sacrifice, Groatcloaks.



Blue41

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on: February 13, 2020, 11:40:57 PM
The Mirror Throne of Ulm
By Ormund Crowley


Once upon a time- or alternatively, this morning, because time has no meaning- there was this gigantic magical throne worshipped by tens of thousands of demons in some far-off plane known as the Shattered Hells. The archdemon in charge, known as Harxxathan of Fiery Death, wasn’t in charge because of his aptitude for titles, but because of his willingness to spread the word, so to speak. It oversaw the bloody and doubtlessly gory sacrifice of its fiendish kin upon four altars, and used the resulting overflow of magical power to send shards of the infernal throne into the seamscape. The details are a bit fuzzy, folks, my editor is not a wizard but he is positively magical when it comes to finding me around deadline-time.

One of those shards streaked through seamspace for some time before eventually finding its way into our plane, coming to a terrific crash landing in ring 97, off the beaten path of Bleeder’s Way. The meteorite was quickly discovered by a mob of Pondsfolk, Prospectors and other adventurers, who quickly discovered their passage to the object barred by strange ‘reflections’, dim echoes of the fiendish warriors, imps and infernal demons that doubtless worshipped the mirror throne in life. In death, they proved to be ferocious combatants, as this reporter can personally attest to. A strangely magnetic chunk of rock awaited the explorers once the defenders had been dealt with; one that spoke with an unearthly voice. It urged its audience to come closer, that it could make all their desires come true if only they were to bask in its light, or to shatter it into pieces, grind it into dust.

Though its unwholesome nature was refreshingly apparent, the adventuring community of the rings could not resist the siren call for very long. Those who carved off chunks of the glowing rock soon showed increasingly strange behaviors. Paranoia. Possiveness. An odd sensitivity to other shard-bearers. And the shards themselves, though seemingly harmless enough to the eye once separated from the whole, held a peculiar power of their own right.

Rumor has it these shards have been sent to our city as a ploy by the archdemon; a way to manifest in our reality through some leaching of will from those who carry them. Already whispers have gone out from those who seek them, either to bring their power to bear or lock them away. What comes of these scattered shards remains to be seen, but a word of advice from your favorite investigative reporter: stay clear of magick that speaks for itself and those who would exploit them.