Damsels and Dynamite

Chapter 4
Scream For Me

Our heroes made a mad dash for the rear of the train, and noticed the screams crescendo until they stepped into the brothel, where the sections connected, and a huge torrent of air had muffled out the wailing.

There was smoke billowing out of Pearl’s office, and as they approached, a tall and almost emaciated figure stepped through the door.

Ubiytsa

Any citizen of Mir would immediately recognize the face of terror. Masked and draped in black leather, the few pieces of exposed skin could barely be called skin at all. They were nearly translucent, bulging blue veins explored the surface, and not an inch unmarred by some sort of scar or burn.

He was dusting himself off as he regarded our heroes, and with not so much as a nod, proceeded towards the front of the 2-star section. Billy Rabbit and Riggy Squanch approached him, but were shuffled out of his path by an invisible force before they could lay a hand on him. Cassidy Gale fired a round from his revolver, but the bullet sailed away unnaturally as it approached. Ubiytsa turned as he reached for the door and brushed away a portion of his coat to reveal a small, glowing cube on his belt. He looked over the baffled adventurers once more, and despite the mask , they could feel his sickening grin. He held up a small, shining piece of metal, gold in hue, but no thinner than a piece of paper with 7 stars emblazoned on its surface. With that quick display, and small bow he departed.

Why would such a man even need a ticket our heroes thought… What is protecting this train that such a man could not force his way beyond?

That thought did not linger long however, and as they barged into Pearl’s office, where the adjoining door lay, they were shocked at what they saw in the 1-star car. Half of the roof was completely shorn off, but it’s not as if Ubiysta merely blew the top off with powder, no… It appeared as though the section of the roof had ceased to exist. Then what was the explosive sound they all heard? Once again, these thoughts fled our heroes’ minds when they noticed that all the while, hundreds of tiny, buzzing, clockwork creatures were calmly repairing the missing ceiling.

“Wild” Biff had heard tales of these creatures during his travels… They were called monodromes, and as far as anybody could tell, they saw to it that the train ran as it was intended. One of the dromes fluttered into the brothel’s office where it noticed that the grate that led to the ventilation area of the train had been knocked loose, but when it began to attempt the repair, a passel of oozes began dropping out of the ceiling. Obediah and Cassidy recognized these from the shafts above where they were observed them “cleaning” the shafts as they ambled along the surfaces,. They did not think much about them until the oozes began to try and “clean” the room, and that meant digesting everything thing around them.

The monodrome recognized that oozes were not operating as intended and began to approach them individually and initiate a repair. This caused them to dissolve whatever contents they had engulfed and return to shafts. This also caused Billy Rabbit to nearly be digested, but he managed to escape his gelatinous confines, and snag a ticket bearing 4 stars from within the creature to boot.

With the mess being cleaned up by the monodromes, and the wounded being attended to by Pearl’s employees, our adventurers headed back towards the front of the section in an attempt to catch up with Ubiytsa, but he was nowhere to be found… Rather an overly excited Gina Tonic met them with the reminder that the show was about to start!

They each entered the Opry, but as the last of them stepped through, the door was slammed in Gina’s face. On the stage were four hooded figures, and Ubiytsa who whispering to the tallest of them… He turned, grinning menacingly under his mask, and bid our heroes to enjoy their show as he disappeared through shimmering portal.

After some theatrics on the part of “Throbbing Boss” the battle for the 2-star train began. It became evident very early that underneath the overly large cloaks, the exposed bits of the enemies skin was of the same texture and hue of Ubiytsa’s, and with the surgical scarring as well.

The battle raged, and a very angry Gina Tonic finally managed to kick the door in when the lead singer of Throbbing Boss collapsed into a pile of viscous fluid only to reanimate herself a horrifying, dripping spider-like creature.

A Yochol!?

Ubiytsa’s underworldly connection was becoming evident…

Despite a few near casualties, our heroes emerged victorious after Armstrong was able to knock the ichor beast from the ceiling by hurling his maul at it. Obediah noticed the swirling energies of life in the staff the Yochol once wielded and took it for his own. Each of the slain follower’s had more of the same strange coins they found in the safe belonging to the demonic Lucy Diamonds, as well as enough 3 star tickets to bring Gina and Pim along with them to the next section.

As our adventurer’s rummaged through their slain foes belongings, looking for clues as to the physical location of the map aboard the train, they noticed the approach of a very cheerful, slightly intoxicated, halfling bard. The bard walked straight to the now dissolving corpse of the yochol and reached her arm up the elbow in the sludge of its body. She yanked back and freed an extraordinarily slimy lute from the ichor, smiled, and walked back towards the door.

She turned to thank the adventurers, explaining that she’s been looking for that lute for some time, when Rigi Squanch approached, not ready to give up “his” treasure so willingly… With uncanny swiftness, the halfling struck a powerful chord on the instrument and Rigi immediately fell asleep.

“The name’s Cactus Molasses, Pleased to meet ya!” She exclaimed as she gestured pointing two imaginary pistols at the rest of the party. And with that, she was out the door.

Our heroes gathered themselves, and made their way to the 3-star section, where the next obstacle that stood between them and the map awaited.

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Chapter 3
The Quick and the Not So Dead

Pearl Chambers swore up and down that she knew nothing of Ms. Diamond’s true nature, and the impact of the revelation came close to making her faint again when our heroes heard footsteps coming from the entrance to the car. New customers were sure to be surprised at the state of affairs in the brothel, but it was our heroes that were shocked instead.

Behind a gruff, sloppily dressed Dwarf (A captain of the legion at Squanch’s reckoning…) was a woman so beautiful that she seemed to shine. It was the Princess Svetlana who approached. But, before they could ask why a woman of her position would be in this section of the train, they were each interrogated by the almost bumbling Dwarf.

“It seems you’ve been through quite a bit since stepping aboard, and for that I apologize… I apologize for Oso here as well, but I trust you he means well” Svetlana said as she interrupted Oso.

At that Oso Beltza, the Dwarf Captain, backed off, and looked back towards Svetlana with a look pride and satisfaction that could only be matched by a hound successfully burying a bone.

Svetlana turned her attention to Pearl who was on the verge of going into shock, and with naught but a kind smile she was able to calm the girl down. Svetlana encouraged her to take proprietorship of the brothel, and with a nod of approval from our heroes, Pearl accepted.

It was then that a voice crackled over the train’s public address system notifying the 2-star section that the duel tournament would begin shortly. Our heroes gathered themselves and ventured forth.

Obediah, never having used a firearm in his life, was relieved to hear that duels in the 2-star car used non-lethal ammunition, a small, squishy ball filled with paint rather than the hot lead many in this world had adopted. Regardless of the stakes, each of our adventurers steeled themselves. In order to get that map, they needed to get further up the train, and the prize here would bring them one step closer to that goal.

After quite a few close calls, and a number of upsets, “Wild” Biff Armstrong emerged the victor and claimed his reward of 200 dollars and a single 3-star ticket.

The car emptied very quickly, the spectators went back to their compartments, and the other duelists each advancing forward to the 3-star section. They each had dominated the 2-star duel for a while, and decided it was time to move ahead. Once the area was empty, Obediah alerted his compatriots to a small metal door he noticed under the grass of the dueling field. The hatch opened with relative ease to a very dark, very long hallway.

The group jumped down the hatch to investigate the bowels of the Uhrwerk masterpiece, where they were promptly greeted by the mechanical embodiment of security on this level. Those Uhrwerk brothers didn’t want folks snooping around down here, and they posted 2 massive, steamwork Gorgons to ensure nobody would live to reveal their secrets.

It was clear that many were not as hearty as our travellers, for there was blood and bone dust strewn everywhere, but our band of heroes made quick work of the clockwork contraptions. There was naught to be found among the heap of scrap save for some bits that could be used to repair other machinations… Cassidy had an eye for such things and gathered what he could. Billy Rabbit noticed at the end of the hall, a door emblazoned with three stars. Perhaps once they managed to find enough tickets they could “take the low road” as it were…

Upon exiting the engineering section, our heroes each noticed a strange popping sound followed by a very distinct brimstone smell that they knew wasn’t associated with the disassembled Gorgons… It wasn’t the first time some of them had witnessed such phenomena on this train…

Our heroes decided to reconvene at The Kheyo where they were greeted by a cold brew. Pim Gimlet overheard them mention the strange gold coins that were found, ever so neatly arranged, in the office of Lucy Diamonds, all though none of our heroes recall saying anything about said coins… He happily explained that they were called Krov and were MUCH more valuable than the paper money used by most of the Empire. He offered them a look at some more than rare stock he had acquired more than recently. As Pim bumbled through a box that was stained with bits of blood and gore (presumably from the previous owners of such rare items) he managed to find a few pieces that interested each of our heroes.

Gina leaned over, an excited look on her face, and explained that she saw the Princess Svetlana while everybody was out gallivanting. Gina was as giddy as a schoolgirl as she explained that the Princess gave her a handful of extra tickets to the otherwise sold out concert that would be taking place at The Oprey in a few hours.

“Free tickets to see Mir’s hottest band “Throbbing Boss”, AND getting to meet the Princess… What a day it’s been!" Gina Exclaimed. “I have 5 extra if you gentleman are interested!”

Before our heroes could answer, everybody’s attention was turned towards the back of the saloon, to a low rumble and a tremor running the length of the car. It was over as quick as it began, but our heroes each swore that they could hear screaming from what would be the 1-star section of the train…

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Chapter 2
An Affair to Remember

Upon seeing her boss enter the car, Pearl’s cries for help were quickly silenced. Mercy approached our heroes and quickly attempted to defuse the situation, vehemently denying any involvement in the injury to Ms. Chambers, and even offering them “a free visit” as recompense for the disturbance to their journey. With that Mercy escorted Pearl back to the brothel, but our heroes decided they weren’t about to let an innocent woman suffer abuse on their watch… well, all of our heroes except for Rigi. Rigi made it very clear that he couldn’t care less about the fate of Ms. Chambers.

Making their way back to the brothel, the adventurers were greeted as they had before by a very gracious Mercy, who asked if they were there to “take advantage” of her offer. Wild Biff was quick to decline and demanded they be allowed to speak with the proprietor of the establishment, the house mother, Lucy Diamonds. Mercy placed her hand on Mr. Armstrong’s shoulder and with a smile and a wink, reminded him that admittance to the rear of the car was strictly forbidden with the exception of paying customers. She suggested that he head back to the saloon for a free drink courtesy of Ms. Diamonds, which strangely enough, sounded like the best thing in the world to Wild Biff.

Not so easily dissuaded, Cassidy Gale and Billy Rabbit chose to play by Mercy’s rules and paid to “visit with” a pair of girls. They were quickly greeted and escorted to the back, where they managed to persuade the women (with a little help from some extra coin) to speak with Ms. Diamonds, who quickly appeared at her girl’s request. She approached Gale and Rabbit with unusually heavy footsteps, and after a brief discussion whereupon Ms. Diamonds corroborated Mercy’s story that she would absolutely never lay a hand on her girls, Pearl emerged from her chambers and was quick to agree with her house mother. Lucy put her hand on Cassidy’s shoulder, gave him wink and a smile, and suggested he rejoin his friends, and that a round of drinks awaited them in the saloon. Cassidy turned to depart, really keen on a frosty ale, when a half-orc emerged from Pearl’s room and started screaming about “the plan” to Lucy.

Billy was quick to put the pieces together and looked up just in time to avoid a swing from an angry Morningstar. In the subsequent brawl it became very clear that Lucy and Mercy were not who they appeared to be, but rather an Oni and a Succubus respectively, and working for the infamous Ubiytsa at that!

The “ladies” were defeated once the haze of their charms lifted from Armstrong and Gale, however the demonic pair managed to escape our heroes through magical means.

Our adventurers quickly searched Ms. Diamond’s abode for clues, and Biff managed to find a safe stuffed with a substantial amount of mysterious gold coins, a rather intricate looking firearm manufactured by “The Dante Corporation”, and a pair of gleaming white manacles. On her desk, and amidst a shuffle of invoices and other junk, Billy uncovered a single 3-star ticket. Rigi Squanch, after having suffered a most unusual kiss from Mercy, questioned the remaining women to no avail. Most were just transients, paying for their voyage with their bodies. Gale, curious about a puddle near Lucy Diamonds’ bed, noticed a suspiciously loose grate that seems to lead to the car’s ventilation system. The group ultimately focused their attention on Ms. Pearl Chambers, who was finally regaining consciousness after fainting at the start of the battle…

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Chapter 1
Rude Introductions

Upon each receiving their 2-star tickets from sources that remain a mystery, our heroes each boarded The Nimoy in the eastern fishing village of Rybalka. The trans-Mir luxury rail cars have always prided themselves on extraordinary customer service, and as such our heroes were escorted to their cabin where introductions were first made.

The common thread between the five was the rumor of a map in the first car of The Nimoy, and they decided then and there to work together towards the lofty goal of not only stealing the map, but fighting and conniving their way forward through the locomotive’s strict star-level security.

Once settled in their too snug compartment, our heroes were shown upstairs to the saloon and explained that they had free range of the 2-star facilities and that a complimentary sasparilla was awaiting them at Gina Tonic’s bar. “Wild” Biff Armstrong was never one to turn down a cold sasparilla and made his way to claim his prize when he found himself suddenly staring at the ceiling, and also suddenly, the grimace of an angry half-orc thug.

Not much for words, and even less for apologies, Biff shrugged off the angry thug’s threats, but was soon met with the wild swing of a jagged Morningstar. A brawl ensued that soon involved even the kindlier patrons. Bottles and noses were broken, and flesh was melted (Thanks, Obediah), but the fight was over just as soon as it began, much to the relief of Ms. Tonic.

The 4 armed beastwoman thanked our heroes for their bravery, and rewarded them with her famous blue plate special, which was always sure to cure what ails you, as well as a single 3-star pass. Gina Tonic seemed to be a bit too helpful to a few of our heroes, but kindness from strangers is often met with distrust.

Our heroes then took to separate paths; Rigi Squanch and Cassidy Gale each “investigated” the brothel while the remainder of the group took to the Duel Car where they learned of a tournament with a 3-star prize. Upon reconvening in the compartment, they were surprised by a knock at the door. It was Pearl Chambers, a woman Rigi and Cassidy had just become more than familiar with, only now she was wearing an interesting shade of purple over her right eye. She began to implore Cassidy for help, as the her mistress was furious over the lack of customers, when the door to the car slid open…

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