Players: Shannon, Scott, Z
Oracle: A Nest of Vipers
- Nine of Spades: A band of slavers both bold and incorrigible.
- Ten of Hearts: A wizard jealously guarding her magical territory.
- Five of Hearts: The college of a small but prestigious magical order.
- Queen of Spades: A conjurer possessed by spirits of uncivil character.
It starts with a slave auction in a fantastical city, one which vaguely resembles a fantastical pastiche of the European Enlightenment. The people, mostly humans, wear corsets, big cuffs, tight pants, various collars and fancy boots.
In the midst of this fantastical city is a slave auction. Cages of magical creatures have been arrayed in the town square. The crier announces that Griffons are on sale for courage, Mermaids for seduction, Satyrs for amorous prowess, Harpies for marital security and so forth.
Swarthy men in short coats and tall hats mix with the crowd, hauling cages, cowing unicorns and generally deporting themselves like any other slave traders in the civilized pursuit of their trade.
Into the midst of this spectacle strides a woman, tall and haughty. She wears a severe purple coat of crushed velvet. Not the purple of royalty, but rather the puple of subdued fate, with hidden greys and unexpected seams of light caught in the arrangements. A corset with a double row of fine brass buttons offsets the high collar and explicitly non-laced sleeves of the arrangement.
She is walking a dog, a huge black dog with purple eyes, pure predator and barely restrained, yet completely within her power.
Moving through the crowd, she reaches a small, hideous goblin, all warts and sharp, grinning teeth, who takes her to his master, the man in the tallest hat. The master, Mr. WOLFBINDER, is seated at a lecturn, scratching away at the afternoon’s sales figures with a slightly-glowing amber feather pen.
During a short argument, in which the woman introduces herself as ANNAIS, LADY OF THE VALE PERILOUS, in which, it should be noted, MR. WOLFBINDER falsely denies all knowledge of visiting or even knowing of its noble lady, MR. WOLFBINDER and ANNAIS simultaneously catch sight of a young girl feeding a manticore some cheese.
The child wears fine clothing that doesn’t fit, one sleeve of her luxurious gown dragging behind her in the street muck and her practical boots practically filled with wrinkles of fine silk dress. Her hair is, at best, impossible, wavy and ample and done up at random intervals with whatever the child could get her hands upon at the time: quill pens, spindles, hair clips, ribbons.
She resembles nothing so much as an errant bird’s nest dragging a line of laundry behind it in a windstorm.
This interruption also gives MR. WOLFBINDER a chance to produce false documents of procurement for his enslaved fey creatures. MR. WOLFBINDER has PISS sniff the child’s scent to confirm that she is, in fact, the Witching Princess, ‘YUBA, daughter of the Witch Queen and Heir Apperent of the Hour Throne.
The child is sent away abruptly by ANNAIS who follows after to see the child back safe.
Back at the Feigndoor, the College of the Mystical Order which supports the Hour Throne itself, the Seneschals Temporae, ‘YUBA crosses the bridge of doors in the rain. She can see the towering Calendar Tower, which predicts the major events of every Witch Queen’s reign, silouhetted against the gloomy clouds and gathering night.
As she attempts to sneak between the two guardian Sphinxes at the gate, a flash of lightning illuminates the tall, stern figure of the headmistress, MIZ MAURINNIS MALYCE. Dressed all in black with a rock-hard bun of fine auburn hair, she stares with steely black eyes at young ‘YUBA. MIZ MALYCE mentions an upcoming meeting of disciplinary nature with ‘YUBA’s mother, the Witch Queen.
MIZ MALYCE admonishes the child and sends her scurrying away as CHAR-KALE, the mystress of the Seneshals Temporae steps from behind the other sphinx. She has been watching and confronts MIZ MALYCE about ‘YUBA being allowed to go into town unsupervised.
During their discussion, CHAR-KALE uses the Calendar Staff to subtly advance time so that MIZ MALYCE misses her afternoon meeting with the Witch Queen, only noticing when she suddenly sees the Fine Carriage of ‘YUBA’s mother departing.
CHAR-KALE meets with MR. WOLFBINDER in his cabin, acting all seductive and coddling PISS THE GOBLIN. They make a deal that MR. WOLFBINDER should ensnare ‘YUBA and sell the child to CHAR-KALE, that they may be heart-bound for CHAR-KALE’s own nefarious purposes. She expresses some disgust that ‘YUBA should represent “the coming age.” MR. WOLFBINDER loans CHAR-KALE the use of PISS for a day or two. It is also arranged that ‘YUBA should be delivered, enslaved, to CHAR-KALE at the Fallen Halls within a fortnight.
ANNAIS and MR. WOLFBINDER meet in the antechamber of the Hour Throne, both attending court for their own purposes. MR. WOLFBINDER has a nightmare in tow which ANNAIS uses her magic of fate to release. MR. WOLFBINDER brutally beats the nightmare back into submission with his magical riding crop and is made ‘YUBA’s protector by the Witch Queen herself for his valiant efforts. However, since he clearly is not a creature of magic himself, ANNAIS is assigned to go along with MR. WOLFBINDER as his advisor (and ‘YUBA’s tutor, if at all possible, considering ANNAIS’ famous command of the ways of fate.)
In an alleyway behind the main square, PISS THE GOBLIN meets with a spirit-seller who turns out to be MIZ MALYCE. PISS obtains a spirit that will “shatter the heart of a brutal man” and instill that man with fatherly concern for anything or anyone in his charge. PISS offers to tell MIZ MALYCE of a man who will be a danger to her college, Feigndoor, but MR. WOLFBINDER gets there first and makes advances toward MIZ MALYCE. PISS tries frantically to sneak up behind MR. WOLFBINDER and signal MIZ MALYCE, but MR. WOLFBINDER senses “a presence” behind him and lashes out with brutal instinct, snapping PISS almost in half with one blow of the lucky riding crop (used earlier to subdue the nightmare.) As PISS dies, the cannister containing the heart-shattering spirit rolls to MR. WOLFBINDER’s feet and PISS utters a dying curse “Your heart shall be forever shattered, massster…. “
Later, at Feigndoor, ANNAIS and MR. WOLFBINDER go to see the headmistress and he witching princess, where he is shocked to see his new sweetheart, MAURINIS is actually MIZ MALYCE, the headmistress. Of course, he knew that ‘YUBA was the cheese-and-manticore girl already. While ‘YUBA resents MR. WOLFBINDER at first and MIZ MALYCE resists the idea of ‘YUBA leaving Feigndoor, ANNAIS tricks them both into arranging an expedition to The Fallen Halls (where CHAR-KALE plans to pick up the enslaved ‘YUBA within a fortnight.)
While MR. WOLFBINDER tries to seduce MIZ MALYCE in the gardens (and talks her into taking her girls on an expedition in his ship, The Endangerment) ANNAIS and ‘YUBA discuss using both headmistress and head slaver as catspaws in ANNAIS’ plan to free the fairy creatures has has been enslaving.
In the end, MR. WOLFBINDER sweeps MIZ MALYCE into his arms, kissing her passionately. She kisses him back but then whallops him good with her Measuring Device. She concedes to the expedition and leaves him besotted and in pain in the garden-cafeteria of the witching school.