The Soul in the Steel Part the First
Briene: A dwarf who has become a mercenary for reasons outside of her own profit, she’s proven to be scary smart and competent. She’s happy that no one cares how she looks.
Kurz Margrave: The Ordic knight who has joined the Steel Wolves because of the murder machine known as Deathjack, the killer of his parents.
Lorcan: Smart-mouthed and money-hungry, Lorcan has come with his rifle slung over his shoulder looking for quick cash. His loyalty is himself and money, in no particular order.
Ragnok Nokith: Boredom drew the Trollkin gunmage, learning of the Charter’s pedigree he has altered his stance and now actively wants to improve his standing as well as that of the Charter.
Rhyan Argoth: A Seeker from Ios, Rhyan has come to find a way to save the elven gods. She’s found a fascination with human mechanika and pursues knowledge of them with a voracious appetite. Mercenary life is lucrative and she needs money to fund her search.
The story began with the gathering of the first prospective members of the newly formed Steel Wolves squad. The new members spent some time getting to know each other, and spoke briefly with the charter’s Titlemaster, the myopic gobber named Raf. They were informed that the Chartermaster would be arriving shortly, and the group was surprised that it was the man named Quaker, the legendary last survivor of the Red Fist massacre. After introductions are made, Quaker informs them that if they join the character, they will be the First Fang, but in order to do so, they must prove themselves to be men and women capable of dealing with the mercenary life.
Agreeing, Quake provided them with their test: a request was sent to him from one Captain Evlin Finnean to come and ascertain as to the sudden decrease in banditry in the area, as the proximity to the Scharde Isles rarely sees peace in the area.
The group departed for Southshield, a small garrison on the southern coast of Cygnar. They traveled by river, rail, and road to get to their destination. Upon reaching the garrison, heavily entrenched in the seaside cliffs, they met with the captain, and after some initial hesitation at Quaker not being there himself, she explained the problem further to them and officially offered them the contract.
They set out, heading south along the cliff searching for signs of what had occured to quiet the activity in the area. It wasn’t long before they found something, a fishing village burned in the distance. Upon investigation, they found everyone dead, except one girl, Aideen, who brokenly dug graves for her dead kin and friend with only her frail, bleeding hands.
Questioning the girl, they found that men had come, slaughtered everyone, and dragged two young people off. The group split up to complete tasks: The burly trollkin finished digging graves with this assistance of Kurz, who said Morrowan rights over the graves and Lorcan escorted Aideen back to Southshield. Rhyan tended to Patches, her nervousness of the situation bleeding over to the laborjack, whose steely grip clamped tightly on his halberd. Once back at Southshield, Lorcan handed the girl over to Captain Finnean. When he told her what had happened, she offered him a writ offering privilege while operating in the interests of the Cygnaran military for the purpose of removing the threat to its citizens and an additional five hundred crowns.
Lorcan returned to the group with the news, and by this time Ragnok had managed to track the direction of the attackers. They set off down the road and through the forest, trailing the men who had slaughtered the village, but before they left, they noticed a great many ravens watching from the cliffs, apparently unconcerned with the carrion below.
As they made their way through, they came to a clearing and found a man in a long coat and wide-brimmed hat there, bleeding profusely from two gunshot wounds. He drew on the group as they approached, but passed out before he could fire, or before the group could question him.
Briene examined the man and quickly set our her field kit, getting Kurs and Ragnok to lay him out. She performed surgery (successfully!) and managed to stop the bleeding of his wounds and remove the bullets and he came to a short time later. The man’s name was Olver Marsden, an Morrowan Inquisitor. He informed the company of his mission to find a man named Bowden Haightly, a refuge from the Church’s justice, thief, and necromancer.
Olver explained that Bowden had stolen an ancient and forbidden text called the Librum Mekanecrus, a vile Orgoth text and that he must be brought to justice. Olver and two of his companions tracked the man, but were ambushed. Wounded Olver had made it as far as the clearing before collapsing.
He urged Kurz to take up his quest, as a member of the Morrown church, as his holy duty as a knight. Kurz agreed and it was decided that Briene would stay to tend to the Inquisitor since he was in no condition to move.
The group continued on following the path the group of presumed reavers, and eventually, lead by the sounds of an ensuing battle, came upon a derelict farm and a group of obvious Khadorans battling a light warjack who held an unconscious man in one arm while fending off the bearded warriors with a long spear. Eventually the ‘jack broke through and ran off, leaving the men to tend to their wounded, and the bodies of two Inquisitors, Marsden’s companions.
Without hesitation, the would-be Wolves launched an attack. Lorcan and Ragnok’s rifles spat death, arcane power and black powder tearing the air as Rhyan commanded Patches forward, even as Kurz’ indomitable figure advanced toward the curs. Despite their wounds and the approach of a significantly powerful force, the men stood their ground and fought back. They turned their rifles on the light laborjack, the heavy shots of their northern rifles tearing into Rhyas’ jack and badly damaging it.
Even with the fighting going on, the screams of children could be heard from in the barn, and one of the bearded northmen ran to silence, drawing a knife as he went. Lorcan started for the barn, as Kurz and Ragnok continued their wanton slaughter. Even rushing to save the children, he was too late to save the boy, but ended the threat to the girl with a single bullet to her assailant’s head.
Kurz and Ragnok finished up the remainder of the northmen, leaving one man alive which Ragnok trussed up as a prisoner while Rhyan worked frantic repairs on Patches, getting the jack into barely working order.
Lorcan released the girl from her bondage and returned with her outside, away from the carnage in the barn, and they put the northman to the question, learning that they were in the employ of a man named Vladislav Abrosim, a former Greylord who had paid them to capture victims so that Bowden could finish his experiments. However, something went wrong, and the experimental ‘jack had suddenly sprung to life as Bowden collapsed, grabbed the fallen mage, and then started fighting its way out. They searched the barn, and found that little of its original purpose remained, being taken over by parts of a machinist shop and a laboratory given over to arcane study. Tucked away, hidden among some loose boards they found the partial translation of the Libram, as well as Bowden’s journal, telling of Bowden’s reluctance to continue his studies, the intervention of Abrosim, his unwilling cooperation, and then, finally, an act of defiance, refusing to use the children as experimental subjects and sacrificing himself to try and save them.
Conferring quickly, the group decided to return the prisoner and the child to Briene who was still watching over Marsden. Once they had dropped their packages off, they returned to the farm and Ragnok took the lead, trailing the escaped warjack for several miles. They found it standing over a body, presumably that of Bowden, and when it spotted the group, turned to face them, intervening between the party and the body. Having worked out that whatever experiment Bowden was working on ended up with his soul trapped in the body of the jack, leaving his body essentially an empty vessel. They managed to convince the Bowden-jack that they meant no harm and would try to help him.
They pondered the problem presented by the current situation. The Inquisitors wanted Bowden dead for the crime of necromancy, and they wanted the book return. Kurz had sworn take up Marsden’s task as his own, which left him in a perilous place regarding his honor and his devotion to his faith. After…considerable…deliberation they decided that the situation had changed enough that the book could be returned, as it was incomplete anyway, and since Bowden was effectively dead unless his soul could be returned to his body, it was “good enough.” Once again, it was noticed that a great number of ravens were watching, and this time it was noticed the creatures were rotting, little more than feathers and dead flesh, with pinpricks of balefire in their eyes. The Bowden-jack surprised everyone when it lashed out with a magical attack, destroying most of the birds and scattering the rest. Such a thing is not supposed to be possible.
As swiftly as they could, they retrieved the rest of their party, provided Marsden with the found version of the Librum and offered to take him to Southshield, but from there he would have to find his own way to Sancteum. Once there, the young girl they rescued and Aideen were reunited, and they were given their reward money and hot meal. As quickly as they were able, they headed back to the Highwayman’s Shade, where Stahl still waited for them.
When they finally made it back, Erik listened to their tale and reluctantly agreed to let them continue to help Bowden, despite the fact that it would be a burden on the newly formed charter. He also heartily agreed that they had passed their qualifying trial, gained the respect of a Cygnaran officer, and managed to uncover a former Greylord’s plot all while saving the life on an Inquisitor. All in all, not a bad first outing. In way of reward, they were named the Steel Wolves’ First Fang, the name given to the founding unit, and after their evening of rest, Grell presented them with new patches an adornments for their coats and cloaks, emblazoning them with the symbol of the Steel Wolves.
While Rhyan settled in to make repairs to Patches and tend to the Bowden-jack, Briene tended his physical body, making sure he was in as good a health as one can be when lacking as soul. Erik laid out the next phase of the Steel Wolves growth to them, a proper place to set up shop for the growing charter in the bustling den of inequity and vice that is Five Fingers. He already had just the place picked out, there was only one little snag standing in the way…