- the companions ingeniously agitate a mob to take care of their Hellhound Social Club problem at the Opera House
- backstage passes are scored in return for a dance performance
- Lord Brack and associate are invited backstage, earning prestige with the social elite
- Gwendolyn, the lady-friend of director Burbage, gifts Wanda a serpent scale amulet for safekeeping
- the companions dance performance earns a thumbs-down by the audience despite critical acclaim
- a pillar on the third balcony reveals a secret door, leading underground
- the companions subdue an akata attack, a magical bell is located
- further underground, the 3rd mighty man is set in motion and a new key found
Their cover blown, the companions take quick action. Lando puts the advancing thugs in a magical slumber, while Anton trips the street urchin as he passes the line. Given the attention it garners, Anton reaches into the street urchin’s pocket and produces his wallet – “Check you pockets folks, this boy has been stealing wallets all night!” The Hellhound members jump on their hogs. Magus Mike yells to the gathering crowd, “I’ve seen him passing wallets to those guys on the bikes – they have your money. Don’t let them get away!” Casting daze, the first member crashes as she tries to ride away. The crowd mobs the three gang members and street urchin as the companions blend into the mass of people. They notice two nobles watching them, giggling profusely and slow clapping, obviously enjoying the entertainment. Whistles are heard in the distance signalling that the City Guard are on their way.
The companions forego the ticket line and enter the Opera House directly. Huge double doors lead into a large lobby tiled in polished slabs of blue-gray marble. The companions continue into the auditorium. A massive chandelier dominates the interior of the building, hanging above the stage and the orchestra pit. Box seats are arrayed along the sides of the auditorium, while seats line from the pit nearly to the ceiling.
The group attempts to head to the balcony section but is stopped by an usher requesting tickets. Lando attempts to charm the usher into letting the companions through. The usher is holding his own until the two nobles seen earlier in the crowd vouch for the group as box seat owners. Introductions are made by Lord Brack and the companions note the insignia on his vest which identifies him as an official within the social elite.
Before heading up, a conversation is overheard between the director and stage manager of the night’s entertainment. It seems that one of the performers, a bard, has gone missing. Sensing an opportunity, Lando acts as an agent for the dancing duo of Magus Mike and Anton. They convince the director that they will look for the bard, and if he cannot be found, will perform in his stead. Passes secured, the companions head backstage and invite the nobles as guests. They are excited for the opportunity to lounge with the actors and stagehands, securing some prestige for the companions.
Behind the stage are catwalks, cramped spaces for stagehands to manipulate props and the curtain, a few dressing rooms, and a social area. The companions survey the scene, sipping on cocktails and eating hor d’oeuvres. Lando makes small talk with the director, Burbage, who appears on edge. They discuss the history of the Opera House and the vision that Burbage is executing.
A beautiful lady sidles up beside the director and kisses him on the cheek, interrupting the conversation. Wanda recognizes her as Gwendolyn, a member of a guild popular amongst the daughter’s of noblemen. It is purported that many in the guild are upset that their gender deters them from rising to prominence within the aristocracy. She has a private conversation with Burbage before he is summoned to the stage.
Seeing Wanda, Gwendolyn approaches for a chat. She is happy to see her, but asks that Wanda not tell her father, who does not know of her relationship with Burbage. Asking for a favour, she provides Wanda with an amulet for safekeeping. It has serpent scales on a wide leather clasp. Once around her neck, the scale fuses with her chest. The clasp also disappears and is replaced with a subtle tattoo of script.
The performance begins and it is soon time for Magus Mike and Anton to take the stage as the bard is nowhere to be found. The melancholy tone of the piece they chose does not go over well with the raucous crowd, and they are quickly booed from the stage. Returning to the back stage area, they can’t help but notice that the two nobles they invited are visibly shaking, unable to contain their laughter. They congratulate the group on providing such entertainment, both in the way they instrumented the pre-show riot out front, but also with the creative way they were able to get passes, and finally to nearly bring the house down. The nobles haven’t had this much fun at the Opera in decades. In honour of their performance, Lord Brack offers to clear things up with the Hellhound Social Club on their behalf via a large gift of contraband at their private party this eve.
The companions bid farewell for the evening and take a backstage passage to the balcony area. The third balcony is easy to locate, and to no one’s surprise, it features a large granite pillar of blue-gray marble similar to that seen in Ironjack’s workshop. The appropriate key is taken from the chain. It casts a bluish-grey light that reveals a keyhole on the pillar. A secret door is sprung, and the companions descend a spiral stair case within the pillar.
The staircase descends well below street level, opening to a large room. A chill permeates the room, so much so that the companion’s breath plumes in front of them. A second staircase on the opposite wall leads down further to another room. Less barren than the room above, the center of the room features a metallic bell suspended from a yolk that is supported by two stone rods. Slightly behind and to either side, metallic webbing dangles from the ceiling, hoisting shimmering pear-like cocoons of violet purple. Lando advises that something magical lives inside.
Cracks form and the cocoons burst open as blue aberrations break free. Identified as akatas, the hairless lion-like creatures feature twin tails and a mane of thick blue tentacles. Magus Mike and Freight charge forward as the akatas pounce, Anton and Lando stay back to provide aerial support. The group’s concentrated efforts prove efficient as the first akata is brought to heel, but the second creature avoids melee and grapples the defenseless Lando. Besides the slow constriction, the creature infects Lando with a magical disease, sending hundreds of larvae into his bloodstream. His life fleeting before his eyes, Lando accepts the embrace as the rest of the companions pummel the akata into submission. Escaping its grasp, Lando understands his dire predicament and urges the companions to push the pace as time is of the essence.
The companions catch their breath and investigate the room. The corpses of the still-shimmering akatas would likely be appreciated by Garvey for further study. The two bodies are re-packaged in their cocoons and sent via the rune directly to Garvey. Studying the bell in the middle of the room, it is made from similar material as the cocoons with a blue-violet metallic shimmer. A ring circles the inside of the bell inscribed with the words “Singer of Silence”. A mallet of similar material serves as the bell’s clapper.
Anton strikes the bell with the mallet, resulting in a chime of magical essence. Its peal can be heard by those close to the bell, but the companions farther away do not hear the note. A second strike has similar effect. Magus Mike notices an exit on the opposite side of the room leading to a staircase. The companions take the bell and hammer for further study and head down the stairwell.
The base of the stairs opens into a small room that appears to be a staging area. An exit can be seen on the opposite wall, leading to a long hallway. There appear to be many passageways intersecting the hallway. Further, shambling undead creatures can be seen walking between the corridors form time to time. At the end of the hallway is a larger room with what looks to be a statue in its center.
Watching the activity in the hallway, the group notes a pattern to the undead creature’s mindless walk. The companions wait for the appropriate gap and then run head long down the passageway, Anton chiming the bell every so often. It proves an effective strategy as the group is able to enter the far room without incident, although the bell no longer chimes – the companions assume they have exceeded its daily toll.
The far room is larger in size than the staging area and made of rock similar to that of Ironjack’s workshop. In the middle of the room is an ornamental construct, runes carved on the floor lead from its feet. It has one hand upraised, and the other, with a bell in hand, is lowered. The bell appears similar in size and appearance as the one from above. Studying the underside, a ring of script encircles the bell denoting it as the “Singer of Liberation”. Anton takes the clapper and strikes the bell, resulting in a magical chime. It is hard to discern its effect, although various companions note that their belts have come unbuckled – perhaps the chime opens locks.
The companions place the bell from above in the upraised hand. The arm of the construct lowers into alignment with its other arm and a keyhole appears in the center of its body. The key with the tragedy/comedy mask motif is inserted and turned, revealing a chamber in the statues body. The runes on the floor alight in succession as the construct begins to pull itself along the glyphs.
Pulsing waves of magical energy buffet the room, and a deep rumble signals to the companions that it is time to leave. Before exiting the room, the companions pocket the parchment wrapped package along with the two bells and clappers. The stairs prove moderately difficult to ascend while shaking, but the companions make it back to the interior of the Opera House in record time. The show is long over, the companions exit the near empty building and hail a cab to the Sword of the Edict’s guild – Sir William Carson’s services will be required shortly as Lando slumps in his seat.