Dorian laughs, a melodious sort of sound that seems to follow an altogether strange note as it fills the small room. “Excellent!” he says, scratching Melody’s ear as he lays out several more papers, “Before I sent the letters, I managed to call on some old favours for a little information. As far as I can tell, these little acts of chaos are going to require some quick work: if we delay for whatever reason, security will be increased and the risks will be far and beyond anything that even we could safely navigate. So we’ll either have to approach this as a team to mitigate the risks, or split up and handle them single-handedly for speed…that’s a choice for when I conclude. Now, since you asked so nicely Narciso, I do, in fact, have a plan in mind for the printing presses…”
He puts down a slightly out-of-focus photograph of a large three storey building.
“Now, at first I thought of simply blowing up the place. Gunpowder, detonators, et cetera. But, it all seems so pretentiously luddite; even if we did sabotage the entire factory, Mr Pages could have it rebuilt in a number of days, you see? That’s when I came to a rather different conclusion. Broken machines can be replaced. A reputation, however, cannot. It may be possible, with some cunning and a little bit of mechanical savvy, to…alter, what is printed out. Not whole articles, mind. Something a touch more subtle. Mr Pages would know it instantly if we replaced all the books he published with long scripts of blurred letters and nonsense. If, however, we altered just a sentence or two…nobody would notice for weeks, at least until they turned to page 99 to discover the first line of the chapter is ‘Mr Pages is a little piggy’, for instance. There wasn’t much I could discover about the factory layout, I’m afraid. The Masters of the Bazaar have never been ones for leaking their secrets, and Mr Pages has enforced this concept with a legion of neddy men and heaven-knows what else. There are also rumours of a thing, stalking the place at night at the Masters’ behest. It’s more than likely just a rumour though…I think. I’m almost positively sure…
This brings us to target number two: the vaults of the Carnival. This is an apt target; what lies beneath in the vaults is far more than riches. Mrs Plenty keeps a number of official pockets filled in with jade and moon pearls, meaning there are extraordinarily unique and quite dangerous creatures that are being kept from the Labyrinth. She keeps these beasts locked up beneath the carnival, around the treasure rooms. The good news is that these vault systems are connected to the heart of the Carnival by a single tunnel: ‘freeing the beasts’ is going to set them loose in the one place most likely to cause chaos. The bad news is this is far more difficult than it looks, however. For a seemingly amicable woman, the Lady herself is remarkably savvy when it comes to the maintenance of her security. There aren’t any soldiers or neddy men, but aside from the carnival workers themselves, I’ve heard that she keeps a number of mercenaries from the Tomb-Colonies. So aside from getting in, we’ve a number of die-hards that are not likely to simply sit and wait for you to wander through the place.
Finally our last target: the first gate of Hell. You’ve heard the expression ‘the doors of Hell are always open’. As it just so happens, it is absolutely true. The only entrance to the realm of the Damned from the ‘Neath is this one: the Stolen River flows right through this gate, and everything going to and from Hell has to pass through. It’s supposedly never been closed, and the Devils do all they can to suggest that it can’t be. To do so would cause days, even weeks of total chaos as the traffic from the Brass Embassy and the Bazaar would clash. Devils would suddenly be homeless, the Masters would lose a fortune…the list goes on and on. However, I know from my own inquiries that aptly enough, it’s a lie: during the first charge of the Royal Lancers into Hell, some decades ago, Hell was concerned enough that it shut the gate completely, and didn’t open it again for 40 days and 40 nights. Oddly Biblical I know, but I’ve reason to believe it was a matter of ‘can’t’ rather than ‘won’t’. Even if that’s just hearsay, just a day would be enough. Security is fairly predictable: part actual security, part the rumour of what would be done to you for even thinking about causing trouble. There’s an Overgoat watching the Dead Marches, the area between London and the Gate. If you’re not a Devil, an official or a Spirifer, a small squadron of infernal cavalry will appear to escort you off. If you manage to survive that, the Gate itself is simply a giant tower near the River with the mechanism somewhere at the top and who-knows-what in between.”
Dorian takes a deep breath.
“So, that’s what we’ve got between us and the fame of being the greatest tricksters in the ‘Neath: the wrath of the Masters, the wrath of Hell, and the wrath of Mrs. Plenty. Personally I fear the last”