I’d recommend you buckle up, as I wrote a lot.
At first, you find only the trail of devastation Jenny has left. Starstruck people around Arbor sing her praises. You trawl bars and taverns, but it is only when you look across the fields of grass that you see her. She pats the grass besides her, and smiles, for once uncertainly. “Honestly, petal, I’m not sure what I can do with…” She gestures all around her. “… this. The Mother Superior once spoke of this place, and of its uses. But I wasn’t really paying attention then, was I? I could have used that knowledge now. But still, London can benefit from Arbor. That much, I’m sure of.”
Her Roseate Splendour speaks. “We believe your influence would be invaluable. And we know of your friends- the Order, which is old indeed. Do they still fight under the Rose and Ankh?”
Jenny smiles and nods. “Perhaps. I have gone on to other fights. One more challenging- London itself.”
The Queen nods. “And as Ambassador, we can help you, and you us. Secrets, influence- all dirty tools of a pure mission.”
(Two versions here)
Jenny invites you to her Mayoral office. She walks with you to the balcony overlooking London. “Thank you for your help, with-” She gestures to the city below “-helping London. We have a lot more to do, but I’m certain you’ll be with me all the way. And besides, I wish to give you something, for all the work you’ve done.”
Jenny lays a small box on the table, and carefully opens it. Laying on velvet is a rosary, black as midnight and inlaid with a muted shining stone. “My old rosary. Of course, what is old can become new again.” She taps the stone with a smile.
You look into the stone, and feel respect rise in you. “I call it the Light of London.” Jenny says. “A special piece of scintillack I found, long ago. It reminds me of a long ago kindness… but for now, people who see it will think more highly of you.” You lift it gently from the box, careful not to touch the spikes.
The stone is covered in some cloudy layers, but underneath it all, it shines with a pure interior. For a moment, you see a young nun helping a quivering, wounded mass of spikes, and a shining stone it left behind, before the vision dissipates.
Even those who do not see it seem to appreciate your presence more. Look past its dark layers and into the shining center, and you believe you can make a brighter future. Much like its former owner.
Persuasive +20, Respectable +2
Jenny opens a box, and lifts out two pieces of fabric. “Hushed Spidersilk and Bombazine.” She says proudly. “Watch.” She wraps them around her forearms, then stamps the ground. The sound of her footfall is muted. Then, she runs a finger along the edge. “A little wire in here, too. It might have been from that incident with that senior devil. Might not.” She winks at you. “And last, but not least, put it on, for its best feature.”
You wind the fabric on your arms, and hear whispering. “It remembers the secrets people don’t want you to. It was the way I funded my campaign. Be careful with how, and where, you use it.”
She pauses. "I regret that my campaign’s beginning needed these. But sometimes, good is best done through evil acts."
With these wrapped around your forearms, you pass as silently as a wraith. And when you meet obstacles, you can use the secrets it whispers, or if necessary, the garrote wire hidden in it. These may or may not be what Jenny used on a certain senior devil, long ago…
Shadowy +20, Dreaded +2
You find Arbor talking excitedly of the Bishop, and his thundering oration to them. However, you find him sitting in the fields of Arbor, alone. His eyes are fixed, unseeing, into the distance. He runs his hands over the grass, almost in worry. As you sit next to him, you gently grab his hand to still it. He turns to you. “Ah. Sit, please.”
He returns his gaze to the endless fields. “I have always wanted what is good for London. But I must balance justice as well. Whatever I do here today, I will work to that end.” You see, in the far distance, where the Bishop is looking, a single rose, watching silently over the field.
The Queen speaks. “Ah, the Bishop. I believe you left quite the impression on Arbor.”
She looks between you both. “You have those that speak of you highly here.”
If you have Hellfarer: With Cleansing Blade
The Bishop nods to her. “Our friend here knows who you speak of.”
She turns her gaze to you. “I wish you would turn the Bishop from his path. But I understand you are people of principle. I just caution you to think of London. And perhaps, Bishop, we can absolve you of the cost of your alliance.”
The Bishop nods. “It would be unwise to speak of them now. But we both serve them.”
The Queen nods with sadness. “I ask you to reconsider what you will do. But at the least, you can help us, and help London.”
The Bishop meets you in a dark back room of Southwark Cathedral. “I have a gift for you.” He pulls out a copy of St. Cyriac’s Exceptionally New Testament. “No, it’s not religion. Though I would, of course, recommend turning from your sinning ways! Here.” He opens it to the back, where pages of unfilled paper lie. “Write a question, and it will be answered.”
Your pen should write in black ink, but it leaves swirling viric writing across the page. As you finish the question, a sweet vapor enters the air. Sunbeams stream into the room from the window, and a creeping vine twines on its surface. You feel the Bishop vanish, and something colder take his place. With a hissing voice that is not his, he answers your question.
You jolt awake, feeling your face resting on the book’s pages. The Bishop gently helps you to your feet, his voice quiet. “I obtained this at great cost to myself. For you, I have no wish of you following in my steps. So, here, for once, knowledge at little cost.”
The Bishop’s New Testament
In the blank back pages, you write your questions in twining viric, and sleep brings you answers. Sometimes, the letters move, like rustling vines, or serpents. Some pages speak of a war, and a saint who martyred themselves to win it.
Watchful +20, Respectable +2
The townspeople are gathered in a circle, cheering jubilantly. You hear a meaty thwack. Of course, Feducci has already started a duel. You weave to the front of the crowd, as Feducci blocks a slash from his opponent, and takes the opportunity to hook the man’s knee with his foot. Feducci twirls behind the man and pushes him to his knees, his sword at his throat. With that, Feducci bows to the cheers and applause of the crowd, and takes his leave.
You follow him to a rooftop, where he looks out to a distant light in the distance. “I pilgrimaged here, once. In the flesh.” He rests the tip of his lance against the ground. “There were many that followed me. They met their ends in my company, try as I might to save them. Perhaps, had we immortality…” He points to the distance. “By what right should the Presbyterate hold death? By might? Then we shall be mighty.”
The Queen speaks. “Ah, Feducci. We have missed your sharp weapons and sharper wit.”
Feducci bows deeply. “And I have missed Arbor. And indeed, the rest of my home.”
The Queen nods. “I know of your higher ambitions, Feducci. We cannot help you there, though my masters would approve. However, our loyalty to the Prestyer, on the other hand…”
You already know what it is.
The Campaigner conducts a steely tour of Arbor. Her manner is warm but firm. She is decorous in her questions of the locals, though you can sense wonderment underneath it. She carefully avoids the bars, and passing judgement on those within.
Eventually, she retires to the back of a bookshop. She frowns at the pages, but looks up when you enter. “Welcome! I was just curious. I had a friend, Mar- John, who said you can’t read in dreams. Turns out he was right.” She looks around.
“I haven’t walked through dreams before.” The Campaigner looks troubled. “It is like paradise…” then softer still, “I don’t wish to deny it to the suffering. But shouldn’t we must make paradise around us, not find it at the bottom of a honey jar?”
A Temperance Manager calls upon you for a meeting in her office. “She’s coming to meet us. Oh dear god. And she’s bringing the first edition of that book”. Both of you steel yourselves with tea and stiff upper lips, and turn, trembling, to the door.
A polite rapping comes at the door, which the Manager responds with a “come in”. The Campaigner enters, followed by two Clay Men in suits of impeccable cut. The Clay Men drop a massive book on the table. The table bends, and all of three of you quietly pray that the table will not break and you will all walk away with your legs intact.
The Campaigner steeples her fingers and smiles with steely resolve. “I don’t think we will begin at page one, as you already know quite a bit. This is my magnum opus to temperance.” Indeed. 500 pages, of how to deal with ruffians and disreputable poets. How to annoy corrupt honey dealers into pleading for arrest by constables. Or what to do when dealing with the honey-mazed (throw the book and run. After all, if it cannot stop them, nothing can). Your fingers tremble as you turn to page three…
The First Edition of the Campaigner’s Temperance Procedures
Pages upon pages of hard won campaigning knowledge, thick enough to block bullets. At the end of each reading, you arise with the book, and use it as an enduring sword of logic. You have even learned what to do in the most drastic of situations: when someone sends a boxed cat in your name.
Persuasive +20, Respectable +2, Dangerous +3
The Detective conducts curt interrogations of everyone about Arbor, and how you would reach it in the real world. Many of them do not know, and soon the Detective leaves them for a knoll on the outskirts.
She sits, and look off into the distance towards the South, where light shines. You sit next to her. The Detective nods to you. “I have missed my home.”
“Soon, if we-” She holds up a badge of a golden apple “-are successful, I may return… and then, I have obligations to fulfill.” She turns her eyes uphill, to a glass house. “We best be going. The Queen may be patient, but her masters are not.”
The Queen speaks. “Welcome home, Detective.”
The Detective smiles at this. “I hope when I return, in the flesh, it will be under happier circumstances. I have debts to fulfill.”
The Queen nods. “Perhaps, as Ambassador, we may free you from them.”
The Detective meets you in an office in Concord Square. She rolls up the paper she was reading, and slides a magnifying glass towards you. It’s hilt is made of blued steel, and silver vines and snakes twist around the curve of the lens. “I have a case. An officer is meeting with Blue Jack in Spite, and I need proof to catch both in the act.” She points to the magnifying glass. “This can help you.”
You both trail the officer from Ladybones, through Veilgarden, then to Spite. When you lose him, the Detective smiles at the magnifying glass. “Use it.” She says. As you peer through the glass, you see a green trail rise on the streets. You follow it to a rookery, where you see the officer discreetly rummage through a dead drop, and pull out a sheaf of Echoes and a paper. The Detective points to your magnifying glass again. “Point it at the officer, and tap the glass.” She says. You do so, and it glows white. When the man leaves, she puts on gloves, and takes the discarded box with her. “Alright, we have enough.”
When you return to her office, she carefully sets down the box. “With luck, it’ll have his fingerprints, and Blue Jack’s as well. The Bertillon system may be on its way out.”
“As for our second piece of equipment…” she pulls out a piece of paper, and presses the lens of the magnifying glass down. A hissing noise like steam rises, and it brands a photograph of the corrupt officer taking the dead drop near the rookery onto the page. “A tool of the future of detective work and surveillance.” The Detective says. “And in reward for your help, it is now yours.”
You weigh it, and its possibilities, in your palm.
The Detective’s Eye
A tool for faultless surveillance, and avoiding it. Criminal and constable alike wonder how you see their sins, but avoid their path. With the help of this magnifying glass, of course. Not that you would tell them that. But the more important question is, why does London bask in sunlight behind its glass? Or the engraved serpents move when you take photographs with it?
Shadowy +20, Dreaded +2
The Princess sweeps the town with an air of boredom. Many, however, are blind to this, and soon she has assembled a coterie of admirers. Soon, however, she dismisses them, and heads away to a sheltered grove. As you approach, you hear laughter. The Princess is waltzing with an older man, while ten others look on, talking happily. The older man clasps hands with another woman, and they turn towards a mirror. That man is the Consort! The others around him are the Empress, and from what you know of them, appear to be the royal children.
The Captivating Princess glares at you, before raising her hand in a crimson flash. Crimson spots flare in your eyes, and then your vision blackens. Just behind her, as the family enters the mirror, you see quills rise behind the glass.
When you wake, the Princess has rested your head on moss. She keeps her hands in her pockets. As she hears you wake, she turns to you, and sighs. “I’ve seen it all before. Nothing new really happens to me, does it?”
The Queen shifts uncomfortably on her throne as she speaks. “Your knowledge of Parabola is unrivaled in London, as is your reputation.” She, as with the rest of her cabinet, looks uncomfortable.
The Princess curtseys. “Your Majesty, if I may ask, I would like your ministers to leave.” The Queen says nothing. The Princess raises a hand. Crimson blooms on her fingertips, and the court looks shocked. However, the Princess rests her hand as if she has changed her mind, and instead speaks. “We have a witness, and the word of two monarchs. After all, then, what is their purpose in seeing my appointment?” The Queen nods, and the courtiers leave.
“Sometimes, persuading someone through words, not force, can serve you well.” The Queen says. “I appoint you as Ambassador to London. You are now welcome in both my court and your quieter one.”
The Captivating Princess takes you by the hand, and walks with you to an extravagant crimson room. “This was once a prison for enemies of the state. I had it refurbished, for guests of mine.” You muse that there really isn’t a difference between the two. She opens a cabinet, stands in it, and gestures for you to do the same. Then she stomps on the paneling, and it lurches forward, depositing you both in a dark room. You desperately hope you haven’t displeased the Princess, for, while you can barely see them, this room appears to be full of unpleasant objects.
The Princess strides through the darkness as if she can see perfectly, and picks up a beautiful dagger, gently resting her thumb on its edge. “Sometimes, when I use honey, I find memories I dislike.” She taps the square ruby inlaid in the hilt. “Of course, they are still useful… so I put them here. I wonder… are they still potent?” She presses her thumb down on the point. In the crimson light, you see her arm briefly spasm from thumb to forearm. The Princess seems unaffected. “Yes. Yes, they still are.” She spins, and plunges the dagger tip just barely under the surface of your skin.
You hold still, trying to prevent your left arm from splitting. The Russian cavalryman turns around, and raises his saber for another swing-
This is not Crimea. And this is not your memory. The burn of what was your nearly severed arm fades, as does the sounds of battle and the dying, till you are back in the Shuttered Palace.
“Exquisite, isn’t it?” The Princess says. The dungeon pulses with crimson. Where is that light coming from? “Enjoy it.” Her eyes blaze red as she meets yours.
As she guides you to the exit, you look back. For a moment, you see a skull laying in the dark, the rest of its body hidden by a suit hidden by a suit of last year’s fashions. You turn your gaze back forward.
The Princess’ Incarnadine Dagger
Blood red venom flows along the blade, from a jewel of stoppered madness in its hilt.
It is beautiful, and if you know the truth about it, uniquely horrible. Just like the Princess.
Dangerous +20, Dreaded +2
Slowcake’s Amanuensis is chatting to a group in Arbor’s center, explaining what Slowcake’s Exceptionals is. Someone suggests he expand to Arbor, and the Amanuensis demurs. “I like to elevate notable souls of a more substantive nature.” He says. “After all, we’re all in a dream, unfortunately…”
When he leaves, you corner him in an alley, and ask him why the real Mr. Slowcake is. Surely he can meet you in a dream, at least?
“Ah, he… he has insomnia, my friend. That must explain why he is not here. Perhaps I was chosen in his stead?” You sigh at Mr. Slowcake’s perpetual absence. The man mutters under his breath that his master hasn’t dreamed since he fled behind the glass. When he realizes you are staring, he perks up. “Anyway, we have an appointment to keep, and if anything keeps you in the powerful’s good graces, it is punctuality.”
The Queen speaks. “My apologies.” She gestures to a courtier and whispers back and forth with him. “I understand Mr. Slowcake is unable to make it.”
The Amanuensis nods.
“Well, we need him to be present. I believe that’s one of his major handicaps.” She says icily.
“Unfortunately, that might be… hard.” The Amanuensis says timidly.
“So unfortunate London elected someone they’ve never seen.” She shakes her head. “I know who you represent, and while we disapprove, the ambassadorship still stands. You will serve in his stead. That infernal fop you call Mr. Slowcake would be unsuited for the position anyway.”
“Ah, my master is possessed of many skills, your Majesty, and I feel your representation of him may be inaccurate…”
She gives him a withering glance. “Then let him show up to defend his own reputation. If he is incapable of that, I do not believe he should be Ambassador.”
The Amanuensis falls silent at this.
Mr. Slowcake calls upon you, this time to his personal mansion. In Hell. Oh dear. You meet with a devil appointed to manage your journey. “I have arranged for you a diplomatic car for your journey.” He says with a smile. “And of course, the ticket is two way. Now you can tell your friends you have been to Hell and back.”
You are blindfolded during your descent through the Brass Embassy to the waiting locomotive. However, the luxury of its interior makes up for your uncomfortable journey. And there’s even devils and devilesses, the ambassadors, you presume, to speak with.
You reach the stop. Mr. Slowcake’s mansion rises from the crimson mist. As you walk to it, a gardener devil leads you to the house. Poppies, gorse, and more muscular plants crowd the lawn in neat rows. You are shown to Mr. Slowcake’s study. The man himself is there, back turned towards the massive window. The Amanuensis is at his side. Mr. Slowcake turns. His features are hidden behind an ornate mask, a great coat with a fur collar, and a top hat. Where you might see skin, you only see darkness. His pale blue eyes meet your own.
“Ah, you are the one my Amanuensis speaks of so highly. Considering all that you have done for us, I think I have a problem which you can solve.” His sonorous voice stops, as his face slumps. His clothing, mask, and hat collapses to the floor, empty. Two blue stones, his former eyes, lay on them.
Yet his voice continues. “We want Mr. Slowcake to walk the streets of London, and assuage the concerns of his constituents. And of course, equalize London and her souls. All we need you to do is put take up our mantle.”
You put on the greatcoat and mask. A sonorous buzzing hums around you in the clothing. The Amanuensis bows to you. “All we need now,” he says, “is a small modification to your postage.”
That morning, a package arrives on your doorstep. First, there are instructions. You must consign your old mask to the Embassy. Then an infernal contract. And finally, seven ornate masks sit. You pick one made of leather (hopefully not of the anthropological sort), and slowly put it in your face. You felt it shift to fit your face.
You look to the streets where London waits, and blow a kiss. Your mask releases a puff of gaseous honey, as something small and fuzzy moves by your cheek, and settles back into your coat. There is a lot to be done, and a city to perform for.
The Face of Mr. Slowcake
And the general clothing of his persona. When you wear it, you find you speak with a resonant voice that is not your own. You walk with crimson flourishes of vapor, blow kisses of mesmerizing prisoner’s honey. London can only speculate who this rising star is, and if it is truly you. The mask may change every day, but the person behind it does not.
Persuasive +20, Bizarre +2
A Delivery from Mr. Slowcake
More accurately, one could say it is Mr. Slowcake. The mask may change every day, but the person behind it does not. When you put it on and stalk the streets of London, you walk with crimson flourishes of vapor, blow kisses of mesmerizing prisoner’s honey. You speak with a resonant voice that is not your own. London can only speculate who this rising star is, and if it is truly you.
Persuasive +20, Bizarre +2
Jenny’s Rosary has a piece of scintillack with a memory of kindness in it, and people who see it are unconsciously disposed to think of you as better because of it. (Added a little non canon backstory)
The Whisperers are hushed spidersilk arm wraps, like the shoes that take your words when you wear them. They whisper secrets they overhear to you, and eat the sound you make.
The Bishop’s New Testament brings you a dream and a Fingerking that will answer your questions.
The Campaigner’s Procedures is more mundane than the others, but you gain dangerous from how damn heavy it is, as you can use it as an impromptu weapon. And for weightlifting, of course.
The Incarnadine Dagger has red honey along its blade, specifically very awful memories. Cutting someone with it will hurt them more than just physically, but mentally as well.
Mr. Slowcake’s identity does not solely rely on you, as it has several bees in its coat and mask. They release Prisoner’s Honey where you go, which affects people’s thinking to make you more persuasive. And the fancy masks and air of mystery. do help as well.