Motor City Breakdown

Chapter 3

A-scrapping we will go

Lacking money, our heroes decide to go scrapping (i.e. illegal metal salvage) and see what they can earn for themselves. Calliope directs them to a guy she knows, an itinerant repairman known only as "Mr Fixit." They meet up with him beside an abandoned hardware shop, and tell him that Calliope sent them.

"Oh, so y'all her new pets, huh?" he asks. When they ask what he means by "pets," he tells them that he should have said "pet-projects". Calliope is well-known as a crusader for social justice in Detroit, but this makes her something of an object of ridicule (and even scorn) among the hardened, cynical changelings of the Motor City. The players aren't the first motley she's taken under her wing, not by a long shot.

Mr Fixit offers to give them a few tips on scrapping safety, what kinds of metal are the most valuable, and which scrapyards don't ask too many questions, in exchange for a small cut of their earnings. Our heroes agree, and the Pledge is sealed with a handshake. 

Their first job takes them to an abandoned school, where they find a few useful odds and ends (an old tarp, a book of matches, a wooden spoon which just happens to be made of rowan). Next they case an old hardware store, where their search produces something truly useful: a cast-iron frying pan! Finally they decide to try one last building, a two-story Victorian home decorated with carved wooden moldings commonly known as "gingerbread". 

The PCs can see that the house appears to be in good condition, except for a badly burned room on the second floor, which is open to the sky like a gaping head-wound, though they can't see in from the street. Sneaking in through the basement windows in back, they discover a cellar full of oily rags, and a first floor filled with rotting food, empty beer bottles, and an appalling collection of garbage and human waste. Making their way to the second floor, they open the door to the burned room, revealing three charred human bodies: homeless squatters who didn't make it out in time. 

Just as they're feeling anxious and deciding to leave, another door opens and a red-skinned little man steps out of the burning Hedge and into the hallway, blinking at them with surprise which rapidly turns to a wicked grin. "Neeble, neeble, leetel mouse, 'Oo eez neebling at my 'ouse?" he asks in a singsong, French-accented voice. The PCs insist that they were just leaving, sorry to bother him, but the little man is suddenly angry, calling them house-breakers and burgluars, clearly attempting to ransack his home, the noble home of "Le Nain Rouge, le Marquise Brûlant" (the Red Dwarf, the Burnt Marquis) and threaten his servants (he seems to be referring to the obviously-dead homeless people in the next room as if they were still alive). Tossing his cigarette down the ventilation shaft, he charges them with a broken bottle, as the building begins to fill with noxious smoke.

After a few turns, the Nain decides he'd rather do this at a later date, on his own terms, and leaves the PCs (and his house) to burn. The PCs decide to high-tail it out of the building while they still can; just as they're leaving, the look back at the burning house, and swear that for a moment they can see a laughing devilish face appear in the rising column of smoke.



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