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.

Chapter 2
Room and Board

As the sun rises on a hot and muggy Detroit, Calliope offers to drive the protagonists to a temporary safe-house (of sorts). She has a connection with the abbot of the Capuchin Soup Kitchen, whom she has ensorcelled, and who offers slightly greater aid to changelings in need of help. When they arrive, Father Esteban (a.k.a. "the Padre") offers to let them stay for up to a week, as long as they Pledge to A) not harvest Glamour from his priests or his parishioners, and B) refrain from all forms of violence on his premises. The protagonists agree to his terms, and Calliope goes off to her job at a mechanic's garage.

After licking their wounds and cleaning themselves up, the protagonists decide to split up and take care of some business. Nemo, the blooming youth, decides to get some clothes from the nearest thrift shop, but lacking money, he tries to steal them instead, and is accosted by a security guard. He flees the scene with the clothes in hand, and changes into them en route to the soup kitchen. 

Meanwhile, Olga the Ogress decides to take a walk and familiarize herself with the area. While walking she encounters a pair of belligerent Summer courtiers who demand to know where her allegiances lie. She refuses to cooperate, and tries to take their gun, which prompts them to shoot her in the stomach and then flee the scene in their car. The wound turns out to be only a glancing blow, but when they tell Calliope about it, she wonders aloud what Summer courtiers were doing in what is nominally the Winter Court's turf.

Chapter 1
Flight and Fight

Our scene begins as four newly-escaped changelings flee Arcadia and their respective Keepers, meeting up somewhere in the Hedge not far from Detroit, Michigan (to whence they are all attempting to return). Some have been away for years, while others believe that they have spent very little time in captivity.

Stumbling through the Thorns, they emerge before one another in a clearing, and take in each others' strange appearance: an enormous, bestial man clad in rough rags; a homely woman composed of stone and crystals; a slight, birdlike man with large, watchful eyes; and a beautiful young man in whose footsteps flowers bloom riotously. They introduce themselves to one another, and ask each other if they know the way back home.

Suddenly, the blast of a hunting horn rends the air: Privateers are on their trail! The protagonists flee, urged on by the baying of the Privateers' hounds. As they run, they notice that the Hedge cannot decide which time of year to represent: different areas, some only feet apart, bear the trappings of completely opposite seasons. Vladimir (the giant) accidentally steps on a nest of Greenjackets, and is stung by their hallucinogenic venom.

Fleeing the Greenjackets, the protagonists soon stumble into a large open space, in which they come upon a young female changeling (who resembles nothing so much as a humanoid phoenix) in the midst of harvesting Goblin Fruit. She tells them to dive into a nearby pond and not to emerge until she pulls them out. Activating an unknown Contract, she wreaths herself in flames and makes short work of the pursuing swarm. Before they can rest, the baying of the hounds is renewed, and the young woman (who calls herself Calliope) tells them to follow her, that she knows a way out of the Hedge.

Calliope leads them to an old tree; diving through a hollow in its trunk, they emerge in an abandoned, boarded-up house in Detroit—except for the blooming young man, who stays behind to challenge their pursuers, and in so doing learns their names: Bert and Ernie, an avian Beast and a porcine Ogre, respectively. Seeking to prevent the Privateers from following them, the protagonists "borrow" some nearby demolition equipment and destroy the entire structure they just emerged from (after the blooming one has rejoined them), effectively preventing any attempt by the Privateers to follow them.

Taking a moment to catch her breath, Calliope remembers to welcome the protagonists to Detroit. Only time will tell what kind of welcome-wagon rolls up to greet them.


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