Motor City Breakdown

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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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.

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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 http://www.ancient-origins.net/myths-legends/woe-witches-elevated-flying-rowan-tree-004552flying 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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Chapter4
Fire & Rescue

Fleeing the scene of the Nain's burning safehouse, our heroes return to Mr Fixit and give him his cut of the takings from their scrapping. They mention their encounter with the Nain, whom Mr Fixit reveals was Calliope's Keeper. They debate whether to tell her or not, then ask what he meant by that comment earlier about them being Calliope's "new pets". He corrects himself, saying that he should have said "pet project," andconfides that Calliope is a crusader for change (some even call her a “social justice warrior”), and that the players are not the first group of people she’s tried to take under her wing and use to enact her vision for the freehold. She’s always going on about how they need to trust each other if they’re going to survive the “Great Fire” she keeps babbling on about, which she always says is “just around the corner”. Most changelings in Detroit ignore her like they’d ignore any idealist.

Rattling off a few names right off the top of his head, the players learn that they constitute Calliope's thirteenth attempt at mentoring one or more newly-escaped changelings. All of her other proteges have abandoned her crusade at some point, finding it hard to cling to her idealism in a city as fucked-up as Detroit.  They resolve to ask her about this later, though they're still not sure they should tell her that her Keeper's back in town. After cashing in their scrap metal, they go on a spending spree. Olga buys a Kevlar vest and gets a job as a bouncer at a strip club; Archibald also gets a job as a bartender in the same establishment, and Nemo gets a job waiting tables at a hipster restaurant downtown (he uses his earnings to buy a new suit for a small Social bonus). 

Calliope calls to tell them she's got a lead on an apartment for them: there's a fae landlord who rents rooms in a tenement house for Glamour and Tokens instead of money, which sounds like a good idea to our heroes. They pile into Calliope's van, and while driving to the place, mention that her Keeper is in town, and they met him and fought him. Calliope freaks out and has a mini panic attack, but they calm her down eventually.

When they arrive at they tenement, they discover that the building is on fire, and they almost run over a couple of teenagers running from the scene. Deciding to focus on saving lives instead of tracking them down, our heroes charge into the burning building and manage to get every single person out before the structure starts collapsing. They're all alive, but now they're dealing with a large population of newly homeless changelings and ensorcelled mortals, who have no money, no posessions, and nowhere to spend the night. 

But, as Calliope helpfully points out, everyone owes them their lives, and they've now got enough people that they could swear the oaths necessary to found new Courts and a new Freehold!

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Chapter 5
Seizing the Means of Production

After a few hours of searching, Bartholomew the Peregrine Falcon discovers a suitable "nest for many two-legses" which consists of an old hotel (Size 100) that’s about 80 years old, and been abandoned for 20. There’s a lot of plants growing on the lower levels, some water damage on the upper floors, and a ton of pigeons on the roof. Our heroes decide to investigate the hotel themselves, so they leave the refugees in a public park for a couple hours. It's the weekend, so they won't look too out-of-place (as long as they strengthen their Masks with a bit of Willpower).

Just because he likes tweaking his nose at the rules, Archibald decides to use his kith-blessing to glide all the way from the Detroit Hilton to the hotel they're going to investigate. What with the need to break out onto the roof, and the relative slowness of his gliding (walking speed), he arrives at roughly the same time as the rest of the motley (only Archie arrives in style, like a boss). There is basically zero chance that he wasn't seen (it's midmorning on a weekend), but the consequences for that action might not manifest for a while.

The hotel — which used to be called Wellington Place or the Seward Hotel — is absolutely covered in vines, up to the second or third floor in some places, making the whole building look like a gigantic topiary. Vlad and Archie climb the vines and break down the boards on the front door from the inside, letting everyone else in through the (formerly) boarded-up front door. The place is full of junk, spare parts, empty bottles, animal remains, dead leaves, and miscellaneous garbage. 

While exploring, Olga (?) notices that one of the refrigerator units behind the bar is still running. Curious, she opens it up and discovers what appears to be a complete and functional engine-block, made partly of metal and partly of viscera and other organic components. Clearly, someone or something is still living here; our heroes sense sense that they’re being watched. 

Catching glimpses of tiny, hunched humanoids, our heroes quickly realize that the former hotel is infested with gremlins! Olga attempts to win their loyalty with an ill-advised striptease (it doesn't work, though they do throw stuff at her when she stops). Nemo tries to see if he can get them to reveal more about what they're building: they tell him that they work for the Nain Rouge. Nemo asks what kind of pay he's giving them, and they confess (somewhat confusedly) that they don't actually remember ever agreeing on payment, exactly. Mostly his "awesome plans" just seemed like really funny/entertaining ones, so they all signed up to help him with his big project.

"Big project? What big project?" asks Nemo. The gremlins aren't sure (the Nain only gives them specs and offers feedback, he doesn't tell them how he's gonna use it), but they think he said he wanted it done by mid-August (which is just around the corner). Pressing for more details, our heroes discover that the Nain never actually promised to pay the gremlins for their assistance, he just promised to make them a part of his "awesome plans" for Detroit, for clearing it all out and “fixing” it from the ground up. (He did mention, though, that there'd be plenty of Glamour for them to feast on once he was done.)

Struck by inspiration, our heroes exhort the gremlins to rebel against their boss! With an exceptional success on their Persuasion roll, our heroes convince the gremlins to cast off their shackles and demolish the boiler that acts as the anchor for one of the Nain’s personal Trods (like the fiery path they glimpsed through the doorway when he stepped into the abandoned house). Hopefully this will lock him out of the building, at least for a little while.

The foreman, an older gremlin named Drillbit, says that "the body-guys" work somewhere else, at a different shop; this crew just handles engines for "the boss’ new ride." For the Woodward Dream Cruise? Yeah, the gremlins think so, that’s what it’s for. That’s when he wanted to debut it.

NEMO: “The Nain is no longer your boss, you’re your own bosses! If he shows up, tell us because we want to speak with him!

[close out with a 1980s fixing stuff up montage]

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Chapter 6

Following their removal of the Nain's personal Trod which opened into the basement of the Seward Hotel, our heroes moved the Blackburnite refugees into the abandoned hotel, at least as a form of temporary (if not ideal) shelter; while this was going on, Olga set up a "side-hustle" (i.e., a meth lab) in one of the hotel's outbuildings, and Nemo told Drillbit and the rest of the gremlins that the ultimate plan is to turn this place back into a 5-star hotel, which will give them all the money and glamour they'll need.

While Calliope helped the refugees settle in, the motley decided to split up for a few important errands: Vladimir and Archibald took the meat-engine for Mr Fixit to take a look at, while Olga and Nemo went to the Goblin Market for some much-needed supplies.

After overcoming his initial horror and distaste for the engine, Mr Fixit came back with Vlad and Archie to the Seward, and discovered that it has the capability to improve the handling and top-speed of any car or truck it's installed in, but it won't run on regular unleaded; it can only be powered by Glamour tinged with selfishness.

Lacking passports, Olga and Nemo had to cross a bridge over the [Burning River]] in the Hedge, which turned out the be guarded by a monstrous troll. Clarence (as the troll was called) developed a slight crush on Olga after she started twerking seductively, and accepted her bag of meth as payment. Once they arrived at Marsh-Catch, Olga purchased a gallowsfruit and a thumbtack that can be driven into metal as easily as cork, while Nemo bought some Goblin Fruit seeds (near-identical nightcap and buglewort,l see Changeling: The Lost pg 224) and a pet Hobgoblin (a sabertooth moose-lion cub which may or may not wind up in his cookpot). 

Almost as soon as they arrived back at the Seward Hotel, an angry roaring-rumble began to fill the air. Within seconds the [[Nain Rouge]] appeared around a corner, driving a customized hot-rod made of partially organic components (similar to the engine that Mr Fixit had just examined.  Accompanying the Nain on customized demonic choppers were the notorious Privateers [[Bert & Ernie]], both with nasty-looking grins on their faces. Screeching to a halt in front of the hotel (leaving a trail of bubbling black tar from his tires), the Nain, apoplectic with rage, demanded to know how the motley had turned his gremlin-servants against him and what they had done with the engine they were building for him.

Despite the Nain's furious questioning, the presence of twin cans of gasoline in Bert and Ernie's fists suggests that he may not have come to parley after all…

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