and introducing Carol Turpentine
After Avocado notices a distinct lack of death by poison, they head for the Morning Hearing and begin sending meetings requests about. They receive and a few and get a few accepted. Aylin rejects one from the vampire hunter Kestia Darkbane, who possesses the Cloak of Hawin, and who Aylin revealed her condition to unwittingly. The hearing begins, and the team spots a familiar figure: Armando Salazar, the AZT operative who outbid them on a Tarot card in DC, and who seems to be the head of many of their mystical secret projects. He is here with the Coatepetl faction, which seems to be an AZT front or affiliate. They seem to be aiming for alignment with the more freedom-seeking factions.
After a few other its of Court business, and the team being unable to figure out how to access the balconies in a dignified fashion, Harlequin appears and challenges the Queen to a duel, on behalf of his lady love. The team stands back a bit in the peanut gallery to stay out of the way, as the Queen gestures her champion Serrin Sol to stand down, allowing her advisor Alachia to fight on her behalf. Sol seems annoyed. Alachia wins the very intense duel, severing one of H’s ears, which the Queen says will be an excellent addition to her arcana. H is imprisoned in the dungeons, as agreed in the terms of the duel.
After this excitement, the trial of Duke Flowerpot is again delayed, and the Court disperses to lunch. Test heads straight to the libraries with Hotkey, and discover the 2nd World origins of the Seed and the Prime Passion- they get a few more terms to research further, but seem to have confirmed the connection to a level to satisfy the IOND. Test decides to attempt to pass a message through the Resonance Realms via reverse-engineering the skimming process by accessing another Null Node.
Teeth and Avocado head to a mid-tier luncheon focused on magical prowess, and Avo manages to secure some invites to Banquets for the team for the evening, but Teeth bungles the social end. Aylin heads to the Labyrinth to follow up on the the mysterious note from the day before, and following the hints, meets with the Neo-Anarchist Old Crow, who dispenses with Court customs for a clear discussion but says they can’t meet in public. He needs a team to help with a jailbreak and to investigate the BL’s attempts to gain a foothold at Court. The rest of the team does some Library digging on Factions, and finds out a lot.
6 Cyl and Kinnie head down to Gilik’s for lunch, and find the dwarven crime boss’ spot with humbling entrance, as advertised. After crawling in through the low door, they ascend the levels, and eventually are summoned to a meeting with Gilik himself, who seems excited to have some foreign criminals to use for some various tasks. He removes 6 Cyl’s peace bonds in exchange for a Munera debt, and gives them a task list. The team then splits off to the various teas they’ve arranged. Test remains at the Library, deep in his research.
Aylin meets with Thisbe Sorrel, and sees Salazar leaving as she arrives. Thisbe seems to be rapidly progressing through a pregnancy as they converse, and shares some quite lovely blood that Salazar brought with Aylin. They discuss the issue of Aylin’s mom while Aylin tries to do some subtle digging into what Thisbe is up to, overall (as promised to Tivta, who seems to also have a history here). Thisbe seems to know a lot about most things, and they arrange to meet again soon for a ritual, once Aylin finds a sizable amount of blood.
The rest of the team goes to a tea with Secundus Gabriella di Rosario and her daughters, the leaders of the Magician faction. In exchange for info and light mind-reading about the 9 Gates book from 6 Cyl, Secundus brews a potion to cure Avo’s poison. She also agrees to meet further with 6 Cyl, seemingly excited to find a fellow obsessive alchemist. The team reconvenes and debriefs, before splitting off into solo and group expeditions to all 4 of the Banquets to which they’ve received invitations.
Hotkey attends a Feast of the Fallen, and finds out some Court mysteries and histories, and makes the acquaintance of Lord Serrin Sol. He gets prodded a little bit about what the team’s up to, and gets a not so subtle warning to not hack the Coimediai, but also gets some info on that network. Kinnie goes to an Ember Banquet at Gilik’s, and makes contact with the Zhigul Makers, making a deal to do some craft work for them in exchange for workspace and materials. 6 Cyl heads back to the suite after a library visit focussed on upping his alchemical knowledge after the meeting with Secundus.
Aylin and Test attend a Trickster’s Ball, and makes some connections with some Court agitators, and Test also impresses Rooster by instigating a dance off between Rooster and the Court Jester (on behalf of Alachia, who seemed to be attending aggressively as a comment on her victory in the morning’s duel). Aylin learns a bit about Tarot and other prophesy stuff from a spirit named Portent. Teeth and Avocado attend the Silk Truffles, with Avo accidentally inventing, and then claiming credit for, a new fashion trend- dressing well alongside a poorly dressed companion, to accentuate one’s own fashion. He sells this idea to Riva Dhillon, seemingly a Court influencer. They also make the acquaintance of Ashokasunari Rai, a Court detective under Serrin Sol, who also seems interested in the activities of the Emperor Hak Jin, who the team is meant to investigate for Catondarez.
They meet up afterwards and debrief about all they found out, and decide based on Aylin’s fortune of danger closing in to try to find blood for Lady Thisbe’s ritual. They head to the labyrinth to see if there’s any fresh bodies stacked outside, and find the gristly remains of Teeth! The person who they thought was Teeth bursts open in a blood explosion, revealing Aylin’s mom, Patricia, the Blood Shade. They get in a pretty brutal fight before she sends them all fleeing in fear, but before she can start picking them off, a traveller named Carol Turpentine steps around the corner and blasts her in the back. Wounded, she flees into the Labyrinth with a final taunt to Aylin.
The team gathers up Teeth’s blood as best they can, and delivers it to Thisbe’s daughter Edselia, who was told to expect it. They then head back to the suite, and try to figure out who this Carol person is and if they can trust him. They figure out that they are both sponsored by individuals within the Eclipse faction, but that Carol is better connected, and more adept at crossing to and fro. They agree to work together for the time, since blood shades are notoriously vengeful, and Carol has likely attracted her ire with his actions. They decide not to travel alone any longer, as they assume Teeth must have gotten replaced during one of his many solo jaunts to the libraries.