The curse has been broken! By that I mean the curse that kept me from playing with the rest of the group since September (which isn’t entirely fair, as in there we had the High Holy Days and our move to a new apt, but alongside days when it all seemed like it would work, then it didn’t). But that’s the past and last night I got to rejoin the crew of The Owl for the penultimate session of our Lady Blackbird game. (There have been two sessions since the Third Session linked above, but no reports have been written for those.)
The game started with a flashback to the moment when the crew of The Owl met Lady Blackbird and Naomi for the first time. Yes, we went for the trope and we actually met in a tavern called The Harping Monkey and we basically recreated the set-up of the moment when Luke and Obi-Wan meet Han Solo in Mos Eisley. It was a simple scene, full of loaded statements that alluded to situations we had already played through. At one point Rich actually flashed us forward to the present, to the crew atop the Owl as it nears a storm in the aether trying to get the savage elf-girl Briaria to not kill the pirate she has in a lock and knife pressed into his neck.*
Personally, I had little to add here; I was getting back into character with Kale and trying to get a grasp of our situation going forward. I put out two flags during this part, sending some stuff Rich’s way to see if he wants to run with it:
- When we first meet Lady Blackbird, she’s wearing a hood. The moment she takes it off and we see her face, I went pale and tense, muttering “Oh, shit” under my breath. I leaned over to Vance and said, “That’s Lady Blackbird. We have a big problem.” I stayed out of the fee conversation, except to demand that she double her very generous figure, though Vance actually lowered it for her.
- Atop the Owl, wind beating all around, when I take a look, my first look, at the savage elf-girl, I yell out, “Briaria, what the HELL do you think you’re doing!” The rest of that scene I acted it as if I knew to some extent this girl.
Whether either of these offers gets picked up, we’ll see. I’m personally far more interested in the first one. It actually ties to something else that happened right at the end.
Once inside the Owl with Briaria and the pirate, Torres, we split into two groups, with Naomi and Vance having a chat with elf-girl, while I went to get Torres patched up and fly the ship as fast as possible to the next stop, Nightport. It turns out that Torres and I know each other, and I ran with that. Our chat was short but full of neat nuggets, most important being the one where I asked, “Did you get the message out to Flint?” Now Torres was my accomplice, and suddenly the only one outside of the crew to know of our cargo and mission. We discussed our need for a pilot to navigate the last part of our voyage, and Vance eventually showed up to talk to Torres though only through me, even though they were standing not five feet apart. I chided Vance for letting the ship get out from under his control; “It’s your ship, man, so act like it.”
Here I had a good chance to get into Kale’s skin finally. He wasn’t the nervous Steve Buscemi-esque guy he’s been so far, but that was fine because the company was different (it’s with Lady Blackbird that he gets all tongue-tied). I didn’t quite catch the ramifications of bringing in Torres, an outsider, into knowledge of our secret cargo and mission, but it wouldn’t be long before I did. I also enjoy the moments when Vance and Kale get to trade quips; these two are best friends, and when Chuck plays Vance, even though I’ve actually never met him outside of the game, we click just great in how we portray the relationship between the two buddies.
A Bloody Nose (And More)
Upon reaching Nightport, we bid goodbye to Torres. I called in the return favor for having healed him after his encounter with Briaria, and asked him to lead his pirate crew away from us long enough for us to reach Flint and finish our mission; he agreed. Vance and I realized that we indeed needed a pilot so the search for one we could trust began in earnest. Meanwhile, Naomi decided that just having had this pirate on board was enough to suspect him of putting Lady Blackbird in danger, so she decided she was going to kill him. I as a player decided that I did not like that and would oppose her attempt, so after some back and forth figuring out how, we got to that scene. This is the point where things took a dark turn and Kale went from the Steve Buscemi above to this:
Naomi tracked Torres down to a house where he had been having a bit of a romp. As she was about to knock on the door to deal with the pirate, a thrown knife thunked into the door right where her hand would’ve been, courtesy of me. “What are you doing” I asked. She started with some babble about security and safety and Lady Blackbird and the pirate. I told her that she need not worry about him, and of course she could not believe that I would trust a pirate. Mind you, she doesn’t know for sure that Torres knows about the mission and was actually helping us, she’s just going on a barbarian’s hunch. But apparently she doesn’t trust me either, so what be done; she has issues. I told her flat out, “I’m gonna tell you something once and only once, so please pay attention.” She doesn’t. She starts blabbing about this and that and how she’s going to protect her charge and blah blah blah.
When she finally shut up, I just flat out told her, “Listen, if I wanted you captured, you would’ve been captured already. If I wanted you dead, you would be dead already. Can we both at least agree on that?” Simple question, right? Nooo, she has to start yappin’ again about honor and duty and a bunch of other bullshit I did not pay attention to. “Naomi, it’s a simple yes or no question. If I wanted you or Lady Blackbird captured or dead, that would’ve happened already. Yes or no?” More words other than yes or no start to pour out of her mouth. “Geez, you talk a lot for a fighter! Yes or no? That’s all I’m asking for, yes or no? Yes or no? YES OR NO!”
I guess I kinda asked for it. She just went berserk and bull-rushed me. I tried to weave out of the way, but damn, she was fast. (Mick rolled 14 dice and I rolled 12 – Mick beat me by 2 successes.) Naomi tackled me to the ground and started to lay into me with the fury of a wild beast. Punch, punch, punch, punch, punch, punch. Through the punches, through the ringing in my ears, through the thump of my head being slammed against the ground, I could hear her saying something about talking to her like that, that only two people could, blah blah Lady Blackbird. And that’s when I realized it. That’s when I started to laugh.
I guess this threw her off and she threw me off against the side of the building (from which Torres was now long gone). I just kept laughing, cause I finally understood Naomi, and she was so wrong about so many things. Through the swelling, through the falling teeth, through the blood in my mouth and the pain in my ribs every time I said a syllable, I told her so. I told her how deluded she was, how much of a fool she was. And then I gave her the key to it all. “And that Lady Blackbird you worship so much, she’s not the paragon of virtue you think she is. But you’ll find out soon enough.”
As she walked away, leaving me in a serious amount of hurt, I laughed once more, because I now had Naomi’s number, and thus, Lady Blackbird’s as well.
We called scene and session at this point, frankly all of us surprised the story had gone to such a dark place all of a sudden. No one had been planning on anything even like this, but it just emerged, which is fantastic when it happens organically in a game.
We have one more session planned to finish the game by the end of the year, so it will be very interesting to see how the saga of Lady Blackbird comes to a close.
* How we got to this point is something I only know second-hand. Briefly, we were “attacked” by pirates with whom we had made a deal to get info on the location of Pirate King Flint, and somehow this savage elf-girl that followed us from Nematron (session 3, above), since she’s starstruck with Naomi, killed a whole bunch of pirates thinking she was helping us, in turn souring the deal with the pirates and getting them now on our tail as well.