The House of the Fox
The heroes are on Tethys, having promised to help Sister Jenna Relari - an Amalthean - find the Mael Cup, a relic from the Age of Miracles that she believes will help cure a plague spreading among the Zuranist nomads of Malignatius. While she searches the archives in the Our Lady of the Weeping Blood Cathedral, however, the companions have several weeks to help a local Imperial administrator with a problem.
The Vice-Governor's Problem
The companions are invited to dinner by Lord Renton Hayes, the Hawkwood son of Baron Hayes of Delphi, who is a man in his late twenties posted as Vice-Governor for New Madrid. He explains that Emperor Alexius has asked him to help the Imperial Housing Authority clean up the Nuevo Madrid slums known as the Crawl, but that they have been experiencing opposition from the Scravers. This is perhaps not a surprise; Benita Ivankov, Senior Dean of the Scravers Guild, keeps her official residence on Tethys and the Ivankov family is one of the 'Three Sisters', the guilds who control much of the world.
Two months ago, a presumed Scraver hit team broke into the Imperial Housing Authority and killed half a dozen people, including the gangland execution of Rogier Madrid, the freeman Imperial Housing Administrator - and they took his prismium seal, used to seal official documents. Now, when the IHA tries to enforce fair living conditions and rents on Scraver-controlled housing, the Scravers are showing up with signed and sealed documents using the stolen seal.
Ordinarily, Lord Renton would just have to swallow this insult; the Scravers are powerful, and if he were to invalidate the seal they would be able to renegotiate every IHA contract and would succeed at legalizing their current usurious rents. The Scravers expect that their forged documents are merely the cost of doing business, though that cost comes at a high price indeed to the people of the Crawl.
However, the presence of the Emperor's new order of Questing Knights leaves Lord Renton asking if this is the sort of the problem inside their charter: normally, the people of the Crawl would lose, because they have no power, but the Questing Knights exist to protect the powerless. Sir Dario, mindful of this, agrees to look into the matter for Lord Renton.
Into The Crawl
The Crawl is as bad as Lord Renton made out. These people are not beggars and criminals, like in other slums; instead, they are the factory workers, and the Scravers Guild has made deals with the weaponsmithing guilds that their rents are payable directly to the Scravers, leaving the workers never seeing the coin and not having enough to feed their families.
Sir Dario buys several food carts to ease the suffering somewhat, and Father Domingo speaks to the Amalthean mission in the center of the Crawl, confirming the dire straits of these people - dire straits that the Empire is somewhat complacent in, as it is under Imperial seal that the direct payment of rents occurs.
More investigation reveals that the keeper of the stolen seal is probably in the Scraver-controlled city of Tulasca - a Pietr Ivankov, Chief Counsel for Tethys Affairs. Before the heroes head to Tulasca, Lord Renton gives them name of his Imperial Eye contact in the Scraver city, a Morticus Guild baker named Lucas Ledeaux.
Neon Lights of Tulasca
Tulasca is a city of vice; the heroes accept an invitation from Carmen Ivankov, Benita Ivankov's lieutenant, to stay in Kennedy House, the old Alecto palace said to date back to the First Republic. They meet her - a disagreeable woman - and Aurelia learns the location of Pietr Ivankov's offices, a public office in the East Wing and a private office above a Scraver striptease called the Tiger Club.
The companions meet Lucas Ledeaux, who tries to dissuade them from recovering the seal; he is concerned that Imperial action will anger the Scravers, and does not believe that it is in the Emperor's interests to pick a fight over some slums. Undaunted, the companions continue their investigations, as Aurelia searches for an entrance to the secret passages honeycombing the walls of the Kennedy House and Sir Dario, Father Domingo and Captain Ridek plant a bug in Pietr Ivankov's office.
Plans Are Formed
The bug reveals that Ivankov likely keeps the seal in some sort of secret office behind his private office, while Aurelia learns that the gangers in the Santos District - Blight Town - know of guarded entrances to the Kennedy House tunnel system. Aurelia and Captain Ridek go to meet some gangers; while Bernardo of the Santos Saints believes that she is a Scraver informant sent to test him, Darla of the Spiders parts with the location of the tunnel entrances for a few 'birds.
The companions return to Lucas Ledeaux, who again tries to talk them out of their plan. He admits that the Eye hasn't taken the slums issue seriously, and asks them to give him a few months to try to work out a solution. They refuse, and reluctantly he gives them directions to navigate the "Second Palace" of Kennedy House.
Into The Breach
Following the gangers instructions, the heroes find the entrance to the tunnels, guarded by two Scravers. Captain Ridek distracts them, acting drunk, and then the companions subdue them and gain entry into the Second Palace. Following the Imperial Eye instructions, they begin to quickly navigate the tunnels.
As they take a jog down a corridor, Captain Ridek is spotted by a Muster response team, who open fire on him after a failed attempt to deceive them. His shield drops under assault rifle fire, but as Aurelia, Father Domingo, Don Dario and Don Alejandro hurry back to help him the Muster are driven to a retreat under the assault of the companions' swords and hammers.
Eventually, the companions make it to Piotr Ivankov's office; Aurelia overrides the keypad on the door with some help from Sir Dario and then sets about cracking the safe in Ivankov's inner office as the heroes watch him have a conversation outside through one-way glass.
Piotr Ivankov then moves to enter the office; the brothers de Castro Salazar subdue him quickly, force him to open the safe, and then recover the seal, some coin, and a data crystal.
Some careful negotiation leads Piotr to order guards away from the companions' escape route while Sir Dario promises to return the data crystal once he is safely back in Nuevo Madrid, and the companions make their escape. As they lift off, they receive a communication from Carmen Ivankov, who is entirely unamused by the recovery of the disk: she suggests to Sir Dario that future interventions of this sort by the Questing Knights will not be tolerated by the Scravers.
After the conversation with Carmen is done, Lucas Ledeaux also contacts the heroes; upon learning about the data crystal, he expresses a desire to copy it. Sir Dario tells him he can't give it to the Eye, but intimates that he would look the other way if an Eye operative copied it under some ruse.
Landing at Nuevo Madrid, Sir Dario reneges on his vague promises to the Eye, taking Don Alejandro's advice that to help the Eye out would make this seem a political act, rather than something done to help the poor. He returns the data crystal to the Scravers, the seal to Lord Renton and the coin taken from Piotr Ivankov is given to the Amalthean mission as a donation in Piotr's name.
Several weeks later, Don Dario receives a handwritten note from Benita Ivankov herself: in a simple, flowing hand, it says "You get one for free. Benita."
- Lord Renton Hayes -- Vice-Governor of Tethys, Lord Renton is an honorable Hawkwood with a desire to make life better for the inhabitants of the Crawl but the chains of a political officeholder. He is vindicated at the end of the drama, having recovered his seal and helped the people of Nuevo Madrid.
- Carmen Ivankov -- Benita Ivankov's number two, Carmen is an icy woman and a Scraver consul. She is left upset at the end of the drama.
- Piotr Ivankov -- A shady advocate, Piotr is the Scravers' Chief Counsel for Tethys and a Scraver director. The events of the drama leave him not only upset but also damaged in prestige.
- Lucas Ledeaux -- An 'Old Guard' Imperial Eye field coordinator, Ledeaux is nomainally the manager of an industrial bakery for the Morticus Guild. He only reluctantly aids the heroes, and - with his cover in some danger - is likely to be reassigned following the drama.
- Sir Rolf Torenson -- A Torenson gadfly in Tulasca, Sir Rolf is in fact an Imperial Eye agent and was the heroes' contact on several occasions.