34. Second Week of Sacrilegion

Copyright 2001 by Scott Kelley
Artwork copyright 2001 by
Vicki Hood.
Additonal artwork copyright
Martin Prokopiak & Scott Kelley
Articles copyright to listed author.
Faction Extraction Editor
Arafel. Advertising Director Constantine Markides
Assistant editor
Kina Thackray.

Exclusive!

GANGS RULE LOWER WARD
by Maija Intwood

Sigil (Lower Ward) -- Fear has taken hold of the residents in the Lower Ward as a plague of arsons, robberies and murders have swept through the ward. Local bashers blame the violence on turf wars among a collection of highly organized gangs who are taking over the ward bit by nasty bit. Business owners report extortion on a daily basis, sometimes from more than one gang, and say the Harmonium ignore their pleas for help. Mothers say they are afraid to let their children out to play in the local parks for fear they will be kidnapped and sold to fiends out the nearest portal, and priests of celestial powers bemoan the demoralizing effect this gang activity has had on their flocks.

Of course, the Lower Ward has never been a very congenial place. For hundreds of years all sorts of thieves guilds have kipped-up in the ward, and the fact that the ward is home to the Styx Oarsman (a tavern fit only for fiends) says a lot about the place. For the most part, however, the ward's knights of the post have kept a low profile, using the ward as a hiding place where they can store and sell goods pilfered from the high-ups on the Lady's Ward. The weak presence of the Harmonium in the ward makes it an ideal place to hide and do some dirty business under the black smoke of the belching Foundry.

Now it seems that the tides have shifted and the low undercurrent of thievery has become a raging flood of lawlessness and gang warfare. According to local graybeard historians, this shift occurred recently as some rather notorious gangs from the Outlands gate-town of Torch moved into Sigil. Jernot Mernau, a bariaur expert on the Outlands, said the situation began when a Torch gang known as the Weez relocated in the Lower Ward. "These Weez bashers are the meanest little pikers you every want to meet," said Merriau. "They got the name 'Weez' kind of as a joke, though these bashers are nothing to laugh at. The name 'Weez' came from 'wee', cause they are all small, and 'wheeze' cause they all puff stinky tobacco. The three conditions for getting into the Weez: you stand less than 4 foot 5, you smoke like a chimney, and you are the meanest son of a b---h in your clan." Merriau said the Weez hang out in a Lower Ward bar built by an old dwarf member named Theatyn who 'retired' to Sigil after leaving Torch and the Weez. Apparently the other members weren't too happy with his retirement, since his little nest egg came from the Weez's golden hen. "Theatyn ran off with a good third of the Weez's ill-gotten gains and they were mad as Baator," continued Merriau. "Finally, after 21 years some of the members tracked the berk down in Sigil. They were going to rip his eyeballs out but when they saw what a deal he had going with his bar, and after he offered to let them make it Weez HQ, they let him live. Been here ever since. And the weez are getting bigger and bigger...in a small kinda way..."

Another SIGIS culler, shorter than I, tracked the Weez down in their little lair posing as a small merchant and discovered that everything Merriau said was true. The bar was filled with acrid, foul smoke billowing from tobacco water pipes and the place was filled with gnomes, haflings, dwarves, brownies, and even a few mephits gulping dwarven spirits. While there, he learned that Theatyn wrested control of the gang and was planning some big-time assaults on two other Torch based gangs in the Lower Ward, including Tiamat's Chosen and the Bonesmashers. Tiamat's Chosen are a barmy bunch of fire-breathers whose modus operandi is to threaten you or your house/business with immolation if you don't pay their fees. The Bonesmashers are just a bunch of big thugs. Many of them are ogres, with half-orcs, Ysgardian trolls and other big humanoids thrown in for good measure. The Bonesmashers offer their 'customers' insurance: pay them or they will insure you get your bones smashed.

Of the three gangs, the Weez are the subtlest. Mostly they just do second story jobs and the occasional assassination. But now, with the other gangs angling in on their territories, the weez are going on the offensive. Apparently, they have hired on some of the old Anarchist friends of the infamous Zibby 'the Fan' to blow up their enemies [Editor: see SIGIS 30 for Zibby's story]. Recently, a spider like mechanical contraption blew off the top floor of a local orphanage where some of Tiamat's Chosen were hiding out. Flaming battles between gangs on the rooftops of the Ward also have become common place and several local merchants complain that they are being shaken down by more than one gang at a time.

Darta, a tiefling shop owner of the 'Wicks and Sticks' in the Lower Ward said he was shaken down one day by the Bonesmashers in the morning and the Chosen in the afternoon. "The Boners just broke my door down and demanded a bunch of golden candlesticks or else," recalled Darta. "Then the Chosen stopped by after lunch and threatened to burn me alive if I don't get them 100 jinx by the end of the week. To prove they mean business, they blow fire out their holes and melt half the candles in my shop! How am I supposed to raise jink if all my merchandise is gone?"

Even more ominous, rooftop battles have become increasingly numerous all over the Ward, but especially near the Rule of Fours kip. A couple weeks ago, an old githzerai beggar named Bickam said he saw two heavily armed bashers almost get lured into a Tiamat's Chosen ambush. "These two bashers was chasing this little green cloaked fellow who slipped right up a building over there," said Bickam pointing to a nearby dilapidated structure. "The two berks, this warrior aasimar named Kamene and this priest tiefer from the Arawn temple, Robert or Roger or something, chased after the sod. I think the greenie stole something from them. If they hadn't a caught him right away he was going to lead them into a Chosen trap in the next alley. I know this because the next thing I see is a rain of burning arrows light up the sky and the two bashers jump back down to the street. Don't know what happened to greenie…"


Robert of Arawn

While all this chaos reigns, the Harmonium sit by and twiddle their thumbs. What they can do about the situation at this point is unclear, and some even speculate that they are glad to have the gangs murder each other, hoping that the problem will take care of itself. Meanwhile, mothers keep their kids indoors and everyone else just keeps their heads down. 

Author: Scott Kelley

Author: Scott Kelley

Newsbriefs

 SOULSGATE OPENS IN FIELD OF

NETTLES

by Arthalasian Thalanssehennsis

Grey Waste (Field of Nettles) -- Sitting close upon the memory-soaked shores of the river Styx, the Field of Nettles has been an oft-contended battlefield in the Blood War. No army of either tanar'ri or baatezu ever holds this stretch of ground for more than a few weeks before another battle is fought upon it. The latest battle has been raging on the Field for the last three years. More fiends than can be counted have been slain as have mortal mercenaries and others coerced to sacrifice themselves in the Blood War. The tanar'ri forces advance, their numbers giving them the strength to push back the heavily entrenched baatezu, who fall back in an organized, methodical manner, inflicting three dozen tanar'ri casualties to their one. Then the baatezu counterattack, using terrain to their advantage; flanking and feinting to whittle down the numerical advantage of their opponents.

This is the way the Field of Nettles has been for millennia. But just this past week, something very new happened. In the midst of a pitched battle, where each side had committed most of its reserves to plug holes in its lines, a new army entered the fray. Out from the Celestial portal known as the Soulsgate, Guardinals and other celestials pounced on the fiends. The tanar'ri were the first to feel the onslaught. Their rearguard was caught unawares and ripped to shreds before the middle of their formation even had any idea what was happening. The fevered frenzy of asuras and guardinal, archon and planetar tore apart the tanar'ri before turning on the baatezu. The remnants of the tanar'ri army scattered along whatever winds blow on the Gray Waste.


Wings of Glory Emerge from Soulsgate

The clash with the baatezu was not over as fast as the one with the tanar'ri. Quickly they regrouped and their leaders sized up the new celestial threat. Rank upon rank of spinagons and abishai threw themselves on the lines of the celestials that held true, while magic flew from the fingers of many mortal wizards and sorcerers that stood amongst the celestial horde. The protective magicks these mortals wrought held the fiends at bay while the celestials pushed inexorably forward. When the day was done, a banner depicting a triumphant wreath with a pair of feathery wings flew over both sides of the Field of Nettles. Killyanthis has his revenge and the Wings of Glory fly once more, this time over the lower Planes.

Author:Constantine Markides

DOOMGUARD SCRAG NEW RECRUITS

by Lady A'vel

Carceri (Colothys, village of Villaviolentes) -- According to witnesses, hooded bashers claiming to be Doomguard factioneers forced their way into a cage for rogue youths the other day and took away 10 of them as recruits. Before they scragged the little tykes, these bashers gave a speech to the roughly 40 youngsters at the center in the village of Villaviolentes trying to convince them to join the ranks of the Doomguard. When only three of the young inmates volunteered, the bashers grabbed seven others by force, according to Maritao Venaro, the blood who runs the lightly-guarded 'rehabilitation center'. The kidnapped youths were all between 15 and 17 years of age and were caged for crimes ranging from theft to murder. Venaro said he has heard recent rumors of similar raids on jails and orphanages all over Carceri. The bashers always give a speech about the youths already spiraling into the decay, and coming home to entropy. Some 600 minors are believed to be participating in training as soldiers in the Doomguard's eternal war to promote decay. Guerrilla type raiders are recruiting the large number of children, but nobody seems to know the reason for the buildup. The Harmonium are, of course, very concerned. The official spokesman for the Doomguard refused to comment on the news.

Author: Arafel

SENSATIONALIST SENSATES SUBVERT SCHOOLCHILDREN

by Lady A'vel

Sigil (Clerk's Ward) -- The Sensates came under attack in the House of Speakers two days ago, for the alleged marketing of lewd and violent experiences to children, in a testy culture clash between politicians and the entertainment industry. Sensate Ampere Rochel, headmistress of the Sensate Sensorium, was pelted with a barrage of criticism from Godsmen in particular, with one labeling her testimony as ``shameless'' to a hearing of the House of Speakers.


Sensate Rochel

The hearing was called to look at children's exposure to violence in the Cage and it's effects on personal development. At one point Rochel was asked to read out some violent, sexually graphic descriptions of currently offered experiences at the Civic Festhall. ``That's exactly what I expected,'' said Burbard Curb, a member of the Believers of the Source when Rochel declined. ``I did not wish to embarrass you, but if Sigilians don't understand fully what we are talking about, it is easy for you to downplay it,'' Curb said of the recorded experiences.

Rochel, whose Sensate Festhall sensoriums play more than 600 experiences a day, shot back it was not her job to defend the content of the experience. All experience is valid, by definition," she said. She also pointed that experiences all have descriptions on them, and if parents didn't want children having those experiences yet, they should keep them away from the Sensorium.

Godsmen members on the panel urged Rochel repeatedly to encourage the Society of Sensation to be more specific in labeling ''offensive'' experiences and not to market them to kids. But Rochel said such specific labeling was impractical. ``Experiences are particularly subject to interpretation and imagination and most feel that labeling them is a bad idea.'' Experiences, she argued, were interpreted differently. For example Jackamo's famous Song of the Dragon was reported to cause very different visions among different people experiencing it at the same time.

Members of the panel complained some descriptions were too general and so parents were not aware that they contained explicit content. The Sigil Decency for Children Coalition issued a report last cycle in which it accused the Sensates of ``routinely and aggressively'' selling sexually explicit and violent experiences to children. A follow-up report noted some improvements but found that the Sensates still continued the practice. Rochel continued to repeat her claim that all experience is valuable and said that the society markets to children as they are the most lacking in experience. "It is the parent's job to guide that experience," said Rochel. "The Society merely reminds parents that children need experiences to grow and develop. It is up to them to choose the best ones for their children."

Author: Arafel

MIND BENDERS

by Lady A'vel

Sigil (Hive Ward) -- An elusive flock of strange psychic ravens loose in Sigil continues to cause problems. Reports of feathery nightmares continue to fly in, and the Gatehouse is in a constant state of alert as the barmies scream endlessly about flying beasts. The Bleak Cabal continues to offer the reward for any ravens, but few have been brought in and chant has it that most of those were pigeons from a prime world. Some "enterprising" berk dyed them black to get jink out of the Bleakers!

The dark of it, though, is that these birds are smart and getting smarter. The nightmares and the barmies are just flyby effects and the flock is after bigger game. Three well-known psionicists have quietly taken to the Gatehouse over the past week. Their associates report that nightmares and focused psionic attacks over two or three days drove these respected spoonbenders barmy. The birds seem to be focusing on them one at a time with some very powerful psychic energy.

These birds are rarely seen, flying only at night and seemingly able to nest in the razorvine on high rooftops during the day. Although the birds are clearly a threat to the sanity of the ward, they also may be doing a bit of incidental good. Parts of cranium rats have been found dropped on balconies around the Cage lately. The birds at least seem to be keeping that menace in check!

Author: Arafel

KYTONS SCAVENGE FOR FOOD

by Chickory

Sigil (Hive Ward) -- Last issue SIGIS reported on the Kyton invasion of the Hive. They came flowing out of the window of a broken framed shack grabbing hapless hivers as quickly as possible. Chant has it that anywhere from 4 to 36 hivers have found their fate, flayed by chains. No less than 3 of those numbers were helpless children. Harmonium patrols were able to subdue and restrain 4 kytons with mancatchers before the true threat arrived. (Those 4 later killed each other in the prison.)

Some time after the arrival of the kytons an aasimar, armed with a longsword and shield, descended upon them. With chains and insults lashing about, two kytons were effortlessly flung against a building by some unseen magical force. The mortal soon found his blood on the street as he was wounded in the leg by a heavy barbed chain. The Kytons seeing an opening surrounded him and prepared to shed all his blood into the nearby potholes.

With perfect precision they struck out, but their chains met with some magical opposition and the man escaped further injury as none were able to reach him, despite ample slack. The aasimar combatant yelled out a challenge and was surrounded by crackling lightning. The lightning contacted the chains and conveyed the charge to the kytons. All 7 of the Kytons fell to the ground, several of them dead from the shock to their systems. What few lived did so only briefly as the bleeding warrior removed their heads to eliminate the threat for good.

Without thought, the aasimar called forth a mass of water onto the street that washed away all of the blood from the battle. Then he took to the air, commanding the winds to carry him home. My sources couldn't track him, however, and who he is or was may never be known.

Author: Bill David

PRIME ELF TO AID PLANE OF ASH

by Kilian, Master Thief of the Five Blades

Sigil (Lower Ward, Tree of Lasting Leaves) -- The Sword and Bolt Mercenary Company operating out of Tree of Lasting Leaves has pledged to aid in the "Cold War" on behalf of the Quasi-Elemental Plane of Ash against the Elemental Plane of Fire. Lord Andreas, organizer of task force "COLD FIRE" explained to me during lunch in the Tree his sudden involvement in the long-fought cold war.

"My interest in the Cold War started when I gained possession of this amulet." He removed a heavy chain crafted from white gold that was concealed inside his cloak. Hanging from the chain was a semitransparent sphere. "Look into the sphere," Andreas instructed me. I looked into the sphere and was truly astonished at what I saw. Inside was a swirling mass comprised of the four prime elements coexisting in the center of the magically constructed sphere.


Lord Andreas

"What you have in your hand, Kilian, is the 'Amulet of Elemental Audience.' Whoever has possession of it can teleport from any location in the multi-verse directly to an elemental plane and then be granted an audience with the elemental ruler.

"One century ago I gained possession of the 'Amulet of Elemental Audience' and decided to meet with the ruler of Fire. At that time I was in need of written lore that was available only in the Library of Flame. I invoked the amulet's power, not fully understanding the consequences of using it. The result of that action was the creation of a mortal enemy."

Before he could continue his story, I broke in to ask some questions. "Lord Andreas, to my knowledge, prime/planer efforts in the cold war between the Ash and neighboring planes have been strictly avoided. The sole combatants of the conflict have been confined strictly to the local inhabitants of joining planes. In my opinion, any effort on your part to create a prime/planer task force has no chance in limbo of aiding the Ash. As you know that part of the Multiverse is inhospitable to one made of flesh and bone. Also, a successful journey to the Ash has rarely been accomplished, let alone a journey where the traveler lives to tell about it.

"Last, I think you would be barmy to take a task force of jink-minded fools to an unknown part of the Multiverse and wage war against combatants who fight for the ruler of Fire. Why would you do this?"

"Let me alleviate your concerns," Andreas replied. "The Plane of Ash is inhospitable to one made of flesh. The Sword and Bolt has taken many magical precautions to protect the livelihood of the task force members so their performance will not be hindered on the field of battle. As for journeying to the Ash, it has been accomplished before and it will be done again. Lastly, many of my colleagues also think this is a grave error on my part to risk lives and wealth in an effort to regain what I lost years ago as a result of my audience with the ruler of Fire."

"What did you lose that day on the Plane of Ash, Lord Andreas," I asked.

"When I gained an audience with the ruler of Fire, he was enraged that a prime had control of the amulet. He granted me what I sought in the Library of Flame but swore afterwards that I would never be able to seek an audience with another elemental again.

"Soon after he invaded my prime home with every creature of fire he commanded to try and gain possession of the amulet. The Sword and Bolt never lost an inch of ground to his invading force. The ruler of Fire sustained massive losses from what I have heard. In desperation, [the ruler of Fire] struck a mad deal with a high-up abyssal lord who in turn captured the soul of a dead friend of mine, a wizard named Shrandaloo Shard, someone I hold very dear to my heart. This abyssal lord entombed his soul in a Bottle of Holding and gave it to the ruler of Fire who, to this day, wears it around his neck. This ensures that I will never journey back to the elemental planes."

"How in limbo can you expect to overcome all the odds that you are facing and think to win?" I asked.

"I have faith in my mercenary company, and I posses a magical item that was constructed on the Ash plane. Just two months ago my mercenary company recovered what the leaf-benders of old said would be lost forever. I plan to return the item to its home plane and use the magic it possesses to free the soul of Shrandaloo Shard," Andreas said.

In a calm voice I asked Andreas, "Can you tell the SIGIS readers what that item is?"

He shouted, "NO! I am not at liberty to speak of what I have." He stood and said, "Well, Kilian, I have other matters that I have to tend to today. Our time together here is done. I thank you for running the advertisement in the newsrag (SIGIS #31) and having lunch with me today."

We were finished. I thanked him for lunch and his time in the Tree of Lasting Leaves, and I left the Lower Ward. Later that evening I held counsel with two High Planer Druids (names withheld) to discuss the subject of someone aiding the Ash in he Cold War and trying to find out what item that barmy elf Andreas might have. Deep in a private chamber within the Great Library, they told me some dark on the subject. I am not at liberty to write about what they told me but I can share this bit with you. There is a saying that has been used for centuries as the catchall phrase when discussing that region of the multi-verse. I quote, "If the fire doesn't burn you, the negative will take you away." It is clear warning to avoid that area of the Multiverse.

Author: Elfsable

Author: Scott Kelley

INTERVIEW WITH MAR ELAYSIUS
by Lady A'vel

Upon entering the Inn of Shadowed Delights, an establishment catering to the more...esoteric tastes found here in Sigil, one notices right away that the inn is unusual even for the Cage. The entrance is carved out of wood with the hardness of steel, and the frescoes depict a flowing cascade of Tanar'ri, Baatezu, Greater Undead, and a multitude of lower planer denizens merrily feasting together! The front foyer is dominated by a cluster of statues representing all of the Lower Planer Pantheons, with one statue centered to the rear and slightly above the others. Loviatar appears to be the dominant deity in attendance, the impromptu de facto hostess of this gathering. In her hands is a scroll that rolls towards the viewer upon which is inscribed, in multiple languages, the following message:

"Know ye all who enter here, that no form or manner of violence towards anything other than your food, will be tolerated. Violators will be served the following day."

When first I lanned the chant that this establishment claimed to serve all tastes and manner of creatures, I was somewhat skeptical. I am skeptical no longer, although I still wonder about the longevity of the place if Elaysius continues to serve both Tanar'ri and Baatezu.

The Majordomo escorted me into a large domed room, much like a Roman emperor's palatial sitting room. In the center of the room sat a low table surrounded by cushions. Out from there, about three poles distance, were 36 full length mirrors surrounding the table. Beyond the mirrors, an enormous maze encompassed the rest of the floor. The dome itself was like a large birdcage with windows in between the wicker-like structure. Gilt structural supports of flowing teak impressed with platinum runes of a mystical nature made up the beams of the dome, and it was glazed in fine glass. The city of Sigil was visible outside of the dome.

As I stood there admiring the fantastical room, I felt a presence behind me. I turned to see Mar Elaysius standing there looking at me admiringly. He wore a deep purple tunic brocaded in platinum and corded silk the color of rich blood. A scabbard with an ornate longsword hung from an attached baldric. Deep blood red breeches and polished high black leather boots finished his clothing ensemble. His head tilted as he motioned me to take a seat at the table on the multitude of silken cushions. There was a variable feast covering the table, along with a multitude of goblets and pitchers, some hot and some cold. I seated myself and Mar sat close by.


Portrait of Mar in his Youth

He had yet to speak, so I began. "Thank you for this opportunity, sir. Your establishment is most interesting. I suppose my first question must be, did you place the original advertisement in question?" [Editor: see SIGIS 31]

A glint of mischief flashed across the pale face as he responded. His lips parted and a voice out of the heavens issued forth. This culler is obviously used to such tricks, and discounted the effect. "The wording of the ad was mine, but the problem was that the style of lettering used was not. This is a place of luxury and professional acumen. Built by me for all who will to come and feed their desires. It is not a place to be mocked. So what do you think of the Inn of Shadowed Delights?"

I had no intention of being distracted that easily. "I find it interesting indeed. Do you have any idea why two protest letters were received by the paper?"

"The simple answer to that is, no."

"Well, then, the 64 jink question would be, which one was yours?"

Mar Elaysius eyes attempted to lock on mine. I kept my attention resolutely on the table. "My letter expressed my concern regarding the poor health of the messenger that SIGIS claims never to have sent."

"Are you implying that SIGIS does know something about this messenger?" It wouldn't be the first time journalists had tried to make a story, but if so I'd heard no chant of it, and the cutters I work with at SIGIS had shown no sign of such behavior.

"I'm implying the SIGIS should maintain a professionalism that assures the accuracy of the information they print. Which I assume is why you're here." He smiled, a smooth glint of white teeth. They looked sharp.

"Was this messenger harmed in any way while he was here?" I was still looking at the teeth.

"The messenger did not experience anything he did not choose to experience while he was here, as is the case with all who enter here."

Well, I hadn't seen any different yet. "Do you know where he can be found now?"

"He left here under his own power. Again, as all do who choose to leave here."

Choose to leave, indeed. But who was the berk? "I have checked with the billing company which SIGIS uses for their accounts. They also deny sending any collector to you, stating that, as with all SIGIS ads, the account was paid in advance. They had no reason to send such a person. That being the case, do you have any theories as the dark of these occurrences?"

The glint in his eyes turned hard. "No, but I intend to find out."

If anybody could find things in the dark, I found myself believing that this man could! "Can you tell me how you intend to do that?"

"It's safe to say I'll use every means at my disposal." A sardonic smile passed Mar's lips, and he tipped his head a bit to the side.

"It appears as though somebody would like to see you have some difficulty with the Harmonium. I don't think that anybody would be surprised to hear that there are those who would not favor this type of establishment. Have you heard from any such groups?"

"No, not as yet." He looked thoughtful for a moment. "There have been a few who tried to convince my customers that they shouldn't come here. They wandered around outside, but couldn't seem to stop peering over their shoulders and the building. They didn't stick around long. I doubt that such as them would have anything to do with this. It is much too subtle an event."

I left him soon after and was escorted back to the front door of the huge and confusing establishment. I will continue to follow this story, and of course give you all the dark as it comes to light!

Author: Arafel

Author: Scott Kelley

Dear Sigilians,

They say everybody loves a clown. Sure they do. Some like different kinds of humor, so a clown's gotta make adjustments once in a while to cater to specific crows.

Dean Cain Calandeer recently expanded his Bardic college in the Lady's Ward to include Bards of the Jester school of entertainment. Since its expansion two years ago, Calandeer Academy has graduated some 48 jesters that are now entertaining high ups in Sigil and around the Great Wheel.

Recently one of the graduates by the name of Kep Bekild was hired to entertain a birth party at a private residence in the Lady's Ward. Bekild started his routine innocently enough but soon progressed into a rather debauched impersonation of Rowan Darkwood. What he did not know was that the host were noted Takers and that the Duke was in attendance at the celebration.

What ultimately happened to Bekild isn't important and not really all that interesting. Darkwood had him audited and he is now fled the Cage. Sources say that he has warrants for tax evasion. What is important is the fact that Darkwood takes things a little too personal from time to time and is now having Calendeer Academy audited. Cain Calendeer has also recently encountered quite a few money troubles caused most likely by the Duke.

I am sharing this information with you because Dean Calendeer supports many charitable organizations who now depend on his contributions, everything from the Arts to feeding the hungry. He is truly a man of strong character and Sigilians need to stand together against the tyranny of those with power and the tendency to abuse that power. We must band together to oppose the control of Darkwood in our pocketbooks.

Signed,

Chickory

Author: Bill David

WON'T DO THAT AGAIN

by Chickory

Now most well lanned bloods know better than to deal with Fiends, but apparently not all of them. Thadious Jameskon has been importing weapons into the Cage for a long time now. He never had much of a head for commerce, and a series of bad deals in the early part of his career put him way behind on his debts. One of his more recent contracts was made with some fiends of the Abyss. One of Jameskon's contacts leaked that he had illusions cast on some poor quality weapons in order to recover some losses. Apparently the fiends saw through the ruse and pushed him through the portal of the dead book. He was found three days ago floating face down in the Styx.

Author: Bill David

A MAGIC BREATH OF HOPE?

by Chad Lynch

This culler knows that news from the prime usually goes over in the City of Doors like a Sladdi limerick contest. However, when an event from the prime spills over into our fair city it is our duty to report on it. Such an event is now happening in Sigil and for once, thank goodness, it doesn't involve a hoard of fiends, a strange disease or political upheaval. What it does involve is a rare and wondrous activity. selfless charity.

The remote world of Athas is a scorched and blasted land, largely cut off from the rest of the Multiverse. Magic comes hard to this place, and what little there is of it must be powered by the life force of nearby flora and fauna. The powers are unknown here due to the strange fact that there is no direct connection between this world and the outer planes through the astral. What priestly magic that does exist comes from the few mystics that worship the elements. And if that wasn't bleak enough, nearly every living thing on this rock seems to be a lethal predator empowered with frightening mental abilities. I am told that Athas can best be imagined by picturing a centuries old Blood War battle field, then take away most mortal magic, gods and metal weapons.

All this was explained to me by a man who wishes to save this hellish earth. His name is Sulla, or as he is know in his home empire back on the prime, Sulla the Magnificent. Sulla is a type of wizard popularly known as a Sha'ir. These rare magi receive their spells not from the normal magical energy that pervades most of the Multiverse. Instead, they have small elemental familiars that race across planar boundaries to fetch spells for them. It is this difference in spell casting that Sulla hopes will save Athas. "The most pressing problem facing Athas is the destructive nature of magic there " explains Sulla. "Unless one is very disciplined and slowly gathers the necessary magic energy, every spell cast causes some of the nearby plant life and soil to crumble to lifeless dust. Truly, it is a world that has been dying a death of a thousand cuts, and has been doing so for more than a thousand years."

He explained his fascination with this violent backwater by telling me the story of time he spent there as a young man. "When I was an apprentice, my master and I accidentally traveled there. We were exploring some cave system north of the Genies Anvil and we must have passed through some sort of portal without realizing it. It took us more than four years to find a way back to my home city of Hazuzz.

"In that time I saw the few teeming cities ruled by despotic sorcerer kings. I saw the worlds. Oh, what is the Wylders word for it? Ah yes, the worlds Biosphere being ground to powder by the abuse of magic. I begged my master to teach the way of the Sha'ir to these people. This way they would have a source of magic that would not wound the world so."

"He forbade me from doing this. His concern was that we might become embroiled in local politics and be attacked by those profiting from the status quo. He kept our focus on getting home and in time we were successful."

"The thought of that dying world remained with me after I returned to the place of my birth. After my apprenticeship ended I resolved that I would return to Athas and carry out my dream of introducing a new, safer magic. I have spent nearly all of my adult life perfecting my art, and searching for a way back to that blasted land. The caves that initially took me there proved unable to bring me back. I believe you planars would call it an 'intermittent portal'. I began to despair of my quest when my research in a private library turned up a mention of a City of Doors that lead to all places, worlds, heavens and hells. A year of danger and travel finally brought me to this place. Another year of investigation in Sigil bore no fruit. Again I despaired when, by a fluke accident, I managed to learn of a tribe of unusual elves living on a desert layer of one of the upper planes. I recognized the description of this singular race as being much like those found on Athas!"

"I am now assembling a team of hardy souls to accompany me to this place so that I might talk to these elves. I am convinced that this tribe of fleet-footed fairy folk has found one of the few permanent portals linking Athas with the rest of the multi-verse."

Mr. Sulla has already assembled a good-sized caravan. A number of merkant sect members are also going along. They have heard that the world is desperately short on steel. These profit chasers believe they can leave with pig iron and return with gems in their pockets. Likewise, a goodly number of Takers are going. This band hopes to bring back some of the more unusual of the worlds Fauna and turn their prizes into a profitable breeding stock. This unlikely menagerie is still looking to fill out a few positions before setting off. Mr. Sulla hopes to ad a number of mindbenders to his retinue. Athas is awash in mentally powered beings and he would have some protection against mental threats if he could. Also welcome are almost any man at arms, especially those used to working in a hot, arid climate. He can be reached at the Motherly Modron Inn in the clerks ward for the next 20 days.

Author: John Worfin

RECORD TIME

by Chickory

A Green blood from the prime was recently mazed by the Lady of Pain for systematically slaying 8 of her Dabus. He has been gone for a mere 5 cycles but has already been seen in his old holes. Escape from one of the Lady's mazes is virtually unheard of, and this is by far the fastest ever recorded. I will keep you posted, should he get mazed again for giving the Lady the laugh.

Author: Bill David

The Faction Extraction

FACTION NEWS FROM THE CAGE AND BEYOND

BLEAK CABAL
by Chickory

 It was quiet last week in the Barrons Blood Inn. A collection of eight Bleakers gathered about discussing a recent pilgrimage to some undisclosed location. Apparently, one started to laugh uncontrollably, to the point that he almost asphyxiated. After a few moments of confusion, two others started to loose control of their facilities too, as tears of laughter welled up in their eyes. The laughter spread to two more within another moment and tension grew as everyone else in the Inn began to grow suspicious and even somewhat terrified. Several people fled the bar as others gave over to the invisible comedy.

One of the Bleakers by the name of Shykoon, enraged by the extreme emotions his companions showed, produced a great ax and made short work of his helpless friends as they rolled about the floor. 5 were dead before the Harmonium arrived to stop the slaughter. Shykoon is now imprisoned and awaiting trial. With Glaberslug as his judge, the Wyrm is expected to administer the sentence.

Author: Author: Bill David

Ciphers
by Aileron Locke

Blood is thicker than water, but sometimes it still isn't thick enough. For the family Argon, members of the Ciphers renowned in the Gymnasium District for generations of sword-fighting "Masters of the Heart", it is a black time indeed. The family's current patriarch, Gandal Argon (7th in the line), a highly respected Master of the Heart, was slain yesterday in melee combat by his two sons.


Gandal Argon, Master of the Heart

About a month ago, Zephyr and Dalton Argon set off to hone their skills. Not long after their quest begun, it took a drastic turn for the worst. The two brothers were in the process of fighting some prime berk of a wizard that had caged a number of "planar creatures", as he called them, for transport back to his world. Many of these creatures were tieflings, githzerai, and other sentient races. The brothers objected to this (thank the Powers!) and tried to put an end to it.

In the battle, however, the wizard whipped off a horrible necromantic enchantment designed to snuff out their life forces and it had no effect. The wizard, petrified at his failed attack, soon fell before their blades. The mystery, however, remained. More eccentricities were discovered when Dalton was "slain" by a large band of khaasta. A resurrection spell failed to help him, and yet a simple regenerate enchantment awakened and healed him. It made no sense, and had several to-shelf graybeards shaking their collective heads. A final and ultimate quirk was discovered when a svirfneblin necromancer (a Dustmen) named Cragg the Black was able to control the siblings as he would normal undead!

Eventually a series of cryptic and unusual clues led the brothers to a fiend named Tahjel. The gelugon sorcerer warned them of an ancient pact made by their father, one that would forever affect their very lives. Apparently, Gandal Argon had grown tired of his body slowing as he aged. He did not think himself ready for the perfect harmony all Ciphers seek to achieve. His body was a failing even if his mind was sharp. And so he sought Tahjel. The pact was made for the very souls of his two sons and, in exchange, Gandal Argon was given an ageless body. That is why he was still considered one of the fastest swordsmen in the Cage even in his mind-fifties.

What games and torments the fiend inflicted upon the souls is unknown, but he apparently promised to return their life energies if the brothers slew their own father. Aghast at such a horrific crime committed by their own father, they grudgingly decided to rectify the situation. The battle, witnessed only by the family's servant, was described as epic. It ended with one brother unconscious, the other horribly bleeding, and the father lying in a pool of his own damnation. Early reports indicate that the brothers will likely be acquitted of any capital charges, though their fate with the fiend Tahjel remains uncertain. After all, a devil does not often nix his contract unless he has an even sweeter prize awaiting him on the other side.

Author: Craig Stalbaum
FATED
by Lady A'vel

 The Fated are holding meetings among the upper levels to consider a new financial project, a brainchild of one of their newer Factors, Rubel Hordonious. The claim is that it is a way to make money while paying for the losses of any business that joins the project and has a fire, robbery, or other mishap. There is much doubt and some outright suspicion attached to this idea, and discussion flies around the Hall of Records. An interview with Factor Hordonious produced the following explanation. "Each of the business contributes a certain amount of jink on a periodic basis to a central fund. We Fated administer that fund, using part of the jink to make more jink by using it for loans, purchase and sale of property, and other such business. The remainder and part of the profits remain available to any of the contributing businesses to replace the cost to them in the event of a fire, theft or other specific events that impact their business. Everybody wins!" Comparisons are being made to other situations, in which businesses have paid their jink to prevent damage to their establishments. The Fated contend that this is entirely different, as no threats are involved, and it is actually much more profitable if no damage comes to the customers. "However the business owners will feel so much more secure knowing that they cannot lose if something bad were to happen to their property," Factor Hardonious insists. Meetings continue among the higher ups of the Fated, and it seems sure that many more will be held before this questionable idea finds acceptance.

Author: Arafel

HARMONIUM
by Ear to the Gear

Chant has it that high-up Mover Four Interrogatrix Diabolus Catrina de la Coeur, head of the Harmonium's fiend division, has been served papers to appear in court. According to reputable sources, she stands accused of kidnapping and fiend conspiracy. Our sources say that the Mover abducted the child of the former Interrogator Diabolus, Wermak Durkayle, from her tanar'ri mother. That's right, a succubus wants her baby daughter alu-fiend back! This may be a first in the history of the Multiverse and says volumes about the value of this little girl. No one has asked the girl what she thinks and nobody even knows the truth of the allegations, but the Harmonium is protecting their own. They say the Guvners have a vendetta against de la Coeur and this is all a sham. Other sources say that the plot is not of the Guvners making, but that some other jealous Mover Fours have it in for the new fiend chaser. Time will tell where this all leads.

Author: Scott Kelley

SIGN OF ONE
by Lady A'vel

Factor Engulin of the Sign of One announced today that he has decided that the Bleak Cabal have been bleak for too long. He has decided they will have emotions proportional to their attempts to suppress them. "I don't believe them to be wrong, after all they are my creations and therefore just as I made them. But I have decided that their portion of my world will benefit from some simple emotion." Recently two Bleaker members have been expelled from the ranks for lack of seriousness [Editor: Bleaker Faction Extraction SIGIS Issue #32]. The recent murders of several Bleakers by one of their own [Ed: See Bleaker entry] during an emotional outbreak makes this situation even more serious. "I find I enjoy it when my world changes around me, so I simply set the change in motion rather than completing it. It will be interesting to watch the effects grow, like rings in smooth water." Factor Engulin was surprised when asked if he was concerned over the deaths. "They were just imaginary constructs, as are you! Why should their dissolution concern me? My thoughts are taking an odd turn today. I will go meditate."

 Author: Arafel

XAOSITECTS
by Rheanin Clauce

Don't TTTTTryy to eat or EVeVn flY your FuTUrE is lying right BY YOUr eyes. But know one and it will tell you that you can't Even B-gin to SeE. Tomorrow i WIlL try to Build my parrot or MANy different FlOwErs. I f y o u DON'T stop f o l l o w i n g me than you may find what is in this bag of mine.

Author: Sean Van

Author: Bill David

Stop Press
MYSTERIOUS TEMPLE DISAPPEARS

by Darlath Coberrl

Sigil (Lower Ward) -- A temple of a forgotten Power in the Lower Ward that has been a sore point in the relations between the Athar and the Signers, suddenly winked out of existence today while Athar and Harmonium guards looked on in amazement. During the last few weeks, this temple has been a point of contention between the Athar and the Signers. Both factions have been laying claim to the structure, which has been associated with a number of disappearances of workmen and Harmonium patrols in recent weeks. Neither faction's claim has been upheld in the courthouses of the Fraternity of Order, but the Harmonium has sided with the Athar, at least insofar as they have recognized the danger presented by the structure and allowed it to be cordoned off from the public.

Last week the contention came to blows when Athar fanatics stormed the Ubiquitous Wayfarer, a popular inn in the Clerk's Ward, where they believed Signers to be holed up. Several deaths ensued and a number of cutters from both factions were detained and are awaiting trial. Today's events began when the leader of the Harmonium patrol in charge of guarding the church, second tier sergeant Alonzo Harrackal, was approached by a group of bashers led by a githzerai mage member of his own faction. The wizard and his companions (a human, an aasimar, a bariaur, a second githzerai and a tiefling, none of whom displayed the faction symbol of either the Harmonium or the Athar) entered the temple on orders from Tonat Shar, a high-up in the Harmonium, to investigate "the recent disappearances in the temple of Lost Badir."

According to Harrackal, the group had information only the Hardheads were privy to, so he allowed them admittance. Five hours later, the group had not yet emerged from the temple and Harrackal began to fear that they would meet the same fate as all the others who had entered the temple: "I knew that no one had come out of that temple ever since we had cordoned it off," said Harrackal. "Not a worker, not a Harmonium guard and not an Athar fanatic. It was against my better judgment that I allowed them to enter, but they carried orders by Tonat Shar and his decisions supersede my own. I was not about to send any of my own men in after them, so all I could do is wait. And then it happened..."

What happened was the sudden and dramatic disappearance of the church. "It was as if it had never been! One moment it was there, plain as day, and the next it had disappeared!" the sergeant told SIGIS. Five weary bashers were left in the area that used to be occupied by the "temple of Lost Badir". Five bashers and the body of the sixth. The five denied SIGIS comment as they hefted their fallen companion, accompanied by the cheers of the Athar onlookers, and moved away from the area. SIGIS is still trying to find out who the six planewalkers were that entered the temple and determine what they found there that may have caused the day's strange events.

Author: Constantine Markides

GUARDINALS TO THE HIVE

by Chickory

Sigil (Lower Ward) -- Let it now be shared with all of you blooded readers that the Lower Ward is no place to be. Brokers share with ol' Chickory that a Blood War skirmish wages just on the other side of a portal that connects Pandemonium and said ward. Cagers are lucky that neither the fiends nor devils seem to have the portal key. The Baatezu are said to be searching their records for just that information and they may have it already. If they know where the key lies, it's just a mater of time till they have it at the site and then the war could spill over into the streets of Sigil.

However, this situation must have caught the eye of some Bytopyan or Beastland high-ups as a regiment of well-armed Guardinals now stands ready at the portal's Sigilian exit. What Powers have been watching the war that closely is anybody's guess, and the Guardinals aren't talking. But other chant I overheard claimed that those same Guardinals are just waiting for the arrival of a few more reinforcements before the whole lot of them crosses over preparing to scrag the fiends.

Author: Bill David

CLASSIFIED ADVERTISEMENTS

I. WANTED

ODD JOB PERSON. Must be able to handle carpentry, domicile cleaning. Clean Harmonium record required. Contact Aaron Linvale at the Barracks (C)

CARAVAN GUARDS for regular runs between the Gate Towns of Excelsior and Hopeless. Competitive pay and health benefits. Bring your own sword. Contact Alkarias at the Planar Trade Consortium in the Clerk's Ward. (C)

MULE SHOE OUTFITTERS is looking for exp, friendly Wranglers, Mgrs, Bunk House Cooks for Beastlands expeditions. Summer Season. Contact box # 2328. (A)

BOUNCERS. Must be able to handle enraged fiends. Apply to Carter at the Snapped Finger in the Hive Ward. (C)

WANTED. Set of monkey bones. Box # 2559

WANTED: DENTAL TRAINEE. Multi-species office looking for good trainee. Experience helpful but not required. Must have good hand eye coordination and fast reflexes. Poor sense of smell helpful. Will train on fangs, incisors, and molars. Apply care of SIGIS, box # 839 (A)

II. FOR TRADE

GOLDEN RETRIEVERS. 6 months, training in gold detection started, need field experience and maturity with you! Parents proven in tunnel work and ruins. 1 Mert ea. Ovindair Breeders, Market Ward. (A)

ALWAYS DREAMED OF OWNING YOUR OWN BATHTUB? Stop dreaming and make it a reality! Get your own bathtub installed today from Arborea-based contractors Alarjabian & son. Financing and special prices available. Don't delay. Contact us today at 35 Alabaster Way, Lady's Ward (C)

INVESTOR'S SPECIAL 3 bedroom, 2 bath, must sell, wife divorcing me for tiefling contractor! 12 Mobius, 809 W. Montover, Lower Ward. (A)

CUSTOM MANICUREST/NAIL TABLE with accessories including claw jigs. 4 Mert or best offer. Contact care of ad #298. (A)

PREMIUM EATERY for sale. Great Location in the Lower Ward. Fully equipped. Established clientele, consisting of all manner of tanar'ri and yugoloths. Contact Norman Bates at Box #1342 (C)

MAD RIVER EXPLORER CANOE 16 ft. Royalex wood-trim canoe for beginning and seasoned paddlers. Its full, high-volume, shallow-V hull makes it stable, secure, versatile and spacious. Spelled against rot, mildew, parasites. 2 Mobius OBO. Contact Shjerynkl at Lost Portal Outfitters. (A)

PREMIUM SNOW AND ICE MELTING PELLETS perfect for that winter home in Ysgard! Guaranteed to remove ice from those slippery front stairs! 10 lb bags, just 5 stingers each. Froxie's supplies, Bagport Way, Market Ward. (A)

CLERK'S WARD MUNICIPAL ANNEX NUMBER 4 is available for adaptive reuse. It was built 87 years ago by the Orvilnosh Contracting Company. The three story building has been in continuous use until 3 years ago when the filing offices housed in it were moved closer to the Hall of Records. Damage from barmy squatters negligable. Contact Jaasond Wolfe, Forsgren Associates, for information. (A)

III. MISCELLANEOUS

CHILDCARE in my home in the Hive Ward. Will handle any race, celestial or fiendlings. Competitive rates. Contact Arybella at the great Gymnasium (C)

LOANS AVAILABLE. No credit check. Contact A'Kin at the Friendly Fiend in the Lower Ward (C)

CALL FOR PROPOSALS: The Multiplanar Museum of Arts & Culture in Lady's Ward, Sigil is seeking a food service professional to operate the Museum cafe and provide catering for most events on site. The Museum desires to establish a reputation for offering distinctive, high quality food in a relaxing and culturally stimulating environment. Experience in multi-species service and cuisine is required. Submit proposal to the Administrator's Office at the Museum. (A)

OPEN AUDITIONS at the Twelve Factols in the Lady's Ward. Any race welcome. Job offers will be based on ability at the owner's discretion. The Twelve Factols is an equal opportunity employer. (C)

 (A) = Arafel

(C) = Constantine Markides

Cullers wanted for SIGIS
Must be literate and on the case

Applicants should contact the Editor