Around Acryn's criminal fraternities and seedier adventurer hangouts word is being put about that a gentlemen of considerable influence in the True Council is looking to hire some skilled and discreet help.
The party are hired by the mysterious Mr Strings, the guild leader of the red company, the closest thing Acryn has to a guild of Assassins. Sitting in shadows he asks the party to destroy a rival faction of Assassins, the Grinning Monks, an enigmatic group of master Assassins who have recently been increasing their activity in Acryn.
The party arrange to hire the Monks to draw them out of hiding and obtain the required skull from the catacombs. They set the Monks on a local murderer the Watch have had no luck in capturing and wait in the shadows to track the Monks to their lair.
The sting works and the party both save a young noble from a grisly fate and see the monks in action, who seem to always cause death via seemingly random acts of chance. Tracking the monk the party locate the group's lair deep beneath Acryn, concealed beneath an ancient section of the old Royal Palace.
The Monks appear to have been expecting them and welcome the party with the offer of food. The Abbott of the monastery, for they do indeed seem to be an actual monastery, greets them and offers them sanctuary and sustenance. He explains that the monks serve the 'Smiling Lady' a Junnessian goddess of fate and death. In her name they take out contracts of those whom fate has dictated are due to die. By killing them the Monks bestow the Lady's blessing on them, protecting their soul from the darkness beyond the veil of death. The Monks themselves are the most devout servants of the Lady, who she maintains between the worlds of the living and the dead to lead souls to her.
The party, especially Kjell, are skeptical of this foreign god or the claims of her servants. They ask to speak to her and the Abbott reveals that she knew they would. He apologizes as the poison in the candles takes effect and the party feel their hearts stop beating.
They awaken in a shadowy version of the world, their bodies dead beneath them. Ahead they find the world turns into a great desert of silver sand beneath a starless black sky. In the distance a light seems to beckon them onwards. In the desert they find souls of the dead being attacked by creatures formed of shadowy fractures in reality, they seem to hunt and consume the spirits of the deceased who they feast upon and destroy.
The party make their way across the desert to the ivory tower of the Lady, a spire of skulls stretching into eternity. Here the Abbott greets them again, for he seems to exist between the realms of the living and the dead, and asks if they understand the horror that the Lady protects the dead from. Before the party can give their opinion another being appears, the four armed herald of whatever the horror is. It demands the party leave for they have no part in this conflict, it even promises to return their pathetic lives if they stand aside. The party decide to hear the Lady out and fend off the being. As it dies Kjell shows the leader the horror that waits beyond death. The leader hears him and a crown of burning gold appears on his brow as the true name of the leader 'Darcan' echoes in his ears. He knows the leader has seen the plight of the dead and understood that something must be done.
Entering the tower the party confront the Smiling Lady, the twin-skull faced goddess of death and fate. She tells the party that if they kill her monks as Mr Strings asked she will have no way to protect people from the broken darkness , which is the power of one of the dragons that consumes the spirits of the dead, for her Monks must usher people to her realm. She asks them instead to seal Mr String's fate and kill him to protect her servants. Whichever way they decide she tells that it is not their time to die and with a kiss she returns them to life, but not before Kjell tells her that the Founders will find some way to protect others from this fate.
Awakening once more in the world of the living the party feel life returning to them. They agree to help the Monks and kill Mr Strings. Taking the abbot's ceremonial dagger they return to Mr Strings, pretending they have killed the Monks. In his office they turn on him only to discover that the real Mr Strings is in reality a parasitic twin growing out of the chest of the huge man they met earlier, he's also a potent binding Mage. Despite his attempts to seize control of them the party prevail and cut him down. Using grenades Ricardo then blows-up the floor of his office, sending his suspended body to swing Puppet-like before the crowd below…a powerful message to his allies to not cross the Grinning Monks.
As they flee the Abbott thanks them for their service and promises them favor of the Lady, should they wish it. They spend the next few days hiding out in Kjell's church until the furore in the underworld dies down. It seems that fate is smiling on them as no one comes to avenge Mr Strings death, or perhaps his allies are secretly quite happy to see him dead.
Kjell vivisects little Mr Strings to better understand how such a person could exist and gains a better understanding of unusual anatomy. He tries to explain the situation beyond the veil of death to the higher-ups in the leader church but is informed in no uncertain terms that disunity of doctrine would prevent the church effectively leading their flock. It is clear the leadership do not want the doctrine of reincarnation questioned and are keeping an eye on him.
Ricardo is approached by a cloaked emissary demanding he return Mr String's cloak pin, he surmises it is one of the badges that mark out the members of the true council. After deciding that he's not quite ready to make the attempt for a seat on the council himself Ricardo agrees to return it. In return he and Raven are offered the protection of the True Council.
A minor fire is reported at the People's College library, however it was quickly extinguished with the blame being placed on some troublemakers who were chased off by the Watch.
This is a one use ability earned by gaining the favour, or perhaps just the interest, of the True Council. You can invoke it to have the True Council get you out of virtually any jam within the City of Acryn from being arrested for lewd behavior to being tried for high treason. However, once its used up you're on your own.
The miracles of the Smiling Lady are not earned in the same way as normal miracles. To empower them you must gain her favour by acting as mediator between life and death. For every three humans you personally kill (ie strike the killing blow) you may use one miracle, you can kill more than one multiple of three to save up the ability to use multiple miracles.
Calling on the Lady's aid, as long as you have the skull of a recently deceased person you may make it whisper the events of the last few moments of its life to you.
Drawing on the power of the Lady you get a glimpse of how a mortal target will die. As you do so, you smile a terrible knowing smile in which they will momentarily glimpse their own mortality. You may then call a FEAR at them. This only ever works once on a target.
You imbue yourself with the inevitability of death itself. You need only plant a gentle kiss on a victim who is bleeding out to instantly execute them.
You may draw upon the Lady's powers to alter the fate of a mortal victim. In so doing your blade becomes the destined instrument of their death and may call +1 damage against them. This only works on one target at a time and the effect will not end, and cannot be changed, until the chosen victim has died. Therefore, if the victim escapes this miracle cannot be used again until you have hunted them down and killed them.
While meditating you may drink a poison, placing yourself between life and the realm of the Lady. This allows your spirit to step free of your body, protected by the power of the Lady. In this state you are incorporeal and may pass through solid objects, allowing you to go where you could otherwise not and interact with other incorporeal beings as one of them, though you cannot interact with the physical world. Staying in this state too long, or straying too far from your body may result in the GM applying a WEAKEN to you in following encounters, or even worse effects.
The Lady watches over you and your allies assuring that your death, if it comes, will do so at the right time and place.
Once per encounter you and your allies may call a DODGE against any call that would take you to 0 hits (i.e. this dodge can't be used if the attack would not have killed you) as some improbable chance event saves your life.