A number of adventurers respond to an invitation circulated by the newly established “Emblemers’ Guild”, mainly because the invitation mentions food. They arrive at a privately rented hall, with a display of emblems on the walls around them. The Guild’s Council Chair, Pheline Talon, introduces herself and explains that the guild wishes to develop emblems for adventurers just as it is doing with other professionals – marketing is so important, you know, and a good distinctive emblem can set you apart from your competitors.
She is quickly challenged by Addie Orex of the Heralds’ Guild – Orex wants to know how these emblems differ from heraldic crests, and wants assurances that existing designs will not be duplicated. Through mediation by Raina Reynard, Talon puts forward the viewpoint that the emblems her guild-members create are nothing like heraldic designs – they are simplicity itself, an abstract representation of the truth of a concept.
One Emblemers’ Guild member, Hutch Helden, attempts to run an embleming competition among the adventurers present, much to Talon’s chagrin. Talon can’t comprehend why Helden would tell people that anyone can create an emblem – surely that’s just going to lose them trade.
Two meatheaded adventurers, Blaze Pounder and the Bronze Bully, have been sizing each other up – it seems that they are rivals. An argument breaks out and the Bronze Bully punches Blaze Pounder hard. Pounder falls over backwards – dead!
While the Watch are summoned to escort the Bronze Bully from the premises, various people examine the body. Ruby realises that Blaze is heavily scarred, and seems to have an unexpectedly severe bruise developing around his torso. She confirms that the Bronze Bully’s punch shouldn’t have killed Blaze outright, but establishes that poison was not used. Batts Marbeq establishes that there doesn’t seem to be anything obviously arcane about the death. Penchant Mustelid, a doctor who has adventured with Blaze in the past, and who had been loudly accusing him of being a thief, also examines the body; he is seen leaving the room shortly afterwards, looking suspicious and hiding something under his vest.
Meanwhile, various magically inclined individuals are noting that several of the emblems on the walls around them look almost… arcane. They’re a little like scribing runes, but wrong somehow. There’s also something a little troubling about the arrangement of the emblems in question – their positioning seems… significant. Various adventurers take steps to remove the symbols, one way or another. Upon questioning, Talon reveals that they are the work of Aurora Gland, one of the guild’s most promising emblemers. Aurora has been doing little but doodle in a corner for much of the event. Her brother, Eustaceus Gland, explains to anyone who will listen that she *only* seems interested in doodling nowadays. While Talon claims that this is clearly just the mark of a dedicated professional, she takes Aurora outside, and then reappears alone, looking flustered.
Ruby has noticed that Blaze’s body now has an open wound in the chest, which was not there before. Jenkin uses taste of knowledge to establish that the bruising is *deep*, and not entirely new – this person has been experiencing a degree of internal bleeding for some time.
Emily confronts Talon, asking her to explain what happened between her and Aurora. Talon lies unconvincingly, but agrees to accompany a group of adventurers to the College of the Stars to establish for certain that there is nothing arcane about Aurora’s emblems.
At the College, our heroes meet with a particularly well-read scribing mage, who laughs at the symbols – as several of the party have observed, some of them resemble scribing runes, but backwards; others are entirely unknown to the college. There is nothing arcane about them in the slightest. On the way back, Talon nervously tells the adventurers that she hopes this solves the matter – but Emily traps her into revealing what she discovered from Aurora earlier: the emblems are sacred to a god, the Icon, which Aurora seems to be worshipping. Ruby, Emily and Batts track down Aurora at a nearby tavern. She is still doodling. She freely divulges that the Icon is a young god, and that it is still gaining power. The symbols are important, as is their configuration – the emblems arranged around its walls should serve to concentrate the god’s divine power. She was, however, expecting the effect to be the recruitment of new followers for the Icon, not the death of an adventurer. On Ruby’s suggestion, Batts is promptly initiated into the cult.
Back at the hall, another young god is gaining his divinity. Through the power of Francesco, and with the backing of five mildly deceived new followers, Armand Cargan has gained Personal Power. This can only end well.
Returning safely to his little surgery, Penchant Mustelid breathes a heavy sigh of relief, pulls the bloodied scalpel out of his pocket and wipes it clean - he is a little surprised that he managed to get away with removing it without anyone challenging him. This has been a peculiarly fortunate turn of events: not only has he successfully recovered his missing property, but he’s avoided any suspicion of medical malpractice. It looks like he’ll be patching adventurers up for a good few years yet - he’ll just have to be a little more careful, next time….
Following the fiasco that was their publicity event, the Emblemers’ Guild’s status is rather in question. A couple of adventurers take up the offer of having emblems created for them - for the discount price of 20R, Jenkin gets a nice one with a stylised quarterstaff surrounded by blobs of meat and embellished with a suitably not-quite-arcane symbol. Ruby also gains an emblem, although her attempts to extort money from the Emblemers don’t get her very far - the Guild seems to be experiencing some financial difficulties.
This insolvency is largely the result of legal action being taken by House Blackthorn, which is fast draining the Guild’s coffers. It seems that the Blackthorns are displeased by the discovery that their noble heraldic stoat is being appropriated by the guild to sell on to commoners. With the help of Lucian Graves and the lawyers of Bartholomew’s Inn, House Blackthorn constructs a case against the Guild; meanwhile, other noble houses line up speculative cases of their own.
Tabitha uses Always the Correct Path to find out the Traitor’s take on the situation - should Tabitha try to arbitrate? The traitor says no, presumably because this is a lost cause… and shortly afterwards, the Emblemers’ Guild goes bankrupt. Unable to pay their legal fees, and suffering considerable loss of credibility (they are popularly referred to as “Doodlers”, an epithet that seems to have originated with Ruby Halfskin), the Guild folds. Lucian gains 40R commission and contacts with House Blackthorn.
Interestingly, following the collapse of the Guild, those who took the opportunity of obtaining one of their limited edition emblems gain a certain amount of status from that fact - official emblems become highly sought-after as curiosities.
One person with a less than official emblem is Xavier, who now proudly displays a flag outside his room in the Wayfinders’ Guild. The image on the flag is Hugh’s crudely-drawn Church of Xavier. Hugh continues to develop a close relationship with Xavier, proposing all sorts of ideas of esoteric architecture and serving as something of a public relations adviser to the young god. Xavier, meanwhile, spends much of his time wandering around, trying to give people his divine favour. He has his first substantial success in the Crusty Barnacle tavern, where a large crowd of very drunk people all cheer loudly after he loudly announces that he’ll extend his divine favour to anyone who wants it. He now has lots of followers, although some of them may not be entirely clear on what he actually does.
Armand, meanwhile, extends his divine favour (and 25R apiece) to his five new followers: Simon Carter, Anthony, Paradai, Eustaceus Gland, and Hardy Quinn. Paradai soon becomes known as a steadfast advocate for the young god, and gains some status within Armand’s cult over the following weeks.
Through a series of clandestine negotiations, Armand gains Tamburlaine Terrec as his ward; in exchange, the young, foppish Percy Cargan is sent off to the Terrecs. While those with an interest in the dealings of the noble houses whisper of a possible change in the relationship between the Cargans and the Terrecs, it is not yet known how strong this bond is, nor what impact it might have on the Terrec/Darrish alliance.
However, this isn’t the only stirring of the cream of Acryn’s high society. Tabitha Terrec has invited Lucian Graves for tea at the Terrec Estate, strongly hinting that she would love to hear some stories of his many adventures. Lucian takes Tabitha up on her offer. Their meeting is rather stilted and formal to begin with, but exposed to Tabitha’s infectious enthusiasm, Lucian soon loosens up a little and starts telling tales of the time he helped free the god Sinha and the time he first journeyed into the Lost Spaces. Rumour has it that things are going rather well between the two of them.
Francesco Graves-Cargan, meanwhile, gets a cat. There is much speculation as to what sorts of strange and secretive dealings might have led to this outcome, and how the other houses will fare in relation to House Graves in the aftermath.
Various people ensure that their contacts are kept up-to-date with the events of that day. Prim and Armand make reports to the Civil Service; Paradai informs the True Council; Francesco reports back to his uncle. Prim also uses her contacts to obtain the names of anyone who might be able to get her substantial discounts on certain key resources. Her investigations throw up a couple of names: Vulcan Blacksteel, and (hah!) Jimmy Hoskins. She makes a note to get in touch with them at a later date.
Batts Marbeq wakes up one morning to a loud knocking on his door - it seems that he has visitors. Ruby and Jenkin have each turned up at the People’s College, eager to follow any leads on this mysterious god known as the Icon. Failing to locate Aurora after the sudden collapse of the Emblemers’ Guild, they have sought out Batts to find out whether his initiation into the cult has provided him with any insights. Batts has heard nothing, and blearily states his own theory that the Icon doesn’t even exist. Ruby and Jenkin, however, both seem a little distracted - they are staring at the strange symbols etched into the bony palms of Batts's hands….