The group settles on a plan to make a copy of the ring disc and give that to the vampires in exchange for the family. Mark and Giovanni both have decent crafting skills, but the ring disc has a distinct supernatural “feel” and they know it’s beyond their abilities to duplicate. They talk about ways to get a copy fast. The Goblin Market is thrown out, but most of the group is uncomfortable with that, except as a last resort, so they decide to visit Alfonso Sabio at the Bellagio again. Sean and Alfonso exchange some cryptic emails hinting that certain undesirable groups want the ring disc and they are looking to make a copy. Alfonso agrees to see them and says they’ll discuss the details in person.
Back to the Bellagio
At the Bellagio, they meet Alfonso and his assistant, Danielle. Alfonso greets Sean warmly and seems pleased to meet Giovanni and John. He’s cool to Mark. Mark looks at his feet while he apologizes for accusing Alfonso of evil intent. Alfonso accepts and insures Mark he has no intention of bringing about an apocalypse or any other form of harm. After mark is forced to apologize, Alfonso has Danielle bring the cart out again. It takes about five minutes and when teh cart comes it’s loaded with still steaming pot pies. (Alfonso and Danielle argue like a married couple; Alfonso says they were in a hurry and Danielle answers that she just found the recipe…). They head back to the sitting room and get down to the business of making a copy of the disc ring.
Alfonso asks why they need a copy. The rest of the group looks at Sean to make the decision what he says, since it’s his family. Sean tells Alfonso that vampires kidnapped someone’s family and are demanding the disc ring as ransom. Alsonso says that he’s still disappointed that they aren’t sellign the disc ring to Mr. Wynn, but that he’ll help them to keep it away from the vampires.
Alfonso can’t make the copy, but he has contacts throughout the market and tells them their best bet is to find Murkelhop, a faerie master craftsman in the Goblin Market. He’s the best forger available and he can make an exact replica in a coupel hours. Alfonso gives them directions to the Goblin Market (the entrance is in the back of a high-end boutique called the Black Swan just off Fremont Street). He also tells them there’s an gatekeeper at the entrance that everyone calls “Grandfather” that will probably give them some sort of task to compelte before he’ll gie them the password. They ask Alfonso why he can’t jsut give them the password and Alfonso answers them that Grandfather always seems to know who does that and he wasn’t going to risk losing access to the Market.
The group asks for the recipe to the pot pies from Danielle then they take their leave to seek out the Goblin Market.
‘No, I want real news…’
The group heads the several blocks from the Bellagion on the Strip to the Fremont Street Experience pedestrian mall downtown. They push through the crowds (the daytime crowd is less dense, but still significant). They walk past the Black Swan several times before they find it. Compared to the neon signs and the giant barrel canopy overhead, the Black Swan is only marked with a small, tasteful picture of a black swan over a stairway heading down to a store filling the bottom floor of a several story building.
When they walk in they’re met by a pretty, young hostess. Her professionalism slips just a moment when she sees the scruffy group (everything they have on combined costs less than the shoes the hostess is wearing) but she covers it quickly. She asks how she can help them. They glance around at the wares. Nothing has a price tag (if you have to ask, you can’t afford it).
Sean turns on the charm, getting a sincere smile form the hostess and says enough that she realizes they’re one of those customers so she sends them through a hallway in th back under a sign that reads: ‘Crafts and Custom Wood Carving’.
They pass by dressing rooms then through the hall to a small alcove in the back. A grizzled, small man dressed in old man clothes is sitting and whittling at a stick. Behind him is a thick battered wooden door that would look more at home in a medieval manor.
‘You want to go through, I suppose,’ the wizened man, obviously ‘Grandfather’, asks without looking up, ‘so what’s the passphrase?’
‘We were told you could help us.’
‘Oh, I can.’
‘Mortals. Always in such a rush.’ Grandfather finally looks up at them. ’I’m stuck back here. Tell me some news.’
The group look at each other then each tries thowing out headliens they can remember, from Iraq and Afghanistan to the elections to the economy.
‘Ugh, boring! I want real news,’ Grandfather says, clearly losing interest in the group.
Largely by accident, the group throws out a piece of gossip and Grandfather’s eyes light up. So Sean runs out and buys a People magazine. Grandfather oohs as he grabs it and begins flipping through it. They ask if they can go through and he tells them they still have to compelte a task. He rummages through a leather pack and pulls out a boxed set of DVD’s; it’s a complete season of the Penn and Teller show.
‘I already have Penn’s autograph. Get me Teller’s so it’s a set. They’re doing a show in Vegas right now."
The group exchange exasperated looks, but head out with the DVD in hand (they don’t let Mark hold it jsut to be safe).
With a mix of chutzpah, a hat, and a clipboard, Sean walks right into the stage where Penn and Teller are rehearsing as if he has every right to be there. He chats them up, somehow turning exasperation into bemusement and gets the sutograph with suprising ease. Then he walks out with a wave. The rest of the group are staring at him.
Back at the Black Swan, Grandfather gives them the passphrase (‘By Autumn’s knees, by Winter’s toes, by Summer’s hair and Spring’s nose, please, please let me in’) and let’s them in.
The Goblin Market
The doorway open onto a cobblestone path leading out of a short alleyway. shrubs line the walkway. There’s no dominant season; patches of snow, chill breezes, and red, yellow, and fallen leaves are mixed with spring buds, warm sunlight, and brillaint summer green. The market itself has a core of permanent shops built in a range of architectural styles surrounded by a much larger ring of temporary shops, stalls, carts, and hawkers. The whole market is a mish-mash of styles, from scores of Earth historical periods to otherworldly styles. And walking through teh market were humans, faeries, vampires, demons, spirits, and stranger things. The Market was Accorded Neutral Ground (and if the Unseelie Accords aren’t enough, the squat, vicious goblins patrolling the grounds with their disturbing assymetrical faces and eagerness for violence went a long way to keep shoppers in line).
The first person the group runs into is a small almost-human girl selling ribbons for a penny. The group each buy one (she digs a 1965 penny out of Sean’s offered handful of pennies and squeals with delight) and ask her where they can find Murklehop. She directs them to the heart of the market center.
Murklehop’s shop is inside of a cave with a finely-carved door. inside, Murklehop is an inhumanly round figure with a droppy moustahce, a dirty shirt, and a dirtier apron.
The ytell him what they want and he assures them he can do it. He brings up price. First he asks for Giovani’s faith, then John’s “gift”, then Mark’s magic, then all memories that bring Sean joy. They’re staring at him and don’t hear the door open again until a woman’s voice behind them tells them that Murklehop takes money, too.
Murklehop glowers and whines, ‘Fabienne, you did this to me 30 years ago, too!’
‘I can’t just stand by,’ the woman, apparently named Fabienne. She flashes a radiant smile at the group. She is stunningly beautiful in a bright, full of life way. She appears human (though it’s best not to make too many assumptions in the Goblin Market).
‘Fine,’ Murklehop says grudgingly, ‘but no U.S. dolalrs. I don’t want that Monopoly money. I’m a businessman! I follow economic policies (‘quantitive easing’, bah!). I want something that will still be worth something in 20 years. I want $40,000 equivalent in gold or Swiss Franks.’
Fabienne asks them if it’s their first time in the Goblin Market. When they ask why she thinkg that, she points at the ribbons and tells them not to tie the ribbons up in any little girl’s hair unless they wanted them to wake up strangled. Then she wishes them well and says she has business to conduct with Murklehop.
As they’re leaving to find a money changer or gold trader, they hear Murklehop asks Fabienne how the ‘Sun King’ was doing. She answers that he’s up to the usual, still working on his grand quest.’ Then they hear Murkelhop say something abotu the usual price and the door closes.
The money changer changes the bearer bonds in the briefcase into gold at a 5% exchange rate. The gold comes in the form of Kruger Rands from Apartheid South Africa. With a sack of gold coins, the group heads back to Murklehops workshop. The door is closed with a sign not to disturb.
Thirty minutes later the door opens and Murklehop gestures them in. He holds up two boxes.
’There you go; perfect copies," he says proudly. And the two ring discs are indeed identical, from age marks to scratches down to the unsettling aura around each. They tie a ribbon around the first to keep clear which one is the copy for the Red Court.
As they’re leaving, John fails to notice a small pick pocket with a fox’s tail reach in his pocket until the thief’s hand brushes his bare siade and he feels a jolt as his power activates. He grabs the thief’s wrist and the fight over what’s in his hand (a cell phone).
The rest of the group sees the two struggle. The two are moving in slow motion (John hasn’t noticed yet.
John gets the phone back and teh pick pocket gets away. As soon as John lets go, the thief moves at such blinding speed that he’s gone in a blur.
John is still moving in slow motion (he’s stolen the power of Slowness from the pick pocket, who apparently needed it to slow down enough to interact withthe Market). The group has to drag John through the Market and out through the Black Swan, then Fremont Street to their car, all while he’s still moving at a crawl. Then they get in their car and hop on I-15 to the next stop.
As they’re driving, suddinely John’s slowness blossoms out to include the entire car. Suddnly traffic around them seems to speed up and a split moment later another car smashes into their back side. The spin out from the collision is also in slow motion, and the other car is slowed to their speed as soon as it enters their vicinity.
They speed bakc up to normal (including John) and the other driver is saying that they came to almost a complete stop almost instantly, with no break sounds. The cope some around, brush off teh man’s story and give the ticket to him, since he was following and the group was in their lane.
Visitors at Home
Back at Sean’s shop, they try to finish any last minute preparations while they wait for the Red Court to call with the rendevous time and place. Then there’s a knock at the door.
It’s Monique, who has hired Sean for strange jobs invovling the supernatural before. She tells Sean she’s heard he’s having trouble with the “Reds”; one of her associates was at Tony Demeo’s party and heard his conversation. Sean and Mark remember a woman there at the end who had a similar disturbing but scintillating presence as Monique.
She then tells them that if they just go in guns blazing, then they’ll die. She tells them she knows where teh rendezvous will be and also tells them some of the Red Court weaknesses (sunlight burns them and they have no armor on their belly).
And so ended the fourth session. Tune in next time for the rescue (or slaughter?) of Sean’s family from the Red Court vampires.