March 23rd, 2150 AD
The player characters decide that they need to make preparations to attend the ball as soon as possible, and Jeanette tells them she can handle that. It is decided that Emily Harrington-Boothe and Haley Deuce should deal with obtaining clothes for the various characters for the night, as they both have an excellent sense of fashion. However, Andrew Hartwell announces that he is going to gain access to the ball via the servant entrance, working as a waiter and the like for the evening. The others are surprised at this, but acquiesce. He requests that Emily Harrington-Boothe take both of his revolvers, and strap them to her leg, as her rather poofy dress will conceal the weapons. She is surprised at this request, but agrees.
Jeanette Storm uses some of her social contacts on Isla Aether, notably Helea Cumulo-Nimbus (a friend from school whom she saved from an embarrassing incident that made the two of them best friends for life), to wrangle an invitation for herself and her friends to the Montcloude ball. While she engages Helea in banter and conversation, she is able to make the arrangements needed, but learns that it is, in fact, a masquerade ball! Helea volunteers to have someone arrange for costumes for both Jeanette and her female friends, and after telling Helea where to send the dressmakers, she returns to the Skypeak Snows.
Meanwhile, with the help of a couple of people on the street willing to answer their questions, Emily and Haley make their way to a costume shoppe in one of the more upscale marketplaces in the city. When they mention what they are looking for and why, they are told that the affair at the Montcloude estate is a masquerade ball, and that fortunately, they have come to the right place. Guessing the sizes of their male companions, the girls get costumes for the evening (though having to place a decent sized deposit down) for both themselves and Peter Bear Redwood and Arthur Quentin-Smythe. They return, bearing their purchases, back to the Skypeak Snows.
Elsewhere, Andrew Hartwell presents himself at the servant's entrance to the Montcloude estate, and is through clever use of simple sleight-of-hand and bluffing and conniving able to obtain a job for the evening as a serving man at the masquerade ball. He is escorted into the lavish mansion by several of Montcloude's guards, and shown to a fitting room, where a valet helps him get into a servant's gladrags.
The rest of the player characters, and Eliza Worthington, arrive at the Montcloude mansion in a carriage. Realising that they will not be able to bring their weapons into the ball, they leave their weapons in the carriage. Arthur Quentin-Smythe tries to bring his sword into the ball, claiming that the weapon is part of his gentleman's ensemble, but is denied. He receives a ticket from the coat check room for the sword so as to retrieve it later, like everyone else.
Once the player characters, minus Andrew, enter the ballroom, they see the magnificent gold statue, roughly head-sized, atop a pedestal with a heavy glass dome over it, forming the centrepiece to the ballroom. Eliza points out to the characters the gentleman, Lord James Montcloude, who is showing off the statue to several guests, one of whom is the Governor of Isla Aether, Vladmir Cumulo-Nimbus. During the course of events at the ball, several player characters try to slip away from the masquerade ball and explore the house, but are stopped each time by a guard, and told that the master's home is not part of the festivities, and then leads them back to the ballroom, or offers to show them the way to the garden or the exit.
Having had enough by this time, Haley Deuce decides that they need a distraction to find out what's going on. She goes out to the garden with the Governor's daughter, whose name is Chastity, and then after making her excuses, climbs the trellis to Lord Montcloude's bedroom. She finds a couple of nice knick-knacks that she decides to loot, and hears footsteps coming up the stairs! She decides this is the perfect time for a distraction, and wadding up all the bedding, she pours lamp oil over it, lights it on fire, and then tosses it out the window, while she hides behind a curtain. For good measure, she lights several of the curtains in the bedchamber, and then when the interloper, one of the guards, enters the room and sees the fire, she dashes for safety and heads back to the ballroom with her ill-gotten gains as the guard raises the alarm.
Everyone in the ballroom, of course, is somewhat stupefied and fearful at seeing this flaming debris falling from above, just outside the window, and Lord Montcloude starts shouting for the guards to come aand put out the fire, and see what's going on. He sends several other guards to deal with the fire in his bedroom chamber. While they're distracted, Emily, Peter, Jeanette, and Arthur manage to steal the golden statue from the ballroom (one lifts the dome, and two of the others steal the statue, while the fourth stands watch). With the distraction of the fires, the player characters manage to grab Eliza, and head for the front doors and walk out to their carriage, meeting up with Haley as they go. Arthur refuses to leave without Andrew, and he dashes back inside, followed by Haley.
When Lord Montcloude realises that the statue is missing, he order the guards to close the gates to the estate. Several of the guards race to the gates to obey the orders, and encounter Emily, Peter, and Jeanette attempting to leave in the carriage. Ordering the characters to dismount, the guards begin to search the carriage, but before they can find the statue, Emily, Peter, and Jeanette attack them, taking them by surprise. Jeanette refuses to allow the others to kill the guards, and instead, they leave them bound and unconscious by the bushes near the gates.
Meanwhile, Andrew is in the kitchen with a contingent of other servants, having worked his tail off during the course of the evening. Deciding that it's time he took a look around, he goes down the stairs to the cellar, and finds a doorway at which two guards are standing watch. Andrew pretends to be lost, asks them what they are doing, and whether they're ready for him to bring them their evening meal. The guards reply to his charming manner that they don't know what's on the other side of the door, only that they're to guard it, and that yes!, they are quite hungry.
Andrew goes back up to the kitchen and gets some food for the guards from the kitchen, makes up a couple of plates and some wine skins to take down to them. Having paid a visit to the ship's doctor, Milos Templeton, earlier, he doses the food and wine with the drug that he got the doctor to give him [Tom spent a scripting die in Fate to make it happen!], and so the guards are taken care of. Entering the room, Andrew finds the noteworthy Dr. Worthington, and three other cells. Two of them contain the merchants who recently sold Lord Montcloude the golden statue, but instead of paying them what he owed them, Montcloude locked them up here. The third cell's occupant is a female thief, Emma Sandwhirl, who had been caught trying to steal Montcloude's treasure before. Andrew learns from Emma that the key to the cells is worn on Montcloude's necklace. However, the thief says she can spring the locks if he manages to get her some proper tools. Andrew races out of the room, and finds one of female serving staff who has been ordered to get some rags and supplies for upstairs. He lures her towards the room with the cells before knocking her out, and grabs several of her hairpins. He gives them to Emma, and with a dexterity in and of itself, she frees herself and then the two merchants and then Worthington as well.
Returning to the ballroom, Andrew discovers that Arthur and Haley have returned to ensure his safety, but the three both learn that Montcloude has ordered the room shut, as Arthur pointed out to the master of the house that the thief must be somebody inside the ballroom! Arthur and Haley then proceed through the ballroom, interrogating all and everyone as to why they might or might not have stolen the statue. With suspicion cast on virtually everyone, Haley and Arthur are able to dissemble to the point that Montcloude is forced to let people depart.
Andrew descends back below ground, and does some searching around to see what lies in the cellars of the mansion. He finds a large keg of explosive and cannon powder, and an idea takes form... Moments later, he returns to Worthington, and takes up the uniform of one of the two guards, while he has Worthington dress in the uniform of the other, then proceeds to lock the guards in the cells. They then proceed up the stairs, minus Emma Sandwhirl who has long since vanished, as the business is being sorted out. They then walk out the front doors with everyone else, the infuriated Lord Montcloude and his favoured guests being left behind!
Meanwhile, after having collected most of their belongings from the Wayward Gull and allowing Eliza to pick up her belongings at the Skypeak Snows, Emily, Peter, and Jeanette are reunited with Arthur and Haley. The characters make for their ship, hoping to be reunited with Andrew. They turn in horror as they witness an explosion on the side of Mount Witney, the obvious detonation somehow of the Montcloude mansion! The colourful explosion rocks the skyloft somewhat, and debris rains down on the areas closest to the source of the fireworks, and the five characters are concerned about Andrew...
The player characters make their back back to the Bountiful Queen in the early hours of the morning, where Captain Stormfist hears about the player characters' exploits, and learns about Eliza's story. While the Captain says that she would like to help Eliza, there's no sign of her father and there's the matter of her missing crew. Andrew arrives back at the ship, with Eliza's father in tow, and she and her father are reunited. Andrew explains to the Captain and his fellow player characters that set off the "fireworks explosion" as a diversion, hoping that the others had got out by then, and how was he to know the size of the resulting explosion might be, or whether there was actual gunpowder? He's not a demolitions expert, after all...
With Edmund Worthington present and accounted for, the player characters are able to make a convincing argument for allowing the Worthingtons passage and sanctuary aboard the Bountiful Queen. Edmund Worthington tells Captain Stormfist that he may be able to make it worth her while... He says that he found a lake some 400 miles to the east of Desolation, that he calls Lake Ontawa - and it is here where he found the gold statue that the characters have already given into Captain Stormfist's custody. To reward the player characters for their rescue of him from the hands of the wealth crazy Aetherian, and to escape from Isla Aether, he agrees to take the Captain and her ship to this lake.
As you can see, this session of the Abney Park's Airship Pirates game was a lot of fun, had some very neat moments, a bit of fighting and a bit of romance, and was extremely enjoyable. The players told me they had a really good time with the session, and that the game really gave them all manner of interesting twists and turns to deal with, something that the Friday group likes. This is pretty much the halfway point (maybe, if things hold to course) of this adventure, and I'm looking forward to running the next session of this one.