The Chant in Sigil, Volume 1
"Word near the Slags in the Hive is that there's been an unsually strong scent of cinnamon in the area. A few missing Collector's from the local area seem to support the idea that well - *something* is up and active again. What's confusing is that from a few of the open sewers in the area there's recently been a strong scent of *licorice*..."
Jeremo the Natterer has been heard muttering wrily about a Conclave of Cats summoned by the Cat Lord's agents, who have gathered near Darkwell Court to discuss the threat of the cranium rats, and what to do about The Us. The furry felines are said to be appalled at the guerrilla tactics of the psychic rodents, and are threatening to pool their mind powers in like fashion. Jeremo wasn't muttering anything about dogs; perhaps they don't really care. Either way, strange silver-tailed cats have been slipping through doorways into the houses of the Golden Lords and others, on missions unknown.
"You didn't here this from me but there may or may not be a small army of vampiric kobald joining forces in beastlands and ploting to take revenge for all the other kobalds that were killed for no good reason..."
Reports coming in from Plague-Mort report an unusually high number of murders among preachers and practitioners of the darker faiths, particularly those with ties to tanar'ri. Chant is an individual, for unknown reasons, is striving to keep the burg from sliding by removing those whose beliefs may add to the pressure.
"Six berks newly returned to the Cage from a jaunt in the Ether were found dead in their hotel rooms last night. Witnesses heard the berks screaming in the middle of the night like they were cheek to jowl with a torqued off tarrasque. No signs of a struggle were found, each berk was alone in a locked room warded against teleporting, and none of them showed signs of violent attack, disease or poison. None of them were staying in the same case, they were each in a different inn. The berks had no known connections to each other and were never seen together. The only clue anyone found was a scrawl on the wall of one berk's room "FEAR". It was apparently written with a quill from the nightstand next to his bed right quick before he got put in the deadbook... "
"I heard from a couple cutters recently about a rather unpleasant jaunt to Gehenna. Seems they were exploring the third mount when the tiefer caught a whiff of cinnamon. He wasn't sure what exactly it was, but this berk grew up in the Hive, and that smell put a fierce panic in him. Two of them (the tiefer and a young bariaur lad) made it out through the nearest portal. The rest of their friends didn't make it out in time, although there was a splash of blood before the portal closed. Now, I don't know what the 'loths are up to, but I've got a suspicion and it's not one I'm keen on voicing."
"A bubber that I occasionally fish out of the tank at the Prison recently told me a "great and evil secret" about the Madhouse. 'Course, with him being a bit planetouched and all, I figured it was all screed. See, he kept chattering on about some kind of 'liquid despair' that the factors of the Bleakers had concocted from the essence of a demiplane of fear or something. The berk figured they would want to spread it through the portal pipelines that bring water into Sigil, to give everybody a 'taste of their philosophy', but I doubt the dabus would allow something like that to happen. So I left the bubber to his drink and walked back to my kip. Then I saw the first one. A lone dabus hovering low to the ground, his skirts trailing after him, moving lethargically across the pavement. It might have been nothing. After all, the dabus are quite enigmatic on a good day, but that lingering suspicion persisted. I don't know about you, cutter, but I don't drink anything that doesn't come out of a bottle these days...."
"Y'know, mate, maybe this isn't such a good idea. No, go ahead and tell them. But it seems so crazy. I didn't even get it from a reliable source. They need to know. Just pass it on, and then you can go. Well, all right... see, I heard - from a completely barmy cutter, he was by the Madhouse, even - that the Tower of Incarnate Pain is complete. Yeah, the one on Carceri that the 'leths keep pulling down? Here's the trick, though. Here's what makes it sound like a bigger pile of screed than anything anybody 'knows' about A'kin: It's not on any of the orbs. It's in between them, flying around through that strange space that permeates the plane. Based on a Prime spelljammer, so I've heard. They say it can get to any of the layers through some variant kind of plane shift. But really, this is a bubber's fancy, right? Who ever heard of a flying tower?"
"Something you should know about that place berk, that prime world its clueless natives call Ebberon, it's dying. No, no, don't run away yet, I'm far less crazy then I look. See I been there, I chatted it up with their "clerics" of the silver flame, I dropped from one 'ah the towers of Sharn straight into Sigil, but now I can't get back. Why not? Well besides being locked up in here like some kinda soding barmy the dragons won't let me back. Dragons y'ask, yeh of course dragons. The whole damn world is crawling wit 'em, Ebberon is a dragon! Y'see the whole soding place is a kinda cosmic contest, its a practical joke, two gods dreams y'see. Thoth and Chronepsis were having this squabble y'see, one thing led to another, and now both are thinkin they'll teach t'other the truth. See that old power Thoth, that tricky son of a guvner 'gypt power said faith makes reality, and the poor excuse for a lizard says no, no, that its the dragons that make the wheel go round. So they make this little contest y'see, they make a world together where people worship everything for no reason a'tall, and dragons love booksies an learnen more den coins. Now no one thinks of fate gods as gettin bored, but they do I say, cause eventually they got bored and called it a tie, sealed up their little world and forgot 'bout it. Meanwhile Ebberon has been goin' pure crazy it has. Stead of letting their souls go to the right and proper place they just get recycled in some half plane called Dolurrh, like a washboard takin out the stain of emotion and will, then they get recycled as brand new baby mortals right back on Ebberon. Thing is though its got nothing to do with how well a body does, just happens, no ascension, no greater good, just rinse and repeat. Slowly though their breakin through, the giant breach zones those clueless berks call "planets" (or pseudo-planes) will eventually open all the way up, and then bye bye Ebberon. Doesn't matter anyway, they're not real. But you, you're real, and ah course I'm, so you just sit an' listen while I spill the dark 'bout how I won the gift ah life back from Hades, so now I rule the planes from my grand palace here in the alternate reptile Sigil.(degenerates here into meaningless babble)"
"Now I's got a reputation as a bit of a sharper, but that just means I ain't a soddin' clueless, right? So I was jaunting in from the World Serpent Inn when I's find myself right behind some pretty spiffy knights...the real kind, that is, all dressed in plate like they's was getting ready for a barbecue...and they were just about finished fightin' something fierce that had emerged from a green flaming portal. The thing had tentacles and claws fit enough to put a hordling to shame, I tells you. Now that ain't the whole fun of the chant. I swear on me mother's grave, once they beat that thing back from wherever in the Hells it came, I heard one of 'em say "Ramander's going to get quite a surprise from THIS client". Now I ain't one to interfere in a body's legitimate business, but I be suspectin' that Lissandra's got a hand in this, and that Ramander's gonna have some mighty difficulty in collecting that particular toll. I've always thought that Lissandra's not as pretty on the inside as she is on the outside. Mebbe the competition finally got her all riled up, and this little portal jack-in-the-box could be her way 'o fighting back...."
"Speaking of Ramander - I've heard something quite amusing in the Hive lately. Apparently there's a new drinking song making the rounds, 'Ramander the Not So Wise'. Cute little song really, detailing his failings. I hear tell someone was whistling it walking through the Lady's Ward last night. (It's catchy and simple, like most drinking songs are.) And well - Ramander just about had a heart attack, started yelling like my next door neighbor yells at kids to 'get off the lawn!' "
"I was minding my own Business stumbling back from my favorite watering hole The Red Pony. Yeah you know that little blue collar joint where hard working berks can get a good drink and have a little entertainment as the fights break out. I hired myself a lantern lad outside and was getting myself back to get a little shuteye when I saw a band of people all dressed up with masks and images of the curses Aoskar that Portal the one they used to worship at the Shattered Temple before the Old Lady killed him. Why would they want to go around bringing that name up again? Then again I did have a few drinks so take it as you will."
The bandits of the Great Pass were once rogue soldiers from Rigus - some of them even from the preceding town before Rigus was ever built. They seek to end their fugitive existence, so when they steal from travelers, they steal more than jink; they steal civilization itself. They steal sophistication; they steal political instinct. As their victims become progressively more barbarous, so the bandits become more subtle and urbane. Eventually they may create a complex city of their own from the leavings of those whose social nature they plunder, assuming the armies of Rigus don't slaughter them all first.
"Funny you should ask 'bout them little gear-boxes, since a friend 'n me, we gots us some innarestin' bit of chant on them modron fellas. We consults us a Guvner sage to give us the dark on how to fight them cubes without resortin' ta pig-stickers, but he's all enigmatic-like and tells us that they be trapped in the wheel of dharma and won't be gettin' out without some kinda chaotic support. Yup, keep pouring that bub, cutter, if you want me ta keep rattlin' me bone-box. So the sage he says even the modrons are subject to chaos, thorsblood, 'n that the parai were the perfect law-critters, bein' a hive mind 'n all, but when the modrons deposed them it was some kinda degeneration, he called it. Then the formians took over most o' Mechanus, and he be claimin' that their organic forms are even more devoluted or somethin'. What, never heard o' devolution? Neither did this berk, lemme tell ya. I got a boxful from that greybeard. Guvners think they's got a new theory for why even lawful-pedantic types mess up sometimes. Callin' it devolution. Races o' civilized beings gettin' all outta whack and turnin' barbaric, even someplace like Mechanus. S'truth. Sinkers're gonna love that one when it gets out. 'Eard it here first, blood. Me, I'm just waitin' fer the cannibal modrons to show up."
"Hey, nobody can accuse me of being a bubber. I'm clean and have been for ten years now. So you might want to put a more faith in me than your laugh, if you know what's good for you. You don't want to be asking for healing at the Weary Spirit Infirmary. Sure, they're sawbones and chirurgeons of the lowest calibre, but I've heard that it gets worse. The chant is that Chief Tetch has a new "shock therapy" treatment. Patients call it "a roll in the vines". If you're real obstinate-like with Tetch and don't take too well to the lightning treatment, he'll arrange for you to be thrown into a sweet-swelling room full of tiny immature razorvine. The smell is supposed to connect your mind with the pain of the vines, so Tetch's assistant says. Thing is, a whole whack of patients and bleakers have been disappearing after a roll in the vines, and a friend of mine says Tetch is letting some bladelings use the Infirmary as a kip. I also overheard one of the wardens rattling his bone-box about razorvine growing out of control in one of the less-used wings. Sure sounds like Chief Tetch has a handful in his house..."
"...But this is too sodding queer, I have trouble believing it myself! I was in the pub, Agony's Rest, scragging a few winks in a jink kip upstairs, all by my lonesome, when I had a dream one night about the time I ran into a Prime beastie called a bonnacon. It's a like horse, but it has a head like a bull and horns that torque inward so they're sodding useless for attacking anything. Gar, can the sodding things let go a vapour, though! I saw one let go a fart that blew down an acre of barley, burnt it all to ashes! Well, I woke up and made to get me shoes on, and there in the middle of me sodding room is a bloody bonnacon! Solid as the spire, no sodding illusion, standing right in me way! Well, you could have knocked me over with a sideways skeg! Flay me I know how it got in me kip! Well, bonnacons are the most cowardly beasties on the Prime, any sodding noise or movement can make them turn tail and hie away, and that's when they're sodding dangerous, cause they lose control of their bowels, let it all fly. So I was just sitting there real calm like, trying not to scare it, stirring me worms trying to think of a way to get it out of me room, when all of a sudden some berk from the bar bangs on the door to tell me to pay up or get flayed. Well, the sodding berk scares the blek out of the bonnacon, and I mean that sodding literal like, and it lets loose a blast of flaming gas that knocks me straight through the door and burns the whole bloody room to ashes! The blast blows out the room and down the hall, knocking over everyone there and lighting up the carpet, the tapestries, the walls, even the bloody ceiling! I'm lying there burnt like a piece of toast on top of the berk who knocked on the door, and everyone in the sodding case is going barmy, screaming and running around, while the flaming bonnacon is running loose in the hall way blowing out flaming blasts of stench! Well, I got out of there right quick, but the top floor of that place has only half a roof, it smells like the inside of an otyugh's arse, and the owner wants me dead! Worst of all though, I can't sodding sleep a wink for fear of what I'll dream up next! "
"Is there a way to reach Agathion, the deepest and most forbidden layer of howling Pandemonium? An upright man just returned from the Madhouse and talked for many hours about two groups of planewalkers scarpering through the caverns towards Agathion. They both claimed to know a path, and they weren't telling porkie pies. Perhaps the Ingress knows a path. Perhaps that path is both horrendous and unthinkable, so unthinkable that even the archmage Shekelor did not imagine it, but merely stumbled upon it in his madness, and was consumed by it. Fear not, for the Ingress will take you were you want to go...but you may not arrive as you had left."
A friend of mine happened to be wandering around in the Lower Ward last night, and spotted a familar form lurking outside the back door to the Friendly Fiend's shop. Colcook with a bouquet of what looked like roses. Now don't ask me *why* but he knocked and gave them to whoever opened the door there, before scooting off down the alley way. Too bad my friend ran into him on the way out, powers rest his soul in piece..."
With contributions from: Clueless, Krypter, Kaelyn, Bob the Efreet, Samloyal23, bonemage, Alhesander, Berserk Seraph, dread pirate swan