At The Sign of the Dreaming Pharoah is the 9th episode of The Chain. It aired on March 27, 2019.
The Balance Spring Disassembled
After chasing the makeshift boys of the Balance Spring across the Piazza, a district in the Stays, and defeating them in combat, the senior officers of the Chain take back the Chronicle and begin to interrogate the one remaining boy. The boy explains why they stole the book as his speech skips and jumps like a broken record player. He says they were sent to receive it by a figure he calls Grandmother, but he refuses to tell them much about her apart from that. Judge inspects the boy and finds a maker’s mark, a stylised gear with a long latch.
After some conversation, the boy’s face mechanically transforms into that of an old woman, who apologizes for the trouble and says she will leave the Chain to the more senior guilds. The boy transforms back, before going completely limp. The Chain root around in his body, taking the timing crystal. They conclude that the Grandmother had been hired by a gentleman who wants the Chronicle, and discuss ways to keep it safe.
Captain Cinzia arrives, running onto the scene. She makes inquiries and politely scolds the Chain for taking the law into their own hands. She informs the team that the Balance Spring don’t usually operate in the Stays, and says it might be possible to find out who hired the Watchmaker, another name for Grandmother. Before making her exit, she recommends the Prince’s Shadow to the party as a place to stay without being noticed by guards.
Dressing and Sleeping Like the Upper Crust
The Chain’s attention turns to securing lodgings. King gets in touch with Angel using Sending, asking to meet him at the apple cart, along with Ox and Roach. Slim takes a short rest, enjoying more caramel sausages. Once the three arrive, they are sent to keep a low profile at the Prince’s Shadow, listening for work.
The senior officers intend to stay at the Pharaoh’s Dream, and head to a tailor Boots knows in the Shavings to get suitable attire. At Augustino, Bonito, and Campegno, they convince the tailor to make a set of very fancy clothes to pick up in 3 weeks, as well as a set of clothes fancy enough for the Pharaoh’s Dream tonight. Slim is very impressed by the styles, horrifying the tailor by wearing his armor over the top.
The Pharaoh’s Dream is a hotel patronized by the Fulcrum. It is very opulent; tall, cosmopolitan, topped with a dome that is not authentically Khemharan, and staffed by people who use makeup to appear Khemharan. There are palm trees, and is furnished with a lot of gold and sandstone, letting in lots of light and air. Copper buys a monocle and heads to the stables to make sure Bigcat is treated well. Judge threatens the clerk in order to facilitate the booking of four adjoining penthouse rooms.
The penthouse rooms are on the 5th floor and each has a Khemharan bodyservant on hand to serve it. There are four restaurants restaurants to choose from; One specializing in Riojan cuisine, one of Khemharan cuisine, one of seafood, and a fourth one. They choose the Riojan place and head down to dinner before retiring, most upstairs in the rooms, Copper and Bigcat down in the stables. Once he has ensured the staff are paid, Slim enjoys every amenity, waited on hand and foot by his bodyservant.
The next morning, Broadsheets are delivered to the rooms. Today’s broadsheet tells of the fall of Blackbottom, as well as reporting the Chain’s interview from the previous day. The tone is less than completely celebratory. It also tells of disagreements between the high noble houses: Count Gian Alvaro warns against allowing Ajax to roll up the map, while Lady Fausta Minetti, President of the Imperial Bank and speaking for the Fulcrum, is less against Ajax, noting that the city was founded by an emperor. On reading this, the Chain ask a servant to attempt to set up a meeting with Gian Alvaro. They discuss factions, knighthoods, and mercenary groups with the servant, and he commits to helping the Chain make connections with other mercenaries.
The Three Jobs
A squat, middle aged man in an abbot’s chasuble approaches the front desk looking for the Chain of Acheron. He introduces himself as Abbot Noffrey, from the church of St. Pellario the Aspirant. They move to a café called Three Eggs, a high end boutique place near the Pharaoh's Dream, and Noffrey gets to the favour he needs to ask. There’s an artefact made by the church that they gave to the Prince’s servant when they administered the island. They want to give it to Lady Shirome as a goodwill token, but it’s in the Citadel. The Citadel is an old abandoned fortress on the Stays which is occupied; Noffrey assumes by pirates. He speaks openly about the forthcoming conflict, and offers to put the Chain in touch with people who can grant knighthoods. They commit to thinking about it and getting back to him tomorrow.
Meanwhile Judge is asking questions of the concierge, learning about the leaders of the Broadsheets Guild, the Tieflings of Capital, and Duke Prospero Alvaro.
They move from Three Eggs to the apple cart to meet Angel, ordering caramel sausages once more. Angel seems happy, having met a dead man at the Prince’s Shadow who wants to meet with the senior officers of the Chain. Leading the Chain to the Dogleg district, Angel shows the team the tavern, sooty and unclean.
The dead man is at a table. Though he looks at first like a fit man with short hair, closer inspection reveals sunken gray skin and flies. He smells like old crypts and speaks in a low rasp, and his well-ordered teeth are beginning to yellow. He will not reveal the house that contracted him, but he details the mission he’s offering. The target is a crown belonging to a certain noble house, currently located on the Isle of Madness in the Sunless Sea, a place in the World Below. He entertains sexist notions about whether women belong in leadership roles, but promises to get the Chain anything they need to perform the mission, as well as generous payment and access to a curator of rarities. The Chain take his card and tell him they will be in touch.
Back at the Pharaoh’s Dream there is an Elf in the bar waiting to speak to the Chain. He is wearing an elaborate hat, bows and introduces himself, ordering a round of drinks. This is the Honorable Pursuivant Illithweth, representing the Royal Heraldric Society. He wants the party to find a lost courier as well as the document the courier was sent to get. The document, a 300 year old scroll entitles Felice Brunadetti to use a Former Prince’s heraldic devices.
The Chain discuss their options, settling on the Underdark Job.