her story


Everyone's first trip through the Breach is different. Some people only experience a minor tingle as they pass between the worlds while others are twisted and deformed by the crossing. It is a risk that most people take, however, for the promise of wealth that exists in Malifaux.

The Guild always keeps a few members of the Witch Hunters present when a new train comes to Malifaux to catch any whose latent gifts for magic were awakened by the Breach. There are stories told of what happens to those who are taken away by the Witch Hunters, and none of them are pretty.

On the most recent crossing, three individuals had something inside of them come to life somewhere in between worlds, and none of them intend to go quietly should the Stalkers come for them...

 

Almost as soon as she climbed off the train, the Witchling Stalkers were after her. She ducked underneath the railings at the train station to get away from the creepy, hooded people, but they doggedly followed her, like bloodhounds with a fresh scent.

From the shadows of a nearby alleyway, the Widow Weaver twirled her parasol and watched the child’s flight with concern. She felt a pang of sympathy for the little one, and after a moment of hesitation, she lifted her dress in her clawed hand and started after the girl to protect her. 

The hooded Witchlings ran the girl down relatively quickly, finally catching up with her in a residential neighborhood. She screamed for help and pressed herself against the side of a two-story home, but if anyone was watching from their windows, they seemed unwilling to get involved in the affairs of the Witch Hunters.

The Witchlings closed in on her, pistols raised as they took aim at the girl and prepared to end her life. That might have been the end, had it not been for the impossibly large teddy bear that strolled out from behind the house, its sewn lips pulled back in a grin that exposed a mouth full of nightmarish fangs. The lead Witchling jerked its pistol to the side, trying to fire upon the new threat, but it was too slow: the teddy bear quickly closed the distance between them and swiped at the creature with a massive, clawed paw. It caught the Witching on the side of the head, decapitating it through sheer force and sending its head sailing through the air to slam against the shuttered window of a house across the street. A moment later, the Witchling’s body and head both burst into flames, the latter setting fire to the rose bushes in which it had landed.

The child ducked down and covered her head with her arms, trying to hide from the monstrous bear and the roar of gunfire. She could smell the acrid stench of smoke, but somehow, neither bullet nor claw found their way to her. Peeking out from behind her fingers, she saw the teddy bear standing between her and the hooded figures, using its massive bulk to protect her from the hail of bullets the hooded people were firing in her direction. The bear was on fire, but that didn’t seem to hinder it as it swatted the smaller Witchlings swarming around it. 

It brought its massive paw down on one of the hooded people with a loud crunch. The Witchling exploded in a ball of fire as it died, setting off its companion and lighting the teddy bear up like a pyre. Its enemies defeated, the bear turned back to face the girl, its blackened, grinning visage even more terrible through the flames. It raised a flaming paw, and the girl braced herself for the single swat that would end her life. Instead of killing her, however, the bear just waved farewell, took one step backwards, and collapsed to the ground with a massive thud. 

Realizing that the monstrous bear had never meant her harm, the girl raced into the backyard of the house, pulled a bedspread down from the laundry line, and hurried back to the bear to pat out the flames. After the flames were out, she looked over its charred and unmoving form, tears already starting to form in her eyes. “Thank you,” she whispered, taking its huge, blackened paw in her own, smaller hands.

Something moved to her side and the child looked up, gasping as she caught sight of a humanoid spider wearing a fancy dress. One of its chitinous hands was clutching a parasol, but the other was holding a scissors, a needle, and a ball of thread out to her. “You can save it,” the spider woman whispered, her voice surprisingly kind. “It’s not too late, but you must hurry, my darling.”

After a moment of hesitation, the girl reached forward, taking the sewing materials. “Can you show me how?” she asked, her voice nervous. The spider nodded silently and stepped closer to show the girl where to make the first cuts.

NEVERBORN VICTORY

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The Child has sewn the remains of the teddy bear that protected her into a smaller bear, but from the way it’s moving, it’s going to need a few more fabric scraps before it’ll be back to fighting strength. According to the Widow Weaver, she should use fabric worn by powerful people… maybe her new friends could help her find some?

 

The child had finally found a friend in the teddy bear that had saved her, and now that it was fully repaired (or at least, fully repaired as a normal-sized teddy bear) she had time to work with the leftover scraps to create a few new friends for herself with the help of the spider woman.

They weren’t quite as animated as her teddy, and it liked to push them around a bit, but they were all quite eager to play with her and keep her safe from harm. The spider woman had bid farewell to her once the last stitch was in place, but the child knew that she would be keeping an eye on her from time to time. Just how she knew that, she couldn’t say... it was more of a feeling than any sort of logical reasoning on her part.

Still, a child can only play for so long, and one night, as she was cuddled up with her teddy in an abandoned house in the slums, she poured her heart out to her new friend. She hadn’t come through the Breach alone, after all, and her parents were still out there, somewhere, no doubt looking for her. She enjoyed playing with all the dolls, but at some point, she would have to return home. The teddy bear’s eyes narrowed as she talked about how much her parents loved her, and in its small, stuffed chest, it felt jealousy begin to grow where there was happiness and love before.

The teddy waited until the child was asleep before slipping out of her arms and gathering its stuffed brothers and sisters to its side. Using pantomime, it explained the situation to them: the Loved One was going to leave them and return to her parents. The wicked dolls began to bounce up and down in agitation, but the teddy calmed them down with a gesture from its clawed paws. It had a plan.

A half hour later, the dolls crawled out of the ruined house and scattered across the city, each one seeking out a copy of the train manifest that listed the passengers that arrived in Malifaux with the Loved One. If they could figure out who the Loved One’s parents were and then murder them, she couldn’t ever go back to them.

They could play together forever!

Of course, the puppets were going to need some help, but fortunately, humans didn’t seem to need very many reasons to kill each other. 

NEVERBORN VICTORY

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Small puppets are going around with a list of passengers that were on a train that recently arrived in Malifaux. They seem to want the people on the list murdered, which is a strange request… but the rumor is that they’ve been giving Soulstones to anyone that helps them. 

Let’s face it, your crew has probably killed people for less, right?

 

Normally, Rusty Alyce could care less about how people got themselves killed in Malifaux. Sure, sometimes it was funny to watch, but really, if she wasn’t involved in some way, it was difficult to get very worked up about such things. To make matters worse, most people died in really boring ways, and the Guild Guard always aimed at the chest instead of going for the more exciting (in her estimation at least) head shot.

Thus, when she came across the mercenary couple being cut apart by puppets wielding long knives, Alyce found her mood brightening. Not only had she stumbled across a novel little scene, but the puppets were just small enough and just fast enough to make for good target practice. Grinning wickedly, she pulled out her gun and blew the first one into a cloud of dirty stuffing. 

The other puppets scattered, but Alyce was right on their tail, chasing them through the city, firing off her Clockwork Seeker whenever one fell behind or glanced over its shoulder to see if it was still being chased. One by one, she gunned each of the puppets down, until there was only one remaining. It ducked into an abandoned house and Alyce was right behind it, her clockwork fingers shoving more bullets into the pistol’s empty chamber.

What she found inside was her second surprise of the day. Crouched in a corner, hugging the doll in her arms, was a little girl with wide, frightened eyes. A tiny teddy bear was doing its best to put itself between Alyce and the girl, but it wasn’t big enough to cover her completely, and if it stepped forward to attack Alyce, it would leave its charge exposed. 

“Ooh, playing with dollies, are we?” Rusty Alyce dramatically clicked back the hammer of her revolver and pointed it at the girl. Her mechanical arm twitched, complimenting her on looking so thoroughly badass. “Totally badasss,” she murmured in quiet agreement.
She debated whether to say something else, maybe a jab at the girl’s stupid clothes, but dismissed such thoughts almost as soon as they entered her head. She didn’t want someone to know that she cared about fashion or clothes or those pretty dresses with the poofy bottoms that some of Leveticus’ bimbonies sometimes wore. She especially didn’t want her hand to know that. She’d never hear the end of it.

Her fingers twitched, and she pointed the pistol right at the girl’s frightened face, lined up the shot and...

...staggered to the side as Leveticus slapped her hand out of the way. Her finger tightened on the trigger on reflex, blowing a hole in the wall a few inches to the side of the girl’s head. “Oh, come on!” she shouted, whipping around to face him. “What the hell?!”

Leveticus had maneuvered between Alyce and the girl, putting himself directly in her line of sight. “She’s an orphan, Alyce. One that seems to have no small amount of magical talent.”

Alyce pointed the gun at his chest, silently debating whether she could hit the girl by shooting through him. It was sketchy, but maybe if she angled the bullet just right...

“We’re taking her home with us,” he announced, his tone commanding and impossibly smug. “She needs a safe place to stay while she learns to harness her powers. She’s of more use to us alive than dead.”

Alyce raised an incredulous eyebrow. “And you think that living with you will be safe for her?” Leveticus just glared daggers at Alyce before turning around and explaining the situation to the frightened girl.

.

OUTCAST VICTORY

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The Child has been informally adopted by Leveticus and Rusty Alyce, but she’s starting to wonder if she might not have been better on the streets. For one, Leveticus was more than a little bit creepy, though he certainly seemed to care a great deal about her education. He brought her all sorts of books, mostly advanced subjects like chemistry and biology that were far beyond her understanding, and then grew upset when she didn’t immediately take to them, often blaming it upon her own faults rather than his own unreasonable expectations. Even when she actually showed some talent with his own entropic magic, he seemed disappointed that she wasn’t learning fast.

Alyce was a hundred times worse, however, and whenever the Child saw the older woman, she was always either loading her gun or mumbling terrible things to her clockwork arm. It was almost like she was prowling nearby, keeping an eye on Leveticus and waiting for him to wander too far away to save her again.

Needless to say, when the opportunity came to get out of the house and go gather some scrap for the shop, the Child leapt on the opportunity. Maybe if she brought something useful, they’d both back off a bit? It was worth a try...

 

The Child has been informally adopted by Leveticus and Rusty Alyce, but she’s starting to wonder if she might not have been better on the streets. For one, Leveticus was more than a little creepy in how much attention he kept giving her, though he certainly seemed to care a great deal about her education. She had barely been in his strange pawn shop for half an hour before he dropped a stack of dusty books in front of her and started lecturing her. It was mostly advanced subjects like chemistry and biology that were far beyond her understanding - beyond the understanding of most adults, she suspected - but he seemed to be convinced that she would pick it up immediately.

When she didn’t, Leveticus blamed her for not understanding the material and lectured her on the virtues of patience and focus, which she would need in order to overcome what he believed to be her natural intellectual deficits. Even when she finally showed some talent for the entropic magic that he used, Leveticus just seemed disappointed that she wasn’t learning it faster.

Alyce was a hundred times worse, however, and whenever the Child saw the older woman, she was always either loading her gun or mumbling terrible things to her clockwork arm. It was almost like she was prowling nearby, keeping an eye on Leveticus and waiting for him to wander too far away to save her again.

Needless to say, when the opportunity arose to escape the shop and go gather some scrap, the Child leapt at the opportunity. If she found something useful, she might be able to prove her worth and in doing so lesson some of the pressure that Leveticus kept pushing onto her. 

Her time on the street had given the Child a few ideas about where she might find some scrap metal, and with her teddy bear in tow, she traveled to the most distant one, hoping to put some distance between her and Alyce. It proved to be the right choice, as after only a half hour of searching, she came across some sort of strange mechanical dog. It was as big as she was and seemed quite thoroughly broken, most likely as a result of the gaping tear in its underbelly. 

It took hours for her and the teddy to drag the mechanical animal back to the pawn shop, and by the time they arrived, it was already midway through the night. Leveticus was awake, however, and though he initially began to scold the Child for staying out past her curfew (which she was unaware she even had), his voice trailed off as he noticed the mechanical dog. 

It was a Komainu, Leveticus explained, a machine that had been built to mimic the guardian statues found in the Three Kingdoms. The Ten Thunders bound ancestral spirits to the metal used to forge the Komainu, allowing them to exist somewhat partially in the spirit world, as well as the mortal realm. It was quite a surprise to him that the Child had found one, as the Ten Thunders usually go to great lengths to retrieve any damaged Komainu.

As he explained the history of the machine, the Child could see Leveticus debating what to do with the construct. Eventually, a devious grim tugged at his lips as he asked her to help him move the machine to the forge in the back of the shop. Over the next few hours, Leveticus slowly melted the Komainu down, pausing every so often to chant words of power over the molted steel before pouring it into specially crafted molds for cooling. 

When it was finished, Leveticus assembled the pieces into long, wicked claws and attached them to the Child’s teddy bear. The bear was quite pleased by its new claws, but as it donned them, it felt a strange presence - one far older than itself - settle into its stuffing and join with its own.


The teddy bear’s nature had always been malicious and playful, but the other spirit - the spirit that had resided in numerous Komainu throughout the years, both metal and stone - was steadfast and protective. Its only goal was to protect others, to protect its master. Its essence mingled with that of the teddy, and they combined to form something stronger than either. 

The Child watched as her teddy bear stared down at its new claws for a long time. Leveticus, who had been waiting for a reaction, eventually grew bored and turned his attention to another project. He thought that the teddy bear was slow and dim-witted, but the Child knew that something was happening. When the stuffed bear finally looked up at her, she sensed that something had changed behind its button eyes. It seemed more calm, as if it was taking itself seriously for the first time since she had stitched it together.

The hairs on the back of the Child’s neck stood up, and she glanced toward the door to find Rusty Alyce leaning against the frame, casually examining her clockwork hand. She started to taunt the Child, noting how easily it would be to strangle the life out of her without Leveticus hearing so much as a peep, when the teddy bear turned around and glared up at the older woman. Alyce’s voice trailed off and then stopped, and after a long, awkward moment, she mumbled something about the Child not being worth it and disappeared around the corner. 

The teddy bear turned back to the child and nodded its stuffed head as she stared at it in disbelief.

TEN THUNDERS VICTORY

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There have been rumors of a strange child traveling with an animated teddy bear for a few weeks now, and your crew has finally tracked her down. She’s living with an old necromancer and a young murderess, neither of whom seem to have the strongest grip on sanity, manners, or the proper way to raise a child. 

If you don’t get her out of there soon, she’s likely to be killed!

 

The attack came in the middle of the night. The Child had been sleeping soundly in her bed when she snapped awake, her eyes darting around the darkened room in confusion. Her teddy was standing guard beside her, its new metal claws hanging at its side as it strained its stuffed ears to listen.

The sound came again, instantly recognizable as a gunshot now that she was awake.

A moment later, the door to the Child’s room was thrown open as a rough-looking man wearing a long, black duster barged inside. “C’mon,” he growled, glancing back over his shoulder as more shots rang out. “Yer parents have been lo-“

The man’s voice cut out in a surprised gurgle. Looking down, he saw the Child’s teddy bear standing in front of him, its steel-clawed hand buried deep in his abdomen. The man managed to curse once, his tone just as surprised as upset at the unexpected turn of events, before he slid off the blood-slicked claws and collapsed to the ground.

A new face appeared in the door, but this time, it belonged to Rusty Alyce. The teenager was slamming bullets into a hand cannon of a pistol, and her lips were pulled back in a gleeful grin. “C’mon,” she called, motioning to the child. “Leve wants you up on the front lines.”

The Child stared at her dubiously. “Are you sure…?” Alyce had, after all, threatened to murder her on more than one occasion.

Instead of forcing the point, Alyce just snapped the chamber on her pistol closed. “Do what you want. I passed on his message, so I’m in the clear.” She was in motion before she had even finished her sentence, leaving the Child alone with her teddy.

The Child glanced at her stuffed guardian, torn between her options. “We should probably go,” she decided after a glance down at the dead man. “It might not be safe here.” The teddy bear nodded its agreement and carefully stepped out into the hallway, leading the way and providing a shield against any stray bullets that came their way.

When they reached the front of the shop, the Child gasped in surprise. There were two bodies on the ground, one man and one woman, each with gaping holes in their backs. She pressed a hand to her mouth and looked away, fighting back the bile that rose in her throat at the gruesome sight. Alyce’s shouted taunts and insults drifted in from the open front door, accompanied by a staccato of rapid gunfire. There was still no sign of Leveticus, so the Child carefully stepped over the corpses and peeked outside.

There were more bodies in the street, many of them piled up around Alyce, but they didn’t look like they had been shot so much as exploded. The Child winced as she caught a good look at one of them and quickly turned her eyes away from the carnage. She tried to call out to Alyce, but her voice was little more than a hoarse croak of fear. The older woman started walking away from her, and as she watched, the Child saw a man wearing mechanical goggles and a long, black cape peek out from behind the corner and take aim at Alyce’s back.

The Child quickly found her voice. “Alyce! Look out!”

Alyce spun around and fired a shot at the man, but her warning had startled him, and he responded as most mercenaries carrying a loaded gun did when something near them makes a loud, unexpected sound. He shot at it.

The man’s head exploded in a shower of bone and brain matter, dropping him to the ground like a puppet with its strings cut. Alyce whooped as she pumped her mechanical arm in the air. “BOOM! Headshot, baby!” She turned toward the Child to thank her for the warning, only to find the girl splayed out on the ground in a growing pool of blood. The teddy bear was standing over her, staring down at her dying body in what Alyce could only imagine was surprise and horror.

A feeling sort of like guilt wormed its way into Alyce’s gut. She wasn’t fond of the feeling. “Son of a…” Her head turned from side to side as she searched for Leveticus.


When the Child’s eyes fluttered open, Leveticus was standing over her. “Don’t sit up,” he warned. He was wiping a great deal of blood from his hands with a towel that looked only slightly less bloody than himself. “I’ve had to pull out your digestive track and a kidney, and then there were complications from an infection…”

He cast a glare at Rusty Alyce, who was sitting on a table on the other side of the room with a box of candied mints. She just shrugged her shoulders and popped one of the small candies into her mouth. “Mot mah mault.”

“In any case,” he continued, looking back down at the Child, “I managed to save your life, though it took a fair amount of… rearranging. You should have stayed in your room.”

The Child just groaned and pressed a weak hand against her chest. “I can’t feel my heartbeat…”

“Because it’s not beating any longer.” He threw the bloody towel across the room, earning an indignant shout from Alyce. “It’s still in there, don’t worry about that. You’re still just as alive and healthy as ever.”

Alyce hopped down and shoved her face into view. “And now, when he dies, he can just claw his way out of your chest like one of his hollow bimbos! Everyone wins!”

Leveticus’s voice betrayed his annoyance. “Alyce…”

“Have you ever seen it? It’s pretty messy.” She tapped on the child’s chest with her clockwork fingers. “Pretty much just sort of explodes outward like you swallowed a grenade.”

“Alyce!” Leveticus grabbed the teenager’s arm and yanked her to the side. The Child could hear them arguing, but it was all faint and difficult to make out. As unconsciousness mercifully gripped her, the Child turned her head to the side and saw her teddy bear standing dutifully beside the gurney she was laying upon. A faint smile managed to find its way to her lips, and the teddy bear gently reached up to pat her hand with its metallic claws as its ward drifted off to fitful sleep.

OUTCAST VICTORY

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OVERALL WINNER

OUTCASTS