When someone hires Ransom Fisher-King, they expect results; and Ransom expects to give it to them. If you need something, he promises he can get it. That is, if you can afford him.
Ransom has made a name for himself in the world as the single best man at his craft, without giving out his real name. A man of many aliases the party would know him best as Allistair.
1st Game - Make Your Choice
Ransom did his homework. He watched as the party would go about their lives, and he learned from it. As he watched he created a plan. They used The Key a lot, and always kept it on their person, so stealing it unnoticed was out. Getting it from them wouldn't be a problem; he saw they cared for their house-keeper, and he knew he could leverage that. Escaping with it, would be the real task. After exploring their home when no one was there, he discovered the alchemy lab in the back shed. Finding this he hatched a plan.
Seth was startled as there was a knock on the front door. Putting his book down, and rising to go answer the door, he was greeted by a man in a suit looking up at him, as the two big men to his sides knocked Seth on his back.
Using supplies from the alchemy lab at the mansion, and using his intimate knowledge of biology, he brewed a special poison that would affect the Catfolk in some very... unpleasant ways. He had the cure set into a specially made compartment in the bottom of Anvil. The thugs brought it in and set it up in the living room. He also made a powerful bomb. With his knowledge of clockwork he designed a contraption that would house the bomb, and blow it after a set time, and designed it with 5 levers that if pulled in a certain order would unlock the device (4231). They set the device a few feet away from the anvil. The poison he had in a syringe stuck in Seth's Neck, directly into his artery. He had the two men leave, and with everything set up all that was left to do was to wait.
The party had just returned from Kadesh and were very tired. But they were given no opportunity to rest as when they returned they found Ransom in their lobby, with a needle in Seth's neck. He greeted them and informed them of their predicament. He described how the poison he had in the needle that was in Seth's neck was specially brewed to kill Seth within 5 minutes. He demanded that they throw the key to him or he would kill Seth. Knowing that anyone who had enough time would come up with a solution to even the most impossible scenarios, he demanded they do it quickly or Seth would die. They acted exactly as he expected, throwing him the key. The rest of the plan had only one purpose - allow him to escape. He described how he was going to inject Seth anyway, but that the cure was under the anvil. He told them that the contraption in their lobby was a bomb with a 5 min timer that could only be disarmed if they worked together. he gave them a hint on how to disarm the bomb, saying, "The four of us agree, that out of the two of us, the third is number one." He then offered them a choice. Save Seth by working together to lift the anvil, save the mansion by working together to disarm the bomb, or save The Key by chasing him. There was only enough time to save one of these things. "Live or die? Make your choice," were his parting words as he injected Seth, started the device, and ran away.
2nd Game - Play or Die
The key was a decoy. Enraged by the deception, Ransom began throwing things around his workshop. Smashing a mirror he caught sight of himself - disheveled, hair undone, clothes unbuttoned. He calmed his breathing, stood straight and began to put himself in order. Buttoning the undone buttons, straightening and tucking in his shirt, and running his hand through his hair to fix it. He rededicated himself to getting The Key. He had not failed before, and would not now. Indeed his reputation depended on it - he was known as the man who always, without exception, got the job done.
He made some room on his desk and began drawing up plans for his second game. But this game couldn't just get The Key from them; no it had to embarrass them, just as he was embarrassed. After only a few hours he had a new game to play. Now the only thing that was left to do was to set it up.He rented out some property and hired some men to renovate it. With the trap set up, he only needed something to spring it, and having studied his prey he knew what they couldn't resist. He hired a person to pretend to drag another person away. It worked. The party attempted to intervene, and seeing the couple withdrawal into a building, they followed. The party entered and saw that they couple was no where to be found. The only thing in the room was a red crystal with a note saying, "Touch me." After a few moments of hesitation the party obliged and heard Ransom's voice. "Good afternoon lady and gentlemen. Very clever switching the key, you managed to save all three didn't you? I'm not sure how you did it, my game was impossible to win - you must of cheated. But lucky for you I don't hold a grudge and am going to give you another chance to play one of my games! Isn't this fun? So here's the bargain. You've all been poisoned. How did I do it? Tell me did you breakfast taste funny this morning? Was that little tinge of flavor in your water nothing more than a faltering taste? You go now, run to an apothecary and try to get a cure but I made this myself and I promise you, no apothecary will ever be able to make a cure in the time that you'll need one. By the time you start feeling the effects of the poison it'll be too late. So you see you're going to have to play my little game if you want to survive. Get undressed. Leave all your clothes and personal possessions on the colored section of the floor. Then step into the gated area. After you're all in there, without your possessions, the first gate will close and the second will open. At the end of that long hallway is your cure. You will get your cure, and I will get my key. Oh, and in case you have in your mind to cheat using your little bomb-making friend to destroy the gate, don't even think about it. I had gunpowder used in the mortar that composes the very walls of the room your standing in. Don't believe me? Try me. It's up to you. Live or die? Make your choice." With that the recording ended.
Trying to outsmart the system the party tried to enter the gate with ways to retrieve their equipment, and their methods would of worked too - if the process was automated. But it wasn't. Above them, looking through peepholes was Allistair in a secret compartment. He had control of the gates and only worked the levers after the party stopped trying to cheat. As they finally gave up and entered the gated area with their possessions out of reach the first gate closed and they were greeted by a note. It said the following, "Did I forget to mention? There's only four cures. What will you do? Will it be a mad dash for the end, and a bitter fight over who gets the cure? No I don't think so. You know what's going to happen? One of you is going to sacrifice yourself, and the other four will accept it. You know why there is so much evil in this world? It's because good people make dumb decisions like that. After you make that decision there will be one less good person in this world. Well, get a move on." The gates opened and as predicted one of the party members said that they would not take a potion so that the others could live. But as luck would have it, there was no need for such a heroic gesture. After all the vials at the end of the hallway were taken, a chest opened up. In it was nothing but a note that bore only 5 words, "No poison. Ha, ha, ha."
As the party was occupied dealing with that, Ransom had the two people he hired help hoist the party's equipment up into the secret compartment, and brought to the end where there was a room. After watching the party for a bit, enjoying their embarrassment as they got back and saw their equipment gone, he smiled and set out for his real task. He searched the belongings and found The Key! With his prize obtained he nonchalantly strolled over to a nearby door, making no attempt to hide his trail, as a taunt in case the party found it. He wanted them to know he knew he got away with it. He used The Key, stared in amazement at The Lost Room, and entered. He had won.
Sitting in the room, Ransom found it calming. He sat there on the bed gloating over his victory. After a bit of contemplation he realized something. Getting The Key back was not his first priority. He had enjoyed watching the party realize they had been tricked and lost their possessions for nothing, when The Key was sitting there just waiting to be taken. Holding the key in front of his face Ransom changed. He no longer would be the man who would 'get things for those who needed things gotten'. No he would become something different, someone different. He had a new purpose, he was going to embarrass the world, show the world it's ugly side, show it what it needed to see. And this key, this key would help him do it. This wasn't going back to his benefactors. No, it was going to stay with him.
Ransom spent the next few weeks preparing a place in the Dwarven Trade Guilds to be his base of operations. It was perfect, far, far away from where he'd play his games, but with The Key, as accessible as the nearest door. Everything was coming up Ransom, that is, until one day he returned with supplies to his new hideout and was confronted by the very men he slighted.
In a desperate attempt he tried to escape, but they had the jump on him. They beat him and had him at their mercy. And as to rub salt on the wound they had all their possessions! They had cheated, they must have cheated! None the less he had lost, lost everything. He accepted his fate. Due partially to loyalty, as he had a reputation as never have given up his benefactors, but even more because of the reputation of these specific benefactors, Ransom did not give them up. Even knowing that it would cost him his life, he kept his tongue. But instead of being killed for it, the party decided to spare him. They offered to take him where he wanted to go, and upon the promise that he would never return, they were to let him live his life there waiting for his benefactors to have their way with him. But their plans were foiled (see Dr. Ulrezaj for more info.).
Escaping in the confusion, Ransom was given a new opportunity. Not only had he been spared, but the party had lost track of him. He could continue his new plans, all be it without The Key. Yes loosing that made things more complicated, but he had done all his previous jobs without it, he could continue to do so now.
Making the long trek back to The Empire, Ransom had time to plan, and plan he did. He came up with a grand plan. Why teach one person a lesson, when he could teach the whole world! Ransom was an intelligent man. He knew that The Empire had a hidden agenda with the Catfolks, it was a simple matter to come to that conclusion for a man of his intellect, but others would need more of a... push to get it through their heads. People would have to die for them to pay attention. No matter, it would be worth it. So a few people die so that others may get the point, he'd make sure wherever possible it was people who deserved it that lost their lives.
3rd Game - Hospital Horrors
The first part of Allistair's plan was to create a disaster so large, that The Empire would go around looking for people to blame it on. Ransom know of course that they'd blame it on the Catfolk. Contemplating where would be the best place to make his point, he settled on the main hospital of The Empire. Serving both the poor and rich alike, it was the perfect place to get everyone's attention. While doing recon on the hospital he came across a nurse. She was a selfish creature, and treated her patients with disdain. Ransom couldn't resist teaching her a lesson, after all why waist a perfectly good hospital just to make only one point.Ransom planted bombs in the abandoned basement under the hospital - it had been abandoned due to flooding. The government figured it wasn't worth the constant upkeep every time it would be flooded, and just sectioned the area off. Having all the bombs set up, Ransom followed the nurse around. He got to know her and his ideas were assured, she was a selfish creature, caring only for one thing in the entire world - her sister. Perfect. He hired the same thugs he used the two times before to help him kidnap the two sisters. Placing them in his game, he was ready to see the results.
The nurse woke up face to face with her sister, yet with a glass pane in between them. Her sister was in some kind of glass box. The nurse, who was sitting, got up, and that's when she heard machinations going on behind her. Turning around she saw a red crystal begin to glow, and it began to speak, "Hello Miss Mindi. The love of a sister, nothing like it ay? One would do anything for her sister. Let's put that to the test. Around you are enough bombs to blow the hospital which you so lovingly slave away in, into rubble. Your sister is in a glass tank. When this recording is done your sisters tank will begin to fill with water. You will have precisely 2 minutes and 32 seconds to make a decision. You see that lever near your chair? Pull it and the water will stop filling her tank, but the bombs will go off killing everyone in the hospital. Thousands upon thousands of people will die. You and your sister will be spared, as you are in a box of my own design, designed to survive such a blast. You can of course do nothing and let the tank fill, and watch as your sister chokes on water, desperately begging for air as she drowns, and the bombs will remain inert, and the people of the hospital will survive. You act with such contempt towards your patients, and claim to have such love for your sister. Let's see where your values really lie. Either way you come out alive, the question is can you live with the version of you that walks out of here? Live or die Miss Mindi? Make your choice." With that more machinations began to whir and water began to fill the tank. Mindi thought to herself for a while, but couldn't spare much time. As the water rose higher and higher, there was only one thing for Mindi to do, and she did it.
Seeing the hospital go up in flames brought a smile to Ransom's face. He knew she would do it, it was a simple matter of behavior prediction. And with that he waited to watch as The Empire reacted exactly as he predicted it would.
4th Game - Credit Where Credit is Due
The Empire reacted swiftly, and the Night of Long Knives came and went. Ransom began to put into place his next move. Through his sources he knew that The Empire was to explain the events of that night at the same time that they were to unveil their new Clockwork creations. It was the perfect time for him to put into effect the last part of his plan. He veiled bombs as materials for the clock-tower to operate. Knowing that few would know the difference between the inner workings of a clock and a bomb, and by greasing a few palms, he was confident they would go undetected. Then, at the unveiling he made his move.
As Duke explained how confident they were that the Cat's Claw (a Catfolk freedom-fighter group) were responsible for the terrorist act, and they already meted out punishment to near 1000 Catfolk, Ransom, employing magic, gleefully interrupted. Addressing the whole crowd he said, "Hello good people of The Empire. It has come to my attention that you are giving credit to the Cat's Claw for what I have done.That is not acceptable. So in an attempt to prove to you that it really wasn't the Cat's Claw that blew up the hospital I'm going to do something that they would never do. Here's the deal. There's enough explosive in this Colosseum to blow you all sky-high. If there are not 100 dead Catfolk in 10 minutes, the bombs go off. Anyone tires to leave, I blow you all up. But what's a game without choice? Let me throw in something else for you to do. If that emperor over there is killed before the 10 minutes, the bombs will not go off. So 100 Catfolk, or a emperor's corpse, I leave the decision to you, the people. Live or die? Make your choice." With that Ransom smiled to himself with glee as he heard the ruckus that was being made over at the Colosseum. He smiled and watched his pocket watch for 10 minutes.
Confident that the emperor would survive, and more than 100 Catfolk would die, at 10 minutes he made another announcement. "Your time is up, and you killed a lot of Catfolk. Unfortunately I said 100 Catfolk, and there are more than 100 Catfolk lying dead in the stands right now. So sorry, feel free to play again soon." With that Ransom looked over to the Colosseum. He heard the boom, but it was muffled. And the Colosseum was still standing. Using a spy glass Ransom could see a flying Edmund Duke, and a force-field around where his bombs were. Overcome with anger he shouted, "You cheated, you're all cheaters!" he dispelled the magic and calming himself down he consoled himself with the fact that even though the emperor still lived, at least he had made his point. He embarrassed the man and his whole empire, showing them for the frauds they are. He showed the people that the empire was willing to kill hundreds of Catfolk at even the mere hint of a chance, and lie directly to the people. Whether or not the people were receptive to the message lied in their hands now. Now he turned his attention to his next plan. Finding an heir.
Ransom knew the benefactors he failed would be coming for him soon, so he concerned himself now with finding someone to carry on his legacy. And there was one man he had set his eye on, as someone who could have the motivation to do what Ransom had so recently dedicated his life to doing. So Ransom concocted a scheme just for him; just for Seth.
5th Game - You're Invited
Seth needed to be broken down. If Allistair could break his mind down, he could pick up the pieces and remold it to serve his purposes. The first step was to break his heart, the second his body, and the third and final thing to break would be his will. To break his heart he used the one woman he knew who would not only play to Seth's proclivity for the same species, but who had already proven herself the kind of person to do this job - Mindi.
Mindi arrived home one day to find Ransom sitting in her living room, her eyes widen and she immediately began calling out for her sister. "Oh she isn't here," came his reply. Running over to him she grabbed him by the collar, "What have you done with my sister!? I swear if you hurt her..." "It would be unwise to hurt me Miss Mindi, without me you'll never see your sister again," Ransom said with a smile. Letting go Mindi replied, "I played your game, I won. You said you'd let my sister go." "And let her go I did, but I never said I'd let her go permanently. Don't worry she's safe, if not very comfortable. Here's the deal, no games, just a deal plain and simple. You're going to do something for me, and when you complete your task I'll return your sister to you, alive, and I'll never bother the two of you ever again." She stared at him for a while and finally said, "What do you want me to do." And with that Ransom had Mindi's unyielding help.
He told her about Seth and told her to make him fall in love with her, by any means necessary. Then when the time comes, Ransom would get in contact with her on what to do next. She did so. After having successfully won his heart, Ransom got in contact with her. He told her that he'd be sending a couple of men over (the same two he had hired before), and she was to deliver Neytiri to them. In addition she was to drug Seth and cut off his arm, and paint the words, "I want to play a game," on the front door of The Hattori Mansion, and leave a note there that the men would give her. With that done, she could return to her home to find her sister there. Mindi did as she was instructed (see Mindi for more info.). Seth's heart and body had now been broken, now it came time to break his will.
The note was an invitation to a grand ball. Ransom had been planning it for months, and had invited all the most important Empire officials to attend. All the ones who were supposed to die in The Colosseum that night, all the corrupt ones. Much like with the hospital, Ransom figured why not kill two birds with one stone. He could accomplish his goal with Seth and at the same time kill many of the corrupt people that his bombs at The Colosseum were meant to.
Ransom set up, in the basement of this gala, a dummy game. The game, if he was to truly employ it, would of guaranteed the death of all but the most evil among the party. Bombs were set up in the basement, much like in the hospital. Four tanks were set up, similar to the one he put Mindi's sister in, and he put a switch inside each one. Each tank would have a member of the party and the tanks would begin to fill up with slightly acidic water, just enough to burn. The first person to operate their switch would open their tank and free themselves, while disabling the other switches. But if no one pressed the switch the bombs would be deactivated, and the party would drown but spare the lives of those dancing blissfully ignorant above. Ransom was sorry tempted to actually employ this game, as it would solidify the lesson he tried to teach them earlier, the reason why there are more evil people in the world than good. But his goal for a successor was more important, and plus these people gave him his new lease on life and spared his, they deserved more than death.
So setting up his trap in an obvious location, and leaving them a clue saying, "If you don't want to go up, look down," he was confident they would discover him 'in midst of setting up the game' and think that they had the jump on him. In actuality he wanted to be caught, it was all apart of the plan. The party attended the gala and, as he expected, captured him. The only problem in his plan was he needed to convince them not to kill him. That's where the baby came in. Saying that if they could could keep him alive for 1 week, they'd prove that they had what it takes to take down the men who hired him in the first place, and he would reveal their identity to the party. They accepted wearily. It was enough.
6th Game - End Game
Being captured was the scariest part of the plan for Ransom. It left a lot of things to chance. Would they kill him in their rage of discovering his game? How would he get alone long enough to steal a pistol? But it was worth it to Ransom, he felt that he knew these people well enough that he could predict their actions. While planning for the moment when he could grab the pistol, something extraordinary happened. The Hunter arrived (see Headless Hunter for more info.). Taking advantage of the commotion, Ransom grabbed a double-barreled pistol from Nero, and shot Seth in the leg. He took him hostage and used him as a body shield. He then played his last game with the party, but as it was, this game only appeared to be for them, in actuality it was for Seth.
Ransom told them, "Everyone put your hands in the air. Not you spell caster, you keep your hands in your pockets. If anyone moves, or if you say anything that even remotely sounds like the words to a spell I'll blow his brains out. I want to play a game, a game of choice. Hanzo, would you kindly use The Key to open up that door over there, slowly please, no sudden movements. Oh don't worry I don't want The Key, no no I have a new purpose now, that key does more harm than good. You know what you, me, my benefactors, that headless figure lying on the floor over there, Dr. Ulrezaj, and your Professor Screw Eye all have in common? That key. That key is the cog in the center touching every other cog, and I wish not to be caught in between the gears. Very good, now throw The Key into the room. Well done, now back over by your friends. Here's the game. If you close the door, forever loosing The Key, loosing the one thing that will make all the past few months that you spent doing jobs for that Screw-Eye fellow useless, the thing that everything has been building up to lost to you and everyone else forever; I'll let Seth go, tell you where the kitten is, and I'll leave, and we can all live to fight another day. But if you instead go over, while everyone's in the room, and pick up The Key, I'll shoot Seth and I'll be out of bullets, and you will have The Key, and me, but I won't tell you where the child is. The question is who do you care more about, your friend and the life of his child, or yourselves? Live or die? Make your choice." He then whispered in the Catfolk's ear, "Watch as your friends abandon you. I'm going to show you what kind of people they really are."
With that the party was suppose to decide to grab The Key, and Ransom say, "That was surprising, but not as surprising as this," and he hands the gun over to Seth say to him, "Now you can shoot me or, you can shoot them. Me, the guy who showed you that these people care more about themselves then they ever did you, or them that chose an inanimate object, over your life and the life of your daughter. Seth I can help you. I can help you harness that pain, harness that hurt, and do something good with it. I can teach you to use it to teach others, to help other people - teach people like them a lesson. It's up to you Seth. Who lives or dies? Make your choice." With that Seth was to shoot one of the party, and in the shock Ransom was to escape with Seth, saying that if anyone tried to stop them or follow them, the child would die. Seth would have lost everything, and had committed murder. He would have no where else to go, and he would feel like Ransom was the only option left in his life. Ransom would spend the rest of his time on this earth using Seth's broken mind, body, will, neigh very soul to shape it to reflect his own. And in this way this demented soul would have demented another to replace him. But that is not how it happened.
Instead the party unanimously decided to close the door on The Key. Not wanting The Key to be lost forever, Ransom leaped forward and put his hand in between the door and the frame and had his hand irrevocably crushed. He lost, he lost everything. He bet it all on black, and instead it came up red. The party tried to get answers out of him, but he was so crushed he could say nothing except that, "You cheated, you must of cheated." He repeated it over and over again. The party gave Seth the opportunity to kill him, but instead he only took the man's eye saying, "I am not going to be like you, I am no murderer." The party was not so kind, and Nero shot him in the face. And thus passed Ransom Fisher-King.
You see, Ransom's mistake was assuming that they were selfish and evil down inside. Maybe that would of been true if his 2nd and 5th games actually were real games, but as it was left alive were more than enough good souls to prove him wrong. And Seth was one of them.
Ransom was truly doomed from the start. For even if the party had chose The Key over Seth, thing's wouldn't of gone the way Ransom wanted them to. Instead of shooting the party, Seth would of looked at the gun, said, "You're so interested in teaching lessons, you know the lesson I learned from you? I learned that the only way to win one of your games," he would place the gun on the table, "is not to play." From then events would of transpired very much the same way they did.