Bridge Troll Cabal

The Traditions also have outposts. One of them is the Bridge Troll cabal, who operates among the city’s homeless and maintain a sanctum beneath Aurora Bridge. Urban shamans work with the City Father of Seattle and his various spirit servants and allies.

People fall between the cracks of mainstream society for lots of
reasons. Some run away from abusive situations, while others collapse
from addiction or other diseases. Many suffer some calamity that
robs them of the resources (financial, emotional, social or otherwise)
that they need to retain homes and jobs. A few drop out voluntarily,
fed up with the apparently mindless grind. And then, there are
folks whose Awakening blows their old lives straight to hell. Faced
with sublime insights and frightening powers, they escape into the
shadows until they can sort things out again. Many of them never
rejoin mainstream society.

The Bridge Trolls wound up on the streets for different reasons.
Each of them, however, realized that the “real world” most people
accept is actually a trembling lie. Some of them – Khan and Synder
in particular – had mystic training that allowed them to master their
gifts to some extent. Others, like Jinx and Sabra, broke through
into awareness without the cushioning presence of community or
mentors. Chopper’s sort of in the middle, a self-taught metaphysical
genius whose talents don’t seem “magical” to her. Led to one another
through fate or chance, these five mages have adopted one another
as “family”… the best family, in several cases, they’ve ever known.

The core of the Bridge Troll Cabal consists of:

  • Khan, the leader – eldest, biggest, and most experienced of the Trolls.
  • Synder, the charisma-bomb – the group’s face… and, when need be, its fist as well.
  • Jinx, the crazy punk – spirit-sighted mistress of good luck and bad fortune.
  • Sabra, the silent shaman – wounded empath and intuitive beast-friend.
  • Chopper, the mad scientist – genius tech-head with a gift for impossible machines.

From time to time, the Trolls pick up “strays”: other desperate
souls, usually teenagers, who need a bit of guidance and someone to
watch their backs. Each “troll” began as someone else’s “stray,” after
all, and all five of them remember what it’s like to need a friend.
Founders Khan and Synder both consider one another “strays,”
and both of them are right. The various members of their “Cabal”
(the name is a half-serious joke on Synder’s part) started off as strays
who stuck around for a while. Many other kids have cycled through
the group as well – sometimes dying or falling into addiction, most
leaving after conflicts with someone else in the group.

Squats, Gigs and Scams

After an initial period of desperation, the Bridge Trolls have
acquired a number of squats around town: illegal “homes” in
abandoned buildings and hidden corners of Seattle’s downtown
area. Thanks to Chopper and Khan, those squats have been beefed
up with mundane traps, magickal wards, and weird machines
cobbled together from tossed-out technology. The group moves
between locations, crashing in the many abandoned buildings
that fill Seattle’s overpriced neighborhoods. Each squat gets a
“makeover”: sigils, tripwires, the occasional allied spirit (recruited
by Jinx), and various animals that Sabra befriends. Unusually clean
by the standards of the “average” street-level squat (Khan runs a
pretty tight ship), these shelters still feature piles of oddly-ridded
contraptions and technological junk that Chopper uses to keep
herself occupied. Several of these machines work surprisingly well,
especially considering that the squats don’t have electricity, Internet
connections, or other connections to the city’s power-grid.

For the most part, the Bridge Trolls score food and money through
a combination of panhandling (that is, begging), scamming (ripping off
people who supposedly deserve it) and busking: performing on the streets
for change. Because Seattle requires a performer to secure a busking
permit before she hits the streets, the Trolls prefer a form of guerilla
theatre where they show up, set up, lay out a collection box for donations,
juggle or hoop for a few minutes, grab the cash, and get the hell outta
Dodge before cops or rival buskers show up to shake them down. Synder
and Jinx own a handful of scrounged or improvised “spin-toys”: hula
hoops, balls, weighted sticks, and poi: chains and cords weighted on
one end and then spun around in fascinating patterns. Every so often,
they manage to score enough cash or favors to get some white gas or
kerosene, light their gear on fire, and then use a combination of skill
and magick to avoid ugly accidents. When that’s possible, the Trolls
spread the word through networks of contacts, snatch up a promising
location, and stage illegal fire-shows around the Fremont, Queen Anne
and University districts. These “guerilla gigs” have given the Trolls a
whispered fame throughout the Seattle art community, and supply
enough food, cash, and playmates to keep them happy for a week or two.

Even so, Khan likes to keep a low profile – and for good reasons.
His old mentor, Big Ron Berrigan, has some nasty habits, and would like
to “make an impression” on Khan and his tribe. It’d probably be wise to
move on out of town, but Khan and Synder are pretty stubborn. They like
their hometown, thank you very much, and moving on would rob them
of the precious networks of friends, contacts, and other resources that
keep the Bridge Trolls going. Besides, Synder and Jinx have a relationship
going with the Spirit of Seattle itself, and feel a responsibility to the city’s
homeless kids. Big Rob uses the underground as his personal hunting
ground, and he and his “pack” of slumming assholes need to be taken
down, hard. Better, then, to trap the stalker than to leave their home
behind. And so, Khan and his pack of Trolls keep an essentially low
profile, gather their resources, deepen their paranormal skills, and lay
plans to make Big Ron disappear for good.

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