The Veiled Blade

Part Ten
Operation Certain Death?

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Sir Gregor, Durgar, Cadrigar, Ulric and Heinrich stay stock still, staring at the group of beastmen. Heinrich readies his bow while Ulric un-slings his crossbow, both intent at firing at the group. Cadrigar and Durgar are less sure of the wisdom of such a move, recalling their recent encounter with beastmen and their failure to slay a single one of their foes. After a brief debate they all agree to simply avoid danger and try and creep past the beastmen – cautiously, keeping down wind and careful not to step on any twigs the five men manage to slowly ease by undetected.

They continue their journey going deeper into the forest, all about them are still signs of the beastman horde’s passage. As they carefully press on one of them spots something moving up ahead and they come to a stop and creep closer, weapons at the ready. Heinrich finally catches sight of the creature and it appears to be a strangely green-hued dog with red eyes; the Sheppard is well experienced in handling animals and so he opts to approach the Chaos Hound and attempt to befriend it. The beast growls and prepares to attack and Ulric firs on it, hitting it in the foreleg while Heinrich turns and runs. Durgar rushes in and delivers a killing blow, making short work of the foul animal. The group gather around the corpse of the slain beast and are studying when another Chaos Hound comes rushing out from the undergrowth and charges at Cadrigar. The elf pedlar is exceptionally lucky as the deformed dog’s bite only causes a grazing injury and its scorpion stinger misses. Ulric and Heinrich let rip with their bows and Durgar slashes with his sword and the creature is quickly dispatched with minimal injury incurred.

Taking stock of the situation they are determined to continue and once more continue their journey; another mile later they hear a braying noise and turn in time to see a monstrous creature, half-man and half horse, clutching a broadsword, come charging at them. Durgar, Ulric and Cadrigar are all bunched up and in the direct path of the Chaos Centaur; it attempts to strike Ulric several times but repeatedly fails to land a single blow as a flurry of blows are rained down on its head and flank. With three defenders frantically slashing away with their blades the monstrous guardian of Chaos quickly succumbs to its wounds, leaving the path the Chaos encampment open to the group.

After walking another mile the five men can smell and hear the camp long before they can see it. A general hub-bub and a horrendous animal reek emanates through the woods. Cautiously the group edge forward and Heinrich scales a tree and manages only to catch sight of a narrow break in the woods ahead and what appears to be the jutting edges of some sort of ruin to the right. Cadrigar opts to climb another tree in order to get a better view, which he does – he can make out the majority of the encampment in which over a hundred beastmen currently slumber, resting before nightfall when they will march once more. Clear on their destination the group slowly and carefully creep around to the right so that they approach the rear of the ruins. As they near their target the trees thin out and they can spot a young man in peasants clothes sat on a rock, reading an old looking book, laughing and giggling intensely to himself – he is also accompanied by a small winged green monkey-like creature which prances and chitters next to him. The group quickly conclude that the young man must be Martin Wulfman, the local simpleton who has befriended the mysterious Grimalpapa. Without any hesitation Ulric and Heinrich once more ready their bows and this time no one speaks up to question the wisdom of their actions. Two arrows flash through the air and strike the man in the arm and body, taking him completely unawares. The young man collapses to the ground and begins to thrash around while the while the small monkey-like creature begins to scream shrilly. Sir Gregor, Durgar and Cadrigar run forward, the elf keen to examine their victim while the dwarf prepares to meet anyone emerging from the temple. The elf pedlar observes that the young man’s eyes are pupil-less shifting multi-colours of the spectrum and odd bony growths appear to be emerging from the sides of his face and head. As Durgar runs past he sees a shape emerge from the shadows of a open passageway in the back of the ruins and moments later the huge form of an armour-clad brightly coloured Chaos Warrior with a fearsome axe steps into view and balefully glares at the dwarf with murderous rage.

Carla travels with the young cleric of Verena, Dolph, out through the south gate of Reiksdorf and their coach continues for several miles through gentle hills and woodlands until it reaches long stretches of tilled fields interrupted by the odd stone wall and small farmhouse. Dolph relates the joys and meaning of a life spent following the goddess of Justice and also reveals that he hasn’t travelled to the village of Little Hook for over two years. The coach pulls up outside a rather ramshackle tavern that sits at the heart of the farmland village; stepping out the coach Dolph exclaims his surprise at seeing a very tall rudely constructed ten foot high wooden fence running across a couple of fields in the distance – this was not here the last time he was in the village. They head inside the tavern where they meet the barkeep and make casual conversation with him; the young cleric asks about the wall and is told that the small farming village has been under intermittent greenskin attack for the last few months and seven locals have been killed in scouting raids as the creatures have emerged from the nearby forest. Dolph asks where he can find the individual he has be sent out to meet – Ambrose Bauer – he is shocked when the barman reveals that the farmer was killed two days before. Carla and the cleric head off to the nearby Bauer farmstead, which happens to be the site of the great wooden wall; Bauer’s widow reveals that her late husband was having problems with the neighbouring farmer, Christof Taumler, who is suspected of moving the shared field markers during the construction of the border wall and stealing over a hundred feet of land. The wife reveals that her husband was killed by an arrow while he was conducting his allotted slot of guarding the wall and she believes that Christof did it and passed it off as an act of the greenskins. Carla and Dolph set off to the man who is in charge of producing the guard rota, Boris Fischer, in order to question him about who was on guard when Ambrose died.

Fickenja, Matthias and Jeffric manage to steer their roughly constructed raft across the Reik and land a short distance from where the Silber Kessel is moored. Returning to the group’s vessel Matthias relieves the kid sitting his boat and manages to persuade Jeffric to stay and watch the boat while he and Fickenja make their way to the Temple of Ulric a small distance away. They enter the god of Winter, Wolves and Battle’s temple and observe the scarcely populated inner sanctum complete with fire pit, burning ceremonious flame and murals of warfare. The meet with the priest, Brother Jacob, and relay Father Lucius’ message of help and the true situation of Reikers Ferry and the Chaos attacks. The priest of Ulric is shocked at what he hears and tells the pair that there is only a small number of worshippers currently present in his temple but he will talk to them all that evening and try and convince them to lend a hand in defending the beleaguered village – he approves of the duo’s plan to secure armed help but warns them of the danger of their plan to take the Silber Kessel across the river to the village and smuggle villagers back, breaking the Palace’s quarantine. The pair leave the temple after having agreed to returning the next morning to collect any willing volunteers from the worshippers. They opt to cross town and visit Der Goblin Und Hammer and approach Grundolf, the mercenary captain, and enquire about hiring some of his men but are duly laughed at when they reveal that they have only 10gp – the cost of hiring one of the skilled dwarf fighters is 50gp per day. They leave empty handed and head of across town in the dark to Der Dunkel Schlupfwinkel to meet with the other mercenary captain they have heard about – Old Krieger.

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Part Nine
Where's the suit?

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After spending a couple of hours meditating in the Temple of Shallya Carla manages to regenerate he magical powers and returns to the Markt Platz and The Emporium. Grundolf is inside as arranged and over the next three hours teaches her the spell “Fire Ball”, which she perfects. The Dwarf mage finishes by telling Carla that an experienced wizard often buys and utilizes an artefact such as a crystal ball, a wand or a staff to magnify and focus their magical powers – such things are readily obtainable in the store but cost a good amount of coin. Carla thanks her tutor and promises to return once she has gold to pay the fees; she then leaves. It’s growing late and she has absolutely no money left with which to buy food and lodgings so she opts to return to the Temple of Verena. Once inside the white-marbled sanctum she approaches a cleric and she is once more taken into a rear room to continue copying texts for the church; after a couple of hours she is fed and given a room free of charge within the complex. The next morning the young Tilean mage breakfasts and opts to spend the morning continuing with her transcription tasks during which she is visited by the high-priestess, Sister Charlotte, who is intrigued to know more of Carla’s background, especially her knowledge of magic. After mulling over what she has heard Sister Charlotte tells Carla that she has a simple job to accompany an initiate to a village to the south to deal with a land dispute. The priestess offers to pay a fee of 24gp for the overnight task and Carla agrees. A short time later the initiate, a young man called Dolph, pulls outside the temple in a coach and Carla jumps in.

Across the river in Reikers Ferry group desperately battle on, trying to defend themselves against the horde of savage baying attackers; as the frontline of militia begins to crumble Ulric, whose reloading his crossbow, notices that there amongst the beastmen are a number of armoured humans fighting alongside them. Matthias quickly finds himself being attacked by three assailants and falls under a flurry of blades – his life’s blood flowing freely on the field of battle. Durgar is almost surrounded by attackers and receives a powerful blow to the hand that makes him drop his sword – undeterred and fuelled by fury he continues to lash out with his one good hand and dodge the slashing blades of the beastmen. The Dwarf ex-pitfighter’s struggle is valiant and epic, but despite managing to avoid many a blow it ultimately proves futile as an attacker’s blade finally finds its mark and bites into Durgar’s flesh, bringing him down.

The second line of militia arrives and manages to retard the chaotic advance but the force and fury of the beastmen and marauders is relentless and the frantic fighting continues unabated. The members of the group using ranged weapons find themselves now drawn into hand to hand combat; Fickenja, having hit a couple of beastmen with her arrows, drops her bow and draws her sword and attempts to defend herself from two assailants but quickly falls under their powerful blows. Ulric, screaming in fury as he witnesses his sister being struck down, turns and fires his crossbow at a charging beastman and manages to strike it in the leg, but before it goes down it manages to strike him hard with its axe and he two is brought down.

As militiamen and the odd beastman fall under the flurry of steel only Heinrich is left standing, but he too is now in deadly combat with his sword. Father Lucius and the armoured knight, having slowly walked towards the melee, uttering their litanies, prayers and spells, finally arrive. The priest of Taal’s spell completes and the dark broiling clouds emit a spiralling twist of air that descends to the ground and forms into a 10ft tall Air Elemental that spins across the front line of the battle and begins to smash down on the beastmen and marauders with its powerful fists; this spectacular magical attack halts the Chaos advance in its tracks as the deformed beasts bray in terror as they witness their brethren being pulverised and sent flying by the translucent being.

Heinrich the herdsman manages to avoid several blows and delivers some powerful strikes onto his attackers but he too is critically wounded by a beastman’s blade. As he collapses to the ground and his vision begins to darken as death comes to claim him, the last thing he sees is the armoured knight charge into the middle of the Chaotic fighters with his double handed sword ablaze with magical flames; the blade swings left and right in extreme arcs and cleaves a number of beastmen into two.

There is only darkness; all members of the group have fallen in combat. Then, slowly, they all awaken to soft candlelight and the sound of a woman’s voice muttering a prayer. The members of the group possessing good night vision observe the low stone roof adorned with circles of thorn branches, the walls with strands of creeping ivy and nooks holding bird nests – they quickly realise they are inside the Temple of Taal.

.With her healing prayer complete, the druid priestess, Galina, withdraws and the group sit up from their stone plinth to find Father Lucius and the armoured knight, sans helmet, gazing upon them. The priest of Taal thanks them for their valiant defence of the village, which bought him the time necessary to cast the powerful Elemental spell. Ulric, something of a ungracious snotnose and perhaps traumatised at seeing his sister being struck down by beastmen, responds to the priest with some insulting words, which in turn results in the stern knight pointing out the beggar’s cowardly flight during the battle. There is a harsh exchange of words between Ulric and the knight, who identifies himself as Sir Gregor, the group’s target for assassination. Father Lucius steps in and calms both parties down. Cadrigar and Ulric ask a series of questions about the nature of the Chaotic attacks and their cause – Lucius tells them that the trouble started a month ago when a village simpleton, Martin Wulfman, who often went wandering out into the neighbouring woods, discovered a book out amongst the trees and made the acquaintance of a mysterious man called Grimalpappa, whom Lucius suspects is a Chaos sorcerer. After spreading the news of his new sinister acquaintance and his outlandish teachings amongst the village Martin was driven out; since then a steady stream of beastmen and other unholy creatures have poured out of the forest and attacked the fortifications.

The group thank him for healing them and ask what else they can do to help the village and he tells them once more that the best assistance then can provide is to return to Reiksdorf and acquire the help of the Temple of Ulric. Sir Gregor counters the priest’s words by saying that they should strike the beastmen’s camp during the day before they muster for the next night attack; Lucius shows consternation and weariness at this suggestion, reiterating his previous misgivings that all manpower is needed to defend the village against the rising tide of Chaos and that these forces are too powerful to be defeated by a handful of men – he also states that it would be a suicide mission, something that does little to deter Sir Gregor who seems to desire a death fighting in the name of his god. Durgar is also very keen to take up Sir Gregor’s plan, telling Lucius that a small force will be able to sneak in and out of the enemy camp and assassinate the Chaos commander – half of the group agrees with his plan. Fickenja and the other half of the group think the proposition is too risky and opt instead to build a raft and return to Reiksdorf and carry out Lucius’ plan to secure the help of the Temple of Ulric.

Fickenja, Jeffric and Matthias leave the temple and meet up with the artisan detailed by Lucius. They quickly set about creating a vessel capable of transporting the three of them across the Reik. After a couple of hours an unpleasant looking man wanders over and begins to watch them; when Jeffric approaches him and engages him in conversation the man asks a series of questions concerning who the group is, where they have come from and what they are up to. Jeffric answers the questions by saying that they are representatives of Sister Anneta and the Temple of Shallya; he then asks the man’s name and the man abruptly turns and walks away from them without comment. Fickenja, suspecting that the man intends to steal their boat, decides to follow him, and observes him entering a nearby cottage. She peaks through a window and sees that the man is talking to another dodgy looking man sat at a table – the other man spots Fickenja at the window and moments later she is confronted by the first man who threatens her with violence if she doesn’t leave – which she does, very quickly. The female beggar reports back to the others and they decide that she should go and find some additional help in the village to ensure their raft isn’t stolen. She ends up at the jetty and stumbles into the village elder, Oberon, who has put his previous misgivings about the group aside having witnessed them heroically fighting the beastmen. Fickenja tells the old man her fears and he immediately obtains the assistance of two strapping and trust-worthy local men to go with the beggar and help transport the raft out along the outside of the fortifications so that the more desperate villagers don’t accost them as they set sail.

After re-arming themselves with the weapons and armour of the fallen, Durgar, Cadrigar, Ulric and Heinrich join Sir Gregor and walk out from the village plunge into the forest. The forest ground has been churned up into a messy bog from more than a hundred beastmen passing through and the group pick their way through the tangle of broken branches and trampled trails to determine the general direction from which the attacking force has originated from. While they progress steadily through the dark forest, Sir Gregor refusing to slacken his pace or lose time by being cautious, Cadrigar decides to use the opportunity to ask the zealous knight some questions about his background. Sir Gregor tells the Elf pedlar that he lives to fight the forces of evil and corruption and will not rest until he has destroyed the taint from the world. When asked about his fearsome weapon, the flaming sword, was a gift from his patron, the Lawful god, Solkan. Both Cadrigar and Ulric have heard the rumours concerning this elusive and extreme god, and know that it is worshipped primarily by Witch-hunters, who themselves are often associated with extreme acts of religious fervour and persecution. After the small band have walked several miles into the forest Ulric spots a flash of bright colour somewhere up ahead and calls them all to a halt; as they all peer into the distance they spot a small encampment of beastmen and they wonder if they have found the enemy camp but the more experience Champion of Law, Sir Gregor, recognises that it is merely an outpost. They quickly formulate a plan to stealthily attack the small camp.

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Part Eight
A Nice Swim and Helping the Community

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Finally finished with another bought of spending good coin in the Markt Platz the majority of the group make their way over to the docks while Carla remains behind to spend some time recuperating her magical powers by meditating in the temple of Shallya after which she will attend another lesson with Grundolf. When the group arrive at the docks they come to their boat, Der Silber Kessel, which is still moored at the jetty and guarded by Matthias. The boatman, finally catching sight of the group asks them what the current situation is concerning Dolwen’s abduction. They tell the river sailor that they are still working on securing the Elf’s release and are being compelled to complete a deadly task for the Thieves Guild. Matthias is disturbed at what he is hearing and is no longer prepared to sit by and wait the situation out – he informs the others that he is joining them on their journey to Reikers Ferry. He arranges for one of the Harbour Master’s boys to watch his vessel for 6gp a day.

The group make their way down the length of the dock, finally arriving at the ferry port in the south and observing the assembled boats are all moored at the jetty and devoid of any activity. They amble over to the closed ticket shack and make their way around to the back where they discover the back room filled with idle ferrymen lounging and chatting amongst each other. Fickenja knocks on the door and asks the room if Henchner is there – the ferrymen are suspicious and someone shouts out “who’s asking?” to which an unsubtle Fickenja responds “Cornelius Pell”; this leads to them being told to go to hell. Confused the group drift a short distance away and try to work out what to do next; while they are talking a red-faced and angry looking ferryman makes his way over to them and begins cursing them. The man is Henchner and he is angry because the group has just publically broadcasted his connection to the Thieves Guild in front of his employer who has just lambasted him. Henchner wants to know what they want with him and they tell him that they need to travel to Reikers Ferry. Henchner is unwilling to travel to the quarantined village as the consequences if caught mean being put in a dungeon; Ulric and Cadrigar press him, telling him that they are on a task for Cornelius, finally wearing him down – he reluctantly agrees to take them for a fee of 20gp, which depletes much of the group’s thinning finances.

A short time later and they are under sail onboard Henchner’s medium sized boat. Ulric attempts to glean information from the surly boatman but all the man knows is that the village has been put under quarantine by the Palace due to some outbreak of disease; one thing that Ulric does learn from questioning him is that the mysterious “Dieter” referenced by Cornelius is probably Brother Dieter – a priest of Ranald. As they progress across the wide Reik they finally spot their destination on the opposite bank; a small fortified village sitting amongst the mighty forest with a dark pall of smoke rising into the air. As they near closer they can make out the jetty and a throng of people which eventually turns out to be over a hundred desperate men, women and children desperate to leave but stranded by the lack of any vessels; this sight spooks the group who fear contagion. Henchner stops the boat some twenty metres short of the crowded jetty and tells the group amidst the noise of the frantic cries for help that he will not go any further and that they need to make their way ashore. The group realise that they have only paid for a one way trip and Henchner is only prepared to hang around for a couple of hours and another 20gp due to the risk he is already running; despite all their haranguing and bribery the group is unable to convince him and after toying with the idea of murdering the ferryman for his vessel decide that it’s not worth the risk and they all jump into the river with reticence. To all their horror they discover that the water is far deeper than they had expected and they all sink under the surface. None of them can swim, not even Matthias the boatman, and they all begin to thrash frantically, trying to doggy paddle up to the surface and across to the jetty and safety; but several of them are weighed down by their weapons and armour and begin to drown. Fickenja and Heinrich manage to make it over to the jetty with little effort and Cadrigar joins them shortly after; Matthias, Jeffric, Ulric and the short and squat Durgar find it a lot harder however and begin to take in water. The three who have already made it to safety attempt to help their drowning colleagues with mixed results – Durgar and Jeffric are forced to shed nearly all their weapons and armour and in the end it is Cadrigar who saves them by calling out to the crowd on the jetty for help and several of the locals dive in and swim to the rescue. A short time later all seven are dumped on the wooden boards of the jetty, gasping for breath, devoid of armour and weaponry and considerably weakened by their near-death experience.

The jostling crowd begin to demand to know who the group is and why they didn’t land their boat – the group sense danger and manage to offer a convincing story of Henchner’s villainy and their innocence. They then blather and make some unwise comments which causes many to begin to jeer them and it is only when they mention Gregor Vendalis that the crowd suddenly becomes silent, apparently terrified at the mere mention of the name. They also observe a total lack of any illness or malady amongst the peasant rabble; realising that they have already worn out their welcome with their stupid comments and imprecise questions they decide to move away from the jetty and head into the village. They find themselves entering into the main square and see that there are a couple of families and an old man loitering around the fountain. They approach the old man and ask where they can find the village elder and to their surprise the man tells them that he is the elder and that his name is Oberon. Being the village elder the man knows much of what is going on but the group are very disorganised in their questions due to their inner tension about whether or not to carry out the Thieves Guild’s task of assassinating the vigilante called Gregor. The group identify themselves as emissaries of Sister Anneta and Brother Dieter and this does much to bolster the spirits of the old man who tells them that they can help the town by returning to Reiksdorf and contacting the Temple of Ulric to send fighters; Oberon is furious that the Palace has not sent any militia to help defend the village. The group’s first question, which strikes the old man as odd, is the where-abouts of Vendalis – Oberon tells them they can find him in across the square in the Temple of Taal. Next the group wants to know why the village is under quarantine and they ask about the nature of the illness; Oberon is surprised at the question as there is no malady afflicting the village and he quickly realises that the story of a plague is a cover story being promoted by the Palace. The old man reveals that the village is under attack from Beastmen who have emerged from the surrounding forest and have assaulted them on numerous occasions, breaking down the fortifications to the rear and it is because of this that the population is now frantically trying to flee to the safety of the town across the river. Oberon tells them that this sort of thing never used to happen due to the practice of periodic organised hunts and cullings conducted in the outlying forests which used to be very frequent but have been discontinued for a number of years by the Palace due to cost. Fortunately one of the villagers did make it across to Reiksdorf in a canoe a couple of weeks ago and managed to secure the help of Gregor Vendalis who travelled to the village to assist them in their time of need. The group asks what it can do to help and Oberon mentions that the village’s militia are currently busy repairing the rear defences – Jeffric then asks if the old man is prepared to pay for their help which spooks him – why would emissaries of Sister Anneta want payment in return for their help? The village elder quickly makes his excuses and walks away, leaving the group to themselves.

Armed with the information of the whereabouts of their intended target they head straight over to the Temple of Taal but find their way blocked by two sentries who ask about their business. The group uses its cover story and one of the sentries disappears into the temple and fetches Father Lucius. The priest of Taal comes to the door and engages the group in conversation – they tell him that they are there to help and the priest reiterates Oberon’s words telling them that the most useful thing they can do is get word to the Temple of Ulric. They ask Lucius if he can heal them but the priest tells them that he must rest and regenerate his powers for the evening to defend the village against the beastmen; he is able to provide them with tools such as another wood axe for Jeffric and hand weapons for the others from the fallen militia. The group offers to use Jeffric’s talents to help build boats for the villagers to aid their flight and Lucius agrees that this is a splendid plan, however, the most pressing business is the reconstruction of the defences. The priest asks them to head to the rear of the village and assist the militia Captain, Theo.

The group all agree to Father Lucius’ suggestion and head off away from the square passing a number of cottages until they arrive at the back of the village where they view a scene of devastation. Timbers from the defences lay scattered across the ground and a large funeral pyre built from the bodies of slain beastmen and militia burn. They make their way over to a group of six militiamen frantically trying to re-use the broken timbers to form a barricade across the gaping hole in the rear fence. The group makes its way over to the captain and introduce themselves – Theo tells the group that darkness is only a few of hours away and that they should assist in the re-building the defences. They all keenly set to the task and spend the next two hours hard at work in their already weakened conditions lugging timbers, apart from Ulric and Durgar who opt to build a somewhat pointless trap.

Dusk begins to descend and their work is disturbed by the sound of horns coming from somewhere in the wood line across the small field of heath land; moments later a loud roar sounds and beastmen begin to pour out of the forest and come charging towards the village. Theo calls to arms and five more militiamen come running from the village while the group readies itself to face the onslaught. As the braying deformed attackers come screaming and howling towards the group they can see with horror the nature of their foe – both Ulric and Matthias are paralysed with fear. Heinrich and Fickenja prepare their bows while the rest draw their swords. The swarm of beastmen reach the makeshift defences and engage the militia men’s front line while others climb over and make their way towards the group. Durgar, bereft of his armour and flail, swings his sword at the monstrous attackers landing a couple of effective strikes which would have killed a human assailant – but the creatures of Chaos possess a superior constitution. Jeffric hits an attacker with his axe but is soon defending himself against multiple attackers and receives a couple of savage blows that take him down to the ground, barely clinging to life. Cadrigar also battles the foul creatures but succumbs to a flurry of blows that would have cleaved him in two had it not been for the attacker’s dull blade which merely breaks a number of the elf’s ribs and knocks him unconscious. The creatures continue to swarm, getting ever closer to the group members using ranged weapons; Ulric loses his nerve and turns and flees, pulling level with the second wave of militia men charging into battle. As he abandons his comrades to their fate he observes Father Lucius walking onto the field of battle accompanied by a silver armoured knight clutching a double-handed flaming sword. The priest of Taal is uttering prayers and creating a spell – dark clouds begin to coalesce in the sky above and an aura of blue energy begins to form around the priest.

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Part Seven
Suits you sir!

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The street urchins continue to swarm the group, their little hands darting out to snatch the adventurer’s belongings. The group continues to lash out, mainly in vein. Carla repeatedly attempts to cast a spell to scare the bold young thieves away but is unable to concentrate. Jeffric makes multiple attempts to swipe the juveniles but flails feebly. Finally, Ulric manages to take control of the situation and draws his sword and puts it to the child he’s holding’s throat and screams out that he will kill his hostage unless the swarm scats – slightly cutting on his hostage has the desired result and the little thieves disappear into a side street as quickly as they appeared, content that they have made a decent enough profit from their victims. Satisfied that the threat has gone Ulric finally releases his hostage who himself departs with some choice insults and curses.

Poorer for the attack the group takes stock of their circumstances and decide that there is nothing to do but continue their journey to the Weiss Wyrm tavern. A mercifully short time later they emerge from the narrow streets into a dingy square and spot their destination – a seedy looking and very rough and ready looking inn. They enter the tavern with some trepidation, expecting a trap. Inside they find a reasonably populated inn whose scattered patrons mainly seem to be in small intimate groups engaged in quiet conversation and several members of the group understand that they are standing in a place of commerce and intrigue. Standing on the threshold, beholding the scene before them the adventurers debate their next steps and finally Fickenja decides to approach the burly looking barman and says that she is there to meet with Sister Anneta’s contact – unfortunately the barman has no idea who Sister Anneta is and is very confused by the strange woman’s words; Ulric, seeing his sister’s struggle to establish contact decides to come over and speak to the barman himself – and duly makes the same mistake by saying that they are there to meet with Sister Anneta’s contact (they are not!) and seeing the barman’s continued confusion asks him if he knows where the guild is. The barman is still struggling to understand what the very strange raggle-taggle group want and what guild they are referring to; finally Ulric, not a smooth operator nor very subtle blurts out that they are looking for the Thieves Guild (an underground and proscribed organisation!) and finally hits pay-dirt by name-checking the guild member they recently betrayed – “Garth Weer”, who so happens to be sitting at the other end of the room!

The group is shocked to see their nemesis sat, hither to completely unnoticed by them, at the far end of the tavern, next to a grand-fatherly looking old man who’s smoking a pipe. Garth is in deep conversation with the old man and does not look too happy. The adventurers’ minds race as they consider their next step – many of them once more suspect they have walked into a terrible trap; after much debate they opt to split into two with half the group staying at the bar or hanging around near the door should trouble kick off. Fickenja, Ulric, Carla and Cardigar, all possessing more mettle then their compatriots, opt to walk over to Garth Weer’s table and face trouble head-on. As they approach they give a somewhat sarcastic greetings to Weer who merely snarls and stares menacingly at them – and much to their surprise it is the old man who speaks to them and invites the four to sit down at the table with them, which they duly do with some foreboding and hesitation. The cordial old man introduces himself as Cornelius Pell and starts by saying that he has been impressed that the group should have as powerful an advocate as Dieter (presumably Sister Anneta’s Schwanz contact) and by the group’s tenacity, daring and skills; he goes on to say that a senior party within the guild, a Viktor Beakman, is now aware of them and was of the view of putting out contracts on them – Cornelius adds that he has managed to convince Viktor not to do this as well as preventing Garth from cutting their hostage, Dolwen, to pieces and sending them to the group. Cornelius freely admits that the guild has Dolwen held captive and that they are prepared to release him and forgive the group for their crimes if they carry out a pressing task for the guild. Fickenja and Ulric are fairly quick to accept the task but press for details – Cornelius tells them that there is a village on the other side of the river bank, opposite Reiksdorf, called Reikers Ferry and that this village has been put under quarantine by the Palace with all ferries to and from the village suspended until further notice. The guild have a small operation consisting of six men stationed in the village and last word received from them is that they were under attack from a vigilante called Gregor Vendalis – Cornelius wants the group to travel to the village and deal with the vigilante; he tells them that they can get across to the isolated village by giving his name to one of the ferrymen on the dockside called Henchner. If the group return with Vendalis’ head then Dolwen will be released and their trespasses forgiven.

The group leaves the tavern and the four who spoke with Cornelius brief the others about the deal offered to them. There is some debate as to whether or not to accept the deal but the two Fledermaus rogues have low morals and a strong sense of survival which leads the adventurers to drift towards carrying out the guild’s task. It’s midday and they decide that they will head over to the Markt Platz to buy yet more supplies and to enable Carla to get additional tuition at The Emporium; they set off out of the square and down the narrow streets of Der Schwanz once more, this time with weapons drawn and concealed in case of further incidents.

A short time later they turn into a street, avoiding the many hostile glances of the district’s denizens who spot interlopers (the dwarf and elf in the party being big give-aways), before encountering one unseemly individual sat on a corner, perched on a stool; the young man rings a hand bell as the group approaches but otherwise remains immobile and they continue past him and down the empty street. At the ringing of the bell the signal is sent to The Wild Roses, a group of wild young youths who control all passage through Blumen Allee – six of the eight members file out of their den and into the street armed with swords and clubs while the other two members who are stationed in the upper floor of the house opposite begin to lift an old wooden cupboard towards an open window. The adventurers file down the street in two ranks of three and find their way blocked by the street gang who demand a street tax of twenty gold pieces per person. The group is having none of it and try to blag their way past by name-checking their connection with the Thieves Guild, but the Wild Roses know everyone in the district and most of the guild and don’t believe the stranger’s unlikely story. The street gang, following their well-practised street robbery script, charge the group while the two members in the nearby house push the schrank out of the window where it comes crashing down on Cadrigar, knocking the elf pedlar clean out. Durgar, Jeffric and Ulric are at the front of the party and are quickly engaged in frantic hand to hand combat with the street gang. Jeffric continues to prove to be an almost entirely ineffective street fighter and madly swings his axe with little success but is fortunate enough not to be struck himself; Durgar manages to land a couple of blows and receives a couple in return but his armour and tough skin prevents any actual injury. Ulric, frantically swiping with his sword manages to land blows and receives a couple of wounds to his body in return. Carla once more attempts to cast another spell but fails miserably, tripping up and falling flat on her face.. Both Fickenja and Heinrich fan out and draw their bows – at the beginning of the fight they are unable to fire on the attackers due to their own group being in the way but as the fight develops opportunities present themselves. The herdsman tries to utilise his newly acquired longbow but all three of his shots go wide of their mark and whistle past a gang member’s head. Fickenja however, fares much better and manages to shoot one of the attackers dead with an arrow to the head! She then hits another in the knee, incapacitating him.

Finally the fight comes to an end with four gang members laying dead and two injured. The group strip the youths of 6gp, an axe, a sword and a shield; inexplicably the group struggle to decide what to do with their two captives and amongst the confusion tell one of the surviving gang members with an injured wrist to leave, warning him not to mess with them again. As the youth walks away the paranoid and morally shifty Ulric suddenly becomes convinced that the youth will bring further trouble on to them and quickly convinces his sister to fire an arrow at the man’s back, which she does, killing him instantly. Before the cold blooded murder was committed Cadrigar distanced himself from the group, not wanting any part in the murderous act. With the dark deed done Ulric then inexplicably refrains from killing the more injured remaining gang member, who identifies himself as Friederich Schmidt, and they leave the youth outside the gang’s den having patched up his wound. The group then resumes its journey out of the deadly neighbourhood.

By early afternoon the group arrive back at the Markt Platz poorer and worse for wear than before. It’s still their general intent to make the journey to Reikers Ferry but Cadrigar, suffering from the damage caused by the falling cupboard, and Ulric from wounds received in the fight, are in a physically poor way and need medical treatment. They opt to visit the Healing Hands Apothecary and buy another bottle of Kussen Die Drachen medicinal lincture – Ulric taking one dose and the more badly injured Cadrigar taking two. Heinrich wanders into Schroedingers and enquires about the cost of medical training while Carla makes her way over to the Blacksmiths where she meets with Grundolf, the dwarf alchemist, once more and arranges for another lesson in a couple of hours time having borrowed the necessary funds from Fickenja.

Feeling better from having taken the medicine, Ulric recalls that he has still to collect his new outfit from the tailors in Der Kopf. He does not want to expend the time making the trip himself and so arranges for a messenger to be sent with a note asking for his outfit to be delivered to Carla at the Temple of Shallya. Meanwhile the rest of the group stands around questioning whether a new outfit for the beggar is really their highest priority at this current time of dwindling funds, death threats, employers held hostage and a task to murder a stranger.

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Part Six
The Trenchcoat Mafia isn't down with the kids

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Carla arrives at The Emporium and finds the owner cheerfully chatting with a dwarf mage. The owner turns and greets the Tilean apprentice and introduces her to her tutor – Grundolf Cragscaler. Grundolf takes Carla into a back room, and takes payment of the lesson. He then proceeds to ask Carla about her background and her interest and current capability in the magical arts. He questions her motives and the direction of her plans to become an alchemist pointing out that there are many different schools from which to chose and an equally different number of reasons for choosing any particular path. He ends by providing a glimpse to his own background, stating that he was trained in the alchemical arts to assist his Karak in the processing of precious metals. The dwarf mage tells Carla that he can teach her everything she needs to know about Alchemy and can even school her in basic Battle Magic, but should she want to know further spells in this field then he will have to arrange another tutor her for her. He then starts her lesson which lasts for over three hours and finishes with the Tilean apprentice learning the Aura of Resistance spell.

After finishing her lesson Carla decides against rejoining the group in Der Kopf and opts to visit the temple of Verenna in the hope of acquiring some sponsorship from the religious authorities there. She enters the temple and finds its interior quite different from that of the temple of Shallya – her all the stonework consists of white marble line with gold inlay and a repeating motive of owls and the scales of justice; large oil portraits depicting scenes of justice being meted out adorn the walls and stone benches permit the congregation to view these while praying. At the far end of the hall is the throne of justice on which sits the stern high priestess, surrounded by other members of her clergy conducting their daily business. Carla decides against directly approaching the clerics and instead takes the time to gaze upon the impressive images adorning the hall; soon she is approached by a brother of the church and he makes inquiries as to her background and her reasons for being there. It soon becomes apparent to the lay brother that the strange Tilean seems to be anticipating some sort of material aid from the temple and he quickly points out that the order of things is the other way around and that she should be offering up her services to Verenna without question. Carla doesn’t discuss her skills as a mage and instead states that she has clerical skills and can read and write and offers her service as a part-time scribe. The brother is uncertain whether the temple can make use of Carla’s offer and so takes her over to the throne of justice and introduces her to the high priestess – Sister Charlotte. After a quick consultation one of the clergy confirms that they do indeed have a backlog of legal documentation that needs to be copied and Carla is duly taken into a back office within the temple and after observing the stack of bound manuscripts arrives at terms of occasional part time duties to copy these texts. She is then left alone for the next several hours to perform her charitable task.

The bulk of the group search the basement thoroughly, shocked and sickened by the sight of the gruesome murders committed by the Cult of Khaine. Cadrigar and Ulric have both sustained heavy wounds in the melee and realise that they must seek medical treatment in the near future. Some of them are further traumatised by the knowledge that they have unwittingly eaten a meal consisting of the missing merchants. It becomes apparent to them all that the cult had somehow managed to establish itself in this misbegotten part of town, and was centred in the Der Verbogen Tongue tavern where the landlord used his business to lure and murder unwary travellers and rob them of their monies and goods. With the mystery of the abductions solved the group binds and gags the two remaining unconscious cultists, carry them out from the cellar and after sometime spent trawling the streets finally manage to locate a local willing to transport their captives via a horse-drawn cart.

The group had neglected to firm up details of their rendezvous with Tarquinius, and opt to head straight for Der Golden Adler brewery a short distance away. By the time they reach Van Aarn’s business darkness has fallen and the establishment is closed for the night; they rap on the closed door and a grill opens and the night-watchman asks what they want. The dodgy looking group, with bound captives in tow strike an odd sight to the guard and it takes many attempts to convince him that they a legitimately connected to the Guild and have business there – finally convinced the guard informs them that Van Aarn isn’t around and that they can probably find Tarquinius in The Green Dragon.

The group pays the man with a cart an additional fee and they transport their bound captives to their previous tavern; once they arrive Heinrich and Durgar stand watch while the rest enter. Inside they find Tarquinius standing at the bar talking with the barman, Karl Anders. They approach Tarquinius and ask him to come outside but their strange behaviour makes him insist that they tell him of what they have found out about the missing merchants. Ulric tells him everything about the murderous cult, but leaves out the cannibalism, though he does hand back the warrants of trade. Tarquinius is shocked by what he hears but is impressed with the group’s success at solving the mystery, recovering the warrants and also taking captives. He finally relents and walks out side to view the captured cultists; seeing them he then instructs the group to take the cart and prisoners around the back of the tavern to the stables where it will be out of sight of the city night watch. Durgar and Heinrich duly take the cart around to the stables while the rest of the group go back into the tavern to resume talking with Tarquinius. The merchant guild member instructs Karl to send a boy runner to fetch some muscle to the tavern and then orders some food and drink for the group. Ulric, an experienced rogue and beggar has many questions about Tarquinius and his relationship with Karl and the mention of hired muscle but has sense not to ask any unwise questions.

While they eat a descent meal gratis, Tarquinius asks them if they would like to earn some easy coin doing a simple delivery job. The group is very eager to earn additional funds and ask for the details. Tarquinius disappears into a back room and fetches a small canvas bag containing two small tightly bound parcels. Tarquinius tells them to deliver one parcel to a Vig Leren and another to a Tilda Stein and to only hand over the parcels if they receive the correct reply to a code phrase. The payment for each package is to be 30gp and the group is to collect this money and return it to the tavern and take out 24gp for themselves in payment. While the instructions are being given four men enter the tavern stables and walk over to the cart and captives – Durgar and Heinrich hand their two terrified prisoners over to the group without any questions and the cultists are taken away into the night to presumably meet a grim end. Taking receipt of the packages and the courier task the majority of the group set off to make the deliveries; Heinrich and Cadrigar, suspecting a trap decide to head over to Der Goblin Und Hammer tavern on the other side of town.

Fickenja, Ulric, Durgar and Jeffric arrive at the first address, a dark and quiet townhouse close to the docks, without incident and rap on the door. There is no answer. They knock again and a light comes on and a shady-looking man opens up, responds with the correct password and hands over 30gp. They then walk a few more streets away and come to the second address which proves to be a slightly ramshackle townhouse with lights on, it’s front door ajar and a crowd of rowdy people within. The group use the pass phrase on the first woman to respond to their knock and are initially spooked when she appears to have no clue as to what they are talking about but it proves to merely be a miscommunication and Fickenja realises that the place is actually a bordello. A short time later the Madame makes an appearance and gives payment for the package; Ulric begins to suspect that they are in fact delivering narcotics but no one in the group wants to stir up trouble and are happy just to earn some money. With the deliveries done and the night drawing on they make their way back to The Green Dragon, giving the cash, less their fee to Karl. Cadrigar enquires if he perhaps obtain a warrant of trade from the guild and Karl says he’ll look into it. The group then returns to Der Goblin Und Hammer. The whole group then pays for their room and board and retire for the night.

The next day the group decides that now they have some fresh funds in their pockets that another shopping trip to the Markt Platz is required; additionally three members of the group have sustained serious wounds and need medical treatment. First stop is Der Amazing Dr Schrödinger’s, where the three wounded members enquire about the cost of treatment for their wounds; the bizarre and eccentric physician tells them that he can treat them for 7gp but only Heinrich takes him up on the offer – Ulric decides that the bathing, rubbing in ointment and bandaging of the Herdsman’s arm wound is too low grade and opts to visit the apothecary instead. Ulric and Cadrigar go into the apothecary and purchase a 15gp bottle of Kuss auf den Drachen tonic and swig down a dose each, feeling immediately light headed and gradually more healthy as time passes. The group then files into Arnel’s Arms and several of them spend a vast amount of their funds on the purchase of leather armour.

Feeling better and more trendy for their abundance of leather ware the group feels that it is now ready to make the journey to Der Weiss Wyrm to meet with the emissary of the Thieves Guild in the hope of securing Dolwen’s safe release. First they must learn where the tavern is and stop a passing citizen who does give them the required directions but looks incredulous, warning them not to enter Der Schwanz lest they are robbed and murdered. The group ignores the warning and walks across town until they reach the White Tower which marks the beginning of Reiksdorf’s roughest district. As they marvel and the rapidly diminishing quality and repair of the houses they spot a large muscular bald man with gold teeth, earring and leaning on a huge wooden club, accompanied by a shifty looking thin man. The bald man introduces himself as Hugo, and his partner as Linz; he tells them that everyone can tell that the group are strangers to the neighbourhood and are at risk of robbery or worse – he then offers to escort the group to and from their destination for a fee of 20gp. Ulric again suspects a threat and/or a trap and after a quick debate with the group they reach the decision to decline the offer – Hugo merely shrugs and smiles knowingly.

The group advance in to filthy street of rickety and decrepit houses, staring wildly at the drifting denizens. Suddenly a young boy, no older than 10 comes skipping over to the group and begins to ask them questions. Seconds later he is joined by another young child, then another, and another – and in the next moment a swarm of grubby street urchins are surrounding the group. Most of the group are quick to react and grab hold of their money pouches as a sea of small wandering hands suddenly begin to snatch at their clothing and belongings. Carla, Durga and Fickenja are all too slow and lose their money pouches to the little thieves but fortunately for the dwarf pit-fighter and beggar Ulric and Heinrich are quick enough to grab the culprits and retrieve the pouches – but Carla is not so lucky and 8gp quickly disappear never to return. The flurry of hands however do not stop and Jeffric loses his cudgel and rope while Durgar loses his knuckledusters to the urchins. Furious at the violation of his person Durgar roars in fury, but manages to keep his cool and refrains from killing one of the children, instead knocking him out. Cadrigar manages to kick one of the kids to the floor while Jeffric flails impotently, missing kick after kick at the swift juveniles. Carla also makes repeated attempts to cast a spell to frighten away the children but is unable to concentrate well enough to perform the task. The group needs to act fast and decisively lest they be robbed blind by the delinquent swarm but are loathe to kill a child.

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Part Five
A Not So Happy Meal

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Fickenja proceeds to wander into several more shops in Hertz Platz to question the owners about the missing merchants; she discovers in the cobblers that at least a couple of the merchants have been spotted a few weeks apart and none have returned when they said they would. The shopkeepers also confirm having heard screams in the middle of the night and that these could not have come from more than a street away. Ulric inexplicably decides to spend a good amount of coin in the tailors purchasing a new less-beggarly outfit. Inside Die Verbogen Tongue tavern Ulric and Cadrigar’s attempts to garner information from the patrons prove unsuccessful and they come perilously close to starting a bar fight but fortunately common sense prevails. Soon everyone converges inside the tavern and the group discusses everything they have learned – the most promising lead seems to be the barkeeper’s unnamed contact but this individual isn’t due to turn up till 7pm and it’s only past midday. The group decides that there’s little point hanging around for all that time and opt to go back into the Maiden district and to the temple of Shallya to see if Sister Anneta has learned anything of Dolwen’s fate.

They arrive at the temple and Durgar once more refuses to enter, opting to stay out on the steps while the rest of the group enters. Sister Anneta comes out from her office and informs the group that her trusted contact in Der Schwanz district has made enquiries and that the Thieves Guild has communicated that they want the group to meet with an emissary in Die Weiss Wyrm tavern within Der Schwanz. The group scoffs at this, naturally assuming that it is a trap but Sister Anneta assures them that her contact has arranged with the guild for a guarantee of safety. They are told that the emissary will be waiting for them at the inn for the next two days and the group is told simply to speak to the barkeep once they arrive there. The group then leaves the temple and make their way back over to Der Kopf district and Hertz Platz to sit inside the poorly populated tavern and await the arrival of the barkeeper’s promised contact at 7pm. To while away the time the group decide to eat a hearty meal and enjoy some ales; however, they soon discover that the watery ale and odd-tasting meat might explain the lack of patrons and also why the few people who are there are so dour and unhappy with their lot.

At half six in the evening the barkeeper wanders over to their table and tells them that his contact is waiting outside the back of the tavern – again the suspicious group immediately suspect a trap and consider their options before Durgar manages to pull them all together and they decide to simply walk out and meet with the man. Out the back of the tavern they find a man dressed in common garb who introduces himself as Erich; he tells the group that the barkeeper has informed him that the group wants to know about the fate of the missing merchants and that he can help enlighten them – for a price. After a quick debate they pay Erich 14gp and he reveals to them that a rough and vicious street gang, led by someone call Todd, has been robbing and murdering the merchants as they are an obvious target in this deprived neighbourhood. The group press him for further details, namely where to find Todd, but Erich states that he doesn’t know any details; Durgar states that the information given is not worth the price they have paid and Erich refutes this, saying that the tavern’s barrel boy, Jack, witnessed one of the attacks and will be able to provide much more additional information. They ask where they can find Jack and Erich says that he is down in the basement of the tavern, pointing at the open cellar doors. The paranoid group, for some inexplicable reason are possessed of an intense irrational fear of basements and suspect another trap and ask Erich to call Jack out – the informant scoffs at them for their strange behaviour and taunts them about being scared before quickly allaying their fears by offering to lead the way which the group immediately seizes upon – only Heinrich maintains his mantra of fearing basements but ultimately decides not to be left alone.

Erich heads down into the tavern cellar with the group trailing behind and once the last person enters the doors are suddenly slammed shut behind them. Erich runs off into the semi darkness and the adventurers, bunched up at the foot of the stairs, look about their surroundings and spot a sinister looking mural of a demon-like figure bearing daggers and large dried blood stains on the bare floor. Moments later ten robed figures clutching an assortment of hand weapons come streaming out from the dark, screaming “For Khaine!”. Heinrich and the groups’ instincts about basements have been proven horribly right – it is a trap! A deadly and bloody fight ensues with the group pinned into the corner, frantically defending themselves against the relentless onslaught from the worshippers of the god of murder. While sword and axe blows are being exchanged Fickenja races back up the stairs and attempts to break open the cellar doors – she is shortly joined by Heinrich who has no room in which to use his deadly slingshot and who has been foolish enough to sell his only hand weapon.

The fighting is constant and vicious but the group has something of a lucky break in that the confined space means that their enemies superior numbers can’t be brought to bear on them and are forced to fight one to one; yet no sooner is one assailant taken down then another immediately steps in to continue the attack. Jeffric manages to avoid a flurry of strikes and sustains a light wound to his body and arm in return for striking down one of the cultists with a mighty blow of his wood axe. Ulric the beggar also manages to take out one of the murderers while narrowly avoiding constant strikes resulting in a severe blow to his head and a wound to the arm which takes him perilously close to unconsciousness. Cadrigar, in the thick of it, manages to deal with two of the threats and only sustains a light wound thanks to some skilful parries. Fickenja manages to break the cellar doors open but finds the tavern’s barkeep armed with a meat cleaver and blocking their escape, a murderous glare on his face. The female beggar exchanges blows with the corpulent barkeep and manages to inflict a decent strike with her pickaxe handle but she also receives a blow from the cleaver which cuts into her arm. Heinrich quickly comes to Fickenja’s rescue and swaps places with her even though he is unarmed; he delivers a good punch to the already wounded barman but he too receives a bad knife wound to his arm. Down below, Erich emerges from the shadows and lobs an incendiary device at the group but fortunately his aim is off and it hits the wall behind them; the eruption of flame sends several members of the group fleeing out up the stairs and into the street – the barkeeper, badly wounded, has decided to make his escape; a couple of the cultists also retreat further back into the cellar. Out of all the group it is Durgar who proves the most effective, finally managing to tap into his skills and experience as an ex-pitfighter. The frenzied dwarf takes out six of the ten attackers with his deadly flail and thanks to his recent purchase of armour suffers only four light wounds across his body. He also exploits the retreat of the cultists to race after them and manages to kill Erich with a couple of devastating blows of his flail before the evil doer can light another bomb.

As the fight comes to an end Heinrich runs into the tavern and yells for everyone to leave because of the fire – Fickenja races into the square and witnesses the impromptu evacuation of the tavern. Jeffric and Cadrigar manage to regain their composure and head back into the cellar to assist their dwarven comrade. They find the dwarf stood amongst a pile of bodies – only three cultists remain alive and two of them are unconscious, barely clinging to life. Cadrigar approaches the remaining conscious cultist and attempts to bind the man with rope but sustains a savage dagger strike to his body in the process which brings him perilously close to becoming a casualty himself – Durgar comes rushing to the rescue and attempts to knock the cultist unconscious but inadvertently kills him instead. The four adventurers left in the basement then decide that they should explore the rest of the rooms in the hope of discovering monies and other lootable items. They enter one of the rear rooms and find several ale barrels, a water barrel, and a table with a jug and it quickly becomes clear that the barkeep has indeed been watering down the ale – but this is the least of their worries. In the next room they discover the gruesome sight of four naked human bodies hanging from meat hooks; they are in varied states of butchery and in the corner of the room they find a pile of clothes in which they turn up two merchant warrants of trade.

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Part Four
Divine Blessings & Helping Hands

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The bandit attack has failed, although two members of the group are now severely injured from arrow fire. On the other side, one of the bandits has managed to flee the scene, three lay on the ground with limb wounds and the longbowman lays dead – yet another victim to Heinrich’s deadly slingshot. While Doktor Schuck renders immediate medical aid to Ulric and Jeffric, Durgan and Cadrigar bind and begin questioning the three wounded bandits. They quickly learn from the first man that approached them, who identifies himself as Fritz, that they are part of a larger bandit group and are warned that his brother Kurt Dirkmann is the leader and an ex-soldier who will seek bloody vengeance should any harm befall the captured men. Durgar is un-phased with this and once Ulric and Jeffric have been stabilised he instructs everyone back onto the wagon taking Fritz with them and leaving the other two injured bandits bound and gagged by the roadside.

Thirty minutes later the wagon arrives at their destination, the sleepy village of Gruss Baum, which is a small hamlet consisting of four cottages and a large manor house arranged in a square around a large oak tree. The wounded are off loaded from the wagon and they enter the manor house; Doktor Shuck takes command of the situation and gives the house staff instructions to prepare tables in the kitchen for Ulric and Jeffric’s care while he goes upstairs to deal with his patient, the village elder, Georg-Pieter. Sensing danger Cardrigar decides to stand watch on the landing and keep an eye out on the village square for any signs of trouble. As the Doktor prepares for surgery Cadrigar spots a man emerging from a nearby cottage and walk over to the manor house. The new arrival meets with Durgar and the rest of the group in the kitchen – he introduces himself as Alfred Ambs, a local farmer and the village constable. Alfred learns from the group about the unsuccessful attempt at highway robbery and reveals that Fritz is in fact Heinz, but the rest of the bandit’s story checks out – the bandits are indeed led by the man’s older and meaner brother Kurt, who resides in a run-down farm two miles away and who has been causing havoc in the area with his robberies for some time now. Alfred then leaves and the group settles down while the surgery continues.

Late in the day as the sun begins to set Cadrigar and Heinrich, who are keeping watch from the upstairs landing, spot a disturbing sight. A group of six armed men, clearly rural bandits, emerge from amongst the cottages, holding a sword to Alfred Ambs’ throat. They approach the front of the manor house and shout a demand for the group to send out Heinz. The group only has five members well enough to defend the manor house and after weighing up the odds Durgar and Cadrigar decide to take Heinz out in the hope of making a clean exchange of prisoners. They leave the safety of the manor house and a sneering Kurt tells them to release his brother – Durgar, keeping calm, tells the bandit that it won’t happen until Alfred is released. After a quick exchange of harsh words both prisoners are released at the same time and once Heinz is safely back with his brother the group of bandits promptly leave laughing, scoffing at the powerlessness of local justice. As Durgar and Cadrigar return to the manor house they spot a couple more of the bandits behind the building confirming that had violence broken out they would have been outnumbered almost 2-1. Darkness falls and an hour later Doktor Shuck finally finishes with the successful treatment of Georg-Pieter and he goes down to the kitchen and tends to Ulric and Jeffric once more. Fearing a return of the bandits Cadrigar volunteers to keep watch throughout the night allowing the rest of the group to rest and recover from some of their wounds.

Nothing untoward occurs in the night and the next morning the group departs and experience a joyfully uneventful return journey to Reiksdorf and reach the main gates late in the afternoon. They deposit Schuck back at the hospital and pick up Carla as she is now recovered enough from the pike wound to resume working. One of the priestesses in the ward informs the group that the High Priestess has returned to the temple of Shallya. The group heads off to the temple and arrives there shortly; in the vestibule an attendant informs them that no one may enter the temple bearing arms and instructs them to place their weaponry into a nearby chest – Durgar, a curmudgeonly suspicious dwarf, decides that this is too much and opts to stay out on the temple steps and keep watch for trouble while the rest of the group proceeds to enter. Inside the tranquil dark marble interior of the temple which is adorned with motifs of light and love and an imposing statue of the weeping goddess herself they spot Sister Anneta. They approach the High Priestess and inform her of their successful completion of her task and giving in to their baser instincts probe for monetary reward – she in turn thanks them for their valiant work and tells them that their reward is her support and that she will intercede in any matter for them should the need arise.

The group, simple prosaic folks that they are, then leave the temple untroubled by any further thoughts and don’t even bother to inform Durgar of what has just transpired, who for his part doesn’t even bother to ask. The group now has a quick discussion as to what to do next; the day is wearing on and they don’t even know where they will lay their heads for the night – the Green Dragon seems too risky in light of Dolwen’s kidnapping. They hotly debate amongst themselves their priorities; should they attempt to find out where Dolwen is being held or should they proceed with the task given to them by the Merchant’s Guild to discover the fate of five of its lost members in Der Kopf district? Some of the group care not for either of these two options and are instead drawn by the lure of Jan the beggar’s tale of an abandoned Thieves Guild loot room under the sewers. Finally the group agrees that no matter what they will need to purchase additional arms and armour to protect themselves from further injury and the Markt Platz is but 5 minutes walk away.

Carla heads straight for The Emporium and explains her absence to the owner who agrees to rearrange the magic lessons for the next day at midday; she also stocks up on ingredients for her spells. The rest of the group pile into Arnel’s Arms and purchase cheap armour and arrows, spending much of their coin in the process. As they all emerge back on the square a frantic Matthias, their boat’s pilot, comes running up. He informs them that he has been searching for them all day since Dolwen has failed to check in with him as agreed – it is then that the group inform him that their Elf boss has been taken by the Thieves’ Guild. Alarmed, Matthias asks a series of basic questions and the group appear stunned when they admit that they haven’t informed the authorities of the Elf’s abduction. Somehow, miraculously, it suddenly occurs to the group that they have just been offered assistance from someone with some sway in town not thirty minutes ago – Sister Anneta! They run back into the temple and ask the High Priestess for help, informing her of the circumstances of their troubles. Sister Anneta mulls over what they have told her and she tells them that she does have a contact within Der Schwanz district from which the Thieves’ Guild inhabits and that she will make enquiries and that they should return after noon the next day for news. Leaving once more there is only a couple of more hours of daylight left and the group decide to head off to the Merchant Guild’s safehouse but upon arrival they find it locked and no one answers. They scratch their heads as to what to do next but then one of them remembers spotting a tavern on their journey from the hospital to the temple and they duly set off for it.

At dusk they arrive outside Die Goblin und Hammer inn. Entering they find it much livelier and busier than their previous tavern – bards play in the corner and buxom barmaids carry trays of ale to the benches of drinkers. At the back of the room, Durgar spots a group of twelve dwarfs sat along a long table all wearing the same brightly coloured armour as each other. Amazed at the sight of so many of his brethren in a human town he approaches and engages one of them in conversation. Ogbar reveals that they are all members of Gundar Longbeard’s mercenary company and that they run their business from out of the tavern. While the rest of the group arranges for their food and lodgings Fickenja opts to engage the barkeep, Allen, in casual conversation in order to learn more about the town. She asks about the dwarfs and Allen confirms that they are indeed a mercenary outfit that operates from out of the tavern; this news leads to the female beggar asking if there are any more mercenaries about town and Allen tells her that there’s a company of Sea Elves who operate from out of Der Brun Griffon tavern in the docks and there also used to be Old Krieger’s company that once operated from out of Die Dunkel Schlupfwinkel tavern in Der Drachen district. Enquiring about what happened to Old Krieger’s company the barkeep tells her that they were killed by a horde of Orc and Goblins to the south of the town. Meals eaten, ales drunk and information gathered, the group then retires for the night.

The next morning they rise early and set out for Der Kopf, keen to earn some extra coin and keep the Merchant’s Guild on side. Asking directions from a series of passersby they manage to successfully navigate the almost deserted and dilapidated streets to Hertz Platz, the centre of Der Kopf. In the sleepy square there is a tavern – Die Verbogen Tongue, a bakers, a haberdashery, a grocers and a tailors shop. Cadrigar and Jeffric opt to make enquiries within the tavern and find that it is a very quiet establishment frequented by a tired, old and wary clientele and tended to by a portly barkeeper who informs the pair that he personally hasn’t seen any of the missing merchants but does have an acquaintance who knows just about everything that goes on in the district, whose expected to turn up around 6pm. Durgar makes his way into the haberdashery and learns from the storekeeper that Karl Rinder did indeed visit the shop and agreed to revisit a week later but never did. The other four members go into the bakers and make a number of purchases and engage the owner, Jules Hansard, in conversation. They learn that he spotted a number of the merchants as they visited the square but never spoke to any of them as they were not in his line of business. When asked if he had seen anything unusual over the last few weeks he tells them that he has been awoken several times to the sounds of horrendous screams rending the night; he has also repeatedly seen a suspicious group of men hanging around outside the tavern.

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Part Three
Wounds, Work & Worries

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Dolwen retires to his room for the night leaving the group downstairs in the busy tavern to ponder their dilemma; several members want to heed the elf’s advice and avoid committing any criminal acts while the others fear what the consequences of a refusal will be. While the debate continues Fickenja becomes aware of a presence just behind her – it’s a middle-aged beggar asking for coin so that he can eat. Recognising a kindred spirit the female beggar speaks to the stranger in the thieves tongue and makes enquiries as to the nature of the Thieves Guild in the town. The beggar, Jan, reveals that the guild is very strong in the town and is ruled by two very dangerous men, Viktor Beakman and his boss, Til. Jan for his part offers Fickenja and the group an opportunity to make some money via a dangerous venture – Jan knows of an old Thieves Guild cache deep below ground under the sewers which was abandoned by the rogues due to the presence of ratmen. Jan reckons there’s gold and weaponry to be had and is prepared to show the way for a cut of the profits. Fickenja gives Jan a couple of coins and agrees to discuss the offer with her colleagues which she duly does; while the group now ponder the unexpected new offer and what it may mean the Thieves Guild representative arrives in the inn and makes his way over to their table – it’s now dark and time to do the job. Without having come to a clear plan of action the group do as instructed and file outside.

The man walks them up into The Drachen, crossing the river and weaving through deserted streets until finally arriving at Der Golden Adler brewery. Another man steps out from the shadows and the first man introduces the newcomer as Gregor who will be going with the group into the brewery to locate the wine casks they delivered earlier. Only now does the group realise the significance of the casks and the oddity of delivering filled barrels into a brewery but no answers are forthcoming and they are simply told to find a way into the locked compound and avoid the night watchman. They debate breaking in via the sewers but after scouting out the nearby streets they discover a broken cart leaning up against a side wall and an abundance of wooden crates – they spend the next forty minutes constructing a platform on which to climb up to the wall. They line up to make the crossing across the glass lined wall and eight foot drop, using a rope and cooperation to let themselves down into the brewery; and despite the well executed plan none of them are experienced burglars and they all manage to gain niggling minor injuries gaining access. Possessing far greater litheness and expertise in wrongdoing, Gregor drops cat-like to the ground and joins the group and urges them to get going and find the barrels.

After a brief debate while concealed behind a chimney stack the group decide on a course of action; Carla will run over to the main gate and unsecure it so that the group has a quick means of escape while the rest of the party splits in two and checks out both flanks of the main building for a means of ingress. They set off and the two scouting parties cross the open ground towards the brewery while the young female mage scoots off to the front gates, right in front of the night watchman who is sat in a small hut just by the gates. The watchman, something of a doddery old man, comes rushing out and confronts the young woman demanding to know what she is doing on the premises in the middle of the night. Meanwhile, behind the watchman’s back, halfway across the yard, Gregor hisses to the members of the group around him to do something. Durgar, does indeed do something, however it’s quite unexpected from the thief’s perspective – the dwarf ex-pit fighter uses his flail to deliver a harsh blow to Gregor’s head, knocking him out. The elderly watchman turns at the source of the sound and duly panics at the sudden sight of a party of armed intruders – he turns back to Carla and stabs her in the midriff with the point of his halberd and the mage screams and falls to the ground.

At the sound of commotion a door in the brewery opens up and two other, younger watchmen come charging out with swords drawn. The group raise their arms and Heinrich clumsily attempts to explain that they mean no harm – fortunately Fickenja manages to speak out more coherently and convinces the watchmen before they land a blow. The group is then disarmed and lined up against a wall while one of the watchmen fetches the owner, Paulus Van Aarn. A short time later the merchant’s carriage arrives and he jumps out, accompanied by Tarquinius. Questions are asked of the group and they admit that they have been approached by the Thieves Guild and pressurised into committing this crime but they decided not to go through with it – the unconscious body of a thief lying on the ground goes someway to verifying the group’s claim. Satisfied that the group is telling him the truth Van Aarn has Carla taken to the hospital in his carriage and tells the group that their lives will now be in immediate danger for having crossed the Thieves Guild and that he can hide them in a Merchant’s Guild safehouse in return for doing a small job for him.

On the other side of town, in the hospital, Cadrigar finally comes too to find a young woman praying and performing magicks over his bedside. He asks her who she is and she identifies herself as Sister Anneta, High Priestess of Shallya. As a result of Fickenja’s generous donation Anneta has left the Temple of Shallya to come and perform healing magic on the elf rogue and he immediately begins to feel the benefits of her spells. A short time later the pedlar observes Carla being brought into the ward and attempts to pay for healing magic to be performed on the injured mage but Sister Anneta informs him that his way of life is wrong and that he should seize this opportunity to accept and embrace the ways of merciful Shallya and that his money is no longer sufficient and instead the church needs help in another matter. The high priestess asks Cadrigar to consider doing a job of escorting a surgeon to a nearby village to provide urgent medical assistance to an unfortunate soul.

Meanwhile the group is taken to the Merchant Guild’s safehouse in the middle of town where a couple of them spend a couple of fruitless hours hunting for treasure while the more sensible members opt to simply get some much needed rest. Early in the morning they are woken by Tarquinius and told to gather in the kitchen to receive their briefing; as they breakfast the group is told that four guild members have recently disappeared in Der Kopf while trying to conduct simple trading missions in that part of town; furthermore a guild agent sent to investigate the matter has also gone missing. The Merchant’s Guild suspect the hands of the Thieves Guild in the matter and therefore want the group, who are still largely unknown about town, to go to Der Kopf and learn the fate of the merchants and retrieve their wares and warrants if possible. Upon being dispatched from the safehouse the group decides they must attend to a couple of matters before embarking on their new mission – Fickenja and Ulric head off to The Green Dragon to inform Dolwen of the recent turn of events while the remainder of the group strike off for the hospital to check in on their two injured members.

Unbeknownst to the group Cadrigar leaves the hospital and walks across town to The Green Dragon where he bumps into the Fledermauses. The trio exchange information and then head over to the inn where they discover the front door locked; they hammer on the door and a nervous and black-eyed Karl opens a hatch and checks that they are alone before admitting them. The tavern keeper informs the trio that the Thieves Guild representative they left with returned later that night furious and accompanied by a gang of thugs who stormed into the inn and dragged Dolwen away after beating him up. The trio decide that they should get over to the hospital immediately and inform the rest of the group about what’s happened.

At the hospital the main group finds Carla in the main ward, unconscious. They inquire about her health and ask if there’s anything they can do to improve her situation and once more Sister Anneta makes her appeal for help with transporting Doktor Shuck to treat a patient out of town. A short time later the trio arrive at the hospital and the entire group is once more re-united. After mulling the situation over and the various options available the group decides to accept Anneta’s request for help and a short time later they leave for Gruss Baum via the West Gate aboard a horse and cart.

The group travel the low hills and entire the woodlands to the north. The group knows to expect trouble from bandits and sure enough as they round a corner a few hours later they can see a group of young men up ahead. The strangers, upon spotting the approaching cart, begin to drag large branches across the track and nonchalantly assemble their weapons. The group comes to a halt a short distance away and one of the masked strangers approaches with a sword in hand and instructs them to disembark the vehicle and to prepare themselves to pay a road tax. The group decide to pretend to comply and tell the doktor to hide in the back while they clamber off; once within striking distance Durgan charges the lead bandit and after a swift exchange of blows the dwarf lands strikes his opponent’s arm, sending him sprawling to the ground. A concealed bowman in the woodland opens up and Ulric is struck in the face by an arrow which enrages his sister, Fickenja, who charges into the woods armed only with a dagger. The longbowman at the front fires an arrow and hits Jeffric in the shoulder and Heinrich the herder manages to take the bandit out in turn with another well aimed shot from his slingshot. Cadrigar, after much dallying trying to pick up the first attacker’s sword finally joins the fray at the front of the cart where Durgar is flailing (literally) ineffectively with attackers armed with a mace and a dagger. The dwarf is sturdy enough to absorb a strike to his helmeted head and before taking out one of the men while Cardrigar, suffering a shallow strike to his body, delivers a blow to the other assailant’s arm. Fickenja avoids an arrow and confronts the concealed bowman and manages to wound him with her dagger which sends the man fleeing deeper into the woods; she picks up his discarded bow and fires a shot at the man but misses.

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Part Two
An Offer They Can't Refuse?

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A group of eight thugs come running out from the side ally and attack the first wagon. Fickenja grabs the semi-conscious Cadrigar and drags him under the second wagon, protecting him from further harm while her brother, Ulric, attempts to sneak away in vain. Carla ducks down in the wagon and successfully casts a Sound spell that produces the sounds of approaching guards on the other side of the hay cart blocking the front of the street – this makes three of the attackers turn away from the first wagon to investigate the disturbing sound. Durgar leaps off the second wagon and races over to the back of the first, readying himself to spring out on the attackers. Tarquinius, one of his men and Jeffric, trying to use their height advantage on the first wagon, exchange a series of frantic but ineffective blows with the men attacking them while Heinrich the Herdsman, standing on the rear wagon fires his slingshot forwards and manages to land an effective strike on one of the thugs, knocking him unconscious.

Ulric gives up on the sneaking and races over to the door of one of the abodes from which the crossbow assailants appeared and attempts to break it down – but it holds fast against his first attempt. One of Tarquinius’ men jumps out of the first wagon and charges the distracted thugs to his front but stumbles at the last moment, alerting them to his attack. Heinrich looses another stone from his sling which strikes another of the thugs who has already been lightly wounded – this results in the man turning and fleeing, pursued by a slower Tarquinius. Jeffric, having come close to dropping his axe and falling out of the wagon in the frantic melee decides to retreat to the other side of the vehicle and out of danger. Fickenja attempts to make a Molotov cocktail from the safety of her hiding place but the tension of the situation proves too much and she fumbles the container, breaking it and spilling the contents over herself – Carla, who was rushing over to her to assist in the planned attack attempts to cast another Sound spell but the noise and distraction of battle results in her miscasting it and nothing happens.

Reloaded, the two crossbowmen re-appear on the balconies on either side of the street and take aim. The man on the right hand side shoots at one of Tarquinius’ men on the second wagon but misses; the crossbowman on the left aims directly down at Tarquinius’ man standing in the middle of the first wagon and shoots him in the throat, killing him instantly. Ulric finally manages to smash through the front door of the house and stealthily sneaks up the stairs. Heinrich jumps off the back of the second wagon. Durgar, hearing some thugs coming his way springs around and swings his axe at the first man but misses, his blow smashing into the side of the vehicle instead. The thug responds with a strike of his cudgel which would have hit had it not been for the Dwarf’s lightning parry. Tarquinius gives up his pursuit and turns to give assistance to his man up front who is now battling with two thugs – the said man receives a wound to his shoulder before his boss can reach him. Jeffric jumps out from the first wagon and runs around the back to join Durgar.

Ulric reaches the landing and spots the crossbowman just finishing reloading – the young beggar springs forward with his pickaxe handle raised but in his enthusiasm the weapon connects with the doorframe, alerting the other man who turns and fires instinctively; the bolt just missing Ulric. The thug then drops his weapon and pulls out a dagger. On the other side of the street the other crossbowman has reloaded and steps out on balcony ready to take another shot but Heinrich is ready for him and fires his sling once more with accuracy, striking the man in the lower abdomen. Durgar is fighting desperately to ward off the multiple blows being rained down on him and only manages to make the parry each time; Heinrich comes running around the back of the wagon and charges at one of the dwarf’s assailants, bringing his wood-axe down on his opponent’s shoulder. The man shrieks in terror and pain as the blade sinks into his flesh; the thug promptly turns and flees and the rest of the attacking party loses its nerve and they all retreat back to the ally before fleeing into the night – inside the house the thug pushes Ulric aside and flees out a back window, leaving his crossbow behind. Tarquinius and the group refrain from pursuing, satisfied to still be alive. In the aftermath they regroup and depart the scene, leaving the unconscious body of one of their attackers lying in the street.

A short time later the convoy arrives at Der Golden Adler where a merchant, the owner, is there to greet them. He asks Tarquinius how the journey was and the man tells the merchant that they were attacked by members of the thieves guild. Tarquinius has the two bodies of his men removed and sends one of the brewer’s off with a wagon to take Cadrigar to the hospital for treatment for his grievous facial wound. The merchant attempts to engage the group in conversation as they unload the wine barrels into a storeroom but they refrain from engaging and simply state they are the hired help; Tarquinius speaks highly of them, stating that they remained cool under pressure and were effective – the merchant is impressed with what he hears and as he pays them their promised fee he tells them that there is plenty of additional work if they want it.

Without further ado the group head straight back for The Green Dragon and manage to reach it just before the barkeeper closes up for the night. The next morning they are awoken by Dolwen as he enters the room to roust them up for the day’s work. He enquires where his friend Cadrigar is and is horrified to be informed of the Elf pedlar’s poor state – he reproaches the group for having gotten themselves involved in such a risky venture. He then sends the Fledermaus siblings off to the hospital to check on the status of Cadrigar and assigns Durgar and Heinrich the task of accompanying himself while he conducts his business of meeting the local merchants and establishing trade agreements; Carla and Jeffric are permitted to have time off but are instructed not to go straying.

While Dolwen trawls from shop to shop Durgar pops into Arnel’s Arms and buys a tin helmet. Carla also visits the armoury and buys 10 crossbow bolts for Ulric’s new possession before she goes into The Emporium – a magic shop. The owner is a sagely mage who enquires how he can help the young magic maker; Carla tells him that she is interested in becoming an alchemist and would like some lessons – the mage agrees to speak to some contacts with the aim of getting the young Tilean a couple of alchemy lessons prior to departing the town.

The Fledermaus siblings make their way across the town, asking directions to the hospital as they go. As they come close to their destination they become aware of a man following close behind – the man speaks, uttering a banal greeting. To Ulric’s experienced eyes the man appears dodgy so he opts to speak to him using Thieves Tongue to which the man responds. The stranger speaks to them in a casual manner with a smile on his lips but the siblings read the danger below the surface and do nothing to annoy him as he informs them that they have foiled his group’s plans last night and that his boss is angry with them. He does however offer them a way out – he wants the group to make amends for the interference by participating in a theft planned for that night. Ulric questions why they should risk doing such an adverse task and the man replies that his group runs the town and knows where to find them and that they will be killed if they refuse the offer. The man then tells them he will drop by The Green Dragon after dark and then departs.

They then continue their journey and shortly arrive at the hospital which is run by the priestesses of Shallya. They enquire after Cadrigar and are taken to him where he lies unconscious; the sister informs them that the elf will require a couple of days rest if he is to recuperate – Ulric enquires if there is anything more they can do to improve his situation and the priestess suggest donating alms in return for some additional healing prayers; Fickenja gives a generous 5GPs and asks the sister to keep the elf safe from harm as there may be people out to harm him. The siblings then head back to the tavern by foot, observing the structures for any thieves’ symbols – and discover a multitude frequently adorning many a building.

Alarmed at what they have discovered they inform the rest of the group and they have a debate as to whether or not to inform Dolwen of the situation. In the end the group decides to confide in their elf boss and tell him of the encounter with the dangerous stranger. Dolwen is shocked and concerned at what he hears and his mind reels; in the end he tells the group that they are foolish for having gotten themselves entangled in local politics and reminds them that they are all there simply to do their job in the service of Albrecht Hechter. When they ask him for his advise he tells them not to get embroiled in any illegal actions or anything that will threaten the trading mission.

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Part One
A Simple Job

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For varying personal reasons, nearly all of them the result of desperate measures or dire need, a disparate rabble of common folk come into the employ of an Altdorf fabric merchant – Albrecht Hechter. The merchant, either through a shrewd eye for future profit or else at the bequest of his trusted right hand elf – Dolwen, has sought to employ a young herdsman, a woodcutter, a retired dwarven pitfighter, an elf pedlar, a Tilean wizard’s apprentice and a pair of sibling beggars. Each has a distinct role to play in a future trip to a large backwater town laying between the imperial capital and Nuln; a foothold of humanity on the edge of the Reikswald forest, sitting on the banks of the mighty river Reik, called Reiksdorf. Dolwen is tasked with delivering a shipment of linens to a contact in the town and to then spend five days taking orders and forming new contacts with local merchants and shops.

With an advance of their 20GP payment for the trip the group boards Matthias Cobb’s barge – Der Silber Kessel with the elf pedlar’s horse drawn cart loaded with Hechter’s shipment of linens. Over the next day and a half’s journey through the brown silt laden waters of the lower Reik they observe the occasional passing vessel and other regular river traffic. As they sail further they see the great forests and endless woods on either bank of the mighty waterway; the seemingly lifeless wilderness is only punctuated by the occasional inhuman cry, the howling of wolves and the infrequent forlorn melody of birdsong. At noon on the second day they finally spot towers and smoke up river, to the right and within an hour they sail into the busy docks of Reiksdorf. Cobb takes care of mooring the boat and paying the harbour master the required fees while Dolwen oversees the group’s unloading of the cargo. Jeffric the woodcutter makes the sensible purchase of a city map and then the group, led by Dolwen sets off for the market square; as they trundle along the cobbled streets they observe the sights, sounds and smells of a large town of The Empire – the familiar style of the architecture, citizens engaging in commerce or going about their business, buskers and beggars seeking to earn a coin. Shortly they arrive in the grand market square – a generous rectangle lined with quaint shops and containing a host of bustling market stalls. Dolwen manages to quickly locate his master’s contact, Tariq Qaleem, in “Tariq’s Fine Linens”. The gregarious Arabian merchant makes the agreed payment for the delivery and the group unloads the shipment of linens into the shop.

The primary purpose of the trip has been successfully executed so Dolwen now takes the group to their lodgings for the next few days, a large inn a few streets away called “Der Grun Drachen”. The elf pays the tavern keeper for the groups lodging and they are shown up to their shared room – only Dolwen has his own chamber while Cobb sleeps aboard his barge. Dolwen informs the group that their main meals have been paid for and that he is going back to the market square to start on his task of making new contacts; he tells the group that he will not need their services until eight o’clock the next morning and that they are free to do as they wish – but he advises them to stay in the vicinity of the tavern and to not get into any trouble.

Left to their own devises, Durgar orders his meal, as does Heinrich. Cadrigar the pedlar decides to ignore Dolwen’s advise and takes his cart down the street to hawk his wares. Ulric and his sister, Fickenja, approach the barkeep and engage him in casual conversation, hoping to learn about the lay of the land. The urbane tavern keeper, Karl Anders, freely informs the former beggars that there is little special about the town – the main cause of worry for most decent folk being the thieves guild which operates from out of Cutthroat Allee in Der Schwanz district. Karl in turn asks about the group and when they tell him that they are interested in finding some extra work he is happy to tell them that it so happens that a friend is in need of some hired hands to help deliver a shipment of wine barrels to Der Golden Adler brewery in Der Drachen. They are told that the job is straightforward and will pay 20GP a man. Ulric and the group eagerly seize the opportunity and Karl dispatches a runner to make contact with his friend.

Meanwhile Cadrigar has little success in making a sale – the small-minded and prosaic local populace stare at the strange sight of an elf trying to sell mundane items from a pedlar’s cart. A couple of curious street urchins approach and dare to engage the rogue seller in innocent conversation; one of the boys makes the mistake of asking whether Cadrigar is a dark elf, which angers the pedlar enough for him to give the boy a clip across the ear, sending him sprawling – the boys run off crying. The scene draws the attention of a passing city guard patrol who quickly seize on the fact that the elf is a stranger to the town. They ask him for his license to trade, which he does not possess, and promptly extort a “fine” of 20 shillings from him. Dejected and poorer for the effort, Cadrigar returns to the tavern.

A couple of hours later, still milling around in the pleasant enough Green Dragon inn, Karl’s contact, a man called Tarquinius, makes an appearance. He answers all the groups suspicious questions in a straightforward manner. The job consists of meeting and unloading a boat at the docks at eight o’clock that evening; Tarquinius will have four men with him and they will all load up the twenty wine barrels onto two carts and then drive them across town to the brewery. Satisfied that it’s a genuine job and not a ploy the group agrees to the offer. Dolwen arrives back an hour later and the group informs him of their intention of carrying out the delivery job; the elf trader sees no apparent harm and gives his consent so long as they are all ready to commence work for him the next morning as planned.

At half seven just as the sun sinks and the street lamps are lit, the group departs from the inn and make their way to the dock where Tarquinius and his crew are waiting, just as planned. The ship has already arrived and the next forty minutes are spent loading the wine barrels onto the two waiting carts. The party then splits itself up evenly ensuring that they are equally mixed with Tarquinius and his men to ensure no deception occurs. Cargo loaded, they head off into the night, driving through the now empty streets. They cross a bridge across the canal and weave through streets that are clearly in a rougher neighbourhood than they were previously in. They turn into another street and spot a hay-cart drawing across the far end and as they progress further in they then spot another hay-cart being pulled across the spot where they just entered; both ends of the street have been blocked. Two figures bearing crossbows appear on balconies on either side of the street and promptly shoot the driver of the first cart, who utters a shrill scream. Before he can take any defensive evasion, Cadrigar is hit by the second attacker’s crossbow bolt, straight in the head – AMBUSH!!!

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