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.