Down on the docks Heinrich and Cadrigar finally manage to strike a deal for the hiring of a boat to take the party downstream, at the princely sum of 400gp. Across town Fickenja and Carla head over to The Green Dragon to reclaim possession Cadrigar’s wagon which has been left abandoned at the tavern for several weeks. Karl, the tavern keeper, informs them that the wagon is still out in the stables but he has been forced to sell the horses and wares to cover some of the costs – there is still an outstanding stabling bill of 150gp owing; Carla decides to pass the bill onto the Merchant’s Guild and heads back to the mansion to speak with the Bursar. Marius Uns is present in his office when the Tilean mage turns up to borrow yet more money and he wastes no time in telling her how appalled he is with the group’s performance so far. A chastened mage departs the mansion with the additional funds and a final warning and makes her way back to the tavern and buys back Cadrigar’s wagon which she promptly drives back with the aid of a generous stableboy and the pony and donkey provided by the guild.
Jeffric leaves the mansion compound and makes his way over to the Chancellor’s office with the attention of informing Sgt-At-Arms Brent of the start of the expedition. Upon being challenged by the Palace Guards the woodsman realises that he is in the wrong place, recalling only then that Capt Aldous had instructed the group to go to the Black Tower to contact Brent. Turning around and walking back across town, Jeffric makes his way over to the imposing residence of the city guard and enquires inside as to the whereabouts of Brent; a short time later he is taken up to the veteran’s guardsmen’s office. Jeffric tells Brent that they are in the process of setting off – something that irritates the guard, who questions why he is only just hearing about it and why the group has already wasted much of the day; Jeffric can only shrug apologetically. A short time later Brent appears outside the tower accompanied by three horses, his equipment, a guardsman, and worryingly, the assassin who tried to kill the group in Die Goblin Und Hammer a few nights ago. Opting to waste no further time, Jeffric suggests they all head straight for the docks where hopefully a boat is waiting for them to board.
Carla arrives in the mansion courtyard with Cadrigar’s wagon and is met with the unified disdain and faintest of relief from the assembled party there. It is now past midday and everyone wastes no time in loading all the supplies onto the cart, which is soon dangerously overloaded and underpowered. The citizens of Reiksdorf are then treated to the spectacle of the overladen wagon crawling unsteadily through the streets, towards the docks, pulled by a struggling pony and donkey.Slowly but surely the expedition party all filters across to the docks and manage to locate the boat. Mathias, an experienced sailor, captains the vessel and overseas the loading of all the equipment and crew. All the group are surprised to see the assassin in the company of Sgt Brent. A short time later the boat casts off and the group are finally on their way to the ruined city of Grenz, horribly late and with only a few hours of daylight left in the day.
As the boat plies the waters south the group spots the smoking ruins of Rikers Ferry on the left bank, and many experience a tangible feeling of guilt for their actions and resultant death of many innocents. To the right they spot the open fields of Little Hook and shortly thereafter the beginning of the great forest. While sailing down river Cadrigar checks the supplies and discovers that there are two bottles of Kussen Die Drachen included – he takes a dose, finally bringing the debilitating withdrawal symptoms to a halt. The boat sails onwards several more miles until the group is eight miles away from Reiksdorf; they spot a bed of reeds and opt to moor the boat at that point. There is the technical issue of how to moor the boat as it is still three meters from the bank of earth and after much asking around and debate, Brent’s guardsman, Richter, steps forward and offers to swim ashore with the lines of rope. At 4pm the boat is secured by two mooring ropes fastened around trees – by taking the river route and avoiding the lengthy direct trek across land the group is now only three miles away from the ruins of Grenz; as far as they can see there is only deep forest.
The next issue to face the expedition is disembarking the boat; although they are safely moored up they are still two meters away from the bank and the vessel cannot move in any closer less it run aground. After another deep discussion and it is decided that Jeffric posses the required skills and expertise to get ashore and build a small pontoon bridge; after falling into the water he is fished out by Richter and dragged ashore where the woodsman immediately begins chopping down trees with his axe. Not content to wait for the woodsman to complete his task, Carla approaches the uncouth and egotistical battle wizard, Sebastian Unterschrieber, for magical assistance – the expert mage tells her he has the very spell and will cast it if requested, however, when his magic powers run out, they run out – so he advises caution in requesting his help. Carla tells him to go ahead and Sebastian renders all of Jeffric’s hard work redundant by casting a magical bridge spell which will last until the following sunrise.
A short time later and the party has unloaded the horses, pony, donkey and cart into a very small clearing. Old Krieger, the nominal expedition leader, approaches the rest of the group and asks them what they want to do in regards to setting off for Grenz; they quickly decide that night is closing in fast and there is only a hour of light left so they will make camp for the night, keeping the majority of the party on the boat to sleep and posting a rotating roster of two guards to keep watch on the camp and the horses and cart. After a meal they settle in for the night aboard the boat and the watches commence.
At 3pm two of the Dwarf guards detect something moving swiftly amongst the trees in the darkness. Everyone stands too aboard the boat; the situation is suddenly very tense and several bowstrings are pulled taught. The group suspects a goblin patrol is about the attack them – they stand and wait, watching the darkness intently, startled by the sounds of snapping twigs in the distance. Suddenly the silence is broken by a roar as something leaps from the tree line and takes down the pony; all the horses scream and whinny in terror as something strikes. Carla attempts to cast a spell, once, twice, third time’s the charm – the ball of magelight streaks out from her outstretched hand and lands on the shore, revealing, much to everyone’s surprise and terror, a thrashing Manticore striking down a donkey. Many of the group are rooted to the spot in fear, unable to act; Durgar yells at one of the dwarf mercenaries to open fire and a crossbow bolt strikes the creatures hind leg with little effect. There is much yelling and Durgar is about to send the dwarfs in to close combat with the terrifying chaotic creature when Carla runs up to Sebastian once more and urges him to act. The wizard holds his staff aloft and utters a spell and a crack of lightening streaks out as the Cause Fear spell is cast successfully and the horrific Manticore turns tail and runs back into the forest. The group does a quick damage assessment and discover that they have lost the pony and donkey in the attack; they settle back down for the remainder of the night.
The group wakes and rises early, getting themselves back to shore via the magic bridge, leaving only Mathias behind on the boat. They all breakfast and then prepare to set off on the short but difficult journey to Grenz; Durgar and Cadrigar attempt to harness the Palace Guards’ horses to the cart but are prevented doing so by an angry Brent who tells them to go to hell; this action results in the cart’s contents having to be unloaded and divided up amongst the rest of the group who will now proceed by manpacking the supplies. Old Krieger establishes the order of march – Jeffric, who possesses scouting skills will stay 30 meters ahead of the group, marking the route through the pathless forest by leaving notches in the trees; Krieger and the dwarf mercenaries are next, followed by the rest of the group moving two by two with the Palace Guard faction choosing to stay at the very rear. They then strike off in the dark forest, walking mile after mile through the featureless forest until Jeffric comes to a stop, spotting something up in the distance.