The Enemy Within

Arriving in Middenheim

Some beastmen attacked their carriage in the Drachwald. Dealing with them, they interrogated a survivor who told them a “turncoat human” from the city had paid them to attack travelers on the road. Their leader had a brass medallion tacked on to his harness that had a red crown enameled on it.

They arrived at the huge city of Middenheim perched on a massive spire of rock in the middle of the forest. They debarked at Castle Rock Coaches and took rooms at the coaching inn. They noticed the heraldy of Graf von Ashenbek, the man Graf von Kaufman had asked them to investigate as a possible chaos cultist. Apparently he was quite influential here.

They visited Proffesor von Oppenheim at the Collegium Theologica that afternoon. He was quite amusing and constantly referenced quotes from books. He explained his theory of taint removal from a pair of tomes he had recently acquired and was quite excited to try it out on their tainted artifact. However, the ritual needed access to the Holy Flame at the temple of Ulric and his letters requesting access had gotten him nowhere. He asked if they could arrange permission from the Ulrican priests and they agreed. They left the lead lined box containing the artifact with the Professor.

That night they went to the expensive Inn, the Prospect, where the witch hunter Adele Ketzenblum was supposedly staying. The staff were uncooperative, but told them Frau Ketzenblum was out but they could leave a message. They did.

Bjorn and Roderick watched the place late into the evening and spied Ketzenblum entering. Hailing her they asked to talk to her saying Captain Baerfaust had sent them. She agreed, but not here, meet her tomorrow at 8pm at the Halfway House.

The next morning they tried to meet with the priests at the temple of Ulric. They navigated the bureaucracy and managed a brief audience with Priest Frost, the man in charge of pilgrimage access to the Holy Flame. Noa lied and said that Emperor Karl Franz himself had sent them and they required access to the flame for a ritual of cleansing. Priest Frost looked at them suspiciously and said he would take it under advisement and they should return tomorrow for his answer.

Bjorn scoped out the Halfway House and was horrified to realize it was a halfling tavern!

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Dangerous Territory

Continuing their journey they rumbled through the hills approaching the Great Forest. They stumbled on a scene of a wrecked carriage with the corpses of previous travelers that rose up and tried to eat them. Outside of Wurtbad 3 skaven stole the lead lined box, but abandoned it in the woods because it kept sounding a loud alarm bell, apparently the skaven had not counted on that (thanks Herr Luminary), but it was now obvious the skaven were tracking the tainted bell clapper.

They passed a scene where a nobleman was brutally pressing peasants into his militia for the war effort, they left the tears of the women and children in their wake.

Passing through Talabecland, they found Talagaad all sealed up by the city council fearing the coming of the northmen. Riding west towards Middenheim they entered the dark forest of the Drachwald, the looming trees closing over them like great monsters ready to pounce.

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Off to Middenheim
Of Cultists and Wolves

They headed to Herr Luminaries residence, passing the Red Arrow Coaching compound where they found a tense standoff between the Red Arrow coachmen and laborers facing a group of Averheim Guardsmen and a group of young nobles. Both the guards and the nobles were trying to confiscate the Red Arrow wagons to use to haul supplies to the war. The Red Arrow employees brandished improvised weapons. Raus and Roderick stepped in and managed to delay things long enough for Graf von Kauffman to appear and defuse the situation (aided by the mustachioed Ogre he had with him!). Graf von Kauffman was happy to see them because he had a job for them. He wanted them to travel to Middenheim and look into the dealings of a business rival of his, Graf Wolfgang von Aschenbeck. The rivalry was such that sabotage between the two of them was not unheard of, and considering that several of von Kauffman’s shipments of black powder from Nuln had been taken, and that von Aschenbeck had agents in Nuln, he suspected him of complicity. Now that war had broken out, the stealing of black powder seemed doubly suspicious and dare he say, traitorous. Graf von Kauffman hinted that von Aschenbeck may be a chaos cultist. They agreed and were paid a Gold Crown up front. The Red Arrow would provide transport to Middenheim.

Going on to Herr Luminaries, they found him packing to head to the front. He suspected the Light Order would want to activate the Luminark, a large horse drawn weapon against chaos and he would be needed to operate it. He wanted to discuss the tainted bell clapper. A long time goal of Herr Luminary, and the Light Order, had been to find a way to remove taint from tainted artifacts rather than just store them. He had become aware of some theories of a Professor Robertus von Oppenheim in Middenheim of a new process to remove taint. Since he was called away to war, he could not follow up on it. He asked if the would take the clapper to Proffessor von Oppenheim and test his theory. Afterwards, report to Herr Luminary in Altdorf. They agreed, and Herr Luminary gave them a lead lined box containing the clapper and a sealed envelope. Both were sealed with powerful magic and could only be opened by Oppenheim. As they left, Roderick heard a familiar popping sound at the window. The same sound he had heard when the skaven at the tannery had teleported away with his “Skitterleap” spell!

On their way back to the docks to discuss the missions given to them by the 3 powerful benefactors, they were attacked by a cell of the Red Crown chaos cult. It appeared the cult had taken the outbreak of war as an excuse to attack from within. The cultists picked a very poor choice of targets and were slaughtered, but not before putting the squishy Noa back into the hospital. Noa was now on a first name basis with some of the Shallyan sisters.

The next morning Noa was barely back on his feet (thanks to some divine healing) and they set off for Middenheim in a comfortable Red Arrow coach driven by their old crusty friend Werther. The journey was expected to take two weeks but the Red Arrow was fronting all expenses. They set off, but in Strickland their carriage was attacked by giant wolves hungry for the horses. The carriage crashed, rolling on it’s side, but they managed to kill two of the wolves and drive off the others, saving the horses. It took them a while to right the carriage with a clever application of some large tree limbs and lever system, but managed to resume their journey.

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Docks Murders Solved
A new chapter begins

The skaven sorcerer cast a spell that put the 3 armed mutant skaven into a frenzy which charged Bjorn. The skaven assassin circled around and focused on Noa. Roderick put an arrow into the sorcerer, who escaped with a skitterleap spell, teleporting away. Bjorn kept the monstrous mutant busy while Raus drove the assasin away from Noa, the assassin escaping up the ladder. Then Bjorn and Raus killed the frenzied 3 armed mutant whose tattoos flared green and he melted into a puddle of hair strewn goo and writhing maggots within 30 seconds.

The skaven dealt with, they searched the tanneries. In the Atzwig tannery workshop they found a makeshift altar and scattered tools and detritus from the skaven activiites. On a table by the altar was the missing gold plaque with bits carved off of it, a cold brazier with the charred remains of 13 hearts, a tarnished silver bell clapper which gave a feeling of unease when looked at (like the stolen effigy), but only the tip of the nose of the effigy which appeared to have rolled under a bowl. In a pit behind the tannery they found the remains of 13 bodies covered in quicklime whose hearts had been ripped from their chests. They recognized Hans the Knacker, Ute the Busker, Rolf Haller, and Bjorns dwarf cousin amongst the bodies. They concluded that the Skaven had needed 13 sacrificial hearts for a ritual to create the bell clapper from the warpstone in the effigy. The missing people from the docks were the sacrifices. Roderick realized that the large pipe used for runoff into the river from the tanneries would make for a good hidden entrance and that tracks of bodies being drug into the pipe would be wiped out by the rising river on the mudflats during heavy rains. It all came together, though they still didn’t know the bigger purpose or the connection with the Black Hood.

Calling in the watch, the priests of Sigmar, and Luminary Mauer, they explained what they had found and how they had found it. The watch called in the cult of Morr to deal with the bodies and hauled away the two tanners Dieter and Linus on charges of serial murder (their claims of Skaven met with derision). Luminary Mauer took the tainted bell clapper to protect it with the agreement of the Sigmarites.

Bjorn dealt with the funerary arrangements for his cousin, Roderick relaxed in the glory of his new notoriety on the docks taking credit for solving the murders, and Noa and Raus returned to duties with their respective orders. Life returned to normal. For a while at least…

About a week later, all the bells in the city began to ring. News had arrived that a massive host of chaos warriors had boiled down from the chaos wastes and invaded the empire. The armies of Ostland had been crushed and Emperor Karl Franz had called the provinces to muster and Averland was responding. The city erupted into chaos as news of war spread. Neighbors turned on neighbor with accusations of being in league with chaos, nobles vied to one up each other, and the Averheim garrison mustered for war.

Passing the Plenzerplatz where the garrison was mustering, Bjorn was spotted by Captain Baerfaust (who was to command the Averland contingent). Baerfaust told him he needed to follow up on Adel Ketzenblum’s (the witch hunter from the party) investigations into the Black Hood. However, he didn’t have time with the preparations for war. He asked Bjorn if he would follow up for him and give him a report. Meanwhile, Noa had received a summons from Herr Luminary who wanted to see all of them. The group got together and went to the White Horse where Adele was supposed to be staying. The staff had no idea who Adele Ketzenblum was, but got tight lipped when asked about the witch hunter. Roderick and Raus managed to convince them to tell them what they knew.

They were informed that a witch hunter by the name of Hanne Schmidt had been staying there but had left this morning. They were pretty sure she took a Castle Rock coach, who only operated one line that went to Middenheim. When the White Horse staff realized she had been staying under an assumed name, they wondered why if she always refused to take that witch hunter hat off, even in the heat. It clearly gave her away as a witch hunter, not very smart if she wanted to stay anonymous with the assumed name…

They headed to Herr Luminary’s flat off the Plenzerplatz, passing by the Red Arrow Coaching facilities on the way.

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Puzzle Pieces Coming Together
Investigations Pay Off

Roderick and Raus went to the Shallyan hospice to recover, Bjorn went home, and Noa went to crash at Rodericks on the docks after checking in at the College. Noa was hailed by a voice from a dark alley, it was Frederick Grosz. Frederick was looking for Roderick, but Noa told him he was in the hospital after going to a garden party. Frederick said he was skipping town before he got his throat slit and was hoping Roderick and his crew could escort him out. He offered Noa 10 shillings, but Noa tried to bargain and was quite rude. Frederick told him where to stuff his attitude and slinked off. Noa paid no more attention to it and went to crash.

The next day Roderick and Raus checked out of the hospice and they all went to the Journey’s End Tavern to meet with Graf von Kaufman. Von Kaufman wanted to know what information they had gathered about the attack at his party, and what they knew about the criminal activities on the docks, as he suspected the two were related. Bjorn showed him the throwing star he had recovered and told him the wound caused to the demigryph by it was similar to wounds on bodies killed on the docks. Von Kaufman took this as evidence that events were indeed related. He offered them a reward for returning his artifacts and the killer of his falconer, one gold crown for each artifact and another for the murderer. Noa asked to see the star, and realized it was made with an amalgam of warpstone, stuff of pure chaos. Noa freaked out and started arguing in circles about what to do with the throwing star. Bjorn and Raus assured him they would turn it over to the Church of Sigmar for safekeeping, quite surprised at how riled up Noa got about the small weapon.

Noa and Roderick went to see Luminary Mauer about the warpstone throwing star while Bjorn and Raus took it to the Church of Sigmar. When Mauer heard about the weapon, he had a eureka moment where he declared his suspicions were right about the wounds on the body. The wounds were likely the work of a “weeping blade”, a weapon used by Skaven. Skaven were ratmen who lived deep in the underworld and worshipped a diety known as “The Horned Rat” whose 169 edicts ruled them. There were lots of legends about the Skaven, but they were a secretive race. Mauer was now convinced they were dealing with a Skaven assassin. He even showed them a book detailing the weeping blades, weapons made with warpstone that caused wounds poisoned with chaos. Asked what else he knew about them, he said they could be hiding anywhere in the city. They went about unseen, could be slinking through shadows at night, using the sewers, or skittering across the rooftops. They were vile and cunning, and the number 13 was sacred to them. Other than that, he had no idea where to find them. They could be hiding anywhere…

Returning to the docks they searched around for any more clues. While passing the Knacker’s, an irate man with a lame nag asked if they had seen “that no good lazy knacker”. He had an appointment and the knacker wasn’t here.

The street urchin they had paid earlier to watch Ute’s place, found them and told them he had found Ute’s hurdy-gurdy. He showed it to them, it was up against a barge pulled onto the mudflats where the river had receded near The Upright Pig. Raus reasoned that it had floated downstream and washed up against the barge. They went upstream and looked around when Roderick realized the smell he had caught a whiff of at the falconry exhibit was present in this area. It was pervasive around all the limehouses, gong farms, and tanneries in this part of the docks. They went to the White Horse about dinner time and started asking around about strange people being seen or anything unusual happening with the businesses on the upstream end of the docks district or other missing persons. Roderick found out that Fritz the Cutpurse had not been seen in a while, and that Hans the Knacker had not been seen all day. Roderick also found someone who claimed to have seen the Black Cowl slinking around at night in the alleyways. He was short, stooped, and covered with a cowl and cloak. Raus talked to the proprietor of the Horse and found out Linus and Dieter, two adjacent tanners had been spending their days recently in the Horse spending an unusual amount of money on drink. They had said something about their tanneries being closed for “renovations”. Roderick, asking around about Linus and Dieter, found out Linus had been seen at Mathilda’s this afternoon.

Going to The Pig to find Mathilda, Roderick looked for Grosz. He wasn’t there and the owner of The Pig told him Grosz had cleared out his possessions from his room yesterday (Noa hadn’t mentioned his visit with Grosz and still didn’t when Roderick told them what he had heard). Roderick was very interested in what had happened to Grosz (Noa continued to stay silent). Roderick talked to Mathilda who told him that Linus had brought here a small chunk of gold broken from a larger piece to sell. The chunk had a piece of a carving on it, she showed it to him. He was pretty sure it was broken from the plaque stolen yesterday. Mathilda said Linus claimed to have two pieces he wanted to sell. She told them where Linus was holing up.

They went to visit Linus, concocting a complex plan to do a home invasion. When Noa knocked trying to pretend to be drunk, Linus answered and said “Oh, it’s you, you’re with Rodericks crew right? Come on in!” This caught them by surprise, they went in to the small one room flat Linus was renting. He told them he had been served with a notice from the city a fortnight ago that his tannery was water damaged and had to be closed for renovations by order of the city. He was paid compensation of 20 shillings for the trouble. Dieter, the tannery next door, got the same. Yesterday they were given their next weeks payment in the form of the gold chunks by Friederic Grosz. Grosz had told them that Roderick could help if there was any trouble with the payment. Linus wondered where his money was for the gold, he couldn’t spend the gold chunk for booze and needed silver. Roderick told him they had a buyer and to sit tight.

They returned to Mathilda and told her they would buy the gold. They made arrangements for tomorrow with her and asked her to keep their involvement quiet. She agreed.

They went to the tanneries of Linus and Dieter around midnight. They were quiet and abandoned, sitting along the river with a common set of drainage works between them. Roderick picked the simple lock on the gate of Linus’ tannery and they went into the open yard. There were several building, shacks, vats, crates, and other equipment for tanning hides. Grated drains criss-crossed the yard and there was a trap door on the side towards the drainage works between the two tanneries. The found a lantern and oil, lit it and went down the ladder under the trap door into the sluice drain between the tanneries.

When they entered the sluice drain they saw a massive rat man, apparently a Skaven mutant, with three arms and a scorpions tail waiting for them. He wielded a greatsword and a shield and had a large green gem embedded in his chest. Behind him was a smaller Skaven in robes embroidered with runes. The smaller one began casting a spell as the large Skaven roared a challenge. Noa spotted a third Skaven slinking in the shadows off to the side wielding a nasty looking green blade and holding another green throwing star in his hand. He had little time to warn them though, as the mutant monstrosity charged, the green gem flaring to life with a sickly green glow as the Skaven sorcerer muttered some magical words.

The fear was palpable as the howls of the Skaven mutant rang off the stone walls of the cramped sluice drain.

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Party Monster
And an Impressive Lady in a Big Hat

The guests arrived. Captain Baerfaust was gloomy. The von Alptraums, von Tuchtenhagens, and Leitdorfs were all in attendance with family members, courtiers, and ladies in waiting. Even a representative of the halfling community attended as well as Luminary Mauer.

The group guarded the party and tried to stay unobtrusive.

The von Kaufman falconer, Albrun Falk, gave an exhibition of falconry. During the falconry show, Roderick caught a fleeting whiff of a caustic smell. It seemed vaguely familiar but he could not exactly place it.

Fine food and wine were served as the guests mingled. An unfortunate joke from the von Tuchtenhagen jester greatly upset the Waldamerius (the halfling) but some mollycoddling from an attractive young lady convinced him to stay.

Claudia Leitdorf took ill and excused herself.

After a while a woman in the garb of a witchhunter barged into the gardens (Adele Ketzenblum). She had a hook for a left hand, and was rather intimidating. She exchanged curt words with Herr Luminary, it was clear there was no love lost between them. She demanded to know the wherabouts of one Johann Templeman who had gone upon the Southlands expedition. Graf von Kaufmann informed her he had been killed on the expedition. “How convenient” she replied. She exchanged heated words with von Kaufman, who demanded she either make an accusation or leave. As she retreated she caught Captain Baerfausts eye and he followed her out.

To lighten the mood von Kaufman declared it was time to unveil the exhibit of artifacts from the Southlands expedition. He removed the veil from the large cabinet, and behind glass doors were numerous artifacts which he began to expound upon. The two most striking were a large gold plaque engraved with strange symbols and a leering jade mask which was the centerpiece. When von Kaufman began to describe the mask, Luminary Mauer declared it evil and insisted it be destroyed. Graf von Kaufman declared he would do no such thing and asked for the opinion of the Gold Wizard Dagoberdt Gabor who was in attendance with the Leitdorf party. Dagoberdt had been transfixed with the gold plaque, but quickly agreed with von Kaufman. When prompted by Graf von Kaufman, Noa betrayed his employer by siding with Herr Luminary. Von Kaufman, emboldened by the testimony of a Gold Wizard declared the artifact would not be destroyed. Herr Luminary stormed out, and von Kaufman suggested Noa do the same.

Ameli, one of the ladies in waiting lightened the mood by declaring a game. She would hide in the hedge maze by a certain statue of Verena and the first person to find her would win the laurels of the party. Several agreed to play and off in the maze they all went. Roderick went to watch the maze.

Shortly afterwards there was a horrific scream as the demigryph, escaped from it’s cage, killed Albrun, the falconer and charged for the cover of the hedge maze. Roderick did not dare try to stop it, but charge in the other entrance of the maze to try and help the guests trapped inside with the raging monster. Bjorn and Raus charge to the maze to help.

Inside the maze they played cat and mouse with the demigryph when they heard an explosion from the gardens. Bjorn abandoned the maze to investigate as a plume of smoke could be seen rising from the area where the tent would be. Raus stayed to fight the demigryph alone (valiant but extremely foolish) while Roderick saved Amali. Raus gave a good reckoning on the ravaging beast but was brought low. Roderick, hearing the fight come to an end, uncharacteristically returned to see Raus being prepared to be eaten by the monster. Roderick fired his bow and brought it down, but was badly hurt. Raus was barely saved.

Bjorn returned to the gardens to find the tent filled with a yellow caustic smoke and the guests hacking and coughing outside. Roderick noticed Gravin Clothilde’s bodyguard, Giselbert Kuhn was not to be seen and charged into the smoke. He found Kuhn face down with several nasty wounds to the back. He drug Kuhn out, but Kuhn died after warning of a small hooded figure with great stinking yellow fangs!

When the smoke cleared they found the gold plaque and the jade mask were stolen and there was a fine cut in the back of the tent. Two men were dead, Raus gravely injured. Kuhns back wounds were discolered and mottled like the bodies on the docks.

Captain Baerfaust and his Greatswords arrived, as did priestesses of Shallya and priests of Morr. The Shallyans did what they could for the wounded, the Morrites took the dead. The party goers gave their condolences to von Kaufman and von Alptraum and took their leave. Raus and Roderick were off to the hospice.

Von Kaufman thanked them for their service and asked them to meet him for lunch tomorrow to discuss the events.

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Bandits and Garden Parties
Climbing the social ladder

They dealt with the bandits in short order, with some help of some illusory magic from Noa, though Roderick was hurt pretty badly. Seemed the bandit leader didn’t like getting peppered with arrows. One bandit managed to flee on horseback, the others fell.

Searching the bandits Bjorn recognized that the pistols they used had the stamp of Averland on them, they were issued by the army and some of the bandits were wearing old regular army uniforms. They noted this.

Gravin von Alptraum insisted on getting Roderick to her estate quickly. She had a healer on staff there who could help him. They traveled quickly to the estate where the Gravin’s healer saw to their wounds and the Gravin game them each a generous reward for a job well done and sent them on their way back to Averheim. They reached Averheim before dark.

Bjorn met with Captain Baerfaust and told him about the connection between the road agents who had been plaguing Averheim and the army. Baerfaust was not happy. He indicated that all the unrest associated with the empty Elector Count seat has led to an increase in desertions amongst the troops. The bandits encountered must have been some of those deserters. Baerfaust was thankful for the information.

The next day the group was invited to dinner with Friedrich von Kaufman at an upscale inn. The food and wine was fantastic and Graf von Kaufman was a gracious host. He wanted to thank them personally for the good work they had been doing for his Red Arrow Coach Lines, and had heard about the army connection to the bandits. He wanted to hear it first hand from them and get their take on things. He was gravely concerned about the connection between the bandits and the Averheim military. He indicated he was throwing a garden party for the nobility in two days to showcase artifacts from the recently returned Southlands expedition. However, he was concerned about relying on the military for protection at the event and asked if these adventurers would be willing to provide private security for the event. They agreed.

Arriving at the palace grounds the day of the event they were expected. They found 3 Averheim Greatswords troopers outside the gardens gates, including Baerfaust’s lieutenant Arta Schafer. The guards glared at them as they were escorted into the gardens grounds.

In the gardens they found a large pavilion tent set up for the event. Servants were preparing tables of food and drink and there was a large cabinet covered by a silk cloth (probably the artifacts to be unveiled). The garden had a small duck pond, was surrounded by a tall hedge on three sides and a hedge maze on the other. Standing on the other side of the pond was Captain Baerfaust, looking very angry. He also glared as they walked in. Apparently the Averheim Greatswords were insulted by Graf von Kaufman hiring private security for the event.

The rest of the gardens grounds was setup as a menagerie with a variety of cages housing creatures captured by the expedition and put on display here. There was a falconer on one side wearing the von Kaufman colors preparing 3 birds of prey for a display of falconry. Graf von Kaufman met them and explained that they were to represent the von Kaufman family as private family guardsmen. He had floppy hats and von Kaufman tabards for them to wear and fussed over their appearance. Two von Kaufman ladies in waiting giggled as Bjorn struggled with the floppy hat and his helmet.

Graf Friederich explained that they were to keep a low profile and keep an eye out for mischief. He had several very important guests attending and needed to make sure the von Kaufman name was not despoiled. The adventurers familiarized themselves with the grounds as they waited for the guests to arrive.

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The Red Arrow
Bandits on the Road

Having agreed to help the Red Arrow Coaching line for Curd Weiss, the group set off on the west road on foot to see if they could find out what happened to the late shipping cart. Passing a Strigany merchant in a garish wagon offering his wares, they asked about the road ahead and a lost cart. The merchant said he had seen cart tracks in the mud going off the road about 7 miles back. Continuing on they found the tracks and followed them. They were about 3 miles from the Welcome Rest Inn where the cart was last seen.

A ways off the road they found a small broken keg in the mud by the tracks laying in a puddle of black sludge. Investigating the sludge they found it was gun powder ruined by the rains, the keg was marked with the symbol of Averland, seeming having fallen off the cart while it traversed the rough ground. The tracks continued on into a large copse of trees.

Entering the copse they found a clearing occupied by a band of 5 mutants, some of them were drunk and one was badly injured. The cart was there, along with a makeshift camp scattered with empty wine bottles. They charged to attack the hated mutants, who were quickly and efficiently dispatched.

Searching the camp they found a bloody trail that led to the butchered carcasses of an ox and the two coachmen. The racks of drying meat in the camp were not just ox meat. Most of the wine had been drunk by the bandits, the other two casks of “industrial chemicals” (gunpowder) were nowhere to be seen, but the Cathayan silks were there. Taking the silks they traveled on to the Welcome Rest. And informed the proprietor of the fate of the cart. There was another carter there heading for Averheim, he used his ox the next morning to retrieve the cart and the bodies back to the Rest and they returned to Averheim with the new cart loaded with the recovered silks.

Curd Weiss was very happy to hear their report and paid them handsomely for recovering the silks and dealing with the mutants. He said he had another job in the morning if they were interested, he had a plan.

Returning to the docks late that evening they were surprised to find Captain Marcus Baerfaust looking for them there later that evening. Baerfaust offered to buy them drinks at the Sword of Sigismund, a tavern not far from the docks with a halfling chef. Arriving there he ordered a house wine (apparently Baerfaust is not much of a wine snob) and proceeded to question them about the mutant warband so close to his city. Tense words were exchanged between Baerfaust and Roderick because of their history, and Noa followed Roderick’s lead irritating the Captain. Bjorn and Raus were slightly embarassed by the rudeness of their associates and apologized to the Captain afterwards. One thing they did learn from him though was that there was a rash of stolen gunpowder plaguing the city.

The next morning they met early to scour the dock alleys for clues before going to the Red Arrow. Roderick was surprised when Frederick Grosz wanted to talk to him immediately. Visiting Grosz in his room at the Pig, he found Grosz alarmed at the appearance of Captain Baerfaust in the docks. He was worried Baerfaust was going to crack down in the docks, but Roderick assured him that was not the case. However, it became clear the docks were all in a tizzy at the appearance of the illustrious Captain of the Averheim Greatswords showing up in their neighborhood.

Traveling to the Red Arrow Curd Weiss provided them with tabards emblazoned with the crest of both the Red Arrow and the von Kauffman family and generally fussed over their appearance. He said as agents of the Arrow he expected them to act with dignity and respect and their appearance and actions should uphold the reputation of the Red Arrow. His plan was to use a popular local Noblewoman, Gravin Clothilde von Alptraum, as bait to catch some of the road agents who had been plaguing the shipping lines. The Gravin had volunteered her help, and Weiss had made sure word of her plans to travel to her summer residence very public. He wanted the group to travel with her, hidden in her carriage, and hopefully surprise the bandits he expected to waylay the carriage. They talked price and agreed to the plan, thinking the road agents were tied to the problems they were already investigating. They met the beautiful and charming Gravin and her aging bodyguard.Giselbert Kuhn, as well as Werner the crusty coachman assigned by the Red Arrow to drive the coach. They set off, and paraded around the Plenzerplatz a couple times with the Gravin waving to the commoners as they went. The trap set, they headed off down the same road as the the other day but soon turned south towards the Gravin’s estate.

After a few miles, the road was blocked by fallen branches. The adventurers stayed hidden in the coach while Kuhn and Werner cleared the blockage. After about 10 minutes they set off again. About a minute down the road they heard the sound of a horn in the distance behind them. Deciding to continue on, about two minutes later they heard the sound of hoofbeats racing around the carriage which soon pulled to a halt. A voice rang out from in front of the carriage “We have heard that the von Alptraum diamond is riding in that carriage, drop it out the window and you may proceed on your way with nobody getting hurt!” The Gravin twisted her ring in her hand looking imploringly to the adventurers. Kuhn smiled grimly and nodded to them. They burst from the carriage to confront their attackers and found 5 mounted bandits wearing tricorn hats and long coats with the collars turned up to hide their faces. Two of them were brandishing pistols at the coach. The fight was on.

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The Mystery Deepens
Making a Name for Themselves

Leaving Mathilda’s shop they saw a Priest of Sigmar walking down the street, people getting out of his way. This was Bjorn’s friend Raus, come looking for him.

After introductions they headed for the Upright Pig for a bit of dinner. Roderick noticed a gaggle of Wharf Rats and Fish glaring at each other outside the front door. Just before he reached the door it burst open and Gerd Nakk and Werner Klebb came tumbling out, Werner choking Gerd and yelling “That’s for Rolf, you Bastard!” Gerd kneed Werner hard sending Werner sprawling into Roderick’s arms. Werner recognized Roderick and said “Good timing, Roderick! Let’s get ’em!” The fight was on with Roderick joining in on the side of the Wharf Rats.

The others were unsure what to do and backed off and watched. After a few moments Noa summoned shadows and in a magically magnified voice commanded them to stop. The gangers turned, stupified, one cried “It’s a wizard!” and they all scattered, some of them slowly due to the beating they took.

They retired to an alley where Noa explained he was a member of the Grey College. Roderick was a little upset his reputation might be damaged by being seen to be associated with a College Magician and a Sigmarite Priest.

The group decided the White Horse might be a better option right now, but first Bjorn and Noa reported the body they had found in the alley earlier to the local watch post. They tried canvasing for anyone who had seen anything else of Bjorn’s cousin, but to no avail. It was like he had just disappeared into thin air.

The next day they planned to meet outside the White Horse early in the morning to continue their search. Just as they did, a barge on a pier down the street went up in flames, two men running from the pier and screams coming from the barge. Roderick and Noa gave chase to the runners, while Bjorn and Raus helped the merchant save his family, but failed to put out the flames on the boat. The fleeing men ran through the Pig but got away from Roderick and Noa.

The merchant introduced himself as Adolphus Stark, a textile merchant who was waiting for a delivery of expensive Cathyan silks. He said he had paid protection money to Klaus Keller (the body from the alley yesterday) and when new men demanded money last week he had refused. It seemed the burning of his barge was retaliation for that. Being in dire straits, he could do little more than buy them a round at the Horse for their help, but promises to return the favor to them if he ever could.

As they searched the docks for more clues, they spotted a young lady crying in an alley. Raus went to check on her and she told a sad story of mounting debts and creditors threatening to collect. Raus felt sorry for her and gave her 10 shillings. Roderick shook his head at how easy it was for a young lady with big watery eyes to fleece the priest.

They had another discussion with Frederick Grosz, who was upset about the death of Keller. Grosz strongly hinted to Roderick that if he could manipulate his new friends to get rid of the Black Cowl and set things back the way they used to be, Grosz would consider some debt of Roderick’s repaid.

The following day (Konigstag), they noticed Ute was not at her usual place in front of the horse. Visiting her apartment, it was unslept in and her hurdy gurdy was not there. It seemed Ute had also disappeared. Roderick started thinking about the pattern of the disappearances and realized that they had all happened at night when it had rained. It had rained last night.

Outside Ute’s a street urchin came looking for Bjorn. He said he was sent to fetch him for a man with glowing eyes and a big white pointy hat. Following the urchin, they found a gaggle of onlookers being held back by the watch, and a Bright Order Wizard, Luminary Mauer, looking over the body of Herman Hallheimer, another dockside racketeer with wounds similar to Kellers (puckered puncture wounds with discoloration and a taint of magic about them). Mauer greeted Noa, they knew each other, Noa clearly deferring to the senior wizard. Roderick spotted Grosz in the crowd of onlookers, he looked ill and nervous. It seemed Grosz was getting quite worried that soon a gaggle of onlookers would be staring at HIS body, but Roderick couldn’t talk to him because of the guards and Mauer.

Mauer wanted to question Bjorn about the body he had reported yesterday. He had them show him the spot, then spoke to them privately for their take on what was happening. Mauer said he thought the wounds showed signs of a magical poison, possibly chaos tainted. He said other such bodies had turned up around the city recently, and he had come here as a favor to Marcus Baerfaust to investigate. Roderick was not happy to hear that. They exchanged information and Mauer took his leave.

Later that afternoon, word reached them that an officious looking man was asking for them at the Pig. Arriving there, they met with Curd Weiss from the Read Arrow Coaching company. He said they had come recommended to him by Adolfus Stark, he needed a group of capable adventurous types to help him look into a rash of criminal activities on the roads that had affected the Red Arrow. He said he could pay them well for only a couple days work. He simply asked that they meet him at his office tomorrow morning for more details.

The next morning they went to the Red Arrow offices and met with Weiss. Weiss said he was worried about a cart of goods that had last been seen at the Welcome Rest coaching inn 12 miles from Averheim, but it had never arrived. He asked that they travel to the Welcome Rest and look for signs of what happened to the cart. He would pay them 5 shillings each, and give them a writ for room and board for one night at the inn. Raus asked what was on the cart, he indicted there were several cases of wine from the northern provinces, some industrial chemicals, and some fine Cathayan silks (yes, Adolfus’ delivery). Intrigued by the connection of the silks to their own investigation, they agreed to the job and prepared for the journey to the Welcome Rest.

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Of Beginnings
A Missing Dwarf

Noa, having just left the Grey College, returned to his old stomping grounds, the docks district of Averheim. There he met up with an old acquaintence, Roderick. Noa was interested in rumors of disappearances around the docks, and when he found out Roderick was asked to meet a well off dwarf about that very subject, decided to accompany him.

Roderick and Noa met with Bjorn Bergessohn the next morning at a small cafe overlooking the Plenzerplatz. Bjorn told them he had a young cousin, Gelrik, who had been missing for two nights now and had last been seen near the docks. Roderick and Noa agreed to help Bjorn (for a price) and three of them headed for the docks around mid morning.

On the way, a woman running a fishmongers stand waved a pamphlet at them. Noa took one. It was a pamphlet pleading for help finding her missing husband.

The first stop was at the Upright Pig Inn. There they met Mathilda Durbein, a sassy business woman who seemed to know Roderick already. Mathilda had some fun toying with the naive Noa, but told them that she had indeed heard that a dwarf was around a couple days ago, he was asking for Frederick Grosz. Roderick knew that Grosz had a room upstairs, so they waited and sure enough Grosz sauntered down sometime after noon, apparently having just arisen. It soon became clear Roderick had a history with Grosz as well, and Grosz was a cocky scoundrel. Grosz explained that Gelrik owed him money from a gambling debt and had come to pay what he could and beg for more time to get the rest. Grosz said he still owed a gold crown, but Roderick guessed he was padding it for possible profit. As they left the pig, Bjorn noticed a skinny moppy haired youth watching him closely. Probably had never seen a dwarf before…

The trio headed down the docks to the White Horse Inn, where Roderick introduced them to Ute the Busker who was playing her hurdy-gurdy (it sounded awful). As she paused to tune it, they chatted. She was happy to exchange information for a few coins or more information. She told them that Franz Haller, a dockworker, had gone missing, Franz the beggar hadn’t been seen since last Behzaltag, and Olga Klinski was quite worried about her husband who had also disappeared. Ute remembered seeing a dwarf walk past the White Horse around sundown two nights ago in the rain.

Roderick went looking for Kurt Guth, a beggar he knew. He found him snoring under a crate where Kurt had climbed to get out of the rain that fell this afternoon. Kurt also had heard a dwarf was looking for Grosz the other night, but not much more. However, down the alley Noa spotted someones foot poking out from between two barrels and upon examination they found a dead body. Roderick identified him as a local thug who ran protection rackets named Klaus Keller, he worked for Grosz. Keller had large slash wounds to his front, but Noa also noticed small puncture wounds in his back. The flesh around these wounds was soft and spongy and had turned gray and were the consistency of warm cheese. Very strange. Roderick stuffed the body back behind the barrels and made Kurt swear he had seen nothing.

They went to Mathilda’s shop, where she was just closing up. Roderick told her about Keller and exchanged rumors with Mathilda. She mentioned the disappearances might be related to the new crime boss in town, one people were calling “the man in the black hood” but mused why the fishmonger and Bjorn’s cousin would be involved in the shake up amongst the criminal world…

They stepped back out on the streets, it was early evening, and planned their next steps. They were a little hungry, maybe grabbing a bite at the Pig would be a possibility while they figured their next move.

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