The Enemy Within

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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