The party leave the Boatman tavern, making their way to Ernst Steurmann’s barge. They follow Steurmann as he leads them through a narrow street. On the way, the party, Finja, Ulrico, Eckhardt and Kall, hear footsteps from behind.
Ulrico spots two hooded figures, possibly the same ones they saw earlier on, following them. Finja decides to hide up ahead around the corner, the rest follow, waiting to see what they do.
The footsteps get closer, but stop suddenly as a cry of pain echoes into the night. They look and spot the two hooded men, now laying dead in a pool of their own blood, two bolts sticking out of both of them. They could hear someone running away. Who or what they don’t know, or why…
They search the bodies and find two daggers, each one of them has an emblem of a Purple Hand etched into the hilt. Other than these, they have no indication as to who the men were, or what they wanted.
They continue towards the barge, the Berebelli. Ernst allows them to stay on the barge, despite the cramped conditions. There they meet a young blond but rather skinny girl, currently engrossed in a book of hers down below in the cabin. Ernst introduces them to her, stating that Liliana here is a passenger, like them, making her way to the Bogenhafen fair. There is little talk, and perhaps much distrust, as the party bed down for the night.
The night is one of restless sleep, as both Finja and Eckhardt find it hard to sleep. Their dreams are invaded by nightly terrors. Finja dreams of a mysterious stranger, whose face is blurred. He laughs and tosses her a blood stained coin that bears the face of her old strigany mentor, Lothar. The coin causes her immense pain, as it melts through her hand.
Eckhardt dreams are filled with horror. He dreams of his homeland, the Ostenmark, ravaged by war and Chaos hordes. His family nowhere to be seen.
The next day, the party set out to do some supply runs before they leave. Ernst goes out to fetch some additional supplies such as food and drink while Ulrico seeks out an apothecary to get some poultices. Finja accompanies him along with Eckhardt. On the way off the barge, Ulrico spots a herald selling written parchments. He gives the boy 2 brass pennies and takes it, reading it for any interesting news to be had.
There was news of several new tax laws coming into effect, that was bound to be unpopular. But what interested them most was the news that there were mysterious deaths and disappearances on the Weissbruck Canal. The same canal that they would need to get through, in order to get too Bogenhafen.
Along the way, on the Konigplatz, they witness a priest of Sigmar wielding a chain. Tied to that chain is a half-naked woman, shackled and being force-marched through the street with a bag on her head. The priest makes proclamations that the woman is a heretic, having spoken out against Sigmar. He is carrying a platter upon which rests several stones of various sizes. Now and again someone comes up and gives him a brass penny, then picking up the stone and throwing it at the shackled woman.
Their path crosses that of the priests, and he makes brief eye contact with them. He holds out his platter, and looking at Finja, asks if she would like to partake in dealing out Sigmar’s justice.
Finja however was not in the least interested, and chose some ‘choice’ words to share with the priest about what he was doing. The priest in turn accused her of sprouting out heretical words and the situation quickly spiraled into dangerous territory. The priest was momentary distracted by an old man who chose to kick the shackled woman in the shin, to which the priest declared ‘that man’ was a true believer, and that she, was sprouting heresy. Finja decided to depart with further ‘choice’ words, turning and walking way, while being glared at by the priest.
Ulrico took a quick glance behind him to see that the priest of Sigmar was now having some hushed words with two strong looking men in heavy armor, wearing wide-brimmed hats. Ulrico’s heart may have skipped a few beats when he realized who they were… Witch Hunters, and that they were now slowly following them.
After visiting the apothecary, Finja asked around for in relation to the whereabouts of the Temple of Shallya, the priestess’s of the healing arts. She was seeking some advice, perhaps a talisman, that would ward away her nightmarish dreams. A priestess had met her at the temple where Finja told her about her nightmare. The priestess nodded, and after a few minutes, came back with a cup that contained the herbs of Myrmidia, believed to contain some healing properties. The herbs were grounded in a fine liquid, and after consuming it, Finja felt much at ease.
After leaving the temple, Ulrico took a look around for any sign of anyone following them, and spotted the two Witch Hunters, now accompanied by a heavily armored warrior priest of Sigmar, talking to the priestess of Shallya.
Back at the barge, Ernst Steurmann is ready to leave as the rest of them meet up. They take their leave of Altdorf, and Ulrico takes one last look around on the docks to see if they’re being followed, yet doesn’t spot any of them.
After a few hours they get to the first lock of the canal.
An Imperial Custom’s Officer is standing on the side of the lock, accompanied by the lock-keeper and a couple of Riverwardens who keep the peace.
Ernst declares his cargo, yet when he is told that he will have to pay 7 silver tax instead of the nominal 4 silver for such a cargo, a heated exchange takes place. Ernst is about to give in rather reluctantly until Liliana steps up and takes issue. Using the knowledge she gained spending time with her father and the various studies she undertook in trade laws and taxes, she tried to blather her way into getting the Imperial Officer to accept the 4 silver as payment. When she finds that she isn’t getting her way, she lets out a vicious tirade of abuse towards the officer who is taken back by such a foul mouth.
Ernst, who’s bravado is somewhat increased at this stage, says he will ‘sic’ her onto the officer unless their is an agreement. The officer however is still unconvinced, yet the traffic that was now building up behind them with various other barge captains shouting out abuse directed at the lock, the officer decides to let them through after payment of 4 silver is made. Ernst gives Liliana 3 silver for effort spent, and for delaying the proceedings long enough.
That night, Ernst sets up to moor the barge along the shore of the canal for the remainder of the night. He is however somewhat jottled by rumors of strange goings on at the Canal, and recommends that a watch is maintained.
That night, they setup watch. Ulrico and Kall get first watch. A cold shiver goes through them as they watch the two moons, Morrslieb, and Mannslieb, rise into the sky.
Soon their watch ends, and Finja and Liliana take the next watch.
A heavy downpour starts, and the air gets colder. Belvar and the pig get restless, but particularly Belvar who snorts and stamps down onto the deck hard. Alerted to this, Finja looks out into the night for anything that might’ve spooked them, while Liliana goes down deck to wake up Ernst. Kall and Ulrico head up topside, having being awoken by Belvar’s mad dance on the deck. Kall succeeds in calming down Belvar, while Liliana achieves the opposite in waking up a very angry Ernst Steurmann.
“Are you mad woman!?!” he shouts as a tankard of wine gets chucked his way while he was sleeping. Liliana explains the situation to him and Ernst gets his crossbow from beneath the bed, and heads up topside.
A few moments pass in the heavy rain, as they look for any sign of trouble.
Then, a group of riders casually trot out of the clearing that their moored on. There is 7 of them, most of them are wearing hoods, but in this darkness and this heavy downpour, it is hard to make out any detail. They stop a few meters away from the boat, staring up ahead in silence.
With tension increasing due to the silence, Ernst Steurmann calls out, “Who goes there? Be you friend or foe!”
A few mere seconds pass in silence, then one of the riders, possibly their leader, rides out in front, although stops only a few paces ahead. He calls out, “Imperial Roadwardens! We saw your barge… There is strange talk about this canal lately. Wanted to make sure everything was aright…”
Ernst remains unconvinced, until Liliana whispers to him that they may be what they seem. If they wanted to ambush the barge they would have done it already, and they would have shot out by now, and not done it on horseback either. Ernst gives Liliana an odd-look, but calls out to them that he is just a river trader carrying passengers to the Bogenhafen fair, and that that they would be ‘welcome’ to come aboard and check the barge for themselves.
A few more moments of silence pass, eventually the lead rider shouts out that they’ll be making camp just up the river. If they see anything strange or need help, they can come calling. Ernst watches them go in silence as they disappear into the forest. He remarks that Liliana has some strange intuition…
Still not convinced of their safety, Ernst recommends that they get as little sleep as possible, and increase the watch shifts.
The next morning they set out once again onto the canal, making their way down to Weissbruck.
After a few hours of traveling, they reach a part of the canal that seems very quiet. Ernst Steurmann remarks it as very ‘strange’ that there are almost no boats about, as this part of the canal would normally see heavy traffic. Perhaps the news and rumors about the canal have caused a decline in the traffic? Either way Ernst warns that they should keep an eye out.
It isn’t long however until they start hearing a strange voice on the winds… A beautiful voice, singing some song in a language that is alien to their ears, yet captivating their minds.
Ernst almost falls into a daze, when Liliana speaks snapping him out of it, “We are in danger! You got to listen to me now! We don’t have much time!”
Ernst is slow to react, and watches as Kall, Ulrico, Finja and Eckhardt all dive into the water. Fearing that they have been caught under some kind of spell, Ernst and Liliana race to get some rope, a net and a pole to aid the rest.
As they remain in a dreamlike state, those that dove into the water find themselves beneath the waves. Kall is the first to see what has drawn them in…
He is captivated by her beauty as she swims towards him alluringly. She wraps around him tightly, yet her serenade ceases, and her beauty fades, which is replaced with something entirely different…
The suddenly snap out of their dreamlike trance, and Kall comes face-to-face with absolute horror. He tries to break free in his terror to flee, but its firm is strong as it closes in, wrapping its teeth around his neck and drawing precious fluid.
Finja flee’s up topside along with Ulrico briefly after, while Eckhardt struggles in his attempt to swim.
With Kall seriously injured, and drowning, time is running out. Liliana suggests using the net to ‘go fishing’ to try and lure the sea demon up topside and along with it, Kall. Ulrico, Steurmann, Finja and Liliana all help. They tie a net to the end of a pole and fish it into the water. The creatures long strands of hair get caught in the net and feeling that they have a firm grip, they pull. They struggle at first, but manage to bring it up surface.
Ernst tells them to hold it, while he fetches his crossbow. As he does, Liliana reaches over and smacks it in the back of the head with her sword. The swipe is clumsy, but it hits. The creature cries out in pain, and utters its last cry when a bolt from the crossbow of Ernst Steurmann hammers into its neck.
Steurmann delivers another bolt into the belly of it for good measure. They help Kall out of the water and Finja dives in to get Eckhardt Konrad.
Liliana explains to them that in her studies of mythical lore, she came across stories about such creatures of the deep. They go by many names, but perhaps the most common that they are known by is ‘Siren’s’… They are said to lure sailors into the water with their voice. Ernst Steurmann could ghastly believe that such a creature would exist, let alone be in the Canal. And how exactly did it get into the canal with the lock system in effect? Questions that perplex the mind.
Regardless they agree to tie it to the side of the barge. A reward was offered in the Altdorf Truth article in relation to any information that would solve the mysterious deaths of the canal, and they agree to collect this reward at some point.
Liliana De Karling-Satou