The Double Cross At The Crosspike…

While the rest of the part are up top in the Crosspike tavern, enjoying a free round of drinks on Kall Horst, Finja and Baumann have been down in the cellar for the past hour, having a frank discussion about Ranald. Franz Baumann is no scholar, so what he tells FInja about Ranald is grounded in layman’s terms, but he knows enough about Ranald and his four aspects that Finja learns all she needs regarding Ranald, the patron deity of thieves.

Finja learns that Ranald is often associated with thieves, gamblers and charlatans. Beggar’s also along with the unlucky and downtrodden often worship Ranald as one of Ranald’s aspects, The Protector, is said to protect those from tyranny.

Baumann believes that the Mask of Ranald derives its power from the aspect of Ranald known as The Deceiver.

Once Baumann felt he had told Finja all he knew of Ranald, the discussion turned to a personal one. Baumann reveals his primary motivation in finding out those responsible for the ongoing mysterious killings and peasants disappearing… his Sister, Brinda. Baumann tells Finja that his sister went missing two months ago, after discovering something strange beneath the sewers, some kind of temple. She sent word to Baumann that she was going to investigate it, but by the time Baumann got there, she was already gone. Whatever temple she alleged to have found was gone, completely flooded with sewage, and no sign of his sister. Ever since then, Baumann’s interest has piqued. He was particularly interested in knowing why the flooded temple was directly beneath the Steinhager offices. and his interest in the affairs of the Merchant Houses began there.

Finja suggests that their goal is one and the same; to seek out who is behind this conspiracy, and stop it, along with finding Liliana, and Baumann’s sister, if they are still alive. Finja feels that the rest of her companions could be of help, and feels that informing them is the best option right now, to which Baumann agree’s.

Up top, the party are situated around a table at the Crosspike, having a few drinks.

Ulrico spots a piece of parchment on the table, and has a gander at it.

BogDailyNews

Ulrico tries not to twitch when he reads that Fabagus Grey is apparently making his way to Bogenhafen after hearing word about the disturbance at the Sigmarite Temple.

There’s also news about the new captain of the watch, Kristoff Kohl, former watch sergeant, who is also present within the Crosspike. It isn’t long before he introduces himself at the table, and Kall immediately offers him a round of drinks, to which Kristoff agrees.

Kall strikes up a conversation with the new captain and asks him in a subtle manner whether or not the watch will be looking for a man matching Horst’s description. The captain remarks that he has nothing to fear from the watch as the Magistrate has decided not to pursue it, but rather he should watch his back as there is a bounty of 10 crowns on Horst’s head. Kall asks who issued the bounty, and the captain seemed to indicate that he didn’t know, as it isn’t a bounty issued through normal channels, but rather within certain ‘circles’ and that Horst had made a powerful enemy of Thadeous Stengel, one of the nobles that Horst had a altercation with at the bathhouse, and also the man that the former Captain Reinhold mentioned was the 3rd cousin of Graf Wilhem von Sapontheim, the Graf of Bogenhafen.

When the subject of Reinhold came up, the captain said that Reinhold has gone underground, but that his men will snuff him out sooner or later.

Captain Kohl bid his farewell and stated that he had watch business to attend to, and left the Crosspike tavern.

The party continue their merriment of drinking, and Borri suggests that they play a game; a game of finger dagger. The idea is to get a dagger, and while gradually increasing in speed, to move between your fingers with the sharp point. Borri gains Eckhardt’s interest in the game, and makes a bet that the loser gets a round of drinks in for the table.

Borri is first, and with lightning speed that is certainly not accustomed to dwarfs, manages to dart the dagger between his fingers without so much of a scratch. Eckhardt is impressed, and now he tries. However he does not have the experience that Borri has with the game, and badly nicks a finger. After that, nobody else is interested in losing a finger.

GM Note (highlight of the game)- Godfrey, “Lets hope you don’t roll a critical failure…” *Eckhardt rolls a critical failure*… Godfrey, “Ooops…”

As the party drink away, there’s a few loud knocks on the door. The barkeep heads over and opens the door, only to receive a bolt in the throat for his good effort. He stumbles back into a table, and slumps onto the ground, blood cuddling from his throat. The tavern goes quiet… as six figures step through, at the forefront of them is a big fellow that Kall recognizes as Bruno, wielding a crossbow.

Everyone is slow to react, but Kall, seeing his hatred for Bruno and what just happened, stands up and lets a bolt fly in the direction of Bruno, hitting him hard.

Before the others could react, there seems to be more traitors in their midst… Four of the patrons who’ve been in the tavern since the party got there, draw their swords and daggers and attack Baumann’s men, two of them get their throat slit before they could react.

Kall and Borri get attacked from behind, and a fierce battle unfolds.

Down below, Baumann is just making his way to the cellar ladder when he hears the commotion above… Finja suggests securing the mask first and foremost, to which Baumann hastily agrees. As he does, Finja hears something behind her. She turns to see the secret cellar door that opens up into the sewers, slide open, and 3 figures step out in single file. They waste no time attacking Finja, dealing her a deadly blow. With no time to hide the mask proper, Baumann does his best to secure it on his person, and throws a dagger towards one of the figures, dealing a bloody injury to one of them.

Upstairs, the battle stands on a knifes edge. Baumann’s men are outnumbered and are backed up against a bar, trying to defend themselves. Eckhardt slices through one, while Borri smashes the face of another. Kall tosses and kicks one of them into the fireplace nearby, and the thug that had wanted to do him harm is now on fire, rolling around in the fireplace, his screams of agony piercing the air. A rather unpleasant smell of charred ‘meat’ soon reaches their nostrils.

The party press the attack, and Godfrey charges in, killing Bruno and then making good effort to hinder the attackers.

Downstairs, Finja retreats, but not before dealing a sneaky deadly blow to her attacker, killing the thief outright. Badly injured, she retreats around a table, and gets advanced on by another attacker. Baumann kills one and kills the remaining one, saving Finja no doubt from further harm.

He immediately makes his way to head upstairs, followed closely by Finja.

Upstairs, the tables have turned and the battle now favors Baumann’s men and the party. Battered and bloody, the traitors are struck down, with one left alive who surrenders with no objection. However he’s jumped upon by one of Baumann’s men with a dagger, but Borri jumps in and loafs the man in the noggin, wanting to keep one alive to find out why this happened and who might be behind it.

Baumann makes his way up along with Finja, and see’s the carnage… He takes a few moments to glance at the dead around him, and then at the man who is being held down.

“Take him downstairs… I’ll be having a word with him shortly.”

Baumann dismisses the remainder of his men, and remains topside with the party.

Finja remarks that they need to discuss something, and sits down along with Baumann.

The party sit, and listen to what Finja has to say.

Finja tells them her story… about how before she met any of them, she was traveling with a strigany caravan, heading for Bogenhafen. They were attacked one night as they set camp near the outskirts of a forest. Beastmen had come out and attacked without mercy, killing all those that reside. Finja saw her mentor and friend, Lothar, get savaged by one of them. She tells them how she fought it off, killing it, but then the others came after her. She ran, but she couldn’t outrun them. They surrounded her and she soon lost consciousness. When she awoke, the beasts were all dead, lying around her. She remembers a man standing over her, shrouded, unable to see his face… and that he said, “Remember Ranald, child…” before vanishing.

She had found no tracks, nothing to indicate that there was indeed the presence of a man. Nor did she have any notion of who Ranald is. She tells the party about what happened with the strigany mystic, Yena, who she visited during the festival, and explains to them the reason for her odd behavior after leaving. She explains how Yena told her that she is Godtouched, and that this might mean she is favored by Ranald.

After telling her story, she informs them that she has formed a mutual alliance with Baumann, that will help find Liliana, and perhaps put a stop to whatever sinister goings on within the town. But she wants them to agree and commit to this alliance before she informed them further. They all agreed, and once done, the subject of the Mask comes up.

Baumann places the mask on the table, and explains to them that this is a powerful artifact that has been in his keeping for sometime, and he has used it to maintain his power, purely as a symbol of power. He gives the mask over to Finja, so that she could demonstrate the power of the mask. Finja tries it on, and imagines herself as Kall Horst.

She feels nothing, but the others can see… They see her change instantly in front of them, into an exact duplicate of Kall Horst. His appearance, his clothing. The only noticeable things that she doesn’t copy is his weapons and other assortment of gear.

Ulrico falls of his chair, and the rest are in complete shock.

Finja takes off the mask, and the party begin discussing on how to use this mask to find the information they need.

Baumann gives some suggestions; Franz Steinhager has the close ear of Johann Teugeon, who Baumann feels is the more powerful of the Merchant Houses within Bogenhafen. He suggests that Franz Steinhager could be a likely candidate, but there is risk associated with that. And if not Steinhager, then Magirius would be the next best thing. Finja has already met Friedrich Magirius and that he is approachable, and he is certainly a member of the Inner Council.

Finja agree’s that Magirius would be the best candidate, along with Ulrico chiming in on that, but Baumann states that they should not be hasty in plotting to kidnap the man. Rather, he suggests being blunt with him, as Finja has already stated that Magirius seems like he was conducting his own investigation, and if this is true, then he may be of use and a potential ally. Convincing him to not show up at the meeting, without mentioning the mask, and go in his stead, would be a tall order, but one that would be worthy to try, according to Baumann. And if he doesn’t go along… Baumann suggested that he will make sure that Magirius is removed from being an ‘interference’…

They agree on the plan, and Baumann follows Finja’s suggestion that a meeting be setup, to which Baumann suggests the Golden Trout, Magirius’s favorite eating spot, so as to not arouse the mans suspicions.

Baumann says he will arrange for private lodgings for them at the Bee and Barb, since has sway with the owner, and fresh clothing for Finja and Ulrico will be arranged.

The party agree to the plan and make their leave, just as screams from the cellar is heard as Baumann descends down to ‘question’ the man.

They make their way to the Bee and Barb, and indeed Baumann has already sent a runner to inform the owner that private lodgings is arranged for them. Ulrico and Finja take up one room, while Kall and Godfrey take another. Borri, who left the Crosspike tavern with two kegs of ale, puts them in Horst’s room and makes do with the common room, as does Eckhardt.

Precious time that could be used to perhaps further investigate the Merchant Houses is wasted, but the party are worn, battered and bloodied, and decided to rest up for the remainder of the day rather than overextend themselves.

An hour after midnight, there is a knock on Finja’s door. Both are awake, and Ulrico opens the door cautiously with his sword drawn. He see’s a cloaked figure, and recognizes the man as one of Baumann’s. He’s carrying a large pile of clothes, and hands them to Ulrico. A note is also revealed, and it states; “Meeting has been arranged. Tomorrow morning, 10. Golden Trout.”

The following day, the party is notified. Borri decides to stay back and drink, while the rest make their way to the Golden Trout.

Finja and Ulrico go it alone as they approach the door, and Finja gives her name. She’s informed that Magirius hasn’t arrived yet. She stands there, waiting… for the doorman to show her to the table. Being a strigany, she has little concept of the ‘norms’ when it comes to these things. Ulrico luckily nudges her into the door before word is said, and they are shown to their table by a servant girl.

Godfrey and Horst soon follow up, but the doorman stops them, and only lets them in when he see’s that Godfrey de Montfort is the Bretonnian that won the jousting, and apparently the talk of the town.

They are shown to a table, just as FInja and Ulrico sit at theirs.

GoldenTrout Menu – Golden Trout Menu

And they sit, and they wait, for Magirius…

Meanwhile, Liliana is paid a visit by Gideon.

Liliana tries to jeer Gideon and goad him, but Gideon just laughs, finding the whole thing humorous. She suddenly starts hearing whispers in her ear… telling her that she is favored by Tzeentch, and that Gideon is not…

She bursts out laughing, and tells Gideon what she heard, but Gideon in turn starts to laugh, and they both start laughing manically… Suddenly Liliana notices a small creature dart from her shoulder, and perches onto Gideon’s. Gideon beams greatly at her, telling her, “You puny little naive thing, so gullible that you are. You get hear what I feed you, lies and truths, but I wager you cannot decipher them…”

It is clear that Gideon had played a trick on Liliana, taking advantage of her ego. He picks her up by the throat, his hand morphing as his nails grow long, and Liliana is powerless to resist. She see’s terror in his eyes, and Gideon tightens his grip… only to loosen as her breath begins to fail her. “This is but a taste of whats to come, for you…”

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