Round Round We Go, Lets Eat Those Rats!

It’s just past 6pm, and time is running short.

Finja, Ulrico and Ernst Steurmann depart Magirius’s residence with great haste. Only just out the gate they bump into Magirius’s servant, Andrea.

Andrea – Andrea

She notices the blood dripping down the marble steps at the front door of the residence, and seeing that the others seem to be leaving in great haste, she quickly realizes something is dreadfully wrong.

Finja explains to her that she is in danger if she stays, and she needs to go now. Andrea proclaims that she had a message for Magirius, to be delivered only to him, of utmost importance.

She explains that Hieronymus Elster, a member of the Inner Council, had grown concerned about Teugen’s plans. He knew where it was taking place and wanted to inform Magirius, so he sought out Andrea. The two are apparently acquainted.

Upon hearing this, Finja suggests that Andrea come with them, for her own safety, until they can form a plan of action. Ernst suggests the Berebelli rather than the Bee and Barb.

They head off at once.

Meanwhile the murderous Kall Horst is still at large, and the undoubtedly insane Liliana is wondering whether or not she is safe with the long-haired fiend. She starts to question Horst about his recent activities, particularly as a large plume of smoke billows out into the sky, and Liliana eyes it cautiously, and then fixes her stare to Horst, who shrugs…

Eventually Kall tells Liliana everything. Mostly everything. Leaving out the bits concerning stealing garments out of a bathhouse and making an enemy of a powerful noble. The silly bits that make him look like a bumbling oaf, although there’s a few that may have made up their mind in that regard already.

Liliana suggests that they won’t do any good here, and that Kall will need his wounds attended too. She suggests that Kall and herself masquerade as brother and sister, and make their way into town. If anyone inquires about his injuries, he was set upon on the road by bandits. The plan isn’t met with much enthusiasm from Horst.

Then, they hear someone whistling gleefully. Horst looks up over the hedge and see’s an old woman carrying a basket and a cane, and picking blood red berries from the bush, making her way up along towards them while whistling away. She doesn’t appear to have noticed them.

Horst is somewhat alerted but Liliana waves away his concerns… “It’s only an old woman kall…” she moves over onto the other side and greets her kindly.

“O deary me! You startled me child! My goodness…”

Gertrude

She introduces herself under an alias and Kall introduces himself as Godfrey, to which Liliana rolls her eyes as the old woman questions the name, “Godfrey? Such a peculiar name, may I ask where its from?”

“Bretonnia,” Kall replies.

“Ah, dearie me your a long way from home aren’t ya. I must say… ya don’t have the accent on ya. Brother and sister you say?”

Liliana tries to cover up Kall’s blunder by speaking in Bretonnian to him, and Kall tries to steer any suspicion away by stating that he ‘lost’ his accent growing up away from Bretonnia.

The old woman shrugs, saying, “Well, you look like you need a healer. I’m skilled in such arts.”

A heavy downpour starts again as the old woman curses at Stromfel. “Come, come. You need to get out of the rain, come, come.” She begins to limp away slowly towards the nearby forest.

Kall cautiously follows while Liliana catches up to the woman for some chit-chat. She finds out that the woman’s name is Gertrude, and that she is a cut-wife. A term used for those who cut out unwelcome babies from their mothers womb. A ghastly trade, and Liliana doesn’t inquire further.

As the weather gets worse and the old woman shouts a few more curses at Stromfel, they get closer to her abode.

small hut – Definitely not a witches hut

Liliana notices two stone pillars on either side of the small hut, leading up to the door. On both columns she notices some kind of rune carved into them. They appear to be very old. Fortunately her years in her father’s study browsing her father’s impressive private library has given her an extensive, although somewhat limited knowledge on a great number of subjects. One such subject was runes. She recognized these runes from one of her father’s books. While superstitious in nature, it is believed that the rune carving on the column is meant to ward off evil, but it supposedly does not work on normal folk, otherwise Kall Horst would not be allowed to enter…

Horst ties up Belvar outside and steps in along with Liliana, as the old woman remarks that “It may not look like much, but its home.”

interior hut – Definitely not the interior of a witches hut

She tells Kall to rest up on the bed, to which he cautiously sits down as the old woman begins to brew some sort of tonic for him, although not before she lays a hand on his leg and gets a quick feel for his injuries…

Liliana helps her with some of the tasks, and she goes outside, pretending to fetch some supplies from Belvar but in reality getting a better look at those runes.

The old woman finishes up her brew and offers it to Kall.

“Now don’t be a stubborn ox. Drink up,” she says. Kall takes a few sips, and to his own surprise, he does feel much better! It seems to have numbed the pain somewhat.

Who knew goblin snot could have healing properties?…

Liliana comes back in after taking a gander at those runes. Her knowledge of runes tells her that runes in nature are not magical, only the essence of a magical being can indeed embody them with magic, so she is unable to tell whether or not these runes are indeed magical.

After taking a few more sips, and feeling rather reluctant to drink anymore of the delicious tonic that soothes pain, Kall Horst walks up to the door and heads out for some fresh air in the storm that is brewing outside. He chucks the tonic away discreetly, apparently having enough of it, and favoring pain rather than soothing pain relief.

Inside, the old woman remarks, “I thought he would never leave…” Liliana knows that there’s more to this woman than meets the eye, and she is upfront with her, giving her real name and telling her that Kall isn’t really her brother. The woman smiles and winks, and the two begin talking. Liliana goes into great detail with Gertrude, telling her of her recent and past troubles. She mentions how she was once engaged to a prince, to which Gertrude seemed to be particularly interested in hearing about, and the two gossip and giggle about men in general.

Liliana then tells Gertrude of her more dire troubles, being coy at first, but then slowly opening up, and mentioning about the kidnapping. The old woman listens intently as Liliana continues. Gertrude then begins asking about Liliana’s mother, and whether or not she ever did anything odd. Liliana tells Gertrude that her mother died during childbirth, that she never knew her other than the stories that her father would tell, that she was beautiful, kind and somewhat mysterious at times.

The woman nods, smiling sadly, “Tis a pity you did not know her. Tell me child, have YOU done anything out of the ordinary recently?”

Liliana again is coy, but the woman relents, and Liliana opens up about how she escaped from Gideon’s dungeon, and how the frost had aided her escape.

Gertrude smiles, nodding, “Yes. I can see it now… swirling about you like ghosts. I’ve not seen such power in all my years… Tell me, do you feel it? Do you feel anything?”

Liliana shakes her head. Only thing she feels is the chill in the air, the natural chill.

“Indeed. You are only young, and it is only beginning to awaken with you. What do you know of the winds of magic child? Do you know anything?”
Liliana remarks that she knows the stories of old, fairytales about great powerful wizards who do great heroic deeds. She is aware that magic exists, but not what form it takes or how it comes to be.

Gertrude laughs, “Fairytales? Bah! Stories for children and nursery rhymes! That is not magic child, not at all. Tell me child, have you ever heard of the winds of magic? Do you know what I speak of?”

Liliana shakes her head, listening intently.

“Then let me tell you. There are 8 winds of magic young one. Each one representing a different form of magic… yet, you have none of these swirling about you. No, you… are rare. You are as rare as a flower that blooms far to the north, where nothing grows. You have the power of Ice… Indeed there are other magics, other forms that are outside of the 8 winds of magic. And whether it be a curse or a blessing, you have one such form. You have the power of the Ice running through your veins child. Yet you have no control over it…. And it only has begun to awaken. Do you understand me, do you understand what I’m telling you?

“I cannot teach you how to control it. I am but a humble cut-wife,” she says, winking,  “and make my trade as local herbalist. I have not done magic… old magic, in such a long time. For the most part it has left me, as I’ve long since remained here because I have been careful. And you will too child, need to be careful. Do not tell your secret to anyone. And if you must, then do so to those you trust dearest only.”

Liliana stands up, and hugs the old woman gently. She thanks her for her kind words and understanding, remarking that she must go, for trouble follows her everywhere.

Then… a crack of thunder sparks across the sky. The old woman is about to let out a curse at Stromfel when the crows begin to fly. Liliana feels something is very wrong, and her heartbeat starts beating fast. A fear that she has not felt since her first encounter with… Gideon.

“I must go now, I must leave. I’m putting you in danger.” Liliana remarks, but Gertrude grabs her wrist, “Shh… listen. Something is coming…”

Kall suddenly steps back inside, his crossbow at the ready and he seems most concerned about something, “Are you expecting someone?”

Gertrude shakes her head, and heads over to the window…

Gideon in the Dark – Definitely not Gideon

Liliana glances over her shoulder, and gets a chill when she see’s the dark figure…

“I’ll take care of this…” Gertrude remarks, brushing past Kall, as Kall endures a volley of pleading from Liliana to stop her.

“She’s her own woman,” he replies. Liliana pleads for her not too, but Gertrude is already out.

The Standoff – Liliana, looking out

Gertrude has stopped just short of Gideon by a few meters, wisely keeping her distance and remaining near the door. Liliana is unable to watch anymore as she sinks into the chair, her head in her hands. Kall looks on with interest.

“Come here, have you, for your prize?”

After a few seconds of silence, the dark figure speaks up. “This is not your fight old hag. Give her to me and ill spare your life. You can carry out your miserable existance till your hour is up.”

Gertrude replies, “You can mutter out your feeble threats all you want fiend. I know what you are just to look at you… and I do not fear your kind any more than I fear Stromfel. Go back to your master and beg him for mercy, for you surely have disappointed him, being the pitiful thing that you are,” she spits at the ground, taunting him.

Gideon lunges at her with lightning speed, but a wave of energy spills out from the two stone pillars, impacting Gideon full on in the chest. He goes flying across the field by at least 20 meters. Gertrude cackles out, laughing as she turns and heads back towards the hut.

Kall notices the figure rising up at the back, seemingly brushing off the impact as if it was nothing. He’s never met or heard of Gideon up until this point, but something in his bones knows that he’s bad business…

Gideon then speaks in a menacing deep tone that seems to echo everywhere, and is heard by all… “Let me depart with a gift for you, Hag. To show you what awaits you. That your end is near.”
Suddenly Gertrude drops to her knees, clutching her eyes and screaming out in agonizing pain. Gideon laughs as he strides off, and blood begins to run down Gertrude’s face. Kall aims his crossbow at her, but Liliana see’s what he’s planning to do and screams for him to stop. Yet its too late, he fires the crossbow, planning to put the old woman out of her misery. Luckily, the cockeyed Horst missed. It seems that the stormgod may have had a hand in saving Gertrude’s life as the conditions of the storm and Kall’s injuries may have had an impact also.

The woman stops screaming, and crawls towards the door. Kall and Liliana help her up, but Kall freezes as either fright, or fear, or something else, seems to have stood him frozen. Liliana helps her while screaming at Kall to do something useful. Kall looks at all the jars lined up on the wall rack and shrugs…

Kall and Liliana soon get into a ferocious argument, with Liliana clearly still upset that Kall nearly killed Gertrude. The argument is cooled somewhat when Gertrude places a hand on Liliana’s shoulder, “He must be stopped… he must be stopped…” she sits back down, uttering the same words over and over again. “An ocean of blood… he must be stopped…”

After getting through to Gertrude, the old woman responds, “It’s not safe here, not anymore. You must go. You must try to stop him… and if you can’t, then you must leave, far away from here you must go.”

Liliana swears that she’ll try, and hugs Aunty Gertrude (in her own words) as Kall Horst heads out to ready Belvar.

“Wait… I’ve got something for you. To aid you in your travels.” The old woman fetches an ancient and worn looking book from a collection of other dust covered books.

Gertrudes Tome

She puts it into a satchel and hands it to Liliana, “You must read this only when you are ready… and not till then.

“There are those who may be able to help you along the path. I can only guide you so far child. But, there are stories of those far to the north, in Kislev, who can teach you the ways of Ice magic. They are known as many names. If you wish to be blunt about it, then they are known as the Hags of the North. Powerful ice witches. Finding them will be a challenge. But… you are not ready for them child. Do not seek them out until your ready. No, you… you must learn respect. Respect and self control. You must respect your gift first, before you can use it. And I can already sense that you have a long road ahead of you. May the gods be with you child… except Stromfel, he can go to hell!”

They chuckle and say their emotional farewell. Gertrude hands Liliana one final parting gift, meant for Kall. A tonic of blue liquid. Liliana leaves and mounts Belvar, and they make their way to the south gate of Bogenhafen with great haste.

Nightfall is fast approaching and Finja, Ulrico and Ernst along with Andrea have met up with Borri and Godfrey on the Berebelli. Finja fills them in on everything so far. Borri is ever so slightly drunk, Godfrey is ever so slightly not sober, and Ernst is rather annoyed at his missing wine stock.

A plan is formed; Borri, Godfrey, Finja and Ulrico will follow Andrea and meet up with this Hieronymus Elster at once, and get whatever he knows about the meeting from him.

Ernst will ride out on Hercules, Godfrey’s horse after gaining permission to do so from the Knight, to search for his nephew, Kall Horst. Godfrey is reluctant, but Ernst swears that he’ll be back in no time, and that Hercules will be looked after.

The rest follow Andrea to Hieronymus Elster’s residence. Upon their arrival, there is some minor confusion as to why they are here, mainly from the drunken dwarf. “So.. we are here to smash heads? Yes?”

“No!” Finja replies, “No smashing of heads… We are here to talk to him and get what he knows.”

“Ok, so no smashing of heads?”

“No!”

“Gotcha. Well you do the talking, ill do the watching. And potentially smashing if need be.”

Andrea heads on in, and no one seems to question at the relative ease at which she enters this mans house. She knocks on the study, and there is no reply. Upon entering the study there is no sign of Elster. They check upstairs, and again, no sign. Finja is growing concerned and they start checking the rooms downstairs, doing a thorough search. Borri and Godfrey are in the study, and Borri notices a book containing business contacts. Might be useful, as he puts it in his backpack.

He then checks out the nearby desk, and discovers a body tucked behind it! A man in his 60’s, his throat freshly cut by the looks of it.

And Godfrey notices a message on the desk…

Desk With Message

WHSE with the number of a 13 or a 17 etched in blood. It seems that Ester’s last dying moment may not have been in vain.

They call the others, and the rest come rushing into the study. Andrea confirms that it is Hieronymus Elster that is lying on the ground.

They further inspect the body… and no one has noticed that a certain someone has already left the room while their backs were turned. The door is shut, and locked, and Andrea runs out into the front calling for the watch, “Help! Help! They’ve murdered Hieronymus Elster! Help, please help!”

The party are sensed at this betrayal, particularly Borri. They need to act fast. They decide to go out the window, smashing it and try to quickly climb the back wall, which is only 5,5ft. They manage to climb it with ease, although Borri needs a hand.

Once over the wall, Borri suggests to Finja on trying to get Andrea and ‘dealing’ with her, as she knows too much, since she was brought back to the barge earlier on.

They don’t have time to discuss it… “You lot! Stop!”

They bolt it.

A chase ensures. One with drastic results if they get caught. They skid down an alleyway and dart through the streets while the two man watch patrol is now joined by an additional two. Finja makes gains, being athletic in nature and used to this sort of thing. The others are struggling. Ulrico trips over a beggar but quickly gains his footing, but they’ve all lost sight of Finja now, and the watchmen are not far behind.

“Pss… idiots… over here.”

They turn to see one of Baumann’s men, “Follow, quickly.” They waste no time following the man as he moves through an alleway with the watch still in pursuit.

“Quickly, down here now!” he opens a manhole cover and waits for them to proceed. Closing it behind them, they find themselves back in the welcoming embrace of the sewer system and its quaint smell.

Finja finds herself alone, having lost her pursuers. They are beginning to realize the longer they stay in this city, the more dangerous its getting.

Finja decides to head toward the Berebelli, hoping that the others, Ulrico, Borri and Godfrey will make it back there and then decide what to do.

The rest continue their trek in the sewer.

They eventually arrive at Baumann’s second hideout in the sewers, and find Eckhardt there. Baumann is not happy at all, and greets them with much hostility, as his patience is starting to wane. However, Borri tells Baumann about WHSE, and the origin of it, and that it may be where the ritual is taking place. Baumann bursts out laughing, remarking how obvious and simple it is.

“Warehouse… it means warehouse. 13 or 17 you say? 17 is the northern warehouses, which are owned by the Ruggbroder family. 13 however… is at the southern end of the dock, which are owned by the Teugen family.”

Kall and Liliana meanwhile are at the south gate. They get briefly stopped by a guard, but talk their way past, with Kall hiding his hair and features under his cloak, basically looking like a cripple, and moving like one too.

They agree that the Berebelli is the best place, since its likely the Bee and Barb is out of the question and that his Uncle, Ernst, may be able to provide a safe haven, assuming he’s still docked, as he said he would not be staying longer than 3 days.

They head off to the docks and Kall stables his horse near the docks edge.

Liliana had given him the tonic that Gertrude gave her earlier on, and Kall decides to drink at least half of it, as Liliana remarked that it should help him somewhat.

It didn’t….

It really didn’t…

After drinking it, Kall feels rather odd. He feels weak, and strange. He then develops a sudden urge for rat. In fact his urge is so strong, that Horst starts seeing invisible rats running around him. He then proceeds to chase after them, round and round he goes, after invisible rats, while trying to scoop them up.

Liliana see’s this. So does a dozen or so others.

“What’s wrong with that man?!?” “I don’t know… bit touched perhaps. Soft in the heads me thinks.”

“Maybe someone should fetch a priestess of Shallya!”

“He could be dangerous. Someone fetch the watch!”

“What about the Priests of Sigmar?”

“Someone fetch someone! Look at this loon!”

They surround Horst and gawk at him. Some, if not most, laughing at his antics, while others, are… perplexed, bemused.

Liliana is frozen, unsure what to do. This sudden strange onset of weird behavior has floored her.

Finja hears the commotion and makes her way further up the docks, keeping in the shadows. She notices a crowd, and then she notices Kall Horst running around in circles, trying to eat invisible things.

In the crowd, she spots Liliana. Finja has to make a double-take to make sure she is indeed seeing Liliana… She moves around the edge of the crowd and catches Liliana, and forces her out of the crowd to have a brief discussion. It’s very brief, as more pressing matters are of concern, particularly of Kall Horst’s strange behavior.

Round round he goes, ever the crazed murdering loony bastard that he is, Kall continues to gain a captivating audience. Finja and Liliana come up with a plan as Finja steps into the middle and proclaims that this is her brother who has had far too much to drink.

“Drink! Me ass! I’ve been drunk before, and its never done that to me!” one shouts from the audience. Another shouts, “Nah he’s touched he is! Crazy!”

The situation is getting out of control, and Liliana tries to back up Finja, but it isn’t working. They decide to resort to other more extreme measures. Finja slaps Liliana hard, and a cat fight ensures as both women scream at each other like mad banshee’s having a bad hair day. This has gotten the crowds attention for certain, as two women fighting is more interesting than a man running around in circles.

Kall comes out of it just in time to see his surroundings… most eyes are on the two women who are tearing his eardrums apart. He makes a beeline for the crowd and tries his absolute best to get out of that unnoticed, while giving the remainder of his tonic to a beggar who was approaching the crowd.

Finja starts dragging Liliana by the hair, and the crowd follow with interest until a harsh voice cries out, “Oi Oi! What in Sigmar’s name are you doing to that woman!” A watchman comes up, “You are disturbing the peace!”

Finja apologizes and lets Liliana go, and the watchman satisfied that this entertaining spectacle has come to an end, moves on, as do the crowd when they realize their entertainment is at an end.

Finja forces Liliana over to a nearby corner of the street near an alleyway to try and learn what she can from Liliana.

The two women fight and argue mostly with Finja screaming the house down at Liliana, as Liliana tries to explain where she’s been and whats happened since then. Kall Horst, noticing this blatant disregard for discretion, spots a man listening in. Seemingly unarmed and dressed like a commoner, he seemed he may have been just a passerby listening on Finja and Liliana. But the murderous Kall Horst does not care as he cuts the mans throat after sneaking up on him, and steps out to confront Finja and Liliana to tell them to move the hell on…

With only outspoken token resistance to what Kall Horst did, they move on quickly. They get the attention of a shady figure in the alleyway who steps out, dagger drawn. “Well well, you certainly know how to attract attention. I could hear you lot from a mile away across the other side of the town.”

Finja recognise’s one of Baumann’s men. She thanks him and pleads with him to lead them to Baumann now, as time is wasting. The man is hesistant when he see’s Kall, “He’ll have to stay behind. Baumann wants his head, and its best if you leave town Mr Horst.”

Finja however says that she has news of Baumann’s sister, Brinda, after learning from Liliana that Baumann’s sister is on very borrowed time right now.

The man relents, and shows them to Baumann. They head down the sewers and into the hideout, meeting up with the rest.

They are united for the first time in 2 days. Having spent 3 days in Bogenhafen and 2 of them as a splintered group.

There is no sign of Baumann yet as the party begin talking amongst themselves.

“Liliana!?!?” ulrico and Borri react in shock and surprise to see Liliana. The discussion is a long one. They agree that something must be done to stop Gideon, and Finja is particularly pro-active in making her stance clear on the subject; Gideon must be stopped. Liliana also agrees, although more so out of revenge than anything else.

After a lengthy discussion, Baumann steps in. He scans the room. He spots a new face, Liliana, and then turns to see… Kall Horst. Baumann freezes and clenches his fist, having recently learned that the Crosspike tavern was burned down, courtesy of Horst.

Finja steps up though and confronts Baumann before any bloodshed is spilled.

She shows him the mask, but its only when Baumann hears mention of his sister that his interest turns away from Horst. He takes the mask and listens intently as Finja tells him that his sister Brinda is on borrowed time, and that they know where the ritual is taking place, but if there is any chance of success, Baumann will have to put his grudge against Horst aside, and focus it elsewhere.

Baumann’s hatred for Kall Horst is still felt, even when he agrees to Finja’s terms.

Liliana speaks up, wanting to have a private word with Baumann. They head in the back and discuss in detail about his sister. Liliana tells Baumann everything she knows about his sister, but states that he may not like what he’ll find… that Gideon may have finally got her to submit to his will, and that Brinda may be lost to all. Baumann rejects this notion, and that he’ll find his sister regardless in whatever state she is in, and that Gideon will pay for what he’s done…

Once they finish their discussion, Liliana and Finja have a frank chat, and a bit more chilled from the last one they had. No hair pulling this time…

Liliana opens up to Finja about what happened at the Gertrudes abode, and confesses to how she escaped. She says Gertrude has alluded to the fact that she may have some kind of hidden power, some kind of Ice magic flowing within her. And that only her, and Kall (who listened in) knows this secret. It’s a lot to take in for Finja.

Then Liliana lunges at Finja’s shoulder, trying to grab something. Finja steps back, perplexed…

“Gideon’s little friend was here… listening in. But its gone, for now…”

WTF

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