The party make no delay leaving Bogenhafen under the cover of darkness. Without hesitation, they limp along towards the Berebelli, their slow pace further burdened by Borri’s insistence in bringing along a wagon forge that he sniped from the warehouse.
Shouts could be heard coming from the inner part of the town, making their advance towards the docks. The party are on edge and no doubt want to be far away as possible right now. They get to the Berebelli and prepare to board as Ernst Steurmann makes his way back, having rode out earlier on Godfrey’s horse to look for Kall Horst, his nephew. The pair share a surprised – and rather brief – reunion, and prepare to leave. There is some discussion regarding the inheritance of Eckhardt, or rather, the identical man known as Kastor Lieberung who was found dead on the road to Altdorf. Kall favors going back into town, but he is met with strong resistance, even Eckhardt voices his disapproval at the notion. Horst relents and the party get ready for departure.
A watch patrol however spots them leaving the pier, and shouts for them to halt. With no intention of doing so, Steurmann curses as he guides the barge towards the north-face of the River Bogen. They have to pass through two watch towers on either side, and manage get in-between them when they hear someone shout from above, “Who goes there!”
Nobody returns an answer, and the shouts are soon replaced by flaming arrows raining down on them, narrowly missing. Kall takes aim with his crossbow at the source, but Steurmann stops him, “We are in enough trouble as it is nephew, no need to add murder to your list of crimes.” If only Ernst knew…
“I was only going to scare them,” replies Kall.
They drift further upriver out of the range of the arrows. The berebelli continues upriver for an hour until it pulls over onto the riverbed, with Steurmann declaring that everyone is in need of much rest. There is some heartfelt discussion between Liliana and Ernst, to which Ernst states that he had read her letters. Liliana had secretly left some letters for Ernst to read at their first arrival into Bogenhafen…
Much soppiness is had…
Ernst also spills a few secrets of his own. He tells Liliana that their meeting in Krugenheim was not by mere chance. Ernst goes on to tell her that he was employed by her father to find her, and bring her back. Liliana’s father gave Ernst a barge of his own, repainted to look weathered and not one that belonged to her father. Ernst was then to masquerade as a river trader, going on a very dangerous trade run to the Sisters of Sigmar in Mordheim. As Ernst put it, “I don’t care who you are, everyone needs supplies. Even the Sisters of Sigmar would starve without relying on the river traders.” There, he would ‘rescue’ Liliana from the Sisters and bring her back to her father. However, Liliana had made for her own escape with the help of Sister Serafina, and made her way to the nearby Talabec town of Krugenheim.
Along the way they inevitably bonded, yet Ernst was still planning to hand her over to her father’s men upon their arrival in Altdorf. However, they never came… so Ernst sent word that they would be in Bogenhafen. Yet, upon their arrival in Bogenhafen, Ernst had read Liliana’s letters, convincing him that he wasn’t rescuing her from a life of hardship, as her father had pitched to Ernst, but rather bringing her back to face an arranged marriage that she loathed. Not happy with being tricked by her father, and unwilling hand her back over to face a continued life of hardship, Ernst decided to cut off any dealings he had with her father.
With that out of the way, there is talk of other matters. The inheritance is brought up again in discussion, and Ernst asks to see this letter of inheritance.
Looking at the address, Ernst is somewhat bemused… “That’s odd, perhaps I am wrong but, that street name, doesn’t ring a bell. Barten Weg? Never heard of it, and I’ve been to Bogenhafen a few times mind you, first I’ve heard of it.”
Yet the party never investigated the inheritance during their time in Bogenhafen, even when opportunity presented itself before the inevitable chaos that would ensue, so the circumstances of the letter and the apparent ‘missing’ street remains a curious mystery.
Further discussion is had on what their plans are. Ernst states he’s got business with Graf Wilhelm von Sapnotheim, and upon being asked to clarify what business, he shows Liliana a letter for her to read out.
It appears that there is potential for paid work, and Ernst extends this to the others, stating that it is unlikely that should anyone be looking for them, they’ll hardly suspect they’ll be right under the noses of the Graf, working for him of all things.
The party agree.
They rest up for the night. Other than spotting a group of possible road wardens out on the prowl on the other side of the river, the rest of the night passes without incident.
Morning breaks and they set off at noon, after earning an extra few hours of rest. Ernst also wants to leave when the traffic is the heaviest, so they blend in more. Kall however departs with Belvar as he plants to scout ahead and reach Graunberg before them.
Kall rides ahead as the barge continues upriver. Along the way, Kall spots a camp of six heavily armed men. He investigates but is rudely dispersed. Kall doesn’t like the look of them…
A few hours later he reaches Graunberg.
The castle portcullis is open, and a large rather hap-hazard que is formed outside stretching from the outskirts to the inner courtyard. Kall waves down a guard and inquires as to whats going on. He’s told that everyone is signing up to look for the Graf’s missing daughter.
Kall tells the guard that he has grim news from Bogenhafen. The guard tells him to spill it but Kall insistently states that the Graf will want to hear this personally. Eyeing him up, the guard gestures for him to follow. He’s lead into the castle courtyard and after stabling his horse, is told to release his weapons. Once his weapons are secured by the castle guard, he’s led into the castle and to the Graf personally.
Upon entering the banquet hall, he see’s a long elegant table littered with far too much food. There, at the end, sits the Graf, who is busily digging a large fork into a succulent roast pig.
Kall waits as the guard approaches the Graf and whispers into his ear. The Graf nods and waves over for Kall to approach, and gestures for him to sit a couple of seats away from him.
“So I’m told you’ve got ill tidings regarding Bogenhafen?”
Kall begins to tell the Graf regarding the recent events. He also tells the Graf his name, upon which Kall follows up with, “You’ve might’ve heard of me within certain circles…” Kall knows too well that the 3rd cousin of Wilhelm von Sapontheim is out for blood after that ‘incident’ at the baths, but perhaps luckily for him, the Graf states, “No, I haven’t… should I have?”
Kall leaves out the part concerning the Graf’s cousin, but tells him the events surrounding Teugen and how he was personally dealt with, The Graf looks on with bemused and disbelief at which point Kall shows him the letter that he recovered from the body of Teugen. However, Kall is unable to read, so he has no notion of what the letter says when he hands it to him.
The Graf begins to read silently…
The Graf looks puzzled as he finishes reading the letter, and then says to Kall, “Has anyone else read this?”
Kall states, “No your Grace,” to which the Graf proceeds to tear it up. “Good… And what is your intention in telling me all this? Of what you’ve done?”
Kall proceeds to tell the Graf that there are certain individuals, groups… who want want him, and that he would appreciate these matters to be dealt with. In essence, a pardon… He also tells the Graf that his friends would be arriving soon, and that they would be expecting his arrival.
“I see… Well, I cannot promise such things without looking into this matter first. You’ve certainly brought ill-tidings at an ill time, but I’ll look into these matters. I suspect your companions will be arriving today then?”
After confirming that, the Graf dismisses Kall, to which Kall mounts up Belvar and proceeds to make his way back to the Berebelli. He encounters four riders galloping fast for castle Graunberg, dressed in the regalia of the Bogenhafen towns watch. Kall, not wanting to arouse suspicion and hoping for the best, continues past them with most of his face shielded in his cloak. Although all it takes is to recognize the horse and the general fittings of the rider…
Luckily for him however, whatever their intention or motivation is, they are too focused as they ride past, heading for the castle.
In the meantime…
It’s just 5pm and Graunberg is only a couple of hours away when the Berebelli comes across another barge, motionless on the river.
The barge bears the signage, ‘Maria Borger’. A lone figure is waving them down. Other than the two barges, the river is empty of traffic.
Steurmann pulls up alongside, “You need help friend?”
“Aye! I’ve got two sick men aboard, my sons. I’ve no idea what ails them. Have you got a doctor onboard?”
“Well… not a doctor persay…” Ernst looks towards Ulrico, but Liliana, being suspicious, asks for him to bring one of his sons up on deck. The man curses and an argument breaks out, but he eventually goes below deck and brings his son up. Once they are relatively assured of his good intentions, Ulrico boards the barge with Finja and Godfrey.
Ulrico goes down below deck, following the captain who carries his son back down. After checking them, he discovers that they seem to be running a fever, but, most unusual is the fact that they appear to be cold and frigid. What’s even more worrying is that Ulrico spots two puncture marks on their necks.
Ulrico thinks for a moment… and a distant memory of a tale concerning a blood sucking creature comes flooding back from his childhood days growing up in Stirland. Not having seen anything like this before, and confirming that the marks are on both sons, he tells the Captain what he thinks.
“A vampire?!? What the hell is a vampire? I’m telling you! It’s rats… they’re bold as brass they are!”
After being asked if he has anything on-board other than sacks of grains, the captain declares, “Well there’s that crate in the cargo hold. No idea whats in it personally other than that I’m being paid a richly sum to ferry it to …” “Can I see this cargo?” asks Ulrico.
They head into the cargo area and there they see a large crate, 8 foot across and at least 4 foot deep. Their suspicions grow… Godfrey asks if he can see in the crate, but he’s met with reistance, which only breaks down when Godfrey states that there could be something inside it, perhaps something diseased that could be dangerous to him and his men.
Upon opening the crate they spot a large coffin, although they don’t go as far as opening the coffin.
The captain of the barge, Bernhardt, shouts, “I’ll string their necks I will! What trickery is this! If the priests of Morr find out I’m ferrying dead bodies I’ll be done for! This belongs in a garden of Morr, not on my barge!”
Obviously still not believing the tales of blood sucking creatures of the night, the barge captain closes the crate and the rest of the party head back on-board their own barge. A heated discussion takes place on what to do. Liliana, Godfrey and Ulrico are the only ones who believe that a vampire is responsible. The rest are skeptical at best. Finja has heard whispers of such creatures before, but her skeptism is replaced with fear of the unknown, and would rather leave it be and alert the proper authorities. Liliana is concerned for well being of the captain and his two sons. Godfrey… just wants to vanquish the vampire if it is indeed one. He’s heard such tales before from questing knights, and if a Knight Errant like himself can slay a vampire… he’ll prove himself worthy in the eyes of the Lady.
It’s 5:30 by the time a decision is made, and Liliana and Godfrey board the barge, telling the captain to bring his two sons up on deck. Despite the others telling them that this is foolish, they continue with their own plan to kill this mystical creature of the night.
Despite it still being daylight, they rather unwisely go down below deck to the cargo hold with the intention of spilling lamp oil around the crate. Liliana goes to work with the lampoil while Godfrey prepares to open the crate.
Then, Liliana starts hearing a voice. Godfrey hears it too. A woman. “Get out… leave… now….” Liliana tries to make conversation with it as she pours the lamp oil, “What do you want?” “Leave…” it replies. She then talks back to it in ‘dark tongue’ to which it responds in kind in a different language, but Liliana is unable to understand it. Suddenly, she feels something grip her mind.
“Put the lamp down,” it whispers. She puts it down.
Godfrey is alert and uneasy as Liliana takes on a blank expression, and puts the lamp oil down. He wastes no time as he attempts to spark the lamp oil with his sword. After a few swipes, he manages it, and grabs Liliana and hoists her over his shoulder.
The vampire bursts out of the coffin and sizes up the Bretonnian, licking her fangs, “I’ve never tasted Bretonnian before…” Godfrey is frozen stiff, overcome with fear. With lightning speed it grabs his sword and swings it over her shoulder without so much as breaking a sweat. She grabs him, pulls into him and sinks her teeth into his neck. Godfrey feels the sickening feeling of his blood oozing out of his neck. Liliana falls out of her trance and regains her composure. She remembers a spell from Gertrudes grimoire and casts it. She looks on amazed as a bluish flame protrudes from the palm of her hand, and is shocked that there is no pain, only a slight sensation of heat.
She crawls down from Godfrey as the vamp continues to drain blood from him. Godfrey’s resolve returns however and forces the vampire away from him. It looks on with fury as Godfrey turns tail and runs, swiping at him and landing a blow as it does.
Liliana picks up the lampoil, and turns to see that the vampire is now looking directly at her, but not with the same hunger in its eyes as it had for Godfrey. It lashes out at Liliana ferociously, digging its claws into her arm. Skin begins to peel away, and Liliana looks on in horror as she begins to see the bone in her arm. She lets out a deafening agonizing pain that everyone hears.
Suddenly the air grows cold… frost begins to develop, and the barge freezes. The fire that was beginning to rage in the cargo hold is doused, and the vampire stops her attack, looking on, confused at this sudden change.
Liliana makes no delay in taking advantage of that confusion as she runs, even running past Godfrey who stops in his tracks. She jumps aboard the other barge and collapses into Steurmann’s arms.
Eckhardt jumps on the other barge and pulls Godfrey out, and they both jump onto the berebelli. The berebelli pulls away, just in time as the vampire comes up on deck, snarling at the retreating barge. It’s still daylight, and smoke begins to arise from the vampire as it looks on with fury, not caring for the fact that its in pain right now. It soon retreats down below when the pain gets too much.
“Lets… not speak of this to anyone, less we suffer the whims of a madhouse,” Steurmann states.
They soon meet up with Kall, and Kall is informed of what happened. Whether or not he believes the tale of the vampire is up to him, but seeing Liliana in the state that she is in, its not hard to surmise something terrible and horrific had happened to her. Godfrey is also nursing his wounds, as Ulrico bandages the two puncture wounds on his neck. Borri suggests that they keep an ‘eye’ on him, less he begin to act strange like the barge captain’s two sons.
Kall suggests bringing Liliana to Graunberg first and foremost. He travels on horseback with Liliana in two and doesn’t take long getting there. Liliana is shown to Graunberg’s barber surgeon, operating from a large tent within the grounds itself. The surgeon demands privacy as he begins to work, and Kall waits outside, while a guard keeps watch nearby, giving him odd peculiar looks now and again.
The shaken crew of the berebelli arrive in Graunberg, and make their presence known at the castle. There they discover that Liliana is going under the knife, and are told that the Graf is expecting their arrival, courtesy of Kall Horst.
They are shown to the interior of the castle but not before they get searched and have their weapons taken from them, as standard policy dictates…
They are led into the castle interior, and are greeted by the captain of the guard.
“I’m captain here at Graunberg Castle, to which I bid you welcome. Now, which one of you is Kall Horst?”
Kall steps forward and declares. The captain approaches him and sizes him up. He then unravels a scroll, and looks at it, then glances towards Kall. Satisfied he steps back, shouting, “Guards!”
Spear wielding and halberd wielding guards spill out from the rear side doors. Crossbowmen pour from the top stairwells, aiming down. “By the order of Graf Wilhelm von Sapontheim, Lord of Graunberg, and the ruler of Bogenhafen, and the surrounding lands, you are hereby all under arrest!”
“The one known as Kall Horst, is wanted for the following crimes:
11 counts of Murder –
Their names, as follows:
You are also hereby charged with arson and the defacing of property that belongs to Graf Wilhem von Sapontheim. You are charged with the destruction of the tavern known as the Crosspike, and the subsequent deaths of four peasants who attempted to put out the fire, who have yet to be identified.
You will be returned to Bogenhafen to face trial under the Magistrates court along with your criminal associates. Your confession to Graf Wilhem von Saponatheim himself will be used as evidence against you. The rest of you are charged with aiding and abetting a known criminal.”
At this point the guards step in, gripping them and dragging them off to their cells. Finja starts shouting out, “What about Karl Teugen! Don’t you want to know what happened to Karl Teugen! Do you not care-” but apparently they do not care about the mad ramblings from criminals who are about to lose their heads, or perhaps never heard of this Karl Teugen to begin with. Regardless they are marched off. Steurmann however protests and is separated from the rest when he reveals the Graf’s personal letter that was given to him.
The party is left to rot in the dungeon. But they discover they aren’t alone… an old man rests snoring in the corner.
Kall wakes him up, and the man gives his name as Mannfred. He comes across as an eccentric fellow, a bit mad perhaps, but friendly enough it seems. Kall offers him a waterskin, but he’s more interested in Eckhardt’s last drops of vodka to which Eckhardt departs with.
Mannfred asks what they’re in for and Kall mentions the Graf, to which Mannfred spits, “Pfft, him! It be the countess ya want not him! He ain’t the ruler of Graunberg, it be that wife of his!”
Interested to hear more, they encourage him to spill more details. “Have ya not heard the tragedy of Graunberg then, no? Nearly all the Reikwalders know the tale! Let me tell ya it then…”
Mannfred goes into great detail spinning a strange tale concerning the Graf’s daughter, Ilse, and how she came to be missing. Apparently, as local tradition dictated, the birth of a newborn meant that 13 gifts needed to be prepared for the 13 witches of the Reikwald forest. So the Graf did as such, preparing 13 gifts, or so the story goes. But apparently he forgot about the 13th witch, and had only prepared 12 gifts of purest spindles of gold, and carried them into the forest under heavy guard. There, he left them, but only 12 gifts were lain, and the 13th witch has never forgotten, or forgiven, the slight. Ilse’s birth was met with tragedy, for her mother had died. Only a couple of years later, did the Graf remarry.
And on Ilse’s 13th birthday, she was given an anonymous gift of an elaborate spinning wheel. It’s said that a spot of blood was seen in her room on the next morning of her fateful disappearance, and it is believed she may have pricked her finger on the wheel… But as Mannfred said after the tale was told, “That’s a load of codswallop if ya ask me. I reckon she was poisoned by the step-mother and dumped in the river, and all this missing nonsense is just procedure… Now, ya wouldn’t have anymore drink on ya by any chance?”
After 3 hours waiting in the dungeon, they hear footsteps, and soon are greeted with a familiar face. Ernst Steurmann.
The cell door is open and the guards are asked to leave by the captain of the guards, although he certainly didn’t look pleased about it.
Steurmann tells them that he’s got some good and bad news… The bad news, is that due to Kall Horst’s previous conversation with the Graf, and riders from Bogenhafen, that the Graf takes a dim view on vigilantism. Steurmann relates to them what the Graf told him… That the law of the land is for him to uphold, and not some upstart wannabe vigilante of justice, and that Bogenhafen is crying out for justice, and the Graf is perfectly willing to throw them all, excluding Steurmann, under the wheel of justice.
However, Steurmann goes on stating that he spent much of his time trying to change the Graf’s mind. He went as far as taking advantage of his missing daughter, and exaggerating Kall Horst’s tracking abilities including telling a tall tale or two to convince the Graf that if he wants his daughter to be found, he’ll be better off with two trackers instead of one. He also managed to get the others off as well, since there was no point sending them back to Bogenhafen without Kall Horst to face the brunt of the crimes.
Steurmann didn’t seem please at the notion however and says that he’s been sworn into the Graf’s service and forced to take an oath. As for the rest of them, they too are being sworn in, but will not be taking any oath… The Graf has given them two choices; to help find his daughter, or to face justice in Bogenhafen. No promises of a pardon was made other than a vague ‘maybe’ should they find the Graf’s daughter. Steurmann apologies for their current predicament, but went on to say, “Perhaps if my nephew wasn’t so bold and reckless in telling the Graf what transpired in Bogenhafen, we may not be in this situation.”
The party leave the dungeon under escort and make their way for a scheduled meeting with the Graf’s wife, the Countess.