The party are in Finja’s room, discussing what to do. They agree to help Ernst with the apparent brigand camp outside Graunberg. Ernst arrives to discuss strategy, and reveals a map of the local area. They agree to attack at night, hoping that the light of any campfire they got going will guide them.
During their conversations, a note is pushed under the door, and footsteps could be heard scampering away. Eckhardt rushes to open the door and looks out, but is too late to see anyone.
The note is read…
Finja covers up the mirror in her own room, although not actually sure as to why. They agree to wait till nightfall and head out.
As night comes, the party set out after receiving most, but not all, of their equipment. A few items of value seem to be missing…
They ride out of the castle gate and head south, accompanied by six castle guards. Setting their horses up nearby on the road, just in on the trees, they make the rest of their journey on foot, leaving a guard behind.
Their trek through the Reikwald trees are somewhat tense. One of the soldiers remarks, “I hope Big Walder ain’t out for a stroll tonight…” They find out that Big Walder is apparently a large big bear that stalks the nearby local area, and is a local favorite for discussion.
Up ahead, they can see the light of the fire through the trees, and can just make out the outline of some tents. Kall goes on ahead to scout it out, while the others wait.
Kall does a good job sneaking up to the camp, but he is unprepared for what waits him…
Bodies lay strewn about. Some torn apart, others twisted and broken. Kall takes a moment to take it all in, and then cautiously makes his way back to the party.
“Well, what did you see?” asks Ernst.
“You remember that creature you said you faced on the boat?”
“What of it?” replies Ernst.
“Well… I think its back.”
“Wait… what did you see? Spit it out already nephew.”
“Err… how should I put this… They’re all dead.”
“Dead?” one of the guards interrupts.
“Yes, dead. Not moving. Not alive. Dead as dead can be. All of them. I suggest we leave, now.”
A tense discussion unfolds as to what to do. The guards are unnerved by this, as is everyone else. Finja, Kall and a few others advocate leaving, having done what they were told to do. But Ernst is not so convinced…
“I need to see this with my own eyes, after all, it will be I doing the reporting to the countess.”
Ernst creeps forward to the camp, and the rest sigh and follow somewhat reluctantly.
When they get closer, to see the carnage for themselves. Tents have been torn apart, and over a dozen heavily armed men have been slaughtered.
“What in Sigmar could have done this…” Ernst utters out under his breath.
Ernst then spots some tracks in the ground nearby…
After seeing the tracks, they decide to hasten their leave. Borri picks up a dented shield from one of the dead brigands before they do, so that Ernst could show it to the countess.
They head back through the trees, making for their horses. However, they do not go quietly, as Borri picks a fight with one of the castle guards who he suspects had robbed some of his stuff. Finja also pipes up, and Ernst tries to silence them, as he does, they hear something shout deep from within the woods. A beastly and seemingly unnatural roar silences them at last.
Then they run.
They break out in a run. Ernst calls for calm but its no good, everyone is running through the trees. Finja, Eckhardt and Johann get split up from the rest. Luckily Johann is able to pinpoint the shouting of Ernst Steurmann calling out for them, and leads the way.
They make it out of the trees and to their horses, and ride for Graunberg.
At Graunberg, they take in what little rest they can get. Come tomorrow, they’ll be setting out to Weissbruck to look for this man named Handrik Grimm.
The next morning, they awake to the sounds of Graunberg coming to life. Kall gets a knock on his door, jostling him up from his sleep. He opens it slightly to see Ernst Steurmann, grim faced and not looking happy. He steps in.
“The countess is not pleased… I’ve been ordered to track down this beast, whatever it may be, less it stalk the lands and claim more lives. Although I intend on riding for the camp first, to bury the dead and see if I can find any further clues as to what took place there.”
Kall warns him that certain powers may be wanting him dead, and Ernst agrees. “Don’t worry nephew, I’ve no intention on seeking this beast out, or carrying out her orders. I do intend on taking another look at that camp, but after that, I plan to lose my escort, which shouldn’t be hard considering the oafs that I’ve been saddled with. With a bit of luck, I may see you in Weissbruck.”
Ernst also departs with some disturbing news, “There’s also something else… I tried to seek an audience with the Graf, but the countess would not have it. I insisted, and she informed me that Wilhelm was indisposed, having been unwell of late. I think we both know what that means nephew…” they both nod.
They say their farewells as the rest of the party get ready to leave. The feverish and delirious state of Godfrey is helped out of his room, as is Liliana, and led downstairs to the carriage that is waiting outside.
Outside, the Graunberg chamberlain is waiting, and is not pleased. He protests quite loudly at the fact that Liliana and Godfrey are being helped aboard, and insists that they be left behind. Ulrico gets smart with him, but its FInja that earns his ire when she tries to tell him off.
“Guards! Arrest this woman! Arre-” a fist comes flying out, landing squarely on the chamberlain’s jaw as he goes down. Ernst Steurmann stands over him, and motions for Finja and Johann to continue helping Liliana on-board along with Godfrey.
The chamberlain is in shock and left speechless, while the guards are unsure what to do, considering that Ernst Steurmann is a well known companion and associate of the Graf, and under oath to the Graf himself.
With everyone onboard, the carriage sets off for Weissbruck. Kall mounts Belvar and rides on, but keeps an eye on Steurmann to make sure that he’s not hindered by the guards.
Steurmann forces the chamberlain on his feet, and proceeds to walk off towards a group of saddled horses. The guards follow, and Kall hears the chamberlain shout, “You’ll pay for this Steurmann! I’ll have your head for this!”
Kall, somewhat satisfied that his uncle will be ok, leaves as soon as he see’s Steurmann saddle his horse and the guards saddle theirs.
It’s a 3 and a half days to Weissbruck, and along the way, Finja, who is sitting next to an elderly coachman, gets chatting to him. The man appears to be friendly, and is not shy of talking. She finds out that he is the personal driver of the Graf, but that he rarely see’s Wilhelm these days, and is left with dong menial duties and in some rare cases, ferrying the countess around.
Finja tries to dig some information out of him regarding the countess and her missing stepdaughter, Ilse. She discovers that the countess had married the graf a mere two years after Ilse was born, and that Ilse’s actual mother had died during childbirth. She also finds out some interesting information that was not revealed to them before… That on the day of Ilse’s disappearance, two guards whose only duty was to guard and escort the little princess were missing. Their bodies were never found. Finja found that particular fact quite interesting…
She had also asked the driver what the countess thought of Ilse.
“O, the countess doted over the little princess, so they say anyway. I never saw her mistreated myself.”
Come nightfall, they pull into a coaching inn, and set about making arrangements for rooms.
Godfrey and Liliana both get their own rooms, with Liliana sharing Finja’s room.
Food and drink is ordered, and the party settle down. Yet, other powers that be seek to undo their earned rest when Kall hears a strange noise, like a grunt or cry of pain outside. He takes a peek… and see’s the carriage driver on the ground, a bolt through his chest. Then four bolts come flying out from the darkness, thudding into the door. Kall closes it and shouts, “We are under siege!”
More bolts come flying through the windows. A serving girl is shot in the neck, and a patron is hit in the shoulder.
They hear a voice shout, “We only want Kall Horst! Nobody else needs to get hurt!” The party collectively tells them to go to hell.
Kall however recognizes the voice… Thanatous Saponatheim, the 3rd cousin of Wilhelm, and the noble that Kall Horst pissed off back in Bogenhafen, after having poured a bucket of shit over him.
Kall and Ulrico help heaving a table against a door. They start closing the hatches to the windows. Kall shouts for everyone to start heading upstairs, yet nobody moves. Its only when Finja starts shouting that they do. She procures some bottles of spirits and alcohol with the intent of making improvised explosives, and heads upstairs. Ulrico however delays and heads down towards the southern windows to close them, along with Johann. However a small object bursts through the south window. Johann seeks cover, fearing what it might be. Ulrico however is too late, and the object explodes, sending poor Ulrico flying into the corner, and slumping to the ground beneath a table that is riddled with shrapnel. Ulrico is in a bad way, a very bad way, and unable to move.
Johann tries to help him, fighting tooth and nail, but he is forced to retreat as he is getting surrounded.
With everyone bar Ulrico now upstairs, the party setup a hasty plan of ambush. Eckhardt, Johann and Borri both hide in individual rooms and wait. Kall, who got a bolt in the knee earlier on for his efforts in trying to hold them back, is at the rear end of the corridor. The passage way itself is quite narrow and ideal for someone like himself with a repeater crossbow.
Thanatous’s men come up, but due to the narrow passage, are having trouble making progress as Kall shoots down towards them. One bolt grazes a mans ear, and shoots the fellow behind him in the head, killing him outright. Another impales the man in front to the ground, and Kall finishes him off with a well placed shot to the temple. It’s a grisly scene…
At this point Eckhardt comes out to attack one of the men in surprise, nearly heaving him in two with his halberd. Another man further up front is attacked and grounded by Johann. Johann shouts out, “I’ve got this…” but Borri comes screaming out of a room waving his hammer like some mad hairy ball of angry fluff, and hammers the man in brutal fashion, crushing him to death with his hammer. Johann shakes his head…
Seeing that the fight is not going according to plan, one of the last survivors of this horrible ordeal flees with Eckhardt chasing after him. Meanwhile, Finja spots Thanatous outside, down below near the entrance to the grounds of the coaching house. She chucks a flaming bottle down below, but it doesn’t reach him.
At this point Thanatous flees, heading for his horse. Kall see’s this and prepares to climb down using his rope ladder and darts for his horse.
Eckhardt continues chasing the survivor relentlessly, and it pays off when he lands a blow into the back of the man, killing him without mercy. He then loots his body… Such barbaric behavior!
Kall mounts Belvar and chases after Thanatous. He can see him just up ahead, racing hard to get away.
Kall tries to close in, pushing Belvar to the limits. They gallop hard along the road through the rain. Kall knows that Thanatous is about to get away as there is no way he can catch up in time, and his only means is to take a shot with his repeater crossbow and hope for the best. Kall tries to steady his aim as he aims for Thanatous horse, being the bigger target. He’s only got one shot and it needs to land, otherwise it looks like Thanatous is about to dart into the forest.
He shoots, and his bolt lands true, striking Thanatous’s mount int he hind leg. The horse crumbles to the ground, sending Thanatous with it. When Kall catches up, he dismounts and walks over, taking out a dagger as he brushes it up against the chin of his foe. Thanatous lies trapped underneath his horse, and is coughing blood.
“Go on… do it. I know your type!” Thanatous shouts at him.
“I don’t believe you do…” Kall replies.
Kall tries to get information out of him, and is somewhat successful, promising him a quick death if he tells him waht he needs to know. Thanatous spits out, “The countess knew about my grudge with you. She had given me instructions to… deal with you and your companions. In exchange, I would get given power. I would take the Graf’s place, with a marriage to set it in stone.”
Kall asks him what he knows about the Purple Hand, but Thanatous shakes his head, swearing he’s never heard it before.
Satisfied he’s got all he’s gonna get from him, Kall cuts his throat, and closes his eyes. Unwilling to spend the time to bury him, he sets to ride back to the Copper Flask coaching house.