It’s the early hours of the morning, and the night is starting to creep away…
The party begin to make preparations to leave and continue the last leg of the journey towards Weissbruck, when they notice something quite odd.
They notice a pigs head on a stick, buried in the ground not far from them. It certainly wasn’t there before. Eckhardt takes on a somber tone when he recognizes that its Sam. Someones playing mind games…
Kall and Johann both look for tracks, and its Kall that finds them, yet he’s puzzled when the tracks seemingly end at the foot of the staked pigs head. Looking up at the overhanging tree in front of him, he suspects someone may have climbed the tree nearby. The party are getting nervous, and Eckhardt, who had just buried Sam’s head, suggest they leave now at once, having noticed two bite marks on the pig’s neck.
The party make their leave, with Godfrey still tied up on the roof and head for Weissbruck.
It’s morning now when they reach the town.
They look for a place to stay and choose the Tempest Inn, an inn surrounded by walls. They unbridled the horses and bring them into the stables, and arrange for accommodation at the inn.
They forget Godfrey however, and an hour later, he’s let down from the carriage. He ain’t happy.
A private room is sought for Liliana, which Ulrico and Finja watch over, while Kall and Eckhardt both arrange for a private room each.
Johann heads out with Kall, looking to find information about this Handrik Grimm. The others stay behind, getting some much needed rest.
After receiving a blessing at a Sigmarite temple, Johann continues down towards the docks and heads into the Black Gold tavern, and makes enquiries about Handrik. Johann is a little bit impatient as the barkeep tries to tell him the information while Johann seemingly is oblivious to this fact. What he learns is that Handrik Grimm lives just 10 minutes outside of town, near a stream in a small shack.
Kall and Johann make their way back, and proceed to head out with the intention of going it alone. Eckhardt however spots them heading for the north gate, and shouts out for them. Eckhardt, Borri, Kall and Johann head out to meet Handrik.
They come to a small stream, and spot a burly muscular man chopping wood.
Johann cautiously approaches while the rest stay behind. Johann introduces himself, and yet gets no response as the silent man continues to chop wood. Johann takes a few steps closer, and Handrik looks at him, glaring, and tosses him a sack. It falls in front of him, coins rattling within. He picks it up and reckons there’s at least 30 silver in there.
Johann tosses it back, and tries to explain their purpose. They can’t help but notice 3 unmarked graves nearby the cabin…
The man finally turns, his large double-edged axe still gripped tightly, “So, the sorcerous bitch has sent her hounds after me. Come at me then… Lets get this over with.”
Johann tries to explain that they are not the countess’s men, that they are here trying to get Ilse, to help her. Handrik is not convinced and takes a swing at Johann, which narrowly misses him.
After a further tense discussion, and with an axe a few inches away from Johann’s throat, they manage to convince him that they mean well, but only after they gave up their weapons and threw them on the ground.
Handrik motions for them to come into the cabin, “She’s got spies everywhere. I suggest we discuss this inside.”
Inside, Handrik relays the tale to them about what really happened with Ilse.
“Now, let me tell you what I know. If you are truly here to help as you say you are, then you need to know the truth… Only me and my brother Jacob knows what really happened that day Illse was… taken. It was the morning of her 13th Birthday, and the countess called me to her chamber. She said… Take the princess to the old rune stones in the Reikwald forest, and kill her there. Make sure her blood soaks the ground beneath the stone and bring back her heart to prove that the deed is done. Do not betray me, lest thy life becomes forfeit. I still remember those words to this day…
“Well, I did what she ordered. Yet, there were complications. The Graf was getting worried about Illse and her rather bold curiosity, and had ordered her to be escorted whenever she had left the castle. I was not aware of this until I came across them. I killed them easily enough with surprise and arrow, and then grabbed Ilse. I brought her deep into the forest, to the old rune stones. She was squirming along the way, pleading and crying…
“I could not harm an innocent child… I released her, and in her stead, slaughtered a farmers pig and returned with the animals heart to that wicked vile woman. I left her service with 30 pieces of silver in my pocket, but I could never enjoy them out of guilt. The next day I asked my brother to take Ilse who I was keeping safe in my cabin, and to bring her somewhere safe. I have not seen any of them since.”
At this point, Handrik shows them some ranger runes etched onto the mantelpiece.
“The first three runes mentions a girl, and claims that she has been taken from him. The fourth and fifth rune says that he is on her trail, that he believes a witch may have her. If so, then… I can only fear the worse.
“I can only guess that the countess means to do her harm, but… I do not know why she thinks she’s still alive. I suspect she probably knows I tricked her, and is wanting to finish it. If the Graf is sending out parties to search for his daughter, then it is just as likely the Countess is sending her own men out to hinder them, and possibly to find the little princess before they do.
“You must find the girl and bring her back to the castle, where young Ilse would be under her father’s protection again. But above all else you must bring proof of some kind as to what the countess is planning, less you too will face the same hard choices I’ve faced. Nobody will believe such treacherous words, and your life will be forfeit as a result.”
Johann tries to be friendly towards Handrik, stating that he should come down to the local tavern in Weissbruck and have a few drinks if he’s ever feeling up to it. This, doesn’t not please him at all, and Handrik grabs Johann, and shoves him against the table, “I’ve no time to be drinking! Neither should you! If your here to find Ilse, then you best leave now!”
Finja is outside the north gate now, practicing her dance and playing the flute. She had earlier arranged to play for the patrons at the Tempest Inn, much to the delight of the inn keeper, Steffan. She spots the party coming back, and there is some discussion as to what to do. They agree to spend the night here, and Finja gets the chance to earn some money for a change.
It’s evening now, around 7, when Finja starts playing for the patrons. She darts up on the bar counter, and skips along while playing her flute, jumping onto the table, and then onto Kall Horst’s shoulder. Kall tries to steady himself as Finja hops from him to the other table. She gets a few boisterous cheers and gruff applause, and some pence is thrown at her.
She continues performing, even when a couple of customers start demanding a bit more from her, only to be shouted down by the inn keeper overhearing their rather lude demands.
Godfrey, whose been sitting down stairs next to Kall, mentions he’s going up to apologize to Johann about what happened, Kall nods and continues to drink.
Upstairs, Johann is keeping watch on Liliana, while Ulrico gets some shut eye. There’s a knock at the door, and Johann answers it.
“May I have a word?” Godfrey asks, “in private?”
Johann begrudgingly agrees, and Godfrey goes to another room.
The two start talking, Godfrey apologizes about what happened earlier. “It wasn’t me… I… wasn’t myself. It was her. She was telling me what to do. I’m sorry, I meant no harm.”
Johann appears to understand, and as he’s talking,Godfrey, without warning, sends a fist flying to the side of Johann’s head. Johann see’s it, but it’s too late. He falters to the ground.
Godfrey heads to Liliana’s room, and ties up Ulrico, who wakes up during the process but gets knocked out.
Godfrey is hoping to use the noise down below with Finja playing her lute as cover. It’s all going smoothly for Godfrey, having grabbed Liliana and about to smash the window. But, just as he does, Finja stops playing! Her lute clogs up (critical failure on her performance roll) and then, SMASH. Everyone hears it.
They rush upstairs, Kall bursts into the door and spots Godfrey’s head just dropping down. He goes over and see’s Godfrey running for the stables, Liliana in his arms.
Borri legs it downstairs, his hammer ready.
Godfrey mounts Belvar, and cradles Liliana over the horse. Belvar is stubborn though, and there is a crucial delay in leaving the stables. Yet Borri is not quick enough, he swings his hammer and misses. Yet, another shot rings out… A bolt goes flying into Belvar’s leg, and the horse tumbles to the ground. Kall watches with a knot in his stomach, realizing what he had to do.
Chaos unfolds as Borri sits on Godfrey, but Godfrey struggles. He just manages to shove Borri off him with all his strength. Godfrey gets up, and makes a run for it. Johann comes out and gives chase. Yet Kall comes out ahead and, using his whip, tangles up Godfrey, bringing him to the ground. Johann charges over with murder in his eyes just as a patrol of watchmen show up. They break up the fight and immediately demand to know whats going on.
They confiscate their weapons and bring them to the watch house. Ulrico, Finja and Eckhardt manage to escape attention, while the rest are not so lucky.
They are brought to the watch barracks and are met with a familiar face… The Weissbruck Captain of the Watch, who only a month ago, was demanding that they leave Weissbruck after that little incident concerning the attack on their boat.
Godfrey remains silent. The party have no qualms with telling it how it is, that he tried to kidnap Johann’s sister, along with stealing a horse. Johann tries to add murder to that charge, but the watch Captain is not convinced there was any intent to murder, and is more concerned with the horse theft than the kidnapping itself.
Godfrey is placed under lock and key, while the rest are asked not to leave town, should the watch have any questions.
Back at the inn, with it being so late, and not allowed to leave town, and having already paid for the rooms, the party decide to make the best of the situation. Liliana is moved to another room, and watched over by Finja and Ulrico, who close the shutters on the window, just to be safe. Eckhardt’s also taking things cautiously, setting up simple noise traps in his room, although he doesn’t go as far as to close the shutters. Kall is comforting poor Belvar, and intends on staying at the stables with him. Belvar is in fierce pain, but luckily a local herbalist gives something to knock the horse out, and make it sleep better.
It’s just past midnight…
Eckhardt, who is finding it hard to fall asleep, watches absently as he gazes out at the midnight sky. He hears something pecking on the window…
Just a crow, phew. He heads over and opens the window, shooing it away. He pokes his head out, taking a look outside. He see’s two midnight riders coming in from the north town gate, heading for the tempest inn by the looks of it, but nothing else of note.
He pokes his head back inside and goes to close the window, but… something stops him from doing so. A long-nailed pale hand plants itself on the window sill. Eckhardt see’s whose hand it belongs too..
He slams the window down again on the hand, but to no effect.
It stares at him, “Let me in… Invite me in….” it whispers to him in a faint but deathly feminine voice.
All of a sudden, Eckhardt’s tense muscles relax, and he finds himself saying, “Yes. Come in. Please.”
He opens the window, and as its climbing in, it loses eye contact with him. In addition, it stops speaking to him. Eckhardt momentarily breaks out of his trance and realizes what’s happening. He races to his halberd, and swings it, catching the vampire off-guard. Another swing and the vamps nose goes flying! It SCREAMS the place down, waking up just about everyone. Finja and Ulrico are alerted, and Ulrico races towards Eckhardt’s room.
The vampire is stunned and Eckhardt goes in for another strike, landing true. The vampire, underestimating the will of the Ostemarkian soldier, turns to retreat. Ulrico just gets into the door and see’s Eckhardt’s halberd slicing through the neck of a woman, beheading her instantly, her body slumps to the ground.
Johann races in now, and realizing that this must be the thing that put Liliana into a coma, begins hacking at her arms, and even goes as far as to take one for a trophy.
The innkeeper, Steffan, comes up from behind and enters the room. He is shell shocked, and speechless.
“I, err… emm… I… you stay here, yes, stay here.” The man races downstairs, but Eckhardt tries to stop him, but the innkeeper gets to the stairs and Eckhardt doesn’t want to make a scene at that point.
Steffan heads down and races outside. Borri, who is downstairs and oblivious to all this, see’s Steffan’s wife who comes out asking what’s going on. Borri, says the first thing that comes to his mind, “Your husband was cheating on you, he’s leaving you.”
His wife gives chase, “Steffan, nooooooo! I didn’t mean those things I said! Forgive me!”
Borri helps himself to the bar. 10 minutes pass, and an intense discussion is had as to what to do. Eckhardt and Ulrico are upstairs and devise their own plan. Eckhardt has Ulrico stab him, intentionally, and plant the sword on the headless body of the vamp. He also goes and fetches the arm that Johann took and puts it back…
Outside, Johann and Borri agreed that it be better if THEY met the watch first, rather than have the watch come to them.
They do so and make their way towards the watch house, while Finja stays with Liliana in the carriage, after having been moved outside.
The watch meet them half-way between. Borri explains the situation, while also stressing that they are not involved. The watch captain doesn’t look happy at being woken up, and half the watch with him are currently still trying to put on the rest of their armor. They march towards the inn. Steffan’s wife, is glaring into the back of Borri’s head, obviously Steffan had denied any such wrongdoing and now his wife was wondering if the dwarf was truthful. Johann, seeing this, steps up, “O don’t worry about her, she’s not after your husband. She’s got a keen eye for you though, its you she wants.”
The woman is speechless.
The watch arrive at the scene, and head upstairs. It’s not a pretty sight.
A headless woman in a room, butchered to bits. Her arms hacked off.
Eckhardt immediately has his hands up, denoting that he is not resisting.
He’s questioned by the captain as to what happened. Eckhardt claims that it was self defense, that the woman climbed up into his window, and attacked him. The captain doesn’t look convinced, especially how its a 10 foot climb and that for all he knows, Eckhardt could have brought this woman into his room, she may even be a harlot, and things got out of hand.
Eckhardt also goes on step further and proclaims that its a mutant, and expresses that the lack of blood is odd. Again, the captain is not convinced, yet its Ulrico’s statement that nails it for Eckhardt.
Ulrico is asked what he saw, “Well, I came in, and I saw this woman fleeing from this man here. She had her back turned and was making her way out the window, when the killing blow was dealt.”
The captain heard enough, “Self defense then hey? Yet you struck this woman from behind… Right, men, arrest man!”
Eckhardt is led out of the grounds and towards the watch house. Finja watches on, and as she’s watching them leaves, she gets a poke from behind on the shoulder.
She turns to see Steffan’s wife, who plants her with a hard slap, sending her onto the muddy ground.
“I love my husband very much! I’ll not leave him for you or anyone! I’m not into women!” she marches off towards the Tempest Inn.
What a night…