The Dangers of Ropeburn…

The upstairs of the Tempest Inn is cleared out, and Eckhardt is marched to jail. The party get what little rest they can, and decide to wait till the morning to act. Johann however heads down the docks, looking for what little information he can gain about the citizens of Weissbruck. It’s late at night, and the folk are not in much of a mood to be conversing with strangers. Still, Johann gets some information concerning the Magistrate. Johann makes a somewhat non-subtle suggestion concerning bribes and throwing the word Magistrate in the same sentence. He’s told that the man wouldn’t take such things.

Apparently the opinion of one man is the opinion of ‘Weissbruck’ in Johann’s eyes, and Johann has made his mind up that the Magistrate seems like a ‘by the book’ kind of person.

But future events would say otherwise…

The following morning, the party make plans. It’s decided that Liliana needs to get to a temple of Shallya, and that dragging her around with them isn’t such a good idea. They make plans to go to Altdorf, rather than to Rechtlich to find Handrik Grimm’s brother, Jacob, who apparently was the last to see Ilse, the missing daughter of the Graf and stepdaughter of the Countess. Who knows what will happen if the party delay any further, as the last warning the Countess issued should be taken seriously… “Do not fail me, less your life be forfeit!” Alluding to the fact that the party are wanted ‘criminals’ out of Bogenhafen.

During the morning, Eckhardt is paid a visit by a priestly fellow dressed all in black. The elderly priest is allowed into his cell and sits beside Eckhardt. The priest wishes to hear his last confession, “so that you may be embraced into the welcoming arms of Morr, without sin, and your heart light as a feather.” Eckhardt begins to make a couple of odd confessions, none of them related to the death of the young woman. “Very well my son, but, have you got anything else you wish to discuss? The matter concerning the life that you took? Do you wish to repent?”

“You mean for the vampire? No…”

The priest perks up at the mention of this, “A vampire? Now what would you know about vampires…”

Eckhardt begins to tell the priest of his encounter, and how she had fangs, and that there was little to no blood. The priest seems intrigued at this, “I may have to send word for the body to be examined by our order at once, if this is the case.” The elderly priest limps out of the cell, and Eckhardt can only hope that they hasten their examination.

A couple of hours later, Eckhardt has another visitor…

Strange Man

Eckhardt recognizes the man. It was yesterday evening, when they were approached by two merchants selling cups, bowls and other assortments of cutlery. Fairly shoddy goods. One of the merchants, this man in fact, had sent him a secret signal, and shook his hand, to which Eckhardt shook, and in return, got a parchment palmed to him that also contained ink on the bottom side that transferred to his gloved hand. The ink was in the shape of a Purple Hand…

Eckhardt had Ulrico read it out earlier that day. It was a warning for Eckhardt to hand over the inheritance that he collected from Bogenhafen (he never did) and meet with them tomorrow by the town square, alone, should he wish to end this farce.

It seems now the Purple Hand were coming to him… Eckhardt over hears the man bribing one of the guards to give them privacy, and that the guard insist that he be quick less the Commander finds out.

He kneels down in front of the cell, “Looks like you’ve gotten yourself in a fine mess Kaster. So tell me, whats your plan? Cause I know you got one… you’ve got the money… our money. If you think this charade of yours is going to work, you are gravely mistaken. There is no way you’d just kill some whore, there had to be a reason for it. Perhaps your new found associates are trying to pull the wool over our eyes?

Eckhardt dodges the question and instead remarks that he has the money, but that they would need to strike a deal first. Freedom, and then the gold…

“Your not in a position to bargain Kaster. Frankly we just don’t trust you, for all we know you could lead us into a trap. Your associates are well armed and if they see us with you, then you’ll take advantage of that. No… You’ll do it on our terms. I’d rather see you hang than put my life in your hands… Yet there is a way out… tell us where the gold is Kaster, tell us and we’ll make arrangements for you to escape.”

Eckhardt begins to tell the man that he hidden the gold in Bogenhafen, with the ‘King of Thieves’ there, to which the man replies… “Wait, what! You’re telling me that you hid the gold… you hid the gold, with the king of thieves? With the thieves guild, is that what your telling me?”

Eckhardt pauses for a moment, “No, he doesn’t know where it is, just that its in his hideout. We made a deal…” Eckhardt is starting to get the impression his story isn’t getting the wings he’d hoped, and that it’s starting to sink and stink with this man.

“Listen Kaster… Enough games. You were supposed to get the inheritance and use it for the Hand’s benefit. Why did you change the plan? And why do you travel with such odd bedfellows… Explain yourself.”

Eckhardt once again proclaims that the gold is in Bogenhafen with a man named Franz Baumann. The Purple Hand agent remarks that it will be checked out regardless, but remains unconvinced, stating, “Have it your way Kaster… It’s your neck. Hope its a strong one cause you’ll need it when the rope swings.”

The man gets up and makes his leave. Eckhardt is left to contemplate his diminishing future.

Kall arranges for Belvar to be brought down to the docks by cart, as the horse is still recovering. Finja seeks passage to Altdorf with a bearded fellow named Gunther and pays the fee upfront. Once passage is arranged and that Liliana and Belvar are brought onto the barge, Finja meets up with Ulrico who says that Johann is planning to meet with the Magistrate. Ulrico looks after Liliana as Finja heads off to meet up with Johann, and they both set off to the watch house where they learned that the Magistrate is discussing matters with the Commander of the watch.

As they proceed, the town bell chimes, but its not quite noon yet. Seems someone is likely to be testing the bell for today’s event, yet regardless as the bell chimes, people are starting to gather in the town’s center.

Johann and Finja are told to wait as the Magistrate finishes his business.

Elsewhere, Eckhardt is enjoying his last meal, some hen’s legs with vinegar.

The Magistrate shows up, standing outside his cell, watching him intently.

“So, your the big fellow that’s up for the noose.”

attributed_to_alexis_loir_portrait_of_a_magistrate_d5452900h – Magistrate Ludolf Schneider

The two get talking, and Eckhardt expresses his curiosity as to why there will be no trial.

“That would be the norm,” the Magistrate comments, “but your case isn’t exactly normal, is it. All this talk of vampires… not something that I wish for the townsfolk to hear, all this scaremongering and ludicrous claims of such things. The trial would descend into nothing but a farce, considering you along with your associates seem to be claiming the same thing. Also the Commander believes that a prolonged trial may present a security risk, and I’m afraid he may be right. The good people of Weissbruck are demanding swift justice for your heinous crime, and considering the evidence against you and the nature of the crime itself, the savagery of it, I’m afraid I must abide by the people’s wishes. As you can quite see, the trial’s verdict would be a waste of our resources and time.”

Eckhardt instead asks for one last request, and that is to delay the trial for 2 hours so he can talk with his friends one last time. The Magistrate refuses his request, but when the Magistrate asks him if he has any family he wishes to contact, Eckhardt uses the moment to express that he wishes for a letter to be scribed for his family, and the Magistrate allows for up to an hour at most for this request.

Once his meeting with Eckhardt is done, the Magistrate meets with Finja and Johann.

Johann tries to be diplomatic with Finja occasionally kicking him under the table, yet when Finja starts talking, its Johann who returns the favor, as Finja goes on in detail about demons and vampires, to which the Magistrate refuses to hear any more of such talk and states that “if you wish to continue this discussion, then I’m more than welcome to direct you to the nearest temple to continue it.”

Finja also makes a request that is flatly denied, and that is to see Godfrey de Montfort. However, they are both allowed to see Eckhardt.

Johann, who is able to read and write, begins scribing Eckhardt’s last wishes, most of which is going to the dwarf, Borri, and strangely enough, very little going to Ulrico, who was Eckhardt’s traveling companion ever since he washed ashore near Wittengdorf. Although Ulrico wasn’t much of a conversationalist and neither was Eckhardt…

After seeing Eckhardt, Finja decides to head back, along the way Godfrey, who is in one of the cells, calls out her name. She turns and approaches him, to which Godfrey palms her his tournament medal, whispering, “For my family…” Finja tells Godfrey to do the right thing and tell them what he knows, but Godfrey proclaims, “I have, and they think I’m mad… They think… I’m mad…” At this point the guard slams on the bars with his cudgel, and motions for Finja to move along.

Borri and Kall soon arrive and meet with Eckhardt briefly, to which Johann  proclaims that Eckhardt has left most of his belongings to Borri, much to the dwarf’s surprise. Johann and Eckhardt also come up with a plan in secret, which is to distract the guards at the hanging, with Johann providing the distraction and hopefully a delay for the priest of Morr to conduct his examination.

The guards arrive to clear them out as the bell starts to chime in the distance, signaling that its time for them to move along. The party head out and head to the towns square, where Eckhardt is set to swing from the gallows.

Almost the entire town including its visitors are out in force to witness this event. Merchants are walking along the paths, selling the left over fruit and cabbages to throw. The watch are also out in force, keeping the peace and removing any loose rocks and other dangerous obstacles within the vicinity of the square.

The magistrate arrives and waits for the Commander to come along with the prisoner. Finja, who earlier had made a request to play her music before the hanging, was denied but granted to play it during the hanging so that there would be no further delay, does so, and begins to play a softly mellow tune.

Johann, who is standing directly opposite the Magistrate, starts jeering the man. “Mutant lover!” He points, “Look at this mutant lover! Hanging a man without trial and without evidence” This continues on for a few minutes, but the Magistrates patience wears thin and he asks for Johann to be removed from the square at once. Two watchmen who were flanking the Magistrate move forward, and Johann darts into the crowd away from them, they give chase, and with Johann turning back now and again to jeer them on, they eventually catch him, and restrain him and lead him off to the watch house. Along the route, Johann see’s Eckhardt marching up towards the square, flanked by six guardsmen, Johann nods, shouting “I did my best…” but apparently the delay was somewhat premature.

Kall meanwhile, starts working up the crowd. He tries to rouse them up with stories of how it was a vampire and that the man is innocent, and why are they hanging a man who killed such a thing, when they should be praising him?

Those gathered near him react in different ways… One elderly man remarks, “I must admit I find it odd that there was no trial. At least I think the man deserves a trial, regardless of what he had done.” Yet many others feel the opposite, and don’t really buy Kall’s story that a creature was involved, although a couple at least seem to take his view that the rumors of a mutant may be true.

Kall heads further into the crowd and tries to get the conversation going towards that effect. He starts picking up pits of glass bottles that the watch missed from outside a nearby tavern and proceeds to subtly hand them out to whoever is willing to take them, although carefully trying to hand them out to those that do not wish harm to Eckhardt, a task that is somewhat difficult considering the current mood.

Eckhardt arrives on the scene, and the majority of the crowd are angry, tossing rotten fruit and vegetables at Eckhardt. A distraction is formed further up ahead when one man shouts, “Mutant killer!” To which those standing near him turn around and proceed to batter him to a pulp. Kall tries to fuel the flames, but the watch soon step in to force a break between them.

Eckhardt is brought up onto the gallows, smeared in fruit, tomato juice all over him, as a priest of Sigmar steps up onto the gallows, shouting out, “I will have silence!” The crowd quickly obey the godly man, and the priest continues, “Quiet! For this man shall utter his last words!”

He turns to Eckhardt, “Have you got any last words to say before you are judged by Sigmar, and embraced by Morr?”

Eckhardt’s last words, (The GM can’t precisely remember so let me know if this is wrong) “Damn you and damn your town!” To which he gets boos and more cabbages thrown at him, including a couple of glass bottles that narrowly miss, courtesy of Kall.

The priest sighs, and steps down, nodding to the Magistrate to continue.

“We are gathered here to bear witness to the divine judgement th-” a cabbage comes flying out, hitting the Magistrate, “Mutant lover!” someone shouts from the crowd. It seems Kall’s attempts were not in vain.

“The divine judgement that  shall be passed upon this man’s soul for the-“, “Mutant lover!” another one cries out, joined by a couple  of more. The crowd are starting to get roiled up now, with the majority taking argument with the ones throwing cabbages at the Magistrate. Kall starts playing both sides at this point.

“For the sins he has committed. He stands before you accused of murder!”

More attempts are made towards the Magistrate, to which he starts getting surrounded by the watch as they try to protect him from the onslaught of assailing fruit.

“He has not confessed to the grave sin of murder, yet the evidence is clear that this man is guilty as charged! May Sigmar judge him rightly, and may Morr take his soul! Proceed with-” At this point the crowd erupt in a frenzy of flying fruit and right hooks as they fight amongst themselves. The Magistrate backs up onto the gallows as the watch get engulfed in the mass crowd of citizens who are batting for either side.

Kall takes the opportunity to sneak underneath the gallows, which at any other time he would clearly be observed, but with the anarchy going on around him, nobody takes notice. Borri proceeds underneath too and helps Kall with holding up the flap doors above them.

They could hear the Magistrate above them say, “Proceed with the execution at once. Soon as this man is dangling from the ropes, all this madness will cease. Proceed at once.”

The flaps budge slightly, but don’t open. The Magistrate is puzzled… Borri heads out from underneath and starts shouting, “Look! It’s a sign from Sigmar! He is innocent!” But nobody is listening to the dwarf as they fight amongst themselves.

The executioner pushes Eckahrdt to the side slightly and starts stamping down on the doors, but they refuse to budge. Kall, upon hearing this, lets go, and they come loose. The man falls down, and Kall is ready, giving the man a solid punch, knocking him out discreetly. Hopefully when he awakes he’ll not realized he was knocked out by a punch…

Kall darts out from underneath, and Eckhardt clings to the side, trying to maintain his balance with the doors left open. The Magistrate is clearly perplexed at this, and Borri shouts again, “Praise Sigmar! The man is innocent! Look!”

A few of the crowd glance over, and then like a fever rushing through the assembled townsfolk, they gradually start peering towards the gallows and see that Eckhardt is indeed not dangling, but the executioner has fallen through the gallows.

They overhear the Magistrate say, rather to himself than to anyone, “The doors would not open… I don’t understand it.”

A few in the crowd start chanting, “Sigmar’s divine will! The man is innocent! Free him at once!”

“Innocent as a goblin perhaps!” but that voice is drowned out by others who proclaim it is Sigmar’s divine will.

Eckhardt looks about and spots this fellow, standing and watching from afar…

Priest of Morr

Clearly a priest of Morr, but not the one he had the discussion with earlier. He nods towards Eckhardt, and proceeds to walk over to the gallows. He has a quiet word in the ear of the Magistrate, and then both of them appear to have a discussion with the Commander of the watch, who proceeds to walk off, fuming and clearly not happy. The Magistrate formally declares Eckhardt innocence, but the tone suggests it was done reluctantly.

The priest suggests for Eckhardt to follow him to the temple, and Eckhardt removes himself from the crowd, still wary as a few in the crowd are not convinced of his divine escape from justice.

Borri catches up with the Magistrate who is heading for the watch, and suggests to Borri that he and his traveling companions should leave town at once, and that he does not expect to see them again… Their weapons will be returned to them.

Meanwhile, Johann brazenly escapes from the watch barracks. After being thrown into the cell, and given a savage beating, Johann goads one of them on again, and as the guard comes back to deliver more pain to Johann, Johann upper cuts him in the balls. The man goes down, and Johann throws a knife at the other which misses (thankfully it did, otherwise the watch would not give up on him so easily) and he decides to tackle him instead. However not wanting to waste time wrestling with the guards, Johann manages to get up and makes a run for the exit. With most of the watch out in force within the town square, the watch house is relatively empty, and only the desk sergeant see’s Johann running out, but before he can even react, Johann is already out and running, heading for the docks.

Eckhardt however, is brought to the temple of Morr, a rather depressive place with drap colors, but quiet and contemplative. He’s lead to a room in which a large stone slab lies in the middle, and on it, is the body of the vampire, gutted and dissected.

The priest gives him his apologies for not conducting the examination quick enough, and then begins to ask him questions as to why the vampire was after him.

VampireCrest

He shows Eckhardt the vampire crest that he had recovered from the vampire, and begins to tell him the history surrounding the crest.

“I only tell you this to warn you… It took great effort to discover the heritage of that symbol. I knew I had seen it before. I went rooting in an old tome that has some of the oldest family names throughout the Empire along with their crests. Then I came across this crest, the two crossed blooded daggers with the small bat symbols on their hilts. An old family that has long since died out, approximately 700 years ago. The Harkon family, an extensive family lineage with many noble bloods, from Kislev to Tilea, as far as Araby. The family’s roots however are much deeper in Araby, having had conducted crusades there many hundred years ago. The crest itself is Araby in origin, the family’s original crest having long died out.

“I tell you this because the vampire that turned up on my slap is… quite young, for a vampire at least. My tests confirm it. Which, worries me… I did not share this news with the Commander, but you must know that this vampire was a youngling. And that means that it may have an extended family somewhere. Vampires of the same bloodline tend to … become furious at the notion one of their own died at the hands of a mere mortal, and depending on how they feel about that, they may be coming for you. I do not say this to alarm you, merely to warn you. Our order has had many dealings with these things, and we do not advertise that. It is a secret that we only ever divulge if the circumstances permit it, and yours certainly does.”

Eckhardt thanks him, and the priest ponders for a moment… (at this point he passes a bonus fellowship test).

“There is something I may be able to do, to help. Considering what I’ve discovered, it is quite possible you may be in great danger. While you must have showed some impressive prowess in dispatching such a creature, you would not fare well against one who is much more.. ancient. If indeed there is more of them out there, and I suspect that is the case, then what awaits you is inescapable death. I will not have our Order standby and watch that happen, and perhaps, we can draw more of them out of the woodwork. You mentioned you were going to Altdorf… I will send word to my superiors there and alert them to the situation at hand. I cannot guarantee it, but, I will request that they dispatch a member of one of our knightly orders to accompany you on a short-term basis. Perhaps the Black Guard or a Knight of the Raven, either one should suffice. Head to the temple of Morr once you arrive in Altdorf, word should have reached them before your arrival. May Sigmar be with you, and may Morr keep you alert.”

Eckhardt also receives a parting gift from the priest, a token of Sigmar, the symbol of Ghal Maraz, made of purest silver and no doubt blessed by both orders. “May this offer you some protection, but I hope that you will not need it.”

Leave a reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>