With more than a few faces in Weissbruck wishing to do harm to the party – a seemingly regular occurrence now – the party make haste in making arrangements to leave Wissbruck. Finja has already paid a local barge captain a handsome sum of 2 crowns to ferry them to Altdorf, a great bearded fellow by the name of Gunther. The party earlier on decided that it be best to drop Liliana off at Altdorf before continuing on to track down the Graf’s missing daughter.
Having retrieved their equipment, the party waste little time in going. However a discussion takes place regarding what to do with the Graf’s carriage and its two horses. Borri suggests that they split up, with the carriage heading to Altdorf along the canal route while the barge continues up river.
Borri will be driving, while Eckhardt and Johann volunteer to go. Finja bites her lip when Johann decides to not bother going with his comatose sister, Liliana. Ulric, Finja and Kall head onto the barge along with the unconscious Liliana.
So both groups depart Weissbruck, no doubt hoping they’ve no reason to go back there anytime, and are quickly running out of safe places to go within the Reikland.
Gunther’s barge makes its way through the Weissbruck lock, and into the canal. It’s a 5-6 day journey to Altdorf if the winds are kind, upriver, while the carriage should be due at Altdorf around the 3-4 day mark.
A couple of days pass on the canal as the barge makes its way up, and its late in the evening when they come across a very shabby looking boat making its way past.
Finja immediately recognizes the figures on the boat as strigany. (Warhammer equivelant to Gypsies.)
An attractive woman dressed in traditional strigany clothing greets them hastily while shouting out a warning to them. “Ahoy there! Be warning to ya! There’s a great whirlpool up ahead, not a days ride, sucking ships in without mercy! We managed to get past though, and if you would like to get safely past yourself, we can offer you a token that will see you pass through without harm!”
Naturally, skepticism is high in the air. Finja challenges them as to their intent and asks what tribe they are from, skeptical that they would want to help strangers. Angering the woman, the strigany woman replies, “How dare you… you, who associates with Gadze!”
As this goes on, another ship pulls up alongside, seemingly of not of Strigany but locals. They call over, verifying the strigany’s claim, and stating that the safety that they promise is true.
Gunther is particularly hesitant to invest in any such claim, but after further conversing with Finja and the rest of the party, they agree to chip in and pay for the rather expensive token.
The strigany woman hands over a small token that consists of horse braids and loose strands of hair decorated in the traditional style of the strigany upon a small carved stick. Finja recognizes the symbol as a symbol that wards against evil spirits. She takes the token as Gunter wants nothing to do with it.
They continue up river for sometime, yet there is no sign of a whirlpool or any wreckage of any kind. Have they been cheated out of their money for something that even Finja could make with relative ease?
In the afternoon of the next day, the party hear distant faint cannon fire ahead of them. Gunther is particularly nervous and suggests pulling in, which they agree. Kall and Finja offer to walk up ahead and find out whats going on, and report back on their findings. Ulrico will stay on the boat and look after Liliana, who grows paler with each passing day.
It takes a good solid two hours for Kall and Finja to find the source of the cannon fire, although by the time they witness it, its already over. What they see is carnage on the canal – at least two ships lay wrecked, possibly more although with the amount of wreckage on the canal its uncertain to say. What they do notice however is a couple of Imperial barges wielding two cannons on both its port and starboard sides, small scale but heavily armed ships perfect for patrolling the canal.
Finja also notices up ahead a large group of men who have setup camp, and situated around them, bodies of unidentified men lay.
Finja decides to go and get a closer look by sneaking up ahead while Kall waits off the side. However, she gets noticed as she tries to get closer, and decides to feign being lost.
To her relief, she quickly realizes she’s talking to Imperial Marines, and they offer her their assistance. She finds out that there was indeed a battle here, between some Wreckers who were boldly and openly terrorizing the canal barges. The marines state that they are here until the roadwardens show up to take care of the bodies, as some of them may be wanted men.
Finja makes her excuses and leaves them to it, and her and Kall make their way back to the Barge.
Ulrico waits patiently up deck and makes small talk with Gunther. The barge is still moored up on the side of the canal, and as they talk, they hear a disturbance coming from the nearby treeline.
Ulrico asks Gunther to untie the barge and get it moving up river, to which he quickly obliges. However as he’s doing so, a bolt comes flying out and strikes him in the knee. Gunther goes down, and receives another bolt in the back, he crumbles to the ground in pain. Ulrico looks on as six bandits show up, and a voice cries out, “Put your weapons down and keep your hands where I can see them! We only want the barge, nothing else!”
Ulrico does just that as the bandits approach. They kill poor Gunther without mercy, cutting his throat, and board the barge. Ulrico is deprived of his weapons and equipment along with his apothecary tools. Thankfully his coinage is safe, having put his coinbag down his… groin, although they do search him thoroughly but fail to check his bulge.
One of them comes up carrying Liliana, and there is some foul talk of rape from one of the bandits, but Ulrico talks him out of it by saying that she’s extremely sick.
Satisfied with their lot, the bandits wonder what to do with them both. They decide to chuck them off the barge, but one of them shoots Ulrico in the knee with a bolt, so that he won’t be running anywhere fast. They soon set off with the barge, but most importantly, also with Kall’s horse, Belvar, that is currently very stressed around these new unfamiliar faces and its master nowhere in sight.
Kall and Finja meet up with Ulrico and the comatose Liliana. The bad news is given, and without hesitation Kall makes his way towards the last known direction the barge went to fetch his beloved horse.
Finja and Ulrico decide that Kall will do what Kall does, and that its best for them to make way to Altdorf, on foot if necessary, although the journey will take twice as long. They decide to head back towards that Marine camp that Finja conversed with.
(Kall Horst’s fate will be told in a separate blog post)
As Finja and Ulrico make their way back, they encounter not the marines, but again a new group of unidentified men digging graves for the dead around them.
Finja is cautious and decides to feign injury, calling for help. Lucky for her, the men turn out to be the roadwardens the marines talked about earlier. They offer her aid and Finja rushes to tell them the fate of the barge and the recent events.
The roadwardens however are unable, or rather, unwilling to help, stating that its outside of their jurisdiction. If the barge indeed was hijacked, it is now the jurisdiction of the riverwardens, but they will be notified. Rather, the wardens state that they will be journeying to Altdorf once they finish their duties here, and that they be willing to escort her and her companions on horseback.
With time running out for Liliana, and the uncertain fate of Kall Horst, they decide to take them up on their offer, and help them with their duties here to hurry their travel to Altdorf.
Now, across the other side of the canal….
The Carriage has a rather uneventful journey for the first few days. After a very brief stop through Heiligen for rest and refreshments, they continue on. The party have been stopping at various coaching inns along the way, paying for room and board, but nothing of noteworthy happens, other than the odd out of tune Johann trying to assemble a song, again… nothing of noteworthy.
However, it is between the town of Heiligen and Glucksalt that something indeed happens. Only a couple of days or so from Altdorf, the Borri spots a clearly distressed woman standing in the middle of the road. Her clothes are shredded and dirty, as if she’s been rolling around in the mud. She is bleeding from her left arm and her cheek looks bruised, and its quite apparent that the woman is crying. Borri is suspicious and wants to drive past, but Johann urges him to stop. A compromise is made as Borri drives past her and stops a few strides ahead of her as Johann gets out to inquire. Yet he’s also careful and urges her not to get close to him. His requests for information go unanswered, and the only reply he gets from the woman is a simple… “I’m sorry…”
Johann is immediately put on guard, and with good reason as something large emerges from the nearby tree’s. CHAOS MUTANTS!
There’s four of them in total. The biggest threat out of them is the giant of a mutant, standing just over 7 feet and wielding a makeshift weapon that consists of a large trunk, while another sits in the safety of a tree up top, a birdlike mutant wielding a crossbow. Both attack from either side, flanking the carriage. Borri, never one to shy from combat, jumps down from the carriage to assist Eckhardt as the halberd wielding soldier charges at the largest of the mutants. Johann doesn’t fare so well however as he takes on two of the mutants on his side, but not before telling the woman to flee, which she does.
A fierce fight takes place. The mutant giant struggles to hit Eckhardt as blow after blow reigns down on him, and Eckhardt slices and dices him with the aid of Borri. They turn to help their companion Johann who is now barely holding his own. They manage to dispatch the two mutants that were ganging up on Johann, but Johann has already suffered the worse of it and collapses from his injuries. The birdlike creature that lay atop the tree shooting down at them fled. Eckhardt helps Johann while Borri chases down the fleeing woman.
He catches up and calls out.
She turns and Borri can see that she’s still crying…
All she says to him, is “Help me… Please. Help.”
Borri says that she can come back to the carriage, but the woman shakes her head, saying, “It’s too late for me… please,” and she lifts up her sleeve on her left bloodied arm. Borri see’s the truth of it, she’s beyond help. The woman is tainted. Chaos runs through her veins now, as he witnesses bulbous sores that protrude from her arm, pulsing with an unnatural rhythm.
He offers to slice off her arm, but the woman cries out that there is only one way, and that is death. He agrees, and asks her to kneel.
With his mighty hammer, he swings into her back with all his strength, forcing her to the ground. There is no signs of life, yet her eyes remain open and fixed, and her left arm… twitches. Borri, not happy with the effect, decides to burn the body off the side of the road.
Once done, he finds a nearby stone and takes a couple of minutes to etch in a few words of dwarven wisdom.
Heading back to the carriage, and when asked about the woman by Eckhardt, he simply replies, “O, I killed her and then burned her body…”
“She was a mutant. There was no hope.”
“Ah, well that’s aright then.”
They carry on driving, hoping to find aid for the gravely injured Johann.
They stop off at Glucksalt, a small mining community and the final town before Altdorf, not counting the various small hamlets that are situated out of the way.
There, Johann meets an eccentric old man, a local barber surgeon, who is deeply fond of his drink and even fonder to have a chance to ply his trade. Johann is weary of the chap who seems to be adamant that Johann’s wounds are festering and the only cure is a good ould saw through the bones, but Johann relents and instead gets some minor treatment.
Although certainly not fixed up, but definitely feeling better, Johan, Eckhardt and Borri make their way over to the local watering hole and fix themselves up with some drink. There, Johann tells the old local codger some tales about his travels on the sea and of his recent travels. Some banter is shared, along with ale, and they have a jolly good oul time.
After much ale is consumed, and the feeling of pain and misery is subdued, the party groggily walk out of the tavern and get back on their carriage, not wanting to delay any further their journey to Altdorf. Borri, who while consumed his fair share of ale, is still classed as ‘sober’, becomes the designated driver. The old coot that is the barger surgeon gives them a farewell as they leave Glucksalt.
A good time was had… just a shame that they are blissfully unaware of the death, misery and suffering that is happening on the other side of the canal.