It has begun – The first game of the year, and the next part of the grand campaign that is, The Enemy Within. The game will be run bi-weekly on Thursdays, so the next game won’t be till the 16th.
Middenland, the great northern province of the empire. A vast forested region with a mild chill during the summer and a deep winters breeze that could chill your bones during the cold season. The inhabitants of this land are referred to as Middenlanders. Like all Northerners, Middenlanders are famed for their stubborn ways. This, their Teutogen blood and their “firebrand” tempers has given them a reputation as uncontrollable traditionalists. They hate change of all types, and defend what they see as “tradition” at all cost. They are the last to admit that they are wrong, and the first to challenge an unworthy leader. At their best, Middenlanders are staunch defenders of pride, property and traditions. Should an unjust tax be levied, Middenlanders will march in protest, torches flaming and pitchforks raised. With the recent controversial tax laws coming into play, that has not happened. Yet. The scroll tax, temple tax and the dwarf tax are reaching boiling point. Yet the vast majority of Middenlanders have not been affected. Wizards? They are vital to the defense of the city, but it doesn’t affect the average joe on the street. Why should they care? Not as if they are expecting a siege upon Middenheim anytime soon. Dwarfs? Middenlanders and dwarfs have a solid history together, and if there’s one thing that just might get the average joe picking up his torch to join his dwarfen comrades, this might be it. The faith? The temple tax is perhaps the most controversial, but Ar-Ulric is supporting it, and as long as he supports it, the faith will toe the line.
Yet the implementation of the new tax laws are only 3 weeks old by the time the adventure starts, and the first collection of these new controversial taxes is due at the end of the carnival. Will the penny drop for the city when that happens?…
The provincial capital of Middenland is none other than Middenheim, City of the White Wolf – a great fortress situated on a 500 foot rockface, making it an exceedingly difficult city to take by any means. This is the seat of Graf Boris Todbringer, one of the Elector Counts.
And this, is where the vast majority of this next campaign is set.
Gerhard Kramer, Pieter Johann, Michel Bastide and Jurgen Noffein await in the city.
Michel is a bounty hunter by trade, and has been on the hunt for Alric Eisenhower. Yet he has come across information to suggest that Alric is up to his neck in cult activity, and has followed him to Middenheim. Michel teams up with Pieter Johann, and together, they put a name to this cult; The Purple Hand. Further investigation leads them to conclude that a high elven wizard named Foros Arfor is somehow connected to all this. Michel had intended to meet with this Foros, but, as fate would have it… Foros mysteriously died in a magical accident that took place within the Guild of Wizards & Alchemists. With Michel unable to gain access to the guild, his leads soon dropped. However, Michel had received word from a ‘contact’ at the Temple of Verena to expect the arrival of a high elven wizard who was coming to Middenheim to see into the affairs of Foros. Michel figured that this was his best way into the guild, and the best way to continue his investigation. He left word at all the gates leading into Middenheim (and paying exorbitant coin) to inform of any such elf going by the name of Galdrea Shadowstar on where to find him.
Jurgen Noffein also has an invested interest – Jurgen is a initiate of Ulric and has just completed his first studies into the faith. His teacher and mentor at the Temple of Ulric, Klemet, had presided over Jurgen since he was inducted into the Ulrican faith. Yet fate was not kind to Klemet – a day after completing his studies, Jurgen had received witnessed a terrible scene the next morning. Klemet’s body was slumped at the foot of Ulric’s statue in the temple courtyard; his wrists cut, and a dagger lay on his lap. Suicide, it would appear. A most cowardly act in the eyes of the Ulrican faith. Klemet was hastily disposed off, and his name stricken from the register. Jurgen was not satisfied. A man, an honorable man such as Klemet would not do such a thing, Jurgen thought. So he begun to investigate. What he found suggested sinister intentions upon his former mentor. Jurgen had discovered that Klemet was meant to meet someone with the initials F.A at midnight at the statue of Ulric. Oddly enough, the next day he was found with his wrists cut… Further investigation led Jurgen to believe that this F.A was an elf at the Guild of Wizards & Alchemists, Foros Arfor. Jurgen was intent on finding out if Foros had anything to do with his masters death, and set off for the guild. Yet, much like how Michel could not find the information he sought, Jurgen received little information on the guild and was not permitted to enter any further. Yet he did find out that a man with an eyepatch had an interest in Foros as well. This man was none other than Michel Bastide. The two eventually joined up, and together they agreed that to find out more about this elf, they would need access to the guild. They agreed to wait for this elf, and either coerce him or ask for his aid.
Gerhard Kramer has not had a pleasant time since he started working at the Commission for Commerce, Trade and Taxation (CCTT). Uncovering corruption and then having your life threatened because you ‘know too much’ can take its toll on oneself. Fortunately for Gerhard, he has hired the services of Big Piet (Pieter Johann) to be his bodyguard. Their paths had crossed in an unusual manner; Big Piet was actually hired to, if I may be so blunt, to kick the shit out of him and get certain ‘documents’ that he had taken from the offices of the CCTT. However, the man that hired Big Piet to beat up Gerhard was no friend of Piet, and Piet saw an opportunity to double-cross him. Gerhard’s situation soon became apparent to Pieter that it was more complex than he thought; before he crossed paths with Big Piet, Gerhard had been visited by Foros Arfor (before his accident at the guild). Foros knew that Gerhard had information on an individual that Foros was interested in; Gotthard Goebbels, the Chairman of the Merchants Guild and the CCTT. Foros explained to Gerhard that he suspected Gotthard to be involved in more than just fiddling the books, and requested for him to try and find out more information if he could about Goebbels. Foros would meet up with him in a weeks time to share what information he gained. Unfortunately – a week later, Foros had his accident. Gerhard Kramer was also handed a suspension notice from the CCTT, and was no longer considered in employment. Things were not looking up for Kramer.
En-route to the City of the White Wolf, is Ser Gado l’Enclume Duval of Shining Waters, Galdrea Shadowstar (that name…) and Eladril. *How they met up is detailed in the prelude summary*
All three are staying at the Pilgrim’s House, a coaching house that is a couple of hours away from Middenheim. It is midnight, and the party of three are feasting and drinking with a family of three; Harold (or Ser Harold if you ask Galdrea), his wife Linda and his 6 year old daughter, Sherry. They’re farmers from a small hamlet called Dallery in Middenland, and are journeying to the city for the carnival, utilizing their wagon which is pulled by a mule they call Kicker. Harold is a welcoming sort, and has offered his hospitality by allowing Galdrea and Eladril to hitch a ride in his wagon to the city, with Ser Gado riding along. Harold’s wee-one, Sherry, seems infatuated with the elves, particularly their pointy ears, much to the annoyance of Eladril.
Yet something is about to spoil the mood…
The party inside hear horses and a carriage pull up. The innkeeper stirs from his restful slumber and gets an assortment of tankards ready for these new customers. The door to the coaching house flies open with a sudden thud, and the unmistakable sound of heavy plate mail rings true as a tall armored knight marches over to the innkeep.
– Knights Panther
Q: What’s worse than one Knight’s Panther?
A: Four of them.
Three Knight Panthers come striding into the inn after their comrade, with a bold authoritative posture as if they own the place.
“Innkeep! Your finest room!” he shouts authoritatively, slamming down a few shillings onto the bar, likely not enough to cover the room.
The innkeep stutters, clatters and manages only to sprout out a few syllables. His nervousness is swiftly explained by the fact that the best room has been taken by one of the elves; Eladril specifically. Yet the innkeeper just blabbers out that ‘she’ took it rather than pointing out Eladril. The knight turns around and sees not one, but two female elves. Wait… Isn’t Galdrea Shadowstar a male elf? Yes…
– Galdrea Shadowstar
But unfortunately Galdrea often, very often, gets mistaken for a woman. Go figure?
The knight just turns to the innkeeper and says, “So? Consider the room vacated.” He picks up the silver and tosses it in the direction of the elves, without caring if they catch it or not.
Tut, tut… such disregard for chivalry… And that is probably what got Ser Gado off his seat and coming to the defense of Eladril. Or Galdrea. Take your pick. (Ser Gado actually gave up his room to Eladril; being the gentleman that he is).
Ser Gado did his introduction followed by a proclamation of just how rude it was for the knight to do what he did.
Suffice to say, that didn’t go down well. “Perhaps the peasant knight should sit back down at his table and drink his piss,” was the reply. Ser Gado didn’t sit back down and drink his piss, which probably would have been the wisest choice, instead he stood his ground in front of four heavily armed Knight Panther’s who have a equally fearsome reputation to match their intimidating appearance.
As the argument was about to escalate out of control, a booming voice was heard at the doorway; “Knight-Captain Maris! What is the meaning of this!”
– Luigi Pavarotti, famed Tilean physician
Captain Maris replies, “Pavarotti, sir, … I was merely acquiring you a room from-“, “I had requested you to acquire me a room! Not to steal it from the hand of one who is as lovely as the moon-lit sky! I shall not sleep under a roof with such mounting tension! You are dismissed Knight-Captain!”
“But sir… I cannot allow you to sleep in such unprotected quarters amongst these commoners.”
“Your protest is acknowledged, Knight-Captain Maris. I shall duly inform Graf Todbringer upon my arrival of your protest, and how you accosted these two fine lovely ladies. Now begone!”
Captain Maris and his three Panther brothers leave, albeit reluctantly, as they make room in the stables for themselves.
The larger-than-life character (literally) proceeds to Galdrea, taking her (his) hand and smooching it as he apologies profusely. Galdrea is, well… smitten to receive such an honor from one such as the Graf of Middenheim himself!
Wait, what?… Galdrea blurts out her thanks, in addition to mistaking Luigi for Graf Todbringer – to which he remarks, “You do me much honor my lady, perhaps the wealth of my garb threw you? I for am not the Graf, sadly, but I am Luigi Pavarotti, famed physician throughout Tilea! … Perhaps you heard of me?”
Introductions are made, and Luigi introduces them to his assistant, a priestess of Shallya – Sibillia Di Cosola (incidentally, Cortez’s backup character – Tez plays Big Piet).
Luigi claps his hands and orders a round of ale and food. He throws money at the innkeeper to encourage the cooking of a midnight meal, and a hearty late-night feast is had. Sibillia gets cosy with Galdrea; Galdrea seems ever thirsty for knowledge of any kind and is interested in learning about Shallya from Sibillia, who is more than happy to oblige. Ser Gado shares a drink with the ever-so delightfully pleasant (yet pervy) Pavarotti, and quitely informs him that Galdrea is in fact a man… well, a male elf. “Not to worry, I made the same mistake…” he remarks. Luigi blushes.
Pavarotti, when asked by Ser Gado as to his profession and his purpose in Middenland, Pavarotti explains that he is heading to Middenheim to treat the son of Graf Boris Todbringer, Steffan Todbringer, the next in-line within the Todbringer dynasty. It appears that the good folk of Middenland have taken to calling him Sickly Steffan with good reason; the boy is said to be suffering bouts of mental ‘relapse’ and that Pavarotti explains that he hopes to cure the boy of such things. He further mentions that he was hired by Heinrich Todbringer who visited Tilea to acquire his services.
The party settle in for the night, and come morning; sour and sore heads rise from their pillows.
It is 5 am, and Pavarotti is snoring blissfully, and is not likely to rise until much later. Harold, who went light on the drink, is first up and gets his wagon ready as the party get ready to set off for Middenheim.
Ser Gado picks up a glare from Knight-Captain Maris as he saddles up his horse. “Ser Knight…”, Maris shouts over, “I caution you on the roads, for they can be ever so dangerous…” the not-so-subtle threat is retorted by Ser Gado, who points at the Minotaur head dangling from the saddle of his horse (which he killed in a prelude), “I shall be fine. I have already slain one mighty beast, I look forward to the challenges that the road may provide…”
Captain Maris scoffs at that, “If I wasn’t duty-bound to protect a guest of Graf Boris Todbringer, I’d hang you for the thief that you are, for clearly you could not have slain such a beast.”
Ser Gado would have replied, but Galdrea – the ever-so eccentric and somewhat naive elf – shouted, “Your mistake Ser, for it was I that had slain the beast!”
Ser Gado tries to keep his pride intact, but Maris pounces on the golden opportunity, “O… I am gravely mistaken then, apologies my lady. It appears I have vastly underestimated your talent for beast slaying my lady, and that the honor of such a kill lies not with this charlatan but you.”
“Why don’t you get down off your horse then and give her a kiss, as a proper knight should do…” Ser Gado retorted.
Captain Maris indeed did get off his horse, and went over to Galdrea. He bent down on one knee, drawing his sword as he knelt as if to pray, all the while sprouting out a mockery of the feat that was accomplished in killing the beast. Such mockery went over Galdrea’s head however. Captain Maris stood up, and with a small dagger, cut the rope that tied the Minotaur’s head to Ser Gado’s saddle and then tossed the head into the wagon, “There you go my lady, your property has been returned to you.”
Sadly, Sherry, Harold and Linda’s daughter, was none to pleased seeing a giant decapitated head of a fearsome looking beastmen roll in the back of her fathers wagon; the waterworks soon flowed and she was now crying her eyes out at this sight.
Ser Gado mocked Maris for causing the little girl to cry, “Wonderful. Great. I hope your happy. Are you happy? Look at what you did, you made a little girl cry. What a big man you are.”
Suffice to say the departure left a sour taste for both knights.
The party eventually arrive at Middenheim just past 6am.
Harold and his family bid them a farewell as Harold states that he plans to hand his mule over to a friend of his before he enters the city; he’s not keen on paying stabling charges for the entire week of the carnival.
– West Viaduct
The western bridge leading into the city is massive; and upon it, was a long que of people that stretched from the city gate to the far end of the bridge. The party prepared for the long monotonous wait. After an hour of waiting, they were close to the gate. It was rather uneventful until a dwarf family decided to turn away after refusing to pay the exorbitant fares at the gate to enter the city. They were not a happy bunch… And as they left, they picked up a rabble of a dozen unhappy dwarfs who were also not going to pay.
While in the que, Ser Gado had nearly got into a fight with a man-eater ogre that was in the employ of the local watch.
– Pork (Or Princess Pork, as Ser Gado called him)
It seemed Pork was etching for a fight, so much so that he had decided to prod Ser Gado’s horse, trying to antagonize him. “You. Here trouble?”
Ser Gado informed him that he was not going to cause any trouble, but Pork persisted, “No? Why not. Why no trouble. You cause trouble.” The ogre continued to persist, to the point that he told Ser Gado to dismount and leave. Ser Gado proceeded to call for the gate sergeant (who wasn’t paying attention) when a voice from behind shouted, “Oi knucklehead! Why don’t ya pick on someone ya own size!”
-Grimnik, Dwarf Slayer
Looking down, the ogre spotted a fierce dwarven slayer. The ogre had enough sense to turn away, now that his little game was up. The slayer was not pleased, shouting curses and other foul things at the ogre in his native tongue. Ser Gado had dismounted and thanked the dwarf, for which the dwarf simply replied, “Piss off!”
Finally they got to the front gate – Galdrea stepped up first, to which the gate sergeant asked, “Are you, or have you ever been, a wizard or a priest.”
Galdrea nods, stating that he is a wizard. He is asked to step aside and make way his way into the gatehouse, which he does.
Eladril is up next, and is asked to pay 1gc. Not having any sense of the value of money (nor knowing when she is being robbed blind) she pays it happily without protest.
Ser Gado approaches, and is asked to pay 1gc and 8 shillings. (Horse toll – 2s per leg. Ordinary toll – 10s per leg)
Ser Gado, having a bit more sense about the value of money, argues the point with the man. The man then states that there is a Knight exemption from paying the toll, but that Ser Gado would have to prove that he is a knight.
Naturally, this causes an argument, a humorous one at that. Ser Gado relents, and is about to pay the fare when he hears a voice, “I say, is that Ser Gado of the Shining Waters?”
Ser Gado looks up at an approaching knight…
– Godfrey de Montfort!
It is none other than Godfrey de Montfort! (Featured in the last campaign, and a surprise cameo here by Tom, the player playing him)
Clad now in full plate in addition to barding for his horse, Godfrey de Montfort makes an impressive sight. Ser Gado recognizes the heraldry, and knows this to be the famed Ser Godfrey de Montfort, who he had picked up a few tales on the way about his deeds. Likewise, Ser Godfrey knew Ser Gado, albeit not personally – he knew his father. Immediately Ser Gado got off his horse and bowed before the knight, to which Ser Godfrey gently protested that it was not needed.
The two talked briefly – Ser Gado, without divulging too much, said he was on a personal quest. Ser Godfrey stated that he was heading out to find the Birdwoman of Marienburg, who is said to be pillaging countryside of Middenland and terrorizing the locals. Yet before he departed and the two knights share a farewell, Ser Godfrey vouched for Ser Gado’s knighthood to the gate sergeant, who certainly changed his tune with that.
Ser Godfrey rode on, with both knights wishing one another good fortune; Ser Gado rode past the sergeant, happy in not having to pay the exorbitant fee.
Inside the gatehouse, Galdrea was not so lucky; she was busy getting fleeced, courtesy of the new Wizard tax law. Galdrea was certainly lighter in coin, but it could have been much lighter as she bribed Heinz, who was doing the evaluating, with a jar of halfling tobacco.
As she left, the gate sergeant turned, seemingly reminded of something important; “Your Galdrea Shadowstar? Right?” Galdrea nodded, “Yeah I was told to give you a message… Fella waiting for you at the Blazing Hearth.” The sergeant gave directions, and also a nearby wizard of the grey order ‘gave’ directions to the Guild of Wizards & Alchemists.
They decided to stop off at the Blazing Hearth – a quaint halfling establishment in the Alt-market, south-east part of the city. Good food to be had, and good ale, but the beds and rooms leave much to be desired…
They arrive there. Ser Gado stables his horse and the rest of the party enter.
Inside, Michel, Big Piet and Gerhard Kramer are having their morning breakfast – being mutual acquaintances and all.
To summarize the events inside –
- Ser Gado and Galdrea get into a scholarly debate about the use of proper titles such as Ser.
- Michel Bastide makes a somewhat awkward introduction and his Bretonnian accent is revealed to Ser Gado. Ser Gado tries – and still does – to wrap his brain around the idea of a bretonnian peasant bearing arms outside of Bretonnia. Michel is fairly upfront about his background, and does not shy away in telling Ser Gado that he fled Bretonnia, his parents being rebels. Ser Gado takes note.
- Galdrea and Michel get introduced – Michel informs Galdrea that he was waiting for him, and that he has a vested interest in finding out what happened to Foros. Piet and Gerhard get introduced. The party then decide that now is the time to act – with Galdrea, they can finally get into the Guild.
They leave the Blazing Heart and make their way over, cutting through a plaza. Galdrea takes interest in a couple of notice boards –
Carnival notices, some information concerning the new taxes and a couple of wanted posters. One of which, Michel already knows about. Alric Eisenhower.
The party continue onwards, only stopping at the Temple of Ulric to get Jurgen. Jurgen is introduced to the party, and the tension goes up right away as the wolf priest’s fiery temper clashes with the rest.
They soon find themselves in the guild’s courtyard. An argument erupts however concerning that Minotaur that Gado ‘partially’ slew. Gado and Galdrea mouth off about who slain the beast, with Galdrea thinking she… sorry, HE, had summoned a flight of arrows, which was actually the work of Eladril.
Jurgen, having only just met them and having already decided he dislikes them intensely, butts their heads together, that is, Gado and Galdrea. Unfortunately Gado is wearing a plate helmet, and the resulting clash leaves a nasty… nasty gash on Galdrea. (Jurgen rolled a nat-1, Galdrea rolled 100 crit failure on his toughness test)
Jurgen, in a huff an a puff, puffs himself away from the party and stomps off back to the temple.
After regaining their composure, Galdrea is helped by Michel as they make their way into the guild.
There, Galdrea introduces herself and presents the documentation and letter of safe conduct, both of which was sent to Ulthuan. He presents this to the clerk, who heads off into the guild’s interior halls, only to come back a minute later with someone in toe.
– Deputy Magister Janna Eberhauer.
This green-eyed freckled red-haired beauty appears to be puzzled by the documents that has been presented to her. “I’m sorry, who are you?” she asks politely.
Galdrea re-introduces her… himself. To which Janna replies, “This is very odd… I’m not aware of any such letter of safe conduct. This is a magical license, and such things fall under my department and I am of utmost certain I did not issue such a license.”
Despite the puzzlement of the situation, she introduces herself as Deputy Janna and gives Galdrea her formal sympathies for the passing of Foros Arfor. Despite the authenticity of both documents, Deputy Janna grants Galdrea entry to the guild on the basis that the guild has a long-withstanding and pleasant relationship with the mages of Ulthuan and it would not do to delay one of their representatives, although she does verify that the nature of the documents will be investigated. Further; a question is raised about Galdrea’s rather large… entourage of assembled associates. Galdrea ‘vouches’ for every one of them (excluding Jurgen) but is made aware that only she and her, ehem… bodyguard, Eladril, will be permitted to stay on the guild grounds.
“Now that the formalities are out of the way, would you care for a tour of the guild?” she asks.
“Certainly, that would be pleasant…” replied Galdrea.