Ser Gado’s trial is over; he has been found innocent! He is escorted out of the State Court by two Knights of the Everlasting Light and has no qualms about leaving. The crowd outside sigh and leave disappointed, dropping their tomatoes, rotten apples, cabbages and perhaps a stone or two when given the news that he has been found not guilty.
Outside he is greeted by Michel Bastide and Jurgen Noffein. Piet is still hiding out somewhere. Gerhard is in his room, and Erika, Piets niece (now played by Harbl) is making her way to the see them.
Gado recalls that Dieter, the Graf’s Champion, had extended out an invitation for a few drinks at the Showboat in the Great Park. Ser Gado, believing that’s not a bad idea, makes his way over there with Jurgen. Michel heads back to the Blazing Hearth to try and find Piet, believing he may be heading back to his boss. He’s right.
On the way towards the Showboat, Erika calls out to Ser Gado. They only met very briefly in the guild, and introductions are made. Erika asks if he knows where Piet is, to which Gado suggests for her to follow Michel. She does just that.
Arriving at the Showboat (incidentally – it gets its name from its founder, who was a follower of Olovald, a very obscure saint of Manaan, god of the sea. It used to be a tavern carved in the shape of a boat. It was always known as a bit of an ‘eyesore’ by the locals, so the new owners have redecorated it to look less boaty) the party consisting of Jurgen and Ser Gado head on in, after witnessing a very lonely juggler juggling away.
There, they see Dieter, at the bar, by himself with a dozen or so empty tankards near by; all of which has been poured into his wolf-stein.
Gado plants himself down next to Dieter and hollers out a greeting, to which Dieter replies, “What you want….” until Dieter realizes its him, and greets him as ‘friend’.
The two share a drink. Ser Gado opts for wine, which most of it is spilled all over the place when Dieter slams his goblet into his stein, “Bottoms up!”
Jurgen stays well away, intimidated by the big fellow and opts for a sitting in the corner. Ser Gado and Dieter get chatting. Dieter tells Ser Gado that he should get out of the city while he can, muttering out about the troubles facing the city and the empire. Ser Gado replies that he doesn’t intend to stay for long, and he has no plans to get caught up in such troubles. Dieter isn’t convinced, “That means little when you find yourself in the middle of it all. Trouble tends to find you regardless. You came at a bad time friend. The emperor is missing. Sigmarites and Ulricans are at each others throats. Then these recent new tax laws… everyone’s on edge. Aye, heed my advice. Have your revenge and get out while you can.” At this point, Ser Gado asks Dieter if he knows a norscan by the name of Hans Riklof. Dieter says he does, but he doesn’t know much, just that he got into a fight with the man before, and that he ripped out his earring at one stage during the fight. This makes both of them chuckle when Ser Gado recounts how he believes his sister did the exact same thing. “Then your looking for an ear-less norscan. He should stand out…” Dieter remarks.
The two continue another round of drinks until Dieter asks Gado if he would be interested in a friendly rematch, this time, with no titles changing hands. Gado says it would be his pleasure, and the two make their way out followed by an audience in tow.
Meanwhile… Gerhard Kramer is in a spot of bother. Someone is trying to get into his room. Nickel Kess, Gotthard Goebbels lackey and the local taxman, is at his door with a watchman and hired muscle. Just as the door is forced open, Piet rears his head.
Kess warns Piet to stay out of it while he has a ‘friendly chat’ with Kramer. It turns into a not-so-friendly chat as Kramer plays dumb, saying that he doesn’t have the ledger (Kramer has a book that contains evidence that Goebbels and Kess have been very dishonest with the city’s coffers), and that its with a friend. Kess isn’t buying it and he loses his patience. He walks out before saying, “Kramer… you know your a dead man, right?”
Kess makes his exit, and Kramer can thank his lucky stars that Piet showed up in the nick of time. (The GM can say that would have ended badly otherwise…)
Piet suggests a hasty exit. Kramer gets his stuff, but before he can leave, Michel and Erika show up. Suffice to say, Piet is not too pleased that his niece is now involved. Some shouting is involved. And more shouting. Then a suggestion is made that they quickly leave. Michel says that the others are heading to the Great Park, so they opt to go there to find the rest. Gerhard particularly wants a word with this Dieter Schmeidhammer, thinking that he may be someone who could help him or at least point him in the right direction of someone who could help with this matter concerning Goebbels and Kess.
They leave by the kitchen entrance. Unfortunately, that was being watched – a bolt springs forward, possibly meant for Gerhard, but Michel ended up taking one for the team as he gets pierced in the stomach with a bolt. Erika spots the glint of a crossbow at the corner of an alleyway. She runs to the corner but can only see the back of an assailant running off. She manages to catch some detail of the assailant; he had a mohawk style haircut, and was around 5’10 or so.
Michel is seriously wounded, and they opt to make a trip to the barber surgeon. He’s cheap and discreet, but not exactly clean, or that particularly good. After that, they make their way to the Great Park, and in time as well to witness a fight about to unfold.
Dieter Schmiedhammer vs Ser Gado Duval of the Shining Waters, Round 2!
It’s a fierce fight; Dieter is at a slight disadvantage having had a few too many drinks (he’s fighting with a 10% penalty) but even with that penalty he still fights ferociously. Dieter relies on brute strength, swinging his mighty axe and hitting hard. Ser Gado finds himself struggling to block each blow with his shield; his shield arm gets heavily bruised in the process. But Gado’s attacks are more effective now; Dieter finds himself panting with battle-fury, his swings much slower now. Ser Gado however gets whacked with the blunt edge of the axe more than a few times, his armour just barely stopping the cuts going deeper, but they cause heavy bruising in the process. Ser Gado finds himself struggling, as does Dieter, and it looks like both of them are struggling at this point. Ser Gado the Anvil certainly makes his name ring true, but its all over when Ser Gado misjudges a shield block, and his shield is knocked flying from his shield arm (he rolled a 100!). It’s all over for Gado as Dieter comes, pushing Gado down onto the ground, and proclaiming himself victor!
Both fighters just collapse at that point from exhaustion, but Dieter is first up to help Ser Gado on his feet, “Drink!” shouts Dieter as they march off towards the Showboat.
Much celebration is had. The whole party is there now and Gerhard Kramer decides to have a word with Dieter, who is currently slogging back some hearty ale. Free ale at that.
Kramer asks Dieter if he could help him in a ‘legal matter’ that needs attention; suffice to say that didn’t go down well, “I’ve no time for legal nonsense. Leave me alone,” Dieter replies. Kramer heads off, realizing that Dieter may actually not be the best person for this. He has a ledger that contains evidence of high-level corruption within the city, and he believes that some elements of the watch are involved – but is struggling to find someone who may be able to help him. Michel makes a suggestion when he notices that Dieter gave Kramer the cold shoulder. Michel says he knows a guy at the Temple of Verena, someone who could possibly help. Kramer says its worth a shot. They tell the rest of what they’re doing; Piet, Kramer, Erika and Michel make their way over to the temple while Jurgen and Gado stay at the Showboat for awhile longer.
“I want to have a word,” Dieter says to Ser Gado. The two wander off to a nearby occupied table, which quickly gets vacated as Dieter sits down. “You asked early about Hans. Its true, I don’t know where he is, but I know someone who may be able to help. He’s good at finding people. There is a small price though…”
Ser Gado asks how much, but Dieter shakes his head, “Not coin. I just need a favour. Is it true that you had met Luigi Pavarotti on your travels?” Gado nods. “I need to meet him. It may surprise you to know that even in my position, some guests of the Graf are off-limits. He’s behind closed doors, treating Sickly Steffan. I need to meet him urgently.” Ser Gado says he will see what he can do, and asks what sort of message he can relay. Dieter remarks, “Just that I need to meet him for medical reasons.” Ser Gado nods. Dieter tells him that he’ll have a word with his ‘friend’ and try and track down this Hans Riklof.
Ser Gado leaves with Jurgen and make their way to the temple of Morr. Ser Gado after meeting the priest half-way while Jurgen wanders outside. Heading to his office, they discuss the arrangements of the funeral for Ser Gado’s sister. It’s a sorrowful discussion; Ser Gado wanted to bring his sisters body back home with him, but he is faced with the realities of expenses and logistics for such a long travel. The priest instead offers to waive any fee and to allow the body to be buried at Morrspark; something that he wouldn’t normally do, as the park is reserved for residents only. Foreigners who die within the city limits are buried outside the city.
Faced with the reality of the situation, Ser Gado opts to have his sister buried here, taking up the priest on his generous offer. Ser Gado requests if he can see his sister one last time; the request is granted.
He makes his way to see his sister; her body is draped in a glistening white sheet, as she lay on a cold slab. Ser Gado removes the sheet, to glance at his sister one last time. He utters out a final prayer to the Lady to watch over his dear sister, and then he turns to move away. But something grips his arm. Gado spins around, his weapon ready. But whatever had gripped his arm is gone. His sister just lays there…
Ser Gado thinks back about the odd circumstances in finding his sister. The vision he had in the gem. The strange wolf howling; a wolf that he never found. Her hand seemingly resting upon the back of his head, then falling gently by her side, revealing the earring. Something was amiss here…
Was the spirit of his sister trying to tell him something? He looked for any markings or anything unusual on the body of his sister. After 10 minutes, he is about to give up, thinking it was perhaps just his imagination, when he noticed something odd on the neck.
A palm, with an eye in the middle. The marking was unusual in that it appeared to look like it was part of her skin, and not that of a tattoo of any kind.
Ser Gado ushered in the priest and asked him about it, but the brother of Morr said he did not notice it before, and was unsure what it meant. After that, the priest notified Ser Gado that he would be holding the service later for his sister.
After that, he and Jurgen made their way over to the temple of Verena.
Michel, Piet, Erika and Gerhard meet with Michel’s contact, a man named Otman Ganser.
– Otman Gansen
Otman is very displeased with Michel; he makes no attempt to hide his displeasure when Michel shows up with ‘strangers’ and the fact that Michel calls them ‘friends’ doesn’t change the fact that Otman is most annoyed. “You broke our agreement Michel. But the damage has been done…” Otman informs them to follow, and they proceed to head up four flights of stairs until they make their way to his office.
“Right, out with it.”
Kramer begins to explain to him about the corruption concerning Goebbels and Nickel Kess. Otman is skeptical, saying, “You make some very bold accusations, and against someone who is the head of the Merchants Guild and head of the Commerce, Trading and Taxation. I hope you’ve got something to back that up with…”
Kramer shows him the ledger he acquired while working in the Merchants Guild, and guides Otman through the book, showing him where Kess and Goebbels have been making some unsavory financial transactions and overcharging business owners. Otman leans back in his chair, “So it seems you do have something here. But what do you want from me?” Kramer asks if he knows someone who could possibly help.
“You could go to the commander of the watch, or perhaps the captain, but if you believe that the watch may also be involved, then perhaps that isn’t the wisest course of action. However I am personally acquainted with one of the Law Lords, I could… perhaps, pass on a message for a meeting? Reiner Ehrlich may be interested in this.”
Kramer agrees to the suggestion, and asks if he can hide the ledger here at the temple. “No, absolutely not. This is the extent of my help, and it ends here. I can’t stop you from coming to the temple, but I will refuse to see you again after this, and you will not hide your book anywhere within this temple. Your trouble is your own, not mine. And Michel, we shall not meet again. You have outstayed your welcome. I shall send a messenger if this meeting gets arranged, and that will be that.”
They leave the temple and meet Jurgen and Gado on the way out.
Erika reminds Piet that she really has to speak to him about something urgent. They all agree to head to the Great Park, find a secluded spot and talk there.
They make their way over – Erika spies that they are being watched by the same assailant who fired the crossbow from earlier, but he’s too far away to give chase. He quickly dodges out of sight.
Erika then explains to the party about what is so urgent she needs to share – it concerns Foros Arfor, and Eladril… She tells them that Eladril was found dead, her throat slit and her wrist also. She leaves out a few (important) details which I shall briefly recall here – there was a goblet on the ground collecting her blood – upon the discovery of her body, her and Eren had disturbed someone, but whoever it was, had been invisible, rushing past them and then blinding them with a spell. Erika says that most of the guild think that Galdrea was the culprit. She tells them that she believes Foros Arfor was indeed murdered – his attunement crystal on top of his staff was tampered with. Jurgen asks how that would be possible, to which Erika replies that it could be done, but only with great effort. She says finding out who killed Foros is important, not just to her, but to the rest of the party, as there is a lot more about the murder of Foros than just some guild rivalry, and they all seem to have some investment in this: (all of this has already been established in the preludes/backgrounds, but am putting them here for convenience)
- Jurgen – Jurgen’s teacher Klemet had died with his wrists cut open at the foot of the statue of Ulric. Jurgen believes that Klemet would never do such a thing. Jurgens only lead he found was a note in Klemets pocket; it mentioned a time and place, and initials, FA at the end of the note. Jurgen had sneaked into Klemets room before the campaign started and had gone through his notes and diary. He found connected the initials FA to a name – Foros Arfor. He has yet to find out why Klemet was going to meet with this Foros, but the mentioning of a Paramour and a ‘scandal’ had certainly intrigued him.
- Gerhard Kramer had briefly met with Foros a week before his death, over two months ago. Foros spoke that he believed Gotthard Goebbels was involved in ‘cult activities’ that he was investigating, and that he knew about Kramer. He had planned to meet with Kramer again the following week, but he never made that meeting…
- Big Piet’s former employer (who he subsequently murdered in a prelude) Otmar Pfrommer was almost certainly linked with the Purple Hand cult. Piet had found himself no longer ‘useful’ and was knocked out, gagged and tied. He remembered some sort of bargaining going on for his ‘body’ but a disagreement had taken place. Next thing he found himself hooded and at a warehouse with Otmar’s thugs playing a game of Altdorf High (poker). Next thing, a burst of fire, followed by scorching heat followed by screams. They didn’t last long… Piets hood was removed, and a high elf stood over him, introduced himself as Foros. Piet believed it was the same elf that Otmar had met that day just before his former employer gave him up. Foros explained that he knew about Otmar’s treachery and that Otmar was planning to set him up. Foros told Piet that he may have use of his ‘skills’ as an enforcer and asked for him to wait for him in a days time. Foros’s untimely death resulted in Piet never seeing Foros again, but rather, Michel Bastide.
- Michel Bastide didn’t know Foros, and had no reason to meet with him. But Michel’s arrival to Middenheim has a purpose – he is investigating the purple hand. Who put him to that task is a secret that only Michel knows; he arrives at the city and meets with his contact, a man named Otman Ganser. Otman informs Michel that he had a contact for him, but unfortunately, that contact has died under strange circumstances. Foros Arfor was that contact, and Otman tasks Michel with finding out what happened to Foros. Otman believed that the purple hand could possibly have been involved in his death, and asks Michel to find out if this is the case.
- Ser Gado has no link with Foros, but his sister was most certainly taken by the Purple Hand cult. But why would they want his sister? A bretonnian damsel? Ser Gado is on a quest to find out who killed his sister, why, and why was she kidnapped.
- Erika Johann, Piets niece, has her own suspicions. She has been doing her own investigation concerning Foros’s death. She believes it was no accident, having discovered that someone tampered with his staff, resulting in Foros’s experiment rebounding on him. She wants to find out who killed Foros and why.
Erika supplies the party with a description of faces and names, some students she suspects; at the top of her list is Riddik, a death mage who Foros was having one-on-one study lessons with. She knows a few locales that they like to drink in, so she suggests perhaps that they split up and keep an eye on a few of them. Riddik frequents the Yellow Flagon and the Red Moon on occasion, so Ser Gado and Michel will head to the red moon. Another student, Adelaid, hangs out at the Scholars tavern on Arcane Quarter, a student hangout. Erika and Jurgen will make their way there. Piet and Gerhard however need to find a new spot that is less public. Piet knows just the place… The Drowned Rat, located in the far south-east quarter of the city, in the slums district.
So the party split up. Gerhard and Piet manage to rent a single room to share between them at the drowned rat, only after paying the innkeep more than the rooms cost, cause he could sniff that they were ‘trouble’, although the real reason is he knew Piet from before, and didn’t like his jib.
Before Gado and Michel make their way to the Red Moon, they head over to Morrspark for the funeral service of his sister. It’s a rather somber affair, but Ser Gado gets to say his final goodbye as his sister is laid to rest.
Jurgen and Erika arrive at the Scholars tavern and find a nice cosy spot after spotting Adelaid, sitting in the far corner, reading a small palm-sized book. No drink or food is present on the table, leading Erika to conclude that she must be waiting for someone. As they sit and wait, they pick up a few rumors that the students at the tavern are certainly not shy in uttering them.
One pair of students mentions about how there seems to be a lot of closures recently in relation to some dwarven businesses ever since the introduction of the dwarf tax. Fewer of them seem to be around, but stranger is that fewer of them have been seen leaving. Rumor is that they are burying themselves deep within the ancient tunnel network that lies under the city. The other student chuckles at that, “Let them hide, who cares… Does bloated Boris really think he’s going to get a single coin out of them? They’ll just hide in their pits and not bother coming out. Good riddance I say.”
A much larger group is nearby discussing the tax laws in further detail. One of them, a man with a dimple on the side of his nose, remarks that he thinks the tax laws are just a way for the Graf to mount a campaign against the Emperor. Apparently the recent edict (which has now been repealed) on mutants convinced Boris that Karl-Franz had finally gone senile at last.
Jurgen asks Erika if the students here regularly engage in what he considers might be treasonous talk; Erika simply shrugs suggesting that everyone is at it.
Jurgen then hears something being mentioned concerning ‘Shaking Stefan’. He turns to try and listen, and hears a snippet of it. “Ulric knows what that mad ‘Doctor’ is drugging him with. Still, like as not he’s simply half-dead from being pumped full of tranquilizers and that. But what else can you do with a drooling idiot?” Another replies, “I say put him out of his misery. Call it a mercy and be done with it. He’s next in line you know… can’t have a drooling idiot assume the throne.”
Erika’s deduction is accurate. They don’t wait long when Arendight shows up, and heads over to Adelaid’s table.
Arendight sits down, and both of them lean in. Whatever they are talking about, they’re making sure they can’t be heard.
Jurgen has an idea though – he spots a door leading out into the bathhouse behind the Scholars tavern, and that exit is next to their table. He makes his way over and leans out of sight, making it appear he’s just drunk and hanging about. He fails to catch what they are saying though. He then makes his way back, lingering near the door in a facade of a drunken stupor when he catches a snippet of conversation. He glances Adelaid taking out her palm-sized book and waving it slightly in front of Arendight before putting the book away again. The snippet of conversation was indeed interesting – it appears Adelaid has some juicy information that Arendight appears to be interested in. Arendight asks what she plans to do with the information, and Adelaid tells her that they may be able to come to a mutual arrangement. Jurgen heads back over to the table and tells Erika that he thinks Adelaid is possibly blackmailing Arendight, and its got to do with that book somehow.
Erika and Jurgen head outside to wait. They don’t wait long as Arendight storms out of the Scholars in a huff, and makes her way towards the guild. They decide not to follow, as Erika wants to know whats in that book, and opts to wait for Adelaid. Adelaid heads out not long after Arendight, and makes her way south-east towards Ulricsmund. She passes the Temple of Ulric and makes her way into the Yellow Flagon, a locale known for its rough customers… Outside, Erika and Jurgen, who have been following, notice a rather amusing note left on a noticeboard facing the Flagon.
Meanwhile, Ser Gado gets dressed up in his spare set of clothes. He takes off his armour and weapons and makes his way to the Red Moon, a very upmarket establishment known for fine food, drink, great entertainment and its cabaret show is a hit with the locals, featuring the ever beautiful Eva Dietrich.
Ser Gardo spots the Eva Dietrich at the bar briefly before she leaves and heads behind the stage. He makes his way over to the bar. It’s around 4pm, and the Red Moon doesn’t get busy until late in the evening. Still, he’s on the look out for a guy with tattoos, called Riddik. He peruses the wine list before he settles on some Bloodwine (it has a real kick). He doesn’t make friends with the barkeep however, and hasn’t got the patience for it when he tells the man to bugger off (that’s the polite version of what was actually said).
Ser Gado ponders “why am I here…” when he spots a tower of muscle striding through the entrance.
He’s a fearsome sight, and could easily be mistaken for a very tall-muscled bound dwarf… The man is covered in tats aright, but Erika never mentioned that he was missing one eye… or missing his ear lobes… wait, WHAT?! Ser Gado comes to the realization… His sister had pulled out an earring, with a lobe still attached. Dieter had mentioned at the Showboat about a fight with a norscan who he ripped out his earring, and with it, a piece of his ear. Ser Gado was sure that this must be Hans Riklof.
And here was Ser Gado, unarmed, out of his armor, and certainly vulnerable, with no backup… (Michel wouldn’t have been allowed into the Red Moon in his attire, so opted to head over to the Guild of Wizards and Alchemists instead to inquire about something…)
The hulking brute strides past Ser Gado, only giving him a displeasing glance as he makes his way behind the stage and through the curtain that Eva Dietrich had disappeared into a moment before.
Ser Gado ponders about what to do…
But one can’t help but see a new meaning behind the translation that was given to Ser Gado by Charlotte concerning the norscan wording on the earring he retrieved from his departed sister…
“One must howl with the wolves one is among.”
There will be plenty of howling going on behind that curtain…