Hooded figures emerge from the shadows. They have been summoned… The following conversation took place shortly after the events that unfolded in Altdorf that led to the demise of the old party.
Voice 2: “Why have you summoned us out of schedule?”
Voice 1: “The Red Crown is no more.”
Voice 3: “How’s that possible?”
Voice 1: “Our absconding Magister Impedimentae, Lieberung, has sought to undermine our operation there.”
Voice 4: “So the rumors are true?”
Voice 1: “Yes. Wittgenstein is no more. The hunters have taken a torch to it. Just as well. Any evidence pointing to us will have been destroyed.”
Voice 2: “And Alric?”
Voice 1: “He escaped unharmed. We have an agent waiting for him. Contact will be made, and he will be brought to Middenheim.”
Voice 3: “He needs to be thoroughly questioned. He could be compromised.”
Voice 4: “I agree, what if the Palisades got to him?”
Voice 3: “If the hunters were to catch him… he could expose an element of our operation. Maybe its best we remove him from the equation.”
Voice 2: “No, he’s still of use to us. He has certain valuable skills that could prove useful.”
Voice 1: “Indeed. He will be questioned. Should he prove to be reliable, we will put him to work.”
Voice 2: “What of Kaster and those other fools?”
Voice 1: “No longer a problem. They threw themselves at the templars in Altdorf. Most of them are dead. Including Kaster. He will no longer be a problem.”
Voice 3: “Most?”
Voice 1: “A dwarf was exiled, the other one is heading south, from our last reported sighting. They aren’t a problem, and I shall not waste any resources making an issue out of it.”
Voice 2: “What of Bogenhafen? Was Kaster telling the truth?”
Voice 1: “No. The money was a lie. Our agent confirmed it. A trap set by the Palisades it seems. Which means we are known to them.”
Voice 2: “Do they know about our position in Grauenburg?”
Voice 1: “It’s a possibility that I will not rule out. But no longer our problem. Our interests no longer align with hers. Her own ambitions drive her now. She is a problem for later, not now. We have a new problem that requires our immediate attention.”
Voice 2: “Foros Arfor.”
Voice 1: “A problem you created.”
Voice 2: “I am handling it.”
Voice 1: “See that you do…”
It is the second day of the carnival. Ser Gado is at the Red Moon cabaret, having been sent there to look out for a student who Erika suspects may be involved in shady goings on. However, a much more interesting figure strides in. The lobeless Norscan. He comes out from behind the curtain, mocking a wolfs howl as he chases the ever lovely Eva Dietrich up the stairs. They appear to be playfully acting.
Ser Gado just winches and contemplates what to do when three men who were sitting at a table nearby approach him.
“Well, if it isn’t the swamp knight…”
Ser Gado is accosted by them. It turns out they are Captain Marius’s men, and they are out for a bit of revenge. “You shamed us, and our captain, and now we’ll show you some Ulrican hospitality.”
Ser Gado’s pleas for help go unanswered; a pity he wasn’t particularly nice to that barkeep earlier, who even provide directions as to what room is free.
They drag him up and gain privacy in one of the cabarets rooms. They give him a solid beating. One proceeds to take out a dagger, and threatens to poke out Ser Gado’s eyes when the door kicks open.
– Captain Marius of the Knights Panther
Ser Gado is certainly not friends with the good captain, and didn’t earn himself any favors the way his defense council grilled the captain during his trial (something that wasn’t covered in the blogs). He expects a world of pain to follow shortly.
However, that doesn’t happen. Marius doesn’t look happy at all, “You cowardly dogs. You drag a knight into a room and beat him like some common whore. 10 laps around the Imperial Palace in full gear, now!”
One of them tries to reason, but the captain isn’t having any of it, “I don’t want to hear one more word from you Emmerich, or ill have you brought before a tribunal for what you did here, the whole lot of you. Now out!” His men leave with haste. Captain Marius just shakes his head at the sight of Ser Gado, and without saying a word, takes his leave. Ser Gado however calls out, and gives the captain his thanks. Captain Marius makes no reply, and takes his leave.
Ser Gado has had enough. He can hear the Norscan going ‘at it’ in one of the other rooms, and decides this is it. Wait.. no. Not without his armor first! He makes his way back to the stables at the Blazing Hearth to fetch his armor and weapons. He meets Michel on the way, who had previously went to the guild. Michel had met up with Arendight at the guild and told her everything that has transpired so far. Arendight thanked him, although did try to make a request of him, if he could possibly retrieve a book from the temple of verena. The Pantheonic Mandala of the High Elves. She tells Michel it may shed some light on a theory she’s working on, but she does not elaborate. Michel says he will not risk taking a book from the library, which is forbidden. She thanks him anyway and he gets on his way.
Elsehwere, Erika and Jurgen make some progress. The Yellow Flagon proves to be a dead end, but Riddik and Adelaid come out. Erika spots that Riddik has the palm-sized book now, and follows him to a upmarket house on a nearby street. She watches for awhile, and spots Arendight making her way into the house. Piet and Kramer meet up with them. After spending sometime watching from a nearby tavern, they witness Arendight and Riddik leave the residence, and make their way towards the guild. Erika decides to do the same, and is escorted along the way.
Back with Ser Gado, he finds himself with Michel outside the Red Moon, now in full armor and demanding to be let in. But the bouncers refuse. Ser Gado mentions the reasoning for his demands, in which he proclaims that he intends to issue a challenge to the norscan, Hans Riklof. This of course gets a good laugh from the bouncers. One of them however proceeds to head on in after learning this. It’s heavily implied that he may have warned the norscan. Ser Gado is growing suspicious, and makes his way around the back only to find evidence that the norscan has fled like a coward! Ser Gado and Michel give chase, but they lose sight of him.
The other party, making their way up past the Red Moon on the way to the guild, witness a fleeing norscan. When they bump into Ser Gado, they depart with this information. What happens next results in the party running around like headless chickens without a clear direction. They’ve lost him…
Michel remembers something, and he gives Kramer a note. Earlier in the day, a street urchin had given him a small scrap of paper wrapped around a coin, and said it was for his ‘friend’. Michel knew how, and passed the parchment onto Kramer.
It indicated that Law Lord Reiner Erhlich agreed to a meeting, but that he must come alone. It seems Michel’s contact has come through.
Kramer makes off to the residence of the Law Lord with Piet in tow, while the rest make their way to the Showboat on the suggestion made by Ser Gado that they inform Dieter Schmiedhammer that his message has been passed on. What message is that you say dear reader? – Earlier when Ser Gado was waiting outside at the Red Moon, waiting for his challenge to be accepted, he had bumped into Sibillia, an associate of Luigi Pavarotti (and Cortez’s backup char). Ser Gado recalled that Dieter had requested he ask if he could setup a meeting with Pavarotti, as apparently Pavarotti was unavailable to him despite his lofty position as the Graf’s Champion.
Ser Gado relayed this to Sibil, that the matter seemed urgent to Dieter. Sibil promised to pass the message on, but before she left, she handed Ser Gado a letter, which was directed to him.
It’s certainly a nice touch.
So they make their way to the Great Park as the festival of fine ales gets underway. They head straight to the Showboat however, only to find it empty bar one customer… Dieter himself. They see him behind the bar, keg in hand as he pours its contents into his wolf-stein. Dieter sees them enter, “Friends! Brothers! Come join me!”
They do indeed join him. Ser Gado relays to him that he passed on his message, but Dieter doesn’t seem to recall ever giving him a message to see Pavarotti.
Regardless, they have a couple of drinks together when the man himself, Pavarotti, shows up.
Pavarotti, who certainly loves his food and his drink, may have realized that seeing Dieter was the perfect cover to attend the festival of fine ales, but he’s kind enough to stop into the Showboat and make his presence known. Unfortunately for him, Dieter is already jumping over the counter and proceeds to choke Pavarotti.
The party act quickly and attempt to get Dieter off him, Dieter is strong though, and they struggle until Michel kicks him in the nuts! Dieter lets go, and Pavarotti is gasping for air as he steps back from the champ. “Dieter, what has gotten into you!” one of the party proclaims. They quickly lock the showboat down, ensuring no one else witnesses this. Nobody is in the showboat bar them, even the owner is out enjoying the festival of fine ales.
Dieter seems casual… when proclaimed by the party that he had just tried to kill Pavarotti, he seems confused, “What? Why would I do such a thing?” he heads back over to the bar, and pours himself a new one. Ser Gado tries to tell recall to him what just happened, but Dieter’s lapse of memory is very odd, and he appears to take offense at the idea, “Why would I have reason to cause him harm? He’s done no wrong by me…”
Erika suspects magic is at foul play, but is at a loss when she can detect none. Pavarotti however, who has recovered, heads over to Dieter and gets a closer look. Dieter isn’t taking kindly to a close examination, but Jurgen manages to convince him otherwise. Pavarotti takes a look, only to proclaim loudly after doing so, “This man has been hypnotized!”
“Nonsense!… Wait, whats that?” asks Dieter. Jurgen calls it a myth, to which Pavarotti replies, “No myth at all. I’ll have you know that I am the foremost expert in the practice of hypnotism. So I am quite surprised to learn this fact. I was not aware there were other practitioners of such skill in the vicinity, but I can assure you, that this man has been hypnotized.”
“I know of someone who may have the skills to do this…” says Michel Bastide.
Michel tells them that he’s on the hunt for a man called Alric Eisenhower, and believes that he’s in Middenheim, and that he may be behind this.
Pavarotti has never heard of the man, but most of the party have, specifically Jurgen, who has seen his bounty posters up all over the city. “The man is a menace, a fiend.”
Pavarotti says, “But why would this man want to harm me? I’ve never met him before!”
The party explain to Pavarotti that they believe Alric isn’t acting alone, that other forces are at work here… potentially a powerful cult. “But why hypnotize this man to kill me!”
Jurgen explains, “To cause unrest. Think about it. The Grafs Champion murders a world renowned physician who is here upon the invitation of the Graf to treat his sickly heir-apparent, Steffan Todbringer. Who would profit from this? Anyone wishing to cause unrest in the city, that’s who.”
Pavarotti nods patiently as the events of the past couple of days are explained to him. “I came here to treat a sick man, not to get bogged down in conspiracies and politics! But… if it is true what you say… then this is disturbing. I have come to a vipers nest it seems…”
The party said that he will be safer in the palace, but Pavarotti states that the champion would still need to be treated.
Pavarotti begins to undo the hypnotism that Dieter had been under the influence of. He manages to snatch a few interesting tid-bits from doing just that. A description of the man who is responsible for doing this is revealed to be Alric Eisenhower, according to Michel Bastide. And that Dieter was instructed to lend his vote and support for the new taxes, and to wait for … but Pavarotti says the keyword to end the influence, not wanting to trigger another episode.
With Dieter no longer under the influence, the party offer to escort Pavarotti to the palace. Ser Gado goes one step further to advise Pavarotti to seek out Captain Marius and have him step up security, but not to inform him of what has transpired here, and to tell no one.
Dieter is of course, content although understandably very angry that someone has been pulling his strings. Luckily for Michel, this anger is directed at him as he kicked him in the balls earlier, although Dieter informs him that he’s perhaps the only man to have ever done such a thing, and lived.
Over to Gerhard Kramer and Big Piet, a meeting is arranged with Law Lord Reiner Erhlich.
– His residence
They knock on the door, and a young halfling servant answers.
– Mirissi Elderwood
Miss Elderwood, Reiner’s faithful servant, welcomes them in, although instructs them to leave their shoes behind, and Piet is instructed to remain in the hallway. Despite being asked to come alone, Kramer informs her that Piet is his bodyguard; she has no problem with him staying in the hallway. They notice the particular fine half-plate armour belonging to the White Wolf Templars which is on full display in the hallway.
Kramer, being curious, asks about it. Miss Elderwood explains, “That armour belongs to my masters son, Ottokar, may Morr watch over him.”
Kramer doesn’t inquire further after that.
Kramer is shown upstairs and into the master study where Reiner is waiting.
Law Lord Reiner Erhlich welcomes him, and offers a glass of fine Averlander wine.
Kramer sits, and Reiner states, “You are quite fortunate. Not many people get such a meeting with someone of my position. But my friend, Otman, tells me that you have something urgent to discuss that may require my attention, is it not so?”
Kramer begins to tell him about everything concerning Kess and Gotthard Goebbels. Kramer shows him the ledger. Erhlich patiently browses through the ledger, as he takes occasional sips from his glass of wine.
“Ah yes, a most boring book indeed. Yet even the most boring of books have an interesting tale to tell. Yours is most interesting. So Goebbels man, this Kess… has been lining his pocket; charging tarrifs that do not exist, over-charging on ones that do, and Goebbels is overseeing this…”
“Tell me Herr Kramer, what do you get out of bringing Goebbels down? Is it coin your after? A position of power? For justice perhaps? Forgive me but I’m trying to figure out what kind of man are you. Are you brave? Do you fight for justice? Why do you continue to put your life on the line?”
Kramer says for justice… To which Reiner replies, “Ah, justice. At his best, man is the noblest of all animals; separated from law and justice, he is the worst, is it not so?”
Kramer nods, but tells him that its also personal. Years ago, Goebbels, before he became the head of the Merchants Guild and the head of the CTT (Commerce, Trade & Taxation) Commission, he was a bailiff, just like Kess is now. And that he had hounded his mother’s business, abusing his position of power.
“Ah, so it is one of revenge then. You understand that raises questions…”
Reiner continues, “Tell me Herr Kramer, you are an educated man. You are familiar with the recent introductions of the tax laws, are you not?
“Then you are familiar with the process perhaps. Goebbels is not just the head of the Merchants Guild, but has recently been appointed as the chairman of the Commerce, Trade and Taxation Commission as you are well aware. Which as an educated man, you should know that he has been given responsibility to ensure that these taxes are collected promptly and efficiently.
“Myself and my two other comrades who also hold equal position with myself were given the burden of implementing these new laws into effect. We have worked tirelessly to do just that. It is no secret that the laws are not popular with everyone, and the last thing we need right now, is a corruption scandal involving the one man who is responsible for collecting these taxes. It would not look good… I wish to avoid causing further unrest. Especially so soon after the recent scandal concerning that elf.
“I can assure you however that I will be keeping a close eye on Goebbels and this Nickel Kess, and we will look at perhaps a more quieter solution. And I thank you for your honesty, and of course, courage in coming to me with his information. I shall lessen the burden that is upon your shoulders and keep the book with myself for safe keeping, after all, we do not want such evidence disappearing.”
Kramer has no argument with that, and believes that Reiner is honest, and perhaps right… in that the city right now does not need another scandal, especially one concerning a touchy subject as the recent taxes.
Kramer makes a point however that Kess may still come after him. Reiner, after a moment in contemplation, says that he will have a word with Otman, his friend from the temple of verena, and that he will try and arrange it so that word from a reliable source that Kess or Goebbels trust will reach their ears that Kramer no longer has the book; its the best Kramer can hope for.
He leaves Reiner’s residence with hope that the pressure has been lessened, although Piet still advises caution. They make their way back to the Drowned Rat.
The rest of the party call it a day. Gado and Michel head to the Blazing Hearth for some hearty food and drink; Jurgen heads back to the temple, and Erika makes her way into the guild.
She makes her way down into the guilds crypts to pay ‘respects’ to Eladril, whose body is been kept there for a day. In reality, she’s doing some sneaky investigating. She comes across Arendight, who appears to be near the body of Eladril. Arendight spots Erika, and gives her a brief hello before making her way out. Erika spots that Arendight appeared to be crying; her cheeks were rosy and her eyes appeared sore.
She heads over to check Eladrils body. Nothing out of the ordinary, except for a fresh cut has been made on Eladril’s arm; someone has cut it with a blade, and drew blood. Congealing blood drips onto the slab. Erika, not knowing what else to do or look for, covers the body back up, and turns…
– Shadowmancer Franz Udolf stands behind her.
“Erika, paying your respects to the dead?”
Erika is startled, but regains her composure. “Yes, I am Magister.”
Udolf puts a hand around her shoulder and leads her deeper down into the catacombs, towards Foros’s tomb.
“Tell me Erika, why have you been following the other students?”
“Have I?” Erika denies that she’s been trailing the others.
“Yes you have. Eren said as much. You were told not to involve yourself in such activities, yet you did not listen. Why is that?”
Erika continues to deny and pretend that she knows nothing.
Udolf smiles faintly, “Your a smart one. You’ll survive yet…” at this point, Udolf hands her a oddly shaped key.
“You know where the vault is Erika?” he says quietly. Erika nods, and then loudly says “Thank you Magister for showing me Foros’s tomb, so that I may pay him respects.”
Franz Udolf takes his leave, heading towards the exit of the crypts.
Erika on the other hand, continues deeper in towards the vault at the end, key in hand…
The following conversation took place between a group of conspiring figures after the events of today –
Voice 3: “We risk much meeting like this.”
Voice 1: “It’s urgent. The physician lives.”
Voice 3: “I’m well aware. Your faith in Alric is misplaced. He has failed us again.”
Voice 1: “Alric isn’t the problem. These meddling fools continue to interfere.”
Voice 4: “I thought the problem went away with that stupid elf?”
Voice 1: “The bretonnian is the new problem, him and his meddling entourage. What possessed you to leave his sisters body in such a place?”
Voice 2: “You should be asking how he came to find it.”
Voice 3: “Foros was your fault.”
Voice 2: “Which I took care of…”
Voice 3: “Have you? His death has only cast more suspicion and caused the guild to grow more bolder. What if Foros had something on us? What if that’s discovered…”
Voice 2: “I’m taking care of that.”
Voice 1: “And now you’ll take care of this. These meddlers must be dealt with, quickly and quietly. We can’t afford more delays. The Arch-Lumen is expecting results from us. And I want results from you.”
Voice 2: “I’ll get it done.”