Listen to a very good fantasy rendition of the Firefly song Hero of Canton by Cortez. If you want to know ‘why’ then read on further in the blog.
When we last left our party, they were split up. Erika is down in the crypts beneath the Guild of Alchemy and Magic, about to enter the guild vault. Jurgen is at the Blazing Hearth with Ser Gado, sharing a couple of drinks together. Big Piet and Gerhardt are at the Drowned Rat, a rundown tavern/inn in the Southgate quarter of the city, one of the least patrolled areas of the city. Michel Bastide has left the Guild after talking with Arendight, and made his way to the Temple of Shallya; the wound he received earlier from a crossbow bolt has gotten infected.
It’s just past 9pm, and so we start with Gerhardt and Big Piet. Piet has something to discuss with his employer; Gerhardt is skint at the moment, and is unable to pay Piet a decent wage. Piet brings this up, stating that the job has become more complicated with Kess breathing down their necks (although hopefully Gerhardt’s trip to Law Lord Reiner Ehrlich will relieve that pressure) and the Purple Hand now possibly getting involved although the latter not being Gerhardt’s fault. Piet suggests 5 silver a day, a reasonable amount. Gerhardt however is unable to pay or promise that amount, and instead offers 2 silver a day and a promise to re-evaluate the pay once he’s setup. Piet accepts it for now, although makes his displeasure known. Piet suggests leaving the Drowned Rat and moving again; Kramer agrees and they proceed to head out.
As they do, a norscan appears…
– Hans Riklof
The lobeless norscan that Ser Gado was chasing earlier makes his way into the Drowned Rat and gets the innkeepers attention, asking for the ‘usual’. Piet recognizes the man but averts his gaze, not wanting trouble while his client is nearby. They leave the tavern quickly and make their way over to the Bloated Toad, another questionable establishment that Piet knows. They rent a private room on the cheap and make plans. Piet suggests for Kramer to hold up here while he goes and try and find out where Kess is, believing that taking the initiative and going on the offense is better than the alternative. He heads towards his usual contacts to try and find out about Nickel Kess.
Meanwhile, Michel Bastide is leaving Shallya’s temple. His wound cleaned – although it will be a few days until he’s back to full strength – he makes his way back to the Temple of Verena to his free room and board. Bastide is a lucky bastard. But his luck is about to run out…
As he beds down and tries to get to sleep, someone knocks quietly on his door, in a low voice, “Michel, are you there? We need to talk…” it sounds like Otman, his verenian contact from earlier.
Michel opens the door. He doesn’t see Otman, but he does see 4 men. One of them barges through and immediately shoves a sack over Michel’s head. He is quickly overpowered and knocked unconscious. That is the last we see or hear of Michel, at least until next session!
Jurgen and Ser Gado Duval are at the Blazing Hearth. Ser Gado’s spirits are gloomy; the norscan had escaped his clutches earlier, and the fate of his sister still preys on his mind. As the pair are drinking in relative silence, a halfling who has been busy stringing his musical instrument is taking center stage and stealing the focus of the patrons at the Blazing Hearth.
He starts singing a very good rendition about some halfling called Tafwick (from the previous party), and his wild adventures. The other halflings appear to be enjoying this. (The song was actually sung by Cortez, linked at the top of this post) Jurgen asks one of the patrons nearby about the song and the story about it. He gets a very exaggerated re-telling about Tafwick, the hero of Wittgenstein who saved the town (guess they didn’t hear it got torched and burned to the ground) from the evil Baroness Ingrid von Wittgenstein, accompanied by his trusty sidekick Eckhardt the Clumsy and the not-so-trustworthy Durgin the Slayer, who Tafwick slays in the end when Durgin attempts to betray him… That halfling best keep that story to himself and not let the dwarfs hear it.
Jurgen bids goodnight to Ser Duval and sees him off to his room, and then makes his way back to the Temple of Ulric. Ser Duval’s arc will be left unexplored as the player was absent, but will hopefully be explored in the next game session. It’s nearing 10pm now and Jurgen enters the temple, as he does, he hears someone calling his name in a low hushed voice.
– Wolfgar, Jurgen’s good friend
Wolfgar has something urgent to tell Jurgen. Gunther, a fellow initiate that Jurgen despises, had approached Wolfgar with information concerning Klemet. Wolfgar tells Jurgen that Gunther says he knows who killed Klemet, and wants to meet tonight in his room. Jurgen agrees, this is worth hearing out. They head to Gunthers room. A nervous looking Gunther lets them in and locks the door behind.
Gunther sits down and begins to tell his tale. “I overheard Wolf Lord Brunner talking about Klemet… I wasn’t being nosy or anything, just I had heard his name being dropped, so I listened in…” the man appears shaken, his nerves rattled. He reaches for a bottle of honey mead and takes a swig, before gesturing towards Jurgen. Jurgen doesn’t take it, but Wolfgar does, taking a swig before putting it down.
Gunther looks on, and then says, “I overheard them talking about Klemet, they were…” Wolfgar suddenly lets out a pained groan, clutching his chest as he stumbles. Gunther’s apparent nerved rattled demeanor changes suddenly. He stands up, taking out a long piece of wire as Jurgen is distracted by Wolfgar. “You should have stayed away brother,” Gunther says, as he attacks Jurgen. The two struggle, but Jurgen is cought off-guard, giving Gunther the leverage to wrap the wire around Jurgen’s neck, and proceeds to garrote him with it. Gunther is behind Jurgen now, choking him to death. Jurgen is struggling to get free as Gunther presses into his back. Just as it looks like its all over for Jurgen (1 roll away from dying, having failed 2 others), he manages to catch Gunther in the eye. Gunther immediately steps back, releasing Jurgen. Jurgen wastes no time and pounces on Gunther, pinning him to the ground and then repeatedly smacking his head against the floor. Gunther mocks the death of Klemet, which is the only driving force Jurgen needs to finish him off, before driving a sharp instrument through his eye.
With Gunther dead, Jurgen tries to get help for his friend Wolfgar, but it’s too late. Wolfgar cries out in pain, “Poison… a cowards weapon!” Jurgen tries to comfort his dying friend as he shouts out for help again, “I can hear the wolves howling…” is Wolfgar’s last words. Jurgen lets his friend pass in peace, uttering a prayer to Ulric.
A couple of initiates arrive; startled at the scene, they proceed to call for help, calling out for Wolf Lord Brunner. Jurgen braces for the coming storm. Offering no resistance, he is dragged off by two senior priests of Ulric to Wolf Lord Brunner’s quarters. He’s shoved into the room. Jurgen is alone with Brunner as he begins to explain what happened. “Lies…” Brunner slaps Jurgen. Jurgen offers no resistance and repeats his story, this time coupled with a charm roll. He passes, while trying to convince Brunner that Gunther had attacked him. Yet still Brunner is not wholly convinced, and he shoves Jurgen to a firepit brewing in the corner of the room. Wolf Lord Brunner takes out a iron poker, heating it up in the fire and then placing it near Jurgen’s face, “tell the truth pup.” Jurgen reiterates what he told Brunner, emphasizing that he suspects Gunther was involved in Klemet’s death. He passes another roll, and Brunner, convinced that Jurgen is telling the truth, helps him up.
Lord Brunner says to Jurgen, “It seems I may be mistaken, and your initial suspicions surrounding Klemets death may be correct. This is more complicated than it seems. You have my permission to investigate this matter. You can start with Gunther…” Jurgen is dismissed, and makes his way to search Gunther’s quarters.
Finding a coin purse containing 19 silver, he also finds an interesting letter.
It reads – “My very dear good friend,
It seems you need another lesson in how this works. Its rather simple. You support the upcoming vote to introduce the new tax legislation, and I needn’t share the rather compromising letters you and the good Frau Dietrich have been exchanging. Can you imagine what a scandal that would be? Tut-tut, don’t get upset. Your dirty little secret is safe with me. As long as you show support to the new laws, then you and I need not exchange any further correspondence. Wouldn’t that be nice?
As always, yours truly,
Frau Kenner. XxX”
Intriguing. Jurgen is pretty sure that Gunther is not in a position to vote on anything, let alone producing a scandal, so it seems obvious that the letter is not meant for him. Yet why does he have it…
Jurgen heads back to Wolf Lord Brunner with letter in toe.
Meanwhile, at the Guild of Alchemy and Magic, Erika has stepped into the vault.
There, she finds Eren standing in the center, next to Foros’s attunement table.
Eren begins to explain his presence. “I’m relieved to see you Erika. Fact that your here now tells me that my master has trusted you. Fortunate that he does. I think some explaining is in order…”
Eren tells Erika that he’s been following her, although only recently. He told Erika to stop investigating the matter at the behest of his master, as a ploy to see what she would do. Now that his master, Shadowmancer Franz Udolf believes she’s not in league with the Purple Hand, he has allowed her to continue in her efforts to investigate this.
Eren goes on to explain that Foros Arfor had something urgent to tell Franz Udolf on the day that he was murdered. Unfortunately, he never got the chance. Shadowmancer Udolf believes that Foros’s secrets lie with this table, an attunement table that enhances Foros’s magic. Eren says he’s made some progress at least…
“Foros left behind some cryptic notes. The first part was easy to decipher. The blood of the Asur will light the way. The rest says follow the path of Wisdom, let the Mistress take you. I don’t know what the last part means, but the first part about the Asur I was able to comprehend. Blood of the elves. Thankfully, we have an elf in residence… The recently departed Eladril. It is rather grim but I had no choice.” He produces a small vial of blood. Erika recalls seeing Eladril’s body with a fresh cut made.
The two get to work trying to decipher the table. Foros’s table contains 8 symbols representing the 8 winds of magic. At the edge of the table is 8 small holes. The top part of the table containing the magical wind symbols spins in a clockwise direction. Eren tells Erika that he believes the table functions by spilling droplets of blood into the holes, and having them correspond to whatever symbol is directed at that point. But he has yet to find a pattern.
They contemplate how to discern what pattern it might be. Then a distant memory is recalled on the day that Foros died; Foros’s last class involved Shadowstep and the conjuring of fire. Did Foros’s final lecture have a hidden meaning? Erika suggests trying Fire and Shadow; Bright and Grey orders. Eren does just that, and then they wait… Both of them suddenly feel a strong buildup of magic. Erika places a statue of Sigmar on top of the wheel – a present given to her by Piet – after a few seconds of the magic now building up to dangerous levels, the statue melts on top of the wheel. Yet something else happens also. A shimmering blue portal appears north of the table.
Feeling bold and brave, they hold hands as they step through the portal.
They find themselves in the center of a strange room. Beneath them, intricate symbols dotted the floor. Around them, portals… lots of portals. Erika has no idea what the symbols represents, but Eren does… Bearing a book gifted to him by Shadowmancer Udolf, he takes out a small tome called ‘A History of Elves: The Pantheonic Mandala.’ Curious. That’s the same book that Arendight requested from Michel Bastide, not that Erika knows this.
With the book in hand, they’re able to make sense of the symbols and their meanings. Each symbol is a representation of an elvish god. Erika realizes the meaning now to the second part of that riddle… “Follow the path of Wisdom, let the Mistress take you.” Hoeth, Lord of Wisdom, and Hekarti, Mistress of Magic. Symbols number 5 and 14. Believing that this is the portal that the riddle is alluding to, they hold hands once again as they step through.
Now, almost instantaneously, they find themselves in another place. Foros’s study it would appear.
Yet before they can proceed, they are faced with another obstacle. Foros apparently loved them, although this one was thankfully easy enough to decipher. They cross it and find themselves in a room full of bookshelves filled to the brim with books. Yet there appeared to be no way into this room other than the portal. Erika spots an open book next to a rather comfortable looking chair that sits in front of a fireplace which is interestingly enough, currently lit. She sits herself down in front of it and proceeds to read through the book. The last two written pages of the book were already on display.
Whoever this Ethelka is, Foros had mixed feelings for the woman. The book did contain a startling revelation though; Eladril was Foros’s daughter! Foros spoke of another daughter, but would not pen her name out of fear for her safety, knowing that Eladril was quite safe in Laurelorn forest. Well… that was the case until she came to the city.
As Erika perused the book, Eren found something in one of the other rooms. He showed Erika, and immediately they realized the importance of it. Foros seemed to be keeping notes on his investigation into the Purple Hand.
Erika slots the parchment inside the journal she found and hands it to Eren. “We best leave and get this to Master Udolf quickly.”
They make their way out of the study and back into the guild vault. Unfortunately, they are not alone. As they step out of the portal, seven hooded figures await them. One of them is Arendight.
Taking a guess, Erika spurts out, “Arendight… or should I say Foros’s daughter?” Arendight laughs, “I see you visited his little world, and may have chanced upon some secrets of his. So why don’t you hand it over…” the portal from behind closes, cutting off their escape.
Erika casts magic bolt out of the blue and shoots it towards Arendight. She’s hit by it, and in response, begins casting her own spell, “Fools!” As she begins casting, a voice from behind utters out, “So whats going on here then…” Shadowmancer Udolf enters the vault, and proceeds to cautiously make his way around to where Erika and Eren are.
“Arendight. Interesting. I had figured Riddik or perhaps Adelaid, but not you,” says Udolf.
“Your not as keen minded as you like to think you are, Udolf. But I’m glad we finally got to meet. No more secret messages.”
Eren looks confused, “Secret messages…?”
Arendight turns back, smiling, “There’s more to your master boy than you know. Why don’t you tell them who was responsible for Foros’s death, Shadowmancer.”
Franz starts making his way slowly around, and says, “She speaks the truth. Foros died because I wished it. He would seek to undo everything I have worked so hard for. So I foresaw that fateful day would be his last class to take.”
Eren – “Master… I trusted you. The guild, what about the guild, what about putting the guild first.”
Franz says, “I am boy, and I’m sorry you got involved. And now we will end this
Yet as Arendight prepares to cast her spell at the two students, Franz steps in front of them, shielding them from Arendight.
“What is the meaning of this Udolf? Do you seek to betray the Purple Hand?”
“Do you really think I’m going to let you harm my students, Arendight?”
“You were promised a position of considerable power, and now you wish to die for your students?”
“Arendight, you were my best student. You had the greatest potential of all, Foros saw that potential too, yet you could not see my true goal. I did not kill Foros because of power your cult promised me. I am not so vain. I killed Foros to draw poison from a wound. A poison that has infected this city. My goal was always to draw it out. And now I have. You, are that poison. You and your brainwashed companions here. Don’t worry. I’ll not kill you. Just your associates. But you, I have many questions for you.”
A magical duel unfolds as Arendight casts her spell towards Udolf, sending hot magical piercing energy towards him. Franz Udolf takes a step back, placing a hand on both students. The vault vanishes from Erika’s view. She finds herself in a hazy smokey void. Sizzling images around her of buildings and people walking as if in slow motion. She looks around for Eren. Nowhere to be seen. Yet she hears his voice, “Erika! He did it! Shadowstep! Amazing! Never thought I’d… Erika are you safe?” Erika calls out that she is, and says that she’s in the city somewhere.
“Good. Cause I’m not… I think I’m in the Drakwald. Either my master has a sick sense of humor or something went wrong. But don’t worry about me. Erika, listen. You need to focus. I’ve been warned more than enough about the dangers of shadowstepping. You don’t want to get lost in the void. So focus on somewhere nearby. Maintain your focus. And then… step through the haze.”
Erika focuses, trying to imagine a safe spot she recalls in the city. (The pc’s roll fails quite badly, so now extra-funtime happens with 6 random locations being made up by the players).
Luckily for Erika, as she makes the step forward and into the smokey haze, she appears right in front of Piet, her uncle. “ERIKA! WHA… WHAT THE…. ERIKAAAAAAA!”
Piets not happy. He drags her off to an alleyway and Erika tries to explain what happened. Piet now fears for his niece more so than anything. After explaining what happened, Piet, although totally against his wishes, reluctantly gives in to Erika’s wishes about returning to the guild. They race off towards the guild. It is now midnight, and as they near the guild, they can hear bells ringing. But it is not the midnight toll; a fire is brewing. One of the large domes of the guild is on fire! Smoke billows out into the sky. They rush towards the guild to witness several Magisters outside. Shadowmancer Udolf is not among them, nor is Arendight. They appear to be focusing on the fire, attempting to cast magic into the sky.
Elsewhere, Gerhardt Kramer remains in his room. He is currently reading through his tax book that he had taken from Foros’s study when they first entered the guild. He’s looking for anything that might be of use against Kess. Just as he finds something in the book that may be useful, something catches his attention. The sounds of a door being kicked open, and shouting from across the street. Kramer looks out from his rooms window and sees that 5 hooded men have stormed the premises of the Drowned Rat. Well… that was lucky that they moved out…
Growing a pair of balls and getting very ballsy, Kramer takes the bed sheets from his bed and fastens a makeshift hood in an attempt to disguise himself as a beggar (he rolled a nat 1 on the disguise attempt). Not having washed, unshaven and looking worse for wear, Kramer fits the bill as he makes his way out of the Bloated Toad and parks himself at its entrance, while looking on at the Drowned Rat. After hearing fighting taking place, a couple of minutes pass when he sees the men leave the premises. They split up, going their separate ways. One of them passes Kramer directly, but pays him no attention. Kramer might as well be part of the street. After they’ve gone, Kramer gets up and finds the courage to enter the Drowned Rat. Three patrons lay dead, their stomachs cut open. The innkeeper lay spilled over the bar, a nasty looking head wound that has taken the top part of his crown. Most certainly dead.
Kramer heads upstairs. He notices that all four rooms of this inn has been broken into. A couple lay in a bloody mess on a bed in their room, the rest of the rooms are empty. He checks his own room. It doesn’t appear it was tossed over, so it seems that they weren’t searching for anything in particular, but rather ‘someone’.
He makes his way down with the intention of leaving, fearing that the watch may show up – as he does, he hears a creak to his right, behind the bar. Spotting a trap door raising up from the ground, he rushes over to it, believing that it may be safety. Staring back up at him, is the norscan.
Axe in hand, the norscan is about to swing towards Gerhardt, but stops short, realizing he’s just a hapless beggar. “Are they gone?” he says in a gruff voice. Gerhardt nods. “Good. Get down here!”
Gerhardt Kramer climbs down.
The trapdoor closes…