To briefly summarize several non-key events that unfold:
Gado and Michel went to the temple. There, they saw Sibillia aiding Jurgen, with the intent of bringing him to the temple of Shallya.
Gado found his horse unharmed, but Geoffrey was being put to task as a work horse, helping shift much of the rubble. Gado managed to negotiate the release of his horse, but the Denfather did not make it easy.
From there they journeyed to the temple of Shallya.
Gerhard had been treated by a physician at the physicians guild. He would later be charged a considerable amount for such treatment. However, he found himself capable of walking again, albeit, with a heavy limp. He was told he’d have to live with it.
Gerhard made his way to the watch barracks, after being summoned to do so by Captain Helmut. Helmut had shown him to Nickel Kess, the corrupt bailiff. He would hang in a couple of days. Gerhard had no words to part with, leaving a distraught Kess pleading for his life.
Yet that wasn’t the reason the captain summoned him. He had a book to hand over… a book he previously confiscated as part of evidence. The Hattendorf ledger and diary of Lord Hattendorf, a family of minor nobles who had met a grisly end earlier in the adventure, a discovery made by Erika. Gerhard took the book, and what he found inside may have surprised him. Yet he never revealed it to anyone, so the contents of which will not be publicized here.
Everyone soon met up at the temple of Shallya, where Jurgin was receiving treatment. Rumor had it that the Grand Theogonist was also here receiving treatment for his injuries, but if so, he was not visibly present.
From there, they left the temple to make their way back to the chapter house of the Knights Panthers, to await word from the Palace. Such word came… in the form of Matron Hildegarde Zimperlich, a formidable woman. She was accompanied by four young ladies of the court.
Her purpose? To prepare Ser Gado and Michel Bastide for their meeting with the Graf. Jurgen Noffein was also requested, but his injuries were far too extensive for that to take place.
Gado and Bastide made their way to the palace, but first, they got a good scrubbing. Michel had head lice, so a big wooden comb was needed to tear them out. It was painful to say the least. Gado received the same treatment despite having no lice.
After their baths, they were given appropriate attire. Well pressed and clean tunics were provided, laced with leather and fur in true Middenheim fashion. Once the strict Zimperlich was satisfied, she escorted them to the waiting area outside the Graf’s court, upon which they were instructed to wait. Zimperlich departed them to make her way into the court. They were not alone, other than the two guards guarding the heavy set doors leading into the throne room, four dwarfs had sat opposite them. One in particular had a very long beard that stretched down to his knees. Gado made a polite gesture towards them. Said polite gesture was not returned.
Zimperlich made her way back, accompanied by the Chancellor, Chancellor Sparsam. A name that Gado recognized, for it featured in Wasmeier’s book. Zimperlich left, leaving Chancellor Sparsam to educate them on court etiquette at the palace.
“When you are shown in, you will make your way up the path and stop 5 feet short of the steps. You are not to speak out of turn, instead you should nominate a speaker amongst you to speak. Preferably one who is of higher birth, if that is at all possible. The Graf is not one for formalities, so there is no need to bow, but if you wish to do so, you may. You will be summoned when he is ready to receive you.”
The Chancellor left them as quickly as he had greeted them. He did not come across as a polite man. When he left, Gado told Michel that he was to act as his squire, a prospect that Michel was not pleased with, but begrudgingly went along with.
The time had come… A palace official had opened the door and poked his head in the waiting room, suggesting that they enter now.
This had enraged the dwarfs however, who protested that they were here first. The long-beard dwarf in particular was not pleased, but he was calmed down by his fellow dawi.
Gado and Michel stepped in, immediately feeling the cold air. The throne room had a deep chill; winter was settling in, and the early snowfall was starting to come down. Four blazing hearths were generating heat within the throne room, yet even with this it was still chilly. The chamber itself was massive; and empty, devoid of souls with except those who awaited them. The Ulricans were not flaunty like their Reikspiel cousins of the south. Even the Middenheim palace was nothing like that of the Altdorf palace; here everything was grey and bleak, but everything had a purpose. The palace was a castle, heavily fortified to withstand a siege. Nothing presented here was for show.
They made their way up. The Graf sat on his throne with a sunken look. His fist pressed against his chin; his beard was unkempt, and his general appearance spoke of neglect. His eyes darted towards those who approached him; the glint off Gado’s polished chainmail getting his attention, but overall not the most impressive sight for an apparent Knight of Bretonnia, who seemed to be lacking in plate mail. But the Graf did not seem to show any feelings towards any of this, and seemingly remained careless as they approached.
The Graf may not have seemed impressive in his current state, but the throne he sat upon made up for that.
Beautifully carved and decorative, this was truly a throne worthy of an Ulrican. Carved snarling wolf heads, three in total, were apparent on the throne. Two of them stared out at whoever may look upon it.
On the Graf’s left side, was his eldest son, Baron Heinrich Todbringer.
The baron made for a much more impressive figure than his father. Tall, a straight back and neat, Baron Todbringer was quite imposing. Yet as intimidating as he was, his father held that greatest honour; a stern face was all that looked out from the throne. Boris the Stern indeed.
Opposite the baron, stood Law Lord Karl Wasmeier.
The Law Lord seemed somewhat at unease, yet maintained a fixture of steadfast ignorance for what was about to happen.
As Gado neared, Chancellor Sparsam, clearing his throat, announced, “You approach the Elector Count Boris Todbringer, Graf of Middenheim, Grand Duke of Middenland, Prince of Carroburg, Protector of the Drakwald, Warden of the Middle Mountains, Beloved of Ulric. The speaker among you may take one step forward, announce your name and speak whatever it is you may believe is worthy of the Graf’s attention.”
Gado had stepped forward and knelt.
Ser Gado first announced who he was, where he was from. After that, he wasted little time getting to the heart of the matter, “I have come here for I felt it was my duty to inform you that there are traitors in your court, your Grace. Even now there are those in this very throne room, who have conspired against you…”
Gado purposefully let that hang in the air, hoping for a reaction from the Graf. He got none, none that visibility seemed to imply that he was alarmed at this or disturbed; his gaze was still on Gado. Gado became somewhat alarmed at this, suspecting perhaps sorcery at play here. Did Wasmeier have the Graf under his spell?
Yet the truth of the matter was less sinister. Gado being a foreigner to these lands, is unaware of social custom here in Middenland. Ulricans are straight talkers, preferring to get to the point and to the matter at hand, without darting around the issue. Gado’s dramatic pause for effect produced the opposite result of what he was expecting, and this became more apparent when the Chancellor bluntly said, “If you got a point, make it. You speak of treason, so speak.”
Gado continued, “I have evidence your grace. While not on me, there is evidence that exists to show the truth of the matter. There are many who have conspired against you, but I know of two who are here right now…”
Again, Gado paused, letting silence fill the halls. This only brought out the anger in Graf Todbringer, as he visibly shifted on his throne as he spoke, “You test my patience. You speak of treachery within my court. I shall have names.”
“Law Lord Wasmeier, and Chancellor Sparsam, your grace. There are many others also, not all of whom I can recall.”
Yet the Graf did not lose his focus, nor did he turn to either Sparsam or Wasmeier. He seemed to glower at such a daring accusation. Then, Law Lord Wasmeier spoke, raising his voice above Ser Gado’s.
“Are we really listening to this your grace? This Bretonnian is the same one who disgraced our champion along with that elf. And now he is here, once again seeking to disgrace an appointed official, yet not just I, but the chancellor as well. It seems our earlier judgement was made in error. I judgement that I took part in, your grace, for which I humbly apologize for being wrong about this knight of Bretonnia. I implore you to arrest this man. His accusations have no merit, and he has the audacity to lay the foundation of such lies before the Graf!”
Chancellor Sparsam lended his support to Wasmeier in this, “Your grace, this is a disgraced knight! And now he insults us all!”
“I have proof your grace!” Ser Gado shouts.
“Where is your proof Bretonnian!” shouted back the Chancellor.
“I am an anointed knight sir, you will bestow me the proper respect and courtesy as is warranted for one of my position!”
Chancellor Sparsam was fuming… but he calmed himself, clearing his throat, as he continued, “Ser Duvall… where is your proof!”
“I do not have it on me but…” The Graf interjected, raising his voice, ” You dare come to my court, to my city, and bear fruit these accusations against those who have served me loyally. You risk much, Ser Duvall. You risk everything. And yet you come here lacking any proof of what you say…”
“You are quite right, your grace. I risk my very life just being here. I am aware of what I say is… is hard to comprehend. But I assure you that the proof I have is here.” Gado takes a fleeting glance towards Baron Todbringer.
The baron approaches his father, “Father, I have the documents that Ser Duvall speaks of. They were given to me by an official that Ser Gado had met with. I think you should have a look at this…”
The baron laid forth a ledger, a heavy book that Ser Gado recognized as Karl Wasmeier’s personal ledger. In it, contained the accounts of his affairs and the names of many of his associates.
The baron, with a steady hand, pointed to his father several parts of a page that would be of interest to him, before stepping back.
A moment of silence was broken by the Law Lord trying to speak up, only to be shot down by a hand from the Graf, raised in a gesture for silence.
The book slams shut with a heavy thud, echoing throughout the chamber.
The Graf, still on his throne, turned his head to Wasmeier. “Have you got anything to say in regards to this?”
“Your grace… I have not shared this with you as I deemed it unworthy of your attention. But earlier today I had discovered that my estate had been broken into. My servants missing, and my personal effects missing, including several documents. Only now do I realize who was responsible for that crime, and he stands before you. I have not seen that book before; it is clearly a forgery, an excellent forgery no doubt. The documents that were stolen from my estate were obviously used in making this forgery complete. I suspect Ser Duvall was behind the break-in at my estate, your grace.”
The graf returned his focus to Gado. “Is this true?” he asked him simply and plainly.
“Yes, your grace. Yet I did not break in without good cause… I heard a cry of help, a plea…” from there Gado begins to recount a tale of how he heard cries for help and investigated to find one of Wasmeier’s servants tied up, and then had stumbled upon the evidence in question. He goes into further detail, but is cut short by the Graf.
“Enough! I have heard enough!” the Graf shouted, his anger rising.
“You come into my city, a foreigner of who I do not know. You come here, into my court, and bring forth accusations of treachery against those who have served me loyally and faithfully for many years. I have had no reason to doubt their loyalty. It is you who I doubt. You have come here from far away. Your purpose, your intent, is unclear to me. I do not know you. I do not know of your father or your mother. You owe me no loyalty. You owe me no fealty. You have not taken any oath of mine, and you do not worship Ulric. You owe me nothing. Yet you come here and risk much. Why.”
Ser Gado pondered that for a moment, but dared not take long. He finally spoke.
“If I am to be honest, your grace, then it is chivalry. You speak truly your grace, I am just a foreigner, but I am also a noble. I know the dangers of casting assertions against one of my own class. Yet I am also a knight of my realm and I cannot let this injustice bide. The responsibilities of my bearing, the code of chivalry I have dedicated my life to demand I do something. This great city, a city of valorous men and righteous warriors is decaying from within and without and to stand by and watch such a bastion of honour be devoured is beyond me. I had heard you were a man of integrity and action, your grace, so when I found evidence of this decay I came directly to you. You need not trust my words. The words of your law lord, written in his own hand will condemn him. I am but your servant in this.”
Graf Todbringer stood up and took a step forward…
“You are not an Ulrican! … Yet you speak like one!”
He turned suddenly towards Lord Wasmeier, his face red with fury. “You treacherous dog!” he charged at Wasmeier, throttling him as they both stumbled to the ground, the Graf choking the life out of Wasmeier.
“Your grace! I have… I have served… loyally!” Wasmeier tried to patter out the words, but he was struggling to get any breath. Gado jumped forward and pounced on the Chancellor Sparsam, who looked like he was ready to run.
Baron Todbringer stepped forward, trying to pull his father off Wasmeier, “Father! Let justice prevail here! There is no need to kill him, not now… He will have his day!” Heinrich struggles but manages to pull his father off Wasmeier, while summoning the guards to take him into custody.
“Gag his mouth and bind his hands! He’s a wizard, and I don’t want him casting his foul magic here!” the baron shouted.
The Graf continued to stare down Wasmeier with fury as he watched him get dragged away by the palace guards. Finally he turned, to see a quivering and pathetic chancellor on the ground, pleading…
“I did not your grace!”
“Your name was in the book…” the baron had interjected.
“I… he influenced me your grace! He used his magic on me!”
“Take him away!” the Graf shouted as the summoned palace guards dragged him off.
The Graf was still fuming when he turned to face Ser Gado and Michel, who had not spoken a word since, and perhaps wisely.
He took a moment to calm down, before he spoke. “I owe you a great deal Ser Duvall, a great deal… I was blind to the treachery around me. It took a foreigner to my lands to make me see for what I could not. For that, you have my eternal gratitude. Ask me what it is you desire, and it will be granted.”
“I require nothing, your grace. I did not do it for a reward. I have come here seeking those who murdered my sister, and I believe that Wasmeier’s cult was behind it. I’m in pursuit of a witch… Ethelka Hearson, who has ensnared my sisters soul. It is her who I desire. I humbly request any assistance that you could afford in tracking her down, your grace.”
The Graf smiled, “A noble pursuit. Revenge is best served cold, and it is very cold in Middenland… You will have your assistance. And what of your companion here? This is your squire is it not? Speak up man!”
Michel stepped forward, yet his request was slightly bolder, and blunt… “Coin would do me…”
The Graf seemed to sigh at that, “How very boring. I’m afraid what little coin I have is going too be going towards the rebuilding of our great temple. However, you will not go unrewarded. There must be something else? Have you got a mount?”
“I do not. Your grace.”
“That simply will not do. A squire should have a mount. I’ll have one arranged for you.”
“I am not alone in this, your grace. There are others who have aided me and helped our cause against this cult,” said Ser Gado.
Baron Todbringer stepped forward, “I will deal with their requests father.”
The Graf nodded, “I will leave you in the capable of hands of my son then. I thank you Ser Duvall. I thank you for opening my eyes.”
To summarize what follows:
Michel and Gado make their way back to the chapter house, and share the news. Law Lord Karl Wasmeier has been arrested, as is Chancellor Sparsam, and what will likely be many more after that.
The party are delighted, yet the feeling that its not ‘quite over yet’ hangs over their heads. “We should be cautious. The Purple Hand may wish to exact revenge against us.”
“The Purple Hand is finished…” quoted Michel.
“Not quite. Ethelka Hearson still lives, and I mean to hunt her.”
Not long after, a palace official arrives on behalf of the Baron. Notes are taken as to their desires.
Gerhard wishes nothing more than for a meeting to be arranged with the Baron. Perhaps one of the harder requests to accommodate, but the official makes a note of it.
Jurgen Noffein requests a greatsword, a mighty two-hander. Notes a scribbled.
Sibillia requests nothing, other than a ‘small’ donation be made to the temple of Shallya.
Michel and Gado had already uttered their requests earlier.
After the official leaves, Captain Marius wished a word with Ser Gado alone.
It seems that two of his knights on patrol had captured Law Lord Reiner Ehrlich, and Marius wished to learn whether or not Ehrlich was an agent of this cult, the Purple Hand.
Lucky for him, Ser Gado spoke up in his defense, assuring the captain that Ehrlich was innocent in all of this.
Captain Marious said he will speak on his behalf at the palace, as he has been summoned by the Baron. He also tells Gado that he and his companions have outstayed their welcome, and that when he returns from the palace, he expects to see a chapter house devoid of their presence.
Gado promises him that they will leave at once.
The two men share no love-lost…
What happens after that?
Well, Sibillia stays at the temple of Middenheim to help out, while the rest make their way back over to the temple of Shallya, as many of them still got bruises and injuries that need to be attended too.
As for Sibillia… Well, she has her work cut-out for her. Many still remain injured and trapped beneath the temple, most are likely dead by now. Still, wounds need bandaging amongst those who still live.
Yet even here, surrounded by many men and women who have come to help out, there is one amongst them who means her harm…
She approaches a man who looks in particular need, clutching his side, yet concealed within a cloak, and his back to her. She approaches him and asks, “Are you ok sir?”
He turns, and embraces her. A flint of steel flashes; a knife, just barely touching her neck.
“We meet again my sweetling…”
“Smiler!” she gasps.
*There will be one more blog post to wrap up the events; an epilogue post. After that, there will be a post detailing the events that will have occurred between the end of the session and the beginning of the new chapter which will start in January.
Ser Gado listens to a large crowd of Ulricans who were listening to an extremist talk about how Sigmar is to blame for all of this misery, and that the Grand Theogonist who ‘murdered’ their Ar-Ulric needs to be handed over for justice. His attempt to persuade and lure them away to the ruins of the temple to help and lend aid was successful, leaving the outspoken extremist only two followers who stood their ground. They marched off to the temple of Shallya to try and gain ‘custody’ of the Grand Theogonist. Suffice to say, that was not successful. It would have certainly been a blood bath had Gado failed in his attempt…
Sibillia helping at the temple, pulling out the wounded and the dead. One man in particular had to have his leg sawn off by a butcher, a barber surgeon… Sibillia was loath to do it, but she had no choice but to comfort the man as the barber surgeon got to work.
Michel Bastide had met with a ‘friend’ – this ‘friend’ had told him that there was a contract out for the Bird-Woman of Marienburg, and there was 500 crowns in it if they hunted it down and dispatched it. It was also after this meeting had taken place, that Michel witnessed a sight to behold – The Goddess brothel, where Ser Gado had fallen into a den of Slaanesh worshipers, was being raided by the Knights Panthers and the White Wolves together, led by the Graf, who was in his armor and rearing for a fight.