Death Knows No Honor

Chapter2:ConclusionPart2
The Order of the Travelling Flame Wot Doth Illuminate Shadows Made and Secrets Kept

Cast of characters is same as in Part I, except Bronan the woodsman returns from an unhappy trip to Brettonia and rejoins the gang. The gang moved to a different campsite following the previous day’s attack. The next morning (actually pre-dawn), the crow called “Lady’s Man” wakes Dellin with the cry “Here Comes the Sun!”

Dellin follows the crow for a couple miles, crossing over a ridge and spotting an encampment of a significant size…one the order of 50 men, including two-dozen knights and heavy horse. A banner flying on the main tent identifies the camp as belonging to the Count of Ostermark, which is a province on the North-Eastern side of the Empire, tasked with monitoring the border to Kislev and the northern wastelands.

Dellin returns with the news. Mix Riggens says something about Ostermark being known as a good man, but also a very old man (in his 80’s, and decrepit, but in his youth he was known as “The Bull of Ostermark”). The characters decide to ride out to the encampment and introduce themselves. Mix disappears into the forest.

At the encampment, the characters encounter Father Burkholt (previously of the third-most glorious temple of the light in Nuln, and the quest-giver to Archibald). Burkholt has been looking for Archibald, knowing that he wouldn’t be able to return safely to Nuln. The Count of Ostermark had recently been in Altdorff pleading with the other Elector Counts not to decreasing the Empire’s funding of the defense of the “Eastern Marches”, which Ostermark oversees (among other things). His petition denied, he later encountered a man he knew as a formidable spymaster, who encouraged Ostermark to see for himself where the Empire’s funds were being spent, in lieu of supporting the army of the Eastern Marches. The spymaster, of course, is none other than the Lanky Man, a.k.a. “Frederick.”

So, by good fortune (hardly…by the scheming of the Lanky Man), Ostermark’s entourage encountered Burkholt and his servants just outside Nuln. Burkholt has been relieved of his position in Nuln and recalled to Altdorff. Somewhat insubordinately, Burkholt has decided to follow the Lanky Man and Ostermark for a while after he was told that he would find Archibald where they were going.

So…there was a wonderful scene with Choppy and the other characters (all except Archibald), eating bacon with the foot soldiers by the camp fire, and the Lanky Man in his finery, including silver utensils, joining them to check-in with Dellin. Choppy still bears his grudge against the Lanky Man for being played.

While that transpires, Archibald has a private audience with Burkholt in his pavilion. Archibald is formally ordained as a priest in the Order of the Travelling Flame Wot Doth Illuminate Shadows Made and Secrets Kept. He is given his papers of ordination in a fine-but-durable scroll tube. He is also presented with a tarnished rod that is a holy implement given to members of this “highly selective” order. Burkholt informs Archibald of his suspicions of wide-spread and growing corruption in Nuln and elsewhere in the Empire. Archibald is tasked with the covert assignment of getting to the bottom of the corruption in Nuln, and bringing the searing flame of justice to those that serve the Ruinous Powers. Burkholt must return to Altdorff, as he is already overdue, and with the recent suspicious death of the High Inquisitor Skaarsgard of Nuln, Archibald is warned that even high ranking members of the Church are not safe. One last piece of advice is that there is a Captain of the City Guard, named Tiller, that seems trust worthy and of high integrity.

The characters work out with the Lanky Man that they will show Ostermark evidence of the Vivisectionist’s evil (from the previous day’s battle), and after that, they will join forces to storm Toltevsky’s lair and eradicate him and his vile minions. Ostermark’s men will ride without banner or other heraldric devices to maintain deniability that they were involved in the attack (for obvious political reasons.) The Lanky Man takes Lady’s Man from Dellin and indicates that Handsome may find Dellin in the future. For now, the Lanky Man has other serious issues to attend to, and takes his leave of the party.

In other conversations, the characters learn of the deadly capabilities and personality of Murdoch Einhorn, who is a master duelist and now the head of the Empire’s covert operations (having deposed “Frederick”).

In a brief audience with Ostermark, the plans are solidified. Ostermark’s men will clear the path so that the experienced “monster hunters” (e.g. the Player Characters) can get to Toltevsky in his lair. They march on the Vivisectionist’s abode in the bluffs, and they find a small army of Chaos Knights waiting for them. Ostermark’s men, especially the heavy horse, manage to open the hole in the ranks of the Chaos Knights, and the characters, assisted by two of Ostermark’s men (“Rich” and “Torvalds”), shoot through up the path that winds its way from the battlefield, up the side of the rugged bluffs, towards the entrance they seek.

The path is not without its defenders. The group is set upon by the rear-guard consisting of three black knights. These knights fight the party to a stand-still, while yet another threat charges down the path…it is the “Slaned” version of Owen, Helga Whoopknacker’s adopted son…all 7’2" of him turned into a raving mad death machine. Rufus, in an exceptional demonstration of bravery, charges “Dark Owen”, and manages to fell him with a sleep spell. Other party members take several shots to kill him before he awakens. Meanwhile, the other Chaos knights get the better of Dellin and Choppy — Choppy is impaled on a giant halberd and flung across the ground. (A fate point is spent so that Choppy can rejoin the fray…not dead yet!) A few seconds later, a bleeding giant wolf-creature (Spike), charges up the path with the severed arm of a Chaos knight in his giant maw. He charges into two of the Chaos Knights, allowing the characters the ability to charge up the remaining path past the rear guard.

Thus ended Part II of the Chapter 2 Conclusion Event. We ran out of time to get any further, so I guess that puts us at sort of a cliffhanger.

What happened in the battle below between Ostermark’s forces and the Chaos Knights? Will Spike be able to single-handedly hold off the remaining rear guard while the PC’s enter Toltevsky’s fort? What other surprises lie inside? With the death of the Troll-golem (Part I) and Dark Owen (Part II), what more could possibly remain?? We shall see..

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Chapter2:ConclusionPart1
The Puppet Show and a Strange Arrow

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Cast, Part I: Dellin, Ranthin, Archibald, Rufus, and Choppy (special guest star)
Cast, Part II: Dellin, Ranthin, Archibald, Rufus, Choppy, and Bronan
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Part I: Characters meetup with Mix Riggins. They are delighted to be reunited with Choppy, who as a part of his literacy and monster-lore training was sent by Riggins to study occult texts in a special section of one of the university libraries in Aldorff. After several months of pain-staking research and scribing, Choppy has returned with the requested information. The topic: “Slaning” (pronounced SLANE-ING…long A). Slaning is the process by which certain evil wizards of ancient times repressed the personalities of their victims and implanted them with a minor demonic entity to control their actions. Choppy wasn’t able to understand much of what he scribed (being only newly literate and dealing with complex material in archaic languages, etc.), and Mix Riggins claims he’ll need time to study the material with the hope of finding a weakness to be exploited.

That evening, they are plagued with troubling dreams of a creepy puppet (marionette) show. The puppet master has 8 fingers on each hand, and is pulling the strings of heroes and villains alike. The audience consists of pigs, goats, and donkeys, stuffing their mouths with food and braying loudly every time a villain or hero dies some gruesome death (even though they are puppets on stage, they look like real people and so the deaths are particularly gory). On the sidelines is a fat merchant making stacks of coins selling food to the audience and admission fees to the show. Each character has the same core dream, but with a different ending. [Author’s note, we rolled the endings, and I’ve lost the paper that told me who saw what combination…alas! Does anyone remember? At least what your character saw??]

Mix foresees potential disaster in the near future and presents to Ranthin a magic arrow, encased in a special box lined in felt. The arrow has intricate scroll work, which captures the eye and risks putting the observer into a trance. Ranthin fell into a trance while investigating the arrow and briefly saw the life force emanating from everyone around him. Mix cautions that using the arrow will have a serious cost, but he’s not sure what…

The next morning the party is attacked by three of the Vivisectionist’s creations. One is a monstrously large patched-together version of a greater mountain Troll, complete with iron armored tusks. The beast stands nearly 15’ tall and wields a double-bladed axe of enormous proportions. “Herding” the troll-golem are two knights that look similar to the previously encountered black knights, except that they wear blood-stained yet otherwise normal colored armor (steel) and they move exceptionally fast. Mix Riggins and Choppy take the first two blows of the troll, but skillful shield blocks prevent any damage. Rufus had previously climbed a tree as a lookout and decides to stay up there. Ranthin tries to shoot his arrow at the troll, but gets bewitched by the arrow’s magic. Archibald runs in abject terror. Dellin uses a rope trick to slow down one of the chaos knights. Choppy rallies Ranthin out of his trance, and Ranthin lets fly with the arrow, using the witch-sight of the arrow’s magic to target the “heart strings” of the monster.

The arrow burrows deep into the troll’s heart, a magical “arc” momentarily lights the Aethyr (which only Rufus can see), connecting the arrow in the troll’s heart to Ranthin. The troll collapses, instantly killed, but alas, Ranthin also falls, a victim of the arrow’s “backlash.” The arrow embedded in the Troll’s corpse is charred but unbroken. With the troll down, the party with the formidable help of Mix Riggens take on the two Chaos Knights. Dellin works wonders with bolas, nets, and what-have-you to greatly inhibit the foes. Rufus casts drop repeatedly to prevent the Knights from having effective attacks with their weapons, and eventually they even drop their gauntlets, opening up a weak point. Ranthin, apparently only “dazed” by the magic’s violent aftershock (he used a fate point), rejoins the battle. The Chaos Knights are defeated. Mix and a few others were wounded, but are healed with Archibald’s skills and Dellin’s poultices. The charred arrow is returned to the felt-lined box, and temporarily given to Rufus to study…he believes at some point he may be able to “fix” the arrow so that it may be used again. Of course, the corpses are all burned to prevent any troublesome regeneration.

Thus Ended Part I of the Chapter 2 Conclusion.

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Chapter2:Session7
Prison Break

Cast: Cedric, Izzy, Ranthin, Mako (Nathan’s new Hedge Wizard), Konrad

While Archibald and a few others venture to Altdorf to recruit Lord Bismark, Dellin spends time with Mix Riggins training on “Monster Hunting” skills. Ranthin, Konrad, and Cedric go to find Izzy, who split from the party after leaving Beaufort Pass. (Side Note: Izzy wasn’t involved in the combat against Grimm’s Reapers because he was unexpectedly knocked out by a falling tree and only revived afterward.)

Mako (new character), did a job for Grolst Van Eyke about a half year ago. After doing the job, he was being tracked down by the inquisition as a potential witch. GVE arranged to get Mako smuggled out of Nuln and sent to a safe house. More recently, Mako was contacted by one of GVE’s loyal men. Mako was asked to find Markus in Nuln and give him a missive that offers him 250 guilders if Markus can find a way to get GVE out of the RuchenBrecher Mining Camp. Mako found Markus and Ghoma, who are currently up to their ears trying to stay one step ahead of Strussel. Markus suggested Mako find one of the other crew members and give them the offer instead. Markus has Ghoma write a post script to the missive.

Which brings us to the start of this adventure. Mako has found Izzy at a road side Inn, safely beyond the outskirts of Nuln. Mako delivers the message, but Izzy can’t read it. Cedric, Konrad, and Ranthin arrive some time later. Mako is still around, having nothing better to do. Konrad, being the only literate among them, reads the missive. Markus’ post script encourages the characters to free GVE if they can because he might be able to help undermine Strussel’s control over the lower quarter of Nuln (and thus make life much easier for everyone). Izzy is especially on board, as he has a vendetta against the supervisor of the guards — a sadistic brute named Hinks.

So the characters decide to do it, and they include Mako in the job. They reconnoiter the prison/mining camp, and Cedric does a good job of being sneaky. They cook up a plan to rescue GVE over the Hexenaucht (witching night) holiday, which marks the coming of the new year. Mako uses his apothecary skills to prepare some Bugmann’s XXXX Ale. They procure several large barrels of beer as well. Mako and Ranthin play the role of delivering Beer and Ale to the guards at the prison camp in celebration of the holiday, and as a gift from Councilman Strussel.

Cedric, Konrad, and Izzy hire a sign maker to paint Strussel’s colors and insignia (scales and coins) on some of their equipment. Konrad writes an official looking note that is an order from Strussel to transfer GVE out of the mines and back to Nuln for special questioning. Cedric has the note embossed with Strussel’s sigil. They also procure a cart to use as the prisoner transport wagon.

The plan couldn’t have worked more perfectly. Mako and Ranthin show up on the eve of Hexenaucht. They charm the guards, who partake in the brew. The wagon with the barrels of beer is brought into the camp and the barrels are rolled out and distributed for easy access by all guards. Mako gives the small “reserve” cask of Bugmann’s to Supervisor Hinks. They are invited into the guard house for food and drink. Hinks drinks two pints of Bugmanns and passes out (for 15 hours!). The remaining pint is drank by Hink’s right hand man, who gets to feeling “unusual.” A number of the other guards over-indulge as well, but not all of course.

When Cedric shows up several hours later, he’s met by a completely toasted and somewhat belligerent drunk at the front gate. Eventually the supervisor is called to look at the orders that Cedric is presenting. Being indisposed, the “acting supervisor” (still feeling a bit unusual…) comes to the gate and accepts Cedric orders as true. Cedric and company are ushered into the camp. A couple guards are dispatched to retrieve GVE. Meanwhile, Izzy chats up a guard and moves into a position where he can whisper to Mako that he’ll get extra gold if he can do something nasty to Hinks.

GVE is brought to the prison cart in bad shape. He is obviously starved, being skin and bones. His right hand has been cut off, and is now an infected stump. His right eye has been destroyed with a branding iron. He is feverish, and all but unconscious on his feet. Cedric loads him on the cart, where manacles have been prepared to lock in the prisoner. Cedric, Izzy, and Konrad leave without any confrontation, taking GVE right out the front gates! When out of sight, Cedric administers a healing poultice (previously given to him by Dellin) to try to stabilize their dying prisoner.

Mako and Ranthin spend the night in the guard house. In the morning, after a changing of the guards, they have a few minutes alone with the unconscious Hinks. They shove him into an empty barrel, and roll it out to the cart. The guards see this and come to the rescue! Do they need any help loading the cart? Why sure…and the guards go and retrieve the other barrels and kegs while Mako and Ranthin struggle to get the barrel concealing Hinks up into the cart. The rest of the barrels are piled on, lashed down, and the characters leave the camp with smiling and waving guards.

The two groups meet up at a safe distance. Izzy is given his present from Mako — Hinks in a barrel! While Izzy figures out what to do with Hinks, the rest take GVE to the safehouse. They administer a healing draught to GVE after he revives from the slumber caused by the poultice. He is still in pain, but no longer at death’s door. They deliver him successfully, and are rewarded.

GVE is impressed with the operation and takes special note of Cedric as a promising new addition to the new structure he’s putting together. GVE tells the characters that Strussel was skimming 10% of the silver ore from the mine, and is most likely running a counterfeit operation, minting his own shillings. GVE had his eye put out for paying too close attention to the numbers (noticing the skimming) while at the prison camp. GVE says that if the characters can catch Strussel men red-handed with their counterfeit minting operation, that would put an end to Strussel.

So ended the session. Cedric will stay with GVE for a while to learn a few tricks. (Eric will not be playing until the summer.) Konrad will stay as well to provide protection (Scott also will not make the Chapter 2 conclusion). Izzy and Ranthin return to the rendezvous point with Mako, who has proven his worth in a tight spot.
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Characters earn 200 xp, which includes a bonus for pulling off the plan with such aplomb. Each character also earns 50 gold as reward payment from GVE.

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Chapter2:Session5and6
Grimm Tidings

Chapter 2, Sessions 5&6
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NOTE: Session 5 was interrupted about 3 hours in. We basically suspended game play and picked it back up in Session 6. There was also a significant break between these two sessions due to issues beyond the scope of the game. (i.e. real life.)

Any characters present for Session 5, but not 6 (Izzy? I think) gets 50 xps. Characters only present for Session 6 get 200 xps, as the combat and story events in Session 6 were big. Characters present for both 5 and 6 get a total of 250 xps, as you might expect.
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Characters have taken Guy Margeaux prisoner and are escorting him back to Nuln. A new raven from the Lanky Man arrives. His name is Lady’s Man, and he has red tips on his wings, which he likes to show off with a little dance. Lady’s Man brings a message of warning to Dellin.

Characters encounter a man named Murdoch Einhorn before they leave the Empire’s side of the Beaufort Pass. Einhorn obviously has money, as his dress and diction indicate an upper class lifestyle. He claims to work for the Empire and typically habituates in the Imperial Court at Altdorf. He tracked the characters down because they have been working for the Lanky Man meddling in affairs of the state. He informs the characters that the Lanky Man is no longer working in the best interests of the Empire, and should the characters not desist their association with him, things will be bad. Otherwise, the Empire is grateful for their service in ridding the land of Jonas Whitespore and the cultists at the Blackwoods Garrison. In payment, Einhorn shares some dire news with the party. Inquisitor Skaarsgard of Nuln was apparently assassinated, having been found floating in the canal. Lord Bismark was recalled abruptly to Altdorf, and Baron Strussel has continued to gain political and economic strength in Nuln. A bounty has been posted for most of the characters and returning to Nuln would be seriously dangerous.

Einhorn leaves after some banter/discussion, says he was returning to the Grey Mountain Garrison and then onwards to Altdorf. Less than an hour after Einhorn trots away on his horse, the characters hear the thunderous sounds of heavy horses galloping in their direction. Augustus Grimm, and Grimm’s Reapers, have found them! Given some warning by Bronan who had followed Einhorn down the trail a few miles, the characters had time to string a rope across the path as a trap. Because it is now night time, the hopes are that the rope won’t be seen and it will take down some riders.
(End of Session 5)

Meanwhile, Cedric and Konrad (remember them?) have heard the word in Nuln that their friends are in danger. They learn from people who know people that Dellin and Archibald went across the Beaufort pass on some mission to Bretonnia and are expected back soon. Cedric and Konrad take their horses and ride hard to the pass, knowing they must warn their friends that Augustus Grimm is on their trail. They arrive just behind Grimm’s company and are able to join the fight from the rear.

The rope trick works (when does it not?), and two of the riders are felled, taking serious damage. Augustus Grimm, Lieutenant Bronn, and the rest of the riders press the party. They are exceptional warriors and use their mounted position to great advantage against the characters. Augustus Grimm is truly an awe-inspiring combatant…even Bismark might have trouble handling him one-on-one.

Things look Grimm indeed. Konrad takes multiple serious wounds protecting Cedric from Grimm and is nearly killed. Rufus uses magic to put Lt. Bronn to sleep, but takes a sword through the gut from a rider trying to protect his boss. The other characters are pushed around, but Dellin with help from Archibald does manage to cut down one rider.

Morale turns when a group of the walking dead charge from the trees into the road side and swarm one of the riders, rending him into pieces. Rufus cuts down the unconscious Lt. Bronn with Bronn’s own sword after a couple hacks. Grimm sounds the retreat, surprised by the apparent ambush and perhaps demoralized by the loss of his trusted second-hand man. Rufus makes a point to send a challenge Grimm’s way by waving Bronn’s bloody sword and pointing at Grimm. “Duly noted, you piece of rabble. I’ll have your head on a pike soon enough,” is what Grimm thinks as he gallops away.

Guy Margeaux, of course, was able to summon the undead with his novice necromantic abilities, just in time to turn the tide of battle. Archibald decides that he owes Margeaux and lets him go. Margeaux pens the missive that Archibald needs to complete his quest. Bronan decides that associating with this group is simply too dangerous, and decides to travel with Margeaux to Brettonia [Exit Stage Right for Bronan, for now.]

After regrouping (and with some healing work by Archibald and Dellin), the characters press on. They exit the pass and travel through the wilderness to the foothills where Mix Riggins tends to habituate. After a few days of camping, Mix finds them and a happy reunion ensues. Information is exchanged, secrets revealed (what secrets you ask? well you should have been there…you can ask one of the characters that was…), and a plan hatched to go after the Vivisectionist. A suggestion was made to try to find and recruit Lord Bismark and his company for help.

One final note, there was evidence to believe that Owen, the dim witted man-mountain, has been taken to Toltevsky for “processing.” They should expect one seriously bad-ass Black Knight, if that is indeed the case…

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Chapter2:Session4
What Havoc The Grey Mountain Company?

Cast: Bronan, Dellin, Izzy, Archibald, and Ranthin
NPCs: Guy Margeaux (new), and Bill, Bronan’s Mule. Also, Handsome the Crow, of course!

With the Ogre dead, Archibald decides he wants the head to prove the existence of Ogres. Dellin wants some of the caustic blood, and Bronan wants one of the tusks. They all manage to get what they want and then (later) burn the rest of the corpse.

They explored the ruined fort, heading for the Chapel to find any signs of Guy Margeaux and/or the missive that Archibald was charged with returning to Father Burkholt of the 3rd most impressive temple in Nuln. Bronan and Izzy loot soldiers for weapons and armor, they find the blacksmith’s shop and some cool metal tongs, which Izzy takes a fancy to. They also bring the horses and mules into the remains of the stables across the square from the chapel. Handsome is placed in his cage within pecking distance of a corpse, because he’s hungry. Also, Archibald sends one of the messenger pigeons with a short report back to the temple at Nuln.

Ranthin notices that the small graveyard next to the chapel has dug up plots by some head stones. Archibald notices that there was some sort of last ditch defense in front of the chapel, with almost a dozen corpses littering the stairs and entry areas. A few are Imperial soldiers of the Grey Mountain Company. But a disturbing number, around six or seven, appear to be Brettonian Soldiers that have been dead for quite a bit longer than a few days.

The group investigates the ruined chapel, noting the alter has been desecrated with human feces and blood painted in obscene pictures. They investigate the Chaplain’s offices and find two torn pages with cryptic writing on them, written in an archaic dialect of the classical language. Archibald identifies them as being heretical and also notices a few drops of blood on them. He stashes them carefully in his tunic. Then the crew notices a secret door behind a book case, a half-door that opens into a ladder well going down some 30 feet.

The characters, after making some preparations, go down the ladder. Bronan returned to the horses briefly to get some rope and other things. Handsome squaks something about " ’ware the walking dead", “nightfall approaches”, and then “beetle! Hungry!” This is a bit disturbing to Bronan, and he releases Handsome from his cage, and the crow flies away.

Back in the tunnel beneath the chapel…There’s a short hallway with a reinforced door. Izzy chops down the door and kicks it open. Archibald behind him, and Dellin bringing up the rear. Izzy is faced with a half-dozen angry, well-armed, and apparently already-dead Brettonian soldiers. Izzy steels his courage and charges in to the attack. Archibald gets a look at the rotting horrors and makes a run for it, back up the ladder to safety. The walking dead briefly surround Izzy, but with a fancy footwork maneuver, he manages to break free and makes a controlled retreat back up the ladder. Three of the dead soldiers follow, but are mowed down by Ranthin’s deadly arrows and Dellin’s sharp-shooting crossbow. Archibald, having recovered his composure, dumps lantern oil down the hole and burns the dead soldiers. Although they were incapacitated from the ranged weapons, they were nonetheless still wriggling around. The fire burns especially quickly and Archibald has a vision of luminous radiance empowering him to walk bravely in the “Order of the traveling flame wot doth illuminate shadows made and secrets kept!”

After the fire burns out, the crew heads back down and back into the room beyond the now ruined doorway. The rest of the walking dead are waiting, and a melee ensues. A figure in religious vestments stands behind the dead soldiers and mutters unholy incantations. Dellin is struck with violent illness, dry heaving and unable to fight. Izzy, Archibald, and Bronan are more than up for the task, however, and Ranthin uses his extreme skills to make crazy shots into the melee. The dead are once again dispatched, but the unholy priest has fled up another ladder well on the other side of the room. Bronan follows, chopping through another short doorway and pushing aside some shelving blocking the doorway. The party emerges from this ladder well into another ruined building in the fort, and quickly rush outside to the square. The priest is galloping away on one of their mounts!

Ranthin takes a shot and scores a critical hit on the fleeing priest’s head. With uncanny skill, and perhaps a bit of overdue luck, Ranthin’s arrow manages to turn sideways at the last minute, smacking into the priests temple and knocking him from the horse without killing him. (Seriously…no DM intervention there…it’s what came up on the critical hit +4 to the head chart that Ranthin rolled…stunned for d10 rounds…)

Bronan has long since realized that the unholy priest is none other than Guy Margeaux. Archibald’s zealotry blinds him to that fact, but he is stopped from executing the man by Bronan and the others, and the situation is made clear. Dellin goes to retrieve the horses, notices that the second pigeon cage is empty. He is also more than a bit put out by the fact that Handsome was set loose by Bronan.

The priest is manacled and tied up to a pack horse. The twice-dead soldiers in front of the chapel are burned. The characters leave the fort before sun down and head back up the trail to their original camp a mile or two away. Handsome is awaiting them there, eating a beetle it found under a stone. Guy Margeaux is questioned. The story is pieced together as follows:

The Grey Mountain Company, lead by the Black Knights, attacked the fort without provocation. The battle raged for a day or so, and when it was obvious they’d be overrun, Guy Margeaux took desperate action. He claims to be a good man and a servant of the light, yet he invoked necromantic spells to raise dead soldiers from the graveyard to protect the chapel, himself, and some important secret that he’d not reveal. He claims his actions were to protect the order of civilization, and is shocked at the treachery of the Empire, that they’d provoke a war with Brettonia by this attack, and so obviously cavort with the “Ruinous Powers.” He is also shocked and revolted at the atrocities committed by the Black Knights during the battle. He’s been hiding in the secret storage room below the chapel, and would have left sooner, but an Ogre arrived and there were no horses remaining to allow him to flee effectively.

Dellin uses the secret phrase and gives Handsome a message for the Lanky Man. Handsome flies away.

Thus ends the fourth session of Chapter 2. Characters each gain 150 xp. No direct monetary rewards, but the loot recovered from the battle will probably bring gold on the under-markets of Nuln.

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Chapter2:Session3
Across Beaufort Pass

Cast: Archibald, Dellin, Ranthin, Izzy, Bronan, and Rufus
NPCs: Helga Whoopknacker, Lanky Man, Father Burkholt (new), Lem, Knuckles, and Owen

Archibald has garnered the notice of members of the church that see rare potential in this initiate. He is summoned before Father Burkholt, who is the head of the 3rd most important temple in Nuln. Burkholt charges Archibald with a quest to earn entrance into the exclusive Order of the Traveling Flame Wot Doth Illuminate Shadows Made and Secrets Kept. He is to travel the Beaufort Pass, the southern-most of two passes through the Grey Mnts which separate the Empire from Bretonnia. On the Bretonnian side of the pass, he will reach Beaufort Garrison and find Chaplain Guy Margeaux, who has information vital to the church. Archibald is to bring his sealed missive back post haste, do so as discretely as possible, and take any reasonable measures to succeed, even if the cost includes lives. Of course, a previous messenger never returned and messenger pigeons have been lost. Archibald is asked to hire his own henchmen for protection, is given two messenger pigeons, and money to buy supplies, horses, pack mules.

Fall is nearing and with it the snows that may shut down the mountain passes. Time is of the essence. Also, a caravan merchant named Ike claims to have seen monsters in the pass…but that information is not considered reliable.

Meanwhile, the Lanky Man pays a visit to Dellin. L.M. says that empire troops were sent to Beaufort responding to trumped up allegations of Bretonnian outlaws raiding caravans. The Imperial 3rd Infantry Company, consisting of 200 soldiers, 20 horse, and 30 supply personnel, were sent. They are known as the Grey Mountain Company. They were recently given over to the command by 12 ubersoldaten, courtesy of the Toltevsky process. L.M. believes that this may be a “shake down” mission to see how well the ubersoldaten integrate with the regular forces. L.M. charges Dellin with watching over Archibald’s mission (which he seems to know about) and to spy on the Grey Mountain Company (but not to engage, which would be foolish and illegal…they are Imperial soldiers after all).

Dellin is given a crow named “Handsome”. Handsome has been trained to deliver short messages, no more than twenty words. Dellin has only to tell the crow “Crows fly black as night with all seeing eyes” and then state his short message. Then release Handsome and he will find the Lanky Man and deliver the news. Handsome likes to eat beetles and huckleberries. And he occasionally talks…his favorite word seems to be “Hungry!”

In preparing for the mission, Dellin goes to Helga Whoopknacker the apothecary. She berates Dellin for doing nothing about her poor Owen. Dellin says he’ll rescue Owen from Baron Strudel for her. Helga shares that Owen is fond of music and will often be calm when he hears music or a song. Later that night, the characters track down Lem and Knuckes training Owen on how to shake down a shop owner that doesn’t want to pay the protection money. Banter ensues, and then combat. Lem is killed. Knuckles escapes. Owen flies into a rage, but is put to sleep by Rufus’ “pressure point” technique, learned from the same teacher as Ghoma. A Valkyrie-like female minstrel was hired by Dellin to sing to Owen while they return him to Helga. (There was some comedy involving the minstrel, Bronan, and the Screaming Parrot tavern, but we need not go there.) Helga asks if Dellin made arrangements with Strussel for Owen’s release…when she learns that they killed Lem and kidnapped Owen, she realizes her time in Nuln has come to an end. She and Owen will leave for Altdorf immediately before retribution arrives.

Several hours later, near dawn, the party sets out for the Beaufort Pass. They travel for many uneventful days (a bit shy of two weeks) and find the Beaufort Garrison a smoldering ruin. They also find what can only be described as an “Ogre” sitting in the ruins gnawing on the bones of the dead. The Ogre is most likely a scavenger, the destruction of the fort was caused by a military confrontation. There are dead Bretonnian and Imperial soldiers and other obvious signs.

Rufus stays watch over the supplies (meaning his player had to leave) and the rest of the crew battled the Ogre. By using superb tactics, combined with some nifty rope tricks, they defeat the Ogre with little problem. Izzy got a bit banged up, and Bronan got the “parting shot” that separated the Ogre’s head from his shoulders.

Rufus earns 75 xp, and the rest of the crew 100 xp. No monetary awards were given for this session.

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Chapter2:Session2
Chaos Knights in the Countryside

Cast: Dellin, Archibald, Cedric, Bronan, Izzy, and introducing “Rufus”, an apprentice wizard (a.k.a. “tutor”) played by Ryan.

Markus, Ranthin, and Ghoma were busy recovering the statuette from the river. Thus they were not involved in the events of this session.

Continuing where last session left off, Cedric intercepts Archibald and steers him in the direction of where the combat was that recently took place. Archibald is told the thugs mugged the PCs, and that his help is needed to heal the injured. Archibald takes Dellin and Izzy, the two most injured, back to the Inn, where they are able to discreetly clean up. Cedric and Bronan take the prisoner (who is restrained with a pair of Dellin’s manacles) to the “town watch” — which really means to an alleyway sufficiently far from Archibald that they can interrogate him in peace. Cedric tries to hypnotize the thug, but the thug’s will is too strong. Further questioning is tried, accompanied with blows to the head and neck area and threats. The thug becomes too dazed to be able to intelligently respond to anything, and Bronan hints sharply that he should be killed. Cedric tried to slit the thug’s throat, but his innate goodness doesn’t allow him to kill in cold blood. Instead, Bronan takes the man and dumps him head-first down a nearby well.

The characters rendezvous back at the Inn, where Archibald has used his healing skill successfully on Dellin, and less so on Izzy. Bronan is also tended to. The next day, a strange man shows up named Rufus. He is a man of learning and was discovered by Markus a few days back looking for work. Markus told him to show up on this day, but he (Markus) is nowhere to be found. Archibald steps in an agrees to pay Rufus 10gp if he helps the party find Nigel Sneed. After that, Archibald decides to pay Father Klaus a visit at the church.

Bronan uses his gossip skill while visiting various whore-houses and gambling dens to see if he can learn anything about Sneed. In fact, he does succeed in learning that a man matching Sneed’s description was gambling in the docks district and ran up quite a tab against the mate of a river trading vessel. So Sneed is in Nuln and back to old habits.

On the way to the church, Archibald is approached by Lord Bismark, who is “out of uniform.” Bismark indicates he has urgent need of Archibald’s help, and the help of his team. (He recalls that Archibald is the combat commander of the group…) In short, Toltevsky is off-limits to official Inquisition at this time, as he has extremely powerful friends. But if solid evidence where obtained showing that Toltevsky’s UberSoldaten program is heretical, then that might be a different story. Turns out that prior to using his latest techniques on Empire Soldiers, the Vivisectionist experimented on a group of undesirable civilians that were working the mines. One or more of them is loose on the country-side near the town of Brusenwald (?) and Bismark offers the team lots of gold to help him get one alive (less gold if dead).

So all is agreed upon and the characters find that several farms on the outskirts of Brusenwald are in flames. Archibald’s excellent vision spots a large armored figure doing something unspeakable to a tree (apparently). So they rush to the attack and a melee ensues. Bismark and the party take on three raving mad black knights who are raping and pillaging their way through the countryside. One of the black knights is doing something bad to a farmer tied to a tree when the party attacks.

Bismark shows his stuff in this combat — for nearly half the combat he takes on two of the chaos knights while the rest of the team fights one….well…Bronan fights a tree, hoping to chop it such that he both frees the peasant and causes the tree to fall on a chaos knight…alas, that strategy doesn’t work out well. Once the characters dispatch one of the knights and concentrate on helping Bismark with the other two, the tide turns. All three are killed, unfortunately, so bringing one back alive to Nuln doesn’t happen.

Rufus and the others examine the dead chaos knights. Their armor is covered in runic scripts and symbols. Rufus indicates that he’s learned that these types of symbols are forbidden at the university and should be proof enough of the heretical nature of Toltevsky’s work. The knights are stripped of their armor, and their skin is likewise covered with scar-tissue tattooing of similar runes. The bodies are thrown into the fire. (Except a single hand, severed at the wrist, which Bismark wants to take back as evidence.) The armor is also confiscated by Bismark, but 250gp is given to the party in compensation.

Archibald renders aid to the surviving peasant and also helps heal the other party members. Cedric and Dellin go to Brusenwald proper to inform them that the horror is over and the black knights are no more. Cedric is hailed as the “Hero of Brusenwald” and decides to hang around that area for a while with a cute young woman who thinks he’s remarkable. [This is Erik’s last game until he returns from college over winter break…hence Cedric will be busy for a while.]

Bronan keeps one of the great axes wielded by a chaos knight. He finds a weaponsmith in Nuln to sand off the inscriptions and make the weapon look as normal as possible. Izzy upgrades his armor to full plate.

Characters get 150 experience points. Each character’s share of the total loot+reward amounts to 50gp.

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Chapter2:Session1
Meet Baron Strudel

Chapter 2: Session 1
=== Cast: Dellin (Justin), Archibald (Nihad), Markus (Mark), Izzy (Izzy), Ranthin (Jacob), Ghoma (Chad), Cedric (Eric), and Bronan the Woodsman, a new character played by Nathan. ===
We spent nearly half the session converting characters from 1st to 2nd Edition rules, and Nathan rolled up his new character as well.
=====
The cast of characters all meetup in Nuln. Now that they have some money, they are no longer staying in the worst part of town. Dellin has traveled with news from keeping an eye on the Vivisectionist. Two weeks ago, Dellin saw a large group of Empire soldiers arrive at Toltevsky’s hidden facility in the hills north west of Wattleburg. There were at least 50 total soldiers consisting of men at arms and a handful of mounted knights. Twelve of the soldiers entered the facility and a few days later twelve massive black knights exited. Then the black knights, escorted by the rest traveled north. Ghoma has also traveled from the Wattleburg area, having completed some studies with the Healer, and being politely asked to leave him alone for a while.

Bronan the Woodsman was from a hovel in Ostland, and figured Nuln is a much better place to be. With the departure of Choppy and Konrad, Markus feels that he needs a new axe-man for the team and Bronan fits the bill. Bronan is skilled with a 2-handed great axe, and mighty blows indeed it delivers.

Ghoma, shopping for reagents, finds a mysterious card in the bag containing one of his purchases. It bears a symbol of a sundial and a cloak. A handwritten note has the name of a town square in Nuln and a date and time (for the next day, mid afternoon). The card was not likely put in the bag by the shopkeeper, and it seems intended for Gohma in some way.

Markus is “invited” to a meeting with Heinrich Strussel (aka “Baron Strudel”). Strussel informs Markus of the “new order” in town. Grost Van Eyke was arrested by the inquisition and hasn’t been seen for weeks. Strudel is being named to the ruling council as the overseer of all mercantile interests in the lower quarter, with especial oversight on licensure of all previously untracked import/export businesses. As such, if Markus doesn’t play the game, Strussel has both the power and authority to make life miserable (read “working in the mines” or “waking up dead”). During the meeting, Strussel is accompanied by his henchmen “Lem” and “Knuckles”, and Owen, the man-mountain who used to work for Helga the Apothecary. Strussel makes a deal with Markus: Markus will provide Strussel with two things he wants: Nigel Sneed and the bronze statuette of Esmeralda. In return, Strussel will pay Markus 125 gold for delivering the statue within two days and another 125 gold for delivering Sneed within two weeks. After that’s been accomplished, Strussel will “permit” Markus to operate in Nuln and become part of the new order.

The complication is that Archibald, during the same time as the Markus/Strussel meeting, donates the statuette to Father Klaus at a local temple of the light. Cedric goes to the church and tries to use his charlatan skills to con the priest into giving up the statuette. He nearly accomplishes this feat, but alas, Father Klaus says he will only give it to one of his superiors. Cedric does determine that the statuette is stored in a locked desk drawer in Father Klaus’ office at the church.

Later that night, Markus decides to use his thieving talents to break into the church and “un-donate” the statuette. Things go very well, right up to the point where Markus leaves the office area with statuette in hand. Some sort of magical alarm sounds, and Markus high-tails it out of the church. As Markus and the accomplices (other party members) run away, the alarming noise follows. And apparently so does a group of five thugs. While Markus runs towards the river, several of the party members intercept the thugs and get into a brawl. Bronan, Dellin, Ranthin, and Izzy end up killing four of the five (in spectacularly gore-filled ways…Choppy would have been proud!). The fifth surrenders.

Markus, with Cedric in tow, chucks the statuette into the river and runs back towards the tavern, encountering Archibald on the way. About a minute later, the alarming noise stops. Watchmen have probably been drawn to the riverside by the noise, thus distracted from the quick 60 second street brawl that cost the lives of four thugs (and made a serious mess in the street).

This is where the session ended. 50xp were awarded.

Will the players be able to recover the statuette in time? What will Archibald think / what will they tell him? Who sent the mysterious card to Ghoma and what does it mean? And where’s Nigel Sneed? Can the players use the dim-witted Owen against Strussel in some way, knowing Helga Whoopknacker is quite put out at the loss of her helper and protector? Do they even want to? Maybe Strussel is good for business…

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Chapter1:Conclusion
Kill Jonas Again

Session 7: Kill Jonas (Again), Conclusion of Chapter 1 of the Campaign
PC Cast: Archibald, Cedric, Choppy, Ranthin, Konrad, Markus, Izzy
Key NPCs: Lord Bismark (new), The Lanky Man, Jonas Whitespore, and “The Twins” (new)

Izzy has been spending the past three months at the Ruckenbrechen (“back breaker”) mining camp. He was rounded up by the crackdown in Nuln, and branded (literally marked with a tatoo on his neck) as an “undesirable civilian element.” While at Ruckenbrecken, he encountered some less-than-Merry Maids from Marionberg. After getting released from the mining camp, he ran into Markus while he was out pursuing leads on Whitespore.

The group has tracked Jonas Whitespore to a ruined garrison in the Blackwood forest NE of Nuln. The garrison was part of a fort demolished in a war a hundred years ago and never rebuilt. It is 15 miles from the nearest settlement, through dense foliage. The nearest settlement is called Hinterstadt, where the characters stop to buy provisions and prepare for the trek.

Lord Bismark, a champion of the inquisition court, arrives with a warrant for the arrest of Markus, Thom (Choppy), Cedric, and Konrad, based on a number of charges. Bismark, of course, is accompanied by a bunch of inquisition soldiers. Bismark rounds up the crew in the local Inn, and begins the lengthy process of reading every detail of the formal charges. About half-way through the reading, a Lanky Man with a pocked face, wearing expensive clothes steps out from behind a supporting pillar in the Inn. He moves with a uncommon grace. He interrupts Bismark and asserts that the four accused were on an official clandestine assignment, and all charges are to be dropped. He provides Bismark with an official-looking document saying something about “you notice the seal on this note”, and “your questions about my identity are explained therein,” and “you can travel to Nuln and verify this with the court, leaving your men here to keep an eye on the accused in the mean time. You have my word we will be here when you return.”

Bismark, a bit put out, leaves the command of his troops to his Sergeant, and gallops off to verify the veracity of the note. The Lanky Man is none other than the masked man who poisoned Oldenhaller. He apologizes to the characters for the mess they got in, but assures them that those charges are waived and the bounty retracted. He wants the characters to continue their quest to kill Whitespore and is willing to fund the operation, provide official backing, and of course a reward on completion. In the mean time, he is trying to locate Mix Riggins because he needs information about a “Lady deRochelle” of Bretonnia. More conversation ensues. When asked what they should call him, the Lanky Man says they can call him “Frederick” if they so choose. But his identity is a state secret. He works, indirectly, for the interests of the child-Emperor Ezekial. [New campaign info: the Emperor is a 12 year old, and the high council runs most of the affairs, headed by the “Emperor’s Hand”, whom we learned about in an earlier session.] “Frederick” regrets that the group was unable to eliminate Toltevsky, and was interested to learn about the Mark III Ubersoldat.

Some back story revealed by “Frederick”. After getting the gem from the characters in Oldenhaller’s office, “Frederick” returned it to the Emperor’s Arcanist, who was tasked with devising a way to destroy it. A Bretonnian Lady, named Renee deRochelle, arrived at the Emperor’s court and became “friendly” with the arcanist. Two weeks ago, the aranist was found hanging by his feet, flayed of his skin. The gem was gone, presumably the secret location tortured out of the arcanist. The previous night, deRochelle’s entourage had left Altdorff suddenly. Spies indicate that Renee deRochelle may have returned towards Bretonnia, while a group of her garrison commanded by “The Twins” headed towards, of all places, the Blackwood forest. The Twins are two female warriors, named Monica and Margot Stenniker, and are considered quite formidable.

“Frederick” is concerned that the deRochelle sent the gem to Whitespore for some vile purposes. He has reason to believe Mix Riggins may know something about Lady deRochelle. The players find that hard to believe, but they didn’t really dig into the question. The Lanky Man also indicates that Bismark is in for a surprise when he arrives in Nuln. Arrangements have been made that Bismark and his men will accompany the PCs on their quest against Whitespore, as it will “take a small army” to do the job.

With that, “Frederick” leaves to find Dellin the Fierce and Mix Riggins, who are supposedly keeping an eye on Toltevsky. Gohma is also still in the Wattleburg region, studying with the Healer. The characters wait for Bismark to arrive in a few days. Together the crew, plus Bismark and his men, travel to the ruined garrison.

To be brief, and omitting all the cool highlights about what happened in combat, who was glorious, who not-so-much, let’s just say that there was a major battle between the “good guys” and a combination of deRochelle soldiers and Nurgle cultist soldiers. The “bad guys” were commanded by the Twins. (And we made great usage of Sherman’s terrain models, especially the castle walls, etc. Very cool!) The good guys won, of course, but not without casualty. Choppy and Markus used Fate Points and several of Bismark’s men were killed. Of note, when the first Twin was killed, the second Twin transmogrified into a monster…bony spikes erupted through her skin, and she was transformed into a more lethal and very angry being. Archibald got the final blow on her….exploding dice x3 or so…cutting of her head and both arms in a single shot.

Shortly after the combat in the garrison ruins finished and Choppy was demanding that they burn the bodies, Cedric felt a strong surge of magic, so powerful that he could follow it to its source without having to concentrate. The magical trail to Jonas went down to a lower level of the ruined garrison.

With the remaining inquisition guard, and Lord Bismark pretty banged-up, the characters headed down for the final conflict. In the basement they encountered Jonas Whitespore, a bunch of cultist soldiers, and a monstrous tentacled slug thing and it’s two smaller friends. There was a arcane circular symbol on the wall, forming a sort of magical portal, perhaps, that the slug things came through. Or so it appears because their caustic slime trails begin at the wall. Fortunately the tentacled slug monsters (beasts of nurgle) move very slowly…they are sluggish, afterall, so the players were able to take out the human guards and fend off Jonas’s attacks before really having to engage the monsters.

The beasts of Nurgle instill fear, but eventually the characters were able to get their collective act together to be effective. Bismark was able to rush in, and his archer support was very helpful. Choppy spent some time, befuddled by Whitespore’s spell, sitting in the hallway contemplating the grout between the stones. The characters endured magical fireballs, directed gusts of wind, and other arcane attacks, but Ranthin kept Jonas busy by repeatedly shooting him in the throat with an arrow. (After which, Jonas would duck behind a wall for a few rounds while healing himself.) Once all the minions were slain and the beasts of Nurgle put down, Jonas tried to make a run for it. But he was caught before he could make his escape and cut down. [Actually…I forgot who landed the last blow…not that it’s critical…anyone remember?]

The crew decided to burn everything and find the gem in the ashes. Jonas had an arcane book that probably had a great deal of arcane knowledge (and spells), but Archibald insisted it would be burned. So after burning everything, they recovered the gem, and retreated back to Hinterstadt. They were met a few days later by the Lanky Man and the reward was paid. Lady deRochelle is still at large, and the Lanky Man had not yet tracked down Mix Riggins.

Archibald was favored by the light and given the calling of a cleric. Due to his actions, he will be initiated into the order of wandering priests, charged with carrying the message of the light to all the dark corners of the world, rooting out corruption, and bringing enlightenment to the ignorant and oppressed. {DM’s note: I am giving Archibald the first level cure wounds spell for free as a reward for good roleplaying and for his valor in serving the light. Plus the party really needs a healer!}

Choppy, it seems, will not be able to continue his adventures with the party for much longer. He has a calling very far away and may not be back for a long time. We will miss him. {DM’s note: Elon is travelling to California by bike and may be moving there permanently…or he may be back in the spring. However, he is always welcome to post to the boards…} Choppy, having learned to read, often sends personal notes to his friends updating them on his adventures, with an especial emphasis on the cheapest dining establishments one can find on any given route.

Ranthin finally was able to use his Marksmanship effectively, not once spilling his quiver during the final battle. His heroism in continually interrupting Jonas’s attacks really made the last battle easier. His renown as an archer of considerable skill is spread by the archers of Bismark’s rank, and he now regularly gets invitations to compete in archery tournaments, where he places well in the “newcomer” divisions. Yet there are those master marksmen out there that could still show him a thing or two…(I don’t know if Ranthin increased his Ballistic Skill with the experience he gained, but it seems likely that he is not in the 90’s yet…)

Cedric decided that he, too, better start to learn how to read. After being hip-deep in serious combat, he realizes the value of settling differences via negotiations instead of the sword. His fellowship has increased into the 60’s, giving the group a reliable “face” for when the best option is diplomacy, bluffing, or haggling.

Markus learned that the crowbar can be effective on either end! As a result, he now has two attacks per round, and can inflict double the knee-capping goodness! The Lanky Man promised to take care of his debt to Grolst Van Eyke, so with the bounty called off and the debt taken care of, he should be back in business! His near death experience battling cultists at the garrison has perhaps made him a bit edgier — perhaps a bit more intimidating to his foes. You don’t cross a man who has faced down horrors and lived to tell about it.

Izzy’s hard work in the mines made him stronger and more focused. His addiction to rum may even have been lessened somewhat. On the other hand, standing face-to-face with Beasts of Nurgle can definitely drive a man to drink! He bears a tatoo proclaiming him an undesirable civilian — perhaps he will have it covered with another or abraded off. Perhaps he will go on a quest to free others wrongfully put in bondage by the over zealous inquisition in Nuln lead by Sven Skaarsgard? The Merry Maidens of Marionberg are calling…

Konrad helped clear the battle fields and was the first to enter the summoning room and face the cultists and monsters. His bravery helped clear the path for the others, and his combat effectiveness was only enhanced with this experience.

Thus concludes Chapter 1 of Death Knows No Honor.
Hope you had as much fun playing as I did story telling.

-Steve O.

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Chapter1:Session 6
Merry Maids of Marionberg -- Dancing in Drag!

Cast: pretty much the whole gang of current players.

The crew has been laying low for a few weeks since the events of the previous session. They end up going to a town called Reikspan, named after the Reikspan Bridge that, well, spans the Reik. Turns out the town is quite uptight, so to speak, and makes it very difficult for vagrants, wanderers, criminals, and the like to set up shop. If you aren’t recognized by the watch, you have to have some form of permit to practice your trade in the city.

A few years ago, an up-coming Inquisitor-Initiate from the Nordlands named Sven Skarsgaard was assigned the task of cleaning up the town of Reikspan. He did such a thorough job of eradicating the criminal element and removing any other unwanted elements, that he was recalled to Altdorf for special training with the Grand Inquisitor of the Empire. And now he is apparently been assigned to Nuln in the wake of the shocking Oldenhaller murder, where he has begun the process of addressing the Criminal Element in the docks district, rumors of his crack-down have been spreading for the past week or two.

The characters meet a down-and-out entertainer named “Manfred Matterly” who needs help staffing his venue because his previous troupe has, apparently, been hauled off to work the mines by the authorities in Nuln. There was, apparently, a regrettable similarity between his entertainment troupe and “vagrant troublemakers”, and with the new Inquisitor making a statement, they were sent to work off their public debt to society in the iron mines (along with many others). One wonders if GVE is taking any heat? No word…

So those with some talents, notably the dancers of the group and the hypnotist, temporarily join the “Master Minstrel Manfred Matterly and his Merry Maids of Marionburg” traveling show, dresses and all! They get inside the town, run some shows and earn some honest money. On the side, they commission the local blacksmith to repair/upgrade their armor, and do some other shopping/selling. When the show’s run is over, the characters have one last meal at the local establishment before leaving town, as they will not be welcome after their permit expires. Manfred says he’s traveling north to ply his trade between Reikspan and Altdorf, and perhaps the players will meet him again some day.

During their final meal, several characters caught a glimpse of a man watching them through the grimy window of the tavern. Choppy chased after him, but lost him in the crowd. He did however catch sight of his face and recognized him as looking like a Bretonnian — and perhaps a rather slimy one at that.

Also while in Riekspan, the characters end up recovering the bronze statuette of Esmeralda that GVE wanted as part of the payment for the gem from Oldenhaller. Archibald the initiate managed to make friends with the local high priest of the light, and was given a certain authority to investigate potential sacrilegious icons acquired on auction at a local art house. (A local art merchant bought some of Oldenhaller’s art at an estate auction held in Nuln). Archibald used that authority to confiscate the statuette. He also bought a special box to store it in with a lock and key.

The characters head back out to the wilderness to rendezvous with Mix Riggens in the hill country north west of Nuln. There they get into a spot of trouble when they are ambushed by a platoon of Iron Cloak archers. Cedric takes a nasty shot through the hip and falls unconscious. The rest of the characters charge one flank of their attackers, and quickly get the upper hand. A gigantic wolf-dog like creature with a spiked collar comes in from the woods and rips apart the archers on the other flank (those that didn’t run away in panic).

Archibald, acting the part of the noble hero, stood as a protector for Cedric during much of the fight. The game keeper called “Rictor Von Kruger” three times fast when the monstrous dog seemed to be trotting in their general direction, after which it wandered off in the woods. A few minutes later Mix Riggens shows up, saying his dog Spike led him in their direction. One of the Iron Cloak archers was captured by the Bounty Hunter, and questioned by the ersatz Hypnotist Cedric. Not much was learned. He was let go.

Cedric has a serious injury, and lacking anyone with significant training in the healing arts, the party can’t continue. They decide to find a local healer and continue to lay low until Cedric heals, which takes about 10 weeks. (Ouch!) In the mean-time, they all work on improving their skills in anticipation of a major conflict that may be in their near future.

One last thing, the characters learned that a special detachment of the Iron Cloaks headed by Augustus Grimm is on their trail. He leads a group called Grimm’s Reapers. They are known for taking the nasty jobs and coming out on top. If the party doesn’t do something soon to change their reputations, they will continue to have increasingly capable bounty hunters and mercenary teams hunting them down for the reward (or vengeance). One idea that came to mind was if they could do something about Jonas Whitespore and get a good name with the inquisition, then perhaps that could be leveraged to remove some of the heat on their collective tail.

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