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(Warhammer 1st Ed) The Troupe of the Choked Chicken

BrDoG

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On a bright and somewhat chilly spring day, Lord Millicent Draynes Sturgeon and his merry entourage were travelling north to the great city of Altdorf on the Reik. Millicent hails from Wissenburg, a lovely town in the south western extent of the Empire, known for its vineyards. Unfortunately his family manor has fallen into debt and is presently managed by Emil Eichel, a steward and representative of the Nuln Bankers Guild.

In his latter years Millicent has taken an interest in the performing arts and intends to assemble a group of travelling players, but lacks the funds. In the meantime he travels the byways of the Empire with his constant companions, Klaus, Etienne and a halfling from Pfeildorf named Galen Lightfoot. Galen is an enterprising young lad with a murky past, suffice to say that in the past he has sometimes gone by the alias of 'The Phantom Bantam Snaffler', and that is he an expert at both cooking rat stew and lassoing chickens.

These cheerful wanderers were in need of cash, and agreed on a plan to visit the Schaffenfest in Bogenhafen on Mitterfruhl Day, several weeks hence. They hoped to establish a reputation, with a mixture of rousing oration by Millicent, some singing of rural ditties by Klaus, and chicken wrangling by Galen. In the meantime they sought perhaps some short term employment in Altdorf, and information about an expedition to the Grey Mountains by Crown Prince Hergard von Tassenick.

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Once they were in Altdorf the friends were in awe of the great city, not just its scale but the hustle and bustle of the locals and abundance of shop signs, statues and fountains. They spent most of the day in the Konigplatz, until a local urchin named Albrecht directed them to a tavern called The Bloody Doublet, where they met a dashing gnome detective called Alphonse Hercules du Gascoigne. Alphonse gave Millicent a sealed letter from an old family friend, Lord Weissbruck.

Lord Weissbruck sought assistance in rescuing his son Sigismund, who had been kidnapped by a gang of nefarious ne'erdo-wells that were demanding a high ransom. Alphonse had tracked the kidnappers to a hideout in the south east district of Altdorf where the militia fear to tread. He led Millicent and company to a safe house in the same street where they could observe the hideout and conceive of a plan to rescue Sigismund.

During the afternoon they realised that there were at least four men in the building, but they had no idea where Sigismund was held. Galen reconnoitered the building during the evening, and discovered that they had a fierce dog as well. The first plan was to kill one of the men when they visited the privy, and then try to gain entrance, then it was realised that there was a skylight in the roof, which led to a combined plan.

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Klaus scrambled up the side of the building in the early hours of the morning, and tied a rope for Galen and Etienne to climb, while Millicent remained in ambush below. They quietly clambered into the attic, and down into the first floor with the further use of rope, hoping to find Sigismund and return to the roof. After a quick look around the first floor without finding the boy, the alarm was shouted out below because Millicent had killed one of the gang while he relieved his bladder, and the blood trail had been found.

Two men burst out of a bedroom, and Etienne fired off a couple of arrows to discomfort them while Galen and Klaus headed downstairs. They immediately encountered the hound, which was more than a match for Galen, and easily shrugged off a sling stone fired by the plucky halfling. The hound was followed by a skilled warrior with full armour and a rapier, but fortunately his path was blocked. At this point Millicent managed to reach through a window and unlatch the door, so that he could engage the hound on Galen's behalf.

While Etienne blocked the path of the two men upstairs, the hound wounded Galen, who backed off and realised that another thug was in an adjacent room holding a knife to the throat of Sigismund. He risked a shot with his sling, as the boy was sure to die anyway if this venture failed. He bloodied the thugs nose, who dropped the boy, but Sigismund was in shock and ignored Galen's shouts to flee the house. In the hallway Millicent stabbed the hound twice and killed it, then readied himself for an attack by the gangs leader.

Etienne then suffered a grievous wound and fought on, but he simply could not land a blow on his opponent. Galen fired another slingshot at the thug and missed, his aim was woeful for most of the skirmish within the building. Millicent scored a critical blow against the leader and drove him to his knees, but he recovered his wits and plunged his rapier into Millicent's shoulder, causing great pain and injury. Klaus up until this point had failed to land a blow, yet stepped forward to engage the leader and suffer his attacks.

Etienne received another wound, this time to his head, and his skull was crushed, the poor fellow died in aid of his compatriots. Millicent wounded the leader again, but took the opportunity that Klaus' ineffective attacks provided, to run into the adjacent room and drag Sigismund out of the house. Galen had by this point scored a second hit on the thug, and promptly followed Millicent outside, where they were joined by Klaus, who had received several cuts from the badly wounded leader.

To their surprise, the first thug to descend from the first floor tumbled down the stairs with a crossbow quarrel in his back. It could have been a fumbled shot by his colleague, but the merry band was sure it was Alphonse the dashing gnome detective. They fled from the scene, and to their relief the kidnappers did not follow them, but then two were dead and two were seriously wounded. Alphonse caught up with them, and led them to safety, he had returned from further investigations to determine who was really behind the kidnapping plot, just in the nick of time to aid their escape.
 

BrDoG

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This list covers the initial characters in the troupe, though the first game only included Sturgeon, Lightfoot, Klaus and Dan. Sturgeon is nominally in charge, though largely only because he is an authority figure and has some sort of plan for the future.

Lord Millicent Draynes Sturgeon - Noble (human, pompous, insensitive, ambitious)
Galen Lightfoot - Rustler (halfling, cook and companion of Sturgeon)
Klaus (npc) - Labourer (hanger on, dogsbody of Sturgeon)
Etienne (npc) - Game Keeper (hanger on, messenger of Sturgeon)
Hindral - Bounty Hunter (dwarf, security aide of Sturgeon)
Dan - Soldier (human, bodyguard of Sturgeon)

With hindsight Millicent should have kicked the rapier away from the leader of the gang and we would have had a chance to force/encourage a surrender of the gang, and therefore avoid our ignominious (but largely successful) retreat.
 

BrDoG

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Um, maybe? The ref has a handful of 1st Ed books, one of the covers has an army of skeletons on the march? Apparently he is using an official storyline to start off the campaign and then moving on to his own stuff. Next up, episode 2 of what I tentatively call the Altdorf campaign, with a more personal narrative to give the game more flavour.
 
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BrDoG

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I, Lord Millicent Draynes Sturgeon, put forth this aide de memoir for the perusal of my betters and equals, to understand the plight of the common noble (such as I am) in this Empire, my home and comforting bosom.

I was perusing the letters posted upon the boards of Konigsplatz in Altdorf, enjoying the early morning air and taking in the joys of a wondrous city full of the energy and colour of spring. Those that were of interest I read aloud to my trusted steward, the brave ace slingshot Galen Lightfoot. After a while Galen noticed that a rather stern looking dwarf was grimacing in my general direction, or perhaps he might have been squinting. Now, although I am an accomplished thespian, I was not aware that my one man performace of 'The Carbuncle of Averheim' was well known in the halls of the dwarves. Assuming his ignorance I approached him, and doing my best to translate his 'hmpf's and 'grr's I ascertained that he wished assistance in reading the posters on the wall. This I did willing, if only to improve, in my own small way, human to dwarf relations in this old city of Altdorf.

It turned out that the dwarf, who goes by the name of Hindral, is a bounty hunter, with a steely eye, a plethora of weaponry, and somewhat unnervingly, a set of manacles. At about the same time, the three of us fell into conversation with a soldier by the name of Dan, a burly fellow, well equipped and armoured with mail, helm and shield. He, like us, sought work, as a few gold crowns does not stretch far in Altdorf, and it is fair to say that the many months of travelling the byways of the Empire had cossetted Galen and I into a complacent ideal that we could live indefinitely by our wits and initiative (and little coin). Dan suggested that he be my bodyguard, and who was I to say no? Reassured as to our collective options, we continued to seek active employment, hoping that as a larger body of men we could command more respect and better coin.

At around noon, a procession passed through Konigplatz, led by a group of knights templar or some such, I can never keep track of who or what these fancy warriors are, but what interested us was that they held a man prisoner in a cage. His head and hands were kept secure in metal contraptions, while he was manacled to the floor of the cage by his feet. The hoy paloy of the plaza made way for the procession, which we followed through the city out of curiosity. Perhaps we showed too much curiosity, as we were determined to follow them all the way into the bowels of the Temple of Sigmar, but the patrol of knights barred our way and impertinently inferred that by asking perfectly reasonable questions in order to educate ourselves of the situation, we might have been implicating our possible fraternity with the prisoner in question.

Suffice to say that we returned to Konigplatz none the wiser. Our next move was to inquire about the hiring of an expedition to go to the Grey Mountains, led by Prince Ludwig, or it might have been Lord Tessenick, sometimes I despair over the number of lords and ladies in this Empire, it is too much really. The Sturgeons of Wissembourg of course are an old family with a deep heritage, and it is easy to feel that some other nobles are raised to the 'purple' with little or no merit. Anyway I digress, the expedition in question had already marched north, and we had missed our chance. As it stands, they would have refused to recruit dwarves anyway, which would have meant abandoning Hindral, when we had only just made his acquaintance.

In the afternoon we returned to the Bloody Doublet and inquired with its proprietor as to whether he knew of any work in the city. It turns out that he knew of a fellow called Tobias at a tavern near the warehouses by the docks, who occasionally hired men willing to get their hands dirty with any toil necessary. There is also a physician in that locale who is both efficient and cheap, so we stored that information away for future emergencies. We could have done with a physician at the time, as our compatriot Klaus, so valiant in our escapade to save Sigismund Weissbruck, had been sorely beaten by both the stevedore's guildsmen and the teamsters' guildsmen. He had attempted to find work on the docks, but had not followed required protocol, he had suffered for his lack of foresight, so we did our best to comfort him, and let him rest for a few days.

In the evening we set out to find Tobias, but he was an elusive fellow. To be fair, it might be incumbent on us to seek him out at regular intervals, as he is most likely a busy man with many ventures that require his supervision. We did however encounter a noble scholar from the university, celebrating his mustering out from said house of learning with full honours. His name is Giles, and he reminded me of my youth, in any account he kept us all entertained, and Galen was able to enrich himself by a few coins due to Giles' generosity. Hindral meanwhile chatted amiably with Giles' two guides for the evening, to determine their likely disposition toward the scholar, who was deep in his cups and a little worse for wear. Using all the intuition available to him as a wily bounty hunter, Hindral suggested that we follow Giles' little band at a discreet distance to ensure that he got home safely.

It was not to be however, as while Galen and Hindral scouted ahead, leaving Dan and I taking up the rear, they spotted a hysterical local burst from his house shouting about some cads who had taken his father. By the time Dan and I caught up, they had discovered that the man had been shot in the back with a crossbow quarrel, and seen the crossbowman in question within the house. We did our best to find suitable cover, and having done so, Galen snuck into the house while Hindral stealthily moved round to check on the rear of the building. Hindral returned with nothing to report, and followed Galen into the kitchen, while Dan led the way upstairs with me behind.

Galen had failed to catch up with the crossbowman, which to a degree we were all relieved about. He did however find two corpses in the kitchen, and a chain with a simple brass pendant made up of three interlocking bars, that none of use recognised. He also found a loose flagstone with exposed a shaft in the ground, so as Dan and I had found all of the upstairs rooms empty and in a tidy condition, we returned downstairs to follow Hindral's firm lead into the dark shaft. Down below was a tunnel, which led to several branches in the path, none of which seemed well travelled. Further along was a sewer Hindral was unable to follow any further trail, but the footprints seemed to indicate a turn to the right. Unconvinced, we turned right for lack of a better option, and carefully made our way along the narrow walkway that bordered the sewer.

We were sure that the crossbowman had not gone far. More importantly, we were sure that he had accomplices, who may or may not have come down into the sewer. Ahead of us there was nothing but a pile of rags and bones on the walkway, which when we got close enough for Hindral to examine closely, turned out to be some kind of living corpse or animated skeleton. Hindral was unable to harm it, and the only one of us who was in a position to fight it, and suffered an unpleasant chill when the creature managed to get past his defences with a bony claw. Galen fired his sling and missed, and so took Hindral's crossbow from off his back in the hope of having better luck with it. Dan also fired with his crossbow and missed, while I threw caution to the wind and clambered into the muck of the sewer, and slid up the dirty channel as best I could in the circumstances.

Fortune returned to us soon after, the creature failed to harm Hindral again, and although Hindral, Dan and I all missed the creature with our combined attacks, Galen shot it twice. The second shot was to the head and tore half of its skull open, killing it. Hindral then considered his mining skills, and was concerned that we had missed something earlier, given that he was sure that nothing had passed beyond the creature. We backtracked and found a part of the sewer wall that looked suspicious. Hindral found a loose brick, plunged his fist into the dark crevice beyond it and thrust his fingers through a ring that lay inside, he pulled forcefully and part of the wall moved. We pushed it further to reveal an entrance to who knew what dangers!

I must at this point rest, as in my advancing years it pains my eyes to focus on the parchment, and my wrist is not so strong as it once was when grasping the tool of literary discourse.
 

BrDoG

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Episode 3.

Ah, I now stand refreshed and fortified, ready to continue this missive in my early memoirs. It pains me to say that I write this in the pale morning light of the open country. We have made a light camp on the Pilgrim’s Road running south from Altdorf, Galen and Handril are currently hunting rabbits while Klaus prepares a fire and Dan guards the camp. Our merry band has been banished from Altdorf for a period of twelve months, sent on our way from the great capital, admonished for showing initiative and threatened with calumny were we to remain.

I get ahead of myself however, it is just that I find it hard to suppress my pain and upset from the harsh treatment that we suffered at the hands of the authorities. Especially poor Galen, poked and prodded, examined in the most private manner, and handled like a foreign curiosity. Curiosity is the right word, had we not entered the home of Ernst we might still be sharing a fine drink and a hearty meal by the hearth in the Bloody Doublet, yet here we are again under the cold unforgiving skies.


Handril led the way through the mysterious door that he had found hidden within the sewers, it was a wooden contraption clad in plaster to give the illusion of brickwork. Beyond was a passage that he reckoned to be neither the work of dwarves, which is far superior, nor of humans, which is at least passable in skill and application. It widened and turned left, at which point Galen spied a glint of light like a dagger hovering a foot above the ground. On closer inspection it was revealed to be a trip wire of sorts, which we dared not activate for fear of forewarning the inhabitants of the tunnel.

With Galen and Handril in advance of our party to take advantage of their superior nightvision, Dan and I followed carefully in the murk. They found that the tunnel widened into a room with two exits and a door, within the room were three men playing at dice, so Galen and Handril returned to us. A quiet discussion followed as to whether to kill the men or not, as we had not yet ascertained if we had found Ernst’s kidnappers yet. We deemed it unlikely that such men, living in such secretive conditions, were of the legal sort, so we decided to use as much force as was necessary.

I volunteered to enter the room and provide a diversion, which might also indicate the intentions of the men determined by their response to my appearance. Galen, Handril and Dan were to lurk in the darkness with crossbows and sling prepared, ready to fire if necessary. When I entered the light and proposed that I was lost and required assistance, the men, which there were now only two of, commenced to ready their weapons.

At this point Galen let fly a sling bullet that found the temple of one of the men, knocking him out cold. Either Handril or Dan, I am not sure, shot the other man in the leg, so I charged across to prevent him from leaving the room and struck him twice with sharp blows from my spear. Handril then charged in and knocked the man to the ground with his axe, while Galen searched the first man and Dan kept watch. Galen found a repeating crossbow and a wide brimmed hat, making him our best suspect so far for the cad who had shot Ernst’s son in the back.

Handril heard footsteps behind the door so we made to be quiet. When the sound reached the door he pushed it hard into the fellow on the other side, and we barged through to assault him, he was surprised by our élan and Handril was able to chop off his leg, after which he passed out. We found ourselves in a passage with three locked, but empty cells, and three bodies that we needed to hide somehow. Galen wished to kill our two living captives, though he said it would be a better thing that we kill them now rather than let them starve to death down in this dank dungeon. I recommended that we keep them for interrogation, or to give over to the authorities at a later date.

In the meantime Handril had followed the tunnel to a chamber where another man was making merry, singing and drinking ale. We paused, unsure as to whether we should murder or capture him, but Galen saw that he had some keys so we had to do something. Handril suggested he knock back the fellow’s chair while Dan and I gagged and bound him, but we were too noisy and he saw us. We paused again, somewhat embarrassed, at which point Galen danced a merry dance and sang a song encouraging the drunk to believe that we were just figments of his inebriated imagination.

Then Handril hit the drunk squarely on the back of his head with his axe, which seemed to have little or no effect. Our dancing seemed to occupy his thoughts and attention, so Galen took his keys and we made to leave. The fellow had taken a liking to Galen however; he reached forward, picked up the poor halfling and squeezed him until he lost consciousness. Luckily I was able to convince the drunk to hand Galen over to me, and we retreated up the tunnel. While Galen came to his senses Dan and I moved the three men into the cells, then we moved back into the first room and locked the door so that the drunk could not escape.

Galen searched the north exit, which led to an armoury. This was much to Galen’s liking; he was all for taking the weapons with us, but it was just not practical to carry it all and search the remaining tunnels for Ernst. He did take a crossbow, and passed out some grenades. I did not wish to carry one, having heard tales from an old engineer of how destructive they are. Dan had some experience of them during his time in the Imperial Army, and was able to instruct Handril and Galen in their use.

A tunnel led from the other exit, which branched to the left and right after a few paces, we ignored the right branch and continued left. Soon after, Galen snuck through an archway on the right wall and found a room with four pillars that made him feel quite queer. He called me in so that I could light the room with my lantern, revealing what may have been a shrine of sorts. On one wall was a crudely carved symbol made up of three interlocking bars, like the pendant that Galen had found. My innards recoiled at the sight of it, so we marched onward.

Dan said that he could hear a whining sound, so we sped up our pace, and were rewarded with a slowly growing high pitched ululation that could be heard in the distance. We were brought short however by a rope bridge, and were not sure of its reliability. Galen tied his lasso to Dan so that he could test its strength, being the heaviest. Dan suffered no accident so we all crossed and advanced down the tunnel, which led to a large room that was full of ratmen involved in some kind of ritual, but most importantly we could see Ernst tied to an altar, and a ratmen priest leading the ceremony.

It is true to say that we dithered a little, then the ratmen saw us and drew their weapons. I shot the priest in the shoulder, the force of the blow knocked him back into a wall and onto the ground. My fellows likewise fired their weapons, but only Galen found his mark and felled another ratman. They charged toward us, so Galen and Dan switched positions and Handril pulled out his axe. Dan was soon wounded and fought defensively from that point, in order to hold them off, Handril meanwhile proved his dwarven prowess by killing two ratmen.

To our horror the priest stood up and cast some kind of sorcery that struck me with sickly green light, making me ill to my core. We were not sure of our chances as four or five ratmen and the priest were still standing, so Galen prepared a grenade. The priest then scattered some black dust on his dead comrades and chanted anew, time was running out so Handril bravely charged forward to knock Ernst off the altar and protect themselves from the blast of the grenade behind the thick stone. Galen rolled the grenade into the room, while he and Dan backed off down the tunnel.

The grenade blew up deafening myself and Handril, who had saved Ernst but dislocated his arm, which was bound to the altar. The ratmen were all killed in the blast to our intense relief, though Handril chopped the corpse of the priest in half just to make sure. Galen examined the priest and was quite taken by a pretty ring, but Handril recommended that we not take evil things from evil people, so I grabbed Galen by the scruff of his neck and dragged him back up the tunnel with Handril and Dan.

As we retreated Galen cut the ties on the rope bridge, and we explored the other branch in the tunnel. It led to a chamber that was evidently the living quarters of the priest. It was adorned with rough furs and had a chest within, which Galen forced open with a sword. Inside were three jars of unknown liquid, and a strange blue gel or putty. None of us recognised it, and none of us wanted to carry it, regardless of how much money it might or might not be worth to an alchemist.

There was not much left for us to do in this secret lair other than to collect the weapons in the armoury. We decided to leave the surviving humans for later, and tell the authorities about their location. We also made sure to prepare Ernst for the worst, as we would have to pass his dead servants during our exit. We also told him about the death of his son, our involvement in rescuing him, and his son’s brave actions in seeking assistance against the kidnappers.

When we got back upstairs to the house, Galen looked out through a window and saw that the militia had arrived and were examining the corpse of Ernst’s son. We begged Ernst’s assistance in making sure that the militia did not think we were common thieves, and Galen opened the door. The careless fool gained the attention of the militia by saying that ‘We have got Ernst inside’ and realised how that could be misinterpreted. He quickly added that ‘We have saved Ernst’, and Ernst added that we had indeed saved him. The militia would have none of it though, and demanded that we come outside.

I attempted to improve our lot by explaining the situation, but recommended to the militia captain that we do so inside the house, as the report we would give was not for the ears of the common folk. He demanded that we disarm ourselves and go with him to his barracks, which Galen was firmly against doing, but between us we managed to improve our conditions, though we would still be under guard and lock and key. I was provided with a bath and fresh clothes, as I was somewhat dirty from my foray in the sewer, and we were all given food and water.

Galen has had some run ins with the law in the past and was not comfortable in these surroundings, but there was little that we could do. During the next day we were questioned by a witch hunter who we recognised from the procession with the knight templars, assisting him was a priest who seemed to be able to tell if we spoke the truth or a half truth. We quickly saw that we were in dire straits and told the fullest and most honest account that we could about our journey to rescue Ernst.

The witch hunter heard our story and left with the priest, we did not at all rate our chances of escaping without some sort of punishment, and Galen was sure that they would make scapegoats out of us. The witch hunter returned the following day with two strange and enigmatic gentlemen, one of whom spoke with us. He explained that the ratmen are known as skaven, but that they do not exist, and that it is better for the folk of the Empire that the knowledge of the non-existence of skaven remains unknown. We swore never to mention that we never saw nothing in the lair beneath Ernst’s house.

This noble fellow seemed to know about each of our personal histories and foibles. He also intimated that there were factions within the Empire that would have us killed because we have been exposed to the unearthly forces of evil and were now tainted. We assured him that this was not the case, and were shocked to discover that these factions cared little for mitigating circumstances or simple logic. We felt the threat of death more surely then, from an unseen enemy within the state, than we had when swords were drawn against the ratmen.

Having sworn ourselves to secrecy, it was still necessary to mark our names on documents that proved the same, and undergo a cleansing ritual at the Temple of Sigmar. We were very jealous of Ernst, as he was to undergo a cleansing at the hands of the priestesses of Shallya, rather than at the rough hands of the priests of Sigmar. It was at this point that Galen suffered several indignities; Handril, Dan and I experienced quite swift emersion in cold water and a simple prayer, yet Galen was kept busy with the priests for quite a while, they apparently didn’t know what to make of him.

And then we were sent on our way. It was considered best for us to leave Altdorf and not come back for a year, because we would only be at risk of arrest or worse by other factions in the city. We were given the weapons we had found, including the grenades, Klaus was summoned with my horse and Galen’s cart, and I was allowed to write a letter to Alphonse Hercules du Gascoigne, keeping him appraised of our likely destination, Bogenhafen. To our surprise there was an explosion at the Temple of Sigmar, and chaos followed, but we felt that we had overstayed our three day welcome in the city, and made our way south.
 

BrDoG

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Episode 4

So, we finally find ourselves in Bogenhafen after a week of trudging through the rain and mud of the byroads of the Empire. I lost my shoe once or twice in the sticky muck, and Galen was up to his neck once or twice in swamped potholes. We struggled through however, and my loyal horse Nellie suffered dirty hocks with nary a complaint. Our journey was made more exciting by a short stop in Ulctburg, a town that had been long abandoned for three decades.

As we travelled south we reached a turn in the road, which broke westward from what seemed like an older but unused track. We were curious, but the old road was blocked by a wooden wall extending into the hedges and bocage to either side. A red hammer was painted on a sign that had been hammered to the wall, but it held no meaning for us. Handril led us on the branching path, as we initially thought it best to leave well alone.

Further down the road Handril could make out the roofs of a town through the trees, but no sign of smoke in the chimneys. It was getting dark at this point and we could hear the howling of wolves. We felt quite nervous, and I certainly feared for poor Nellie. The road had been long and wearisome in the previous few days, so between the prowling wolves and our desire for some home comforts, we decided to make our way into the village.

We returned to the blocked road, and Dan took the initiative by smashing down part of the wall with a large hammer that we had appropriated from the dungeon armoury in the Altdorf sewers. After passing through, I blocked the hole in the wall as best I could to hopefully keep the wolves out. As we walked toward the town, we saw the wolves appear at the broken wall, and they paused there before leaving. We made our way into the centre of the town, and realised that it was most probably deserted.

Galen immediately saw the opportunity for some creative foraging, I suggested we split up, so Handril went with Dan while I paired up with Galen. I hoped to find a barn or similar to house Galen’s cart and Nellie, while Galen no doubt sought some shiny bauble to play with. A swinging door caught our attention, and as it had something written on it in paint, we investigated. Galen of course cannot read, so I raised the lantern to light the letter. To my shock it said ‘PLAGUE’.

I reported my discovery to Galen, and we discussed the possible dangers, given that the town looked to have been long abandoned. Surely the inhabitants had been burned, and even if the air had been foul it would have settled after all these years. Still, we were not secure in mind, and I feared that my hand may have picked up some sickness from the latch on the door. We returned to the cart, which was guarded with vigour by my servant Klaus, and called over Handril and Dan.

We told them of the sign as we stood next to a nearly dry fountain, thick with green algae, while they told us of a chapel they had found. Handril, Galen and I were undecided on what to do, desperate as we were to sleep in relative comfort, even if it was within an old plague town. In our concentration, we did not see the ghostly figure of a pustule ridden woman approach Dan and beckon to him. She was a strange blue white colour and floated above the floor. We approached, and she beckoned to me, having been rebuffed by Dan.

I was initially disgusted, but my curiosity overcame me, and I encouraged the others to see what she wanted, as our experiences would provide the basis for a story to play before the sheep farmers at the Schaffenfest. I followed her into the chapel, despite Galen’s misgivings, so Dan patrolled the entrance against any intruder, and Handril covered my back. Once inside, she led Handril and I up the aisle toward an altar. I hesitated, but walked up three steps toward her.

Galen was outside shouting, calling us back to the cart, but I ignored him, seeking a meaty tale to tell at the campfire. I was taken aback when the ghostly lady began to push aside the top of the altar, and I realised that it was a sarcophagus. I stepped back down the steps temporarily, but stepped up again to look inside. Handril came up to stand beside me, and we looked in. Apart from a few bones and rags it was empty, so I gestured and spoke loudly so that the ghost lady would understand me, intending that she understand that I could not acquiesce to her wishes.

I meant at that point to leave but she touched my arm and I was frozen as if with cramp. Handril was quick to strike her with his trusty axe, but it passed through her and into the sarcophagus. She struck him and threw him across the chapel with ease; fortunately his fall was broken by several pews and dusty books. This caught the attention of Dan, who came into the chapel pulling a bomb out of his sling bag. Time seemed to slow, and I could hear Galen shouting as the ghost lady transformed, her eyes rolled back and became blank sockets, while sharp pointy teeth extruded from her withered lips.

My body recovered from its malaise, so I ran, and Handril ran, and Dan backed off, ever ready with his bomb. The ghost lady had knelt down and seemed to be chanting, and as we ran down the aisle, leaping over broken pews, we saw out of the corner of our eyes, several skeletal and ghostly heads rising from the pews on either side. We burst outside shouting ‘ghosts’ as a warning to Galen who was now approaching, so he ran back to the cart in search of salt.

We all made our way across the town square; Dan paused at the fountain while we ran to the cart, I meant to grab a crossbow with which to shoot the followers of the ghost lady, who I had not realised were ghosts, and had assumed that they were the dead brought back to life. Galen returned with the salt, and Dan felt something touch his leg – a slimy black tentacle was reaching out from the fountain to clutch his leg. He backed away, and we realised that we were in danger from two threats, the creature in the fountain and ghosts that now emerged from the chapel.

Dan prepared the bomb with a short fuse, as he hoped to either dump it into the fountain so that it exploded before the remaining water put out the fuse, or roll it against the fountain. He heaved the bomb toward the fountain, but it caught on his sleeve and rolled a only a few dangerous feet toward the chapel. In an instant he stepped forward to kick it away from us, but he disappeared in an explosion of bright light. Our ears were temporarily deafened, and I ran forward thinking that Dan had been blown onto a roof, but Handril found him within the fountain.

We had very little time to act as the ghosts were advancing. Handril severed a tentacle that had grabbed hold of Dan, and I heaved him out and started to stagger with him to the cart. We got him into the cart while Galen was ready with a handful of salt; the explosion had opened the wound that Dan had gained in the Altdorf sewers. Unfortunately Galen’s cart was very slow, or rather his pony was very slow, and it seemed like we had little chance of getting Dan to safety. I mounted Nellie and decided to leave the ghosts a merry dance while the others made their way to the outer wall.

The ghosts followed me, despite Galen’s accurate hurling of salt at some of their number. I thought that maybe I had overstepped my abilities however, as the ghosts howled a terrible shriek and charged. Nellie was up to the challenge however, and we zig zagged across the wasteland between the town and wall. The ghosts managed to strike Nellie on several occasions though, and her breathing seemed to become very laboured. As the cart reached the wall I was not far behind, but my riding skills deserted me and Nellie stumbled. I tumbled to the ground without too much embarrassment, and staggered toward the wall while the ghosts savaged poor Nellie.

The others shouted for me to ‘run, run Milly, run’, my lungs seemed fit to bursting, but my frail body reached the perimeter in safety. Within the wall, the ghosts had killed Nellie, and a ghostly version of my stalwart equine companion rose from the corpse. Luckily for us it seemed like the ghosts would not leave the perimeter of the wall, so Galen used his lasso to recover Nellie’s corpse and we slunk off into the darkness. I was grateful to Galen for his actions, but felt shameful for putting Nellie at risk, and condemning her soul to never ending unrest.

Handril was angry with me for several days, while Galen seemed to ignore me, and Dan of course was ill with his wounds. Klaus doesn’t speak much anyway, though he is very loyal. The rest of the journey to Bogenhafen was uneventful and lacking in conversation. We had plenty of horse meat to fortify ourselves, but the ghosts had somehow made Nellie old and decrepit, so our meals were somewhat stringy despite Galen’s best efforts.

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At Bogenhafen the Schaffenfest is in full swing, there are hundreds of sheep penned around the east side of the city, and a tent city of visitors, merchants and entertainers set up on the south side of the city. We went into the city, leaving Klaus outside with the cart, because there is a tax for taking carts, horses and quite a lot of objects into the city. We hoped to sell the weapons we had, but that would have meant buying a license from the guild within the city, which we could not afford. Instead, we discovered that we could sell the weapons outside the city limits without issue.

Galen and Handril took Dan to a physician while I sought room and board, but the city was full, so I bought a couple of tents. It cost Dan, Galen and Handril a pretty penny to cover the consultation and healing costs of the physician. They had to pay for a very short consultation, of information which they already knew, plus treatment of the wound, plus stitches, plus poultice, plus potential removal of the stitches. The physician seemed quite a character, and spent much of his time ordering about a child called Hans who served as his apprentice.

We met up later, when Galen and Handril put up the tents, and slept fitfully. In the morning we headed over to a south gate at Dan’s suggestion, to set up a stall to sell our weapons. It seemed like a great position to find potential customers on the road. Most of the people on the road were farmers however, and did not have the coin to pay for our weapons, even at a reduced price. One farmer reported that some barbarian mercenaries were in a beer tent nearby, so I sent Galen off to buy them beers and recommend our stall.

The mercenaries appeared and checked out several of our weapons, encouraged by Handril, who was posing as a satisfied customer. They sparred with each other, but being drunk over played their sword practice, and attracted the attention of the militia. Several armed men broke up the mercenaries, who had begun to brawl with reckless abandon in the dust of the road. They were dragged off to cool their heels in the jail, and we were at risk of similar punishment for supplying the mercenaries with weapons, but a little charm was enough for the militia to leave us alone.

In a nearby corral were a well dressed fop and a giant of a man, a fierce wrestler. The fop advertised five crowns to anyone who could survive three rounds with the ‘Crusher’, or 10 crowns to anyone who could defeat him. Handril walked up and volunteered; though he was a little confused that he was not allowed to use either his axe or wear his armour. Despite this, he struggled out of his armour and equipment, and stepped into the corral.

There were no rules to the fight, so Handril opened with an uppercut to the gonads of the Crusher, and followed with a jab to his eyes, but having crushed his adversaries’ nuts, Handril failed to follow up with a successful knock out punch. He had some great moves, and tried some inventive attacks, but his agility failed him. The Crusher meanwhile caught Handril out a couple of times and weakened him somewhat, so Galen and I shouted out our support in an attempt to bring the crowd to his side.

Handril successfully kicked his opponent’s knee, causing a howl of pain, but the Crusher moved round and grabbed Handril around the neck. He pulled Handril off the ground and the situation looked bleak for the dwarf, but he reached back and scratched at the Crusher’s face. Handril was dropped to the ground, and looked ready to strike the knock out blow, but the fop rang a bell and called the bout ended. We shouted foul, as Handril was owed two more bouts, but the fop and Crusher retreated to their tent. I was suspicious, so I walked up and opened the tent, to see them both leaving out the back with their belongings.

Handril and Galen ran up and into the tent, and pursued the performers. Galen tackled the fop while Handril knocked down the Crusher. We were set to search them at that point, but the militia were on the scene and took all four of them into custody. They were set in front of the magistrate in a nearby tent, who heard their story and that of several witnesses. Handril was paid a few coin for his trouble, while the fop and the Crusher were put in the stocks and ordered to pay several tithes.

Having been disappointed twice now in opportunities to make some fast money, we were left to explore the fayre further or enter the city once more.
 
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BrDoG

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Episode 5

We have another member in our gang of ragamuffins, his name is Rupert and he is a pharmacist. At last I have a travelling companion who is more of an equal in many ways. He is indeed more learned than I am, having knowledge of diseases and wounds and such, but it rather perplexes me that he cannot read. Galen and I were bemused as to how he marks his concoctions so that he knows whether it is a poison or a curative. Who knows, perhaps these pharmacists use a secret code on their labels.

It may be that his recent scandal is a result of this lack of literary competence. Apparently his physician employer asked him to mix a particular curative, and Rupert questioned the measurements listed on his master’s scrip, but was told to mix it as written. Rupert loyally did so, provided the physician with the curative and the town burgher who he was tending to later died, or fell ill. I blame such errors on insufficient schooling in imperial grammar and syntax.

You may wonder how Rupert came to fall in with us. It was not long after our encounter with the fop and the wrestler, when we heard a commotion and saw a three legged goblin running through the crowd, to much consternation. From that point on, Galen could only refer to the creature as a stool, chair or similar device for providing comfort for the buttocks. To be fair, we did surmise that tying a small shield to its back would create an interesting mobile pouf.

Galen chased the goblin into the beer tent where he had found the barbarians that we had hoped to fleece while selling our weapons. A gentleman had already herded the goblin up a tent pole, so Galen caught it with his lasso and Dan stepped in to provide the muscle necessary to pull the goblin down. I arrived at that point, being a little slow in my old age, with Klaus behind me. We introduced ourselves to the gentleman, and it is he who we now know as Rupert.

A well dressed man in pantaloons, slashed shirt and feathered hat then arrived, enquiring after the small goblin. Galen, being the quick thinking tyke that he is, stated that we had not seen a pointy eared green stool, but that had one in our possession that we had caught several years ago. What a coincidence you might say, well, rub a dub; it hurts not to try your luck once in a while. This man was having none of it, and had the militia hard on his heels, so we had to change our story right quick.

This man was Doctor Malthus, who owned the travelling Zoocopia, which seemed to be some form of entertainment involving freaks of nature. Galen returned the goblin, for which he, Rupert and Dan were rewarded with a little coin, and we all gained free entry to the Zoocopia. We had a couple of hours to burn, so we collected Hindral from his drunken stupor in the corner of the beer tent, and went for a stroll in the fayre.

Rupert asked us about our business and explained his quandary in having been thrown out of town so unceremoniously. He was without employment, so we encouraged him in the belief that our gang is somewhat successful in hiring out our skills to those wealthy individuals that need it. I also enquired as to whether he objected to wearing makeup, or even a dress, and luckily he surmised that we were travelling players, perhaps we have a new performer in our troupe.

Having gained some estimation of Rupert’s character we ambled over to the Zoocopia, where Doctor Malthus welcomed us and put us in the charge of his assistant, a scrofulous looking dwarf named Gotrid. The dwarf led us into the large tent that was the Zoocopia, and showed us a one eyed dog that put the shivers up Galen’s spine, so he climbed upon Klaus’ shoulders for security. Following that was the enigmatic beaver fish, forty pounds of half fish half beaver pickled in a bell jar.

We could hear wonderful singing nearby, beautiful in its pitch and clarity. We moved on to another cage and spied within a woman who was generously endowed with, she had lots of, quite an excess of, well jingle jangle, she was a heavy lass. And, she had a thick luxuriant beard, but by Sigmar’s salty balls she sang like an angel. When she finished her aria we politely commended her, and were rewarded with a wink.

Rupert seemed preoccupied, and stared at the lady somewhat, he engaged her in conversation and discovered that she is the wife of Doctor Malthus. Rupert asked her if he could have a kiss for a silver shilling, and she raised him to two, for after all she is a lady. She invited him into her cage, and he went willingly, though when she reached forward to hug him he appeared to attempt to trip her with his quarterstaff, but it caught in the bars of the cage.

Well tickle my nethers if she didn’t have the arms of a prize wrestler, and pulled old Rupert into a passionate embrace. We thought he would disappear into the voluptuous folds of her, well, I digress. They, or perhaps she, enjoyed a long and voluble kiss. Rupert was then released, exchanged some pleasantries with the lady, and left the cage. On walking away from her, he whispered conspiratorially that her beard was indeed authentic.

Around the next corner Gotrid revealed the three legged goblin, which seemed frantic to get away. The dwarf poked and prodded it to get a reaction from the crowd, and it certainly seemed like Rupert was disgusted at the dwarf’s antics. We remonstrated with Gotrid over his behaviour, at which point the goblin bit him and got loose, it was mere seconds before the goblin was scampering off and out through the tent flaps. Gotrid gave a shout and pursued the creature.

The ruckus drew the attention of Doctor Malthus, who ushered the remaining onlookers out of the tent. He then offered us twenty crowns each if we were to recover the goblin in a healthy condition. I stated that as Hindral was an accomplished bounty hunter and Rupert was a skilled healer, we would have no trouble in tracking it down and returning it in good health.

The goblin had entered the city however by a small grate in the wall, and although Dan was certain that Galen was ideal for the job of entering the grate, it was not practical for the rest of us. We split up, with Galen, Dan, Klaus and Hindral collecting equipment from our tent, while I took Rupert to buy some tinctures and unguents to use as makeup to disguise him. He feared that if he returned into the city limits of Bogenhafen so soon, the Physicians Guild would punish him.

Rupert and I met the others at the Postern Gate and entered the city, looking for a large sewer grate. We soon found one and Dan volunteered to go first. He reported that the rungs did not go all the way to the sewer walkway, so Galen provided rope and Dan lowered himself down. He found it necessary to swing himself back and forth to reach the walkway, and successfully reached safety. Rupert and I were less successful, and for the second time in a month I found myself up to my britches in foul waters.

Hindral led the way down the sewer, following the tracks of the goblin. Along the way we found the dead body of a dwarf whom we had seen in the stocks earlier in the day. Rupert examined him and ascertained that someone had cut out his heart. These healer types are good at stating the obvious; it is a good thing that Rupert does not charge for each consultancy. He could find no useful clues.

I started to feel light headed and nauseas, and noticed that the others were similarly afflicted, though Galen seemed to be enjoying the experience. I could see flickering blue lights as well, which Hindral explained was evidence of noxious gases in the area. We were torn as to whether to return outside and find another access, or continue, but Dan encouraged us to continue, and Hindral told us it was safe so long as none of the gas got into our lantern.

The illness slowly faded away with the blue light as we descended at a small gradient. Rupert and Dan reckoned that we had previously been ascending a similarly small gradient, and that the gases had probably been trapped in the high passage of the sewer. It was at that point that a rat swimming in the water was sucked under the surface. Soon after, a quivering gelatinous blob emerged and slapped its pale translucent form onto the walkway in front of me.

I backed away with Rupert, wanting none of the creature, while Galen put two crossbow bolts into it, and was intent on killing it. Rupert and I crossed over to the other walkway where Klaus, Dan and Hindral were watching, and marched forward quickly. Galen was left behind, so he gave up on fighting the blob, and when he caught up with us I got in the sewer channel again to help him across.

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Not long after this, Hindral found a hole smashed in the wall, a small gap behind and a door with an open slat in it. Dan took the lantern from Hindral and walked through the door to find a small room with a pentagram drawn upon the floor in wax. He skirted the edge of the pentagram and examined a metal cabinet on the other side of the room. Not long after, the rest of us entered the room.

We all avoided the pentagram, and had a good look around, but the walls were bare and the only item of interest apart from the pentagram and cabinet was a small pile of bones. Rupert examined them, and discovered that the pelvis had three sockets. Well by cock and pie, if we hadn’t found the three legged goblin. Unfortunately he was beyond healing and our bounty was lost, Galen suggested that Malthus could exhibit the bones at least, and that way we would get some coin for our trouble.

Dan wanted to get the cabinet open, and Rupert thought there might be a door behind it. Dan and Klaus couldn’t move it however, and were evidently unworried as to what the pentagram was for and how the goblin had been sucked clean of all its flesh. Galen encouraged the others to tie his rope over the back of the cabinet, and between all six of us we hoped to pull it over. Then the lantern light went out.

Hindral tried to relight the lantern while Klaus and I attempted to set light to my blanket. With all of the scratching and sparking of flint and tinder in the darkness, we could make out a disturbing column of smoke in the pentagram that took the vague form of a man. I was taken aback, and Klaus turned white as a sheet. He didn’t say anything though, he hardly ever does.

The creature asked us what we were doing there and bid us to leave, so Klaus and I dutifully left. Then he threatened to skin the flesh from Galen’s bones if we did not return, so I ran back in, not wanting Galen to suffer. Rupert and Dan questioned the creature as to what it wanted and who its master was, but it was insufferably vague and dismissive of us. As the minutes passed us by and we each explored our own solutions to our crisis, the creature exchanged conversation with violence.

We though ourselves safe beyond the perimeter of the pentragram, but the creature was able to lean over the edge and reach out to the wall of the room. I took a blow to the shoulder as the creature spun about with multiple arms of dark smoke swooshing over my head. Dan took out his warhammer and began bashing against the cabinet hoping to find something within to combat the creature, while Galen fired at it with his crossbow and Hindral ran in to fight it.

Unfortunately Hindral lost his footing and swung his axe off to the side of the room, the creature responding by clobbering him between the thighs and crushing his small dwarven plums. Hindral went down like a sack of potatoes. Galen then caught the creatures’ attention, which smashed him up against the wall, so I stepped in and stabbed it to no effect with my spear. Dan was still hammering the cabinet open, Rupert scratched a gap in the pentagram, and Klaus took up Hindral’s axe to smash in the door.

Dan found a skull bound with an iron band secured with nails, and bloody silver tray and a bloody dagger. He slid the tray and skull into his bag, and walked into the pentagram, where he cut his hand with the dagger hoping to dispel the creature, but to no effect. Then he took out the skull and threw it at the creature, but it passed through and smashed into pieces against the wall. With one idea following another, Dan collected the iron band and put it upon his helmet, but nothing happened.

The creature meanwhile had struck me a fierce blow, and thrown Galen across the room into the opposite wall, almost knocking him unconscious. Klaus had gotten the door open by now, which the creature had somehow sealed shut earlier on. Then Dan’s luck ran out and the creature thumped him to the ground. Rupert then caught the attention of the creature, so I helped Dan to stagger outside where Klaus protected him.

We were all pulling away when Rupert took the bloody knife and walked into the heart of the smoky creature, which seemed to disconcert it and gave us time to retreat. Galen was desperately looking for his repeating crossbow, but couldn’t see it in the flickering light. Rupert stepped out from the creature, which moved away, seeming to collect its wits, so Rupert grabbed hold of Hindral and ushered him towards us and safety.

Moments later we were all outside on the sewer walkway again. Battered, bruised, scared witless in a couple of cases, and with nothing but a bag of goblin bones, a tray and a dagger to show for it.
 

BrDoG

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New character list.

Lord Millicent Draynes Sturgeon - Noble (human)
Galen Lightfoot - Rustler (halfling)
Klaus (npc) - Labourer (hanger on)
Hindral - Bounty Hunter (dwarf)
Dan - Soldier (human)
Rupert - Pharmacist (human)
 

BrDoG

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Validated User
Episode 6.

We found ourselves gasping and shaken outside in the sewer again after our close shave with the smoke monster in the room with the pentagram. Of us all, only Klaus and Rupert were unhurt, which was a blessing, as Rupert is very skilled with the tending of wounds. Galen had recovered enough that he shone the lantern back into the room in the hope of seeing his recently found repeating crossbow, but it was nowhere within the limited arc of the beam of the lantern. The rest of us were eager to leave, as although we had failed in our mission, we at least had the bones of the three legged goblin.

We had a brief discussion about whether to return the way we came and brave the section of the sewer with the noxious gasses, or to push on further down the sewer. We did the latter and found a shaft with a set of rungs, which Klaus ascended until he found a hatch leading into the streets of Bogenhafen. As we emerged into a cleaner and fresher atmosphere, we discovered that it was dark and that we had spent several hours clambering about in the darkness below.

Rupert and I stank to the hallowed halls of Sigmar’s heavenly palace, which certainly set many of the early evening revellers to avoid us like the plague. Dan lagged behind so as to not seem as one of our company, so we obliged our friends by walking separately down the road. Luckily the Postern Gate had not been closed, I suppose with the Schaffenfest in full swing there is no curfew until late at night. Once back at the fair we each commandeered a watering trough and washed ourselves as best we could. I buried my clothes as there was nothing that even Galen could do to save them.

Once cleaned up and in fresh clothes, with a belly full of lamb in our stomachs and several pints of beer in the case of Galen and stout Hindral, we bedded down for the night. We paired up to share the two smaller tents, as we had not set up the larger tent that we took from the wrestler and the fop, in case they decided to make an issue of it. Galen and Hindral stumbled in much later, with Galen sleeping in his cart and Hindral snoozing underneath it.

During the night I had the queerest taste of blood in my mouth, though considering I had taken a beating from the smoke monster, it may have just been a bitten tongue or some internal injury. I am sure that I awoke to see a horned humanoid walking around our camp, so in the morning I questioned my friends about their nocturnal comforts. Only Galen had a similar experience, so Hindral volunteered to search the area for tracks, to no avail given that we had walked about so much ourselves.

Galen talked to some other campers nearby, but they saw nothing out of the ordinary, and nor did their dog, but then with all of the people coming and going in general it was unlikely that we would find a solid clue. We put our suspicions aside for the time being and had breakfast, and decided to hunt down the barbarians who had been interested in buying our weapon cache. Galen and Hindral were more than happy to do so, as it meant several hours more of drinking.

Unfortunately the barbarians were nowhere to be found, and Galen and Hindral became quite drunk. They were quite entertaining so I hit upon the idea of performing an impromptu play while their inhibitions were lowered, and decided to use our experience with the smoke monster as inspiration. With Dan providing atmospheric song, Galen and Hindral ‘explored’ a dungeon while I narrated a vaguely similar story to the small crowd that we had managed to assemble. Klaus wore a sheet and acted as the smoke monster, and as Hindral drunkenly re-enacted his heroic attack upon the creature, Klaus kicked the dwarf solidly in the knackers and bore him to the ground.

The crowd was perplexed by our performance and did not seem to understand the intricacies of the plot, but we walked around with proffered hats and helms, and managed to make a few silver. At the same time, a note was passed to Galen, who gave it to me to read. It suggested that we were fools to perform our battle in the sewer so publicly, and that if we had investigative skills similar to our acting ability, we might find some clue in the Steinhager Warehouse.

This little note worried us no end when tied to the appearance of the horned humanoid within our camp. We certainly intended to go to this warehouse, but had other matters to attend to with Dr. Malthus at the Zoocopia first. It was a short walk over to his tent, where we presented him with the goblin bones. Galen had to actually show him the pelvic bone with three sockets to prove that it really was the goblin bones, because the city watch had told him that a caretaker at the Steinhager Warehouse had killed his goblin and burned it.

This new clue certainly caused us further interest, though as far as Dr. Malthus was concerned, the matter was at an end and he had no wish to buy the bones from us. Galen and Hindral had loose tongues about the smoke monster in their drunkenness, but Dr. Malthus fortunately took nothing that they said at face value. I asked him about his next destination in case we found any freakish creatures on our travels to sell him, and he said that he was likely to travel to Nuln in the next week. We returned to our camp to mull over our discoveries.

Dan suggested that I go to the city library to seek mention of the smoke monster or anything relating to our experiences, and offered to act as my bodyguard while the others went to the Steinhager Warehouse to talk to the caretaker. There was some worry about splitting up in town however, so Klaus and Rupert stayed to guard the camp while the rest of us went to the warehouse. We considered picking up some boxes and sneaking in under the guise of labourers, but given that Klaus had been beaten to a bloody pulp by teamsters and stevedores in Altdorf for doing similar, we just walked in.

An old man called our bluff, so we admitted that we wished to speak to the caretaker, and it turned out that he was indeed the caretaker we sought. This old man was called Anton, and was very proud of having killed the goblin, which had snuck into the warehouse by a high window. Even though the goblin was puny, this struck a wrong chord with us, so Hindral checked the area inside and outside the window for tracks and found none.

I had provided Galen with some brass pennies to buy us all some ale, and it seemed as though the promise of supplying him with more alcohol might loosen his tongue. He claimed to have struggled with the goblin and skewered it with his stick, but his description of the goblin was wildly contrary to our own memory of it. Anton said that it was about Dan’s height with seven clawed feet, a horned head, fur, and he could not be sure of its colouration – we were thus certain that he was lying given that the goblin was small, scrawny and green, with no horns.

The city watch had come to take the corpse and allegedly burned it, but the trail effectively ended there as we had no way of knowing which city watchmen had taken the corpse, or if they were in truth really city watchmen. We offered to return in the evening with more beer and he was amenable to the prospect. It was our considered opinion that if we celebrate his bravery, and then suggest that rumours in the fayre claim that it was all a ruse and that if such a man as he was involved in such a plot, he would indeed be a very clever man to have fooled all of Bogenhafen so.

It was too early to implement this plan so we returned to our camp while Rupert gave us a rough idea of how the four major houses of Bogenhafen rule the city. The Steinhager have mining concerns and contacts among the dwarves, the Ruggbroder are the weakest of the four and deal in grain, the Haagen deal in luxury goods and the Teugen are a powerful trading house. At this point we had no idea whether we had made a friend or foe of any of these four families, but the air stank of conspiracy even above the waft of sheep shit from the fayre.

I was emboldened by our success with the smoke monster play, and had written a rough script of our adventures with the ghosts at the plague village. I had to use pictorial reference for the others, none of whom can read, but they were more than up to the task of learning their parts and improvising the rest. Klaus was to play the ghosts, I would be the narrator and play myself and Hindral would bang two wooden cups together and play Nellie.

We had convinced Dan that it would be great if he re-enacted his heroic endeavour with the bomb, so we tied a rope to him, which arced over a tree and was tied to Galen’s cart. At the point of Nellie’s death, when Hindral brought tears to my eyes and many eyes within the crowd, Galen poked his horse with a sharp stick to launch Dan into the air. Unfortunately he used too much force and his horse broke into a gallop, in as much as his old nag can gallop.

Dan was pulled at great speed toward the branch where he clipped his leg and then plunged with arms akimbo into the ground beneath, swearing like a trooper as he fell. Galen grabbed hold of the reins and was pulled off the ground while Dan was dragged along the ground. As he said afterwards, Dan wished he had his crossbow at the time so that he could shoot either the horse or Galen. Instead, he attempted to cut the rope but lost his dagger in the process. Galen tried to use his weight to slow the cart, but he ended up colliding with the ground himself, and was bounced across the grass like a rag doll.

The cart smashed through a fence into a sheep corral battering several sheep in the process, while we soldiered on with our performance. The sheep served as a cushioning effect on the cart though and the horse came to a halt and calmed down. A farmer rushed over to berate the foolish halfling, so Galen and Dan quickly extricated themselves, with Dan threatening all along to inflict serious injury on the phantom bantam snaffler – that being Galen’s nickname. We quickly doffed caps and collected some coin, and were rewarded with a generous donation largely due to Hindral’s imitation of a ghostly horse.

There was admittedly some argument, elbowing and grazed shins as we returned to camp, but hopefully the handful of coin that I gave Dan and Galen will have smoothed over the problems a little. I am certainly glad that it is others amongst us that have reason to argue now, and I know not what Rupert thinks of our motley crew.
 
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