In preparation for what the group sees as an obvious ambush, Sigmarund has commissioned a contingent of garrison guard, Barrick a gaggle of Stevedores, and Wally, alone, reconnoiters “Sigmar’s Pond”. He finds that it is a large pond surrounded by trees and further out, a wall of houses. He observes that it doesn’t look like a place that he would select for an ambush, as avenue’s for escape are constrained by the nearby city walls. Not that he has any military or “ambushing” experience, though he does have experience escaping from a deal gone wrong, especially in his somewhat wild youth.
And yes, it does have frogs…
11 PM (23:00)- An hour from the supposed meeting with Dr. Schneider. Sigmarund presents himself at the gate of the castle, where the assigned 6 guardsmen join him. Valdric, Wally and Barrick start from the Red Bull Inn towards the Pond along the southern road, the Langermannstrasse, frustratingly slow due to Valdric’s limp. Barrick hopes they make it in time, especially since the dock handler’s he hired are suppose to meet them there soon.
Sigmarund’s contingent of soldiers march along the northern road, the Dragoonderstrass. The roads are quieting from the festival, but small groups of towns people still are out and about, having a last ale together or walking home. Sigmarund has a distinct feeling of being watched.
Along the Langermannstrass, the group trudges by a platz where Barrick notices, Clarisse chatting with a couple men, an ale in her hand. Clarisse was the woman who brought Valdric the message about the meeting with Dr. Schneider. She see’s Valdric and waves with a smile on her face, though his eyes are down to the ground, thinking no doubt of how he would rather be spending his night.
Arriving at the outskirts of Sigmar’s pond, Barrick separates and carefully scans the grounds. Seeing a couple of dark figures seemingly concealed in an alley, he moves out to the outer road, the Klingloopestrasse and stealithy moves closer, hopefully to their rear. Arriving there however he sees them disperse, apparently just a couple men having a last smoke of the night.
Sigmarund takes position with the guard at the northern entrance to the park. Valdric and Wally enter the park and start a slow circuit of the pond. Time passes. And Passes.
Eventually someone approaches. But not a tall doctor clad in black, but a little 12 year old girl. Odd that the is out after midnight. She approaches Wally, asking “Are you Valdric?”. Wally says yes. She tells him "Oh goody! I was told to find a Valdric at the pond and give you a message. Dr. Schneider says that he is sorry that he is delayed, but to please wait. " Valdric’s ire starts to rise and asks “Where is the doctor who gave you this message?”
Wally, wanting to maintain the deception as to his identity, introduces Valdric as his assistant, Wally. The girl responds “Oh, I didn’t see a doctor. A nice woman gave me 10 pence to give you the message. 10 pence! Here they are!” She opens her hand which is holding 10 brass coins.
The girl leaves and the group continues to wait. The visit by the girl reminds Valdric of Selena back on the boat. Visions of Dr. Schneider taking advantage of his absence and abducting her and subjecting her to unspeakable horrors fill his mind. He is filled by fear and rage, both at the Dr. and at himself, for being tricked into this fools errand. But they remain. Time passes. And passes.
The town is now quiet, as even the most agressive revelers have now turned in. They are surprised again then to see the same girl approach. “Oh, hi Herr Valdric! The nice woman gave me another message. She gave me 30 pence this time! She said, the Doctor apologizes for having missed his meeting!” Barrick gives her a silver for more information about who gave her the message. The woman fits the description of Clarisse.
It seems the ambush was nothing of the sort. Perhaps just a ruse to delay and frustrate. It certainly succeeded. Wally, still maintaining the ruse that he is Valdric, demands that the girl take him to her home. “I’m amazed your parents would let you be out this late!”. “Oh, I know I shouldn’t. But look, I have one shilling 30 pence! I’ve never had this much coin before! I’m sure my grandparents will be pleased.”
She leads Wally to a row house a few blocks towards village center along Langermanstrasse. Walking into her house from the deserted streets, she calls out “Grandpapa! I’m home! And I have one shiling 30 pence!”. An old, bald, limping blind man comes out of a room in a night shirt. “Sarah dear, it is very late! I was very worried. But you have a shilling and 30 pence?”
Wally speaks up and berates the old man for allowing his granddaughter to be out so late. An old woman appears out the room, and Wally turns her derision to her. Both demand Wally to exit and finally the old woman starts calling out for help. “Help! Get the watch! A stranger has invaded our home! We will all be killed, I’m sure!”
A watchman hears her as he walks the quiet streets and comes running. Other townspeople start to leave their houses, hearing the commotion. One in particular holds a sword, in a way that suggests that he knows how to use it.
Eventually, the watchman puts Wally under arrest and leads him to the castle. On the way, Wally tells him his name is Valdric, and tries to convince him of the importance of his mission, giving details about a dark Doctor, Necromancy, frogs, night ambushes. By the time they reach the castle gate, the watchman is convinced that he is not sinister, merely crazy…but perhaps a dangerous crazy. He hands him over to the castle garrison and leaves. The garrison starts to take Wally inside to the Sargent of Arms, but Wally’s continued protestations convince them that he is indeed crazy, but likely harmless. They let him go. He rushes to the boat, planning to hide out the rest of the visit here.
The next morning, Valdric and Sigmarund go to the Castle to ask about “the monk”. Barrick excuses himself, telling them he wishes to replenish his supply of bolts. But he really is bound for a visit with a priestess of Shallya….his dry, flaking, itching skin is driving him mad. The urge to scratch is made unbearable, given that he still is keeping his malady hidden from the others. Wally, fearing being seen in town, stays behind, ostensibly to clean the boat. He proceeds to scrub the deck, wearing a heavy coat and with a hat pulled over his face. A very unusual sight, which could attract attention on its own.
At the Castle, Valdric and Sigmarund ask for someone referred to as “the monk”. The castle garrison commander, Captain Marcus Baerfaust comes out to meet them. After a brief discussion where they bring up their quest against Necromancy, he takes them up the three flights of stairs to “the monk’s” chambers.
Let in, the plainly dressed priest of Verena, Professor Richter takes them to a corner with some places to sit and starts to tell them of his studies of military history. Interrupting him, they question him about his knowledge of Necromancy and the Dark Reign. He knows little. He seems to be what he appears…a scholar of military history, quite devoted to his studies. But he does have a realization that perhaps they are talking to the wrong “monk”. There is a young man who lives in the south east quarter of the village. A student, also quite studious, who is also called by some “a monk”.
Now understanding that there are “duplicate monks”, the team quickly excuses themselves. Captain Baerfaust invites them to join him for a glass of dwarven ale, to discuss more their search, but they decline, now intent to find the other monk.
Barrick finds himself at a quiet, neat home of a priestess of Shallya. She prays over him for several hours. While he finds his stress melting away under her soothing touch, his urge to scratch remains. it seems her ministrations were not effective.
Meeting back at the boat, Barrick joins the other two to head out to find the student. Wally decides to remain behind.
Crossing the bridge, they find themselves in a brass tavern, the Sleeping Cat. While its clientele are poor, they seem like good townfolk, and the tavern is neat and quiet. The old woman keeping bar is quickly convinced by a silver to help, and directs them to a nearby boarding house where the student lives. Barrick also questions her about his quarry, the dwarf Tharin.
“Yes, a dwarf calling himself Tharin was here, not two days ago. He was asking about another couple of dwarves, the Redbeard brothers. The brothers own an ale house near the docks and deliver around the region, but usually will end their day here. I told him where to find them. Odd, they didn’t show for their nightly meal and ale last night.”
Finding the boarding house, the three enter. The housemaster agrees to take them to the student’s room. “Odd, he never gets visitors …and now visitors two days in a row!”. When Valdric asks who the other was, he recounts a man calling himself a doctor came to visit him just the day before.
Going upstairs, the man knocks on a door and calls out “Herr Schmidt, you have visitors!”.
The door is opened by a sallow faced man, who reluctantly lets them in. Entering his study, they are surprised by its contents. Shelves and shelves of artifacts, pots, fragments of statues. Most remarkable are the walls, painted white and covered with lines and lines of hieroglyphics.
He starts to tell them of his studies of the ancient desert kingdom beyond the Southlands. This room is a reproduction of one of their tombs, he tells them. He painted them himself, copying the symbols from a manuscript sent to him by a scholar in Altdorf. He starts to tell them of a meeting at the University of Altdorf, but then changes the topic. Pressed, he does let slip that Dr. Schneider did visit him yesterday (after at first denying it). Valdric tells him that they are friends of the Dr. “Odd, he didn’t mention any friends would come to visit” the student says.
Armed with the knowledge that they were finally on the right track, they begin to question him. Alternating between being evasive with information about the Dr. and The Dark Reign and being effusive with information about his studies of the ancient kings of Khemri, they slowly get hints of his connections. He also expounds upon something he calls “re-life”. “Some scholars believe that the Khemri knew the secret of re-life”. That they had rituals that could bring a soul from death back to life. But not as a mindless zombie. Truely restore life, allowing the arisen to return to a normal life"
At some point, the student seems to have a revelation “Are you Valdric, by any chance?” he asks? “The good doctor said that you had a necklace, with a dark gem? That it might be the soulgem of Khemri?” Pulling a book off the shelf he turns to a page showing a stylized image of an ancient king, with a familiar necklace around his neck. Valdric recognizes it as the necklace of Lazarous Mourn. When he pulls it from its pouch and shows it to the youth, the can hardly hold back his excitement “Yes, it is it! Oh my gods! The heart of Khemri, here! Can I hold it!” He explains that this is an ancient artifact of the desert kingdom. The Heart of Khemri was worn by the king. The kings of course, were protected from permanent death by the ministrations of their priests, who when a king lay dying, would perform rituals over him to lead him safely to the next life. The writings on his wall in fact are from the ancient book of the dead, and are believed to be some of those blessings an rituals. But if the king should die a sudden and unexpected death, his life force would be retained in the Heart of Khemri, giving the priests time to prepare his body and perform the rituals. Without it, the king could lose his opportunity to pass into the next life.
Moving from questioning to intimidation, he starts to reveal more…and that is where the session ends.