Joachim is dead and the others are on board the ship “Sunburst”, its captain shot and him and the two crew members subdued. It is 2AM. Questioning the captain, he claims that he and his crew were hired by a woman to follow them, as well as take two passengers, a pair of halfling twins (encountered the previous night in the Garden of Morr, where they rest in final slumber).
“Who was the woman”, Barrick asks. “Beautiful, dark haired she is. I don’t know her name……But she is on that ship, over there…”
The captain points out to mid river, where a lone keel boat sits at anchor, lit only by moonlight.
“That’s the Frieda – and it/she has been following US the whole way, just as we were following you.”
As Valdric, Wally, Sigmarund and Barrick look out to mid river, they see figures on board, drawing up the anchor, setting sail. Briefly they consider setting sail themselves – only to remember that Joachim disabled this boats rudder – the whole point of the plan that ended with Joachim floating face down in the water. Even if they ran back to the Eidelweis at the other end of the dock, it would still take to long to get her ready and out from dock. They watch helpless as the boat sails down river, disappearing into the darkness.
Barrick takes the bleeding captain down to the lower deck to interrogate him. Above, the party discusses what to do, when they see one of the town gates enter and 4 figures with torches pass through and head towards them. The commotion, and shots, sounding in the middle of the night has roused the town watch!
Cautioning the captured crew to play along, if they want to live, Wally greeted the watch officers as they approached. They had little to go on as far as a plausible explanation for a gunfight at 2AM, so tried bribery instead. Which didn’t go well. As the watch sargeant added bribery to suspected mayhem in their list of crimes, the bribe went up from Silver to Gold…which had the desired effect. Cautioned to be sure to be gone by morning, the watch turned and left the docks, returning to town.
Wally returns to the Eidelweiss to retrieve is cart and brings it back to the Sunburst to retrieve Joachim’s body. They also proceed to confiscate its small deck cannon. With the help of the two crew members, they take it back. Meanwhile Valdric proceeds with interrogating the captain. Fully expecting to put him to death as a servant of Necromancy, he is eventually convinced that the captain is but an unknowing hireling and decides to allow him to leave. Burning the boat is briefly discussed but again discarded, both because it is not just to the captain and crew, as well as because of the attention it would draw.
Taking Joachim back to the Eidelwiess, dawn approaches. Elisabet arrives with Selena in tow. After a telling look from Barrick, Elisabet sends the little girl on a mission to go buy fish from a dockside vendor so as to be able to hear about what happened to Joachim without the 6 year old girl hearing. She views his body and says a few words of what a fine man he was. When Selena returns, Elisabet gives her the bad news, to which she replies “Did Uncle Barrick Kill Uncle Joachim?” !
Barrick returns to the Sunburst and makes a deal with the captain, Captain Pierce. His silence as to what occured in exchange for medical care. He readily agrees. Taking him back into town he finds a Barber Surgeon clinic. Turning to leave, he is stopped by the surgeon, who asks “Does he have coin to pay for treatment?”. Barrick relunctantly pays him to treat Pierce.
Back at the Eidelweiss, Elisabet preps the boat for the river and casts off. She keeps herself and Selena away from the others, hoping to avoid catching the sickness that has spread to most of the others.
Everyone sleeps and recuperates as Elisabet guides the boat. They feel some better, but the sick ones still are plagued by the intense itching of the disease.
Finally they arrive at Reikguard, where they hope to find the villianous Dr. Hartleib Schneider. But first on the agenda is to take Joachim to the GArden of Morr.
The village is crowded – its Festag! The “Castle Guard” festival they are told. Children run around, playing with toy shields, helmets and swords, which are being sold by street side peddlars. People eat, laugh, talk and dance to the street musicians.
Once again, Barrick – feels like they are being watched. As they proceed, Sigmarund hangs back, watching for tails. Valdric in the lead, is stopped by a poor beggar woman asking for brass. As Valdric fishes in his pouch, he is jostled by a quickly moving man. To late he realizes it was a Pickpocket and that the neclace is gone!
Valdric calls out to Barrick, pointing at the fleeing man. Barrick looks but sees two men matching the description. Making a quick decision, he takes off after the one on the right.
Sigmarund, about a block behind, sees the commotion and sees Barrick take off in a run. Quickly realizing a chase is on and deducing who is being chased, he takes off in pursuit himself.
Barrick briefly loses sight of his quarry in the crowd, but then catches sight of him again, just in time to see him dart into an alleyway to the right. Quickly following him in, he sees a door close in the alleyway – he must have gone there. Yanking the door open, Barrick dives in, finding himself in a tavern kitchen.
Meanwhile, Sigmarund sees them run into the alleyway. Immediately ahead is the sign of “The Red Bull Inn” – apparently the building that they ran into. Thinking fast, Sigmarund lets Barrick take the back route while he enters the tavern from the front.
It is Festag, and the tavern is packed with people, the sound of laughter and the smells of good food and ale. Barrick is told by the cook that a man ran through the kitchen into the eating hall, and he enters from the kitchen entrance. Both he in the back and Sigmarund in the front see the pickpocket at the same time, running up the stairs. Pushing through the crowd, they reach the bottom of the stairs just as he turns a corner at the top. They rush up, hearing a door slam above them.
Turning the corner at the top of the stairs, they see a hallway, with three doors on each side. Barrick crashes through the first door on the left – finding a naked woman sitting on a naked man lying on the bed, “plying her trade”, so to speak. Sigmarund flings open the first door on the right, finding it empty. Barrick tries the second door on the left, surprising a man and his wife unpacking their traveling cases. The woman screams, and the man reaches for his sword. Shouting out a quick “Pardon me”, Barrick backs into the hall to try the next door.
Sigmarund’s next door opens to a room with a naked woman and two men…again, she is “working” Sigmarund’s last door on the right opens to a room with a man sleeping off a drunk, snoring loudly. Barrick opens the last door on the left, finding the room empty and the window open. Looking out the window, he sees the thief running down the street, dodging between festival celebrants. Barrick leaps out of the second story window, landing hard, but safely on the street. He briefly loses sight of the man, but then catches sight of him entering another alleyway. He runs after him. Behind him, Sigmarund jumps out of the window, but not quite so gracefully, falling hard. Pain shoots through his knee, but he ignores it and rejoins the chase.
Both men are heavily fatigued and gasping for breath, but keep on running. Barrick follows the thief into the ally – but this time the thief’s luck has run out. It is a dead end, and he turns to face his pursuer. “Give me what you stole” demands Barrick, as he aims his crossbow at the man’s head. The man pulls a pouch from his belt and tosses it down in front of him. “Here it is – don’t hurt me!”
As Barrick’s attention is drawn to the dropped bag, the thief bolts toward him, trying to dodge around and escape. But Barrick’s crossbow is true and the pickpocket stops, a bolt embedded in his eye. As Sigmarund rounds the corner the thief crumples to the ground. Picking up the pouch from the ground, Barrick finds it full of trinkets. But a quick search of the body finds the stolen necklace tucked into his shirt. Wanting to keep it safe from pickpockets, Barrick shoves it down the front of his pants for safekeeping.
Meeting back with the others waiting with Joachim’s body, Barrick quickly recounts the chase, and assures Valdric the necklace is safe…telling him where he has it.
Valdric struggling to control himself, says “Let me get this straight. You are carrying the necklace down the front of your pants. The necklace with the evil enchanted gem. The necklace we took from the animated body of Madriga. The necklace which holds the soul of the evil Necromancer Lazarus Mourn. That necklace….is cradling your…family jewels. That’s the safe place that you thought was the best place to keep it??”
Many, many, many jokes later, Barrick pulls it out and hands it to Valdric. Valdric takes it, carefully grasping it in a cloth. He performs a purification ritual, both on the necklace and on Barrick. Barrick feels a burning sensation, but perhaps it is him mind playing tricks on him. Fortunately, his “boys” are safe from corruption, this time at least.
The party proceeds to the Garden of Moor at the outskirts of the town, to lay Joachim to rest. Elisabet says a seaman’s (SEAman’s!) prayer over his body, and the friends say their last goodbye.
Returning to the village, Elisabet departs to build a gun mount on the Edelweiss.
Sigmarund approaches a confident looking young nobleman and asks for directions to Temple of Sigmar. The man gives him directions to the temple, which is a short walk away.
Ten minutes later they arrive. It is a huge temple, especially considering the relatively small size of the town it serves. Barrick stays outside while Sigmarund enters. Getting directions from a priest, he finds Father Mattias Uber, a distinguished looking Sigmarite Head Priest. Father Uber is cooperative, welcoming Sigmarund as an obviously devout man to the temple and answers his questions. No, he doesn’t know a Dr. Schneider, or a Necromanceress named Kalida. He knows of the Black Reign, but knows of no activity here in Reikguard. But he pledges to help in any way he can to help to destroy any influence that might be found here.
Meeting back with Barrick, they discuss their next steps. They remember the note they found in Dr. Schneider’s laboratory. Was that only a week ago? It seems like ages – so much has happened between then and now! But they remember that it made reference to a “monk”, advising the Dr. to consult with him when he arrived at Reikguard. They return to the Temple to ask if Father Uber knows who “the Monk” might be.
“Yes, there is a Priest of Verena at the Castle that is commonly referred to as “the monk”. He isn’t of course – it isn’t a monastery after all. But he is a recluse, devoted only to his studies, and has acquired that nickname."
Meanwhile Valdric and Wally go shopping, to buy yet more medicine for their flaking skin disease, as well as to buy pistol shot.
Later, as dusk approaches, the party meets at the Red Bull for dinner. As they eat, an attractive brown haired woman wearing a tight leather corset vest and leather pants approaches Valdric..
She says “I was told to watch for a Priest of Morr with a limp and little girl. Are you Valdric?”
Valdric’s knife comes out as does his ire. But she seems to have a plausible story. She says she was approached by a man in a black suit, who gave his name as Dr. Schneider. He paid her a few silver to watch for Valdric and to give him a message. “He said to tell you, that he thinks that you and he need to talk. He wants to meet you tonight, at midnight. At Sigmar’s Pond.” When asked, she explains that Sigmar’s Pond is in a small walled park on the south side of the village.
Deciding she didn’t deserve to die for only passing on a message, Valdric advises her to stay away from the Doctor, telling her that he is an evil man. She thanks him for the warning and turns to go. Barrick takes his eyes off her breasts and the team confers on what to do next. Clearly it is a trap, they agree, but one they must try to take advantage of.
Returning to the temple, Sigmarund takes Father Uber up on his offer of help. The father listens to his request, and suggests that he arrange for a squad of castle guards from the garrison to join them this night, to help them in the midnight rendezvous with the Doctor. Meanwhile, Barrick goes to the docks, and recruits a gang of 8 strong longshoremen As night falls, they make final preparations to meet the Doctor at Sigmar’s pond, but with a virtual army from two very different sources…..
GM’s Note: The session went well, especially the chase scene. Savage told me afterwards that he was physically exhausted after the scene, as if he had actually been chasing down the street. I learned a useful lesson. When it started, I considered pulling out a map and running the chase turn by turn on the map. But luckily decided against that and instead ran it fully in narrative. That enabled me to keep it fast paced, without constant reference to aids. It moved quickly from event to event, forcing quick decisions by the players as the results on the dice drove the story. It reminded me of the advantage of original material and free flowing action, not burdened by the need to constantly reference written descriptions, as the use of published material often requires. Play now is very different, and more fast paced, when it was when I was working off “The Gathering Storm”. I hope the players are enjoying it as much as I am!