20th Ulriczeit 2511 (nearing midnight): Followed; Startled; Taken; Concerned; A Deal with the Devil; Something Strange Calling

Salundra, Ferdinand and Gunnar leave Niederstadt House, many confusing thoughts going through their minds: how had that boar been animated; why had so many guests fallen ill; what were the ratmen doing there; and why are nobility so weird! The night is damp and misty, but still bitterly cold. Morrslieb is hiding behind the clouds again, but its green ill-glow still gives the town an eeriness. Most life has retreated indoors, though some singing can be heard from a distant bar, the revellers believe the worst of Morrslieb is done for the night. As they advance through the streets towards the Red Moon Inn, Ferdinand is convinced they are being followed. He lets the other two know and they pause to look, but no one is to be seen. The mist roils and obscures all.

The Red Moon Inn is strangely subdued when they reach it. As they step inside three things are apparent: Franz wants them to come talk to him, there is a strange crowd witnessed by a strange silence and Rikard Fischer sits by himself at a table. They step to Franz, not taking their eyes from Fischer. “They’ve taken Maglyn and Eugen! Came in a few hours ago. They’ve been waiting for you since,” it’s unclear whether he’s referring to the party as a whole or to Salundra. “Don’t do anything hasty”, he continues, glancing at Gunnar, “I don’t know what they’ll do to ‘em”. The atmosphere is dangerous. All eyes are on the party.

Salundra moves to the table where the Graf’s Agent sits. His expression betrays nothing as she calmly sits across from him. Gunnar and Ferdinand take station at her shoulder. “I sincerely hoped we’d never see each other again, that you’d heed my warning and would live this city, but here we are,” he opens, his intentions opaque. He reaches into his coat pocket and withdraws a small neatly folder piece of paper. He hands it to Salundra. She notes the seal, unfolds it and reads.

“This arrived this afternoon, carried by one of her birds”, Fischer continues. “The current circumstances have my resources stretched thinner than I’d like. Necessity makes strange bedfellows”, a cold grin appears on his face. “Our interests seem to align”, he trails off.

Salundra takes this in, but her immediate concern is for Eugen and Maglyn, “What have you done with the woman and boy who work here?”.

“They are safe… for now. Insurance of a sort”, he responds, looking past her to the Slayer and mage, “Their wellbeing depends on how this meeting goes. If it goes smoothly they’ll be returned within half an hour of my leaving here safely”.

“So, let’s say I take all of this at face value and we go searching for Janna, what then?”, Salundra asks warily.

“I honestly don’t care once neither you nor the girl can be used against the Graf. The Lady’s interest in the girl has always been potentially problematic. Now it has proven to be the case. If you happen to retrieve her, then once you two stay well away from this city, I don’t care where you go”, he offers by way of an answer, his manner that of the calculating kingmaker.

Salundra asks where Janna was and who might have taken her. Fischer tells them about Lady Gotlinde’s hunting lodge, Wolfspitz Lodge in the northwest of Black Rock. This is where Janna was being raised. Fischer then speculates that there are two factions that could benefit from holding heras a hostage: the Altdorfers, most probably those in the employ of Lady Nacht, the Emperor’s vassal; or possibly someone working for the interests of the Guildmasters of Ubersreik, probably at the behest of Marta Müller. This isn’t much to go on. Salundra glances back at Ferdinand and Gunnar. They nod their support. She takes the letter saying they will find Janna, but dealing with the likes of Fischer makes her very uncomfortable.

Rikard’s cold grey eyes dwell on her and he stands to leave, but his cool veneer cracks slightly, maybe betrayed by a less than smooth gait, as he walks from the inn. He is a man under tremendous pressure – maybe he genuinely has no alternative but to turn to them. Four or five of his hired goons, just low level muscle, stand from different tables and leave with him.

The wait for Eugen and Maglyn is nervous. Franz busies himself, but doesn’t prepare the inn for closing. The other bystanders who were got caught up in the evening’s events trickle out. Franz is as anxious as the party to see mother and son return safely, his eyes darting to the doorway every minute or so. Time seems to drag. Eventually they return, unharmed but shaken as much from the experience as the cold. Franz ushers them to a table near the fire and brings out some cold food and hot drinks. Eugen is the first to speak, and he tells them who their captor was… Rudi Klumpenklug. The party’s anger for him reaches a new peak. Rudi must be in the service of Fischer. Maglyn isn’t interested in food or drink Franz has put in front of them. She just wants to get home to her children, hoping they are still in the care of a neighbour. Franz hurriedly bundles up the food and the party escort them home. Salundra apologises for everything… Maglyn accepts her apology, stating that everyone has a past. She’s just glad no one was hurt.

The party return to Red Moon Inn, discussing what they might do. They all agree that Fischer isn’t to be trusted, but why would he put himself in such potential danger if not for the reasons he stated. He gave them little to go on, but they agreed they’d seek out Rolf, the boatman who’d tried to extort Salundra, at first light.

They mostly rest well, but Ferdinand’s thoughts and dreams keep returning to a bundle of cloth in their room. It’s what Gunnar came back with following the defeat of the necromancer. Maybe it was Morrslieb’s influence, but the bundle called to him. It would have to wait though…

21st Ulriczeit 2511: Rolf Revisited; Preparing to Travel; The Deft Dancer; A Dark Tome

They wake early and are pleased to smell cooking, Maglyn must be working in the kitchen. They don’t have time to dwell for a meal, and take some food to eat when out. The mist lingers and it remains cold as they venture out into the pale dawn light towards the Boatmans’ Guild, not sure where to start their hunt for Rolf. The party are lucky and spot him within minutes. He’s working a barge, loading cargo from the dock along a gang plank to its deck. There’s similar activity on several nearby boats as they are readied for departure. Patience exhausted with all of the subterfuge, the party march straight down the pier and confront him. He’s startled and begins to tremble. It obvious that he’s an amateur playing a dangerous game. He spills everything. He learned about Salundra and her daughter through his sister Greta, who works for Lady Gothilde von Jungfreud at her hunting lodge a few weeks ago on a run up the Teufel to Flussberg. Rolf decided a rich noble like Salundra would be an easy mark. Sitting here, now, he realised he was wrong! Salundra pushes Rolf for more information, glancing at her comrades, the threat clear. He blubbers that when he returned from Flussberg there were Altdorfers paying for any information from Black Rock. He had told them everything for a few coins. Salundra stands to leave – handing him a gold coin, “Make better life choices”. Hopefully Rolf realises how lucky he is.

They still have little to go on. Those who abducted Janna have a lead of at least a four or five days on them, the time it would take to journey to Wolfspitze Lodge. Nonetheless the party prepare to leave Ubersreik. Salundra and Ferdinand visit Nordwander and Sons Expeditionary Supplies in Dawihafen. There they meet Nordwander the senior, Gudrun, and his son, Belorn. They prove to be friendly and helpful – the former trait at least quite different from what they’re used to from Dwarfen company. Belorn is particularly attentive, enquiring about their travels, but he seems a little disappointed that they aren’t venturing into the Grey Mountains.

Meanwhile Gunnar lets Eugen know that they need to leave town for a little while and asks that a note be put on the warehouse they’d been using for training. Eugen mentions that he’d overheard Salundra mention the offer the Grail Knight had made to train them, but the Slayer responded, “I’m not leaving the future of the children in the hands of a Bretonnian!”, the matter closed.

They meet up and grab some food in the Red Moon Inn, and start thinking about how they might get to Black Rock. Two river-based options come to mind: Aloysius or Gele. Both own barges and may be willing to transport them. They visit the Sisters’ Bakery, where Nom and Om are delighted to see them, though very saddened to hear they’ll be leaving town soon. Unfortunately, Aloysius has just left on a trade journey to Graustadt and won’t return for four or five days. Before leaving the bakery, the sisters ensure they are weighed down with as many pies as they can carry.

They visit Gele on The Deft Dancer and she is delighted to help them – she owes them her life, as far as she is concerned. They want to leave as soon as possible and while Gele is keen to help, she doesn’t think it’ll be feasible to have the boat and crew ready until after dark, particularly with the short Ulricszeit days. The party let Gele know they’ll return that evening to stay on the barge, and hope to leave at first light.

They return to the Red Moon Inn and let Franz and Maglyn know about their plans. They’ll be sorry to see them leave, but hope they’ll return soon. Gunnar and Salundra sit to have a drink, but the bundle calls to Ferdinand. He climbs the stairs and pulls it from the corner where it had been dumped. He unwraps the old cloak slowly. There lies the vile urn they had tried to dispose of in the river before. Beside is a leather bound tome, the cover turned into the cloak. He turns it over… the title Liber Mortis almost burns from the page. Life just got a little bit more complicated…

And… that’s all for Season 1! We’ll rejoin the action in the Autumn. I’ve had such a blast with WFRP since the start of the year. Situ, Andrew and James have been fantastic players (and GM!). I’m looking forward to where they take the adventure next!

Until next time,