Darok the Almost All-Seeing: A tall Kislevite expatriate with a gift for augury and divination. Little is known about Darok, but he hails from the north-east of Kislev, where the winds of Chaos blow strong. (Human Kislevite Male Seer)
Zhazhicl Dizmad Hirn (Zhlak): A hardy and itinerant dwarf who makes his living fighting for coin in the pits of manlings. As with so many of his kin he does not suffer fools and has a long memory for grudges. (Dwarf Male Pit Fighter)
Mellissandra: A high elven archer fresh off the boat from Ulthuan, seeking the sights of the city that now stands upon the elven outpost of Sith Rionnasc'namishathir. (High Elf Female Hunter)
"An act of violence is never solitary. Its ripples affect all around it and nothing is as it was before."
As the sun rose over the canals of Marienburg the local fishermen waved, as was their habit, to the crew of The White Dove as it gently approached the Suiddock docks, its hold overflowing with cargo. On board the man once known as Marius Steinfield, looked at a city he did not remember. Little did he realise his return would set wheels in motion. Woe betide those poor fools crushed under those wheels.
Day 1The dwarf Zhlak was taking his ease at a cafe by a small unnamed square in Marienburg's Winkelmarkt, while Darok hawked his divinations to unheeding passersby. The two fell into conversation and over ales Darok decided he woudl jump into the nearby fountain to retrieve a brass penny - the only coin his toils so far had brought them. Mellissandra, a young high-elf archer newly arrived from Ulthuan, seeking the sights of the Elf District, observed the unusual pair.
As Darok emerged with his prize an out of control wagon nearly smashed into the fountain. He had to dive out the way to avoid being crushed. The driver fled from the wagon, driven off by men on the back of the wagon in common garb. A second wagon drew up beside and the men proceeded, at the behest of their leader, to rummage through all the wagon's crates, discarding all the mundane trade goods contained within.
Curious Darok attuned his gift to sense magic on the wagon and the leader, Ostav, asked what he was doing. When Darok finally explained Ostav told him to redouble his efforts, but the Kislevite seer could sense no dweomers eminating from the wagon. Zhlak in the meantime helped himself to a bottle of ale from the discarded goods, but his timing could not be worse as it was then that a score of Marieburg's watch, the Black Caps, descended upon the square. Ostav's men fled, but Ostav was too determined to make certain that Darok detected no magic on the wagon that he was left flat-footed.
The three were arrested, with the hapless Kislevite and dwarf assumed to be Ostav's men. They argued for a while before the Black Caps Captain ordered them forcibly manacled. The elf, when questioned, stated she had witnessed little of use. This was enough for the leader of the Black Caps to order her arrest as well. It then became apparent the Black Caps would tolerate no mischief and were using an excessive amount of force and amount of manpower to bring Ostav to heel.
The four were taken by wagon to the Winkelmarkt watch station and then placed in a cell, still manacled. Zhlak continued to berate the watchmen, which earned both him and the silent Ostav a beating. After they were gone the strangely serene Ostav tried to reassure the fellows that all would be well, but Zhlak was not convinced.
The next day, still manacled, the quartet were taken by river to the Central Court in Paleisbuurt (Palace District). They were led to the courtroom by the Black Caps and sat while other trivial cases were dealt with by the attending magistrate, one Kai der Kwick. When it came to their turn the group Zhlak insisted on defending himself, until he learned that by quirk of Marienburg's law all those who defend themselves automatically lose their case (a law which Marienburg's legal profession approve of). However their lawyer seemed strangely passive, and as they learned the charges against Ostav and his band included assault and robbery upon numerous major houses of Marienburg Zhlak began to suspect why the wheels of Marienburg's justice were turning so quickly on this morning.
The trio availed themselves of the opportunity to speak in their own defence (though the Black Cap captain weighed in at every turn to counter their statements), with Melissandra's status as an elf being recognised by the magistrate. As her alleged crimes had not occured in Elftown she was subject to Marienburg's secular law but the magistrate agreed to postpone sentencing for her. For the others though he began to pronounce sentence until a court clerk entered and handed him a letter. After a moment the litigant declared the group not guilty, that it had been a terrible mixup. This enraged the Black Caps but they were removed from court. The group, Ostav included left the court room free men.
Ostav apologised for recent events, though it was clear this was not enough for most of the group, Zhlak most of all. When his belongings were returned he gave the company 3 guilders as recompense. After promising to make it up to them later the group let the mysterious fellow leave and moved to a nearby expensive inn to dine at Ostav's expense. Later they went to a boarding house recommended by Ostav and found the rates quite agreeable.
Darok later went out to a nearby alehouse by himself. Speaking to a trader from the Suiddock's Import-Export Exchange he learned the rumour that Ostav and his men had been found innocent at their trial because Ostav was either the son or nephew of Director van Haagen, the Haagens being of Marienburg's Ten Families.
Day 2Before breakfast the company received a message, delivered to their lodgings by a young boy, inviting them to a house in Goudberg. Upon arriving there and being shown in they realised the man before them was Kai der Kwick, the magistrate from the day before. The magistrate said he had been impressed by the way the company had handled themselves in the trial and that he wished them to deliver a message to a person in the Suiddock. He impressed on them that this was a matter requiring both discretion (hence the seer and elf) and forcefulness (hence the dwarf) on the part of the deliverers - and paid them 10 guilders each. The message was a bag containing 50 guilders, and a strong assurance this was the last such payment.Following Kwick's instructions the company returned to Suiddock to an abandoned shop. A pair of thugs opened the door to them and they met Leon Reno and delivered the money and message. Reno told the fellows his response was, "The details are elsewhere" though he was clearly shaken by Zhlak's attempts to intimidate him.
Returning the group stopped by the Bruenwaser Kanal as Darok spotted a striking woman weeping by the canalside. Her brown tress of hair and facial features resembled their elven companion, Mellissandra, though the elf claimed she could see no such likeness. She gifted the elf a necklace made of shells, a good luck token she claimed, before departing. Darok could sense minor magics of life and death in the necklace.
Arriving once more at der Kwick's townhouse the trio saw a window on the third floor was opened, and heard a loud smash. When no-one came to answer the door the three of them forced their way in and ran up to the third floor. The bedroom where the window was on was deserted, save for part of a smashed vase.
Going downstairs the three found one room locked and forced the door open to reveal a small library with a dead woman lying upon the floor. Mellissandra noted an acrid sweet smell. Searching the room the trio noted books on the New World and Lustria, and on the desk papers containing poetry to the Goddess of Mercy, Shallya. An empty snuff box and an unopened box of sweetmeats also lay on the desk, and by the panels of the desk the fellows found a green cylindrical pod-like item. Mellissandra secured it upon her person just in time, for a group of Black Caps burst into the house with the magistrate.
Seemingly devastated by the death of his wife, Hanna, the magistrate acknowledged the trio as his men and that he had been expecting their return. He mentioned he had just returned from errands and had seen a dark figure sneaking about the upper floor through the open bedroom window. He had run to get help, little realising his wife was in the house. Finding no marks on the body, and after a lengthy interview with the fellows the Black Caps believed she had locked herself in the library and proceeded to die of fright as the looters ransacked the townhouse.
Bemused the trio returned to their lodgings to let their employer grieve.
Day 3The companions spent the day performing basic chores and making purchases with their new-found wealth. Darok identified the mysterious pod they had found at the magistrate's room as a cocoon. The companions decided to avail themselves of the library of the Temple of Verena in Templewjik. However Zhlak and Darok could not read and soon grew impatient. As Ostav had promised to contact them at their boarding house Zhlak sent a messenger to the Haagens.Mellisandra's efforts proved fruitful - she identified the cocoon as belonging to the Lustrian Tiger Spider. The description was, however, rather incomplete, and the other tomes in the library were written in the ancient Classical of Tilea.
Day 4At breakfast the companions received a letter, stating:-My friends,
Please meet me at Deedesvald Graveyard this morning at ten. It is of the utmost urgency.
Yours in hope,
Going to the cemetery the companions witnessed Hanna's funeral attended by many of the good and great of Marienburg, including numerous priests and priestesses of Shallya. They also saw Kai der Kwick, his maid Celeste and by her side the odious Luc Reno they had delivered the message to.
After the funeral Gretta made herself known. She was an initiate of Shallya and in hushed tones, concealed by the morning mists she told the company of Hanna's unhappy marriage to Kai, of how he beat her and how she had only found happiness in her work with the Church of Shallya. She was certain Kai had arranged for her murder, despite the lack of evidence. She implored the company to investigate. They agreed, though they were uncertain how they could help.
Going to the Elftown the trio made the acquaintance of Fiaroth, one of the apprentices that worked in the chaotic emporium. There they enquired about the tiger spider, including offering to sell it to the apprentice. The apprentice knew little about the spider (referring them to the Southlands Expedition Company, who had acquired the spider for the shop). Their attempts to sell the spider back were rebuffed when he said it was a niche market and that there was little demand for one – the last one had been ordered over a year ago and had just arrived from Lustria a few weeks ago. He, and a nearby dogsbody called Antonio, described the buyer as an Estalian called Heraldo Garcia.
In Messtag, the violent Estalian district of Marienburg, the trio learned Garcia could be found later than night in a brothel. To pass the time they returned to the Magistrate's mansion ostensibly for their pay. Mellisandra excused herself and was escorted to the facilities by the maid, Celeste. She noted the maid was wearing a set of expensive pearls. After she left the room she returned to the library. Searching it quickly she found nothing of import, but this time the books on the New World struck a chord with Mellissandra and she quickly found a reference to the Tiger Spider.
After receiving their pay and being told by Kai der Kwick their services would not be needed any further the group the group returned to the brothel. There they quickly found Garcia and cornered him. A sailor approached Mellissandra and accosted her, calling her Ella. Apologising the drunken sailor left with his comrades but not before Garcia tried to make a run for it. Darok restrained the Estalian and after renting a side-room they interrogated the Estalian, learning he had acquired the spider from the shop on behalf of an anonymous benefactor who had arranged for some ‘business trouble’ to disappear without charges. Through one of Messtag’s numerous local crime gangs, the Ramones, he had delivered the spiders through a series of anonymous contacts.
The group returned to the Suiddock and while returning to their lodgings were approached by a one-legged man with a monkey on his shoulder. He persuaded the group to join him on his barge, saying he had orders to take them to someone who had information for them. Zhlak had his reservations but they agreed. As he gently rowed the barge up the canal the man lit his pipe with a piece of paper and handed the burning paper to his monkey companion. The monkey ran below the barge. Then as they passed under the bridge a rope was lowered to the one-legged man and he clambered up it swiftly, pulled up by shadowy figures on the bridge. Mellisandra was the first to hear the hiss of a fuse and as Zhlak tried to push the barge a voice yelled for them to jump.
Mellisandra vaulted effortlessly into the canal water but began to flounder, while Darok leapt after her. Zhlak barely cleared the barge as it blew, but his armour protected him from the debris. Darok however was not so lucky and took some scrapes and cuts. The dwarf and elf struggled to swim but Darok used the debris that had buffeted him to get to shore and threw a rope to them.
All three were wet and miserable by the time they returned to their lodgings, but they spied a mob of black caps ostensibly searching the boarding house for three Chaos worshippers. The three decided to decant to a different hostelry, choosing the Perched Pelican, a nearby tavern. There they quickly made the acquaintance of the titular pelican, Beaky, and decided to drink to warm themselves and drive the taste of the filthy Suiddock away with copious amounts of alcohol.
As they were recovering from their ordeal a man approached them in a black cloak, introducing himself as Max. He stated he was the one who had warned them on the bridge. He told them that they had made powerful enemies in Marienburg, forces he wished to help them oppose. He told them that he knew they were a friend of the whaler Whitey and wanted to silence all of them. If they wanted to be safe they had either better travel to the New World or look into Whitey. After some questions he left the companions to their new lodgings.
The company discussed what to be done. They assumed it was Kai der Kwick who had tried to have them killed. He would have to be dealt with.
Day 5:At breakfast the companions decided to leave the spider cocoon and a letter to the watch explaining how Hanna der Kwick had died with the barkeep, with instructions to take it to the Black Caps if they did not return. When they confronted the magistrate and mentioned that proof would find its way to the watch he first of all tried to blow-off their allegations. Finally he admitted to the murder, but stated no-one would believe them, and that he had not tried to kill them. He brought the companions the contents of his safe, 150 golden guilders and made the dwarf swear that they were finally done with each other.Flushed with success the companions returned to the Perched Pelican and decided that they would take their evidence to Getta at the Temple of Shallya. However if Kai der Kwick was telling the truth and was not behind the attempted murder, who was?
To be continued in August
Quote of the session
Naomi/Mellisandra: (looks bemused) “I don’t know how I feel about monkeys carrying fire.”