Once Upon A Time In The Empire

Get Your Towels Ready

Where our heroes are on a boat.

Greedy bitch
The party of adventurers wake up on a boat on the river Teufal, in the burning city of Auerswald, in the year 2517. It seems the crew of the Greedy Bitch, led by Cedric “Cut-Throat” Kessler, Franz Bieber from Kliendorf and Acolyte Hammlin from Hornlach, with the unwarranted but still appreciated help of Murk Dwemer, rescued the party from the fate that befell them after their introductory adventure.

This session follows on chronologically from those introductory sessions, occurring on Geheimnistag, the same day as Kvothe’s and Murk’s adventures on the streets of Aurswald. For a different perspective on these events, see Franz’s Story (Part 1)

Unfortunately, during the rescue, Ariana was partially submerged in the Schlaff trough, and so, still drenched in the drug, was impossible to rouse.

The party awoke to find themselves in the sleeping quarters of a boat. Outside they could hear shouts and screams echoing in the encroaching twilight. Ariana still slumbered, her hair covered in green muck. Murk was manacled to a post. Also in the cabin with them was a critically injured Father Barthelm.

While Murk freed himself the others got to work quickly on first aiding the injured Sigmarite priest. It looked as if someone had applied some rudimentary bandages, but they were clealy no healer, and the priest would likely have died from his wounds had not the party immidiately intervened upon their waking up.

Murk attempted to see outside, between a gap in the wooden hull, but he could only catch a glimpse of fire and running people. Unfortunately Murk didn’t know his own strength and in trying to widen the slit, sprang a leak below water level.

As water slowly trickled aboard, the group opened the unlocked door to their cabin. They came face to face with almost 20 scared people and nearly that number in loaded crossbows pointed at them. A little fast talking got the crew and passengers of The Greedy Bitch to lower their weapons.

A number of familar faces were revealed to be behind the Crossbows. Along with about ten red shirts crew members, guardsmen Franz and Karl from Kliendorf were caught by Graille’s eye, while Arminius spotted old acquantances; acolyte of Sigmar Hammlin, and guardsmen Jacob and Irene from Hornlach.

Cedric, the first mate, directed one of his crew to patch up the leak, while sending a glare the party’s way. Other crewmembers wandered on, while Franz gave the party the gist of what’d been happening. The crew and passengers of the Greedy Bitch, the party’s would-be-rescuers, are fractious and dissonant. Cedric wants his money, Franz is an acting guard captain so the others wont obey him, Acolyte Hammlin is a raging dufus, and everyone is somewhat paralyzed as to what to do next. Furthermore it seemed everyone knew little, specific things, but a lack of communication and a rushed rescue attempt meant noone knew the entire situation.

The Characters went up on deck, where they found the city of Aurswald was on fire. The Slums, the docks, and the wealthy and the warehouse districts were all aflame. The river was clogged with fleeing refugees, all clinging to dinghys, life boats, bits of driftwood or filling the deck of every larger vessel to capacity, and the Greedy Bitch was no exception, it’s own surface area crammed with people. The river, from the Rocky Bridge to the Karl-Franz bridge, was choc-a-bloc with the townspeople of Auerswald, almost all of whom can’t swim.

Murk took the opportunity to investigate the river barge. He broke into the ‘captains’ quaters and nicked a few coins and weapon or two from quite a suspiciously large stash. Meanwhile, the party called a meeting. Cedric demanded his payment, and mentioned as part of his greivances the dissapearances of various river boats on the Teufel in the last year. He didn’t want to be next on the list, and he rattled off a series of names of a number of vanished vessels, and was about to say he thought he might have seen one or two out on the water that very night but was cut off by the impatient party members, who were too busy solving a mystery to listen to clues.

Other characters aboard shared what they knew. It seemed the local Garrison commander, Rupert Julbach, was convinced the attacks on Auerswald have been purpertrated by agents from Ubersreik, a rival city, and as such has instigated marshall law and a strict curfew (not that anyone would be deliberately out of doors on Geheimisnacht anyway) and has had his soldiers patrolling the streets since sundown. The evidence of chaos worshippers in both Kliendorf and Hornlach seemed to suggest the recent kidnappings were all part of a larger cultist scheme, perhaps some dark ritual to be enacted on the night of mystery. Irene and Jacob had had a run in with some foreign mercenaries transporting more unconcious prisoners through the streets, which suggested their towns had not been the only ones hit, while Franz claimed to have seen inhuman shapes on the rooftops of Auerswald. All in all, it was looking like the party had a long night ahead of them.

The party solved Cedric’s payment issue (mostly by guilting him into continuing to help) and managed to wrench from the group every scrap of information they’d gathered in town since they’d arrived. No one had any idea what was actually going on however. Before they could make another move though, the party heard scrabbling in the walls, like some large rat was in the hold somewhere. The party, surprisingly, did not immidiately try to stab the creature through the wooden walls, instead rushed up on deck to investigate. There they found, beneath a trapdoor, a young boy, who Graille recognised as Karmichael.

Karmichael it seemed had stowed away aboard the Greedy Bitch in Kliendorf, and had been wondering the streets of Auerswald the past day, searching for adventure and ways to help. Fortuitously, he had on him another important clue, a flyer for Garen Eich’s play The Rewards of Power. The flyer promoted the fact an “actual chaotic ritual” was dramtized onstage. It sounded all too familar. Further investigation looked like the way to go.

The party decided to set off into the streets of Auerswald. Cedric and The Greedy Bitch would try to investigate the river, and perhaps mount a second rescue attempt, as Murk knew many of the prisoners were put aboard a long cutter called the Rum Runner, and an old prison barge named The Maidstone, along with a butt-load of fireworks and black powder. Unfortunatley the smoke blocked almost all vision on the water, so they would have to actively search the river. They agreed to meet up at a different warf later, as the crowded river was tortuous to navigate through.

Getting off the ship turned out to be easier said then done, as there are still dozens of people swarming the docks, trying to get aboard any ship they could, the streets behind them awash with fire. The refugees seem especially desperate, as if afraid of something more than the inferno, but the party doesn’t question it, perhaps assigning their frantic, crazed behaviour to typical supersticons about the night of mystery and nothing more. The party managed to disembark without flooding the Greedy Bitch with more townspeople. Murk pondered stealing the Greedy Bitch’s corgi, but wisely left it temporarily behind.

The streets of Auerswald were deserted. The party avoided the burning buildings and succesfully dodged the armed soldiers that were patrolling the streets, enforcing curfew and looking for spys from Ubersreik. Although briefly pursued, the party managed to loose them in the smoke by effectively turning one patrol on the other.

Murk took them via the old abbatoir and warehouse where they were imprisoned earlier. The party explored the holding cells, and discovered evidence of The Chemists experiments with making potent Schlaff. One of the party members wondered into the storeroom where barrels of the stuff were being kept (the same room Graille ended his adventure in) to very heady results. Murk carefully took a few jars of de druuggs.

The party set off along the shore towards the playhouse. A failure to observe their surroundings meant the party had no idea they were being followed. Nor did they notice the great big chain stretched across the road. Almost everyone one of them literally tripped over it. Their shadowy pursuers took that moment to reveal themselves. With sinister chuckles, four masked men stepped out of the smoke and immidiately attacked Murk. When the rest of the party leapt to Murk’s defence, they changed tact, attempting to reason with the group, saying that they only wanted the dwarf. The party were having none of it, despite the attackers being no standard ruffians. The battle raged across the Rocky Bridge, untill three of the group were dispatched. Murk was not looking too hot either, and the last man attempted to push his unconscious body into the Teufal. While he might have been prepared for the stockyness of the dwarven race, he didn’t reckon on the inordinate amount of weight the dwarf was crarrying, and the lithe attacker discovered he could not shift his bulk.

Cornered, the man gave away a few clues in his desperation, most notably that his life was forfeit if he returned defeated. Who could have such sway over men? The party offered the endentured killer a number of ways out, but the man ceased being forthcoming and hurled himself over the side and into the drink. Its doubtful he could swim.

With an unconscious Dwarf that weighed a ton, the party dragged his body through the streets, to find somewhere that might provide assistance. How lucky they were to find Crazy Hassan’s, a shop whose owner recognised Murk. Clearly they had traded in the past, and Murk must have been generous or something because Hassan was eager to proffer a very special healing potion of his own creation. Murk duly drank it to unexpected results.

While the party tended over their fallen comrade, Arminius went on to investigate the Auerswald playhouse. There he found a scene of destruction and carnage. The place was swarming with soldiers, including what looked to be a very high ranking officer, likely Commander Julbach himself. The rear of the theatre was a burnt husk, despite the building being far away from the fire in the slums. Out the front the cobble stones on the street where shattered, numerous shop fronts had had their windows blown in, while the front of the building was scorched as if from some sort of explosion. Adding to the scene where vast pools of blood and large chunks of horse flesh that had splattered the surrounding area. Certainly some sort of adventure had occurred here, and the sheer amount of ruination pointed towards a particularily rowdy dwarf.

Arminius availed himself of a lightly guarded side entrance, talking his way past the soldiers on duty by claiming he was loking for a lost wedding ring. Arminius is clearly a very charming guy. Inside he stealthily crept through the empty auditorium, searching for a copy of the Garen Eich’s blasphemous play. So intnent on being silent was Amrinius, that he practically bumped into Witch Hunter Lucas Hazleman.

Lucas was very interested to know why Arminius was sneaking around, and asked Lucas a number of prying questions. Arminius attempted to fib, but being a witchunter, Lucas saw through his deceit. Arminius finally conceited and said “Look. I’ve been involved in Cultist activity.” The change that came of Hazleman was drastic, as he took a step back, horror upon his face, and his rapier was nearly completely unsheathed before Arminius explained that perhaps it was a poor choice of words. Arminius then told Hazleman ‘everything’, his adventures in Hornlach, his capture, his recent awakening in Auerswald and his discoveries so far, leaving out Murk and Kvothe from his story, since there was reason to believe they may be wanted criminals.

Hazleman asked to be taken to Arminius’s compatriates to corroborate his story. Arminius, unable to ignore his instinct to be decietful, instead lead Hazleman to the meat packing warehouse where the group had been held. Neither man realised they were being followed by Franz and Ariana at this point, nor did they spot the beady red eyes watching them from the darkness of the warehouse.

Hazleman recognised the evidence of extended imprisonment within the building, but suspecting Arminius of stalling, demanded he be taken immidiately to Arminius’s co-conspirators, so Arminius duly led on. At Crazy Hassans, Murk was still out like a light in the back room, but the others corroborated Arminius’s tale. Hazleman, fending off Crazy Hassan’s attempt at selling his conconctions, announced he would go confer with his partner, Andric Lutzen, and meet the party where they said they would rendevous with The Greedy Bitch.

And so, with the city still burning, and clearly some vast chaotic ritual being undertaken, the session ended.

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TheMarchoMan

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