Shortly after the party attendees doing the seeking entered the hedge maze, the flightless Gryphon (Demigryph) goers on a rampage, somehow breaking out of it’s cage, it kills the falconer and then runs toward the hedge maze.
Karl jumps up onto the creature’s back and rides along with is as it charges into the maze in search of prey. Joachim and Boris follow slightly behind.
Whilst the Fools are chasing the Demigryph around the maze, a whump noise was heard coming from the garden party and a plume of smoke was seen rising from the marquee.
Whilst Joachim and Karl calm the Demigryph down, Boris returns to see what was up at the marquee, he finds the tent full of smoke and many of the guests fleeing the marquee area. Boris enters the large tent and discovers the dead body of Giselbert (Gravin von Alptraums bodyguard) next to the smashed display cabinet. The jade statue and the golden plaque are missing. With his last breath, Giselbert mutters something about a Black Hood.
Tracing the footsteps, Boris knows that whatever stole the statue and plaque has escaped into the bushes but he is too large to follow it.
As the party disperses, the Fools head back to the dockfront, determined to find the source of all the ill around Averheim and put a stop to it.
Boris drops down onto the mudflats of the river Aver and scouts around, noticing one of the storm drains that leads under the tannery district has several small footprints inside the mouth of the tunnel.
Pressing ahead into the tunnel whilst Joachim and Karl support with ranged weaponry, Boris treads forward before being attacked from the shadows by a vicious, poisoned throwing star. Shortly after this a huge brute of a rat creature comes stomping around the corner and pummels Boris back out onto the river bed.
The struggle is hard fought and Boris does not come away lightly but the two creatures (one with a black hood) are dispatched and shortly after they are put down their bodies melt away from some form of corrupting magical influence.
Karl investigates up the tunnel, finding the the tanners yard to have been the lair of these ‘ratmen’. Within he finds the jade statue, smelted down and recast into a large hammer headed device with the head worked into a skull. It would appear they were forming it into a form of clapper for use in a large bell. The plaque is also there although it has been cut down into smaller pieces.
After refreshing at the Gravin’s rural retreat, our party returns to Averheim with minimal disturbance. They meet up with Graf Von Kaufman and explain the bandit attack, noting that some of the bandits appeared to be well outfitted members of the local militia, or at the very least ex-professional soldiers.
The Graf notes that he has heard other rumours that would imply corruption in the city guard and they have begun to worry him. He informs the party that he is planning an important event to which the nobility of Averland is invited. He is wary of allowing the City Guard to police the proceedings and asks the Fools if they would accept the job of providing security for the event.
After some brief negotiations the party accepts. The they spend the evening frequenting the docks.
The following morning, the Fools arrive at the Averburg to provide security for the event. They are given a cold shoulder by the City Guard who are under firm instructions to remain on the outside of the party.
The party is an event for the Graf to display his spoils from the recent expedition to the Southlands. There are creatures of various unique types and sizes scattered around and all the important local nobility gathers for the party.
Shortly after midday the Graf reveals his prize collection, several artefacts gathered from the expedition, including a disturbing statue made form a sort of smoky jade and an extremely valuable looking gold plaque. Luminary Mauer decries the statue as a thing of pure evil and after a brief spat with the Graf, leaves the party.
To calm down the proceedings, one of the ladies in waiting suggests a party game, she will go hide at the statue of Verena in the hedge maze, and after 15 minutes the other guests should come looking for her.
The Fools maintain a steadfast vigil of the docks all night due to the heavy rain. The only event of note is a vagrant pushing his box of meagre belongings through the mud from one side of the docs to another. Through careful surveillance and adept questioning Joachim is satisfied that the poor fellow is of no threat.
After a short, but well needed rest, a warm bath (for some) and a change of clothes (again not strictly for all members of the party) The Fools head to the Red Arrow offices and meet with Curd Weiss to discover what the new job is. He informs them that there have been a disturbing number of other attacks by bandits on the road and he has engineered a very overt and well advertised coach trip for the Gravin Clothilde von Alptraum, a bait too good for bandits to ignore. The Fools happily agreed to join the coach dressed in Red Arrow livery but keeping their heads down. Should the coach be ambushed they are to send a message to the bandits that the Red Arrow coaches are best left alone.
Not far outside Averheim the coach left the main road and began it’s journey to the residence of Gravin Clothilde von Alptraum. Before long they encountered a pile of fallen trees blocking the road. Boris made a show of moving the trees and took his time to ensure that the expected ambush had enough time to strike. It soon became evident that there was no ambush, but while returning to the coach Boris spotted a fresh set of tracks in the mud. Following these with as much subtlety and guile as he could summon led him to a deep patch of undergrowth that appeared to be harbouring someone. Boris lunged for the figure only to discover a young girl with a basket of apples who assured him that she was only there gathering apples. One look in her eyes suggested that she was lying and a quick rummage in her basket produced a hunting horn, which confirmed it. Boris forced the issue in the only language he speaks by pulling a knife which had two effects; the girl squealed and deftly connected her shin with Boris’ groin allowing her to escape into the forest. After a brief respite Boris took the horn and blew it, then sauntered back to the coach eating an apple.
Within moments a group of 5 horsemen brandishing pistols thundered around the corner. Boris took up position at the back of the coach while Karl and Joachim took cover behind the open doors and loaded their crossbows. As soon as the bandits were in range Boris place a handgun shot high on the shoulder of the lead rider before they closed and discharged their weapons at him. The breastplate of Olaus Stichhelm held fast against the torrent of lead leaving Boris bruised but otherwise uninjured and brief but violent melee ensued leaving 2 bandits dead. the remaining three turned tail and fled with Boris and Karl hot on their heels riding the horses of the two fallen men. The pair soon chased down and killed a further 2 bandits and Boris unhorsed the third for later questioning. He noticed that the man wore the black and yellow livery of an Averland state trooper…
The Fools then continued their journey with Gravin Clothilde von Alptraum to her residence; a luxurious lodge in the forest, and received the attention of her personal physician.
Following Curd’s offer of work, the Fools leave Averheim in search of a cart that should have been entering Averheim from the West after it left the Welcome Rest in several days ago.
Approximately 12 miles out of Averheim, marks are found which indicate a cart has been pulled off the road. The cart is found in a clearing, surrounded by some mutants, who are quickly and fatally dispatched. The wine from the cart has been drunk and it’s other load (which was apparantly several kegs of gunpowder) appears to be missing. The only item left is a box containing a few bolts of silk. This is returned to the Red Arrow offices.
After returning to Averheim, Curd thanks the Fools, pays them and offers them further work tomorrow if they turn up early.
When they head back down to the docks area to search for other clues relating to the disappearances, Captain Marcus Baerfaust is looking for them. This sturdy captain of the guard is concerned about the safety of Averheim and quizzes the Fools on the mutant/bandit threat, as well as their intentions within Averheim. He warns them not to fall foul of the law whilst in his city, since he has enough trouble keeping the peace with the current elector crisis.
After the meeting with Captain Baerfaust, the Fools return to the docks seeking further clues on the disappearances, scanning primarily around the waterfront area. They find a battered case, floating in the Aver, which contains Utes hurdy gurdy. It’s caught against the poles of one of the jettys to the West of the main bridge and looks like it has been swept downstream to that point. The weather takes a turn for the worst and it starts to rain heavily.
The Fools rescue the family of the merchant Adolphus Stark from the burning barge and hear his story about how he was unable to pay the new racketeers that were demanding payment from him, since his shipment of Cathayan silks hadn’t arrived.
The following day sees a new body discovered at the docks, with the same horrible, festering wounds that were on Klaus Keller. This time, Luminary Konrad Mauer, a local Light Wizard, has taken an interest in the murder.
Ute is not at her usual busking spot today, and after a brief search she appears to be missing. Asking around, the Fools notice that it was raining yesterday, and thus a pattern of disappearances happening after rainfall becomes apparent.
Curd Weiss comes calling and says they have been doing such a splendid job for the Graf, that would they like to take another job that would involve travelling out of town the next day?
The Fools keep largely out of the way of the brawl which falls in the Wharf Rats favour due to timely intervention from Karl. Werner Kleb, the Rats leader, buys the fools a round in thanks and explains the tensions between the Wharf Rats and the Fish being because of the disappearance of Rolf Haller.
In scouring the docks in search of clues to Rolf’s whereabouts, our Fools find a body, hastily concealed within a pile of boxes behind a tramps residence on the wharf side. After a few questions in the Upright Pig (where Joachim has his purse stolen), the body is identified as belonging to Klaus Keller, a local racketeer. Rumour is he was one of those who refused to knuckle under the new regime controlled by the Black Hood.
That evening saw a visit to Graf von Kaufman to update him on the progress thus far. The Graf was pleased with the investigations to date, but was keen to really get to the bottom of the troubles since any constant disturbances at the docks is likely to negatively impact trade and business in the area.
The following day, the Fools return to the dockside where they run into a young girl by the name of Beatrice Knox who is in a sorry state because of her debts to local racketeers. She implores the party to lend her money to resolve her predicament. Instead the Fools give her some advice and get a name of one of the racketeers: Frederick Grosz
Once Beatrice wanders away, slightly buoyed by the Fools assistance but still worried about her debts, the Fools continue to explore the dockside and are put upon by Olga Klinski, a local Fishwife. Olga’s husband, Jurgen, went missing 8 days ago and Olga is accosting all who will listen and requesting assistance in finding him.
Just as Joachim is noting that, given it’s troubles, the best thing for the whole docks area might be to just burn it to the ground, a nearby barge catches fire!
The Fools travel by coach then river barge to Averheim
En route the barge is attacked by a small band of forest goblins. Several of the passengers are fatally wounded but the party escapes undamaged.
Upon arrival in Averheim, they surveyed the docks and then moved on up into the town to try and locate Graf Friedrich von Kaufman
The meeting with the Graf proceeds with them handing over the letter from Von Bruner and the Graf requesting that the party do him a small service and see to the trouble down at the docks. Apparently rival docker gangs have been at each others throats recently over the disappearance of one of the Wharf Rats number. The act being blamed on rival gang, the Fish.
Boris heads down to the dockside to the White Horse and spends a while chatting with the younger busker girl Ute Hertz, who explains to him that Rolf Haller (the missing Rat) isn’t the only person that’s gone missing recently. Several other dock locals have gone missing. Ute personally blames it on the seeming evidence that there is a new criminal kingpin on the make as various of the criminal underclass appear to be suffering under a new regime muscling in on the area.
Karl and Joachim join Boris in the White Horse and have a brief moment to catch up before two burly dockers fall in through the front door, locked in struggle and argument. They shout obscenities at one another then tumble into Joachim before the rest of the dockers in the bar jump up and join in the brawl.
The Fools pass through Ubersreik to fulfil a couple of errands before heading to Karak Azgaraz. Karl’s arm is seen to by the doctor and they drop the dwarf off for long term care. Joachim also witnesses the burning of Esmerelda, who appears to have been found guilty as an associate of Chaos.
After a brief discussion with Heissman who suggests that the Fools come to see him for work, our party leaves South in the direction of Karak Azgaraz.
Two days of uneventful travel later, they arrive and show the warhammer to the Ironbreakers guarding the front gate. They are let in immediately and greeted by Thane Gronmir Dorisson who welcomes them and invites them to join him in a feast.
During the feast, Thane Gronmir introduces Hagar Greybeard, the holds senior Loremaster. Hagar states that they need to find out the hammers history and invites the educated Joachim to join him in the library. Boris and Karl head to the armory to get some Dwarven weaponry manufactured with their hard stolen cash.
After researching, Hagar gathers the party and the important Dwarves of the hold to discuss what to do with the weapon. It is believed to have first been brought to Karak Azgaraz by descendants of Drumin Dumwinson, named in some records as the Thane of Karag Dronar (‘Booming Peak’ in Khazalid).
While the exact location of Karag Dronar seems to have passed from memory, a few ancient records mention it being an architectural marvel within easy reach of the Northern end of Black Fire Pass.
Joachims sketchy research also indicates that the weapons might be powerful against greenskins and the followers of Chaos.
Gronmir asks what should be done with the hammer. Hagar believes it should go back to Karag Dronar to rest with the Dwarf who first wielded it while Grom Broksson, the apprentice Loremaster of the hold suggests that they keep the weapon to use against the enemies of the hold.
Gronmir sides with Hagar but is reluctant to risk any of his Dwarves on the mission given the recent greenskin raids he offers the Fools the honour of leading an expedition to return the hammer to it’s rightful resting place with it’s owner
Gronmir offers expenses for a months travel and salvage rights to anything the Fools find in Karag Dronar.
The party accepts and spends a short week preparing for the journey, notably visiting Heissman who entrusts a letter intended for Graf Friedrich von Kaufman of Averheim (also discovered to be in code after it is stealthily opened).
With the hammer and the letters amongst their possessions, the Fools board a barge taking them downriver to Averheim, where they will be able to disembark and take the Old Dwarf Road to Black Fire Pass.
Boris picks up the reins of the coach and the party take it down the road to the next town, Geissbach.
A quick stopover in town over night and a discussion with the locals turns up information that the goblin raids are not a new thing and in fact they are happening with increasing frequency. The locals wonder who the goblins seem to know only to attack the valuable merchant coaches and leave the less valuable coaches alone.
The Fools decide to act as bait for a goblin raid and take the coach south on the road back to Ubersreik with the intent of finding another raiding party they can track back to the source.
About halfway back to Ubersreik, the party comes across a Dwarf traveller by the side of the road under attack by some goblins. The group sees them off but not before the Dwarf has taken grievous injuries.
As the Dwarf slips into unconsciousness, he hands the groups a rune inscribed warhammer and tells them they they must get it to Karak Azgaraz.
After seeing to Heissman Von Bruner and ensuring he wasn’t permanently damaged by his torture at the hands of the Daemonette, the Fools call on Matthias Krieger to take Esmerelda into customdy for consorting with Chaos.
Guthrie storms off in a huff at having been deceived and takes his soldiers with him.
Leopold looks wistfully at the retreating Esmerelda and runs off with a tear in his eye.
The fools congratulate themselves on a job well done and decide to have a night on the town to celebrate.
The celebration must have been good as our party remembers very little of it when they awake with pounding heads on the roof of a stagecoach travelling down the road.
No sooner have they taken stock of their surroundings than the coach comes under attack from a small tribe of goblin wolf riders. The guard riding up with the coachman turns to fire his arquebus but sadly doesn’t brace himself fully and falls off the coach with the recoil, only to be crushed beneath the wheels of the coach.
The fools see off the Goblins but not before Karl has fallen from the coach and badly wounded his sword arm and the coachman himself has taken an arrow to the back.
As the coachman lies dying in his vehicle, the Fools retrieve a letter from his body labelled ‘for the Graf’. Opening it, they see it is written in a coded, difficult to understand cipher.