Thean Calendar 1684, Secundus 2, Amordi
Lorenz and Lucia decide to go explore their own niches in the city while Eilìsh continues work on the training ground until a more appropriate hour; happy hour.
Lucia heads off to the largest and most beautiful church in Freiburg: The Heart of the Drachen Cathedral
Lucia is immediately struck by the beauty of the cathedral; the elegant stained glass windows depicting scenes straight out of The Books of the Prophets, the large, bleached bones of an ancient Drachen form the flowing, natural contours of this grand structure, it seems even the patrons sitting in the pews attending the mid-day sermon could be painted as an ideal representation of the faithful. There is a service currently in progress, and the church seems fairly full.There is a service currently in progress, and the church seems fairly full.
- OPPORTUNITY (Listen to the sermon): Once you are able to set the majesty of the cathedral aside for a moment and the actual words of Monsignor Weissels register with your brain, the stark contrast is almost jarring to your senses. The words coming from the man in the pulpit technically seem to be a Vaticine church service, however he is speaking extremely ineloquently. His tone, his incessant stuttering, even his mannerisms seem hysterical and off-putting. He is a squat man, somewhere in his late sixties you guess, balding and with beads of sweat running down his face.
- OPPORTUNITY (REALLY listen to the sermon): As you listen for a few more minutes something strikes you; just as a hunch, but it sends shivers up your spine nonetheless. This sermon doesn’t blatantly come out and flaunt it, but you could swear there are subtle undertones of Inquisition doctrine in these words. The Monsignor repeatedly champions the Third Prophet and “dividing the righteous from unrighteous”, which is generally accepted to mean cleansing all non-Vaticine worshippers. He also speaks far too much of the Fourth Prophet’s coming for your taste and not nearly enough of the Creator’s decree to learn and unlock the secrets of this world. This man’s words could just be the rantings of a priest who has passed his prime. Or they could be the seeds of dissent being planted by an Inquisitor sleeper agent…
Once the sermon is finished Lucia speaks with one of the acolytes for a few moments. Nothing concrete was learned, although this particular acolyte did not appear to share the Monsignor's passion for that particular style of preaching.
The recently-Baroned Lorenz heads off to Freiburg's Duelist Chapterhouse to check-in, announce himself, and meet with his fellow gentles.
Upon entering through the main doors you see this is actually a large hallway connecting the two wings of the Chapterhouse. Directly in front of you is a receptionist’s desk staffed by a young woman, her nose buried deep into a book. She doesn’t notice you. The young lady is Gwendolin Trachtenberg, one of the clerks employed by this Chapterhouse. She is somewhat surprised a swordsman is actually coming to announce his presence to the Guild, what with the lax regulations of Frieburg. She presents the logbook for Lorenz to sign and directs him anywhere he wishes to go. Lorenz heads off to the living quarters. The main living area boasts a large common room where the duelists currently residing in the city meet to converse, trade stories, share news, and lounge in general. The room is divided up into several sitting areas, some with fireplaces, some with a table or two for chess or a card game, one even has a podium as the centerpiece where it seems a group of Swordsman are taking turns telling boastful tales of their exploits. Lorenz immediately heads over to the podium and tells his harrowing tale (with only moderate embellishment) of escaping a secret island prison filled with Inquisition soldiers and saving two "lovely ladies"…
IF LORENZ ANNOUNCES HIMSELF AS BARON DRACHENHEIM:
- OPPORTUNITY (Gauge the duelists’ reactions): Most of those present give a few snickers or otherwise seem unimpressed. Two in the room seem to take special notice. One is an old man among a small group of elderly gentleman who looks upon you with what seems satisfaction. The other appears would rather not notice you noticing her. A woman playing chess with another duelist, she has her golden hair in a long braid and her clothing style identifies her as a Vestenmennavenjar. It is clear she is trying to watch you without your knowledge, but you are able to pick up on that.
- CONSEQUENCE: You have entered an area where it is common for disputes to be settled by the sword. It would be wise to be on your best behavior, unless that sort of thing is what you’re after.
After his impressive story, Lorenz introduces himself to the old man who turns out to be none other than Wencill Von Brahms, the master and council member for the Eisenfaust school of dueling, which happens to be Lorenz's very same school. Afterwards Lorenz attempts to join the chess-playing woman for a game and to investigate her strange stare, but he is interrupted by a brash young duelist whose bravado demands Lorenz's attention. Lorenz tries to brush him off, but Marcelì as another duelist calls him appears to has had his honor insulted by Lorenz's incredible story and his brief but casual conversation with the young lady, Osk Ketildatter. He challenges Lorenz to a duel right here in the common area, a rather uncouth thing to do as the others in the room grumble. Rather than stoop to Marcelì's goading, Lorenz calmly but dangerously threatens Marcelì into backing down, and he does so with injured pride. Osk, however, overheard the exchange and immediately bolts from the room. Rather than chase her down (which was the obvious choice), Lorenz decides he has had enough of duelist society for one day and heads back to the Manor to meet up with the others.
After Lucia and Lorenz return to the Manor and Eilìsh has done what she can with the training grounds for now, the Heroes decide to head out to The Drachen Toe Tavern for a drink and soak in a bit of the social life of Frieburg. Armin overhears where they are going and cautions the three; while he is aware they are more than capable of handling themselves, the Drachen Toe just happens to be the place where the former Baron and Lorenz's second cousin thrice-removed, Lord Reinhardt Leopold Damaske, was killed. It is also known for its boxing ring and extensive gambiling. The Heroes thank Armin and continue on their way.
The smell of stale beer hits your nostrils as soon as you open the door to this establishment. The main room seems rather unimpressive; about a dozen tables lie scattered haphazardly across the room and the only patrons present are a handful of souses hunched over at the bar. Behind said bar stands a man just shy of six feet. He has shoulder-length brown hair with a bald spot on top and a large handlebar mustache. He eyes you, being the most interesting thing in the room at the moment, but says nothing.
The Heroes take a seat at a table and order a few drinks (mostly for Eilísh), noting the locked door by the bar. They volunteer Eilísh for a fight to gain entrance and are shown down to the basement where the real action is. The Bartender eyes Eilísh up and down and, despite her small stature, he seems to see something he approves of. He pulls on a rope behind the bar and you hear the faint sound of a small bell ringing behind the door. After a moment a multitude of mechanical turnings and clicks resonate and the door opens. You can clearly hear all of the sounds you were expecting to hear when you first entered this building; shouts, laughter, glasses clanking and yes, the sound of fists hitting flesh. All the evidence of a lively tavern. The doorway leads downstairs into what you assume was once a wine cellar. The stale beer smell follows you and is accompanied by stale sweat. While there are a few rows of wine racks behind a much nicer looking bar than what you found upstairs, most of this basement has been cleared of all obstructions except for human bodies. People are packed in everywhere down here, but no matter where you look they all seem to be doing one thing: gambling! There are card games, dice games, knife throwing, mahjongg, and at the center of it all a human ring surrounds the pugilism pit. Currently two large, bare chested, indiscriminate men are trading graceless punches while everyone cheers on and money changes hands.
Eilísh gets pitted against a very large man, and she couldn't be happier. Drawing a small glamour circle in the pit sand, she stands her ground and lets the fight begin. Many blows are thrown and the entire crowd (including Lorenz and Lucia) are amazed when at the end of the fight, Eilísh is still standing, beaten and bloody, over the unconscious giant. When he comes to, he introduces himself as Friedrich and Eilísh buys him a drink. Things learned at the Tavern:
- Rumor of the Mad Wolves being led by an influential member of Frieburg nobility. They are driving housing prices down so this noble can buy up more property and raise the prices back up to corner the market.
- The former Baron Drachenheim, Lord Damask, was killed in this very room. He was known for gambling away what little was left of the manor’s wealth; and he was known for losing. The night of his death, Damask became indebted to a particularly sadistic businessman. When this man found out Damask had no more money left to pay up, he revealed the duelist in his pocket, and summarily had Damask killed. No one knows who the duelist actually was, but they describe her as a Vesten woman with a long, golden braid and a whip accompanied her sword.
On the way back from the Tavern, the Heroes dispatch another group of Mad Wolves harrasing a family on the doorstep of their home. They let one live in exchange for the location of their base of operations; an Abandoned Carriage House and Lucia convinces him to find salvation by pledging his service to the Cathedral. They then come upon a group of poor, homeless souls and Lucia's generosity gets the better of her, She ends up spending a good portion of her limited Wealth feeding everyone and the call goes up, "Theús praise The Baron Drachenheim and his lovely ladies!". The party name will live on in infamy…
Lucia spots a hidden drop for her Secret Society, The Invisible College. Subtly dropping back from the others, she snatches the Invisible College Letter and reads it in private. She convinces Eilísh and Lorenz to accompany her and the Heroes are off to Bottenfelds Cottage
Outside Bottenfeld’s House:
- Doors are locked & windows shuttered, though light still streams out from the cracks.
- CONSEQUENCE: While the hour is late and visibility is lessening, there is still the very real potential for passersby or nearby residents to see any breaking & entering going on… (Members of the Inquisition or City Guard show up at the end of 2nd round if Heroes do not spend a raise here)
Inside Bottenfeld’s House:
- Several lights continue to burn, illuminating a terrible mess: Papers & books are scattered about, many with pieces ripped out of them. The occasional draft blows tufts of torn paper into the air. An overturned desk lies against the wall, and several chairs have been smashed to flinders. In the back room you find the remains of what you can only assume was Ernst Bottenfeld. His throat has been slashed and several deep gashes have split open his chest, sending rivulets of crimson pooling onto the floor.
- CONSEQUENCE: With papers flitting about and open flames knocked over, this place could likely become a blazing inferno in mere moments… (Heroes have until the end of the round)
- OPPORTUNITY (The Desk): A quick search of the tossed desk reveals mostly mundane items, however you do discover the keys to the cottage. If all the doors and windows were locked and intact, and the keys are INSIDE, how did the invaders gain entry?
- OPPORTUNITY (Torn Books): Perhaps the most telling sign all is not what it appears can be found in the torn papers and books scattered about the cottage. While a few burned notebooks line the floors and sections have been ripped out of numerous books, the missing material doesn’t appear to be that pertinent. Numerous pages of copious scientific notes have been left untouched, and the missing book pages often cover useless material (one torn chapter explains the proper table settings for Montaigne nobility).
- OPPORTUNITY (Notebooks): A thorough search produces a recent series of diagrams depicting the missing invention: an “illuminator” designed to light a large space with only a single candle. An elaborate system of pulleys and mirrors based around a simple candleholder. No Inquisitor worth his hood would leave such blasphemous evidence behind. According to the notes, the invention weighs upward of three hundred pounds, more than any one man could carry. The Inquisition might have been able to move it, but it would take time and attract a lot of attention; why not simply destroy it and move on?
- OPPORTUNITY (requires knowledge of Eisen Monsters OR Die Kreuzritter): Bottenfeld’s cuts appear torn & jagged, as if from a crude sword. Upon closer inspection you find a strange item lodged in one of the wounds. It appears to be the tip of a claw, as if from some animal predator. Die Kreuzritter has weapons made out of similar material, and they burn with an icy frostbite as well as cut like a sword; anyone who didn’t know better would think that a human made these wounds.
- CONSEQUENCE: The claw seems composed of living shadow – black, formless matter given shape. Even the nearby light seems to get sucked into its inky darkness. (Any hero touching the claw with bare skin suffers 2 wounds)
- OPPORTUNITY (requires knowledge of The Inquisition): The Inquisition rarely conducts assassinations with bladed weapons, preferring bonfires and lynchings to close combat. Blood on the walls is a tad too gruesome as well while Verdugo’s men rarely shy away from torture, such obvious ghoulishness detracts from their self-styled position as Theus’ defenders.
- On one wall, written in blood is a crudely drawn Vaticine Cross and a warning matching the mantra of Verdugo’s Inquisition: “Repent your sins. The Fourth Prophit approaches.”
- OPPORTUNITY (requires knowledge of The Inquisition and/or the Eisen language): The phrase on the wall isn’t quite right: the words are crudely painted, as if by a child, and the word “Prophet” has been misspelled. While the Inquisition is the scourge of education, most of them were raised in the Church and know how to write properly. The words are also written in Eisen; the Inquisition tends to leave its messages in Théan, the language of the Vaticines.
- A close survey reveals an area in the corner which is free of dust; several indentations can be seen in the floor, indicating that something large once stood there… something like an invention.
- HIDDEN CONSEQUENCE (requires a Finesse + Athletics OR Wits + Notice raise to discover OR 2 raises to avoid): The floorboards in this corner of the room appear loose and a slight updraft can be felt coming through from underneath, aiding the swirling tears of paper. (Failure to avoid results in the Hero falling through to the sewer, suffering 3 wounds)
Prying up the floorboards reveals a short, earthen tunnel, leading straight down to a large city sewer pipe running beneath the house. You can make out drag marks in the filth-encrusted floor leading north down into blackness.
- OPPORTUNITY (Drag Marks): The drag marks clearly match the indentations in the floorboards you just pried up. Whatever was sitting in that room was taken this way…
- OPPORTUNITY (The Tunnel): You notice tell-tale claw marks in the tunnel leading into the sewers, indicating someone or something dug its way up into Bottenfeld’s cottage. What is puzzling though is the fact that the floorboards did not appear to have been pried up prior to what your group did just a moment ago…
The game session ended here.