Averland Adventures: The Blue Reach Delta

High Society

To: Berholt Eisenhauser, Captain, Imperial Roadwardens

From: Pieter Konrad

Bernholt,

I figured I’d fill you in from where the last letter left off with us beginning to wade through the introductions to the pompous asses that form the core of the nobility here in Nuln. I faintly heard the Countess introduce us to some lord, but then I clearly heard Axel say “Aww, crap”. Since this is the response most people seem to have when the meet Axel, I was immediately on guard. I looked at Axel and he seemed extremely uncomfortable being near Lord Rothjager who, oddly enough, seemed very pleased to see Axel. I just knew there had to be quite the tale to this reversal of normal events and I awaited the explanation with a great deal of dread.

We made some awkward small talk and exchanged meaningless pleasantries while we waited for dinner to be served. The meal was incredibly extravagant and Adam was gazing around with an expression of sheer bliss. As everyone was taking their seats, a group of the countess’ guard approached her and began to give a report. We casually sidled over to overhear what was being said. Apparently they had found four more bodies and a burnt building. I glared at Axel but he shook his head vigorously. I guess there’s a limit to how much pyro-maniacal mayhem one halfling can cause. In any event, the countess dismissed the men after scheduling a meeting with the watch captain for the next morning.

During the feast, Axel filled us in on exactly who Lord Rothjager was as well as the myriad other rumors he had picked up about the underworld gang war, missing bodies, and increased activity in the tunnels beneath the city. It was just as the dessert carts were being rolled out that Dolwen and Ekhart both noticed that the servants were different than those that had served all the previous courses. It was a good thing that they didn’t use their inside voices, because no sooner were the words out of their mouths than chaos erupted. The servers drew weapons from underneath the carts and leapt towards the high table. Some of the guards stationed around the room pulled their own weapons and attacked some of the guards nearest to them.

As Dolwen leapt in the direction of the servers, my hands flashed down to my weapons to find…nothing! Did I mention that bringing anything other than a dagger is frowned on in Nuln high society? Likewise with armor. I’ve rarely felt as naked as I did at that particular moment. Dolwen was keeping his adversary occupied and Axel managed to wound his with an upwards stroke of his dagger. Adam was hurling plates to great effect and I jumped over to one of the fallen guards and grabbed up his weapon. It’s amazing how 36” of sharp steel in your fist can improve your outlook at times like that.

I turned back to face the fray just in time to see Dolwen’s foe hit him with some sort of spell. Spellcasters…wonderful. As I engaged the foe closest to me, I saw Axel take a glancing blow for a blade that made him yelp and then curse imaginatively at his enemy while Ekhart brought his magic to the party by blasting magical missiles at the group approaching the head table. My own concerns were more immediate however, as combat waged back and forth with both Adam and I scoring solid hits on our opponents.

Ekhart and the enemy spellcaster were engaged in an arcane duel, flinging magical darts at each other that were impacting with great force. They were both beginning to look a little worn down. Herod managed to drop my foe, so I turned in the general direction of the melee to seek another opponent. I noticed that the group heading towards the noble’s table had again begun to make progress now that Ekhart was no longer flaying them with his magic missiles. Taking a firmer grip on my appropriated weapon, I charged towards the head table and engaged the two guards trying to kill the nobility of Nuln. This turned out to be a less than optimal decision as they both turned towards me and began testing my defenses. Fortunately, Dolwen rushed to my aid before I could be spitted like coney. Just out of the corner of my eye, I saw a flash of light as one of Ekhart’s missiles bore into the enemy magister. The impact in the middle of his forehead snapped his neck with a sodden crunch and blew the top of his head into gruesome paste.

My opponent was obviously no common thug as we traded blows back and forth. All around me I could hear the clash of steel and cries of anger or anguish. I got hit a couple of times pretty good. Blows that would have been turned by armor marked my hide and I knew I’d have a whole new collection of scars to show Adelle – I’m sure she would have no comments for me, demure and soft-spoken as she is…

In any event, we traded a couple of more blows and then a powerful strike broke past my guard and slammed into my shoulder. I remember the floor hitting me in the face and wondering what wizardry had caused THAT to happen. It did however give me a good view of the rest of the combat.

I watched Erik trading blows with his opponent. They both seemed to be working hard, but there didn’t seem too much happening as they were both either evenly matched, or really sloppy. For the sake of friendship I have to go with the former, but knowing Erik, I couldn’t rule out the latter. More combat ensued with our group dishing out minor damage and eventually whittling them down. Ekhart kept up a constant barrage of magical darts and missiles and did more than anyone else to reduce the enemy numbers. Although in all fairness, Adam did a surprising amount of damage with cutlery and crockery.

We managed to keep one of the attackers alive and performed a thorough search of the attacker’s bodies. It seemed a little surreal to be looting and poking and prodding amidst the shattered remains of an opulent dinner, but compared to some of the other things we’d seen and done over the previous few months it was minor. Adam was most distraught when he discovered that the majority of the desserts had been spoiled by arcane energies being bandied about. He managed to find something edible though, and glared at Ekhart while mumbling into his pastry.

We had the bodies stretched out on the floor and were examining them when some of the guests approached and pointed out different people that they recognized. One of the servers was recognized as Stephan, a page at the courts of law. Another was identified as Hans, a third year student at the imperial gunnery school. Yet another was name Otto, and worked as a baker. The individual who led the attack, and incidentally hit me in the face with the floor, was named Albrecht and had worked in the palace as a helper for over a year. A couple of the bodies were marked with tattoos – there was one with a purple hand tattooed on his right pectoral muscle and another had a red ring on his scalp, right at the hair line. Ekhart noticed that there was a chalky residue in a circle in the dining room. He though it might be components of a ritual and wasn’t THAT a happy thought.

Emmanuelle thanked us and asked us to hunt down the Purple Hand and bring peace to her city with the understanding that our efforts would go a long way towards securing the support of the city of Nuln for Matthias. We retired to our rooms to lick our wounds, and prepared to begin our investigations the next day. Thanks to the helpful diners, we had no shortage of leads to follow up on – for once.

The next morning, we struck out for the bakery on Axel and Adam’s insistence. “After all”, they said, “where is there a better place to investigate first thing in the morning?” Unable to refute their logic, off we went. A thorough search of the bakery and interviews of the staff led to absolutely nothing. Otto was a quiet, hard-working kid that nobody knew particularly well. Pastries in hand, we then went to the Imperial Gunnery School. We met the Dean of the school and he expressed his shock about what happened. Apparently, Hans was a quiet, hard-working kid that nobody knew particularly well. My keen intellect was beginning to detect a pattern. We requested to see his room, which we promptly tore apart looking for evidence. We found a vague note that seemed to be the trigger for the attack on the palace and Axel found a notebook with some drawings in it. The Dean told us that they were plans for a bomb small enough to fit into suitcase, yet with significant explosive power. Another happy thought to brew on as we headed to the law courts.

There we met with the judicar that Stephan had paged for. Apparently he was very detail oriented and hard-working…go figure. A search of his workplace yielded nothing incriminating so we proceeded to his apartment. Right away we could see that Stephan had obviously been planning something – there were notes and sketches pinned to the wall. The notes had details on some of the more prominent citizens of Nuln and were annotated with “x”, “Venyk”, “Slaanesh”, or “Horned Rat”. This was just getting better and better, being as we all recognized the name Venyk and were only too well aware what Slaanesh and Horned Rat indicated. Chaos cults seemed to be thick on the ground in Nuln these days…

Moving on the palace, we went to investigate Albrecht. We were given an escort through the palace to Albrecht’s rooms. Another toss job yielded nothing, although there were several pictures of ravens on the walls. Our escort told us that there was a rookery here in Nuln that housed ravens. Thinking that this was as good of a place as any to continue our investigations, we headed into the core of the city.

When we got to the rookery, the first thing that we noted was that there was no one around. We all looked at each other and began to check weapons, tighten straps, prepare spells, and generally get ready for the worst as those things seem to happen to us with alarming regularity. We cautiously entered the rookery and began to poke around. In one of the cages we found a body. An examination of the course revealed that it was still warm and that there was a tattoo of the Purple Hand on his chest. It seemed like we were on the right track.

We continued our search by moving into the office space and giving it thorough going-over. We turned up a trap door leading downwards below the rookery. We also found a rolled up message asking about knowledge of “the blood of the binder”, whatever the hell THAT was. Something dark and nasty no doubt. We pulled up the trap door and began our descent into the blackness below.

What we discovered was a quite comfortable set of rooms, well concealed and obviously used as a safe house of some kind. In one of the larger offices we found evidence of a larger investigation similar to the one we found in Stephan’s apartment. We noticed that some of the information had been tampered with, but there was still volumes of information on Slaanesh, Khorne, and the Skaven – possible members of the cults, goals, motivations, etc. A true treasure trove of intelligence, and one that we had absolutely no idea what to do with.

It was at that moment that Ekhart noticed the same powdery residue around the perimeter of the room we were in as he had noticed at the attack on the palace. A few seconds after that, we began to hear footsteps above us. I doubted that whoever was up there was here to send a raven-gram somewhere, so we prepared for battle.

I’ll fill you in on what happened next in my next letter. I have no idea how many of these actually get to you, but it does me good to recap these events if for no other reason than to improve my grammar and penmanship!

Verena guide and protect you.

Comments

I love the way the two of you poke fun at each other in your reports. Another excellent report. You two always deliver!

High Society
 

We also poke fun at Erik’s, Eckhardt’s, and Adam’s expense. We’d probably include Dolwen and Herod in the fun, but I don’t think they’d even see it. Great job.

High Society
MarkMac

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