The morning opened with the sudden disappearance of Breganu and Basil. Some bloodied sheets and a wardrobe missing a woman’s outfit were all that were left to mark their passing. Strange indeed…
Seremela’s and Janeton’s worries about Magritte were allayed by the scent of flaky pastries the young and trusting assistant brought to the shop. If Magritte was aware of how close she was to death just one day ago, it does not show as she gives the food over to her kind boss (if only she knew dear readers).
As the two women break their fast and make plans about going to the temple of Morr, new players are afoot in the game across town. A soldier, Josef Heinkel , wakes to the gloating face and grating voice of Lt. Krieg. His back sore and raw, Josef stands to receive an expected browbeating, an excellent morning tonic in the Emperor’s army. An unexpected summons from the High Priestess of the temple of Morr promises to alleviate his boredom and perhaps help regain his stripes. Dressed in his parade uniform, worn boots blackened, holes mended, and silver polished, Josef strapped on his well used sword and marched to the temple.
Dwarves are not known for their willingness to pull a punch. Logan ‘Nine Toes’ is no exception. While perhaps a boon on the battlefield, as a protagonist for hire, this tendency quickly escalates a situation from “teaching the subject a lesson” to scraping said subject’s brain matter from your hands. It is an admittedly fine line from a dwarven perspective, but a final one. A certain dwarf (ahem!) may say that the lesson was taught with great alacrity and will not likely be forgotten. It is not this writer’s desire to quibble over such interpretations.
Car-ane Heartwood, a wood elf was hired to bring in Logan, although not for the reasons he would have thought. Both of them were prominent subject in dreams that Morr’s High Priestess received from her god. It was quite strange, she thought, that Morr’s divine request should be for two demi-humans. Car-ane caught up with Logan at a bar he frequented and proceeded to capture him. Logan was not pleased to be a) caught by a bounty hunter b) in a net and most importantly c) by an elf.
By an incredible, some might say divine, coincidence; all parties arrived at the temple at the same time. The temple staff was showing signs of the strain that comes from being overworked and understaffed. Bodies waited in antechambers for consecration while priests and initiates alike were working with the dead and the grieving. Ravens were seen coming and going, messengers of the departed souls. The travel guides don’t illustrate the unfortunate side effect of birds having the run of a building.
Erica, the high priestess greeted the party and communicated the needs of Morr to the prospective contractors. After a little friction during payment negotiations, the party agreed to find and stop whoever was responsible for killing the priests. All members received spare bits of armour from the temple storeroom to help in the completion of the mission. After some investigation of the last victim and questioning of the initiate charged with caring for the past victims, the party was on their way.
During a meeting back at the pharmacy-cum-headquarters, Seremela indicated her need to meet with an undisclosed client regarding a business transaction. She does a side business with questionable people, so she was being understandable cagey. Car-ane, being overcautious, insisted on following her to the meeting (like he has been victim of being followed before. Such a suspicious person). Josef decided to pursue contacts of his own and headed to the red light district and the tender ministrations of Miko. One does wonder what can be learned between the sheets. Logan and Janeton visited the Mermaid’s Tail, the site of the latest priest killing. The dead priest was reported to have been in the company of a blonde, an Estalian, another priest and a ship’s captain. That captain already shipped upriver to Altdorf and wouldn’t been seen for another three days. Their pocket’s slightly lighter; Car’s more so, they left to their improvised HQ.
Seremela told they party that her contact may have information regarding the killings, but they would need something from the party; a goods for information exchange. A rather commonplace request of such a mighty party one would think. They only had to travel to a darker part of the forest near the foot of the mountains and gather a particular mushroom. The party agreed to do this as it appeared to be their strongest lead.
After waiting a day to avoid traveling the entire way in the dark, the expedition got underway. After an uneventful trip into the forest through thickening trees on a small trail, Seremela indicated a place to find the mushrooms. As dusk deepened into night, the mushrooms became ready to harvest. As the touchy harvest got underway, noises were heard moving down the game trail towards the party. First, the soft crunch of pine needles then muffled groaning. The smell was not needed to tell the party that a shamble of undead was moving their way.
Car-ane clambered up a tree in front of the party and was able to see the zombies move into view. He was briefly shocked into inaction by the sight of rotted corpses moving about on their own. Josef calmly readied his bow and nocked an arrow, aiming at the zombie stepping into the light cast by Jeneton. The first volley was ineffective and the zombies shuffled forward. Car-ane came around in time to launch an arrow into the approaching zombies, skewering the dried thigh of former peasant. Josef went to grab an arrow from his quiver and spilled its feathered contents on the ground. He cast aside the bow and drew his sword, ready for the zombie attack. As the first wave of undead was met by Josef’s sword and Logan’s brutal charge, the clattering of skeletons was heard. A human’s voice was heard muttering in the dark. Car-ane took shots at the skeletons as they took turns shooting into the trees and, occasionally, landing one into his helmeted head. He would feel increasingly woozy as the battle raged below. Janeton’s magic darts flew unerringly into the undead ranks until she fainted with the exertions of taming the winds of magic. Car-ane was able to wound the necromancer before the mage fled into the night. The party’s wounds and the unfamiliar territory discouraged any pursuit.
Bloodied but unbowed, the warriors clambered onto the waiting cart. Seremela, reins in one hand and a sack of fungus beside her, lounged on the driver’s seat. It was suggested that the party load the pieces and parts onto the cart for proper consecration by the temple priests (such a novel concept, being that they are working for the temple).
Is that the last we will see of the mage? Where did he come from? What information will Seremela get from her contact? Was it worth the mushroom gathering? How friendly is Josef with Miko? Will Car-ane ever trust anybody?