Der Hexenkessel

Der Hexenkessel, Session 20
January 4 - 11, 1654

January 4, 1654

Alerted by the shot from within the walls of the vineyard, the group was prepared when Kat scrambled back to their location, an armed man on horseback a short distance behind her. The man, who proved to be a Ukrainian Cossack, told them to stay away from the edges of the camp. Adolf vehemently protested the warning shot that had been fired at Kat and dressed the horseman down for his company’s aggressive behavior. The rider reiterated the warning to stay clear, and returned to the vineyard.

The group returned to Ravensburg with the objective of obtaining a spyglass with which to openly and obviously observe the encampment; the intention was to cause the mercenaries to send another scout to challenge the group, hopefully resulting in an opportunity for Raz to employ Ganzfelder and learn more about the group’s intentions. The group found that there was no spyglass available for sale in Ravensburg; however, they reasoned that for their purposes a dummy spyglass would do just as well, so such a device was assembled.

Meanwhile, Adolf took to the streets to see what rumors were to be heard in the city. He learned that the Catholic Lord Mayor’s steward, as the story of von Siegen’s affliction spread through the city, was increasing being blamed for what had transpired. He also learned that a hard-case mercenary was angry at Kat for being shown up in an axe-throwing contest the night of the Armory Banquet.

January 5, 1654

Adolf had an appointment with the Catholic Lord Mayor’s steward this morning, which he kept. Hugo accompanied Adolf, as an official representative of von Siegen’s household. Adolf found the man, whose office was at the town hall, to be upset and defensive, and anxious about the future of his position. Adolf did his best to reassure him that he and his allies did not believe the steward to be guilty of negligence, and offered to issue a public statement of support. When Adolf inquired about the staff that the steward had engaged for purposes of serving the Armory Banquet, and in particular asked about people who he hired that were from France of Poland, he learned that a man with an accent the steward believed was eastern had been amongst those employed, but the steward couldn’t tell if the man was Polish or not. Adolf reiterated the offer to provide public support to the steward if such a thing would be helpful.

The group returned to the vineyard and placed it under observation with their ersatz spyglass, making their surveillance as obvious as possible. Various stratagems were employed to draw the mercenaries out; however, the mercenaries maintained their discipline in the face of all of these attempts, keeping watch on the heroes but taking no other action.

The group decided to return to Ravensburg upon the realization that the mercenaries seemed too disciplined too fall prey to their strategy. Adolf returned to surveying the city’s taverns and inns, learning nothing new about the situation with the Armory Banquet and the mercenaries, but overhearing in Barbara’s Cannon that there was a man in Ravensburg who had the ability to make true magical potions. This piqued Adolf’s interest and he continued to discreetly eavesdrop. It transpired that the man being discussed was a laborer by day, but produced these potions by night. Adolf recognized the men who were conversing, and approached them. The men revealed that they had heard that a man named Lorenz Grafl, who lived near Züttlinger’s Public House, had a kobold in his house who guided him in the creation of the potions.

January 6, 1654

The next morning the group visited Lorenz Grafl. Knowing he was a laborer by occupation, they offered to hire him for the day to work on von Siegen’s stables. Once safely away from Grafl’s house and earshot of the supposed kobold, Adolf discreetly inquired as to whether Grafl did indeed have a kobold. Grafl responded in the affirmative, stating that he received assistance from a kobold who called himself King Turnip. After some discussion about his abilities, Kat commissioned him to create a healing potion, a potion that allowed vision in total darkness, and a potion that provided protection against fire. Grafl said that it would take a few days each to brew the potions.

January 7, 1654

The group rested in Ravensburg while continuing to pay attention to news in the city. Adolf spread the news that von Siegen had recovered from his affliction. He visited the Catholic Lord Mayor’s steward in particular and informed him of von Siegen’s recovery. Adolf repeated the offer to have Herr von Siegen produce a statement supporting the steward; the steward accepted this. This statement was expressed upon bills that were posted around Ravensburg.

Meanwhile, Letta spent some time socializing with Doctor Abreck on his visits to von Siegen’s house. The two played cards and learned some more about each other. Doctor Abreck shared that he had indeed had a seafaring career, having been on Abel Tasman’s voyage to Australia and Tasmania in the early 1640’s. And before that, he hinted that he may have served on ships that preyed on Spanish shipping in a piratical manner.

January 8, 1654

Adolf learned via rumors that the mercenaries had decamped and departed the vineyard on the morning of January 7th. The group rode out to investigate the encampment, and indeed found that it had been abandoned. Upon searching the buildings of the vineyard, little of interest was found except for a small amount of dry gray dust on the floor of one of the chambers in the main residential building. Adolf was able to identify this as being the remnants of a magical poppet that had dried out and crumbled due to the failure of the associated spell.

The group immediately set out along the track of the departed mercenaries, which was easy to follow. The trail was found to head eastward, in the direction of a village called Nisselsbach. The villagers reported that a single unarmored rider, in civilian clothes, had ridden ahead of the group and asked directions to the city of Kempten. The remainder of the column was reportedly headed towards the city of Isny. The group resolved to pursue the trail of the lone rider, who was described as a young handsome man who spoke German with an accident indicating that he was native to parts east. The group stayed for the evening in Nisselsbach.

January 9, 1654

The group made sure to get an early start the next morning, riding in the direction of Kempten along the route that the villagers in Nisselsbach had given to the lone rider, winding through a number of small duchies and principalities and encountering nothing unusual. They arrived in Kempten around nightfall.

The group stopped at the very first tavern that they encountered upon entering the gates of Kempten. Adolf asked around and found that a man matching the description of the lone rider had taken quarters at Hupp’s Inn, generally held to be the nicest inn in town.

Hupp’s Inn was found to be an imposing four-story building with large grounds, with extensive stables and carriage houses. Raz and Letta took up positions monitoring the exterior of the building. Adolf and Kat entered the inn’s tavern, and the saw a man seated at a table drinking wine who Adolf recognized as someone who had been a servant at the Armory Banquet. Adolf pointed the man out to Kat. The man recognized them as well, and, appearing to apprehend the circumstances immediately, stood up to flee towards the back door. Kat leapt to the attack, sliding over the bar to place herself between the man and the back door. Adolf tackled the man and brought him to the ground, but in short order the man, displaying remarkable strength, broke free of Adolf’s grapple.

Boxed in, the man then scrambled up the wall and began to move towards the front door while clinging to the underside of the ceiling. Hearing the commotion inside, Letta rushed in to join the fight, as did Raz. Raz attempted to use his slumber spell against the man, but found that some magical shielding of some kind prevented it from being effective. The foe weathered multiple pistol shots and thrown daggers—at one point, her pistols discharged, Letta grabbed a pistol from the belt of a nearby patron and fired it—and suffered some light wounds. He dropped to the floor and shook off another tackle attempt by Adolf. Raz fired his pistol at the enemy’s head, but the ball merely grazed his target’s skull. As the man attempted to run past Raz and out the door, Raz drew his short sword. The man was able to get a handle on Raz’s sword, pushing it against Raz’s neck and causing a deep wound, but ultimately Raz was able to regain control of his weapon and stabbed his opponent in the heart, killing him.

Amongst the mysterious man’s possessions was a locket ring, within which was found a portrait of a dark haired, handsome man with high cheekbones and a mustache and goatee.

The group stayed the night in Kempten. They removed the head from the body of their enemy; the Kempten down guard dealt with the rest of the remains.

January 10, 1654

The group began heading back to Ravensburg, Kat carrying the severed head of the strange man. As they were unpacking their possessions that night at the tavern where they found quarters, Adolf noticed an odd noise coming from his saddlebag as he moved it. Within was found a violin. No one knew where the violin had come from.

January 11, 1654

The group arrived back in Ravensburg. They showed the severed head to von Siegen, who did not recognize the man to whom it had belonged. However, he did recognize the portrait within the locket ring, saying that it depicted a vampire that he had slain in Vienna in 1646.

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Der Hexenkessel, Session 19
December 28, 1653 - January 4, 1654

December 28, 1653

On the evening before the Armory Banquet, Adolf, while staying in his normal quarters at Barbara’s Cannon, became involved in a long and rambling talk with a very old man—a traveling tinker, it transpired, with a big shock of white hair and a long drooping white mustache—who he had never seen there before. The two talked into the wee hours about many wide-ranging subjects.

December 29, 1653

The Catholic Lord Mayor of Ravensburg’s Armory Banquet was held, in the aftermath of a significant winter storm that had caused about eight inches of snow to fall on Ravensburg. Adolf escorted a young lady named Christina von Ebink to the festivities. Kat of course was escorted by von Siegen. While asking around town in the days prior to the banquet, Adolf learned that it had become generally known in Ravensburg that von Siegen had accepted his invitation and was expected to attend, and that the seat at his side had become quite coveted, and an object of contention amongst the other invitees.

Kat prepared her green dress and enlisted the help of Antonia in preparing her hair, forming it into ringlets and threading it with beads and jewels.

Other attendees at the banquet included the Catholic Lord Mayor himself and Princess-Abbess Maria Scholastica Klocker of Baindt Abbey (along with her family). The Lord Mayor greeted von Siegen and Kat personally, and expressed his delight at their presence. Adolf and Fraulein von Ebink likewise caused a stir upon entering the banquet room. They were greeted by the Princess Abbess upon their arrival. The Princess Abbess invited Adolf to find her after dinner for continued conversations.

Both Kat and von Siegen, and Adolf and Fraulein von Ebink, were seated to enjoy dinner. Kat overheard some nearby diners talking about Adolf; their demeanor seemed amiable, but Kat couldn’t quite here what they were saying. Adolf overheard the captain of the city regiment talking with his wife about something terrible happening in the Sundgau (possibly plague).

Kat inquired with a nearby Imperial Knight about the tournament that was planned for Ravensburg. The knight responded that the idea was indeed gaining a great deal of favor, particularly amongst the Imperial Knights, and he expected that it would indeed transpire. He mentioned that it was likely going to be scheduled for the first weekend after the spring equinox.

Talk at Adolf’s table turned to diplomacy and politics. Sensing that Fraulein von Ebink was losing interest, Adolf skillfully steered the conversation to the topic of card games, which he knew she enjoyed.

Kat could tell that von Siegen was enjoying himself tremendously, not hesitating to partake of the plentiful wine. Meanwhile, Adolf engaged the head of the furrier’s guild in a conversation about opera, gaining some advice about suitable gifts for a devotee of the opera.

After dinner concluded, the floor was cleared for dancing. Adolf danced with Fraulein von Ebink and drew the admiring attention of the crowd with their skill and grace. The man who had been gossiping about Adolf, whose name was Tilmanus von Stenreidt, approached von Siegen and asked his permission to ask Kat for a dance. It turned out he was also an Imperial Knight, with a castle about ten miles from Ravensburg. Kat steered the conversation towards Adolf; Herr von Stenreidt revealed that he had heard that various individuals had been asking around about Adolf. It transpired that these inquiries were initiated by Herr Bort, whose daughter had taken a liking to Adolf while dining at von Siegen’s house.

Kat and Herr von Stenreidt also discussed the proposed upcoming tournament. Herr von Strenreidt relayed that he had heard that Adam von Kemmerlein, the man who had initiated the proposals, had a son who was known to be something of a sickly whelp. He told a story he had heard about von Kemmerlein taking his son in tow in 1648 and riding towards Bohemia, with the hope of getting the boy involved in some combat; however, the war had ended before they reached their destination, and the elder von Kemmerlein turned back for home, disappointed.

The party broke up in the wee hours of the morning. En route back to the row house, von Siegen insisted on stopping at Trumpeter’s Tavern for a few more beers, drunker than Kat had ever seen him. While there, von Siegen became involved in an increasingly heated conversation with an imposing town guardsman, which ultimately culminated in Kat challenging the guardsman to a contest of axe throwing in the alley behind the tavern. With a stake of 50 Thalers on the line and a large crowd looking on, Kat bested the guardsman, clearly drawing his ire. Kat and von Siegen rode away into the night, von Siegen shouting drunken insults at the guardsmen.

December 30, 1653

The next morning, when Kat awoke, she found von Siegen ashen and gray, with gray pox on his skin that were oozing. She immediately called for help, and Doctor Abreck was summoned. She also alerted her allies; Raz and Letta immediately headed for von Siegen’s house, while Adolf sprinted to Zsofia’s.

Doctor Abreck examined von Siegen, who remained unconscious, and stated, sadly, that the malady appeared to be magical, and there was little he could do for him. As the light came up, it became apparent that von Siegen’s hair had grayed appreciably. All of von Siegen’s friends and allies worked to make him as comfortable as he could be.

Adolf found Zsofia to be noticeably drunk and bedraggled, wearing a dressing gown. Adolf passed on the frightening news of von Siegen’s condition to Zsofia, who immediately offered her help. She consulted her alchemical cards, seeking to answer the question posed by Adolf, “Is the person who poisoned von Siegen still in Ravensburg?” Zsofia said that the answer to this was No. Adolf told Zsofia to get some sleep, and raced back to von Siegen’s.

Together, Kat, Raz, and Adolf began to pursue information about what magical malady may have afflicted von Siegen. They began by examining The Devil’s Cookery, which they had obtained in Nuremberg, and ruled out any of the curses contained therein as the affliction. They then broadened their inquiry. Raz and Adolf both suspected that the affliction was a curse, rather than a poison, and specifically that the symptoms appeared to be consistent with a poppet-based curse, for which a small piece of the intended victim (such as hair or nail trimmings) would be necessary. The group then turned to von Siegen’s library; there they learned that curses of this type were invoked, it was necessary for the caster of the curse to keep the poppet within some distance (usually 5 – 10 miles) of the victim for 24 hours. Further study revealed that the caster of the curse had to maintain possession of the poppet during this time period; additionally, it was learned that the only way to end the curse was to destroy the poppet.

Adolf remembered that Princess Abbess Klocker had wanted to speak with him, and quickly determined that she and her retinue were staying at the nicest inn in Catholic Ravensburg. He quickly made his way there and was able to intercept her before her departure. The Princess Abbess told Adolf that she was sympathetic to the cause and activities of him and his friend, and that Baindt Abbey was open to them as an ally and sanctuary if the need transpired. Adolf thanked the Princess Abbess for this; he also confidentially updated her on the condition of Herr von Siegen, who expressed her concern and vowed to appeal to all the saints for his well-being.

Once the group was reassembled, Kat proposed that, since the caster of the curse and his vile popet could be anywhere within up to 10 miles, perhaps the best chance at saving von Siegen could be obtained by moving his person away from the area wherein the poppet must be located. This plan was agreed to by all and immediately acted upon. Raz and Adolf quickly gathered a selection of books from von Siegen’s library that they thought might be most useful as references whilst away, then, with Hugo aiding, von Siegen’s unconscious for was loaded into the carriage, and the group headed straight north out of Ravensburg, away from the Bodensee and into the backcountry of Swabia. Hugo drove the carriage deep into the night, until the group elected to stop at a tavern in a nameless German village, which Adolf found to be operated by a man who was likely a noble at some point in life, before some misfortunate had changed his circumstances.

December 31, 1653

Kat and Letta took turns looking over von Siegen for the remainder of the night, while Raz and Adolf delved into the books that they had brought along. They were able to confirm that they were on the right track, but were unable to glean much further in the way of information.

Letta was sitting up with von Siegen as day broke, and as the sun rose she began to see that he was increasingly hale and strong—the curse was apparently receding. She alerted Adolf and Raz, allowing Kat to continue resting. Upon learning this, the exhausted Adolf retired to get some sleep. Raz brought von Siegen up to date on what had transpired. Von Siegen was unable to recall any suspicious encounter from the banquet.

The proprietor of the tavern, responding to Adolf’s perception of his station and respectful treatment, extended to the group an invitation to stay as long as they needed to.

Eventually, Kat awoke, and rushed to reunite tearfully with von Siegen.

The group began to discuss who may have been responsible for placing the curse on von Siegen. Conversation turned to the extensive serving staff that was present at the Armory Banquet, any one of whom could have been in position to take a hair from von Siegen’s clothing. Adolf commented that he had heard that service positions at the Armory Banquet tended to be highly coveted, as the event tended to bring good tips from the guests, who were more often than not actuated by seasonal generosity.

After getting some modicum of rest, the group began to ride back towards Ravensburg at approximately mid-day, and stopped to spend New Year’s Eve at the familiar Bavarian roadside inn where they had stayed many times previously. Prior to departing, Adolf made sure to take the time to thank the tavern owner, who was happy to have been of help.

January 1, 1654

The group traveled back to Ravensburg during the daylight hours of January 1st, arriving in Ravensburg around the fall of darkness on the short winter day. The group made sure they were observed by the Ravensburg populace as they arrived, and they carefully checked the house and grounds before bringing von Siegen back to his rooms. No threats were noted.

Adolf found two letters waiting for him from the von Zähringens, one from Maria Elisabeth and one from her father. The letter from Maria Elisabeth was pleasant but otherwise unremarkable; however, the letter from the count conveyed the information that certain elements in Bregenz and the Tyrol were actively investigating the as-yet unexplained disappearance of the poet who the party had discovered to be a Brotherhood of Eurymedon agent.

The entire grouped slept at von Siegen’s house that night as a precaution.

January 2, 1654

Wishing to conceal the news of von Siegen’s recovery, the group arranged for Doctor Abreck to visit the row house, under the guise of providing medical attention to von Siegen. Letta spent some time with Doctor Abreck, playing a friendly game of cards.

Letta, Raz, and Adolf went to visit Zsofia and found her sprawled on her sofa in her dressing gown, disconsolate. When the group knocked, she called out for them to go away. The doors were locked, but Adolf, calling upon something about lockpicking that he had learned in his long and rambling talk, succeeded in defeating the lock on the back door.

When they spoke with Zsofia and eventually got her to talk with them, she revealed that she believed that she had received a prophecy that she was damned to hell for seeing the future. Adolf noticed that she had thrown her alchemical cards, which she used for divination, in the fireplace. Adolf, kneeling at her side, was successful in calming her.

Letta and Raz began to search the house, including the basement. They didn’t find anything out of place, but this being their first opportunity to inspect the downstairs, Raz got a good look at the crystal orb on the clawed iron foot. He noticed that embedded within the orb was a single black human hair, somewhat wiry like Zsofia’s.

Meanwhile, Adolf did his best to reassure Zsofia, attempting to assure her that no one is beyond the love of God and that forgiveness can be obtained by anyone if it is sincerely sought. He was able to calm her somewhat, but perceived that any significant recovery of her spirits was likely a longer-term proposition. The group did their best to stabilize Zsofia’s emotional state and ensure her well-being. Raz elected to stay at Zsofia’s house and look out for her; Letta spent some time with her as well. Zsofia slept fitfully that night, but she did sleep.

January 3, 1654

Adolf took to the streets of Ravensburg and spread the rumor that von Siegen was still gravely ill and hovering near death.

Raz and Letta continued to spend time at Zsofia’s. Letta and Raz discussed the strange and perhaps prophetic dreams that Letta had been having; Raz confirmed that dreams are a method by which divination magics make themselves known to those who are receptive to such impressions.

Letta and Raz also investigated the small number of books amongs Zsofia’s belongings; Raz identified two that were related to divination magic: Alchemy Illustrated in Three Dialogs (which discussed alchemical cards of the type that Zsofia used for divination) and The Labyrinth of the Looking Glass, Being a Discourse on the Magical Properties of Reflected Worlds. Adolf arrived as Raz was investigating this latter book, but both men found it quite opaque and difficult to interpret.

Letta returned to von Siegen’s and inquired with him about her strange dreams. Von Siegen told her that he believed that these dreams were meaningful, and that perhaps she was discovering arcane talent that she didn’t know that she had.

January 4, 1654

Adolf returned to the streets of Ravensburg to see what rumors were in the wind. He learned that the news that von Siegen was still gravely ill and had likely been the victim of poison had taken root successfully within the city. Additionally, he learned that a group of hardened mercenaries had recently taken up quarters in an abandoned vineyard near the village of Tettnang, not far from Ravensburg. Adolf reported this news to Kat.
The group decided to investigate the vineyard. While Raz, Adolf, and Letta positioned themselves at the top of the slope upon which the vineyard was located, Kat attempted to approach the village stealthily. However, she was spotted. As she retreated back towards the group, a warning shot was fired, and a man on horseback rode out to challenge her.

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Der Hexenkessel, Session 18
November 28 - December 28, 1653

November 28, 1653

In the aftermath of the nighttime fight with Caspar Paur, calls for the watch were heard rising from the surrounding neighborhood. The group split up and returned to the abbey in the city where Hugo was recovering from his wounds. They all arrived safely and spent the night there.

The next morning, as the group departed the abbey, they were attacked by a pair of men armed with firearms, one of whom shouted “For the one we serve!” as the ambush was launched. As passers-by on the busy street screamed and scrambled for cover, the group quickly defeated the men. They were found to have the symbol of the Krampus cult branded on their forearms, identical to the brand that had been found on Caspar Paur. In short order the watch arrived, let by an excessively cheerful and somewhat dim teenager, who appeared to absorb not a word of the misdirecting cover story spun by Adolf. Regardless, the unprovoked attack had been witnessed by many, so the guards gave the group no trouble. Letta collected a carbine that one of the ambushers had been wielding.

Subsequent to this, the group attended to various errands around Nuremberg. Adolf replaced his worn hat and sought out a text by Keppler, while Kat replaced her bullet-scarred cloak. Raz purchased a bag of apples, and Letta treated everyone to cookies. It transpired that Raz had never had cookies before, and he determined that they were delightful; in short order, he purchased more cookies for himself and began to consume them to the exclusion of all other nutrition.

Raz returned to the abbey and read Adolf’s German language Shakespeare while he ate his cookies. Kat played cards with the injured Hugo, using the naked lady cards she had previously recovered as plunder. Letta took Zinga for a ride outside the city.

The group rested the night of the 28th at the abbey.

November 29, 1653

November 29th saw the opening of the Nuremberg Christkindlesmarkt (Christmas Market). The group visited the market and purchased some Lebkuchen, finding them to be just as wonderful as advertised. Raz continued his all-cookie diet, but staved off indigestion with his youthful vigor. Despite the foggy weather, the city enjoyed the fair. Adolf purchased some Lebkuchen for the poor children of Nuremberg. Each member of the group went off on their own to do some Christmas shopping for family, friends and allies. Raz arranged for a promissory note in the amount of 30 Thalers to be sent to his aunts in Cologne, and Adolf penned a letter to Maria Elisabeth.

While the group was spending time in Nuremberg’s main market square, they noticed more of the crude handwritten bills accusing the Duchess of Wurttemberg of witchcraft, very similar to the ones they had previously observed in Nuremberg. These had not been present the previous day, so had apparently gone up overnight. Raz studied one of the bills and determined that they did not appear to represent any credible arcane activity. Nevertheless, it was noted that the bills had appeared in locations and at times that suggested that the poster was perhaps following the group. Kat and Adolf tore down some of the bills in an obvious manner, while Letta and Raz looked on, but nothing unusual was observed. Plans were made to stake out the main public area in Nuremberg overnight, to see whether any new bills appeared. However, this activity also yielded nothing noteworthy. The group retired to the abbey to rest.

That night, Letta was plagued by nightmares in which children were harmed and tormented. For the most part these children were unfamiliar and indistinct in their appearance. However, there were two children, a boy and a girl, who, although unknown to Letta, appeared very clearly in her nightmare.

November 30, 1653

When morning dawned, Letta knew intuitively that these two children were still in danger from having eaten the cursed cookies.

Starting with the information that the cursed cookies had been sold outside a particular church, the group went to that church (St. Lorenz) during services and Letta kept her eye out for the two children she had seen in her dream. It transpired that these children were amongst the congregation there; the group followed them discreetly to ascertain where they lived. It was found that one was the child of a barber/surgeon, and another was the child of buckle maker.

The group reflected on what might be done to help the children. As snow began to fall, Raz took a room at Betz’ Inn and began to study The Devil’s Cookery, with Kat’s help, while Letta stood guard. Raz and Kat determined that further information was necessary in order to implement a counter-curse.

The group resolved that the next day Raz and Adolf ride hell-for-leather for Ravensburg and von Siegen’s library, while Kat and Letta would return to Ravensburg with Hugo, at a slower pace that his injuries could accommodate.

December 1 – 4, 1653

Raz and Adolf rode hard for Ravensburg, negotiating exchange of horses along the way, completing the journey in one less day than usual. Upon arriving at von Siegen’s house, they quickly briefed him on everything that had occurred in Nuremberg, then headed up to the library. As Raz settled in for a long night of studying, Adolf strode into the room, plucked a book off the shelf, and opened it to precisely the required text, barely breaking his stride.

From this text, it was learned what counter-curse inscription was required in order to make what amounted to a batch of counter-curse cookies. It was also learned that another dram of devil’s tooth ooze was needed. Von Siegen recommended an apothecary in town who might have this amongst his wares. Raz and Adolf hastened to the apothecary, who was just closing up for the night. He was, however, convinced to stay open a few moments longer, and the ingredient was obtained. They returned to von Siegen’s house and Raz worked with Antonia to craft a batch of counter-curse cookies.

December 5 – 6, 1653

As Raz and Adolf began they journey back north towards Nuremberg with the counter-curse cookies, they crossed paths with Letta, Kat, and Hugo headed south toward Ravensburg. This latter group continued south into town, where von Siegen welcomed home Hugo.

While in Ravensburg on Saturday morning, Letta visited an armorer and got fitted for a suit of full plate armor, the better to participate in the tournament planned for the spring. In the course of taking his measurements, the armorer was shocked to discover that Letta was in fact a woman. However, an intimidating glare by Letta ensured that he kept this information to himself. The armorer promised that the armor would be ready by early February.

December 9 -10, 1653

Raz and Adolf once again rode hell-for-leather on their return to Nuremberg, and arrived on December 9th on a cold day. Adolf visited the barber/surgeon, but his son was not there. He then visited the buckle maker’s shop, but the young girl was not in evidence.

By mid-day on Wednesday the 10th, Letta and Kat returned to Nuremberg as well, re-uniting the group. On that evening the group went to St. Lorenz and waited upon the completion of the Wednesday night Advent services. Adolf, acting the role of an intoxicated holiday well-wisher, distributed counter-curse cookies to the barber’s son and his family; the boy happily thanked Adolf and ate the cookie. However, when the same method was applied to the buckler maker’s daughter, the buckle maker was found to be deeply opposed to his children accepting the cookies. Adolf was able to persuade the man to allow his children to accept the cookies, but as the buckle maker’s family walked away he perceived that the cookies would likely be thrown in the trash as soon as they were out of sight. Adolf, reasoning that he could not, as a practical matter, force this girl or anyone else to eat a cookie, concluded that he had discharged his duty to the full extent of his ability and went to find Christina Habbgus (she of the pet snake) for purposes of a holiday assignation.

The remainder of the group was not yet willing to leave the issue be, however, and much discussion ensued of how they could get Barbara, the buckle maker’s daughter, to eat the counter-curse cookie. Suspicion was cast on the buckle maker himself—perhaps his motive for avoiding the counter-curse cookies was sinister.

December 11, 1653

Raz carefully removed one of the witchcraft fliers from the wall where it had been pasted in the main market square. He sought out a paper maker and found that approximately fifty sheets of paper of dimension consistent with the fliers had been sold recently to a one-armed man.

The shop of the baker who had crafted the original curse cookies was investigated, but Herr Velser was found to have fled town.

December 12, 1653

Kat investigated the buckle maker’s shop. She checked for a brand indicating affiliation with the Krampus cult on his forearm, but there was not one. She found that when she amiably offered cookies to the man, he reacted with great displeasure and hostility.

She reported this to the rest of the group. Raz prevailed on Adolf to ask one of the buckle maker’s neighbors (a weaver) about his strange hostility to cookies. Adolf was momentarily distracted by some nice textiles in the weaver’s shop, and in the event found himself ordering a nice custom tablecloth to be sent to Maria Elisabeth von Zähringen as a gift, before remembering his original mission. The weaver found the buckle maker’s hostility to cookies to be very strange and not particularly consistent with what he knew of the man’s personality. Adolf returned and reported this information to Raz.

Raz entered the shop and cast Ganzfelder on the buckle maker, reading his mind. He learned that the buckle maker had determined on his own that cursed cookies were behind the recent rash of accidental deaths in Nuremberg; thus his hostility to cookies. When Raz explained that he and his allies were trying to counteract the curse, the buckle maker acquiesced to his daughter eating one of the counter-curse cookies. The buckle maker thanked Raz for the group’s intervention. Kat alerted the buckle maker, named Bernardus Beyer, to be on the lookout for any individuals with the mark of the Krampus cult.

December 12-28, 1653

The group rode back to Ravensburg through a cold, persistent winter rain. Upon arrival, the group decided to take some time to rest from their many travels over the past several months. Additionally, Kat and Adolf began preparing for the Armory Christmas Banquet, scheduled for December 29th. Christmas dinner was shared by the group and all of von Siegen’s household. There was much exchanging of gifts.

On the 26th, snow began to fall over Ravensburg. Raz and Letta, staying at the Radish Haus, were visited by Zsofia Fodor, who came to insist that they all go out to Züttlinger’s Public House for hot chocolate. This they did. Raz and Letta filled Zsofia in on their recent adventures.

XP +2

Total XP To Date: 44

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Der Hexenkessel, Session 17
November 26 - 28, 1653

November 26, 1653

The group completed their discussion with the cooper who had witnessed the attack on Hugo, and began a search of the neighborhood. A quick inspection did not readily reveal any means by which a man with a limp could have easily eluded a group of city guardsmen. The group interviewed a nearby cobbler and the proprietor of a small grubby tavern, but neither conversation offered any leads.

With the darkness gathering over the city of Nuremberg, the group returned to the abbey where Hugo was recovering from his wounds. Raz employed Ganzfelder once again to further probe Hugo’s mind, confirming that Hugo had been focused on “the old baker” and that his attacker had been young and blond, with a limp.

Kat spent some time with the unconscious Hugo, talking to him about the progress they had made so far. The group stayed in the humble quarters of the abbey for the night.

November 27, 1653

They found this to be a modest shopfront in the eastern district of Nuremberg, with prominent chimneywork from the bakery oven and a window with a fold-down shutter through which business was transacted. Adolf studied the shopfront from across the street and noted that there was a figure, most likely male, seated just inside the front of the shop. The person didn’t appear to be a baker or an apprentice, as he wasn’t doing any work, and also seemed unlikely to be a patron. Kat and Raz entered the common garden behind the shops and found the rear of Herr Velser’s bakery; Letta and Adolf gave their comrades a few minutes to reach their destination, then approached the front of the shop for a closer look.

The man sitting in the front of the shop was found to indeed be a man, most likely a former soldier by his bearing and appearance—and the fact that he was visibly armed with a pistol. The man called out to Herr Velser, telling him that he had customers. Herr Velser was found to be a graying man in his fifties. Adolf inquired as to whether he would be able to purchase Lebkuchen at his shop when the Christmas season started; Herr Velser replied, with regret, that he did not bake Lebkuchen. Adolf then asked whether Herr Velser knew a young blond man with a limp; Herr Velser replied that he did not, but Adolf could tell that he was lying. The armed man stood up, and told Adolf and Letta to cease their questioning and depart. When questioned by Adolf regarding his presence at the bakery, the man replied that he had been hired by the baker to protect him from intimidation and thievery. Adolf impugned both his truthfulness and his honor, but the fellow retained his cool in the face of this; however, he seemed shaken by a statement from Letta, accompanied by an intimidating glare, that there was were lies afoot. Adolf and Letta could tell that the increasingly nervous man was on the cusp of reaching for his pistol, and withdrew from the front of the shop, circling to the back garden where Kat and Raz waited. Adolf and Letta briefed Kat and Raz on what they had discovered. Kat and Raz went to the front of the shop but found it had been hurriedly closed.

Returning to the garden area, Raz crept up to the back window of the bakery and looked inside. He saw two men, neither of them the baker Herr Velser, speaking urgently with one another. However, the men noticed Raz. Raz cast Ganzfelder on one of the men and learned that they were working for someone called Caspar Paur. However, the man was alerted to the mental intrusion caused by the spell; he drew his pistol and fired at Raz, who managed to dodge out of the way, although a pane of glass shattered under the ball’s impact. Raz cast Puer Dormitabas on the two men; the man who had fired fell asleep, but the other resisted. This man rushed to the window with his pistol and pointed it at Kat; Kat threw her daggers at the man, but narrowly missed. The man fired at Kat, but the charge malfunctioned and the ball struck Kat harmlessly. Letta returned fire with and shot the man between the eyes.

As an alarm rose from the street, the group held their ground until the city watch arrived. Adolf spoke with the guard sergeant and stated that their assailants had fired first, pointing out that the glass from the broken window pane was outside on the ground, and that Kat had been struck by a pistol ball. The guardsmen accepted the group’s story after taking a short statement, then went inside the bakery to interview Herr Velser; apparently the other armed man had fled sometime prior to the arrival of the watch.

Once the guardsmen departed the scene, Adolf entered the bakery to speak with Herr Velser, who was seated in a state of apparent shock in the front room of the bakery. Adolf began to question Herr Velser, who initially stated that he had hired the men to guard his shop, but did not stick to this story for very long. Herr Velser ultimately conceded to Adolf that he had gotten himself in a terrible fix, and produced from a hiding place beneath the floor boards of his bakery a large book. This book, an old manuscript written in German, was titled The Devil’s Cookery: A Treatise on the Means Employed by Practitioners of Sorcery to Bring About Doom by Bewitching the Very Sustenance that No One Can Do Without.

Adolf called Raz in to inspect the book. Raz found it to contain a number of spells and curses designed to be implemented in conjunction with various foodstuffs. Herr Velser admitted that, subsequent to his frustration at not being granted a Lebkuchen license, that he had attempted to use the book to bake a batch of jumble cookies, the consumption of which would cause the eaters to thenceforth not eat any cookies but those baked by him. However, it soon became apparent to Herr Velser that the children in Nuremberg who had been dying of accidents had all purchased cookies from that batch. While he stewed in his guilt, a young blond man named Caspar Paur had approached him. Paur somehow knew everything that he had done, and used this leverage to make demands on Velser. Velser did not know exactly what Paur wanted done, but knew it involved further creation of cursed cookies. The group took the book with them as they departed. The group stayed at the abbey again that night.

November 28, 1653

The next morning, the group found that Hugo had awakened, and they rushed to his side. He was able to add little to the information the group had learned thus far, mostly confirming that he had indeed determined that a batch of cookies baked by Herr Velser had been a common factor amongst all of the children whose lives had been claimed by accidents in the preceding months. He had spent some time observing the happenings about Herr Velser’s bakery, and had noted a suspicious figure in the form of a young blond man with a limp. According to Hugo’s account, one night he began to trail this man from Herr Velser’s bakery, following him west across the city. However, the strange man had turned the tables on him and ambushed him, attacking him with a dagger and stabbing him several times before cries for the watch arose and obliged the blond man to flee into the night. The group briefed Hugo on what they had learned from Herr Velser.

That same morning, a bald man with a large red mustache, with a sword on his belt, was found to be lingering across the street from the abbey. He made no pretense of stealth, and when waved to responded in kind. Adolf engaged the man in conversation. The stranger responded that they wished to recover the book that the group had obtained from Herr Velser the previous day. He offered to pay 25 Thalers for it—an offer which Adolf rejected immediately. Adolf attempted to learn why Caspar Paur wanted the book, but the mustached man was resolute in not disclosing this. Ultimately a meeting between the group and Caspar Paur was arranged; the mustached man initially wanted a meeting at a group of abandoned buildings called Tallow Town, but the group rejected this in favor of Nuremberg’s main market square, which would be more crowded, at sundown.

The group prepared for the meeting and scouted out the square. Kat took up a stealthy position in the square, disguised as an ordinary elderly woman. The book itself, quite large, was placed in Zinga’s saddlebags.

While scouting out the scene, the group noted many passers-by spinning a ring in the ironwork of the fountain in the center of the square. Each member of the group spun the ring as well, and each person felt a little luckier after doing so.

When the sun began to go down, the meeting with the mustached man and a young blond man with a limp—Caspar Paur—occurred as scheduled. The group did not note any other adversaries or suspicious characters in the square. Adolf was very clear that the group would not exchange the book for anything until they received some answers about what Paur intended to do with it, but Paur refused to provide any further information. At an impasse, the meeting ended.

As the meeting was ending, Raz used Ganzfelder to read Paur’s mind, and learned that he had intended to force Herr Velser to bake cursed cookies that would compel the children who ate them to go to a certain place at a certain time.

The group followed Paur and the mustached man—Kat covertly, the rest openly—but they either did not appear to notice this or did not care. Letta overhead Paur say to his associate that they would simply “try again next year”. The two men were headed towards the east gates of the city; when Kat perceived that they had reached a quiet spot with no witnesses, she launched an attack, throwing two daggers at Paur. Paur proved to be a tough target, however, and survived the blow.

The rest of the group charged in and a melee ensued. Very quickly, Paur’s sword-wielding ally was slain; something in Paur seemed to snap, and he began to change shape, quickly morphing into a figure that looked a great deal like the mythical being named Krampus. Slashing with his claws and wielding a bundle of birch branches that had appeared in his hand, Krampus/Paur fought the group. Adolf fired all four of his pistols, while Raz used Ziada Etone to boost the fighting prowess of all his allies and Cāozuò yuánsù to disrupt the ground beneath the enemy’s feet. Letta dismounted from Zinga and fought Krampus/Paur with her sword, with Zinga joining the melee as well. Kat drew forth her magical tarot card and tossed it into the air with a flick of her wrist, causing a large bear to appear and enter the fray. After much fighting and effort, during which Kat suffered a wound, Zinga finally struck the blow that brought the monster to the ground, tramping Krampus/Paur beneath her hooves.

The creature reverted to its human Caspar Paur-form once slain. A hasty search of Paur’s equipment indicated that he had been in possession of an ancient scroll, written in Germanic runes in the language of the medieval barbarian invaders, that could be used to summon Krampus.

XP +3

Total XP To Date: 42

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Der Hexenkessel, Session 16
November 11 - 26, 1653

November 11, 1653

On the day after their victory over Odo Forkbeard, the group made ready to depart Bregenz and ride back to Ravensburg. Adolf learned from the von Zähringens that they were soon to depart for a four month visit to the Duchy of Westphalia, where they had family who had been very concerned with Lady Maria Elisabeth’s condition. Adolf and Maria Elisabeth shared a few words before parting ways.

As the group was winding their way north on the road, with the Bodensee to their left, a rabbit approached the group from the underbrush, exhibiting the plaintive behavior and active attempt to draw attention more characteristic of a domestic dog. Concluding that something was amiss, the group paused to investigate. Raz took a quick nip of quicksilver and cast Ganzfelder on the rabbit. He discovered that within the rabbit was indeed the mind of a human being—a girl named Esther, who had been turned into a rabbit by someone she described as a wicked witch. The heroes dismounted, and asked the Esther bunny to lead them to this witch.

Esther the bunny led the group into the trees by the side of the road, and ultimately to a wooded hollow, wherein was found a circular stone hut with a thatched roof and a hole in the peak from which smoke ascended. The group dismounted from their horses. Kat snuck up to the hut, and could hear the sounds of activity within. As she crept around the cottage to gather more information, she stepped on a twig, and the snap caused the sounds of activity within to cease. Kat gathered up a rock and tossed it into the trees as a distraction, then retreated in a different direction, as a voice called out a challenge and a threat.

An elderly but fit woman in a green cloak with graying dark blonde hair emerged from the cottage and performed an incantation, summoning a winged being apparently made of pure air, which gathered up dried leaves and twigs as it swept through the woods in pursuit of Kat. Letta and Adolf took careful aim with their pistols; Letta squeezed of a long pistol shot that wounded the woman, while Kat continued to evade the air elemental. Raz, in the grip of a righteous rage due to the witch’s obvious use of magic for evil, took a step forward until the woman was within range of his Puer Dormitabas spell. Weakened by the pistol wound, the woman fell into a magical slumber. Kat, having concluded from her arcane knowledge that the enchantment on Esther would likely last as long as the witch lived, did not resist her natural tendency towards bloodlust, and administer a coup de grace to the witch with her daggers.

Upon the witch’s death, the group heard a whump and cries of surprise and pain from within the hut. They turned to find that the rabbit, who had been hiding beneath a log this whole time, was now a bushy-haired girl, about ten years of age. It transpired that there had been two other children, also polymorphed into rabbits, who had been suspended by their feet from a wooden pole in the witch’s hut; they fell a short distance to the floor when they returned to their normal forms. Esther told them that the witch was known locally as Green Gertrude, and that she and her friends had been taken by her when they were playing beyond the border stones of their village fields. Green Gertrude had planned to make rabbit stew from the polymorphed children, according to Esther.

The group searched Green Gertrude and her hut, and found a cauldron suspended above the central fire. They also found some coins, two small sealed stone bottles, a sealed ceramic flask, a set of playing cards, each of which depicted a different nude woman, a wrought-iron birdcage, and a recent (circa 1650) map of the American colonies, in English.
The group burned down the hut, with Green Gertrude in it, then escorted the three children back to their village of Trutisheim, not far from the island city of Lindau.

Delayed somewhat by this encounter, the group stopped in the city of Eriskirch for the night.

November 12, 1653

The party arrived in Ravensburg around mid-morning and rode to von Siegen’s house. Kat and von Siegen shared a joyous and relieved kiss. The injured Letta took quarters on von Siegen’s guest room, and a doctor was summoned. This doctor, Henrich Abreck, who wore a silver ring through one of his nostrils, was found to be stolid, calm, and competent. He examined Letta thoroughly, caring not that she was a woman under her male disguise, and provided her with medical attention. Raz speculated that Dr. Abreck may have been a sailor, possibly a pirate.

When they had some alone time, Kat told von Siegen about their journey and their battle. She also told him about the attentions she had received from Andreas Erat, which von Siegen seemed to take in stride.

Adolf returned to the Trumpeter’s Tavern and received from Ulrich the news that crude, handwritten bills had begun appearing around the city accusing the Duchess of Würtemberg of being a witch. He passed this news along to the group at suppertime.

Raz found a bookseller in Ravensburg and purchased a copy of Shakespeare’s plays in Italian for Letta to read during her recovery.

As evening fell, the group walked out to Zsofia Fodor’s house and paid a visit. She greeted them and congratulated them on the success of their mission. She seemed better rested than the last time they had seen her, and said that since their defeat of Forkbeard, she had not been obliged to engage so intensely in what she called her conversations with the universe.

Upon returning to his quarters at the Radish Haus, Raz took great pains to place (mundane) guards and wards against entry throughout his room.

November 13, 1653

Kat took delivery of her dress from Diego Clavijo, and found that he had done a good (although not outstanding) job. She also did some shopping to find complementary articles of clothing for von Siegen.

The group learned that a friend of von Siegen’s named Elias Bentz was planning a welcome-home party for his son Zacharias on the 26th of November. Zacharias had just returned to Germany from a three-year trip to North America, where he studied and collected specimens of various native fauna. Von Siegen was invited to the party, and invited Kat to accompany him. Adolf secured invitations to the party for himself and for Letta, who planned on going as Nicola. While engaged in this task, Adolf learned that Adam von Kemmerlein—the Imperial Knight from the Black Forest who was said to be organizing a tournament to be held in Ravensburg in the spring—would be invited to Herr Bentz’ party as well.

Raz did some research in von Siegen’s library about lycanthropy. His research indicated that there were significant reliable reports of werewolf activity across Europe, including in the Black Forest region. He also learned that the popular belief that the association of lycanthropy with the phases of the moon was inaccurate; more likely, the change from human to animal form tended to be caused by strong emotions, with some lycanthropes more able to control the changes than others.

November 14, 1653

Letta, with her inherent vigor aided by Raz’ magic, healed somewhat from her injuries.

November 15 – November 21, 1653

On the 19th, Doctor Abreck visited Letta and pronounced her, to his surprise, fully recovered. Letta had benefited from Raz’s magic once again, speeding her recovery.

By the 21st, Kat, Adolf, and Raz all began to notice that while von Siegen had noted the absence of correspondence from Hugo—who ought to have reached Nuremberg some days past—he seemed uncharacteristically untroubled by this. Adolf and Raz consulted with Bartold Croger, von Siegen’s loyal retrainer, who agreed that with the social engagement approaching on the 26th, von Siegen seemed to be determined that nothing bad should happened, as if he could achieve such circumstances through willpower and positive thinking alone. Somewhat concerned by this, Adolf, Raz, and Letta visited Zsofia and asked her to perform an augury on the question, “What is Hugo’s current situation?” Zsofia consulted her alchemical cards, and received the answer “He is near death.”

With this news, the group decided to make plans to head to Nuremberg, and, despite some initial hesitation, decided to bring Kat into the findings. When the group brought news of Zsofia’s augury to von Siegen, he was upset and embarrassed when it became clear to him that he had been avoiding recognition of an alarming situation. He told Kat that the only reason he wanted to go to Herr Bentz’ gathering was so that he could attend with her, an urged the entire group to travel to Nuremberg to aid Hugo.

Even with the day advancing, the group made haste to depart, and put some miles behind them before nightfall.

November 21 – 25, 1653

The group rode to Nuremberg through seasonable autumn weather and arrived without incident late on the 25th.

Kat spoke with the acquaintance she developed in Nuremberg—the woodworker who sold her a chess set while the group was en route to Poland. When questioned, he mentioned that he had heard of an incident in town in which a man had been gravely wounded in a fight about a week previous. According to the woodworker, the man was being treated in a Lutheran abbey adjacent to the south wall of the city.

The group went to the abbey and found an unconscious Hugo in the abbey’s infirmary, suffering from multiple stab sounds, as though from a knife or dagger.

Raz took a nip of quicksilver from his flask and cast Ganzfelder to read Hugo’s mind. As he explored the mind of the unconscious Scot for the reason he was attacked, Hugo’s mind whispered to him, “I don’t know… but it has something to do with the cookies.” Raz cast the spell again, and learned that Hugo believed that the cookies were involved in the accidental deaths of Nuremberg’s children. A final casting of Ganzfelder revealed that Hugo’s best lead in his investigation was “the old cookie maker”.

Tired from the road and wishing to watch over their friend, the group stayed for the night at the abbey. Before retiring, Raz quizzed the young brother who was assigned to watch over the infirmary and its patients at night. The young man did not have any specific information, but did clearly take some pride in Nuremberg’s famous Lebkuchen—a type of ginger cookie only produced and sold during the Christmas season.

November 26, 1653

The group went to visit the town guard at the city citadel and Adolf asked to speak to the captain of the watch. He referenced the news they had heard of Hugo’s fight, and asked the guards where he had been assaulted. They were told that the attack happened near a cooperage in the western part of town. When asked for a description of the fleeing suspect, the guardsman (Josefis) described him as a fair-haired man who moved about as though afflicted by lameness. The guardsman in fact expressed surprise that the man had eluded the patrol, as they thought he would be easy to chase down with his limp.

The group went to the area where the attack took place and spoke with the witness (the cooper). The cooper described the attacker as a boyish man with a limp, who was using a knife to attack a burlier man. The cooper described how the younger man with the knife seemed to always be a little too close to the larger man, who had drawn a sword, affecting the sword-wielding man’s ability to attack effectively. The cooper stated that when the watch arrived, the younger man ran away. Adolf asked whether the cooper knew of an older baker in Nuremberg, and the cooper mused that maybe they were inquiring after Herr Velser, who apparently could easily be described as old. The cooper went on to say that Herr Velser was well-known for not being a very talented baker; when he was made a senior baker by the guild, there were grumblings that it was simply due to his longevity and not to any particular skill with his craft. Letta asked about well-known bakers of Lebkuchen and was given the name of Adolphus Crentzburger, a young man who was among the most skilled of the city’s bakers and who had just been awarded his license to bake Lebkuchen. The cooper explained that there were only fifteen licenses to bake Lebkuchen, and that Herr Velser had expected to get one, but instead it had gone to Herr Crentzburger. Apparently the conflict had been a source of gossip in the cooper’s guild.

XP +2

Total XP To Date: 39

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Der Hexenkessel, Session 15
November 7 - 10, 1653

November 7, 1653

Upon departing von Siegen’s house in the evening, Raz and Letta found quarters at the Radish Haus for the night. When they entered they found a tired and disheveled Zsofia Fodor waiting for them. She warned Raz that with the barriers barring Odo Forkbeard’s spirit from re-entering the physical world growing weaker, she felt that the performance of the ritual needed to remove the curse and banish Forkbeard for good could prove very dangerous. Raz grimly accepted the warning, beginning to believe that perhaps he was fated to die in the upcoming encounter.

November 8, 1653

After falling asleep with von Siegen, Kat awoke in the dark hours of the early morning to hear him stirring. She rose and asked him what had disturbed his sleep. He replied that with a potential battle with a poltergeist imminent for the group, he felt the need to conduct further research on the weapons that could be used successfully against animated objects. Kat joined him in his library, and the two spent the rest of the night in study. They learned that crushing and heavy slashing weapons (such as axes) tended to be most effective, while firearms and piercing weapons (such as daggers) tended to be quite ineffective.

Von Siegen seemed hesitant to bring up his next point, but eventually asked Kat if she must go with the others to Bregenz to battle Odo Forkbeard. Kat responded that she believed that she must.

Von Siegen led Kat to his cabinet of curiosities and drew a storage case from a closed drawer. Within was a very elaborately decorated mace. Von Siegen told Kat that the mace had been given to him by the Duke of Bavaria upon his regiment entering Bavarian service during the war, and while ceremonial, was of masterwork quality as a weapon. Von Siegen gave the mace to Kat, telling her that if she must go to meet Odo Forkbeard, he would feel better if she were in possession of a weapon suitable to combat with the group’s likely foe.
Meanwhile, just down the street at Barbara’s Cannon, Adolph descended the stairs in the morning to find Hugo at a table in the tavern’s small front room. Hugo told Adolph that von Siegen received many invitations to social engagements in Ravensburg, but that typically he did not attend these events. On those rare occasions when he did accept an invitation, Hugo told Adolph that he (Hugo) was always quite anxious, due to the number of powerful enemies that von Siegen had made and the exposure that went with being out in public. He continued that now that von Siegen had apparently entered a romance with Kat, he was concerned that he would be more likely to accept social invitations in the future. He asked Adolph if he could work on obtaining invitations of his own to any social engagements von Siegen chose to attend, so that he could help watch for any threats that might appear. Adolph agreed.

Morning preparations completed, the group took to the road and traveled south to the shores of the Bodensee, then along that body of water until they arrived in Bregenz late in the day. They found a small city that seemed to be cloaked in a sense of gray and gloom that went even beyond the unpleasant weather.

The group went to an inn called The Stone Lion. Adolph took the lead in the conversation, identifying himself and presenting himself with grandiloquence as a haughty noble. The innkeeper appeared to react with hostility to this, and the group decided to find a different place to stay. The innkeeper at this place seemed to be rather morose. The group questioned him about this, and he replied that there had been a sort of gloom hanging over the city for several weeks. With further conversation, the innkeeper provided the group with an account of the Swedish occupation and looting of the city during the war.

Despite the leak in the tavern roof, the beds were dry, and the group settled in for the night. Raz spent some time composing a letter before retiring.

November 9, 1653

The weather worsened overnight. In the morning, the group braved the strong winds and horizontal sleet to visit the house the von rented in the city (a circumstance made necessary by the destruction of both their manor house and the city’s Zähringen’s castle by the invading Swedes). While en route, Kat regaled her companions with tales of her great love, Anton Ossa Edler von Siegen, and told of how she had been drawn to him since their very first meeting. She also revealed that von Siegen had slipped a signet ring into her pack before her departure from Ravensburg.

A butler with ill-fitting livery greeted them at the von Zähringen’s door, and admitted them when Adolph requested an audience with the Graf on a matter pertaining to the condition of the Princess Maria Elisabeth.

The Graf, a tall, lean man with curly gray hair and a neat beard, met the group. The group was able to persuade him of the sincerity of their intentions, and won his support for any actions they needed to take to break the curse on his daughter.

The group made its way to the ruins of the von Zähringen’s ruined manor house, within the courtyard of which the beech tree that had killed Odo Forkbeard in 1490 had once grown. It was in this spot, they knew from their research, that the ritual to dispel the curse on Princess Maria Elisabeth must be enacted. Sleet drove down on them from the low-hanging clouds. Adolf invoked the power of the CELERITAS ring.

Upon the group stepping into the courtyard of the ruined house, thunder boomed, and the group immediately spied the large depression in the ground where the great beech tree had once stood. Letta led the way into the courtyard. A heavy wooden table, a rusted cast-iron candelabra, a wooden chair, and an iron bedframe began to move on their own accord, rising from the rubble to attack the heroes. Adolf followed Letta into the courtyard, drawing a pistol as he ran and shouting “Odo Forkbeard! Your time is at an end! We come to send you to hell!” Thunder rumbled, as if in response. Raz, with Kat in close attendance, headed for the scar in the earth where the tree had once stood.

As the moving objects, animated by Odo Forkbeard’s magic, closed to attack, Adolf fired with his pistol but missed the bedframe, while the table crunched into Letta. The bedframe rumbled towards Kat, who dodged out of its way.

As the battle was joined, a pile of rubble began to swirl like a maelstrom and resolved into a large, broad figure, over nine feet tall and with a forked beard. Raz momentarily yielded to the supernatural fear induced by this monstrosity, and fled for a short distance, but quickly rallied and returned. Meanwhile, Letta grabbed the floating table and bashed it into the rubble-strewn ground; however, the table only splintered slightly. Kat stepped up with her masterwork mace and began smashing the animated objects into shards and splinters. Adolf leveled another pistol and blasted away at the large figure of rubble, hitting a large piece of stone with the bullet and causing it to crack. The rubble-bearded monstrosity bore down on Letta, striking her with a stone baluster, denting her armor and causing a serious wound. Adolf drew a third pistol and fired at it, causing it to collapse in a shower of rubble.
Raz made his way through the battle and to the place where the great beech tree had been, commencing his reading of the ritual on Ludovigo’s scroll. The wounded Letta held up a cloak to provide him some shelter from the driving sleet.

The rubble-bearded form was not gone for long, however, re-appearing elsewhere within the courtyard. Kat continued to crush newly animating objects with her mace, then turned her attacks towards the rubble-bearded monster. Her first blow did little against the stone form, but her second strike crushed the monster. Letta and Adolf readied their pistols and prepared for new targets. Raz continued to work his way through the incantation on the scroll. Kat weathered strikes from another animated candelabra, emerging uninjured, and crushed it with her counterstrike.

As the thunder continued, Raz could sense the darkness pressing on him, almost feeling Odo Forkbeard’s magic reaching out to crush him, when suddenly he completed the incantation, and the oppressive weight of Forkbeard’s spirit recede, and then disappear altogether. He knew that the foe had been defeated. The group loaded their weapons and waited for a few tense moments for more attacks, but none were forthcoming.
The group performed a quick search of the courtyard. Adolf found a small music box, much battered by weather but probably reparable. Letta found a silvered birdcage. Kat found a strangely intact paper card depicting the Roman numeral XXI and a picture of a bear. Kat recognized this as a magical item that could be used to summon a bear; she secreted this in her cloak. Raz found a set of chessmen, which he offered to Kat. Raz attempted to provide first aid to Letta, but found her injuries beyond his capabilities to mend.

As the group limped back to town, they began to hear the church bells of Bregenz ring. They walked to the von Zähringen’s house, drawing the curious attention of the townsfolk. Upon arriving they were literally welcomed with open arms, Graf von Zähringen catching Adolf in a bear hug—his daughter had been returned to normal. The Graf told them that a feast of celebration was being planned for the following evening, and that they should all consider themselves invited. He also extended to the group an invitation to stay under his roof while they remained in Bregenz.

After sending for their belongings from the previous night’s inn, the group settled in to their new quarters. Letta rested in bed, but rejected calls for a doctor.

As the nasty weather abated, Adolf took a walk through town, noting a mixture of relief, trepidation, and curiosity from the townsfolk. He noted a dapper-looking gentleman in the window of The Stone Lion who appeared to give him some attention as he passed. Upon returning to the house he found Kat and told her about the man; Kat went to investigate for herself. She found the window Adolf had described and noticed the man as well.

Additionally, as she was turning away from the inn she noticed a fancy coach start up as the coachman cracked his whip. She followed the coach through the town and ultimately found its destination to be a large, elaborate residence. She found a nearby abandoned doorway and observed for a while. In a short time a tall, very attractive, well-dressed man was seen around the house, talking with some of the household staff.

Raz, meanwhile, found the letter he had been writing and surreptitiously burned it in a fireplace.

Kat enquired about the house she had noticed with Melchior, von Zähringen’s footman. Melchior told her that the house was the home of the Oberbürgermeister of Bregenz—the town’s most important and powerful commoner. She learned that the Oberbürgermeister’s son was one of the most eligible unmarried men in the County of Tyrol; she concluded that this was who she saw. Melchior told her that the son had a reputation as a very good man and an expert swordsman—the opposite of his father.

Adolf took the Graf aside and mentioned to him that both he and Kat had noticed a potentially suspicious figure in the window of The Stone Lion. The Graf said that this was a poet named Thomas Besamer, who had been staying in Bregenz for several weeks. Adolf explained his and Kat’s suspicions about the man, and the Graf agreed to be wary of him.

November 10, 1653

The next day saw a flurry of activity as the von Zähringen household made preparations for the evening’s festivities. His biggest pig was slaughtered and put over a spit. By evening, guests began to arrive and assemble. The crowd was a combination of nobility and commoners from Bregenz and surrounding towns and villages. A guitarist played as the guests arrived.

The heroes were invited to sit at the head table. The handsome man that Kat had seen the previous day was in attendance, and his father the Oberbürgermeister was as well. The handsome man approached Kat, introducing himself as Andreas Erat, and began to rhapsodize about her beauty and bravery, expressing the hope that they could have a dance later.

Adolf spotted Besamer, for whom he was on the lookout. Adolf engaged the poet in conversation and determined that he was expertly hiding something, then pulled the Graf aside for a moment and informed him of this. The head of the woodworker’s guild thanked and congratulated Letta.

The household steward called for everyone to be seated, and the head footman announced the entrance of Grafina von Zähringen and her daughter, Lady Maria Elisabeth. They took their seats adjacent to the Graf, the young lady appearing somewhat overwhelmed but overall appearing to handle the situation well.

The roasted pig was brought out, with cabbage and turnips and bread, and was eaten. During dinner, Adolf introduced himself to Maria Elisabeth and was rewarded by her expressing her gratitude, to him and the rest of the heroes.

After dinner broke up, the man seated near Kat accidentally spilled wine on her, obliging her to retire for a short time and change into a dress that was provided by the Grafina. A (relatively) daringly dressed couple approached Raz and engaged him in friendly conversation, but while the gentleman was expressing his gratitude for the actions of the heroes, he tried to steal some tobacco from Raz’s pouch. Raz noticed this, and offered the man some tobacco. The man, embarrassed at being apprehended, made haste to depart, the woman with him glaring at him all the while. Raz later investigated and learned that the man was Ritter Johann Ludwig von Österreich, the bastard cousin of Archduke Ferdinand Charles, and that he had a reputation for stealing things for sport.

The Graf approached Letta and asked if she was able to stand; he was about to propose a toast, and did not want to cause her discomfort or embarrassment if she preferred to remain seated. She indicated that she could stand, and the Graf called a toast in honor of the heroes, thanking them for completing what was necessary to return his daughter to her proper form. Subsequent to this, a young noblewoman approached Adolf, flirting, and expressed hope that they could share a dance later.

At just about the time Kat descended from changing, the household staff finished moving aside the tables and chairs for dancing. Andreas Erat immediately approached Kat and asked her to dance. The Graf danced with Maria Elisabeth, and the young lady that had been flirting with Adolf, named Anna, asked him to dance. Raz, meanwhile, successfully found a quiet corner of the room in which to lurk.

Everyone danced well. While the dancing was ongoing, a somewhat sorrowful looking woman approached Letta, who had been obliged by her injuries to forego dancing. She introduced herself as Margretha, Ludovigo’s beloved, and expressed gratitude that the group had completed the mission Ludovigo had been engaged in when he was murdered. Letta told her that Ludovigo’s research and findings had been critical to their success; the woman seemed very appreciative to hear this. Letta suggested to Adolf that a toast to Ludovigo would be appropriate; Adolf agreed and called for the toast. While he was making the toast, he made it a point to fix his gaze on Besamer while he spoke of Ludovigo’s cruel and savage murder.

While Kat was dancing with Andreas, the handsome young man flirted shamelessly. Kat made sure he saw the signet ring that von Siegen had given her and made it clear that her heart belonged to another; however, Andreas’ determination to pursue Kat seemed undiminished. Kat told him that if he wanted an adventurous woman, he ought to go find some adventure himself.

After some time Adolf eventually found Maria Elisabeth, and presented the music box to her, for which she was very grateful. The two danced, quite well, and Maria Elisabeth opened up to Adolf about the experience she had endured.

Adolf and Kat took to the floor for a dance, during which time Adolf informed Kat that he had seen a small reaction from Besamer when he had made the toast and mentioned Ludovigo’s murder. Kat approached Besamer and danced with him. They both danced extremely well; she noticed that he had a fluidity of motion suggesting that he was practiced with weapons. She surreptitiously checked him for weapons but didn’t find any. She made mention of various magical experiences she had had, but this appeared to provoke no particular response.

Kat approached Raz with her suspicions about Besamer; Raz cast Ganzfelder and targeted Besamer, learning that the supposed poet was waiting in Bregenz hoping to identify the person or persons who had taken on Ludovigo’s mission. Besamer seemed aware of Raz’s casting, and quickly departed the party.

Raz informed the rest of the group of this. Adolf quietly approached the Graf, told him of what was going on, and asked if they should take care of the situation. “If you can,” the Graf said. The group pursued Besamer, who was found to be skillfully hiding in the garden of an abandoned house. Kat snuck up on him and pierced the back of his skull with two daggers. The group collected the body in the cold November night and deposited it in the waters of the Bodensee.

While this was going on, Letta looked up at the stars visible through the parting clouds and experienced an astrological insight. The insight told her that there was no longer any imminent threat from the Purifying Brotherhood of Eurymedon.

The group searched Besamer’s room at The Stone Lion but found nothing of consequence.
After this they returned to the party, which was beginning to break up. Adolf gave the Graf a discreet nod, and received one in return.

XP +3

Total XP To Date: 37

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Der Hexenkessel, Session 14
October 6 – November 7, 1653

October 6, 1653

Upon the conclusion of their conversation with the Faerie of the Stone Forest, the group retraced their route back to civilization. That afternoon they made their way south towards the narrow river that ran through the forest. Along the way, a dead, moss-covered tree began to creak and nearly fell on Raz. Fortunately, Raz heard the creaking in time to dodge out of the way of the falling tree. A search for any evidence that a creature had pushed over the tree, or any other indication that it was something other than simply a falling tree, turned up nothing. The group camped that night near the river.

October 7, 1653

The next day the group continued east along the river, and pushed their hike for an extra hour so that they could camp outside of the forest and have a fire. That night, while on watch under a nearly-full moon, Adolph noticed a soft silvery glow near a patch of brush that did not appear to be attributable to the moonlight. Adolph roused Kat, and as he was doing so began to hear high-pitched, rapid tempo flute music. For a fleeting moment he felt the music pulling at him, but he resisted the lure and kept his senses. The glow resolved itself into three human-shaped forms. Kat and Adolph roused the rest of the party.

It transpired that the creatures were wila—incorporeal, softly glowing apparitions with long, flowing white hair, said to be the spirits of young women who had been betrothed but died before being married, who in death hunted handsome young men. Letta rose and grabbed her longsword, and attacked one of the spirits. Her blade passed right through the translucent apparition, but she noticed that the creature’s hair appeared solid. She alerted the rest of the group to this. Raz, who had grabbed a burning brand from the fire (and found that it felt particularly light and well-balanced in his hand) attempted to burn the glowing hair of one of the wila. While this appeared to cause the spirit some irritation, it did no harm. Some of the group slashed at the wilas’ hair with bladed weapons, but while several successful hits were scored, trimming off strands of hair, this again appeared to merely annoy the creatures. Finally Kat attempted to grapple one of the apparitions, and on her second attempt she grabbed a fistful of the wila’s hair, and pulled some of it out by the roots. The wila screamed and vanished, although the spirit’s hair remained. Kat conveyed the details of her successful attack to the others, and Letta and Adolph both destroyed their foes in the same manner.

The rest of the night passed uneventfully.

October 8 – 11

The group hiked back to the village of Szydłowiec and retrieved their stabled animals, then continued south toward Krakow for the remainder of October 8th. That night they found quarters in a small tavern; modest accommodations, but it was the first night in many days that the group had enjoyed sleep with a roof over their heads.

The next day, while traveling south towards Krakow, a riderless black horse approached the group. The horse, a magnificent Frisian mare, began to circle the group, and eventually fell in beside Letta. Seeing that the horse seemed to take a liking to her, Letta saddled the horse, which she named Zinga, and rode her from that point on.

The group rode into Krakow around mid-day on October 11. They took rooms in the same inn they had stayed at while passing through Krakow previously.

Adolph set out to find the individual named Sarychin the Bishop that the Faerie of the Stone Forest had mentioned. He quickly learned that Sarychin was a craftsman who made chess sets, with a small shop located near a large inn known as the Post Inn. Adolph went to the shop and found Sarychin at work, turning a chess piece on a pole lathe. The craftsman was found to be a relatively young man but afflicted with a hunchback. He was nearly bald, with just a narrow fringe of black hair running around the back of his head from ear to ear, a large, aquiline nose, and small ears.

Sarychin greeted Adolph and showed him some of his finer sets; Adolph asked a few questions about rare or unusual sets, but Sarychin was insistent that he possessed nothing that he had not made himself. Electing not to press the topic too far, Adolph departed, but not before telling Sarychin that he had a friend with a growing interest in chess and that he might return later with her.

Adolph returned to the inn where he found the remainder of the group, and described the conversation with Sarychin. After some discussion the party decided to return to Sarychin’s shop as a group, with Kat posing as a buyer interested in expensive, unique chess sets.

The group returned to Saychin’s shop and found him still at work. Kat began to converse with Sarychin, asking to see chess sets that were particularly unique. Sarychin attempted to sell her a stone set that consisted of reproductions of medieval chess pieces, and when she asked for something finer, showed her a fine rosewood and ebony set of standard Selenus men. Kat indicated that this was also insufficient. Letta began to make comments to the effect that she didn’t believe that faerie chess sets actually existed, implying that Kat was looking for such a set. These comments drew Sarychin’s increasingly agitated attention, until the group ultimately began to quiz him directly about faerie chess sets. Letta noticed that the fringe of hair around the craftsman’s head was not hair at all, but actually small black feathers. Sarychin was evasive at first, but eventually asked whether Kat had come to challenge him for the Men of Basyavo. The group challenged Sarychin to produce this chess set that he claimed to have, and he was clearly eager to respond to this challenge. He led the group upstairs, apparently so excited that he left the front door to his shop unlocked.

Sarychin led the group up to the top level of his shop, where there was found an oaken chess table on a heavy pedestal, a rosewood cabinet, and across the narrow room from the cabinet a depiction of a hook-beaked, long-necked bird in what appeared to be something like white chalk on a square black slate. Sarychin opened the cabinet and unlocked an iron, padlocked box inside, and from this retrieved a white box with trim and banding of some type of black material. He opened the box and began to remove and set up the pieces of the Men of Basyavo. The white pieces were made of some sort of bone and depicted members of the Seelie Court, led by Queen Titania and King Oberon, and the black pieces were made of some dark gray material and depicted members of the Unseelie Court, led by Queen Mab and the antlered Unseelie King. Sayrchin seated himself near the Unseelie pieces, and invited the challenger (Raz was selected) to play the Seelie pieces.

The instant Raz touched the king’s pawn to make an opening move, he vanished from the room in a flash of blue light. His consciousness and senses were within the piece representing Oberon (the white king), on a chess board surrounding by billowing fog, with a bright but unfamiliar crescent moon shining overhead. By concentrating, he found he was able to move the white pieces about the board. Back in the room, Sarychin gestured as if to make the first black move, but paused to tell the other members of the group that they could join the game as well by touching a piece in play. Then he also vanished from the room in a flash of blue light.

Within the realm of the board, Raz found himself squaring off with Sarychin in a contest that bore only a superficial resemblance to the game of chess. The pieces were moved in the conventional way, but when two chessmen occupied the same square at the end of a move, a duel between the two pieces ensued, with the moving side having no guarantee of victory. Raz tapped his arcane abilities to maneuver and do battle with the men.

Meanwhile, back in Sarychin’s house/shop, the other members of the group watched the pieces move about the board. Adolph began to nose about the room, and eventually wound up poking at the chalk bird. A large vulture materialized in the room and attacked Raz. Kat and Letta both noticed this and joined Adolph in battling the creature, Letta taking a shot at it with her pistol and Kat throwing daggers. Eventually the vulture succumbed to two daggers in the breast from Kat, and it crumbled into white dust on the floor.

Meanwhile, within the game, Raz and Sarychin continued their contest. Raz employed Ziada Etone to boost his arcane power, and began to gain a slight material advantage. However, the most powerful pieces—the two queens—both remained on the board.

With the summoned vulture defeated, the rest of the group searched the upper floor of Sarychin’s shop further. The rosewood cabinet was opened, and Kat picked the padlock on the iron box within. Inside was found the box that the chessmen had been stored in, as well as a slender, hand-written notebook that was mostly in French. However, there was one page in the notebook on which was pasted a piece of paper, perhaps torn from another book. This scrap of paper had written upon it a verse in a language that none of Kat, Adolph, or Letta recognized, and a translation of the verse in German. On the facing page was some more written French, presumably a further translation into that language.

The verse read:

Should the possessor be unjust,
His queen is weak, she shall be dust,
If an ally of his foe,
Who’s made it a goal this secret to know,
Picks up the queen and gives it a throw,
And grinds it to powder beneath their toe.
Without a queen the possessor must play,
Thus is the cost of cheating the Fae.

Upon reading this, Adolph immediately plucked the black queen from the board, threw it across the room, and ground it to dust beneath his boot. Within the game, Raz suddenly saw the dark representation of Queen Mab crumble to dust.
Kat and Adolph descended to the lower floors of Sarychin’s building, while Letta remained on the top floor to keep an eye on the chessboard. In a back room behind the main workshop fronting the street and the Post Inn across the way, Kat and Adolph discovered that there was a cupboard under the stairs with a locked door. Kat picked this lock as well. Inside was found a cache of raw materials, including ebony, boxwood, and rosewood, and small amounts of stone (marble, lapis lazuli, and soapstone). The pair left the raw materials behind, but did take the 21 złoty in coin that they found.

Aided by the destruction of the black queen, Raz began to maneuver the Seelie pieces and commenced an attack on the Unseelie King, wherein Sarychin’s consciousness resided during the game. Ultimately battle was joined between Titania and the Unseelie King. After several attacks inflicting increasing amounts of damage, Titania’s sword struck down the Unseelie King. Raz watched as the expression of the Unseelie King changed from anger to sheer horror as the piece crumbled and fell.

Upon winning the match, Raz re-appeared in the room where the board and chessmen were located. The room suddenly become very crowded, as others who had been imprisoned within the set were freed. Two Frenchmen, very alike in appearance, one with a glorious black mustache, appeared, and greeted each with unrestrained joy. They addressed one another as “mon frère”. Also appearing was a pale blonde woman who appeared to be in her mid-thirties. She had large eyes, wore rustic clothing that looked Nordic, and had the skull of a small animal suspended on a cord around her neck. She appeared momentarily confused and alarmed, but once she oriented herself she immediately ran towards a window. Raz called out to her in Swedish, and she stopped and responded. He told her that they could help her, but she replied that while she was grateful to him for being freed, she did not need further help and needed to depart. She did, however, say that her name was Hendrikka. Raz noticed that while she spoke Swedish, it was likely not her native language. Letta was poised to tackle her, but ultimately elected not to force her to stay. Hendrikka threw open the window, turned into a crow, and flew away.

Meanwhile, the other members of the group noticed a group of men who looked like Krakow city guard approaching the shop. Adolph and Kat quickly closed the door to the back room. The approach of the guardsmen was confirmed when there was a pounding at the door, and muffled shouting in Polish. After waiting several seconds, Adolph unconcernedly walked to the door and opened it. It transpired that one of the guardsmen spoke some German; this man began to ask what was going on in the shop, reporting that people nearby had witnessed strange flashes of light from the windows and that some had even heard a gunshot. Adolph calmly explained that he and some friends were watching the shop as a favor to Sarychin, and that “there had been some drinking”. In the course of this revelry, Adolph continued, a pistol was discharged at a rat. The guard accepted Adolph’s story, and furthermore warned him against association with Sarychin. Adolph inquired about this, and was told that Sarychin had been under investigation by city authorities after two Frenchmen who had been known to be looking for him disappeared from Krakow without a trace. Adolph thanked the guardsmen and they departed.

Kat and Adolph then went upstairs, and found were filled in by the others on what had transpired. The two Frenchmen told them that the notebook was theirs, and that they had undertaken to win the Men of Basyavo in an effort to relieve an apparent curse on a wood named the Bois de Bar on their lands near Alsace. Kat resisted her urge to assassinate the two Frenchmen, but made it clear that the Men of Basyavo would be staying with the group. The Frenchmen acquiesced to this and departed.

The group left Sarychin and returned to their inn, taking the Men of Basyavo with them, as well as the three masterwork chess sets that were in Sarychin’s shop. Kat used the lockpicks to lock the back door, by which the group had departed, so it appeared it had been locked from the inside. The next morning, they began to travel back to the stone Forest.

October 12 – 19
The group traveled their previous route back to Bartek the Oak over the next week. On Sunday, October 19th, they arrived in the grove where Bartek was found. The autumn colors were at their peak. Raz spoke the necessary phrase in Faerie once again, and the Faerie of the Stone Forest reappeared in a cyclone of red and gold fallen leaves. She accepted the Men of Basyavo, and granted the group their boon—asking that the ashes be placed before her, she wove her magic, and in a short time a small wooden statuette of a unicorn trampling a bald, bearded man pushed its way up through the rest of the ashes. The group took the statuette and departed.

October 19 – November 7
The statuette at last in their possession, the group made haste to ride back to Ravensburg, and thence to Bregenz, where the necessary ritual to end Odo Forkbeard’s threat for good needed to be performed. Along the way they sold the three masterwork chess sets they had looted from Sarychin’s shop, taught some heavy cavalrymen in the service of one Herr Peter von Heck a lesson about the laws governing Imperial Highways, passed many merchants, checked in on the small militia they had stood up in the village of Manderscheid, and warned some men engaged in repair of a church tower of the imminent collapse of the scaffolding upon which they were working.

Additionally, while riding through Nuremberg, Kat visited the woodworker from whom she had purchased the chess set that she sent back with Hugo to von Siegen. She wanted to offer him an opportunity to purchase the rosewood and ebony set of Selenus men. The woodworker declined, stating that he simply didn’t have enough money to pay anywhere near what it was worth. In the course of this conversation, she asked about the atmosphere of gloom that the group had perceived throughout the city. The woodworker explained that there had been a rash of accidental deaths of children over the past several weeks. The group considering pursuing this strange and alarming news further, but decided that they needed to complete their current mission before embarking upon anything new.
At last, on a cold, rainy Friday, they rode into Ravensburg and returned to the house of von Siegen.

Expressing relief at their safe and successful return, von Siegen invited everyone to be seated at his fire with mugs of hot grog. The group (especially Kat) told the stories of their travels and adventures, and they gave the various items and books they had collected along the way to him. At last, Adolph retired to Barbara’s Cannon down the street for the night, and Letta and Raz returned to the Radish Haus, where they had previously found lodging, leaving Kat and von Siegen alone. Kat did not enough notice the departure of the others, continuing to tell stories about the group’s adventures, while moving physically closer to von Siegen, little by little. Von Siegen, perceiving that the two of them were alone, spoke to Kat of his particular relief that she was back safely, and declared his devotion to her. He and Kat shared a first kiss.

XP +3

Total XP To Date: 34

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Der Hexenkessel, Session 13
September 28 - October 6, 1653

September 28, 1653

Baba Tekla gave the group instructions describing how to find Bartek the Oak, at which location (according to previous research) the Faerie of the Stone Forest, Tajemnicza Kobieta, could supposedly be contacted. She told them to find the river that ran near the city of Skarzysko-Kamienna and follow it to the west into the forest. They were advised to follow the river until it reached a point where it made a distinctive north-to-south turn in its direction, and from there they should march due north “for about 20 staje” (approximately ten miles) until they found themselves within a large grove of oak trees. Bartek, Baba Tekla said, was the oldest and most majestic of these trees, and could be found in the approximate center of the grove.

Thanking Baba Tekla, they left the old woman to work with the basket of berries she had just picked and returned to the village of Michniow, where they spent the night.

September 29, 1653

The group escorted their translator, Petra, back to her home in Kielce, then set back north again towards the village of Szydłowiec, which seemed a promising point from which to commence a venture into the bog within which Prosmir’s Teeth—and the Bog Knight—could be found. The group spent the night in the walled city of Skarzysko-Kamienna. In the tavern of the small inn where they stayed, they noticed the head of a red deer stag mounted on the wall.

September 30, 1653

The last day of September dawned to a cold, persistent rain, and the group set out through the rain for the village of Szydłowiec. Upon reaching the village, they stabled their animals, then turned towards the northeast region of the Stone Forest, within which they had been told by Baba Tekla that the bog could be found. Upon reaching the edge of the forest, Letta was able to identify the border region between the bog and the larger forest, which was marked by a distinctive thicket of small conifers. Keeping this thicket on their right, the group began hiking west through the forest, which they found to be very lush but not especially dense with undergrowth and brush.

As night fell, Letta worked on assembling a lean-to to provide shelter from the rain. Kat tried to light a torch for light, but was unable to do so, presumably because of the rain. However, when Letta turned her woodcraft skills towards drying the torch and starting it, she found that she was unable to keep it lit for reasons that did not have to do with the weather. Raz invoked Cāozuò yuánsù and produced a small flame, but even this went out after a few seconds.

The group spent a cold, wet night trying to stay dry. Adolph in particular slept poorly.

October 1, 1653

October dawned with no change in the weather. The group continued to march westward. Further attempts to start a fire were unsuccessful. Adolph took an experimental shot with one of his wheellock pistols and found that it smoked but the main charge did not ignite.
Around mid-day they encountered a dense mist which clung to the forest floor, and the nature of the forest became more twisted and spooky. Soon the group encountered a large rock formation, which matched the description of Prosmir’s Teeth.

Moving into the area of the rocks, they were immediately attacked by an armored figure, mounted on a stag that while enormous was thinner than one would expect of a healthy animal, and had black vines tangled in its antlers. The Bog Knight was in a full suit of armor, although he wore no helmet, the better to display his horrifying visage, which was the wrinkled brownish-black of a bog mummy. He wielded a longsword in one hand. Despite the terrifying appearance of the Bog Knight, all of the heroes were able to hold their nerve—Raz, in fact, felt a rush of adrenaline that he felt would aid him in the immediate future.

Furthermore, as the enemy appeared, Adolph noticed two crows taking wing from behind the Bog Knight and flying towards the sky away from him. He recognized this as a good omen, as it indicated that the knight’s wicked familiars were abandoning him, and informed his companions of this.

With a gesture, the Bog Knight invoked an arcane power, causing grasping, boneless black arms to rise from the mud and grab at Kat, Adolph, and Raz; however, each of them was able to evade the area of effect of this terrible magic. Letta, who was out of the range of the black arms, closed with the Bog Knight to attack.

At this point fortune intervened on the side of the heroes in the form of a series of astonishing and fortuitous events, adding weight to Adolph’s observation of a good omen. First, von Siegen’s friend and aide-de-camp Hugo McLeod appeared from out of the fog on horseback, charging towards the Bog Knight with sword drawn. Next, a whistle in the air preceded a four-pound cannonball, and the Bog Knight looked up with alarm and astonishment as this projectile appeared out of nowhere and struck him for a significant wound.

The group took advantage of these occurrences and pressed their advantage. Adolph feinted an attack on the Bog Knight and instead swung himself up onto the back of the stag behind the foe; however, the knight’s slick armor made it difficult for Adolph to grapple with his enemy. Raz invoked Cāozuò yuánsù and caused a hole in the earth to open beneath the hooves of the stag, causing it to stumble; the Bog Knight was able to stay on the back of the animal, but Adolph fell and sustained an injury. Kat kept the Bog Knight off-balance with her daggers, while Hugo kept up the pressure with his attacks, and eventually the foul creature fell to a sword thrust from Letta. The destruction of the Bog Knight seemed to free the great stag of the forest from whatever fog of enchantment that he had previously been under, and upon recovering he fled the scene into the woods.

After Kat had beheaded the once-again-killed foe, the party spoke with Hugo. Hugo stated that he had been sent by von Siegen, and had been traveling as swiftly as he was able to catch up with them. He told them that Zsofia had been consulting her cards daily, and had told von Siegen that the signs from the universe were indicating that the day that Odo Forkbeard would be able to find and possess a new host was swiftly approaching. He urged the group to make haste in completing their mission.

With Adolph’s help, Kat composed a note for von Siegen and gave it to Hugo to carry back to von Siegen along with the chess set that she purchased for him. Hugo agreed to this task, and gave Kat some encouraging words about her progress in warming von Siegen’s heart.
The group studied the Bog Knight’s sword, which had a strange hilt of scraped and scuffed black enameled steel in the shape of a scorpion, and two clawed arms forming the guard and the tail making a J-shaped curve. Raz recognized this as the legendary venomous blade Skorpion, which was said to turn any who wielded it into an insatiable, remorseless killer. Adolph advocated immediately submerging the sword in the deepest pool of the bog and never speaking of it again, but Raz began looking for ways to break the hilt of the sword from the blade. Eventually, the sword was wedged firmly into a spot on one of the boulders, and Kat was able to cause the blade to break right at the joint with the hilt with a perfect strike with a stone.

Hugo refused to take the hilt of Skorpion back to von Siegen with him, siding with Adolph in the dispute with Raz. Adolph exploded at Raz, asserting that he was meddling with forces he could not understand and that he was endangering not just himself but everyone around him. Raz seemed largely indifferent to Adolph’ tirade, persisting in wrapping the hilt in a spare shirt and carrying it with him. The tension between the two lingered as Hugo departed.

The Bog Knight’s head in their possession, the group contemplated how best to make their way to Bartek, where the faerie could be contacted. Letta recommended that they return to the border of the forest and follows that south until they met the river that Baba Tekla had referred to. They followed the same basic route they had used to find Prosmir’s Teeth before camping at nightfall.

October 2, 1653

The group continued through the persistent rain. Just as they were nearing the edge of the forest, a tree branch sprung towards Raz’s head, as if left to snap back at him by a careless hiker (but there was no such person). He was able to duck and avoid injury. Raz inspected the tree but determined that it definitely was not a rigged or manufactured trap.

Upon reaching the treeline the group turned south. Adolph continued to give Raz the cold shoulder. It was discovered that fire could be lit and sustained outside of the forest. The group had a campfire that night for the first time in days.

October 3, 1653

The group traveled south over open country until reaching the river, then turned west into the forest once more. For the first time in days, the rain stopped.

October 4 , 1653

Letta led the group through the forest, with the conditions at last free of rain.

That night, Letta awoke to the sound of a large animal in the woods nearby. She roused the others, who listened, and the group concluded that it sounded like a bear. They made some noise to drive the creature away, but strangely it did not flee the noise. Raz greeted the animal in Polish, but the animal appeared to disregard this. He then recited the Faerie phrase for calling upon Tajemnicza Kobieta that he had memorized, but wasn’t able to quite remember all of it. Regardless, the animal slowly moved closer to him, coming so close that he could feel its breath on the skin of his neck. It seemed to leisurely sniff at him, then turned to walk away.

October 5 , 1653

In the morning the group found tracks indicating that they had indeed been visited by an enormous bear. They briefly followed the tracks to see if they were leading towards where Bartek might be, but it appeared that they were leading in a different direction. Later that day, a group of large deer appeared with no warning and charged through the group, but fortunately everyone was able to find cover before being trampled or gored.

By dark, the group found the north-to-south turn in the river described by Baba Tekla, and elected to camp there for the night.

October 6, 1653

Letta led the group north through the forest and the oak grove that had been described by Baba Tekla was easily found. Letta studied the grove and was able to lead the group to a particularly large and majestic oak, of immense diameter, which everyone instinctively knew was the great tree Bartek.

Kat brought forth the head of the Bog Knight. Raz spoke the words in Faerie that he had memorized, and this time he did so without error. The leaves on the ground under Bartek began to swirl until they formed a dense cyclone of oak leaves. As this thinned, the group saw within a tall, willowy woman, wearing a dress of green leaves, with wildflowers of every shape and color and the end of her sleeves and hem, and hair the color of a freshly struck copper coin. She demanded to know who had disturbed her and why—when she spoke, Letta heard her speak in Italian, while the others heard her speak in German. Raz turned to Adolph, who described their mission. The faerie accepted the Bog Knight’s head, and told the group that they were free to petition for a boon. The group explained their needs regarding the restoration of the beechwood unicorn. The faerie told them that she could accomplished this, but set them to this task:

“Some leagues from here, within the walls of the City of Krakus, resides a creature known as Sarychin the Bishop. He is in possession of the Men of Basyavo, which do not belong to him.
“I wish to reclaim them, but heed this: they must be freely given by, or fairly won from, their possessor—just or not—or they are useless to me. Obtain them rightfully and bring them to me, and I shall grant you your boon.”

After this she told them to make haste to be gone, as they were not welcome in the forest. The group complied, and discussed their next move while exiting the forest.

XP +3
Total XP To Date: 31 (Advance next session)

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Der Hexenkessel, Session 12
August 31 - September 28, 1653

August 31, 1653

As the village of Manderscheid recovered from the shock of the gunfight and melee surrounding their village inn, the von Siegen four regrouped to consider their next move. A rider was sent to Maria Dockhweiler in Unterpeiching (where the group had defeated a shambling grave days previous), requesting that she or someone she trusted be sent to Manderscheid to aid in stabilizing the situation there.

Kat went to church, and received many curious and perhaps mildly alarmed glances from the assembled villagers.

Adolph approached the village Amtmann about the idea of using the weapons captured from the slain bandits to equip a small village militia. While the Amtmann grudgingly agreed to this, Adolph got the sense that the man was embittered by the group’s success in driving off the bandits, as this had embarrassed the Abbey of Manderscheid. Adolph was able to mollify the Amtmann somewhat and ease his bruised ego, and also won the confidence of the village’s senior cooper, as well as the innkeeper.

Meanwhile, Letta assisted the innkeeper in repairing the damage to his property, putting her uniquely Venetian skill set to work in getting the blood off the inn’s wooden floor.

Adolph comforted a flustered but pretty lass.

August 31 – September 5, 1653

With Maria’s arrival some six days away, the group set about organizing and training the villagers to defend themselves in the event of future bandit attacks. This effort was led by Letta, with Kat and Adolph also participating. A period of rainy, gloomy weather set in at the beginning of September, providing a challenge, but by the end of the week the group had the beginnings of a small village militia started.

Maria Dockhweiler rode into town on the 5th and greeted the group. She agreed to stay in Manderscheid for a short time—she indicated she could afford to stay for about ten days or so—and ensure the ability of the nascent village militia to stand on its own while the group continued on its travel to the east.

The group put some portion of the coin recovered from the bandit gang into the care of the village’s senior cooper for the purpose of buying seed.

Kat began writing a letter to von Siegen, hinting at the purchase of the chess set. “Brush up on your chess skills”, she wrote, and recorded an opening move.

Raz, while reading Marriage Duties of the House Gnomes, discovered a sleep spell encoded within a section discussing the care of the sleeping chambers of the human habitation under gnomish care. He also made himself a sort of tea from fragments of the large dried mushroom that had been found amongst the Stone Toad’s belongings and drank it; it had no apparent effect on him, but at least it tasted bad.
September 6 – 7

The group returned to the road in the morning fog of September 6. That day they passed a group of well-dressed men who were heading south. Kat could tell by the distinctive dress of one of the men that he was a Swede; the remaining men were Germans. As they rode, they were discussing some point of treaty compliance. They paid the group no mind.

September 8

On the evening of September 8, the group arrived in the city of Leipzig, in Saxony. They looked up a group of three of Adolph’s friends, who were living in a Leipzig townhouse. The three men greeted Adolph and his friends warmly, offering hearty food and comfortable lodging and entertainment in the form of a small-stakes game of Landsknecht, which saw Adolph come out ahead. Letta and Kat elected to stay with Adolph’s friends; Raz elected to stay in an inn instead, further studying the sleep spell he had found.

September 9

Kat mailed her letter to von Siegen from Leipzig via the Thurn und Taxis mail service.

Knowing that Leipzig was a center of the book publishing industry, Raz and Adolph spent the day in search of books particular to their interests. Adolph found a bookseller and purchased a German-language edition of the works of Shakespeare. He also discreetly asked around for any merchants offering esoteric or unusual texts. He learned that recently a book collector named Jacob Zixt had died, and that his book collection was hitting the market. Rumor had it that Herr Zixt had owned several antique occult volumes that were now in the possession of a bookseller named Norbertus Simtshausser. Adolph approached Herr Simtshausser carefully; the bookseller was receptive to his inquiry, but insisted that any further business regarding the esoteric texts occur off the books and after hours. He invited Adolph and Raz to dine with him at his home that evening, at which time he would produce the volumes for inspection.

As Letta and Kat spent more time with Adolph’s friends, their personalities emerged more clearly, and not always for the better. One of the men, named Debolt, had apparently stayed up quite late drinking alone the previous evening, as he greeted the new day incredibly hungover. Another of the men, Johann, was found to be susceptible to sudden, violent fits of rage, and was seen to berate a housemaid over a minor infraction. The third man, smaller and thinner than the other two (both of whom were hale and fit), appeared to have taken on the task of looking over his miscreant friends. Letta asked him how they knew Adolph; the man replied that their families had known each other for many years, and that Debolt, Johann, and himself had known Adolph since childhood and had served in his unit at the tail-end of the war.

Upset by Johann’s treatment of the maid, Kat took some small measure of revenge on her behalf by stealthily causing Johann to spill his ale precisely on his crotch, so that it looked like he wet himself. This caused Debolt to laugh uproariously.

Meanwhile, Adolph and Raz dined at Herr Simtshausser’s home, above his shop. After a good meal of smoked fish, the bookseller produced the volumes of interest. These were found to be Archidoxa (“The Archidoxes of Magic”) by Paracelsus, Kitab sirr al-asrar (“The Book of the Secret of Secrets”) in its original Arabic, and a volume in Greek called A Treatise on Calling Upon the Spirits of the Sea. Herr Simtshausser wanted 12 Thalers for the first volume, 20 Thalers for the second volume, and 15 Thalers for the last volume. Adolph entered into negotiations with the bookseller and eventually agreed to purchase the books as a lot for 35 Thalers.

In possession of these valuable volumes, Raz elected to stay with the rest of the group at the home of Adolph’s friends.

September 10 – 22

On September 10 the group set out from Leipzig along the Via Regia towards Poland. The persistent late-summer rain continued. While on the road, the group paused briefly to help a couple of kids haul in an enormous catfish they were struggling to land, and also passed a large salt caravan headed west.

On the 16th the group arrived in Breslau, in Silesia, and elected to continue on the highway to Krakow and then north to Kielce, rather than diverting cross-country towards Kielce directly.

Between Breslau and the Polish border, on September 19th, Adolph began casting looks of concern towards Nicola/Letta. As soon as he noticed Nicola/Letta noticing this, he immediately looked away.

On September 20th the group crossed the Polish border, after being obliged to wait in the rain behind several wagons of Italian cotton. They continued on the Via Regia until reaching Krakow at mid-day on the 22nd. There they changed some of their Thalers into the coinage of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (the złoty).

After securing quarters at an inn, the group approached a couple of soldierly-looking gentleman in the inn’s tavern, with the goal of practicing their Polish. The two were initially amiable, but after a short time they began to find Raz somewhat off-putting company. Adolph attempted to restore the situation, but became overconfident with his Polish vocabulary and inadvertently insulted the men, or Poland, or perhaps both.

As the group retired to their quarters for the evening, Adolph shot Kat and Nicola/Letta a knowing look.

September 23 – 26

The group departed Krakow for Kielce the next morning, which was wet and cold. As they rode through the Polish countryside, Adolph persisted in throwing knowing looks towards Kat and Letta. Finally, Letta pulled Adolph aside and demanded an explanation. Adolph was evasive, stating only that Letta could count on his discretion.
The group arrived in Kielce the evening of the 26th.

September 27

A search of nearly a day for a German-speaking translator in Kielce finally ended the afternoon of the 27th when Adolph heard from a friendly woman at a small roadside market that there was a German widow living in the poor part of town. The widow had married a Polish soldier in Imperial service during the war, and moved with him back to Kielce, but he had since died.

The group went to visit the woman, named Petra Fedorowa. They found her at her half-house, engaged in some sort of textile manufacture along with two of her boys, aged 14 and 16. Her desperation for money was evident and she was agreeable to serving as a translator for a fee of a złoty a day.

September 28

The group bought breakfast for Petra and her boys the next morning. Over the meal, Adolph inquired about the legend of the Bog Knight. Petra had heard of this, and recommended that the group speak with a woman called Baba Tekla. Baba Tekla, she continued, lived at the edge of the woods not far from the village of Michniow, just north of Kielce. Noting that this was not far away, the group departed Kielce immediately.

At around mid-day, the group arrived at the small thatch-roofed cottage to which Petra directed them, but found it empty (although clearly not abandoned). While Raz and Adolph stayed with Petra near the cottage, Letta and Kat investigated the woods nearby in a search for tracks. Shortly thereafter, an old woman (Baba Tekla) emerged from the wood near the cottage, carrying a basket of berries and demanding to know who they were and what they wanted. Through Petra, the group explained that they were hunting the Bog Knight. Baba Tekla pressed them about why they were hunting the Bog Knight, eventually ushering them into her cottage. She took a large book off of a bookshelf and opened it to an illustration of a wild-looking woman riding through a forest on a stag. “Tajemnicza Kobieta,” she said, indicating the picture. The group responded in the affirmative.

Baba Tekla then began speaking rapidly in a rustic dialect of Polish that was difficult even for Petra to understand. Thankfully, Raz was able to understand that the old woman was relating that the Bog Knight had enslaved the great stag of the Stone Forest, and that surely this was the reason why Tajemnicza Kobieta desired that the head of the monster be presented to her.

Baba Tekla went on to tell the group that the Bog Knight had its lair amongst a group of large boulders called Prosmir’s Teeth. She also indicated that she could explain to the group how to go about finding Bartek the Oak.

XP +2

Total XP To Date: 28

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Der Hexenkessel, Session 11
August 27 - 30, 1653

August 27 (afternoon)

Subsequent to the defeat of the shambling grave, the exhausted group elected to spend the rest of the day in the village of Unterpeiching, resting and recovering. The village priest, Father Matthias, convened a prayer meeting to offer a prayer of thanksgiving for the community’s deliverance from evil, as well as calling upon St. Christopher to protect the group in their travels.

The group spent the night in the common room of the village tavern.

August 28 – 29

A day and a half of travel through pleasant weather brought the group to the gates of the Imperial City of Nuremberg, where they decided to stop and spend some time. Raz found a bank and had a promissory note in the amount of 25 Thalers drawn, and arranged for it to be sent to his three aunts.

Raz also located a book seller and browsed his inventory, which mostly consisted of anti-Catholic tracts. However, he happened across a volume entitled Marriage Duties of the House Gnomes, by Melchior Dahlke, printed in Leipzig in 1629. The sour and acerbic bookseller wanted 10 Thalers for the book, but Adolph intervened and won the bookseller’s trust; ultimately a price of 5 Thalers was arrived at, which Raz paid.

Kat was interested in finding a well-crafted or unique board game; Adolph did some asking around and identified a woodworker who was known to produce such items from time to time. The group visited the woodworker, who seemed haggard and exhausted, and Kat found a high quality wooden chess board with a set of painted chess men. The asking price was 11 Thalers, but Adolph negotiated a price of 6 Thalers, although Kat ultimately elected to pay 8 Thalers out of respect for the quality of the craftsmanship. Kat enquired with the woodworker about his apparent exhaustion, and he said that he had difficulty sleeping during the warm, long-light days of summer.

Letta asked the woodworker about goings-on around Nuremberg; the woodworker related that amongst the craftsmen of Nuremberg, there was much talk about the tournament that had been proposed down in Ravensburg. He continued that many nobles and aristocrats did not possess full suits of armor as had been the custom in former times, and as a consequence it was expected that skilled armorers would be very busy and much in demand over the winter.

The group found quarters for the night in a large city inn called Betz’s Inn, facing on a small square not far from the Pegnitz River running through the center of the city. After dining and having a beer, Raz retired for the evening, settling down to read Marriage Duties of the House Gnomes. The book discussed the complex dowry arrangements of house gnomes, the duties of the members of a married house gnome couple towards one another, and in particular their duties towards the human habitation the care of which they elect to take on.

Meanwhile, Adolph’s attention was drawn by a very attractive young woman named Christina. The two retired to Adolph’s quarters for the evening, where it transpired that Christina did not go anywhere without a pet snake (a literal pet snake, a legless reptile of the suborder serpentus) in the pocket of her dress.

Kat and Letta remained in the inn’s tavern for a time after concluding their evening meal. They both noticed a group of three women and two men at a table who seemed much more subdued than the other tavern-goers, as if they were mourning.

When Kat and Letta went up to their room for the night, they heard the unmistakable sounds of an amorous encounter from the other side of the door. They checked their key and confirmed that they were at the right door. Kat looked through the keyhole and saw a young man and woman engaged in amorous activity. There was no sign that the lock had been picked. Kat knocked on the door, and the two young people reacted with surprise. They were extremely apologetic and embarrassed and seemed mostly concerned with departing as quickly as possible.

August 30

Another day of fine travel weather dawned the next day. As the group continued north along the Via Claudia Augusta, Kat told the group some stories about her time during the war, and about how on some level she longed for recognition as a peer with others who had undertaken military service. Both because of her gender and because of the generally secret nature of her wartime activities, she has not received this recognition in the post-war years.

The end of the day’s ride brought the group to a war-torn village called Manderscheid, where there was a traveler’s inn to be found. The group took quarters there and took a meal and some drink in the tavern. There was a villager playing a flute, quite well, and the group overheard a group of men talking about politics. They were discussing the fact that the spy who had been discovered in the court of the Elector of Saxony, Count von Talheim, had been exiled to England along with his family.

As evening descended on the quiet village and the members of the party were preparing to sleep, they heard the sound of riders approaching the inn. Shortly thereafter, rough, jeering male voices were heard from below, accosting the innkeeper and disturbing the peace that had been settling on the village with darkness. The group looked out their windows and saw seven horses being secured to the wooden fence surrounding the inn’s grounds. Two armed men who were apparently tasked with watching the horses, while the other five entered the public room of the inn. A voice from downstairs was heard to threaten theft of the party’s horses, which were in the stables.

The group decided to take action against these apparent bandits, and readied their weapons. Kat left the upper story of the inn via the exterior stairway but was noticed by the bandits guarding the horses. One of them shouted at her to get back inside. Adolph reacted by stepping outside and feigning as though Kat was a conquest who had snuck away from his bed; Kat played along by feigning greater fear of Adolph than the men by the horses. The bandits appeared to at least momentarily buy the ruse, giving Raz an opportunity to cast Cāozuò yuánsù, causing a pit to appear in the earth beneath the foot of one of the bandits; the bandit stumbled and fell prone. Kat, continuing to feign confusion and fear, drifted closer to the bandits, then drew two of her throwing daggers and pierced the standing bandit’s heart with two daggers. Letta then stepped up and blasted the prone bandit with her blunderbuss, striking his boot with the shots. The bandit was able to shake off this blow, but succumbed to a blast from Raz’s blunderbuss.

The response from the remainder of the bandit gang was immediate and violent. Two of their number rushed out of the inn, one of them an enormous bull of a man, close to 300 pounds. The large man fired his blunderbuss at Kat and wounded her; the other man fired a pistol at Letta but missed. The group counterattacked—Letta thrust her sword through the enormous bandit’s throat, and felled the other as well.

A momentary silence fell, and a voice came from inside the tavern. One of the bandits stated that the innkeeper’s wife was a hostage and would be killed if the group persisted in their attacks. Kat attempted to sneak up to the doorway and launch a surprise attack on the bandits inside. When she got to the doorway, she saw that there was a bandit with an old and healed but disfiguring wound on his face—he had no nose and part of his cheekbone had been shot away. It was this ruffian who had a pistol to the head of the innkeeper’s wife. A taller, more slender man was also standing at the ready in the public room, with a pistol drawn and at his side. Unfortunately Kat was noticed by the bandits, but her reflexes were quicker and she managed to nick the wounded ruffian in his pistol arm just enough to disrupt his activity, allowing the innkeeper’s wife to slip away. The two bandits turned and fired their pistols at Kat, who had taken cover behind one of the tavern’s tables. One of the shots hit Kat, causing further injury, and the other ball only missed because it hit the table behind which she was taking cover. Adolph stepped into the room and fired at one of the bandits, barely missing with his pistol. Letta rushed forward with her sword, attacking the taller bandit, but the force of her blow was absorbed by her target’s leather armor. In the midst of her attack, he noticed a family resemblance between the two bandits in the public room.

Meanwhile, Raz, still outside the inn, heard the sound of approach from behind him, and turned to see a bandit attack him with a short sword. Fortunately, the fact that Raz had noticed his foe allowed him to dodge the blow, and he was able to evade long enough to draw his pistol and shoot his assailant dead.

Within the public room of the inn, Kat threw two more daggers at the disfigured bandit, causing a serious wound. Adolph took cover behind a table and finished reloading one of his pistols. The taller of the two (presumably) brothers attempted to flee, but was cut down by Letta. The final surviving bandit attempted to flee and made it outside the inn, but was eventually cut down by Kat’s daggers.

The party regrouped and discussed their next move. Adolph noted that the bandit’s horses had not been troubled by the gunfire and fighting, and were presumably animals that were trained for combat. In conversations with the innkeeper, the group learned that the village of Manderscheid was the major town in an Imperial Abbey which had become impoverished as a result of the war and could not afford even rudimentary protection for its lands, and thus had fallen prey to this particular group of bandits. The villagers asserted that the total number of bandits in the gang were between 10 and 15. The innkeeper conveyed to the group his terror that the remaining bandits would descend on the village to seek vengeance; however, a friar associated with the abbey pulled Adolph aside and told him that with the two brothers dead the gang would probably fall apart.

XP +3
Total XP To Date: 26 (Advance next session)

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