Der Hexenkessel

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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