Grim & Perilous Adventures

All Is Not Well
The circumstances of Florian Wechsler's disappearance begin to reveal themselves.

Posing as coal merchants, the party presented themselves at the Merchant’s Guild and learned that Florian had sold coal to the guardhouse, Marcel Gerber (an influential town elder), and to the Thunderwater Inn. From their investigation, they concluded that Florian sold the entirety of his coal in equal measure to the three aforementioned customers. Having sold all of his coal it is suspicious that he did not close accounts with the Merchant’s Guild if he did leave Stromdorf. Nicodemus met with Marcel Gerber and, having made the proper social introductions, was able to use his privilege to garner a meeting with Captain Kessler. Kessler was surprised to hear of Florian’s disappearance and assured Nicodemus that he would put some of his best men on the case to investigate what happened to him.

Kaerlan investigated the back of Town Hall and saw a lone light shining through a grimy window on the upper floor. Scaling the wall, Kaerlan was able to peer in and see, from behind, a man slumped in a plush chair at a desk drinking wine and gazing at a portrait of a young woman. Kaerlan attempted to open the window to gain ingress to the room but the window fell out of the frame and shattered. Kaerlan dropped quickly to the street and dove in behind some trash bins where he encountered Waltrout who was overjoyed to see him. The inhabitant of the room was at the window shouting and, thinking quickly, Kaerlan shoved Waltrout into the street. The man at the window told Waltrout to go away and proceeded to board up the broken window in slap-dash fashion. Waltrout informed Kaerlan that the man in the window was indeed Burgomeister Philip Adler.

When the party reconvened at the Thunderwater Inn, they learned that the woman in the picture was Madriga Brenner, the deceased wife of Sebastien Brenner (owner/proprietor of The Thunderwater Inn & Brewery). They learned from Friedrich Brenner (Sebastien’s 20 year-old son) that Madriga was Sebastien’s second wife and that she died by drowning in the well in town square. Madriga was beloved by all and is sorely missed by her family. Kaerlan went to speak to Waltrout to learn if he had seen anything happen at the well the day Madriga drowned. While Waltrout did not see anything he did find a letter by the edge of the well. Kaerlan brought this back to Nicodemus and the letter was full of passionately-written prose to Philip Adler saying that she longed for his company but feared her husband’s suspicions and cautioned Adler that they should be even more careful in making rendezvous. While the official story is that Madriga threw herself in the well the letter did not suggest someone who was at a point of despair.

Nicodemus made his way to The Stewpot Inn and was graciously greeted by Keila Cobblepot who served him a delicious dinner and was very excited to have an overnight guest renting one of the private rooms. While in the Stewpot, Nicodemus made the acquaintance of Eduardo Castillo Rodrigues, a flamboyant Estalian. While his clothes suggest a more affluent past, Rodrigues is little more than a vagrant who exchanges tall tales for coin and uses whatever he can scrape together to blur memories of a lost love. By enduring Rodrigues’ demeanor and slightly plying him with beer, Nicodemus was able to learn that Rodrigues did meet Florian Wechsler while he stayed at the Stewpot. Furthermore, Rodrigues claimed that he saw Florian’s two bodyguards leave early the next morning. Rodrigues did not see Wechsler leave with them that morning but he did remember a cart going by at around midnight. Finishing his beer, Nicodemus then retired for the evening. While preparing to retire, Nicodemus felt extremely heavy-headed and passed out. The next thing Nicodemus felt was the back of his head hitting wooden planks, realizing that both his hands and feet were bound. He saw a disheveled, grimy face briefly before an oil-treated canvas was thrown over him and he could deduce that he was in a cart that was beginning to move.

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Into the Storm
The adventurers arrive in the rainiest town in the Empire

After convalescing for the better part of two weeks after the battle with the beast men, the adventurers gain passage to Stromdorf on a commercial barge to begin their search for Florian Wechsler. After speaking with the crew of the barge and the captain, Nicodemus learns that Florian took the same barge to Stromdorf several weeks earlier. The captain confirmed that Wechsler did indeed travel with a shipment of coal and was indeed looking forward to turning a considerable profit in Stromdorf. Nicodemus also learned that Wechsler traveled with two bodyguards: Krantz & Olaf. The name Krantz was familiar to Nicodemus as someone he may have met briefly during the course of his duties for Baron Von Burgenstein. Each day that the barge floated closer to Stromdorf the more unpleasant the weather became. Sunny skies became gray, gray skies became drizzly, and by the time they were within a day of Stromdorf there was persistent rain. Shortly before actually being able to dock in Stromdorf they passed by a sizeable bridge that had been washed out by the storm. The churning river then caused the boat to lurch and the captain fell overboard and was whisked down-stream before anyone could react. Pete, thinking quickly, grabbed the tiller and successfully brought the barge to the bank of the river where the crew lashed it to some trees to avoid further peril to the vessel. The entire assembly then climbed up the muddy embankment and made their way to Stromdorf on foot. As they approached the main gate, a crew of half a dozen men was walking away from Stromdorf to survey the damage to the bridge. Gobrik took it upon himself to tag along, his tradecraft instincts compelling him. After taking his time and offering some longwinded advice on how, had Dwarven principles of construction been employed this kind of thing could have been avoided, Gobrik concluded that there was no evidence of sabotage on the bridge.

Back at the gate, the guards peace-bonded Nicodemus’ blade and the adventurers entered Stromdorf. Between Nicodemus’ recollections and conversing with the sailors, the prime destination towards which the adventurers were heading was the Thunderwater Inn. Run by the Brenner family, the Thunderwater Inn is home of the eponymous Thunderwater Ale, a strong beer with a distinct peaty after-taste. Thunderwater is Stromdorf’s main export and is so revered that even Dwarfs look upon it favourably. On their way to the Thunderwater Inn, the adventurers passed through Stromdorf’s Market Square. Set in the middle of the square is a statue of Olaus Stichelm, the hero of Stromdorf who saved the town from the ravages of greenskins and the army of a Vampire Count hundreds of years ago. After doing some cursory investigation of the Market Square, a serendipitous lightning flash revealed several pieces of coal on the ground near one of the trade buildings. Gobrik’s innate Dwarf senses told him that the marshy soil upon which Stromdorf was build would tend to indicate that any source of coal would be many miles hence and not likely something procured with ease. Kaerlan also spotted a disheveled-looking man collecting dung in a sack who, upon seeing Kaerlan, became spooked and shambled away down an alley.

The adventurers made their way to the Thunderwater Inn. It was a lively place full of revelers, all enjoying some Thunderwater Ale after a long day of toiling in the rain. After enjoying some Thunderwater themselves, Pete and Gobrik succumbed to a bit of playful trickery on behalf of the locals and were goaded into drinking a mug of a special brew known as “Marshwater.” Although touted as a special beer made by incorporating live Reik Eels in the brewing process, what was served to them was actually dregs from the brewing process supplemented with a live tadpole. While Gobrik managed to hold his liquour, Pete vomited all over the floor much to the delight of the patrons who got to see another “greenhorn” from out of town fooled by the Marshwater. Meanwhile, Nicodemus carefully surveyed the bar and saw no evidence of Florian, Krantz, or Olaf in the bar. Rooms were procured, and the only other material finding that evening was that there was a wingback chair by the hearth (much more comfortable-looking than the wooden furniture bolted to the floor) that stayed empty the whole evening despite the bar being at capacity at some points. In speaking with Sebastien Brenner, the patriarch of the Brenner family who was also tending bar that evening, Nicodemus learned that the chair is reserved for Franz Bieber, Stromdorf’s most respected hunter. Franz travels for weeks at a time into the swampy areas on the outskirts of Stromdorf (know as The Oberslecht) and always returns with a bounty of game meat. Going out into The Oberslecht alone is unthinkable to most as it is a perilous place; Franz Bieber is highly respected for the bravery he displays in making such frequent trips alone.

The next day the adventurers scoped out the Market Square. Nicodemus attempted to gain entrance to Town Hall but was told that nobody other than Captain Kessler was permitted entrance. Nicodemus and Kaerlan learned that Kessler’s office was out of his house a short distance away and went to see if they could speak with him. Kaerlan stayed out on the street to watch from a distance while Nicodemus had the displeasure of meeting Kaspar Myer, the weasely clerk who guards entrance into Kessler’s office. Scolded like a school child despite his best protestations, Nicodemus was shooed out of Kessler’s home and told to come back when he had an appointment. Meanwhile, Kaerlan took to the rooftops of the town and observed, over the course of the afternoon, an official-looking man who he concluded was Kessler enter Town Hall and then return to Kessler’s house. Kaerlan also saw the disheveled-looking man from the night before. Street urchins would throw clumps of mud at him and run away and merchants would not tolerate him poking around their stalls for very long before telling him, “Move along, Waltrout.” While nobody was openly hostile to Waltrout it was obvious that he was viewed as a nuisance. Kaerlan, suspicious of the contents of Waltrout’s sack, approached him and offered to purchase it for several silver coins. This being more money than Waltrout had likely held at one time at any point in his life, he eagerly accepted the offer and, in his own way, swore fealty to his “new best friend.” Kaerlan tried to slip away but Waltrout did not let Kaerlan out of his sight making continual offers to carry Kaerlan’s things, shine his shoes, and do anything else he required. Kaerlan quickly grew weary of this attention and scaled a building to get away. Though confused at the sudden exit of his new patron, Waltrout enthusiastically waved goodbye, promising to always be nearby should Kaerlan require any assistance. Apart from another piece of coal, Waltrout’s sack did not appear to contain anything significant.

While Nicodemus was making the unpleasant acquaintance of Kaspar Myer, Pete and Gobrik surveyed the wares in the Market Square. Pete procured some items that he was certain he could turn a profit on and Gobrik, after politely disparaging the quality of the local blacksmith’s work, noticed a Halfling woman making her way through the market buying vegetables and spices. As this was the closes thing to another Dwarf he’d seen since entering Stromdorf, Gobrik walked up and introduced himself. The friendly Halfling introduced herself as Keila Cobblepot, proprietress of the Stewpot Inn. While she was quick to acknowledge that the Thunderwater Inn did have the best beer in Stromdorf she did claim to have better food and convinced Gobrik and Pete to come by and try some of the sticky buns that she had made earlier that morning. She mentioned that her clientele consists mainly of watchmen and did her best to convince Pete and Gobrik to consider the Stewpot over the Thunderwater Inn while they stayed in Stromdorf. The Stewpot was, indeed, modest in size and scope compared to the Thunderwater but Keila did not understate her cooking ability and the rooms, while small, had a much homier feel to them than the Thunderwater. While they were eating a dirty, vulgar man entered the Stewpot and took a seat at a table. Everything about this man was unpleasant from his noticeable body odour to the way he would disrespectfully clear his sinuses and spit on the floor. The only word they heard him say was “Breakfast!” directed at Keila. While visibily not pleased that the man was here, Keila acquiesced to his request but did so without any of the cheeriness and hospitality that she had extended to Pete and Gobrik. Keila told him that his name was Reiner and that, while she didn’t appreciate his demeanor, Kelia couldn’t afford to turn customers away regardless of how unpleasant they may be.

A final point worth mentioning is that Gobrik and Pete learned that Florian Wechsler did indeed stay at the Stewpot while he was in Stromdorf. When asked, Keila told Gobrik and Pete that Wechsler spent the night at the Stewpot with his two body-guards and checked out early the next morning while she was still baking bread.

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A Day Late, A Shilling Short
A missing coach causes concern amongst the adventurers

The adventurers were staying at the Red Moon Inn in Ubersreik, by the river Teufel, for a few days in anticipation of the arrival of Rutger Abend, trusted agent of Baron Von Burgenstein (patron of Nicodemus). The coach between Marienburg and Ubersreik was a few days late and, despite the known perils of taking to the roads of the Reikland at dusk outside protective walls, the adventurers decided to borrow a cart from the innkeeper and seek to discover the missing coach’s fate. Kaerlan sped off ahead to scout and, several miles outside the gates of Ubersreik, spotted the coach on its side, the horses dead, and a company of beastmen tearing at the coach’s cargo and battling who he could only assume to be Rutger Abend who was near death. Kaerlan’s arrows took flight and the battle was joined. After taking some heavy thumps from the savage beastmen, the adventurers were able to save Rutger from traveling to Morr’s domain. Within the coach was an obstinate merchant named Klaus who, despite cowing Gobrik to his will and reducing him to little more than a porter, had his wits bested by Pete and Nicodemus. Klaus had designs on keeping the mysterious envelope marked for Nicodemus for himself but Pete was quick on his feet and made a grandiose show of returning Klaus’ hat to him from inside the coach which cleverly compelled Klaus to agree that he’d been given what he had set out to retrieve from the coach. After returning to Ubersreik, Nicodemus opened the package with his patron’s seal. Therein was a letter from Baron Von Burgenstein detailing the apparent disappearance of Floran Wechsler, his nephew. Florien had traveled to Stromdorf with a shipment of coal that he’d purchased at a discounted price in the hopes of selling it in the inclement weather-ridden town of Stromdorf at a tidy profit. Nobody has heard from Florian in several weeks and his family is growing increasingly concerned.

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