Friday, 6 September 2013

The Enemy Within Campaign: Day 2

Bezahltag Early morning and Ichabod is rudely awakened by Buster barking at the dirty window. He’s spotted or smelled something outside that’s gotten his interest. Grumbling, Ichabod searches for his boots, before realising he’s still wearing them, then stumbles downstairs. They tread over the sprawled form of the troll slayer and step into the fog laden pre-dawn.

 Like some bad Lassie episode, Albrecht, Ichabod and the troll slayer are led along the docks to the source of some commotion. Within moments the party (minus Waldemar and the wizard) discover a brightly burning barge, which appears to have been deliberately set alight by henchmen of the Black Cowl/Hood/Hat/Gloves/Scarf.

Acting without thought for himself, Ichabod jumps onboard to look for valuables to ‘save’. Finding none, he hears the screams of women and children from within. And the womenfolk of rich merchants are always a good source of income. Smashing through the barge’s window (the door being locked from the inside), Ichabod spies 2 small girls and reaches in to search them for jewelry. Finding they have none, he tosses them towards the panicking merchant in an effort to knock him over (preferably into the water so Ichabod no longer has to listen to his pitiful cries). Unfortunately, the merchant deftly catches the children. The woman is choking on fumes and flailing around in the smoke filled boat. But Ichabod spies her jewelled fingers and reaches in to relieve her of them. Misunderstanding, the women grabs Ichabod’s hand like a serial killer’s grasp on the throat of a virgin. Unwilling to burn to death himself, Ichabod reluctantly helps the large women through the barge’s window. The family stand re-united, but both the barge and Ichabod have nothing to show for it.

During Ichabod’s ‘heroics’, Albrecht spies 2 shadowy figures out for an innocent early morning stroll through gangland infested docks. Albrecht immediately gives stealthy pursuit and instructs the troll slayer to do the same, which he complies with by shouting back loudly, “I WILL BE QUIET”. Immediately the 2 innocent walkers remember they’ve left a pan on the stove at home and dash away to save their hovel from burning down with their 6 angelic children inside. The innocent runners dive into the White Horse inn and out of sight. Albrecht speeds in after and spies several exits with no clue as to which their quarry has taken. The barkeep is keeping silent until the troll slayer grabs him politely by the face and gently drags him over the bar and up against the wall. He then proceeds to caress the barkeep with solid punches to the head, whilst spraying the unfortunate man with Dwarven insults and spittle. Finally his sanity breaks and he points up the stairs with a shaking hand; the barkeep collapses into a fetal position, his britches soiled. Albrecht leaps up the stairs, 3 at a time, sees an open window on the landing and spots the 2 chaps taking their morning jog up to the rooftops. Unhitching his longbow, Albrecht swiftly notches an arrow and lets fly.

During the Battle of Black Fire Pass 2 years earlier, Albrecht and his unit had managed to shatter an Ork charge with longbow fire. Taking down a single charity runner trying to get home to save his kids was child’s play. As the shaft entered the runner’s body with a force of 80lbs, it took the man completely off his feet and he cartwheeled headfirst down to the cobbles below. His friend just had time to hear him shout, “Tell my wife I love...” before he crunched painfully to his death. The remaining man vowed, “I shan’t let your children go hungry my friend” just as Albrecht’s second arrow pierced his throat and he died choking on his own blood. Kicking over the bodies, the heroes found a small number of coins, a blood donor card, a charity collection form for the Averheim Runner’s Club, and a child’s hand drawn picture of 2 stick parents and their stick children enjoying a picnic by the river, with the phrase “I love you daddy” on the bottom in pink crayon, now soaked in blood. They also found some tinder sticks, presumably for lighting torches at the local orphans home. Albrecht and the troll slayer congratulated themselves on their fine detective work and sat down to drink the free beer from the terrified barkeep.

Shortly after, Ichabod and Waldemar walk into the bar with the merchant (Adolphus) and his wife and children. Waldemar had managed to persuade Adolphus not to try and save his burning barge despite it being 2 progress tokens from being ‘unsalvageable’, reasoning that he had his true treasures beside him. Adolphus finally agreed to Waldemar’s honeyed words, which he will use to comfort his soon to be starving children. Despite his recent turn of misfortune and subsequent depression, Adolphus told the party what he knew, that he had paid Klaus Keller (the recently deceased racketeer) protection money. However, it appeared that the Black Cowl was making an example of Adolphus on those who didn’t fall in with the new criminal organisation. Adolphus now laments how he will transport his Cathay silks when they’re delivered to the docks. Although they appear to have been delayed anyway. Not wanting to be seen to be ungrateful, and without any coin, Adolphus promises Ichabod that he will try and repay him by sending some work his way. However, he did not elaborate. Ichabod felt this was primarily because the man didn’t want to promise something that he may not be able to deliver.

 Upon exiting the White Horse, a crowd had gathered around the now smouldering barge and Ute raced over to get the goods on what had happened. Ichabod’s proud boasts, at both Ute’s urging and Adolphus’s confirmation, raise a small cheer from the crowd at his heroic efforts. Some in the crowd call for a song and Ute makes up an impromptu tune: When everything seems grim and your life is dire, And you’re in trouble and your boat’s on fire, Look to this man cos he’s no sword-for-hire, It’s Ichabod, Ichabod, Ichabod! Dashing through the flames like a man possessed, Dealing out justice is his quest, At rescuing your loved ones he is the best, It’s Ichabod, Ichabod, Ichabod! Ichabod then offers to give Ute the lowdown on how heroic is he and takes her out for a drink. He is not seen again until late. It could’ve been even later had it not been for that pesky Chaos Star on his Fellowship roll.

 Albrecht decides to head off into town to buy some more provisions. Meanwhile, Waldemar and the troll slayer patrol the docks, both looking for ne’er-do-wells, as well as making themselves visible. Sure enough, a runner comes to the troll slayer with a scrap of parchment showing a hand drawn map. Deciding to go easy on the GM’s poor plotting, they decide to spring the trap and the 2 Dwarves head off to Cable Street where they’re met by a seedy type, taking shelter in a doorway from the raindrops beginning to fall. “Just you”, he growls, pointing at the troll slayer. Despite some cunning linguistics from Waldemar, he is unable to accompany the slayer up the street, so stays behind for small talk, much to the gangster’s regret. Stepping around some boxes and walking towards a shabby building at the end of the street, the troll slayer hears the unmistakable twang of a bow and an arrow speeds out from darkened window towards him. Luckily, the arrow pings off the Dwarf’s collar bone and clatters to the floor. To the untrained eye, this makes the slayer look arrow proof!

 Roaring a challenge, the slayer runs forward, jumps through the window and rapidly dispatches the 2 hoods there. Stepping back out, he sees that 5 men now block his exit. At a command, 4 of the men rush forward, but the slayer halts them temporarily with a mighty roar and a Dwarven curse. The leader shouts, “He’s only one Dwarf! Take him!” Reluctantly the men push on, surround the slayer and begin beating him with clubs. One connects with his face and another with his leg. Down on one knee, the men viciously swing their clubs onto his back, opening up bloody welts. But pain and suffering are the lifeblood of the slayer and one by one, he strikes down each man. Launching himself forward, axe in hand, the slayer deals a blow that would disembowel a lesser man, but the leader stays on his feet and comes back at the slayer swinging his spiked club over his head, shouting, “The Black Cowl says hello!” Striking the slayer in the chest, the Dwarf staggers back momentarily. At this point, Waldemar, having dispatched the gangster in the alleyway with a swift club to the head, appears and shouts at the man to surrender his weapon so that he might live. But the bloodlust is on the slayer and despite wanting to capture the man alive, dispatches him with an over enthusiastic jumping headbutt. This is very cool however and earns the party a Fortune Point.

 Gathering back together at the Upright Pig as the rain becomes a torrent, the party share their stories. Upon seeing the slayer, Albrecht gives him one of the rare medicinal potions he bought so that he may have some respite from his wounds. He also buys the slayer a room of his own so he might rest better. The party go to bed, apart from Albrecht who maintains a vigil at his bedside window. Sure enough, shadowy figures are seen moving through the heavy downpour, watching the inn from a distance. No-one comes close, but it’s clear the defiant scoundrels are on the Black Cowl’s list...

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