The Party head towards the Averburg Gardens that morning. Jochen has an invite and skips through the gate hand in hand with his boyfriend, Konrad Mauer. The pair mingle amongst the other guests, Jochen showing his engagement ring to all and sundry. People comment on how well Jochen looks, who beams with delight. Konrad proudly pats Jochen’s stomach saying, “Not long now”, amidst happy coo-ing from the other noblewomen.
There is no security on the gate as they haven’t turned up yet. Oh no, wait, there they are.
Bauerfast: So you’re the ones von Kaufman has entrusted to provide security?
Albrecht: That’s correct, Captain.
Bauerfast: Well we’ve been relegated to patrol outside because...
Ichabod: Hang on, you’re not allowed inside the grounds at all?
Bauerfast: No. The reason for this...
Ichabod: Quick everyone inside before he starts dropping plot nonsense on us.
Graf Friedrich von Kaufman: Ahh, thank you for coming. My servant will direct you from here. Please ensure that no harm comes to my guests and that you keep a respectable distance.
Troll Slayer: Respectable Distance is my middle name. If I had a middle name. Or even a name. Or believed in personal space. I do however believe in pro-active violence and seek an end to my worthless existence, so I am perfectly suited for this peacekeeping task...
The rest of the party move on and leave the Troll Slayer to his jibber jabber.
Waldemar: Why is the Troll Slayer prepping for violence?
Ichabod: RPG 101. Expect the opposite to anything the GM tells you. We’re here for “Simple guard duty at a garden party in broad daylight”. This has massacre written all over it.
Ichabod lifts up his shirt to reveal an array of pistols, hand grenades and an impressive Napalm Blister Blaster, all tucked into his belt. Albrecht also shows he’s carrying some explosive tipped arrows and an Even Bigger Napalm Blister Blaster.
Ichabod: Where’s the Chainhammer?
Albrecht: I couldn’t fit it in along with my Ball Breaker Anti Personnel Mines
Albrecht: Waldemar, what did you bring?
Waldemar: Err, I have some pamphlets...
Albrecht and Ichabod pat young Waldemar condescendingly on the head, knowing full well that a mere pamphlet wouldn’t cause any damage this day.
The party don their hi-vis SECURITY jackets bearing the von Kaufmann brand and proceed to patrol the grounds. Early on, Albrecht insists on keeping a close eye on the perimeter where the tall garden hedge abuts the outside road. This effectively puts him out of the action until later as the intruder will be breaking in behind the marquee. This is a Good Thing (TM). The GM relaxes as he knows his monsters will last longer than one combat round. He has a massacre planned for later which the players are not expecting, mwa-ha-ha-haa!
Guests begin to filter in, all blinged up to the nines.
Troll Slayer: No blades, no bows, leave your weapons here. No blades, no bows, leave your weapons here.
At that moment, the Gravin Clothilde von Alptraum walks in with her own classy theme tune; the old, but proud Giselbert hurries along behind her. People stare openly in jealous admiration as she moves gracefully across the grass, wearing an incredible scarlet dress, sparkling with jewels, that only serves to accentuate her hourglass figure.
Inside Albrecht’s head is playing “Lady In Red” by Chris de Burgh. The Gravin ignores everyone as she goes straight to greet von Kaufman. Only Albrecht is permitted a sideways glance, which only he catches. Or he may have imagined it.
As this garden party has been planned for months in advance, von Kaufman kicks it off big style with a banging, and I mean BANGING, falconry exhibition.
During this time, Adele, the Witch Hunter turns up. Jochen asks Konrad who she is as the woman approaches von Kaufman and...
Albrecht: (fast forwarding through this part of the adventure). This bit's dull.
Shortly after falconry display begins, Theodosius von Tuchtenhagen turns up late, along with his entourage of Dagoberdt (a Gold Wizard) and his jester, Hogweed. They proceed to disturb the show with rude comments about the pedigree of the birds, drinking noisily during the demonstrations and belching. The jester also makes several jokes about Halflings and their mums, much to the amusement of von Tuchtenhagen.
The attention then switches to the menagerie itself. The strange and exotic beasts are displayed for the amusement of fools as they cavort within their cages; there is much gasping, pointing and excited chatter, as people pretend to know what they’re seeing, when they have no real clue. It’s like...
Troll Slayer: ...Strictly Come Dancing.
Von Kaufman then proudly brings out his display of exhibits from the Southlands expedition. Among the various artefacts are a gold plaque inscribed with strange sigils and a jade mask of curious design. It is the latter object which begins the ruckus.
Untangling himself from Jochen’s side, Konrad steps forward and demands the artefact be given to him for destruction! Von Kaufmann refuses. Jochen looks into the winds of magic and sees darkness flowing around the object. It has some seriously bad mojo. Things begin to get tense until the Troll Slayer steps in. He quickly checks his list of doorman sayings:
1. If your name’s not down, you’re not coming in
2. No blades, no bows, leave your weapons here
3. You can’t get a taxi from here luv, you need to go up the high street
None of these seem to fit, so he simply bears his teeth and growls. At this point a truly awful stench wafts odorously over the crowd. Some people gag. Hogweed makes a comment about the Gravin’s perfume being ‘a little strong’. The GM’s blatant attempt to provoke Albrecht come to naught; Albrecht decides to “Hang back” on this one.
In order to bring calm to a potentially volatile situation Waldemar decides to unveil his 2 agitator pamphlets.
GM: Wow! You’ve done some real printouts, that’s great! I’m impressed. There’s a lot of detail here.
Waldemar: I’ve got 2 stacks. Thought I could start handing them out now everyone has gathered. The first one is called “Workers Of The World Unite”
GM: This is superb! What’s the other one called?
Waldemar: “Clothilde Is A Rancid Whorebag”
Albrecht: I’m playing Rapid Fire. Can I hit Waldemar’s balls from all the way over here?
GM: Well they’re certainly big enough. But there are a lot of people between you and him and you don’t have your bow ready. Here, take these 50 Fortune Dice to add to your roll.
Waldemar: Don’t you mean Misfortune Dice?
Ichabod: If we hold Waldemar down, can we give Albrecht a bonus to hit?
GM: Yes. Let’s call it an automatic hit with a long and painful bleed out, resulting in eventual agonising death.
Cthulhu, who’s been plagued with songs about Dwarves Without Beards and other class war rantings during his slumber, reaches out across the campaign worlds to offer his services in eviscerating Waldemar in any horrific manner desired, just so he can have “Five more minutes...”
Waldemar: Actually, I’m not showing this pamphlet, I’ve just noticed some spelling errors. Namely the title has 26 incorrect characters.
In a plan that can only have originated from some hell dimension, the party decide to plant Waldemar's inflammatory pamphlet on von Tuchtenhagen. This little fiasco will later become known as Waldegate.
As an added bonus Ichabod swipes Dagoberdt's Wizard's License. Because if there's one thing you want in this life, it's proof that you belong to one of the most feared and hated careers in the Empire.
Suddenly there’s a loud crack and thick, white plot smoke begins to billow out.
GM: Through the smoke you hear the Demigryph crashing through the hedge maze.
Ichabod: Hang on, if there’s thick smoke, how do we know it’s the Demigryph? It could be anything.
GM: I think you grew up on a Demigryph farm so recognise the sounds.
Waldemar: That’s pretty thin.
Ichabod: I didn’t grow up on a Demigryph farm... what the hell is a Demigryph farm!?
Jochen: Maybe you studied there on student placement?
Albrecht: What, during his Ratcatcher degree?
Ichabod: I didn’t grow up on a Demigryph farm!
GM: Fine. Through the smoke, you hear the sounds of a ‘large creature’ crashing through the hedge maze.
Jochen: Have we come across hedge mazes before, how do we know what they sound like being crashed through?
GM: Oh for the love of... You hear a large creature crashing through some small trees and bushes.
Waldemar: But if...
GM: You also hear someone cry out, “Watch out, the Demigryph is lose and is crashing through the hedge maze!”
GM: (should've thought of that first)
The party leap into inaction.
GM: Who’s chasing after the Demigryph?
Ichabod: It’s too obvious, we’re not chasing after it.
Troll Slayer: Do we look like zookeepers?
Waldemar: Or groundsmen?
The party hear the sounds of screams from the Hedge Maze.
Waldemar: Putting it in capitals doesn’t make it more important
The sounds of children being eaten by the Demigryph echoes around the park.
The party do some light stretches. Albrecht lights up his pipe.
GM: You hear someone cry out, “It’s heading for the brewery!”
Troll Slayer: Right! I’ll take care of this foul creature.
The Troll Slayer bravely runs after the plot device.
Behind the marquee a Silent Knave Approaching Very Energetically and Noiselessly (Let's call him S.K.A.V.E.N. for short)...
Ichabod: I'm running for the marquee!
No matter how quickly the party run, the Skaven has managed to release a smoke bomb, stab a servant in the back, pick the lock of the Demigryph cage, run to the marquee, stab Giselbert in the back, smash open the display, grab the Jade Mask and the Gold Plaque and make his way back out again, all without being seen. It's like the foul creature is supernaturally quick. Maybe his Clan Eshin sorceror has endowed him with warpstone fuelled speed. Maybe the GM misread the campaign notes and released the Demigryph diversion at the same time the Skaven began his attack, by mistake. I guess we'll never know the real truth.
Ichabod: I'm giving chase!