Following up on their recent battle, Albrecht searches the bodies of the disguised bandits, looking for coin and adventure clues, he finds neither. Ichabod confiscates one of the bandits crossbows.
The defiant scoundrels then set off for Averheim as the evening draws in. Jorg the farmer and the Troll Slayer share a warm conversation.
Jorg: Are you comfortable?
The party arrive in Averheim late evening. The weather had been intermittently overcast, drizzly and sunny.
Their first impression of the city is of stinking cattle, which makes a not unwelcome change from Ichabod’s wet dog/dead rat odour. It’s the cattle trade which has made Averheim the richest city in Averland.
Albrecht notices that the city gate is manned by soldiers of the Averheim Garrison (yellow uniforms with black trim) rather than the city watch. However, there is no sign of war or increased tension.
Leaving Jorg at the Market Plaza, the party find all the rooms taken by farmers and traders; they head down to the docks looking for an inn for the night. Albrecht is also concerned with finding Max, whom he knew to frequent the docks and is an old war buddy.
Passing an overweight fish wife handing out leaflets on her missing husband, Ichabod spies an opportunity for love and gets accidentally tangled up in a plot thread. According to the leaflet, after leaving the German football team, Jurgen Klinkski rocked up at the Averheim docks where he promptly went missing after “...going out to get some firewood.” The party assist the upset Olga by heading to the nearest pub.
Doing his best to avoid railroading, Ichabod leads the party away from The White Horse inn (with its menu of Ratburgers, Plot Threads and Mysterious Old Men With Maps) and nimbly avoids the head on campaign kick off fight by ducking into the Upright Pig. The Troll Slayer is not so fortunate. But he’s a least better off than the two fools who’ve just barrelled into a troll slayer. The ensuing fight, if you can call it that, ends after one round as the Troll Slayer shows how REALLY ANGRY AND SCARY he can be. Waldemar manages to direct the course of the campaign by kicking one of the two fighting men in the back, thereby inadvertently MAKING A CHOICE TM.
Ichabod watches all this from the safety of the Pig whilst sipping a chilled Marienburg Sancerre of dubious vintage.
To thank the party for seeing off The Wharf Rats gang, the leader of The Fish (Gerd Knakk) takes them for a drink in the Upright Pig. Here he relates the troubles of the docks, including an offer of 30 silver to look into the disappearance of Rolf Haller (a Wharf Rat that the leader, Werner Klebb, thinks was killed by Gerd and his dockers). Whilst managing to fend off the idea of unionising his gang from Waldemar, he does concede to pay 40 silver instead for their help. Although this could be because of Tom’s silky Dwarven charm.
Troll Slayer: <looks off into the distance>
After Jochen pays for everyone’s room and board, as well as food and drinks for the party and everyone who’s at the inn, does a dance, burns his books, strips naked for 5 foreign sailors and throws his staff into the river, he goes to bed exhausted.
Rising early to the smell of the tanneries, the party head out into a morning with a clear sky. They split up to make the job easier for the GM, not content with all the NPCs he has to run, the multiple timelines he has to juggle, as well as trying to work back in all the clues the party missed the previous day. Albrecht and the Troll Slayer head off to talk to the leader of The Wharf Rats, Werner Klebb, whilst Ichabod and Waldemar go to see Ute Herz who is studying them all intently (curse Ichabod’s Expertise die in Observation checks).
Ichabod’s charm offensive on the young, waif-like Ute appears to have the opposite usual effect when she actually smiles at him. Aware that Waldemar is about to step in for a piece of hot busker action, Ichabod sets Buster on him and both Ute and Ichabod laugh good naturedly as the small (but vicious) dog sets about tearing Waldemar’s trews a new leghole.
Ute sings that old Docker classic by Pieter Gabrielson for Ichabod, after he tips her a day’s peasant wages (but who’s counting for a love this strong).
If looks could kill they probably will
In games without frontiers
Dwarves without beards
Meanwhile, DSI Albrecht & Slayer approach Werner Klebb and interrogate him.
Albrecht: We’d like to find your missing man Rolf Haller
Troll Slayer: <looks off into the distance>
Klebb: I’ll give you 5 silver
Albrecht duffs his roll
Albrecht: 5 silver it is
The only information Klebb has on Rolf is the last thing he said to him: “Keep dry!” as he headed out into the stormy night. When he didn’t show up at the Pig for drinks later that night, they knew something was wrong. He’s adamant The Fish did away with him despite Albrecht’s clear logic to the contrary.
Not finding any clues in Rolf’s hovel, they head back to rejoin the others. Shortly after Albrecht’s keen senses spy an urchin eyeing up Waldemar’s belt purse. Grabbing him deftly Albrecht is unready for the urchin’s vicious kick to his funny bone (Sigmar’s Comets help me too!). However, in a very short time, Buster and Albrecht bring down the urchin (who’s name is Fritz) by tearing his vest off and tripping him into the muddy flats of the river. Albrecht then restrains him by gripping his mop of dirty hair. Waldemar makes a call to Childline.
Fritz moans that unless he can pay a substantial tithe to Bernhardt (who works for “...the Black Hood”), he’ll be forced to leave the city and most likely starve to death. Honestly, kids can be soooo dramatic. Albrecht takes pity on the youngster by passing him a brass penny (maybe he’ll go to the movies... by himself). He also lets him know that further coinage will be available should ‘information of interest’ arise.
The Troll Slayer then shows his value to the party by falling onto a body half buried in the mud. This turns out to be Klaus Keller, a notoriously brutal racketeer. The party give the body a cursory inspection and find the clothing torn at the chest through slash marks, probably from a short blade, as well as 2 smaller tears in the back.
They hoist the body up which draws a crowd. The locals seem happy that this man is dead as he was much despised. Ute comments to Ichabod that this was probably the work of the Black Cowl (the locals don’t know what a cowl is so say ‘hood’), as Klaus had refused to join his new crime syndicate. A short time later, 2 initiates of Morr turn up and take the body away for burial. The party inquire as to the frequency of deaths recently, but the initiates have not noticed a difference.
The party then decide to stake out the docks to see if anyone comes a calling after their shake up of the area. Ichabod stakes out the waterfront, but after an hour of not much happening goes to talk to Ute. Ute slowly packs up for the evening and is happy to talk to Ichabod. During this time, a few other people come to Ute and put money into her cap, but don’t ask her to play anything. It appears she’s well known as an information broker. Most of the questions she receives appear to be directed towards the Troll Slayer Gang which has been shaking things up in the area and whether they’re affiliated with the man in the black hood.
Ute tends to ramble on to Ichabod, finding him easy to talk to (a man with a dog always puts the ladies at ease). Ichabod learns that the most talked about subject, after the Black Cowl, is the recent return of an expedition to the south. Apparently some exclusive private affair is being set up to show off the “wondrous treasures” brought back, “But that’ll be for the hoity toity nobles and not the likes of you and me, or your precious little dog”, Ute smiles.
During Waldemar’s watch of the docks, he spends most of the time thinking up some killer new speeches to alleviate the masses of their ignorance. Waldemar also notices that the gulf between the poor and the middle classes is more pronounced here than in any city he’s visited. The middle classes flaunt a greater share of the wealth, whilst the poor really do scrape the barrel. This infuriates Waldemar even more, so he has a wank, then goes to bed.
Albrecht, who is trying to concentrate on studying the docks from his room, whilst half listening to Waldemar pleasure himself in the next room, notices that the city watch really are thin on the ground. He spies the usual 4 man patrol (doubled up for the night shift) only walk the docks once during the entire night. But a 2 man patrol of soldiers swings by 3 times in the evening. Seeing the soldiers reminds him of the Battle of Black Fire Pass that he was present at, and seeing the dead and the dying. Something pops into his mind about the body they found earlier. The wounds sustained on the front of Klaus’ body would not have been enough to kill him.
Meanwhile downstairs, the Troll Slayer laments the poor quality of Human ale as he lies face down on the floor of the inn, drinking himself into as much as an oblivion as is possible. And then he dreams. In his dreams he looks away into the distance...