After a night spent observing the Teugen manor (while pretending to be observing Grubs) under the watchful gaze of the baleful moon that is Mannslieb our party began to feel somewhat drawn and unclean. I can literally feel the taint of corruption creeping beneath my flesh as Mannslieb’s gaze seemed to look beneath my skin.
The Barber Surgeon seems more adept at sleuthing than he is at surgery if the gaping holes in Falco’s mouth and the godawful smell from his mouth are anything to go by. Anyway with Falco out of commission in a gutter somewhere (or perhaps off getting a second opinion on the molars Aldor so brutally and expensively extracted) and the air decidedly fresher in his absence, it’s a party made up of two that again attempt to find the answers to the corruption bubbling beneath Bogenhafen. So after a fitful and chaos haunted sleep in which the chaos moons glib mocking grin loomed large, Aldor and Gustav breakfasted and began to form a plan to go and have words with the youngest Steinhager, Heinrich.
But before they could depart who should walk into their inn but the elder Steinhager, Franz? Looking drawn and troubled in contrast to the first time he’d met the party at the Golden Trout Club, he asked if there was somewhere private to talk. Leading him up to the parties room he would not rest until he’d bolted the door and checked out of the windows to be sure you were alone.
He confessed how he’d been under orders by Teugen in their initial meeting to throw the adventurer’s off the trail but had since learned that the forthcoming ritual would now involve a human sacrifice and at that news he suddenly decided that this was too much for him and he wanted out. But fearing that Teugen has the authorities under his control he has no option but to seek assistance from the only people in town likely to believe his story.
He also shows a rather interesting letter between himself and Etelka Herzen who you distinctly recall as being the woman that The Elves told you eloped with their elf friend and your ex party member Athos. Frightened to dally longer and afraid to be seen in public with the adventurers he makes quick his exit and promises to get word to the party later, once he knows the new location in which the ritual will take place.
As the plot thickens and with half the party off doing god only knows what Aldor and Gustav set off in a hurry to go and have words with young Heinrich Steinhager. On the way they become increasingly aware of being followed. The decision is made to head down a couple of alleyways to shake off any would-be pursuers. In hindsight, this proves to be not the wisest decision when they’re set upon by a couple of thugs who are clearly spoiling for trouble. Aldor seems determined that attack is the best form of defense as he immediately reaches for his whip with the intention of whipping these young ruffians into shape. Or at the very least ‘cracking one off’ and make a run for it in the confusion this wholly unexpected turn of events causes.
A few blows are thrown and a few blows are received mostly to Aldor’s person. If only he was as quick in battle as he is quick-tongued he’d be a formidable opponent indeed. But as more thugs arrive from behind to surround our party and Gustav is roughly manhandled from behind (and not in the good way that he might have paid Shequanda several shillings for :-P), it is clear that this battle is unlikely to go well. As Gustav struggles with a couple of his assailants and a third clubs him across the head he begins to loudly recite what he believes may well be his final swansong when Aldor yells ‘Help! Rape!’ at the top of his lungs. Bracing himself for the seemingly inevitable penetration that must follow Gustav is suddenly surprised to feel his attackers loosen their grip. And the somewhat confused voice of the cognitively challenged brute, says. “Rape? I didn’t sign up to no rape!” There are further murmurs of agreement as the consensus seems to be that as handsome as these chaps are the attackers have little interest in seeking out those particular rewards of the flesh. At least not from anyone sporting a handlebar mustache.
But moments later another voice is heard and at the sight of the watch coming to investigate the commotion, the assailants scarper. How’s that for alternative battle tactics? As the watch return having chased off our would-be attackers you’re relieved to find that it’s the very same two guards that you met while masquerading as ‘biologists’ investigating worm grubs in the Adel Ring. You have never been so happy to see the watch.
So the party escapes with wits and virtue (relatively intact) and presses on to see Heinrich Steinhager. Drawing a blank at his home the gardener tells you that he’s at work so you head to the Steinhager offices. Once there you meet the younger Steinhager who seems most interested in stories of his elder brother’s transgressions. With every damning accusation, his eyes light up and it’s clear there’s no brotherly love in the Steinhager family. At one point, he even suggests that he will reward the adventurers handsomely if Franz Steinhager were to meet some unfortunate end at the hands of the PCs.
While loath to actually kill anyone the party do discuss a plan that involves bringing down Steinhager with Heinrich’s help and in passing it’s noted that ‘were Franz to somehow accidentally meet his end then that would be lamentable but perhaps unavoidable’. And so the meeting draws to a close with a somewhat dubious plan formed with a character of questionable nature and morals to bring down a group of powerful but morally bankrupt high ranking members of Bogenhafen’s elite. And how far could this Heinrich Steinhager truly be trusted?
As Gustav weighed up this question his thoughts turned to estimating the weight of said Heinrich. He was a portly gentleman and our bearded Dilettante doubted whether anyone but his recently departed Ogre friend Smof could either trust or throw this chap very far at all.