14 July 2007

Splitting Heirs: Session Twelve

Captain Scharf had marched 30 or so men, and Georg Bodendreck the landowner, down to the southlands of the Barony with a view to determining the nature of, and if possible dealing with, the “siege” that Gunter’s brief note had said was in progress.

Camping overnight and then meeting up with some of the local Kupfers in the morning had been the plan, but when his local aid was slow to arrive Scharf took a couple of his more stealthy men and decided to reconnoitre the manor. He quickly determined that the besieging force was a mercenary company of Tileans – those same who had previously occupied Brunnenhing’s manor – and not a standing army in the service of Mörder as was feared. The house was breached, but seemed that Gunter was both alive and holding out; the attackers, however, seemed more interested in jeering and tormenting their prey than storming the house again and dragging him out.

Retreating back to the camp, to find the Kupfers had arrived, Scharf ordered a quiet march up to the manor, hoping to get as close as possible before being spotted. With albeit un-attentive lookouts placed on roofs of the side-buildings however the advancing force were seen before they got within earshot (or, arguably rifle-shot). Keen to avoid violence at least until numbers and advantages had been determined, Scharf stepped up to parlay.

He determined numbers, and that they were there purely for Gunter who, as he had told Pou earlier in the week, had sold their company a batch of faulty firearms, some of which had backfired and caused injury and death amongst their ranks. Protracted negotiations followed and Scharf began to think their beef was justified; he also reckoned that a professional mercenary outfit might be of use. As such he managed to negotiate their employ, telling them who Gunter was and how Pou might recompense financially and materially for his errors, and promising he would be hauled up by the law. All this in addition to payment from the treasury – which they had taken from Werner before now, though were not doing so at this time.

Details of non-hostilities sorted, Scharf walked in, made himself known to Gunter, and persuaded him to open up – he and some house staff were barricaded in the master bedroom. Once inside, Scharf promptly arrested Gunter, regrouped his men and led them, plus the company of mercenaries, northward back toward Himmelfeuer.

Later that evening as they made camp for the night, one of the Kupfers who had been at the manor with them rode up in haste with news that the dispersing militiamen had been attacked by “bandits in the woods” as they were returning to their homes and villages. Figuring this was a mugging gone wrong by the group Scharf knew to be active in the region, he decided that they would not investigate further at this time, prioritising the trip back to Himmelfeuer and dealing with Gunter.

Meanwhile in Drachenmalstein the morning brought a renewed interrogation of the captive von Schicksal, and with it a surprising enlightenment. He had been talking across the cell block with Father Cantati during the night and heard the strong suspicion that Mörder was, or was working for, a vampire. This spooked the imprisoned noble and brought forth his confession – not for the deaths of the monks, but for his reasons for being in the Barony. He had been promised financial support and influential backing by Duke Mörder in the setting up of his own little principality should he manage to persuade Josephine – the Baron’s Daughter – to wed him. Such a union would have handed Mörder the von Feuerwaffen territory on a plate, an outcome that mattered not to von Schicksal until he had cause to doubt his backer’s nature. A pious man, von Schicksal was horrified at the thought of having aided a vampire and pledged to help all he could – once recovered from the beating Jurgen had given him – if Lady FitzCarstein would allow it. Whilst in the cellblock, the Lady spoke briefly to Cantati, too – his final report on the movements of vampires in the Badlands was nearing completion and he wanted to assure her of its readiness.

Away from the dungeons, Helena had written to Pou de Burns in order to arrange a purchase of gunpowder and other munitions for use in the defence of Bardslaughter and Drachenmalstein; the shipment would come north in a caravan also carrying Gerhardt von Feuerwaffen – the Baron’s somewhat addled brother (whom the Lady was planning to pass off as the Baron to all she could). She also had time to have a private chat with her handmaiden, Jarla, about the Baron’s decision to call in the Templars and what it might mean for Josephine – whom they believed to have latent “talent” – and those like her who might similarly be blessed; those like Jarla, and Roderick’s sister Anne, an unusually young and gifted midwife who had joined her brother in the Lady’s household. The Lady decided it would benefit these souls – and the image of herself and her castle – if they were at least to appear as a convent of Verena before the eyes of the arriving Witch Hunters and so she set Jarla on the task of spreading the word, searching out such individuals and bringing them under their wing.

Pou, meanwhile, remained resident in Himmelfeuer, hand-picking the Kupfers for the Baron’s castle guard and overseeing their training as an official militia. He also liaised with Herbert and Cornelia over the wedding plans, whilst trying on the sly to intimate that Jonn and Cornelia would make a nice couple.

OK, it seems from my memory and notes that Pou did not do a lot this time out; probably true, but I’m sure he was more involved than that short paragraph intimates. Nevertheless the outcome of Scharf’s excursion set things up for a possible tense encounter between him and Pou, and more-so for Jonn’s re-appearance.

The game hit a slow point in the last few sessions – a bit like the calm before the storm. I decided between this session and the next that resolutions and an end point would come fairly soon, with the goal to have the game end (at least for this run) as war with the south kicked off. There are obviously still a fair number of things to be resolved and to work their way out before that can happen, but I am confident that most of these can be woven into a fitting conclusion, whilst leaving enough of interest open so that if we as a group were to decide to revisit it in future, we could do so with ease.

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