Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Session Thirty: The Pardoner's Tale

The Assailant Escapes

Andre informs the figure that there are two ways out of this particular engagement—they can talk, or they can die. The figure chooses to take a third option, vaulting off of the privy to the roof of a nearby building. Andre gets in a lucky blow as the figure retreats, grievously wounding them in the arm.

The company converges on the building. As Maurice wings the figure with another arrow and several of the others lob rocks, Andre makes a second desperate leap after the figure. He lands safely on the other building, but the figure nimbly dodges out of the way of his repeated sword blows. Andre watches in horror and surprise as the figure retreats to the opposite edge of the roof and swan dives off the building.

Andre calls out, alerting the others, and the company converges on the alley on the other side of the building. Garnier just catches sight of the figure descending a staircase to below the level of the street. Sabina bravely—and somewhat recklessly—follows, only to find that the area at the bottom of the steps is both pitch black and an intersection of several tunnels. She sees no sign of the figure and breaks off the chase, but not before picking up a curious, blood-spattered piece of parchment from the floor of the tunnel.

The company convenes, and Pierre reads the note. It appears to be written by someone representing “Chaos Undivided,” who has asked someone to deal with the “Cult of the Stranger”. The writer asks the recipient to specifically target Renee, Sir Henri, and Maurice. The company are quite baffled by the letter. They don’t understand why they are referred to as a cult, or why the three named in the letter are of particular importance to the forces of  Chaos. Magnus and Garnier, who remember Maurice’s mutation in the forest near Berjols, quietly keep their own counsel.

The Mysterious Letter

The Party Resumes

The company returns to the King’s Arms, where the mood has dampened a bit. Magnus soon gets the party going again with a few rousing drinking games. Several of the company notice that two men—presumably other guests of the inn—are now sitting in the common room. Though they seem to enjoy witnessing the pilgrimage’s revelry, they do not themselves participate.

A well-dressed woman comes down the stairs and, after a moment, approaches Pierre. She introduces herself as Anastasia, originally from Kislev but most recently from Altdorf. She tells Pierre that she overheard the altercation in the street and, after making sure everyone in the company is all right, asks if she can speak to whomever in the company owns the pistol.

Pierre says that he can make introductions, but suggests that Anastasia fetch her pistol, so that she can show it off. Anastasia agrees and goes upstairs, pausing to speak to the two men on the sidelines. This gives Pierre a few moments to give Sabina the heads up that a stranger wants to talk to her about her firearm.

Anastasia returns with a wooden box that is lined with velvet and holds a very fine Imperial pistol. Moments after introductions are made by Pierre, Frieda approaches Sabina,  but sees that she is otherwise engaged and quickly departs. This is noticed by Sir Henri, who suspects that Frieda knows Anastasia or her men. Fearing that this is yet another group from Altdorf who are after Frieda, Sir Henri takes her aside to talk to her.

Anastasia of Kislev

Over beers, Frieda insists that she has no idea who Anastasia or her companions are. Her obvious embarrassment and flushed cheeks convince Sir Henri that something must be amiss, at the very least. He questions Frieda a bit more intently, but she continues to answer in the negative. Concerned and discomfited, he decides to give up his investigations, for now.

Meanwhile, Anastasia and Sabina have a very deep and technical discussion about the use and quirks of modern firearms. Anastasia mocks the knights of Bretonnia—who can easily be dispatched by firearms of sufficient power—as well as the country’s backward technological and scientific practices. Anastasia soon takes her leave, leaving Sabina to realize that, despite the long conversation, she knows almost nothing about Anastasia or what she’s doing in Carcassonne.

At this point, Pierre, who also noticed Frieda’s previous discomfort, asks her if she’s all right. Frieda says yes and that she apologizes, as she saw that Pierre and Sabina were in a conversation with Anastasia and did not want to interrupt. Sabina then reminds Frieda that she wanted to say something prior to the altercation with the mysterious figure. Frieda nervously buys them both beers, takes a large gulp of hers, and then, very haltingly, asks if she and Sabina are, “the friends? You know, the good friends? The girl friends? Yes?”

Sabina, who has been secretly harboring feelings for Frieda for quite a while now, replies in the affirmative. Which causes Frieda to turn bright red, giggle in terror, and run off to resume drinking with Sir Henri.

A Night and a Morning

Sir Henri, convinced that the company is in danger, creates a watch rotation consisting of himself, Jim, and Jules. The three men take turns staying awake in the common area of the King’s Arms. Fortunately, there is no mischief throughout the night. The company and the pilgrimage awaken at dawn the next day, slightly hungover, but refreshed.

Andre, who has a treasure map burning a hole in his pocket, arrives in the common room first. He notices that Anastasia’s men are seated at a table by the hearth, talking quietly.

Andre passes the innkeeper a few crown and asks him to prepare a lavish breakfast for the others. He then goes upstairs and invites the others down for a morning meal. In the midst of this meal, he slams his map down in the center of the table and announces that the company are going to find this treasure today!

The company studies the map. Frieda and Pierre are asked to read the words penned around the map’s edge, only to be informed that it is some kind of cypher. Pierre takes a few minutes and is eventually able to decode the words.

Andre's Map


This prompts Andre to go back over to the innkeeper and ask him for the location of Giles’ Tower. The innkeeper professes that he has been asked that question quite a lot, recently, and that he doesn’t know the answer. He says that there are many towers that are a part of Colmar’s walls, and if they did once have names, no one living knows them anymore. He suggests that Andre visit the Temple of Verena, as they have numerous historical documents about the town and may have the answer.

Andre and several others of the company notice that the two men at the hearth have stopped their conversation and are intently listening to Andre and the innkeeper. The company only becomes more suspicious when the two men pay for their meals and quickly head upstairs. Jules volunteers to follow them and see what they’re up to. He soon returns, and tells the company that the two men talked to Anastasia. He couldn’t make out all of the words, but he heard enough to suspect that they, too, were in town looking for the treasure.

Setting Out

A short time later, Henri the innkeeper and the pilgrims make their way to the common room. Henri informs the assemblage that Colmar is famed as the final resting place of Saint Bevta, a very rare dwarven saint in the service of the Lady. He then relates Saint Bevta’s miracle, in which she is reputed to have built the defensive wall around Colmar in but a single night, thereby saving it from an advancing army intent on despoiling it. The pilgrims and the company all agree that they would like to visit the shrine, and Henri gets directions from the innkeeper. As fortune would have it, it is on the opposite side of the square from the Temple of Verena.

Magnus says that he will not be traveling to the temple or the shrine. Instead, he wishes to go to Colmar’s central park and see if he can hire some men-at-arms. Jim is volunteered to help Magnus with this, while Jules opts to stay behind and keep tabs on Anastasia and her men.

Painting of Saint Betva Kletch

A Public Fistfight

Magnus sets himself up near a fountain in Colmar’s park, and announces that he is looking for sturdy men to serve him. He promises an easy tour of duty as pilgrimage guards before retiring to live in luxury in Maisy. The rest of the company, who have stopped to enjoy the park, listen to Magnus’ sales pitch from a respectful distance.

Magnus attracts the attention of several interested locals, as well as two men who ask him questions in thick, Reikspieler accents. Magnus gets a good feeling from the two men, and feels confident that he is about to get his first two recruits.

But then.

A large, Reikspieler man, who is described by various members of the company as, “being all neck,” “looking like a thumb on a torso,” and similar somewhat unflattering terms, comes up and begins shouting at the two men. They converse in the Imperial tongue before the man rounds on Magnus. He claims that the two men are laborers in his employ, and that they are not for hire. The man, whose name is Otto, is rude and insulting, and Magnus happily baits him. Through their escalating argument, Magnus learns that Otto pays his men very poorly and does not treat them very well. Otto, for his part, continues to insult Magnus in Reikspieler.

Otto "The Thumb"

“They are not for hire, Schweinhund! Now take yourself away from here before I get angry!”

“I don’t know what a Schweinhund is, but if you call me that one more time, I’ll…”

“You’ll what, Schweinhund? Strike at me with your tiny baby hands?

Magnus suckerpunches Otto.

This leads to rather savage brawl by the park’s main fountain, with the company looking on from a distance. Andre places bets. Garnier takes those bets. Sir Henri tries very hard not to allow himself to get involved. Sabina, realizing that the situation is both dangerous and an opportunity, takes Frieda by the hand and leads her to safety. Frieda obligingly goes.

Moments later, the town guard shows up, blowing whistles and ordering the men to stand down. Otto’s men flee the scene. Otto tries to follow after them, only to be body tackled by Magnus. Magnus then quickly ingratiates himself with the guards, who proceed to arrest Otto. Otto protests that “it takes two people to fight, and we were both fighting, so arrest him to, ja?”

The guards, however, aren’t having it, and Otto is carted off to jail.

After the fistfight, Magnus finds that he has a lot more people interested in serving underneath him. He and Jim conduct interviews as the rest of the company departs.

The Shrine of Betva

The rest of the company reaches the square upon which stands the Temple of Verena and the Shrine of Betva. They notice that numerous children are playing in the square, many of whom possess toys of an unusual and highly technological nature.

Andre notices a stern, older woman dressed in vestments of the lady, who stands at the entrance to the shrine and shoots dagger eyes at the children. Andre introduces himself to her and asks if she can give him directions to Giles’ Tower. He is taken aback when the woman’s demeanor only worsens.

The woman tells Andre in no uncertain terms that she is disgusted with him and people like him and that she will not be doing anything at all to assist him in his quest to find whatever it is he will be looking for.

Garnier, having overheard the conversation, steps in and tells the woman that she ought to consider that a) they will leave Colmar once they find what they’re looking for and b) once they find what they’re looking for, all these other ruffians will stop coming to Colmar. The woman concedes both points and directs them to one of the towers in the southeast part of the town wall. She says that there should be a dedication plaque there which names some of the towers.

Andre thanks the woman. As he turns to depart, he sees a small girl playing with a toy that looks like a tiny ship on wheels.

An Unpleasant Shrine Guardian

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