Cast of Characters:
Ulrich [Ryan] – Aspiring healer
Garstred [Stevie] – Thug looking for a score
Heinrich [Davy] – Burgher
Red [Ken] – Protector of ladies of the evening
Alexander [Keegan] – former coachman and aspiring guard
Markus [Hank] – Student of life
Siegfried [Justin] – Litigant
Gilda [Julie] – collector of debts
Felix [Marc] – puppeteer extraordinaire
There was a note waiting for Ulrich when he entered the Green Door Inn. It read something to the effect of “You should not be investigating me, but investigating your patron.” It was signed with a “V”. Assuming the writer was the dancer Visha, Ulrich had no intention to stop investigating her, but would look into the rake who hired him, Hudapon. Pocketing the missive, Ulrich left the tavern before most of his compatriots were awake.
Ulrich stopped by his colleague’s shop the barber/surgeon, Rolph, to see how his new friend was doing. Rolph was shaving a customer and seemed in fair health – at least that was what he claimed. “The amazing benefits of a good bleeding,” Rolph had assured him. Rolph asked him if he had been by the Temple of Shallya and Ulrich promised that was his next stop. Ulrich related to Rolph that he had seen a dog killed with three arrows sticking out of it near a sewer grate and wondered if he had an explanation, but Rolph had no insights.
Ulrich next went to the Shallyan Temple near the Burned Over District. The Burned Over District was a section of the city slums that had been consumed by a fire nearly three years ago. Entrance into the District was forbidden by law. As Ulrich approached the temple, one of the guards gave him the traditional blessing of Shallya as a greeting, but the other belched and then vomited an enormous amount. Immediately concerned, Ulrich helped the young man into the temple.
Ulrich made his way into the temple with the sick guard in tow and met the mother superior. He shared his concerns about a possible disease outbreak and offered to help around the temple. The mother superior thanked him, but warned him that the physicians’ guild did not look kindly upon those who associated with the temple. Ulrich thanked her for the warning, but promised to volunteer time a couple times per week to the temple.
Ulrich headed to the dirty, little cabaret to try and gather more information about Visha.
Garstred had heard the rumors – His Most High Imperial Justice Ignatius Sundler had acquired an amazing piece of art, a painting called Ranald’s Apotheosis. The painting allegedly depicted an event from legend in which Ranald tricked Shallya into granting him divinity. Garstred knew two things upon hearing this rumor: First, he hated Judge Sundler, and second, this sounded like a big score. The problem with a piece of art though was you needed a buyer. Garstred thought he might just have the perfect solution for that though.
It took some doing, but Garstred was able to get a sit-down with Perry Herzlos of the Herzlos gang. Perry was something of a rarity in the Dregs – a thief with honor. More importantly, Garstred knew he was a higher up in the cult of Ranald. Just as he suspected, Herzlos was willing to pay for the painting – 300 gold crowns. Garstred was a little disappointed in the price, but he knew he was in no place to negotiate. That would come when he actually got the painting.
Checking in with her girls is just something Red did as a routine habit these days. When the girls needed a shoulder to cry on or even something more serious, Red was there for them. One of her girls, Gerty, seemed really shaken by something. She did not want to share what happened to her, but as Red usually did, she got Gerty to tell her everything.
Gerty related that she had heard a very strange story from an unusual customer. The customer was an ancient dwarf named Snorri who said he knew of a haunted house. The huge house was located in the Burned Over District. He said the house was the manor of the great wizard Ludovicus. Snorri found a secret door into the manor, intending to loot the residence.
Snorri got spooked though and fled from the residence. When he emerged, he found himself in an intact Burned Over District that he thought was from some 200 years earlier. A couple of minutes later the scene faded and Snorri found himself back in the present day Burned Over District. Oddly, the manor house seemed to be gone as well. Snorri admitted he wished he could have continued exploring the place, because he thought there must have been valuable artifacts in the house.
Red knew Gerty was originally from the Burned Over District. Red asked if she remembered the manor house and where it was. Gerty replied that she did and drew Red a map.
The idea of exploring the haunted manor house intrigued Red and she took the information back to the group at the Green Door Inn.
Alexander was sick of making pennies a day. He also wanted a more stable income. Alexander left the Dregs and headed for the nicer parts of the city. He discovered a help wanted poster at a city guard house. Alexander went into the guard house and learned the job involved clearing sewer blockages and only paid four shillings per day. Despondent, Alexander told the sergeant he was seeking employment as a guard. Alexander was referred to the headquarters in the Palace District.
Siegfried needed money and he knew where to get it. Early in the morning he headed to the Upper Commercial district and the mercantile courts. When Siegfried arrived near the courts he learned that the courts were scheduled to be closed for the last half of the week. No reason was given for the closure, it was only known that Judge Sundler had mandated the closings.
Now, time was the essence, if Siegfried was going to make a payday he had to find a client quickly. Advertising his availability as a litigant he earned a couple of coins giving advice, but no steady case or client. As Siegfried continued to busk his law expertise there was a commotion at the courthouse. Litigants, clients, and others were in an uproar – they were being pushed out of the courtroom as a crier announced that all courts in the city were closed for the week.
Confusion abounded around the courts as people tried to figure out why the courts had been suddenly closed. Some of the courts were even in the midst of trials when the closure order came down. Some in the crowd suggested the uproar was somehow related to the trouble at the docks. Apparently, a riot had flared up amongst the stevedores and dock workers.
Felix and Heinrich
After Garstred told the group at the Green Door Inn about the bounty on Judge Sundler’s painting Felix immediately volunteered to go scout the Judge’s house. Heinrich volunteered to go with Felix.
The pair set off for the upper class neighborhood where the Judge’s townhouse was located. They discovered the townhouse had a pair of guards stationed at the frontdoor. Felix made a wide circumference around the townhouse and noticed numerous windows. Felix also noted a large pin oak tree that grew right next to the townhouse with large branches extending near a window.
The oak proved far too much of a temptation for Felix. “I’m going into the house,” Felix stated. “Watch the guards. If they move into the house make a noise.”
“What kind of noise?” Heinrich asked.
“Something weird. Something out of place,” Felix replied.
Felix disappeared into the darkness and then Heinrich spotted him climbing the oak tree next to the Judge’s manor house. Felix slipped into a second floor window. Felix quickly scouted around the upper story and found a library and a master bedroom. In the library he pocketed a number of pieces of correspondence. In the master bedroom he rooted through a trunk in the room and pocketed a number of pouches. Felix then heard a loud sound outside and shouting of the guards below.
Heinrich thought Felix had been inside for too long. He grew restless. He decided he had to go see what was going on. Heinrich made his way over to the large oak and began scaling the tree. Half way up the oak, Heinrich slipped and fell. He hit the ground with an enormous racket and sprained his ankle. Realizing his error, Heinrich let out a yelp and began limping away from the house.
The guards at the front of the house quickly came to check on the noise. Seeing Heinrich limping away the guards gave chase.
Meanwhile, Felix realized the house had been roused by the sudden loud noise. He scrambled back to the window and scurried back down the tree. Felix watched as two of the house guards ran ahead chasing someone in the dark. Felix had a pretty good idea of who they were chasing. He witnessed Heinrich getting hit by a crossbow bolt and then another guard rushing up and knocking Heinrich unconscious. They began tying the unconscious Heinrich up.
Felix scaled a nearby house and threw a pair of knives at the guards. Having gained the guards’ attention, Felix led the guards on a mad chase through the neighborhood. Losing the guards, Felix circled around to find Heinrich. Just as he was about to help his downed friend the guards approached.
Felix made a gamble. “They went that way!” he yelled. The guards confused for a moment hesitated. “I’ll pay you to get him,” Felix offered the pair a couple of gold each and they dashed off again in pursuit.
He helped the now conscious Heinrich escape from the area and they headed back to the Dregs.
While Heinrich was getting his wounds tended by Ulrich, Felix looked through the bags he had stolen from the Judge’s house. He found a stash of gold, some jewelry, and some strange letters. The letters was a correspondence between the Judge and a person named Doctor K. Doctor K was asking things like – “how is the cure doing”, “is the cure getting bigger”, and “are you taking care of the cure.” None of it made any sense.
The Physicians’ Guild
Ulrich decided to join the city’s physician’s guild. He made his way to the University district and found the physician’s guild. He paid his dues and then inquired about a possible outbreak of a disease that had as one symptom lots of vomiting. The clerk at first could not think of any such reports, but another person in the office had recalled a couple of recent reports matching those symptoms. A Doctor K had reported a similar outbreak of disease amongst a couple of his clients. Ulrich thanked them and left with his new physician’s license in hand.
While Heinrich was convalescing from his injuries the group was enjoying a meal at the second table when Pol approached. Pol had hired the group earlier to protect his boss’s warehouse from an arsonist attack. Pol related that a new group was moving in on some of his boss’s territory. He needed the group to “send a message” to this new gang of invaders.
The group made their way to the Silver Path road market area. They interviewed a local shopkeeper and learned that a new group of thugs and their pet lizard had been terrorizing local business people. They also learned the gang was due back to make their collections that afternoon.
It did not take long for the trio and their pet to arrive and the group was alerted to their presence by the cries of a pedlar being thrown around an alley.
One of the thugs yelled, “You gotta’ pay!”
“Hey! Knock it off!” Red yelled at the thugs.
“You want some of this?” the thug retorted.
“Yeah!” Alexander replied and let loose with his blunderbuss. BOOM! Two of the thugs were in the path of the shrapnel and were wounded. The rest of the group charged to the attack. One of the thugs seriously injured Alexander and the still-wounded Heinrich helped Alexander away from the melee. The thugs quickly learned they were no match for the group. It was too late for the gangsters though – two were killed and two were knocked unconscious.
The still-living thugs were bound and delivered to Pol. The delighted Pol paid the group and took the two constrained gangsters away.
Ulrich spotted Hudapon, the rake who had hired him to follow Visha home, in the Green Door Inn. He learned that there was a rumor that Visha would perform at the Green Door Inn that evening. Ulrich alerted Garstred and they took up positions outside the tavern. A short time later the simple pipe and drum music began and Visha appeared and gave her hypnotic performance. While she performed, one of Red’s friends whispered in her ear, “Do you know who you friends are working for?” She nodded towards Hudapon. Red admitted that she did not know. “His last name is Hayes.” Red shrugged indicating she did not know the significance of the last name. “He is the nephew of Otto Von Hayes the Witchhunter!” Red raised her eyebrow at this revelation.
Visha finished her dance and quickly exited the inn. She came out through the back door and passed Garstred’s position. Garstred tried to hail her, but she fled into the darkness. Garstred gave chase and although she eluded him, he was fairly certain of the neighborhood where she disappeared.
The Haunted House
Red could not shake the story about the haunted manor house of the wizard in the Burned over District. She had made efforts to find Snorri, because he was one of Gerty’s regular customers, but had been unsuccessful. As Red continued to talk about the manor the group decided they would sneak into the Burned Over District and try to find the manor house. Alexander and Heinrich were still too injured to go, but the remaining seven agreed to go.
Remarkably, even in the dark night the group found the remains of a burned manor house that they believed had to be the manor house of Ludovicus. They began to explore the ruins and found an inner closet area that had most of the walls undamaged by fire. In this inner room they discovered a concealed panel. Beyond the panel was a tunnel leading away. It was not clear how long the tunnel was, but it seemed impossible that this long tunnel was contained in the ruins.
The group headed down the narrow tunnel. The tunnel terminated in another panel and beyond it they found a storage room. There was absolutely no evidence of fire or smoke damage. There was a single door leading out of the store room. The door led to another dusty room. This room was full of sitting furniture – chairs, a couple of sofas, and a small covered table. Along one wall was a painting depicting a beastman slaughtering two women.
As the group approached the painting, blood spurted from the women’s mortal wounds and splashed out of the painting catching Markus and Siegfried in the eyes. Simultaneously, the massive beastmen stepped out of the picture and attacked the group! The combat was very lopsided. Though the beastman was a mighty foe he had no chance against the combined arms of the adventurers. As the beastman died it opened its mouth in a silent howl and faded away in a green mist. When Red looked up she noticed the painting the beastman had emerged from was gone as well.
Another door left out of the room into a large hallway. They quickly realized that they had been in the area before – it was consistent with the ruin they had been exploring just a half hour earlier. Except, there was no sign of fire damage, the roof was intact, and although dusty appeared to be whole. In the hallway ahead there was a strange rune on the hallway floor. Markus recognized that the rune was a magical ward of some sort. Garstred decided to walk directly across the rune.
The hallway was suddenly filled with a misty fog and as the fog cleared the group found them standing in the ruined streets of the Burned Over District again. Befuddled, the group tried to find access back into the manor, but there was no longer a secret compartment in the inner closet. The bewildered group headed back to the Green Door Inn.