In which the long hunt for Etelka Herzen, the Witch of Grissenwald, comes to an end.
The night before Wednesday, June 27th, 2512 (January 8th, 2020)
Preparing the night attack
Having resolved to try to capture Etelka Herzen during the night, Aenlinn, Marike, Courage and Wernhart stayed in their bedroom until all was dark and quiet in the Jolly Salmon inn, then waited for a bit more before Wernhart went outside to recon. Cirina, one of Etelka’s mercenaries, was standing guard outside the stable, and she’d also put up a couple of hooded lanterns lighting up the surrounding area but keeping herself and the stable doors in the dark.
The adjusted battle plan was to start by taking out Cirina and examining Etelka’s cart. Aenlinn and Courage went outside – noticing Kaspar, the second mercenary, sitting on the stairs in the inn corridor, fully armed but apparently asleep – summoning Zima and Dmitri who had hidden nearby. Aenlinn managed do distract Cirina enough to attack and stab her with one of Marike’s sleeping darts, but she didn’t go down right away.
It turned out that Etelka Herzen herself, as well as Ernst Heidelmann and her valet Saskia Fuchs, were in the stables, and the cart appeared packed and ready to travel. Saskia shot Aenlinn with her pistol (only lightly wounding her), the shot making a deafening noise in the quiet night. Marike and Wernhart, realising things had begun, crept out of their room but encountered Kaspar, now very much awake.
While Aenlinn, Zima and Courage assaulted the stable – by this time Cirina had been wounded and gone down unconscious – and Dmitri stood ready to shoot at any enemy coming out into the open (and the light of the lanterns), Wernhart and Marike fought Kaspar in the corridor.
The fighting in the stable was hard, but after some initial setbacks – most spectacularly Zima’s pistol exploding – our friends eventually got the upper hand. Courage managed to drag Saskia out of the stable, allowing Dmitri to shoot her dead; Zima cut Ernst down just as he was trying to smother her with a sorcerous spell; and Aenlinn, dueling the still-cheerful Etelka, slowly pushed her back into a corner. Realising she was in a tight spot, Etelka threw an alchemical pastille into the fire of a torch, and the stable quickly started filling up with thick smoke. In the smoke and disarray she managed to slip past Aenlinn and Zima, got on her horse – already saddled – and rode out of the stable.
By then, however, Zima had managed to get outside, and both she and Dmitri stood ready to shoot as Etelka charged out of the smoke-filled stable on horseback. She was shot out of the saddle, dropping dead with an arrow through one lung.
Meanwhile, Kaspar had also been pushed back by Wernhart and Marike and retreated through an open window, but encountered the other adventurers and, realising he was the only one still fighting on his side, surrendered.
About this time the innkeeper, Ottilia Markwardt, came running out carrying an arquebus. “What’s going on here!??” she screamed upon seeing the bodies and the apparently (but not actually) burning stable. Marike and Aenlinn hurried to talk her down. She calmed down a bit upon realising her stable wasn’t actually on fire, and although she remained suspicious didn’t reject their explanation – that Etelka’s party were criminals wanted dead or alive, and had refused to come quietly – out of hand. After the adventurers promised to take away the bodies and their luggage, but leave her a cart and four horses to keep for her troubles, she agreed to let them leave without asking any more questions.
Meanwhile, Wernhart had seen to the wounded and fallen. Etelka, Ernst and Saskia were dead; Cirina was unconscious and had a badly fractured shinbone; while Kaspar, like a few of the adventurers, was only lightly wounded. After a quick round of first aid, Kaspar and Cirina were taken prisoner for the moment; Kaspar, at least, seemed cooperative and not particularly upset about the death of his employer.
They also loaded the contents of Etelka’s cart – chiefly what appeared to be a small alchemical field laboratory, including an oven and a tent, and a lead-lined chest presumably intended to store and transport the meteorite – on their boat before sailing south. At Kaspar’s insistence, they also brought his and Cirina’s horses – having three horses on deck wouldn’t work for long, but they could manage it for a short stretch before finding another solution.
In the small hours, the barge set sail south from Deudorf.
Notes (no spoilers)
At the start of this session, we went back and redid the end of last session due to some misunderstandings. The original end of Session 15 can be found in the GM’s notes, but it’s nothing special. 🙂