In which the town of Wittgendorf looks to its uncertain new future, and our friends set sail for their next adventure.
Tuesday, July 3rd, 2512 (June 10th, 2020)
The sack of Castle Wittgenstein
By now, the Inner Bailey of Castle Wittgenstein was a smoking stack of rubble below what was left of the rock it had stood on. Somewhere in the huge pile of rocks was the warpstone meteorite, hopefully still sealed in its box. The sun was rising and the rain had finally stopped.
In the Outer Bailey, the adventurers and Siegrid gathered their bearings. Now that the rain had stopped, the outlaws were carrying the loot taken from the outer bailey into the courtyard. Beside the garrison’s generous stores of food and beer there were some nine or ten horses and, not least, a very well-stocked armoury. Hilde Müller was holding on to her sack of jewelry and other precious objects looted from the Wittgensteins’ chambers in the Inner Bailey.
The survivors of the castle staff – the kitchen staff and groom from the Outer Bailey, a few servants from the Inner Bailey who had managed to flee the crumbling castle, and a handful of surviving guards – where gathered together, disarmed and under guard. The inner castle servants in particular were a sad sight; they all bore more or less visible mutations – one was abnormally thin, another had bird-like feet, and so on.
Siegrid declared she was setting them free to go wherever they wanted – “we’re finished with House Wittgenstein, and enough people have died for them” – but they had to leave the area; they were not welcome in Wittgendorf. Wernhart smuggled the cockroach-man who was Imperial Baron Lothar von Wittgenstein in among the surviving servants, hoping one of them would take care of him. He left with the others for unknown destinies.
Harjolf Skoll the Chaos-warrior and Krakatz the bull-man were nowhere to be seen. The adventurers thought they had also made it over the bridges, but no one was certain. If so, they had already made off.
Siegrid sent a few men down to Wittgendorf to fetch more carts so they could bring all the loot. She noted with grim satisfaction that the looted weapons and armours – swords, shields, crossbows, breastplates, gauntlets and helmets – would be enough to fully equip over 50 people from scratch if necessary. Castle or no castle, the people of Wittgendorf weren’t going to be defenseless.
The triumphant return
Before leaving, the outlaws and adventurers set the outer bailey on fire; even without the inner bailey it would be a strong fortress and Siegrid would prefer no one else to claim it. As the flames and smoke rose to the morning sky the heavily laden party returned to Wittgendorf.
Back in town, Siegrid had the townspeople gathered in the square and gave a brief speech, declaring that House Wittgenstein was destroyed, their castle burned and their tyranny at an end. She called a town assembly and council for the next morning – “I know one thing: our troubles are far from over”; for tonight, she instructed the innkeeper Hermine Minzel to organize a victory feast with the food and beer taken from the castle.
After people had begun to disperse, Siegrid came back to thank the adventurers once more. She explained she was worried about the damage already done by the “stardust” to the land and people, and she was far from sure it would even be possible to go back to some kind of normal living here. And if it was, surely other lords would come to try to claim the land.
The adventurers told her about the letter they found, implying that Jungfrau Margrethe’s older brother Gotthard was alive and well and living in Middenheim. Siegrid grimly replied that in that case, she hoped he would never be heard from.
Regrouping and recuperation
Finally returning to their hidden boat, the adventurers found things had been eventful there as well. The night before, Nanker’s gang had found and attacked the cave – outnumbered seven or eight to two, Courage and Said could only flee – on their way to the castle, and they had carried off the still-bound Etelka Herzen. The adventurers suspected they were already heading for Middenheim and the Magister Magistri with her.
They spent the rest of the day resting and going over the documents found in the castle.
- Gotthard’s letter to Margrethe mentioned being commissioned by the “Inner Circle” to organize something important during the carnival in Middenheim. Wernhart knew the annual Carnival moved around a bit but usually happened in early autumn; he thought it was going to be in September this year. The letter also mentioned “Our Lord granter of desires”, the same phrase seen scrawled in the chapel.
- The journal of Dagmar von Wittgenstein, and the books she referred to, suggested that the Work she wanted to create was to create an artificial creature, neither alive nor dead and able to shapeshift, and that the Faceless they saw was Margrethe’s successful completion of the experiment.
The adventurers went over what leads they had to follow up on.
Middenheim. Several clues seemed to point there:
- Gotthard von Wittgenstein seems to live there and has some, presumably wicked, plan for the Carnival this autumn.
- The mysterious Magister Magistri, who was the patron of both Esther Lieberung and Nanker, is also apparently based in Middenheim. The M. M., too, apparently has some big scheme going on, according to Esther’s letters.
- They have a private address to Esther Lieberung in Middenheim, which she trusted to Etelka in one of her letters.
- If Nanker’s crew survived – and they must assume they did – they’re probably heading for Middenheim now. And with Etelka as their prisoner, no less.
Marike’s father? They’d also picked up some clues on Samuel Heintz, the suspected father of Marike and Esther Lieberung.
- According to Lothar, he was hired by the Wittgensteins for two periods some 30 years ago but was fired after getting caught having an affair with Baroness Ingrid. Esther was apparently their bastard daughter.
- Ingrid’s locket with miniature portraits of Samuel and Esther.
- It seems Samuel was the cult leader in Marike’s and Dmitri’s vision in the chapel.
- One of Esther’s letters implied that she had been in touch with her father but was long estranged (or possibly just that he was dead).
- One major question mark was whether Marike’s family knows anything about Samuel. She had never been told about her, as far as she knew unknown, father. Her family lives at Havenblast, some way south of Nuln – it’s a detour, but they’re closer to it now than they might be for a long time.
The signal tower. They now have all the keys needed to open the final door in the underground observatory under the signal tower near Bogenhafen.
After some arguing the adventurers agreed on a plan:
- Zima and Dmitri will head north to try to pick up Nanker’s trail and follow them. They’ll report their progress by leaving letters with the adventurers’ contacts in Kemperbad, Altdorf and Steinbrück.
- The rest of the crew will first sail to Nuln. While Said gets the boat repaired, the others will continue to Havenblast to visit Marike’s family. After this, they’ll go to Middenheim to follow up on those leads, with detours to visit the signal tower near Bogenhafen and Professor Bletzen in Steinbrück.
The victory feast
In the evening they sailed back to Wittgendorf to attend the victory feast. The food was hardly luxurious, and the century-old wine Hilde had grabbed from the wine cellar had soured into vinegar, but the beer was strong and good. Wernhart and Aenlinn in particular drank long and hard.
During the evening they saw Hilde trying to comfort poor Emrer, whose husband Wilhelm was killed in the castle (twice over, perhaps…). Emrer’s baby, who the adventurers tried to help a few days earlier, had apparently also died in the meantime. Wernhart kept well away.
Instead he sought out Leonora Schwarz, the Imperial inspector they rescued from the Wittgenstein dungeons, and tried to convince her to help the townspeople. In Wernhart’s opinion, it would probably be best to have the whole population evacuated to some healthier place.
Doctor Giraud wasn’t seen anywhere; he turned out to have fled Wittgendorf the same day.
Wednesday, July 4th
In the morning, the townspeople held their assembly in the square. After long and chaotic discussions they agreed to elect a temporary council to find out whether some sort of normal life can be returned to in Wittgendorf, or what else to do if not. Siegrid, Hermine Minzel the innkeeper and Hilde’s grandfather Hans Müller were among the elders elected to the council.
The Imperial inspector Leonora Schwarz declared her intention to go to Kemperbad and report to the Imperial Plenipotentiary, Otto von Boormann. Grateful for being rescued, Schwarz agreed not to mention the role of the adventurers nor the outlaws in the sudden and mysterious destruction of the castle. Even so, Siegrid sent one of her people along with her to speak directly for the Wittgendorfers.
Siegrid told the adventurers that Wittgendorf could ask no more of them, but she wanted to beg a final favour: help to sell off the valuables looted from the castle. First and foremost, the townspeople were in acute need of food, and with the highly uncertain future it might well be worth having your wealth in coin rather than in a few precious pieces of jewelry.
As compensation, she offered the adventurers to take whatever they needed from the loot of the Outer Bailey – armour, weapons, horses – as well as covering their repairs from the proceeds of the sales. They were also entitled to a share in the loot of jewelry, but the adventurers nobly decided not to claim this, given the much greater need of the villagers.
The adventurers agreed to make a quick expedition to Grissenwald to buy food for a fraction of the treasure, return with that to Wittgendorf and then sell off more of the valuables in Nuln whilst getting their boat repaired.
Zimi and Dmitri each got a horse from the castle and rode off north. The rest of the crew boarded their badly burned but (barely) sailable boat and set sail for Grissenwald and, eventually, new adventures.
END OF SEASON 2: DEATH ON THE REIK