The Monster With No Name
Ubersreik.jpg
Summer in Ubersreik 2513, by Elric Heinig

"Spring was late. A tough and wet winter prevented the planting of crops until late in the year, testing the already limited foodstores of Ubersreik. The mass-exodus of farmers in Lady’s Vale in the wake of unhindered greenskin raids further compounded the issue, and with growing discontent murmurings of famine were on everyone’s lips. To add to this came swarms of vermin; locusts, flies, mosquitos and rats, choking the poorer districts and infesting what little produce remained, in addition to the sudden explosion of Bronze Fever running rife among the less fortunate. The heat of the encroaching Summer coupled with the drizzling wet of the long Winter had produced an oppressive, sweltering haze the likes of which may be common in Tilea or Estalia but was entirely unwelcome in the Reikland. Resentment to foreigners such as Estalians, Tileans and Bretonnians reached a fervour-pitch with mass-mobs of hungry and angry Reiklanders forming against those of the south lands, driving many from the city. On the back of this came the murders, later known as the Sweet Killings, involving a collection of characters both fair and foul…"

-From the writings of Klaus Scherbe, Historian

"Hear-ye, hear-ye. From this day forth, as proclaimed by the honourable and noble General von Dabernick, any and all foreigners of the southern lands including Tilea, Estalia, Bretonnia, and the Border Princes, are ordered to submit to searches and medical inspections carried out by lawful members of the City Watch, State Army, and appointed Barber-Surgeons. Refusal of compliance will result in immediate expulsion from the city of Ubersreik without recompense or restitution."


'Treats from Araby'

As the dry heat washes over Ubersreik Ludolf becomes the latest to fall ill with Bronze Fever, taking up residence with Sister Erika at the Temple of Shallya. Some days later the newly formed 'Torchlight Investigations' receive their first case. A mysterious note and payment in strange currencies from across the known world raise red flags but bored and running low on coin the group agree to take the contract. The would-be employer, known only as 'M', implores the group to investigate a handful of seemingly unrelated deaths within the city.

The first is Sir Hugo, a Bretonnian knight who minds the Grail Chapel in the docks. Although word around the wine-houses of Morgenseite is that Sir Hugo is a coward who disgraced his family Luther speaks to the contrary, calling Sir Hugo an honourable man and assisting Sir Pierre in standing vigil over his body. Over the next few days as Luther assists the young knight in honouring his fallen brethren Malahan and Dieter investigate the seemingly natural causes leading to Sir Hugo's death. Although no sign of violence the old knight does have signs of abrasions on his gums and broken and bent fingernails that might indicate some sort of struggle. Malahan also finds a small waxpaper wrapper, an oddity that would be repeated at each of the crime scenes.

The second murder is that of a local Magistrate, Beatrix Francke. The general consensus of Francke shows her to be at the least corrupt, possibly criminal. The Bergermeister seemed to have been aware of this, shutting off her offices and hiring famed investigator Vitigus Lang from Altdorf to investigate the murder. The white marble town hall is locked to the group until silver changes hands but an attempt to view the Magistrates' body is blocked by a particularly diligent clerk at the Physician's Guild. Within her chambers Malahan finds another waxpaper wrapper, described in a strange note as a 'Treat from Araby'. There is little to find within her quarters except for a source for the treats, a man named 'Rudy' from the Cutler's Guild.

The final victims are a pair of Tilean nobles, the Agostini's. Apparently poisoned as part of a vendetta, the group find their estate in Morgenseite abandoned and stripped of valuables. The entire household had been killed and the town's guard had done little to stop the ransacking of the estate. With little remaining after the looters moved through, the group nevertheless find more of the waxen wrappers and a large collection of Tilean books. Elric gladly receives the books as part of his attempts to "class up" the Privateer and investigations by Luther in the marketplatz reveal that the wrappers do not belong to any sweet sold publicly in the city. A day's journey to Morr's Field, a city sized cemetery outside the city walls, ends in frustration as the group are again turned away from viewing the bodies of the deceased. The final point of inquiry for the group are the so-called 'Spaghetti Company', the Tilean mercenaries camped in the remains of the Altdorf army siegeworks. There they speak to Dio De Calco, a beast of a man with maxed moustaches whose carnal interest in Luther leads him to reveal that his company had travelled to Ubersreik to investigate the deaths of the Agostini's. They agree to share information with The Company in return to some share in gains and leave the camp with pockets full of Tilean sausage and bags of wine.

Although leads are scarce the group stay on the case, the obscure coinage provided easily paying for their services for a while longer. Among the Imperial Crowns are currency from Kislev, Araby, Tilea, Bretonnia. An antiques dealer confirms that some of the coins are even pre-Imperial and wonders at the group's source for the strange items. The payment also included some counterfeit currency, some currency from Norsca and even what appears to be gold and jade from the new world. Although pockets full the group can't help but wonder the nature of their mysterious employer.


'Helter Swelter'

The baking sun lingers over Ubersreik, barely a breath of wind stirring it's blue and yellow banners. In the summer swelter, the mere act of speaking seems to wring beads of sweat from the residents, so when three strangers enter Morgenseite, they face less than rigorous questioning. The adventurers have returned to the Agostini Manor to search payroll ledgers for the names of the slain householders. Though none are found, signs in one room do point to a lone survivor of the mass-poisoning. By chance, the family dog had eaten the dose intended for a Middenlander named Edgar, who was later seen speaking to a distraught Tilean woman in Ruggers Boarding House. While combing the inns and taverns of Teubrüke and Marktplaz for Edgar, the investigators hear talk of the escalating feud between the Metalworkers and the Cutlers Guilds. One is accused of selling battlefield scrap 'as new', while the other is said to use unreliable foreign metals from Araby. This troubles Dieter, who spends the evening re-examining the Agostini's ledgers. Confirming that book-keeping anomalies covered up the smuggling of 100 pounds of unknown material from warehouses in Tilea, his eyes drift to the mounted nautical charts on the common room wall. They draw a straight line from the Pirate Coast of Araby, to the Principato de Trantio, to the southern flows of the Reik and Teufel.

Angling to meet the Cutlers Guildmaster, Torchlight Investigations runs up against an immovable chamberlain. Rebuffed, they forge a letter insinuating the arrival of the famed investigator Vitigus Lang, enabling Ludolph to tail the servant to the guildmaster's suite. Rudi Schlau indifferently burns the letter, but within his office, the harsh fumes of the Lore of Metal are olfactible. Deep below the Guild, an elven smith is pouring Chamon into his forge. He seems to sense wild-magic in the air, forcing Ludolph to beat a hasty exit before he can get a look at the product. Their effort to infiltrate the Physicians guild is also deterred. While Dieter calculates a way to slip through a gap in the patrols, the building is stout and fortified, accessible only through a towertop rookery.

Though the search is going cold, Ubersreik continues to simmer. Even Malahan's leafy lookout offers little reprieve from the sun, though he has noted a steady stream of visitors being received by the Condottieri de Bologna. Out of idle interest, the heroes cross the cracked floodplain to the mercenary camp, where every scrap of shade is contested by sweltering sellswords. They are greeted once more by Dio Decalco, accoutred for full-body tanning. Ludolph escapes his lavish attention by engaging Prospero, the regiment's fortune-teller and 'lucky charm'. The owlish mystic has a whiff of suspect magic about him, skilfully discerning several facts about the current investigation. Warning that Torchlight's interest in the Cutlers Guild is wasted effort, he predicts that another victim will soon be found. Sure enough, Dieter's bribery of Dutymaster Skellige pays dividends that evening, as word reaches him of a fourth case.

State Officer Niko Aust met his ignoble end in a Teubrüke alleyway, with trousers around his ankles. Coloured sweet wrappers are found in a nearby drain, a short walk from the Red Moon Inn. A crotchety bystander had briefly observed the Corporal in the starlight, in the company of a willowy redheaded girl. His body was housed at the Watch morgue, exhibiting distinctive blueish gums and faintly smelling of woman's perfume. Strangely, none of Aust's associates can summon kind words for the dead. Prior to his appointment, the Corporal had been a treacherous Watchman who named names among the resistance and otherwise assisted the Emperor's forces to seize the city. He is regarded as a traitor and coward. Vigorously agreeing on the need to question the mysterious woman, the companions heroically sample all the redheaded girls in the district brothels. Alas, none quite match the description. As they compare notes at the Privateer that evening, Luther spots Sir Hugo's journal among the piles of pilfered books. It is a litany of misfortunes for which the elderly knight blames himself, from his faraway family's destitution, to the Haffenfeuer that consumed the Goldmeadow Orphanage. The discovery is interrupted by the unwelcome news that Vitigus Lang has arrived at last from Altdorf.


'Goldmeadow Horror'

Mopping the soup of sweat and dust from gaps in his armour, Luther miserably followed the funeral procession to Morr’s Field. Sir Hugo's Grail Reliquae was borne by Sir Peirre and a bare handful of pilgrims, seeming to Luther far too mute a sendoff for a long-serving knight of glorious Bretonnia. He slips away after the funeral, searching the maze of mausoleums for the Agostini crypt. Within, the body of Giodorno and his wife are preserved in marble sarcophagi, exhibiting blue-black gums. Entreating the Lady’s forgiveness, Luther pockets a signet ring and conceals all trace of his visit.

Arriving at the Town Hall with his new Verenan assistant Ingo, Dieter is dismayed to find the records already being pored over by an army of Vitigus Lang’s clerks. He heads off the risk of confrontation by visiting Lang directly. Opening his files to the famed investigator, Dieter finds him eccentric but thorough. He learns that Franke had also exhibiting the telltale blue gums and unexpectedly, ‘smokers lungs’. Lang posits that the poison at work is either hemlock or arsenic, thought to only be available to alchemists and the very wealthy. Together they toast to the health of Karl Franz, but Dieter quietly notes that Lang doesn’t drink.

Rather than working at cross purposes with Lang, the investigators visit St Bastien's Orphanage. It is seemingly over-capacity, and staff confirm that the youngest orphans transferred from Goldmeadow after the Haffenfeuer are yet to age out. They are granted a brief meeting with Headmaster Fredrich, who confirms that St Bastiens is the beneficiary of the personal charity by Marta Muller, head of the Merchant's Guild. He hints that the old Goldmeadows had been plagued by rumours of abuse, but few records remain of those times. Finally, a former resident of Goldmeadows named Johan – eventually adopted by a family of hatters – provides a link to the investigation; he had briefly been a ward of the late Sir Hugo before being reluctantly returned. No link can yet be found to the Agostinis, save the proximity of their dockside warehouse.

A promising lead is snipped when Edgar’s body washes up in the eastern sluice. Learning that the cadaver is en route to Morr's Field, Dieter gallops through town and out onto the plain, crossing paths with Luther as he returns the opposite way. Buying the corpseman’s silence, he records the cause of death as ‘broken neck, snapped with alarming strength’. Immediately suspecting the giant Dio De Calco, the pair visit Malahan, but the watchful elf insists the Tilean has not left the encampment in days.

Elsewhere, Ludolph is gossiping with dishy dockside rats. He learns of a forgotten chamber buried below the ruins of Goldmeadow, eagerly alerting the party. But even bringing in old Volkhart, no entrance can be found underground. His comrades try to conceal their disgust as Ludolph transforms into a swarm of rats, squeezing down a pipe into the depths. Buried below, dark corridors leads to an eerie asylum and laboratory. Even more disturbing is the trap door and rough-hewn tunnel, filled with distinctive stench of ratmen. Seized by nightmarish memories of the warrens under Dalnab, Ludolph recounts the horrors below to his comrades. Suddenly dreading to learn the identity of their mysterious employer, the party barricade themselves in at the Privateer. The ghastly tale of Goldmeadows is finally confirmed by Scheffler, a political prisoner thought to have died during the siege. In the dripping dungeons of Black Rock, she verifies that Corporal Aust, who had betrayed her to the invaders, was previously the cruel nightwatchman at Goldmeadows, while Magistrate Franke had frequently quashed the accusations of it’s former residents.


'Threads'

With visions of a syndicate of ex-Goldenmeadow orphans orchestrating the poisonings the group spread out into the bars and inns of Ubersreik but find very little. The young Tilean woman last seen with Edgar is confirmed to be in town, having visited the Condottieri de Bologna days. Malahan had attempted to shadow the woman through the city but had lost her in the crowds, no easy feat given the Elves' preternatural senses. Elsewhere it is confirmed that no-one had seen Johan or Leisel in some years- Leisel having taken up work at House Hertie while Johan vanished after seemingly poisoning the family that had fostered him. Under the ruse of purchasing Leisel's services for House Aschaffenburg, Luther and Dieter organise a meeting with the seneschal of the house, Bengt.

His curiosity getting the better of him Dieter slinks out of the Privateer and stakes out the drop point. The group's employer soon appears, dropping off payment for recent investigations and transferring the written note into a sewer grate. Following the man into the mud district Dieter is suddenly and violently set upon by a shadow, pierced a half dozen times by a short serrated knife. It is only through sheer luck that he escapes, discharging his pistol and blowing back the black cloak of his attacker. He returns to the Privateer hours later, revealing to the group that there employers are none other than the foul ratmen that they battle not six months earlier.

Bandaged and limping Dieter joins Luther and Ludolf at the physicians guild. Doktor Krupp confirms that he treated the victims of Goldenmeadows, noting that Johan was a eunuch who had shown strange resistance to pain. Although by some twist of fate it is now that the latest victim falls to the treats from araby. In a nearby room Doktor Bayer falls suddenly to the ground, his appointment with a handsome young nobleman cut violently short. As Ludolf tracks the noble back to the Morgenseite, Luther and Dieter are arrested by the city watch. Unwilling to face the inevitable xenophobic beating Luther flees his capture, his agility making the halberdiers look like fools as he dashed away from them with a grin on his face. Dieter calls on his ally Skellig and for a small fee the Sergeant lets the Witch Hunter back out onto the streets.

The mystery was beginning to take shape but the link between the Agostini's and Goldenmeadow was yet to reveal itself. Interested in investigating the Agostini warehouse Luther travels to the Docker's Arms. Rejected and accosted by the thick-set labourers Luther's honour gets the better of him and he strikes one of the men. Fleeing the broiling tavern and down an alleyway he is cornered by a half dozen of the massive men. The clubs and hooks hoisted by the men are no match for Luther's skill and with a series of parries and deflections he backs away from the thugs. One goes down pierced in the heart by Luther's rapier but eventually the group toss aside their makeshift weapons and simply grab the duellist.

Some days pass without sign of Luther before a note from Skellig brings Ludolf and Dieter to the cells at the bottom of the city watch. Naked and broken, Luther bears the signs of a savage beating. Leg broken and ribs shattered his face remains miraculously clean and unmarred. Robbed and tossed in the river he is lucky to be alive but his prized rapier had been taken by the dockers who had assaulted him. A small bribe gets him out of the cell and to the Temple of Shallya, where a hefty donation gives Erika leave to perform healing miracles upon him. At the Privateer Elric informs the group that he had cracked the Agostini code and found the name of their master of coin; "Josip Goltflasche".

A new lead ahead of them the group prepare the next stage of their investigation even as the doors of the Privateer slam open and dozens of figures swarm in. Halberds lowered the state troops declare loudly that Luther de Baptiste, Ludolph, Diether von Kadler and the elf known as Malahan were to be charged for the murders of Sir Hugo, Beatrix Francke and the Agostini family.


'Setbacks'

Windows are hastily shut and folk hurry out of sight as the feared State Troopers march the latest detainees through Teubrüke. Disarmed and held at spearpoint, the adventurers are forced into cells in Black Rock, where they sweat out an anxious day and night in the damp heat. Each privately plot their escape as the hours wear on, but finally Vitigus Lang appears with a lantern and list of charges. They are accused of the very crime they sought to solve, though Dieter studiously defends their conduct through the slit in his cell door. Lang is undecided, conceding that he hoped to investigate further before their arrest. His hand has been forced by the Bürgermeister, who insists they be tortured until they confess. Instead he proposes a ruse, offering to release the prisoners to continue the inquiry while he maintains a fictional interrogation. He grants the party the benefit of the doubt, but warns that fleeing the city will only result in a lifetime on the run. Led through the very tunnels by which the Black Rock Garrison absconded, the adventurers emerge at a ruined watchtower within sight of the walls. As they search for disguises, they find wandering cattle and a farmstead recently pillaged by goblins. Picking over the ruins, they salvage clothes and a damaged wagon, returning to the city while Ludolph and Malahan try their hand at cattle rustling. Moseying into the Fleischmarkt, Ludolph enlists an urchin called Artur Morgen to help sell the livestock to a fence, while Dieter and Luther return to House Hertie to follow up their search for Leisel. Posing again as buyers for House Aschaffenberg, they repair matters with Mr Bengt who was slighted by the missed appointment. Unfortunately, he insists they find dirt capable of swaying the elections for Merchant Guild Master before he will confirm her whereabouts. Daunted by the scale of that task, they return empty-handed to the Privateer. Luckily, their confiscated possessions await them.

That evening, Dieter and Ludolph set out to locate the former Agostini paymaster Josip Goltflasche by infiltrating the Dockers and Teamster’s Union. They quickly come face-to-face with Gregor, the very stevedore who had near-fatally bludgeoned Luther. Deception piles upon subterfuge. In order to prove their bona fides, Ludolph undertakes to murder Luther in revenge for the slain dockworker, by intentionally being imprisoned in the Watch House. After starting a patriotic row in the Red Moon tavern, he spends another day snoozing in a cell while Dieter arranges for Skellig to corroborate. While their wizard awaits bail, Malahan leads the others back to the Condotierri camp. He is detained by fascinated Tileans, who insist on seeing a demonstration of the famed marksmanship of the elves. Though impressed by the skills of one arquebusier, he easily wows the mercenaries with an improbably trick shot of his own. Locating Prospero, he is warned against further inquiry after Bella the Viper. This puts a famous name to the braided Tilean woman he has been pursuing. Dio De Calco is less helpful, threatening to ‘misunderstand’ the party’s persistent interest in the case and his involvement. Gambling for information on Edgar and the Agostini's, Dieter wagers Luther can beat the Codotierri De Bologna’s best swordsman. Alas, he has reckoned without the theft of Luther’s favoured weapon; De Calco stakes the bet himself, the absurd reach advantage of his flamberge evident before the match even begins. Though leaving injured and dispirited, they obtain one last puzzle piece; at the end of a suspicious trail, a shallow grave contains Ubersriek’s second-last witch hunter, Mattias Hüpfen. His neck has been snapped in distinctive fashion.

Back at the Docker's Arms Gregor confirms that Josip had been the remarkably young paymaster of House Agostini. Blond, thin and startlingly blue-eyed, he had vanished at the time of the siege. Concluding that Johan and Josip are one and the same, the adventurers try another round of gossip in the markets, brothels and taverns. The chatter turns scandalous, highlighting the night-time habits of Giodorno, Johan, Doktor Bayer, Dio Di Calco and reputedly, an undisclosed knight in Ubersriek. Mulling over the rumours in the common-room, the adventurers are alarmed when Ludolph bashfully returns from an ill-fated escapade. Attempting to take matters into his own hands, he had snuck into House Hertie and cornered the head clerk, aiming to force him to reveal the whereabouts of Leisel. But the old clerk had put up a fight and been killed in the scuffle, raising the alarm in the Artisan’s Quarter.


'Shadows'

The brutish fellow was slumped over the bar, but Corvas noticed him crack a wary eye at his arrival. He lurched up in his seat as Corvas approached, sniffing.
"Hey listen," he growled. "He vexed me. Also it was an accident."
Dieter stepped between them, his face serious.
"This is something else."

The night after the murder at House Hertie, a shadow slipped into Ubersreik. With a tattered straw hat and a pockmarked face he looked every inch the weary farmer praying for the harsh summer to end. But Corvas came to Ubersreik on College business. Amidst the turmoil, murders and unrest of the city, he was looking for one man. Volkë was a College initiate whose progression had been halted due to perceived bad character. Some months ago he had absconded from the Grey College in Altdorf, taking with him a number of important manuscripts and grimoires. After the Master Grey Wizard of Ubersreik, Christophe Engel, had failed to reply to missives, Corvas had been sent as the first mission in his career as a journeyman.

Now clad in a charcoal cloak and his face clean he books rooms at the Exploding Pig and begins laying down contacts in the city, a sizeable bribe to the mistress Helga. As midnight strikes he visits the Springstumpft and finds his first clue. His contact in the city, Luscia, had been tracking Volkë for some days but had recently gone quiet. She had left behind a series of shadow signs, visible only to those learned in Grey Magic and only in the darkest hours of the night. Corvas follows the signs through the city, first as a beggar wandering the mud quarter, then a hurried servant rushing through the Morgenseite and even a drunk Altdorf Soldier stumbling into the Military District. As he wandered the dark city he met with a number of urchins given messages for him by Luscia and retrieves dead-drops detailing Volkë's movements. The messages grow increasingly concerned as Luscia fears for her life. The final Sign highlights a much-eroded stone map of Ubersriek, marking seven potential hideouts for Volkë.

The following morning, tired from a night of trying to clean up Ludolph's mess at Hertie, Dieter has a visit from Herr Kruber of the 'Wings of Sigmar'. The Wings of Sigmar, supposedly a charity group that "lifts people out of poverty", were the Church's moneylenders and famously brutal to those who borrow from them. Kruber accosts Dieter about a loan taken out two nights previously, demanding repayment of the amount of 10 gold pieces. Shocked by both the amount and the events Kruber recalls, Dieter begins to suspect he had been the victim of identity theft. Travelling across Ubersreik he finds the imposter's mark at the Church of Sigmar, the Dwarven Bank in Dawihafen and the Customs House. The man had worn his face but his accent and signature was wrong. Dieter smooths ruffled feathers and withdraws deposited funds, attempting to forestall any further trouble.

It is at a meeting within the Privateer that night that the pieces of the puzzle begin to fall into place. Dressed in robes and looking the part of the grey wizard Corvas consults 'Torchlight Investigations' about the map. Dieter identifies the possible locations; an abandoned watchtower outside the city walls, The Pegasus Wing restaurant, a series of warehouses in the docks, the 3rd Ubersreik Barracks, the Boatbuilder's Guild, The Grail Chapel and The Custom's House. In talking Dieter begins to suspect that the man taking on his face is in fact Volkë, the wizard using his shadow magic to conjure illusions across town. Corvas and Dieter agree to help each other, searching the locations one by one starting with the warehouses.

Arriving at the warehouses the pair soon realise how fortuitous their choice of first location was. Set upon by members of the feared Black Pike gang Corvas and Dieter are soon forced to defend themselves with blades, their superior skills cutting a swathe through the strong but untrained thugs attacking them. Amidst the bloodshed both men are surprised to see the High Father of Sigmar revealing himself from one of the warehouses. The Pike members flee before the Father but Dieter and Corvas stand steady. For a Grey Wizard, trained in the use of illusion himself, and for a Witch Hunter with a mind steeled against deception, such magicks have no hold. Volkë still wears the look of surprise on his face when Dieter's silver sword swings through the illusion and lops his arm cleanly off. As the rogue wizard bleeds out under Dieter's watchful eyes Corvas retrieves the stolen items from the warehouse.

The piles of documents and books found in the hideout would reveal months of scams across Ubersreik. Dieter was one of a dozen men Volkë had been impersonating, most of the money stored in dummy accounts far beyond reach. The depts to the Wings of Sigmar are paid back and Corvas retrieves the stolen grimoires and coded notebooks. Years of Grey College intelligence is saved, but rumours of a wizard who can change forms has already spread. Some say he can turn into a bird, some that he can even wear the face of another man. Although the schemes of Volkë had been halted, these rumours stoke bring the already troubled city to a low boil.


'No Stone Unturned'

With the threat of execution still hanging over them, the adventurers return to the poisoning case. Skellig had been called to the crime scene at House Hertie, which Dieter cunningly blames on the slain 'shapeshifter' Volkë. Unfortunately, details have already reached Master Wizards Guggenheimer and Engel. Dieter and Corvas avail themselves of city gossipmongers, following up rumours of a 'giant knight who eschews women'. Keeping to the rooftops, Malahan spies on the Chapter Houses of Ubersriek until an enormous destrier in the Knights Panther stables identifies Sir Manfred Kant as the new person of interests. Dieter poses as a historian writing tales of knightly heroism, gaining a meeting with the boastful Sir Kant. He stokes the knight's antagonism towards the Condotierri de Bologna by touting their reputation, particularly that of Dio DiCalco. But the knight cannot yet be linked to the killings; he and his squire Klaus spend their days defending outlying villages in the stead of the State Army. Meanwhile Ludolph poses as one of Doktor Bayner's clients, bribing the physician's assistant for information. She does not remember him receiving the poisoned sweets, but reveals the location of his home. Ludolph plunders the small dwelling of valuables, while Corvas finds a secret encoded journal of the Doktor's sexual history. 

The attempt to steal information on Leisel had failed, so the effort was now on the buy it. Corvas gains employment as a clerk, uncovering the corrupt practices of Josef Specht, paymaster for House Karstadt during their recent chairmanship of the Merchants Guild.  Working as an off-the-books stevedore for the Karstadts, Ludolph learns of their illegal smuggling operations. This includes shipping stolen marble from the Agostini warehouse, exposed during a violent confrontation with the Dockers Guild. All of this is enough to assuage the credulous Herr Bengt, who gratefully signs over Leisel's contract to Dieter in his guise as an Aschaffenberg.

Led towards the Privateer by Dieter, the seamstress seems fearful and confused. But the party are on high alert, with Malahan and Corvas following at a discrete distance.Being one of the chief suspects, Leisel appears to intuit their distrust. When her attempts to seduce Dieter fail, she makes a sudden bid to escape. Malahan is ready, winging her with a fowling arrow before she can escape. But to the party's horror, she swallows an Arabian sweet before Corvas can cast his sleep spell. Laughing as she dies, she declared that "the monster" within her had "grown large". Despairing at the loss of their most promising lead, the adventurers pay off Morr's cart-man to pick up her corpse from Von Holzenauer's in the morning. No further clues are found during her autopsy. Roused from sleep by Elric, Ludolph is awaited downstairs by 12 Gold Order wizards. They announce his expulsion from the Amber Order, confiscating his staff, grimoire and wizarding license. Hoping to argue his case, he follows them back to Black Rock but is refused entry. Reconvening at the Privateer, the adventurers find Skellig waiting with news of another death. The sharp-featured nobleman who fled the scene of Bayner's poisoning had been found in Morgenseite, pierced through the heart by a thin blade. A stray crossbow bolt and fallen whip found at the scene implicate Bella the Viper.


'The Patient'

Dubbed 'the Patient', the dark-haired, sharp-featured corpse showed clear signs of a melee with Bella, down to whip-burns around his throat. She becomes the investigators' key lead. Among Tilean refugees hiding in the slums, the investigators confirm that she is hiding in the city, given cover by the Condotierri. Their mission, it seems, is little more than providing her cover to pursue the vendetta. Proceeding with his decryption of the journal, Corvas informs them that Johan was among Doktor Bayer's clients until shortly before the siege.

Feeling the threat of execution more keenly with each passing day, the party acknowledge that they are no closer to finding the poisoners. With Johan perpetually two steps ahead of them, they resort to introducing chaos into his meticulous plan. Lang and 'M' both receive extensive updates on the investigation, on Johan's background, associates and methodology. In the process of delivering an update to DiCalco, Dieter is surprised by the arrival of Bella the Viper. In a tense negotiation, he agrees with the Tileans that in the event of Johan's capture, each will offer the other the chance to question him before Bella enacts the vendetta. She reciprocates by summarising her own investigations. As suspected, the Middenheimer Edgar was spared Johan's poison when he unknowingly fed it to the Agostini's dog. Their old purser 'Josep' had been welcomed with a feast at the noble household a month ago, bringing the poisoned sweets for dessert. Edgar had informed Bella, but was throttled before escaping the city - but not Di Calco, according to his assurances. More crucially, Bella admits to killing the Patient as a last resort. He was another Goldmeadow orphan, exhibiting supernatural speed during their melee. The Patient’s alias was ‘Volker Nessler’, a guest at the Emperor’s Rest Hotel. Knowing such an inquiry would require elaborate preparation, Dieter returns to his comrades, noting a large stash of Karstadt wines as he leaves.

With the aid of a tailor, barber and bath-house, Ludolph and Dieter are transformed into likely patrons of the lavish inn. Posing as the Patient’s lesser family members, they gain access to the his rooms, receipts and stash of poisoned sweets. He had recently written to an unknown correspondent, informing them of his assassination of Doktor Bayer. He had also carefully controlled his expenses, paying up front and abstaining drink and luxuries.

As the week wore on, the adventurers noted much activity in the streets. There was escalating bluster between the Knights Panther and Condotierri mercenaries, stoked by news that the Empire had won the war against chaos in the east. As the taprooms flowed with boasts and swagger, so too did the posturing of locals towards the foreigners. With violence threatening to break out, Ludolph visited a Sororitas of Myrmidia, urging her to mediate a duel between DicCalco and Kant. When she refused, bloodshed seemed assured. But on the appointed day, the gleaming Reiksguard and 100 armoured troops dispersed the crowds, marching to intervene between the two factions. They discovered that the Tileans had quit the field in the night, to the morbid disappointment of onlookers.

The investigation continued throughout, first with discovery of a fair woman being secretly housed by Kant. Maintaining his guise as a historian, Dieter overhears the knight’s staff attributing their liege’s “improved mood” to his guest, and laughing. At St Bastien's, a second interview with Frederic reveals the names of Johan’s key associates; Liesel, who was notably seductive, Whitold who was notably quick, Folche, notably ugly and Kaspar, notably strong and violent. Added to the seemingly supernatural charisma and pain resistance of Johan, the investigators agree that it sounds like the product of freak and deviant experimentation. Indeed the Headmaster notes that Brando Saller had a cruel obsession with imposing moral standards on the orphans. With two new names and descriptions to follow up, the adventurers spread out through the fighting pits, docks and construction sites of Ubersreik. But word of Kaspar is interrupted by Skellig, who arrives with news of a mangled body found in the sewers.


'Dinner with a Poisoner'

The bells were tolling in the Cathedral of Ulric, calling worshippers to dusk prayers for Sommerspitz. Moving among the hooded worshippers, an off-duty Watch Captain ushered three men into the drains; unknowingly, Torchlight Investigations were conducting their last foray into the Ubersriek sewers. Gagging behind their face-covers, the group were led by lantern-light to a ghastly crime scene. The party are rattled by the sight of viscera and warped body-parts fused with the stone, where an amateur ratcatcher had been detonated by sorcerous force. Reluctantly Ludolph scents Uglu and Dhar, notes of grey magic and witchcraft distinct even in the putrid tunnels. Muttering together, the wizards identify the result of a catastrophic miscast. They are in no mood for the minimalist account of the sewerjack who found the body. Ludolph comes to to blows with the man before they are pulled apart, allowing him to continue on his rounds.

The next morning, the investigators focus on Kaspar. Blending into the flophouse crowd, Corvas learns about his habits, while Dieter and Ludolph search his rooms. They discover a hidden crossbow and stash of coins, laying plans to ambush Kaspar on his return. But coming face to face with the suspect, Corvas is forced to improvise, striking up an unlikely friendship with him. “Wilham” relays a credible tale of escaping indenture in Wissenland, casting some doubt that they have the right man. But tailing him the next day, the investigators are led to a suspicious beggar named Grössl, whom Dieter detains and questions. It is soon beyond doubt that Wilham and Grössl are in fact Kaspar and Folche, the last known associates of Johan. Having already alerted Johan about the investigation, Folche is executed by Dieter and stashed in the Privateer’s cellar. Hurrying to catch Kaspar unawares in the alleyways of the Mud District, they enact the much-discussed ambush. As he is bludgeoned to the ground, Kaspar catches Corvas’ with a single blow. The unnatural punch ruptures his organs, with the brute only detained once Ludolph breaks his arm. They drag him to an abandoned building, noting his inhuman resistance to pain as the interrogation wears on. Sensing grey magic and witchcraft at play once more, the party fear he is playing for time while his allies magically scry his location. He finally divulges the complicity of Sargent Knopf in the conspiracy, and alarmingly, that Johan is awaiting them at their lodgings. Unable to trust that manacles will hold him, Dieter also executes Kaspar and stashes the body.
They return to the Privateer’s Rest, prepared to face the final culmination of the Sweet Killings affair.

Face-to-Face

A slender youth is sitting patiently at the bar, the murderous Johan revealed at last. His politeness in not reciprocated by the party, treated warily and kept at a safe distance. The poisoner is genuinely quizzical about their interference with his scheme, calling it ‘a private matter’. He offers to shut down the city’s investigation of the party, provide gold and information about creatures he calls ‘Skaven’, in exchange for the winding up of their inquiry. Dieter opens by demanding the poisoner justify himself. He answers with a display of the gruesome scars on his body. Refusing to detail every victim’s guilt, Johan is adamant they deserve it. Dieter rejects the right of one person to ascribe guilt to dozens without authority, but both detect Corvas and Ludolph being silently persuaded. The Grey is focused on destroying the ‘Skaven’, while the Amber scents freedom of Guggenheim and Lang’s threatened noose. Sensing them slipping, Johan provides a revealing list of past and future targets, noting that only five remain;

Bayer
Kant
Viola
Brando
Niko
Thürmo
Jalla
Frederic
Franke
Hugo
Hauslers
Wauthurs
Krebs
Kuchlers
Agostinis

It dawns on them that the last few names are families, meaning Johan had killed vastly more people than the heroes first thought. Several undoubtedly deserved their fate, but some stand out as innocent. Dieter pockets the list and stands, swearing to defend the lives of the remaining Imperial citizens. Johan places a poisoned sweet on the table, urging him to keep it against future events.

Dieter is dismayed when Corvas leans forward and accepts the villain’s bargain, accepting a letter detailing ‘threads to pull to unwind the Skaven’. But upon opening, he finds the contents incomprehensible, reading; “Slippery Jacob; Yellow Bellies; Clan Slekit; Clan Fester;” He demands more information, to which Johan suggests he read a faerie tale called; ‘The Monster with No Name’. Corvas declares that the deal is off, causing Johan to icily note his fears for the wizards’ future welfare. As the poisoner turns to Ludolph, a fountain of blood suddenly hoses the table; Corvas has leaned over and neatly slashed Johan’s neck. He dies oddly serenely, slumping forward as blood drips and drizzles through the table and pools at his feet.

For all his oddities Lang is not a fool and presented with the evidence of the Sweet Murderers he has no interest in hanging innocent men. Dieter presents to Lang three bodies with matching scars, a pile of poisoned candies and a list of victims in an odd elegant hand. Presenting the information to the Burgomeister Lang takes Dieter under his wing. The pair are tasked with stopping the remaining murders and beginning an investigation into the influence of the Skaven in Ubersreik. Publicly the brute Kaspar and the vagabond Folcher take the bulk of the blame for the poisonings, framed as a pair of disgruntled foreigners from the Border Princes seeking to destabilise the Empire's lawful control of the city. The Tileans, now to the winds after hearing of the death of Johan, also take some of the blame, notably for the murder of the Agostini family and Herr Kant of the Knights Panther. His fellow knights swear vengeance, mustering to ride to Tilea to avenge their fallen brother.
Even as Dieter approaches Lang in the dark tunnels under Blackrock an unremarkable ox and cart leaves Ubersreik. Ludolf, back in his travelling furs, drives with a sickly man in the back marked for death by the priests of Morr. Malahan meets the pair in the forests outside Ubersreik and the group agree not to warn the Tileans about the blame coming their way. They meander to Altdorf, Corvas' condition slowly worsening as the rickety old cart rolls along sun-baked roads. Malahan scouts for the group, still engrossed in the task of constructing his own elven bow, while Ludolf prepares himself to face his master in the Capital.


Dramatis Personae

Torchlight Investigations
Ludolph: Beast-Wizard
Malahan: Elf Archer
Dieter: Witch-Hunter
Corvas: Shadow-Wizard
Luther de Baptiste: Foreign sellsword.

Victims
Sir Hugo: Elderly knight [Forcibly poisoned]
Magistrate Beatrix: Permissive magistrate [Poisoned]
Agostini Household: Wealthy Tilean household [Poisoned]
Hausler family: Hatters, adoptive parents [Poisoned]
Corporal Aust: Treacherous state officer, former watchman [Poisoned]
Edgar: Strapping Middenheimer, survivor of Agostini atrocity. [Strangled]
Doktor Bayer: Doktor, preferred male patients [Poisoned]
Mattias Hüpfen: Witch Hunter [Strangled]
Thürmo: Grey wizard/witch [Catastrophic miscast]

Denizens of Ubersreik
The Bürgermeister: Powerful mayor. Confident of the party's guilt.
Ingo: Diligent research clerk.
Duty Sergeant Skellig: Mutton-chopped and sweaty Watch Sergeant
Master Frederic: Headmaster of St. Bastien's Hospice (orphanage)
Doktor Otto von Krupp: Physician who offered free services to survivors of the Haffenfeuer.
House Hertie: Merchant House dealing with cloths and tailoring services
Master Bengt: House Hertie official
Brando Saller: Former headmaster of Goldmeadows. Reportedly deceased.
Frau Scheffler: Former Watch Captain, implicated by Aust [Rotting in prison]
Rudi Schlau: Redheaded Guildmaster Cutler
Prospero: Owlish fortuneteller and paymaster.
Vitigus Lang: Renowned travelling 'detective' from Altdorf
'Gerolf': Nobleborn alchemist, friend of Ludolph.
Elric: Master of the Privateer's Rest, ex-pirate.
Erika: Shallayan priestess who helped the group during the Blackrock Incident.
Artur Morgen: Fleischmarkt urchin.
Helgi: Gossipy bar-wench [Exploding Pig Tavern]
Herr Kluber: Vengeful Church of Sigmar official
Master Engel: Grey Wizard Lord [Absent]
Volkë: Unlicensed wizard and thief from Altdorf. [Slain]
Luscia: One-eyed Grey College informant [Slain by Volkë]
House Karstadt: Mercantile house dealing in ores and moneylending. Illegal marble smuggling.
Josef Specht: Corrupt Karstadt paymaster.
Manfred Kant: Boastful homosexual Knight Panther.
Klaus: Sir Manfred's squire.
Vasili: Off-the-books stevedore.

Suspects
Johan: Eunuch and known poisoner. Notably charming & immune to pain. Fmr Goldmeadows, fmr Agostini purser. [Executed]
Leisel: Readhead seamstress. Notably seductive. Fmr Goldmeadows [Suicide by poison]
Volker Nessler/Whitholt: Sharp-featured Bayner patient. Notably swift. Fmr Goldmeadows [Stabbed by Bella]
Kaspar: Blond giant. Notably strong. Fmr Goldmeadows [Executed]
Folche: Hunched. Notably ugly. Fmr Goldmeadows [Executed]
Sargent Knopf: Watch Captain and co-conspirator
Dio Di Calco: Commander, Condottieri de Bologna, known strangler.
Bella the Viper: Renowned Tilean bounty hunter.
'M': Torchlight Investigation's mysterious employer.

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