Shadows Over Averheim
Nearly a year has passed since the Iron Fists settled into the town of Averheim. Having been granted a plot of land from King Leoncouer, they decide to invest all of their wealth into building their dream of an upmarket brothel. The plot is by the river Aver, and a single cobbled path runs along the front, one way leading to town, the other to the docks. Hiring local labourers to build the place, the job stretched on and on, seemingly with no ending in sight.
When things seemed at their lowest ebb, the events of one week in summer split the group asunder. First Lorien received word that he must return to Athel Loren for an ancient wood elf ritual, then merely days later both Rungar and Rimir were summoned to Karaz-a-Karak to inform Thorgrim Grudgebringer about the details of their travels and to add Malek into the Great Book of Grudges.
6 months later, the job of marshalling the construction fell to Kale. So complex and extravagant is the building that he barely left the plot, taking time only to visit the local inn The Upright Pig. Instead he has relied on his dwarven Grand Mason Gorri Thurikson to fetch supplies, hire workers and keep him abreast of the situation in Averheim.
To make matters worse, a few weeks ago, while he slept, the house was robbed by unknown burglars. They took everything of value they wasn’t nailed down.
Outraged at such an invasion, Kale reported the crime to Captain Marcus Baerfaust, the newly appointed head of the Averheim army. However Baerfaust recognised the plate mail armour Kale was wearing as having been stolen from Erengrad. Demanding it be returned, Kale had no choice other than facing imprisonment and gave the armour back. He was however told that investigations would be made into the crime. Called up to face trial, he was acquitted of the crimes of theft after testimony from Frederick Grosz, a regular in The Upright Pig who has become the brothel’s only regular customer. Because of avoiding imprisonment, Kale became something of a minor celebrity with the criminal underclass of Averheim.
With the money exhausted, Kale realised that work still needs to be done before they can open properly. He only has one employee, named Elsa whose lantern jaw and bushy hair has not exactly grabbed the attention of the sailors and dockhands who could feasibly become their standard trade.
On a gloomy and overcast day, with a light drizzle in the afternoon air, Kale sat on the veranda outside the property, penniless and hungry as a small boy runs past and with a splat a rotten tomato hits Kale in the face. All seems lost, when three figures emerge at the end of the street.
The dwarven brothers Rungar and Rimir are marching up the road, accompanied by the elf Lorien who strangely appears to have recovered his eyes. Greeting his old travelling companions, he asks them what they’ve been up to. It appears that after arriving at Karaz-a-Karak they were stripped of their equipment and thrown into prison for unspecified crimes against the Dawrven people. Fortunately a kindly old jailor realised the injustice and agreed to let them free along with a gold coin and some of their equipment. They have been fighting their way back to Averheim as they are now banished from dwarven lands.
Lorien fared somewhat better after being summoned back to Athel Loren, where he took an audience with King Orion and explained about Malek. He then had the great honour to join the king in slumber, which replenished his health and senses, notably his eyes. He was sent back to Averheim with a message to pass to someone, although he has yet to meet or even reveal who that person is.
Hungry and tired the four of them pay a visit to The Upright Pig. On their way Kale is stopped by Olga Klinski, who hands them a flyer about her husband who has been missing for some time. Jurgen was a kindly and well-liked fishermen who went missing around the docks a few days previous. She offers them a small reward (2 silver per person) if they can help find him. Meanwhile Lorien’s purse suddenly and unexpectedly becomes 20 silver lighter.
Upon entering the Upright Pig they are met by Frederick Grosz, who recognises Kale and offers to buy them food, drink and a bed for the night if they protect him from harm. He also explains that a new criminal has started to consolidate power in the underclass of Averheim. All Freddie knows is that he wears a black hood and nobody knows where he has come from. Freddie himself has been approached to join the group, known as the conspiracy, but has refused and is concerned for his safety following a series of disappearances.
While the guys are drinking and enjoying the pleasant company in the inn, a large man with white hair and beard flies through their table. Immediately on guard, they realise a bar fight has broken out and two groups of dock workers are beating each other senseless. The man in a heap on the floor introduces himself as Werner Klebb, the leader of a gang called the Wharf Rats and they are fighting the other gang in the area called the Fish. He asks for the group’s assistance, and they agree.
Squaring off against members of the Fish, the group take it in turns to beat on their opponents, receiving barely a scratch in return. So inept and drunk are their opponents that a couple of them stumble into others patrons, causing multiple mini-fights to break-out. Lorien, whose newly replenished eyes give him the edge in his fight and while doing a handstand he whips his legs around his opponent’s neck and slams him into the ground, accidently breaking his neck and killing him outright. The rest of the Fish flee the scene and Werner calls after them “That’s for Rolph!”
Offering to buy them a drink, Werner explains that they’re in a potential gang war over the disappearance of a young member of their gang called Rolph Haller. He then hires the Fists to investigate in exchange for 10 silver a man, which the potless group happily accept. He then bids them a good evening and leaves. Content that Freddie is now safe, he too departs and the group are shown to their rooms for the evening.
Awaking early in the morning they notice that the weather has got worse, and a heavy rain is looming in the distance. Keen to investigate the city they have a large breakfast and head out. Outside the pub they meet a young, waif-like teenage girl called Ute. She introduces herself and asks who they are. After being sweet-talked by Kale, she spills the beans about Jurgen, who had a desperate gambling problem, which is probably why he’s gone missing. If you owe money to the man in the black hood, the chances of you getting away with it are slim.
She then goes on to explain that Averland is in a state of upheaval following the death of the Mad Elector Count Marius Leitdorf. The rest of the Leitdorf family are unable to decide upon an heir, which has left the race for a new power to rise to prominence fairly open. There are three main candidates in the form of: Local business man, the handsome and popular Graf Friedrich. Light Wizard Luminary Konrad Mauer, who has come to town to investigate the beginnings of Sigmar’s power. Finally there is captain of the Averland army and head of the greatsword regiment Captain Marcus Bauerfast. All three have a small claim to the seat of power and the Electorship, but none have yet established enough of a power base to perform a political coup. Another person to consider is the ultra-popular Gravin Clothilde von Alptraum, whose nickname the Iron Countess belies and incredibly down-to-earth approach to politics. Her goal is to provide Averland with the best possible leader for the people. While she isn’t technically in the running, there are rumours that she will attempt to marry whomever takes power to make sure they don’t fall foul of the same madness that tainted Marius Leitdorf’s reign as Elector Count. Listening to what Ute has to say, the group thank her for the information and bid her farewell. She reminds them that she’s always here if they ever need to ask anything else.
They venture forth to the muddy slips alongside the River Aver and notice a group gathering along the way, outside The White Horse. Trudging through the thick mud, the rain becoming thicker and thicker they reach the group and notice Freddie among them, and they’re all staring at a dead body in the mud. Closer investigation show a series of tiny cuts on the large man’s back and some slash wounds on his front. Rungar senses something is unusual about the wounds, but cannot for the life of him remember his medical training properly. Freddie explains that it’s the body belonging to Klaus Keller, a man who was a known racketeer, but a surprisingly well-liked one. He always offered protection to those who paid and was honest and fair, or as honest and fair as a racketeer can be. Freddie then explains that Klaus was someone else who refused to work with the man in the black hood.
After initiates from the Temple of Morr come to take away the body and the weather continues to get worse and worse, the group make their way into town to pay a visit to Captain Bauerfast at the Plenzerplatz. The main square is full of beautiful architecture and even though there is torrential downpouring, there are still beggars and mime-artists lining the square. Visiting the offices of Bauerfast, they encounter a rather officious man who reluctantly lets them into the waiting room to allow them to report a theft of their stuff from the unfinished brothel.
Kale takes the lead in conversation, but his ‘wit’ is wasted on the Captain who recognises him from the trail a few months ago. He is still upset that Kale got off and after numerous attempts at conversation he threatens to throw them in jail. Fortunately Rimir’s armour belies his history as an ironbreaker, and Bauerfast respects the military honesty of the dwarf. Rimir takes control of the conversation while Rungar covers Kale’s mouth with his hand to shut him up.
They briefly discuss honour, before Bauerfast tells Rungar that if they can solve the mystery of the hooded man then he will be eternally grateful, he mentions that if he had more free reign he would attempt to win over a weak-minded fool like Adolphus Stark the merchant, who has known ties to the hooded man in order to work their way up to meet the mysterious enemy of Averheim. He also explains that one of the people standing in the way of his ascent to power is Graf Friedrich, who owns some stake in the Red Arrow transportation business. He requests that the group lead by Rimir go and infiltrate the business to try and find out what is happening and if there’s any unscrupulous dealings. He others to pay them 10 silver a piece and 20 for Rimir. He also wishes them well in their ‘business ventures’ and promises to tell his men to avoid the obvious indiscretions.
As the team leave the Plenzerplatz for the docks once again, they find themselves stopped in the street and handed a leaflet from a somewhat overzealous man. The leaflet reads:
Fellow citizens, as you know Averheim, the capital of the Grand County of Aveland is one of the largest and wealthiest cities in the Empire. It is also among the oldest. It was an important settlement for the Brigundians, with a founding date that precedes Sigmar himself. But in recent times a great darkness has befallen this great city. The Electorship of the Grand County of Averland remains in dispute following the death of the Mad Elector Count Marius Leitdorf. While many of us still consider the Lietdorf’s as the rightful ruling family, rumours emanating from their family mansion suggest that the always eccentric family are overrun with friction over whom should take control.
It’s been six months since Marius’ death and they are further from making a decision now than they were then, with early candidate Baron Kastor Leitdorf proving unpopular with the people. While indecision rules, the former ruling family the von Alptraum’s are gaining momentum. The head of the family, the aptly named Iron Countess Marlene von Alptraum is a prominent player in the cities cattle driving industry and reports of her not only accompanying farmers on drives, but also fighting greenskins have made her more and more popular with the people. The family still lacks the political clout to take control, but the longer the Leitdorfs take, the more chance there is of a political coup.
Until the decision is made, it is we, the people that will suffer and reports of the mysterious crime boss under a black hood gaining a firm footing in the less salubrious areas of the city mean that it is becoming more dangerous by the day to be a citizen of this once great city.
Ignoring the leaflet they make their way to the White Horse tavern. They ask questions about gambling games and notably Adolphus Stark, and the landlady mentions that he usually comes in for a game of cards, although she is reluctant to give them more information. Adolphus, she thinks, is probably on his barge right now. Finding another dead-end for now they make their way back to the Upright Pig. They notice on the way that Ute isn’t sat in her normal spot, but then a woompf sound distracts them and the see a barge parked by the docks has caught fire. People onboard are screaming and a well-dressed man is shouting curses while running towards the barge.
Assuming that the man must be Adolphus Stark, the team run towards the barge to help put the fire out. Lorien uses his cat-like elf reflexes to fall of the pier and straight into the river. The others take off their tops, douse them in water and attempt to help the man put out the flames. Unfortunately while Kale waves his wet shirt, he accidently fans the flames and the barge explodes sending three people into the river. Diving in to save them, they pull the unconscious woman and two young girls to shore. Rungar attempts to revive them, but sadly he’s too late and they die. Adolphus is crying when the team see three arsonists fleeing the scene.
Lorien makes up for his incredible ineptitude previously, and fires an arrow long-range straight through the heel of the lead runner, causing the others to fall over.
When they catchup with the small group, Rimir places his boot on one of their necks and demands to know who they are. Quivering under the pressure from the dwarf’s boot, they spill the truth that they’re low-level newcomers to the gang of the mystery man, whose name is The Black Cowl. They were told to set fire to the barge to teach Stark a lesson in not paying debts to Manfred Keller. He is the brother of the dead body on the mud flats, who killed his own flesh and blood over a similar debt by using his own personal runners who are simply a bunch of dirt wharf rats.
The team try to tie up the three men, but Rungar ties a knot too tight and breaks the neck of one of them while the one with an arrow through his foot bleeds out on the cobbled stone road. They take the other to Adolphus, who slits the man’s throat in cold blood. He thanks the group for bringing them to justice and offers to buy them a round in the Upright Pig. When quizzed about his wife and children, he seems oddly disinterested in their plight and leaves the bodies on the mudflats to be washed away by the rising river.
On their way into the Pig, they run into Freddie who suddenly behaves unusually when he sees they’re with Stark and bids them farewell. Adolphus explains that he owes Manfred 500 silver, which he hoped he could pay after selling silk from a shipment, but it was delayed. The group agree to cover the debt, by killing Manfred on the proviso that they get all of the money from the next shipment. Adolphus agrees and then offers them a spot at a job concerning Red Arrow deliveries, which he needs in order to export the silks and recoup the money they want.
With their business concluded Adolphus bids them farewell and Kale, Lorien and Rungar go to their beds. Rimir however says that he bought a tent to save money, and he’ll be damned if he’s going to pay 1 brass coin for a comfortable room and goes outside into the torrential rain to sleep in an alleyway.
Waking the following morning and Rimir slept dreadfully, leaving him horribly fatigued. The group sit down for breakfast when an obvious Light Wizard bursts in and orders a stiff drink. The group recognise him as Luminary Konrad Mauer, one of the three candidates to be the new Elector Count. Keen to find out what caused him such trouble, the team approach him, with Kale taking the lead once again. As is often the case with people from the silver and gold tier of Averheim, they do not appreciate his ‘charm’ and basically ignore his chat. However he notices Lorien the elf and is fascinated by him. Beginning to talk to him they discuss the ins and outs of magical rituals. Lorien mentions Malek, to which Mauer does not respond and instead drinks. They continue a pleasant conversation until Rungar kicks the elf in the shin and mouths the word ‘MA-LEK!” Finally understanding, Lorein asks what Mauer knows of Malek and he confesses that the chaos sorcerer was once a powerful shadowmancer before falling to Chaos. He then claims that if he ever met him, we would simply kill him and be done with it. Impressed the group ask what he has seen to need such a stiff drink at this time of the day. He says that another body has appeared on the mudflats, that of a waif-like girl. The group assume it is Ute, which explains her disappearance. After asking if he can trust them, Mauer reveals that the damage to her body is similar to Klaus Keller’s and that it was caused by some form of magical weapon, which left an unnatural tinge to the flesh, more like rotten cheese than rotten meat.
Bidding them farewell he leaves and the group make their way to the offices of the Red Arrow by the Plenzerplatz for their day’s work. There they meet a rather officious man in his early 40s called Curd Weiss who runs the Red Arrow on behalf of Graf Friedrich. He explains that one of their deliveries of silk and gunpowder from Nuln has gone missing by the Rest Coach Inn and asks for them to find out what’s happened to it. Happy to oblige, the team seem less interested about the details of the job, and more interested in offering an investment deal to Graf Friedrich. They ask Curd to pass on the offer that for 10 gold, they will offer him 5% of their regular daily business, which equates to 1s a day. Weiss does not seem impressed himself, but agrees to take the offer to the Graf. Unable, or more likely unwilling to pay for use of a cart, they offer a deal whereby they offer their payment for a day’s labour for a cart and horse on the understanding that when they return they’ll get the money back.
Setting out for the days travel they pass a garish travelling salesmen, where they equip themselves with extra armour and defensive weapons. After hours of travelling through the Aveland countryside, they happen upon a dirt track leading to a copse of trees. Rungar senses something, but fails to understand what (probably still fuzzy-headed from the previous night’s beers) and the whizzing sound of an arrow signifies that the team are under attack.
Rushing from the copse of trees are 5 mutated and weirdly shaped bandits. Charging into combat the team begin the battle. Lorien kills one of the bandits outright and severely wounds a second. Rimir and Kale charge into combat with the largest of the bandits and get into a slugging fight, while another fires arrows at Rungar. The combat is fast-paced and brutal, but a series of unfortunate turns for the bandits proves costly. Firstly one attempts to swing at Kale, but the effort overwhelms him and he has a heart attack and dies. The hand-to-hand specialist attempts to defeat Rimir, but the dwarf ironbreakers armour proves simply too strong and despite dealing a couple of wounds is eventually overcome.
With only one enemy left, he gives up having been wounded before battle commenced and after some gentle persuasion he reveals that the mutant group were hired by The Black Cowl to disrupt operations of the Red Arrow. It seems the cowl runs a criminal group known as The Red Crown, with orders all over the Empire, whose main driving goal is acceptance of mutants in everyday life. Content they have all the required information, the snap the neck of the final mutant, gather the resources and head back to Averheim on their cart, concerned over this unusual twist in the goals of The Black Cowl.