After the kerfuffle with those ruffians, I checked to see if the Gravin was harmed. Just frightened, fortunately, and no injuries. One marauder rode off. The rest lay slain around the coach.
Brother Octavius checked the bodies for tattoos or signs of taint, but found none. When Otto examined their possessions, he found several pistols, some with the marking of Averheim—pistols used by the watch. The least filthy of the bandits was also wearing an Averland uniform. From the Mountain Guard perhaps. This uniform and these guns are Government Issue from Averland and its capital. This will make a juicy tidbit of gossip: scandal, corruption and Baerfaust is probably involved somehow.
As if there weren’t already enough unpleasantness for the Gravin this day, Otto opens the door to the coach and addresses Clothilde. He was love-sick and drooling and babbled some sweet words. Then he had the nerve to ask for permission to write her. Oh dear! She smiled magnanimously and said that he could. I am so glad she took pity on the poor wretch.
Brother Octavius provided some measure of healing to those wounded, with Eisa being the most severely injured. The wizard tied the bandit’s horses to the coach. Some of the horses were branded, and I can almost remember the mark. The bodies were loaded over the horses’ backs. We continued on to the Gravin’s manor, while Peander was on the lookout for tracks from the raider who got away.
Of course, Peander spotted a trail going off the road. The plan was for Eisa and Otto to track the bandit while the rest continued on. Peander led a horse into the wood so that Eisa and Otto could reunite with the rest of us and share information. Before that plan could pan out, Peander and Jaimyn found the camp. Otto and Octavius were not far behind. Eisa and I stayed in the coach with the Gravin.
Otto returns with a frightened ragamuffin. He tells us about the unkempt camp and the man they found there. Jaimyn, Peander and Octavius stayed behind to question the man. Scent of wood smoke drifted on the breeze. We question the girl, who apparently is the cook for the band.
The men return a few minutes later and share what they learned. The last survivor of the failed heist was persuaded to tell them about his boss, Hector. He was the one in the Averland uniform. Hector worked for “The Hood.” This is another tie between the troubles in Averheim and the highway robberies.
The Gravin decides to see after the girl’s welfare, and we take her with us the manor. The von Alptraum home is magnificent, and Clothilde was a gracious hostess. We were fed a fine meal and gently healed before we returned to the city. When the coach drops us off, he tosses us a bag of 30 silver.
Not wanting to parade corpses through the city, when we reached the gates, I insisted we be taken to see Captain Baerfaust immediately. He greets us (if you could call it that) and walks us to a more private area, where there was a large hedge, a vast lawn, and on the far side, some cages. I told Baerfaust the story, leaving out talk of the girl, the guns, and Otto’s shameful licentiousness. Of course, in return, Baerfaust does not offer to share anything. It’s like pulling teeth from an old horse.
We then go to Curd and tell him the same story, only this time, we did mention the guns. Jaimyn offers up his two. Curd pays us 60 silver, plus some interesting small talk. You won’t believe this: Kaufmann had proposed to the Gravin. Is there a heart she has not yet broken? Curd also told us those cages are for creatures that were captured during Kaufman’s expedition to the dark south. There is an upcoming gala where the elite can learn of the exotic expedition and Kaufman’s findings.
Curd made arrangements for us at the Journey’s end. Otto goes to look for Ute and spends the night in her home. The next morning we are breakfasting together when we are joined by Graf von Kaufman. I was thrilled beyond words that he would grace us with his presence. He came to hire us for additional security for this gala, which he called “just a garden party.” Otto then starts a hard barter with the Graf, 30 silver for each of us. I was so embarrassed and appalled at his lack of obeisance. Otto requested access to the site that evening, for reconnaissance. He was later denied, because of his rudeness, no doubt.
The party is at the Averberg Castle! I’ve dreamed of going there since I was a small girl. Thank you, Sigmar, for this gift! We are to report for work at 10:00 am tomorrow. We spend the rest of the day in preparation.
Brother Octavius bought some meat and opiates. Hmm… Otto and I go shopping for clothes, and we find him a dashing suit. Otto learns some disturbing news from an acquaintance named Hans. It turns out that Fritz (the stalker) is missing, and some beggar is not in his normal spot and can’t be found. Poor Ute is still missing.
Now of course, I must find the perfect dress.