The Enemy Within

First game
From the letters of Elswyth

Elswyth Bassermann
Feb 15, 2015

Dear Gram,

I was just closing my stall outside the Upright Pig when a gang scuffle broke out of the tavern door and spilled onto the street. I truly hate the gangs here. Truly. Maybe the politicians like them as there might be both profit and power in it for them, yet those of us who need to make a living from civilians walking along the docks are terrifically inconvenienced by their distracting activities.

The leader of the Fish (Kern Knackk) tossed the leader of the Wharf Rats into my young friend, Klaus, who happens to be a Fish himself. The strapping dockhand laid out the opposing leader quite handily. When asked, the Fish leader bought us a round of the slightly less offensive beer at the Pig (slightly less offensive should be read to mean not quite as rancid or watered down as the White Horse ale – a very short step up, as it were). Apparently, people are going missing. One of the Wharf Rat members went missing and accused the Fish of it. The Fish haven’t lost any members as of yet. The missing Wharf Rat is Rolf Haller, a dock hand. There’s a reward for info on him. A few extra coins in my purse to keep the bones company wouldn’t go amiss. I may decide to help.

In other business, some of the business leaders are also vanishing. This confuses matters of loyalty payments.

I also met a new soul to the docks. He’s a dwarf named Mr. Bronssen. Interesting to have a dwarf around. He’s a sturdy and vicious fighter and, unless he has a steady flow of ale, his patience is shorter than his stature. He’s an interesting creature that deserves my attention. As I’ve never met one of his breed, I find him a curiosity. I’ve invited him to a reading tomorrow. I’d love to understand what makes him tick.

That jerk, Faas, that overturned my table last week was there, too. I can’t say I’m happy to have any association with him. How can I trust a man that is so sensitive he can’t mind his temper. Hot-heads make poor allies in intrigue.

On my way into the Horse, I chatted with Ute, one of the women who shares my dormitory room in the eaves of the tavern. She’s the hurdy-gurdy player. Anyway, I asked her about missing people and, in particular, Rolf. She says Rolf is mean – animal kicking mean. They’re offering 30 shillings for info. She suspects it’s another gang at the root of it, but it’s hard to say who with the Black Hood running extortion rings and taking over areas where there have been lots of disappearances. He’s new to the area. He’s either very powerful or a small player overextending his reach. Most disappearances were crime lords, so Rolf’s disappearance doesn’t fit the pattern. Curiouser and curiouser.

I’m tired from my day. I’ll to bed early, though I doubt I’ll sleep for a while. I want to juggle some of the new morsels of information I learned today and see if I can splice a few bits together and fit them into the bigger picture.

Love, E.

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First Game
Engelbrecht Faas

Excerpts from the notes of Inquisitor Konrad von Markstadt:

Averheim incident of <date>

Averheim Docks

Inquisitor’s note: This is an interview gathered by the watch and included because I suspect it provides background to the events that followed.

Suspect Engelbrecht Faas continues to insist that he was merely staying at the Upright Pig and had no further involvement in the gang fighting.

He claims that when the fight that spilled into the street several participants ran into a docker, dwarf and himself. “The pansy Wharf mice couldn’t take a hit and ran after just one punch” is all he will say about the ensuing fight.

He admits to meeting the leader of the Fish, Gerd Knakk, and said “he rambled on about something and only caught my attention when he mentioned that the Hooks are involved in smuggling and that the Wharf Rats are missing a guy, vanished, like my brother and many others here.”

I attempted to pursue the topic of the smugglers topic but the suspect got belligerent and insisted the missing transients were more important than a gang avoiding the Emperor’s taxes, how ridiculous. I am sure the gutter trash just moved on to plague another city.

Inquisitor’s note: The rest of the report continues in the same vein and is unrelated but points to Engelbrecht Faas, a dwarf and a dock worker investigation the missing of Averheim.

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Elswyth's Second Letter

Gram,

It’s looking more and more like I’m involved in a serious sleuthing adventure! Today was more exciting than yesterday. It reminds me greatly of those stories you’d tell by the fire when I sat at your knee knitting (poorly). I just know you’ll enjoy my exploits once I’ve sent you the whole of them, so I’ll write as much detail as I remember.

This morning I woke, ate in my dorm, and ventured outside to meet young Klaus, the dwarf, and Fass outside the Pig. We have decided to seek our fortunes and solve the riddle of the missing crime lords — as well as the missing townsfolk — in earnest.

As I wended my way down the dock street, I noticed Olga Klinsky, the fishmonger, waving me over with a piece of paper in her hand. Her husband, Yurgin Fisherman, has been missing for 8 days. He left the security of the house after dark to fetch wood for the fire and never returned. There was nary a trace of him. Her young son is now braving the river to fish for their living. Poor lad. And they paid the expense to have the flyers printed for a populous that largely cannot read. Rambracht created the flyers, so I know it wasn’t inexpensive, though he clearly could have been more truthful than to print Olga’s rather generous description of her gnarled old husband’s graces.

Once reunited with our intrepid little band, I reported my discussion with Ute to the group. I also share Yurgin’s disappearance and show them the flyer. I made sure to note that his disappearance and that of the young dockhand do not fit the pattern of missing crime lords. It was noted that the disappearance of the crime lords might be different from the disappearance of Rolf the dock hand and yurgin the fisherman. Suppositions of slavers were bandied about and quickly dismissed. A slaver ship would be noticed running up and down our river, for they would need to transport the victims far away to not be recognized.

We walked to Temple Square and into the Temple of Verena (goddess of knowledge and learning) to deliver Mr. Bronson’s letters. One was for the sub-lechter. The other for an initiate Rudolph. The sub-lechter places Brother Rudolph into the service of Dwarf Bronson in investigating these disappearances.

It was suggested I speak to Matilda (the local fence who works with the Hoods) to see if she knows anything. I found her at the Upright Pig. She had little information that we didn’t already know. Rudolf had some papers that document sectrets stolen, Matilda suggests Klaus Keller may know. She says there were 6-8 local crime lords and maybe half of them are now missing.

Klaus Keller is an extortionist. His men come once a week for their extortion money collection from all the shops in his “district.” As we trace him, we enter an alley and find Klaus’s body in a crate. It looks like he was killed by poisoned blades both the small knife wounds in his back and the large sword slashes in his front. Fresh body. Brother Rudolph goes to fetch the proper authorities, Fass stays to guard the body, and the rest of us ask in the other street to see if he had recently collected from them. With Klaus’ death, another crime lord is out of the picture.

Our young Klaus stops a local cutpurse, Fritz Flink, from making off with Mr. Bronson’s purse. Bronson punches him. Shifty kid tries to escape and use his fake connections with the Black Hood. I convince him if Fritz hears anything truly about the Black Hood, he’ll come find me and whisper it in my ear.

I spot Friederich Gross. He’s another local crime lord. He says it’s the crime lords that refuse to pay the Black Cowl to continue working their turf that are being killed. He says he found a note INSIDE his home making it very clear he needs to share the wealth with the Black Cowl.

When I set up my mystic stand that night, I notice I’m making more custom from some of the low level criminals asking about the wisdom of possibly changing their business models, ie, start paying the Black Cowl. It was a very profitable night.

After work, we all head to Keller’s warehouse headquarters to ask his people if they already are affiliated with the Black Cowl. That overly-bold Fass bursts in the window and a fight ensues. The lads kill one and negotiate for info from the other three. They agree to the plan we’ve devised to pay the Black Cowl when they are approached and to let Mme Iona know so we can track them and chase them up the chain.

I return to the Horse and to eat and sleep with plans to reunite tomorrow morning at the Pig again.

Yours with love, E.
Elswyth Bassermann

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