After checking out the Bower house, we follow the neighbor’s advice and head off to the Horenbach (the den of sin.) Along the way we pass by a street of people suffering from the plague. We avoid that street.
There are people passed out in front of the Horenbach. Its reputation for debauchery seems to be well-deserved. We go up to the the front door and the bouncer lets all of us in, except for Ogg. “No kids!” he says. We try to explain to him that Ogg is something different, but he is unmoved.
Inside we find The Joy. She’s surrounded by an entourage of sycophants who do her bidding for pleasure and amusement. We talk with her a little, with Xiavatius taking the lead. She offers to tell us things, but only if we can pay her price. We’re tentative, but go ahead and ask about Gabrielle Bower. The Joy’s price is high — Otto is tied to a table and is ravaged and savaged for an hour. There seems to be no permanent damage and, fortunately, The Joy is satisfied with his performance.
Gabrielle, The Joy tells us, brought The Seven together just before they were about to be arrested by the local authorities. She cast a spell out of her spellbook, died, and then — poof! — The Seven were in charge of the town. The Bower House imploded and the Familiars appeared (Familiars? A monstrous familiar attached itself to each of The Seven, apparently some sort of arcane protector.) The Joy describes Gabrielle’s spellbook to us and it sounds very much like Joot’s “play”. She says she doesn’t know what happened to the spellbook after the implosion, but perhaps The Mother has is.
We ask about The Mother and The Joy offers us another deal: go to the cemetery at sunset and scare The Defiler and then she will talk. We agree (out of protocol, not commitment) and take our leave.
We go into the main square and wait for lunch. While there we hear some rumors:
- The Mother no longer lives in Karlstadt
- The Seven have a headquarters up on Goblin Hill, SE of Hamelinburg
- there’s a closed smuggler’s tunnel on the north side of the city
- there’s a lion in the swamp that has stolen a lot of people
The Provider actually does feed the entire town. After lunch we are able to talk with her a little bit. There we see one of The Seven’s familiars for the first time — it looks like a giant squid with spiked tentacles. The Provider says that she is able to feed the town with her magic (so she’s a real witch) and that she has been able to do this even before the explosion (so whatever Gabrielle’s spell was, it wasn’t the source of The Seven’s magic.)
We talk about it and Otto (again!) agrees to let himself be the victim of one of The Seven. He will hide amongst the dead at the cemetery to scare The Defiler at sunset. The Defiler is an old woman with an axe followed by her familiar, which is about as big as a medium-sized dog. As she poked around the corpses, looking for undead, Otto jumped up and shouted, “Surprise!” The Defiler was surprised, so much so she took a swing at Otto. She missed and Rowan and Xiavatius ran to try to defuse the situation. Eventually they were able to, but only after The Defiler was able to get a good hit on Otto’s leg. We dragged him out of the cemetery and returned to the Horenbach, mission accomplished.
This time Ogg was able to convince the bouncer to let him in. The Joy seems happy to hear about our little “prank” on The Defiler and tells us about The Mother. The Mother is a fraud, she says, she lives out at Goblin Hill (confirmation!) with the guards and is doing nothing to help the town. She is able to give us better directions to Goblin Hill. Beware of The Mother’s familiar, The Joy warns us.
We ask about the guards, the “millizaniars”. The price is pleasuring The Joy, which Rowan does reluctantly, but with apparently enough prowess to satisfy her (and vice versa — he is highly susceptible to her particular brand of magic!) The guards are under the command of The Mother and they’re mostly incompetent, she says, but there is a secret order within them. Don’t surrender to them.
We see a guarded well by the old church which is being used as barracks for the guards.
Xiavatius is approached by someone and asked to consecrate a makeshift church on the west side of town. He says he will see what he can do, and eventually he goes along with Otto and Rowan. He is asked, and agrees to give Communion. The man (what’s his name?) says that Xiavatius is welcome to use the church as a sanctuary when he is in town. Xiavatius thanks him and we agree to spend the night there. He heals Otto and they go to sleep while Rowan goes back to the Horenbach to retrieve Ogg and Runa. Runa comes along, but Ogg is already ensconced in a cabinet.
The night is uneventful and we get a full night’s sleep, except for Ogg who has trouble getting to sleep with all of the sighing and moaning and whipping going on around him.
In the morning we wait for gate to open at eleven. When we leave, as soon as we get across the bridge the old man from yesterday approaches us. You must help this family, he tell us. Bandits have kidnapped their child and is holding her for a one-thousand silver piece ransom. They want the money delivered to a barn to the north. That’s sort of on the way to Goblin Hill so, while we don’t promise anything, we say we’ll see what we can do.
Then our wagon arrives, but only one of our retainers is there. It’s Talath, the teamster. He says that last night they were attacked by a ‘glass lion’ and Tom (the linkboy) was dragged off. Talath takes us to where the attack was and we’re able to follow the tracks into the swamp, to giant earthen mound with a pair of double doors in front of it. One of the doors is open….
OOC: once again, because it’s just that awesome, Captain Cabinet! . Also, I figured out where “Talath” and “Tom” came from — “Talath” is Orion’s email address (what I had in my character sheet before I met him) and Tom was a prospective players that didn’t show up, now both immortalized as NPCs.