The whereabouts of Commorry Tenksmann is something that is of interest to several of the travellers, namely Zeru Otxoa, Skal Dreissel, Geesje Van Kuipers and Jorik, though others are also curious. Wasting little time after being sat down and gathered about him, they put their questions to him, namely where was he and why was he, as a fellow traveller of theirs, not clapped in irons and paraded upon a stage before a bitter painful end?
The tinker can see the mistrust and resolute set of jaw around him, and calls them closer and bids them say nothing of what he shows them next, for their own sake as well as his own. Intrigued, they inch in closer, and he pulls a golden Heidelen crown from his pocket and places it on the table, tails side up. He then turns it over, and they can see that it has a red smear upon the crowned head, and much becomes clear to them, for such a sign indicates that the holder is, if not a member, at least in the employ of The Guild of Red and Gold, the feared and powerful crime syndicate based in Heidelgard City but with control and influence into every nation on the continent (or so it is said). He quickly adds that he is not in the Guild but does transportation and smuggling for it, and when he showed his mark (and paid some judicious bribe money) the Acquitants let him be, for though the Society is all-powerful, only a fool would needlessly meddle in the affairs of the Guild. Mystery solved, the travellers turn in at various points, a little wiser about their fellow travellers and who is to be trusted and who is perhaps not. Also before bed, the matter of the 120 gold is decided, with Fulica, Romus Tachthorne and Calliszia Myinarra amongst those who opt out of the proceeds. The others share the money out, making sure that Padron Baddros and his family get 20 Gold, a very handsome sum and of great use to the impoverished family for when they get to the city.
On the 17th day of the Fore of Spring, 520 AC
A cool morning sun greets the travellers, and after a breakfast quickly eaten, they depart, quickly seeking to put Hesjen behind them and press on towards their destination. They make good progress, but by about mid day they get to a small crossroads, and the observant note the sound of a large murder of crows in the woodland to the north. Some go to investigate, and come upon a tragic scene, that of the bodies of 4 people outside the front of their house, one man and woman (still in matching wedding bands) and 2 lads in their mid to late teens. All have met violent ends, with the mans front burnt terribly from some fiery blast, the 2 lads dead by sword blows and thrusts, and the woman with a strange blasted hole in her back that doesn’t look like any wound they are familiar with. Robbery is not the reason the travellers establish as much someone might value (the silvered wedding bands for starters) is still about the people and the property. Some tracks of horses are found locally as well, perhaps several days old. The motive is unknown, but Jorik is able to say some words after the travellers bury the people, taking nothing from the scene.
The party finally arrive at the next settlement, a small village known to Commorry. He manages to get a good deal for the common room (free) and the party pass on the knowledge to the locals about the tragedy earlier encountered, which is well sadly but thankfully received. The innkeeper advises that they have seen quite a few travellers in the recent days, with tales of strange foreign nobles and their guards, troops of soldiers on horseback, odd mercenaries, and of especial interest to Zeru, a very striking and attractive woman from the south who passed this way, armed as he was with pistols. Zeru carries a very good likeness of her, and the innkeeper does indeed verify it is her. This is good news for the Cassezan. Night time passes quietly, amidst some companiable drinking and chatter, though the innkeeper does advise that as it is early spring, bandit season in some parts of the countryside is again underway. This proves to be somewhat prophetic as it turns out.
On the 18th of the Fore of Spring, 520 AC
Geesje scouts ahead as the travellers depart the village making good time, and she passes like a ghost through the light woodland of the area that the road cuts through. However, she is rather more surprised to note that as she sits in the woodland near the road taking stock, the sound of activity behind her in the undergrowth (failed Perception rolls are a bummer). She then sees a group of 4 men, 3 of whom seem like rough country sorts armed with cudgels and staves lugging a large log out of the trees and across the road, barring the way. The 4th man wears what seems to be well worn soldier armour and apparel of some foreign design, and he is armed with a sword and a crossbow. She nocks her bow and remains hidden, to see what happens.
Sure enough, the travellers and the wagon appear around the twist of the road, and stop as they take in the scene. The observant of them take in the scene, and the really observant see what Geesje has a good view, of more men similarly armed hidden in the undergrowth either side of the road. The well armed of the men steos forward, though remains standing behind the large log, and he greets the travellers in a musical and friendly voice with more than a hint of Varun about his accent (which makes sense as Skal recognises the trappings of a likely former soldier of Varrunna). He advises the travellers that they must pay a toll for passing the local toll, and that this humble toll is but 1 golden crown for the wagon and a silver each for the others. Skal plants his hammer at his feet and stands before the wagon, looking for all the world the very image of a non toll payer, whilst the others think and Geesje decides that if anything kicks off she hits the Varunnan first with a well loosed arrow.
What could have been an ugly scene is rapidly defused by the surprising offer of Fulica to pay the whole toll for everyone, which would amount to about 2 Golden crowns. Nobody argues at this, and she tosses the moneys in a small hankie towards the log, where one of the rough fellows picks it up and verifies that it is actually the money (the other travellers half expected an explosion or worse). At this the smiling Varunnan gets his men to move the log out of the way, and they allow the travellers to pass. Also surprisingly, the wagon passes on its way with no mischief, though Geesje remains behind in hiding to make sure. She does witness a total of about 12 men all told who appear from the surrounds, though poorly armed and desperate looking; she also sees the soldier/mercenary hand out the moneys to them, keeping none for himself it seems. At this she rejoins her comrades.
Fulica is warmly thanked by the other travellers, especially by Romus who is relieved that a horrid scene of blood and violence is averted, and with this being the days only real event of note, they arrive at the next township later that day and acquire rooms for the night.
(The journey from the 19th up to the 27th is uneventful, passing as it does through more and more settled lands of Heidelgard, the closer they get to their destination)
On the 27th of the Fore of Spring, 520 AC
With an uneventful time of it so far (apart from seeing 2 airships high overhead in the sky one day), the travellers are now passing through heavily settled and safer land, and by mid morning set eyes for the first time on the great and famous metropolis of Heidelgard City. Even with about 7 or 8 hours travel to go, the city is a great smoggy mass in the distance, and as they slowly approach and the day slowly draws on, Commorry points out some landmarks visible from here, until as the sun sets they join the line of traffic awaiting entry to the city. Typically, the wily tinker catches the eye of one of the town watch on gate duty and gets himself, his wagon and his fellow travellers admitted quicker. He exchanges some pleasantries (and some coin) with the man, and advises the party they wait a moment whilst he awaits a “friend”.
Sure enough, a wide shouldered and strong looking red haired man detaches himself from an alleyway where he was completely unseen, and he walks over to Commorry, exchanging some words. The mans voice is a soft rolling burr, which some note indicates he comes from northern Heidelgard, but he is all business as he pases coin to the tinker and opens up the hidden compartment at the back of the wagon. Fulica notes a number of small bottles and compounds within, recognising the uses of them (alcohol and narcotic production mainly, plus worse); her interest is noted by the keen eyed and perceptive man, who asks her if she likes what she sees. She looks away quickly, and in moments the quick fingered man has all the bottles and sundries secreted about his person and invisible to the naked eye. He tosses out a cryptic “Be seein’ you” to the air, and blends into the crowd; thus the party make the acquaintance of one Brandt.
Now within the city, principally the malodorous and unpleasant Traadsvecht district, Commorry offers them his advice on the best of the travellers inns within the area, The 4 Cards; this establishment is reasonably priced and compared to some places, quite mild and safe given that most (if not all) of its clientele are boatpeople and canalfolk; it is also close to 2 breweries and doesn’t have too many tanneries near to it. The party accept, given it is now dark and they are all tired, so he leads them to a sturdy place next to a large trade canal. Inside they quickly get the last 3 rooms (deciding to share if needs be) as the inn fills up with working people keen to get outside of an ale or 5. Commorry also offers, at least for the following day, to act as guide to any who need to get to anywhere, before he goes off to do what he does in this city. Of note also, is the presence of a number of Priests, Parsons and Reverends from The Non-Affiliated Clergy, here to attend a conference at a local inn called the 3 Cups, though there seems to have been a hiccup.
With the first night in the largest city on Accitaine imminent, they all contemplate what this magnificent, monstrous and bustling city has in store for them, for as sure as there is no sun nor stars nor moon in the sky, it will have implications and ramifications for all of them….