The Disappearance Squad

My Preacher Eva continues to record our adventures in Zweihänder on Roll20, as we return from rescuing Baron Barnstable from the Broo and discover that there has been further unrest in the city.

Our journey back towards Sielzen was pretty uneventful. At several of the villages, Baron Barnstable was welcomed with both joy and concern – and wherever possible they took as best care of him as they could. We are ourselves treated as honoured guests, for having rescued him and brought him back safely. I haven’t seen this much devotion to a member of the nobility by the peasantry before.

We knew the route pretty well, and once we are out of the woods most of it was across open fields and clear roads so the going was easy. We reached the river, and managed to catch a boat heading down towards the city.

Boat travel is much easier for the Baron, and it should give him some time to recover rather than walking across country.

As we approached the city, we noticed that there were clouds of smoke hanging over the southern part of the city near the river, and on arrival at the docks were informed that there had been some rioting and arson the previous night which had set part of the city alight.

I informed the dock hands that we had Baron Barnstable in the boat, and that he was unwell, and paid one of the young children hanging around to take a message up to the castle to let them know he had arrived, and that we needed a transportation from the docks to the castle.

Once the dock hands believed us, they became very defensive of the baron, and kept a guard on the boat until the castle sent us down a carriage and some castle guards. Apparently the Baron’s reputation has spread to here as well.

Whilst we waited, I told them what had happened, trying to play up the Baron’s involvement and keeping our own achievements downplayed. Whilst I was telling our story, Calthar noticed one of the street urchins trying to sneak up to where the Baron was laying – possibly to steal something. She gave a yell at him, and he scurried off.

Eventually the carriage turned up, and after a discussion about who hda the right to do what, the dockhands carefully moved the Baron to the carriage, and he was taken up to the castle. Calthar gave the dockhands a tip – 10 silver which was considerable. I’m not certain she was entirely aware of how generous a tip that had been.

By the time that we reached the castle, Captain Sarkas was there, looking very happy to see us, and even happier that we had brought Baron Barnstable back in one piece. He paid us 13 hold for our troubles, a share of which we gave to Noreen for her help. She didn’t seem to care much for the Captain, until I mentioned to her that he was the one who paid people for bounties, at which point she became somewhat more respectful.

The castle itself had been greatly cleaned up, and even given a lick of paint since we were last here. The number of guards has probably doubled as well – Baron Ottowild is obviously taking no chances for his big meeting.

The Captain told us that there had been riots in the poor quarter the previous night – it was the gangs fighting again. Apparently what was left of the Heavies had gone after the House Martins, and started a big fight and several fires. At any rate, he wanted us to deliver a report as normal, preferably by lunch time tomorrow.

So whilst Calthar and myself went back to the inn to get cleaned up and put together a report, Djarin went off to find his contact at the House Martins.

Apparently, what had happened was that the Heavies had tried to kidnap Trevor, one of the high ranking members of the House Martin’s gang. A couple of guys had been seen hanging around his house, and some time later it was noticed that his door was left open and he and his family were missing.

Several of the locals decided to take it upon themselves to seek revenge, and attacked anyone who had previously been associated with the Heavies, and so the rioting had begun.

However, this seems very similar to what has happened to previous families, and more supernatural than gang related. That’s not to say that the Heavies aren’t involved, but whatever (and I use ‘what’ rather than ‘who’) took Trevor and his family was possibly not entirely human.

The House Martin’s are willing to pay us 10 gold if we can find out what happened to Trevor, or 15 gold if we bring him back alive.

Calthar and myself took the report up to the guard house (and Calthar took some alcohol). There seems to be planning in progress for heavier patrols around the city, for the walls were covered in maps with guard rotas and patrol routes marked on them. Though there was no official bounties, Captain Sarkas was willing to pay us 1 gold for each leader of the Heavies that we can find and link to a crime, or 6 silver for each gang member.

Whilst leaving though, the Captain’s scribe, Smithers, quietly indicated that he wanted to talk to us ‘on the down low’ later.

When we met him at an inn at lunchtime, her provided us with a report book he’d ‘borrowed’ from the guard house. Apparently there had been a guard squad investigating the missing people, but that squad had been put onto ‘other duties’, and were no longer part of the normal guard rosta.

The reports they’d filed, of which this was one, had been locked up and the Captain had made it clear that no more time should be wasted on looking into the missing persons. As long as we could return the report book, we could borrow it for the evening to look for clues. Though the Captain had forbidden anyone looking into the problem, people were getting nervous.

By the time we returned to our own inn, Djarin hadn’t had much luck finding out anything else reliable (though had come back with many stories that we considered unreliable). The one accurate bit of information he had though was that Noreen had apparently set up shop in the city, funded by back pay that her brother had owed her, and was in fact working as an alchemist.

The report book was mostly full of reports and schedules, but contained some interesting information. Apparently 1-2 people have been vanishing on average each week for the past several months, over and above what could be accounted for normally.

Originally, a squad of four had been assigned to investigate the disappearances:

  • Alan Deeming
  • Connor Staitwaite
  • Helen Bonhomme
  • Neris Altman

However, these four were no longer reporting to the guard’s headquarters, and as far as anyone could determine were now ‘unattached’ and not assigned to anything official. Someone in authority (whether it was the Captain or someone above him) had decided that the situation was no longer worth investigating (or, more likely, it was very much worth investigating but they didn’t want it investigated).

The “Disappearance Squad”, as they’d been known, had been detached from the normal guards about a month ago.

I went to visit the Order of Redemption, to see if I could take a closer look at the stained glass window. My ‘friend’ in the Inquisition had suggested that this was worth looking at, and that I should try to find out more, but though we suspected them of being up to no good, we had no evidence of anything.

Apparently, only those of the Inner Circle were allowed upstairs to where the window was, everyone else had to view it from down below. There were special ceremonies that the Inner Circle held most weeks, and the next one would be tonight. With the room lit from the inside, the window should be more clearly visible from the street.

Calthar investigated the missing persons, asking around in the city and finding out that no-one had gone missing from the rich or Lubreckian quarters. Guards had been asking about it, until about a month ago when all interest in it stopped.

Djarin was able to find out that Helen and Connor were former heavies who had become guardsmen a while back. More recently, they have been seen at the warehouse with the tunnel. It may be worth some further investigation tonight.

We have dropped by the Order of Redemption, but beyond some lights in the top room that lit up the stained glass window, with signs of people moving around, and singing from a service down on the ground floor, there wasn’t much going on. We had considered trying to break in, but as always the problem is we’re not sure what we’d gain given the risk.

It is now past midnight, so we’re heading to explore the warehouse. I don’t think anyone has taken interest in our curiosity, though there was a unusual cold wind at one point whilst we were standing outside the Order’s church. It was probably nothing.

Samuel Penn