Finally the Crouching Tiger is ready for service. To make a trip though, a crew is needed. ideally a crew of 10 would be needed, but as few as 3 or 4 can manage the ship. Heading down to the Blue Lady, Vlad is surprised to find Hailong absent. This is something of an annoyance as Vlad had been counting on his experience for finding a decent crew. Mal was in the building though, and claimed to have some experience with ships and offers find a crew. Vlad follows Mal around town as he talks to various people, and they end up at the up-river docking area. Mal’s contacts claim there are a number of out of work sailors here, looking for an easier life than the rivers (some trouble up river causing issues, apparently). 5 men are hired to crew the ship, with Mal acting as captain.
Early the following morning, the group traveling to Siegsdorf meet by the ship. Laima is accompanied by half a dozen mercenaries and a handmaiden. Vlad is surprised to see Aujaq standing by the gangplank. He had met Aujaq, a shaman from the Icewalker tribes, a couple of times outside of town. Inquiring about his presence in town, and at the ship, Aujaq replied that he was told to join our trip by the spirits. Not one to argue with spirits, and also in the hope of improving relations between the town and the barbaric looking shaman, Vlad welcomed him aboard.
As the final preparations for leaving were made, Aujaq performed a short ritual prayer to the spirits for luck and protection on the voyage. Vlad is not familiar with the rites himself, but the crew appeared to appreciate it, and there was some reaction from the spirits at least (hopefully they approved). Mal captained the boat out of the harbour, and they were soon making their way along the coast at a fair rate. The plan was to arrive in Seigsdorf at dusk, with any luck. This being his first trip on the ocean in a ship, Vlad enjoyed himself, and spent a lot of his time watching the crew at work, to better understand how ships worked.
Making good time, they arrive in Siegsdorf in the early evening, not long before sunset. They are greeted by Laima’s contact here, who had arranged for lodgings for them in one of the better inn’s in town. Shortly afterwards, the 4 walked up to the main part of the town to view the new chapel, and meet the high priest of the town. The chapel was an impressive structure, made from much stained glass (one of the principle exports of the town). In the late evening light, it was a beautiful sight.
Introducing himself as the son of Bishop Senex, the local priest was happy to give them a tour, and show off the library that had been assembled to teach locals minor wardings. While the group took some time to study the assembled books and scrolls, the priest excused himself. Vlad quickly spotted the Abyssic Guide, locked in a cabinet. As the others were still looking over the room (or in the case of Aujaq, chanting something – looks like a ritual for talking to or observing spirits), Vlad headed back upstairs to the priest. Taking him aside, he voiced his concerns regarding the presence of the book, and the uses it could be put to. The priest looks concerned, and agrees to immediately move the book to a safer location than the library.
After an evening meal, Vlad walks down to the working district where the kilns and glass makers are, looking for his brothers shop. He finds the place, closed for the evening as the town prepares for a day of celebration tomorrow as the chapel is sanctified. Vlad considers this a little odd, as he thought Teuful was sent to oversee the chapel construction, not start his own business.
The following morning, Vlad was up bright and early. Seeing the number of passed out people on the inn floor (among them Mal), he made sure to get some nice fried bacon for breakfast before heading out to the market faire prior to the sanctification ceremony. Aujaq comes in just as he is leaving and talks of several Wichtel entering town, wearing armour(!) and acting in an organised fashion. Organised vermin? Ridiculous…
Wandering around the market, Vlad spots the stand belonging Teufel. Making his way over, Teufel spots his approach and greets him. Vlad tries to provoke him a little in order to find out why Teufel hadn’t returned for the family get together, and why the chapel was so far behind schedule. Playing the ‘mother’ card eventually gets Teufel to admit that he is going to get married soon, apparently confirming the rumour of his falling in with a women, although the ‘questionable morals’ still needed to be validated. Teufel was dismissive of the over-runs, trying to blame the church ministers for being too picky and demanding of the quality of the stained glass being produced. The exchange ends with a dinner invite for Vlad (and Laima) to meet his fiance. Vlad is not happy with his brothers overt distaste for their father, lack of concern for the family, and (what he currently perceives to be) lack of care for his new found business.
As the morning wears away, the group are taken to a box to view the ceremony (typically long winded). Vlad puts on his best “I’m interested and paying attention” face, practiced over the long years of sermons from his father, while letting his mind wander and contemplate the situation he finds himself in. Father and Mother would be upset to find Teufel getting married. Also, Vlad would be happier with the book in his own possession, but that seems unlikely right now, at least it has been secured.
He snaps out of his reverie as Siegsdorf (the god of the town) materializes in front of his new chapel. An impressive sight with to be sure. Mal and Aujaq seem distracted by something, but Vlad is studying his first real god he has encountered, comparing it to what he has seen of elementals and demons. Slowly he became aware of screaming from the edge of the crowds, and thin streams of smoke starting to rise from a number of buildings – fire! And vermin running the rooftops with torches starting them. lots of them.
Siegsdorf roars with anger, and sets out to try and stop the attack on his town. Mostly working towards extinguishing the fires before too much damage is done. The crowd becomes more chaotic, and a new level of screaming penetrates as more of the vermin appear and start attacking people. Panic ensues, Laima’s mercenaries surround the box. At first Vlad is happy to stay put, protected by the guards, but he suddenly realises that this is likely a distraction to allow someone to steal from the chapel library. He starts to move through the crowd, and the others seem to come to the same realisation and join him.
As he gets close to the church, a new problem arises – not just vermin with knives, but a demon-dog. It grabs a townsman and rips his arm off in a spray of blood and screams. Vlad stops and thinks for a moment – the only possible action he can take on short notice is to banish the demon from the area. It’ll only last a night and a day, but its better than letting the demon eat more people. Vlad focuses his will on the demon, hoping that this will work before the demon can take his throat out (and also hoping no-one would notice his now damp trousers…). The demon immediately turns and moves towards Vlad. Mal and Aujaq’s guardian spirit move to intercept the demon. Laima takes 2 of the mercenaries and heads into the chapel, leaving the other 4 to help outside and guard Vlad. Mal hammers on the demon with his weapons, and the guardian spirit bites into the demon;s hind leg. Mal gets clawed for his troubles. As Vlad finishes exerting his will, the guardian spirit finishes off the demon, destroying it.
With 2 more demons in the crowd, Vlad, his allies and the mercenaries turn to deal with them and save the people. Organising themselves better this time, the demons are soon dealt with, with minimal injuries caused. The final one stopped just before it could disembowel a civilian. Turning at once, they had to the chapel and the library, only to find the room ablaze. Returning outside they help a little with the cleanup before heading back to the ship. On arrival they find one of the crew is dead, and Laima (minus her 2 guards). Talking about events, Laima reveals that there was a woman with several wichtel and another demon in the library searching the books. Obviously this woman was after the Abyssic guide. Hopefully the priest moved it as he promised. When asked if she would recognise the woman again, Laima said no. Vlad accepted this until he ran her phrasing of the reply through his head a few times, and realised she was lying, and would recognise her again…
Vlad was enraged. How dare this manipulative witch protect this woman. How dare she put more innocent lives at risk for her own petty power plays. How dare she dey him information he needs to protect people from such evils as this. A myriad of scenario’s run through his head, from confronting Laima and demanding answers, to abandoning her here and not letting her back on the ship, to ignoring it and trusting her to do the right thing. Ultimately he decides to do nothing for now. Denied this information, he’ll have to dig elsewhere. Someone such as this wont hide for long, especially if she still needs the book. As for Laima’s actions, well now he knows she cant be trusted – looks like its time to investigate her dealings a little more closely.