An insult of the worst sort

During the witching hour Sofiya receives a note from the circle instructing her to gather as much information as she can about Sir Gerhard Sattler. Currently she only knows that he is a bachelor knight of the court. Leaving Xarth in charge of the store she drags Briz along with her to a small tavern near the Baron’s manor.

At the tavern they make the acquaintance of a traveling merchant named Valter who takes fine woods into the Three Kingdoms and brings clothes and dyes north. He tells them tales of the Elves closing down parts of the Bornheim Trade Road that goes west from Ulrichstein. He does not take that route himself because of the danger, but he has talked to several merchants that have been forced to leave the road and travel north to get around the elven blockade.

During the conversation Sofiya notices two well-dressed young me sitting at a nearby table, one of them constantly looks over and seems very interested in their conversation. When she bids a good day to Valter she goes to their table and tries to intimidate the nosy man. Instead the man accuses her to being a trollop that should not talk to her betters.

Sofiya drags the man outside and proceeds to verbally beret him. The young man wilts under her verbal assault. He eventually tells her that his father is interested in Sir Sattler as well. Briz tries to stop her, but is stopped by the young man’s companion. He tells Briz that the young man is the oldest son of Sir Himmel of Prinz, so Briz decides to stop Sofiya. Sofiya tries to punch Briz, so he just leaves her to her fate.

Back at the store, Xarth is trying his best to stack some bolts of cloth, while Ian is moving them to different parts of the store. Suddenly Ian grabs a knife and goes running out of the store. Stunned, Xarth takes a moment before following him. Ian unerringly makes his way at a full run through the streets of a town he has never been in before – something is driving him. Xarth can see Sofiya up ahead shouting and gesturing at a young man.

Ian charges through the crowd, shoving anybody in his way. He grabs the man and throws him to the ground. While the man cowers on the ground he kicks his groin repeatedly. Xarth, much like Briz, decides it is best to not get involved so he leaves before things get worse. The guard arrives in short order, just as Ian climbs atop the tavern and runs off. Berchtwald, the captain of the guard, arrests Sofiya while ordering the rest of his guards to chase Ian.

Quick, Hide the Evidence

When Xarth gets back to the store, he finds Briz already there. He tells Briz what  happened after he left. They go to talk to Carina, but discover that she has fled out the back at some time. Fearing that there is evidence she left in the room they search it. The only thing that they find is a small unadorned metal box along with bits of junk. Briz puts all of that in a satchel and leaves town – awaiting word from Xarth that it is safe to come inside.

Ian manages to elude the guards enough that he is finally able to get over the wall and hide in the woods. Sofiya is taken before Lord Ulrichstein to explain her actions as well as the actions of Ian. She says she knows nothing about Ian, only that she hired him yesterday after overhearing that he carried himself well during the battle at the east gate. She defends herself, but not well enough. Baron Ulrichstein revokes her writ to operate her store. She and her staff are restricted from leaving the town.

Xarth sends a note to Briz to tell him to come back. Given Ian’s situation they simply tell him to run. Ian ignores it, but does manage to steal a dress as a disguise just in case he needs to come back inside.

That night Valter visits the store to trade the goods he agreed to during Sofiya’s visit to the tavern. He is dismayed to learn that she has lost her permit to sell, but thankfully he still has his. While discussing trade, Valter tells her about a string of elven attacks upon various small holdings and crafthalls.

Help in Strange Quarters

Xarth tries to find out more about the attacks, but Squire Kaufmann manages to find him first. He tells Xarth that he is willing to use his family’s connections to help Sofiya if they would investigate something that is happening in his family’s holding of Luckau. Xarth claims that they are simple merchants, but Kaufmann is simply not accepting of his pleas.

So, with little else available to them they pack some supplies and follow the river north. Along the way they leave a note for Ian telling him to follow them quietly until they are well clear of town.

Prinz

Several hours later they reach the village of Prinz. Given that this is the manorial seat of Sir Himmel, Briz and Xarth go into town to listen for rumors. They overhear a story that the sawmill to the west was attacked by orcs and is now haunted by vengeful spirits.

With just enough daylight remaining, they turn west and near sunset reach the sawmill. There is an unnatural feeling to the area, particularly at the sawmill itself. Xarth convinces Briz to use his magic to feel out what he really happening in the lumberyard. Sofiya stays in the wood line while Xarth and Ian follow Briz.

As Briz probes forward opening himself up to his magic, ghostly spirits begin to rise from the ground. Suddenly they charge forward attacking all three men. Xarth and Ian get cut up by the ghosts of the lumberjacks, but it is Briz that suffers the worst. He is knocked down and drug into the sawmill. The door slams shut with a resounding thud.

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