What Happens in Nuln
This adventure is loosely a continuation of Welcome to Nuln!.
Act 1 – The Oldenhaller Contract
Our adventurers are making their way to Councilor Oldenhaller’s mansion, in the Handelbezirk quarter in Nuln, to respond to a job offer he posted at the Deutz Helm board.
Gossiping first in a tavern, they find out that Councillor Oldenhaller is a significant trader within the city, and has the ear of the Countess herself. As a merchant he has a reputation as being both direct and fair, and can be trusted to keep his word. However, they also find out that he is known to have a ruthless streak, and should not be lightly conned or crossed.
His mansion is richly decorated. The floors are covered with oriental rugs and the walls are hung with family portraits, hunting trophies and framed contracts and bonds. Upon being introduced to the Councillor, and after an uncomfortable silence as he scrutinizes them each in turn, he explains the situation: The adventurers are to, discreetly, recover a magical gem, which has been acquired by his house, but which his agents have failed to make delivery of. He goes on to explain the “agents” are a gang of smugglers known as the Schatzenheimer gang. They are led by a man named Kurt Holster.
While he doesn’t know the whereabouts of the gang or its leader, which is why he is hiring the adventurers, he suggests them however to start their investigation in the scum part of the town: the wharf in Shantytown.
The party, after a brief pause picking up Ademar’s gear, heads down to the wharf. There, they take the time to observe the busy docks, looking for potential gang members going about their shoddy business. Well, they find some shoddy business: a group of beggars has an organized set-up to relieve from their purses queasy merchants fresh out of their ships.
Ademar and the group quickly set-up a trap to catch one of those thieves, and when so, proposes the man, to his surprise, some silvers for information. After following him to a dark alley, a tense stand-up takes place between the beggars and the party. However, a few silvers ease the tension.
The party learns that the Schatzenheimer gang is mainly made up of Nulners: they forge currency and trade in contraband and stolen goods. The gang resides in the Asylum, and shares it with two other gangs. The Asylum entrance is hidden within the Maze’s black market, and the thieves do not know where it is. Kurt however regularly visit the Drunken Bird, a brothel off the wharf quarter, located in the Alley of the Sighs. He has a favorite: an Estalian girl named Margarit.
Act 2 – The Drunken Bird
The Drunken Bird is a brothel off the wharf quarter. The house is two stories tall with a stone ground floor and a timber upper floor. A round turret rises from one corner. Many of the windows are colored and there is a lantern with scarlet glass that hangs above the entrance door.
Berthold isn’t keen on entering this Sigmar’s forsaken place, and Anya goes on haranguing the group about the oppression of women, and typical male behaviors. However, after confusing the dumb bouncer and paying less than the normal fare, Richard and Ademar are gingerly entering the brothel, while Berthold and Anya go around the back and wait.
While inside, Richard and Ademar make acquaintance a couple girls, while observing the brothel scene. They spot a man alone with bodyguards, probably the owner of the brothel. Ademar decides to pay for the services of both acquaintance, Josie, and the girl named Margarit. He is promptly then brought up to Margarit room. Margarit is a stunningly beautiful woman, and the bed sheet does nothing to conceal her shapely curves, but Ademar has been around and resist her charm.
After paying both girls, he goes and takes “some fresh air”, opening the huge window-door giving onto the porch, all the while chitchatting with the bemused girl (after all, their clients are more used to disrobe than need fresh air).
Unfortunately for the girl displeasure, Ademar explains he is “looking for a man”… Really? In here? How disappointing! When Ademar mentions Kurt’s name, Margarit asks Josie to leave her alone with the stranger. In the meantime, Berthold has expertly climbed up the porch of the bedroom. Thanks to Ademar expertly distracting the girls, Berhtold is not seen nor heard until Josie leaves the room. The Sigmarite has then to confess that the sight of Margarit is… enthralling.
Ademar convinces Margarit that he doesn’t mean to hurt Kurt, but is in need to find him. He learns that Kurt has missed his usual appointment with Margarit, and she is concerned for his health. After all, he had a very bad cough lately. She also reveals that Kurt was supposed to party this past night at Madam Bogenshutze, a smoke and drug parlor in the Black Market, an area deep within the Maze. The Madam should know of Kurt whereabouts.
At this moment, Margarit turns over and spot Bertold on the porch. As she starts screaming, Ademar jumps onto Bertold on the pretense to protect the woman. In the confusion that ensues, both fall from the porch. Bertold fall on his back and suffer as few wounds, but Ademar fall right onto him and is critically wounded as Bertold dagger cut through its sheave and puncture him. Both men however quickly stand up and Bertold run away, pursued by Ademar, under the confused sight of the prostitute from her balcony… and of Anya hiding in the shadow, who wonders what in Sigmar’s name was all that about? Typical male behavior to fight for a woman… and a woman of low repute on top of that!
Anya, fuming, goes on to impersonate the voice of an unhappy old hag, the would-be wife of Richard, calling him to come out of this dirty establishment. Richard upon hearing her, promptly pays his drinks, tips the girl sitting on his lap, and comes quickly and sheepishly out of the brothel … while the girl is left wondering what was wrong with that man!
Act 3 – Madam Bogenshutze
The group, back together, makes now its way to the Black Market and Madam Bogenshutze. Well, first they have to find their way within the Maze. Anya, Berthold and Richard are quite experienced with the area already, but quickly realize that Ademar seems to know the way. How? Nothing is said.
While on their way in the Maze, they are suddenly ambushed and hear a growling voice “Right, just drop your weapons and … OH NOT YOU AGAIN”. The thug leader the group had already routed a couple days ago has ambushed them again. He and his band however don’t want to get their asses kicked once more, and decides to flee, pursed by the party. Having the advantage of knowing those alleys, the thugs are unfortunately able to shake the party pursuit, although barely, as Berthold – infuriated – nearly catch the leader, and throw his dagger at him before he disappears in the shadows.
Finally, they make it to Madam Bogenshutze. The madam is actually an effeminate male, clearly covered deep pox marks with heavy white makeup. “She” owns a number of private rooms and provides her guests with special herbs, tonics and the like. The party, Berthold especially, is rather disgusted by the place, but nevertheless ask about Kurt and learns that he and is mate are still here, since last night, renting the Skull’s room. Interesting!
Making their way to the room, the adventurers descend into a deep underground network of corridors, each shooting off a round center room. At the end of each corridor is a private rentable room. The Skull’s room has a skull embedded within its door. It is locked, apparently from the inside, and no sounds can be heard. Ademar, after some difficulties, is able to unlock the door.
The room is littered with corpses. One body had its head removed; this is the remains of Kurt Holger. A strong smell of herbs and burnt opium is in the air. Just below the surface is a whiff rank, like sewers smell. The party spots a blood track, and a hidden door within the wall… but where does it lead?
Act 2: (Act 1 was skipped)
The secret passage leads to a main sewer tunnel. The party continues tracking the trail of blood, Richard and its torch in the lead. Yes, the scribe and oldest is in the lead. What a courageous man!
A deep, jagged shadow further down the effluent channel suggests a narrow branch off from the main sewer. It’s obvious that someone cut into the sewer externally as the stones lining the opening are roughly hewn. As they close the distance, the adventurers notice a lump lying just outside the branch. A moment later it reveals itself to be a body. Judging by its build it appears to be a man, though it’s lying face down. One extended hand still grips a short yet cruel looking knife. His clothes, at one time fine, are torn and shredded in seemingly thousands of places, and are crusted with blood and effluent.
Upon turning the body, all can see that his face has been gnawed upon, to the point where there is no evidence of facial features. A frightening sight, but our courageous adventurers don’t get so easily afraid. Berthold even take the cruel looking knife, and search the body for coins.
Assassin’s Dagger : DR 4 / CR 3: Fast, Vicious, Enc 2, Cost: 35s
As Berthold search the body, the party suddenly becomes aware of a strange sound, getting louder and louder, like a rustling. Looking back from where they came, they can now see hundreds of tiny red eyes appearing out of the darkness. The squealing becomes deafening as a massive swarm of big rat attacks them.
After a very brief stand-off, the party realizes they cannot overcome this swarm, and run away into the narrow branch. With the rats still on their heels, they come upon a set of mining cart tracks that lead slightly downwards in the darkness. Lying strewn across the tracks is another body in a similar condition to the first.
Looking inside the cart reveals another body of a man. He’s dressed in dark clothes, but an obvious cut above the rest. He suffers from the same bites as the others. With him is the severed head of Kurt and clutched in his left hand a Black Opal gem.
Not waiting for the rats to catch-up, our adventurers push and jump into the cart, almost leaving Richard behind as he waited with his torch to slow down the swarm. As the cart begins to move, Ademar picks up the gem carefully (never touching it) and put it inside the protective box. Soon however the cart, and the party, is rolling into the darkness at very high speed and all wonder where the ride will stop. Wiiiiiiiiiiiiii!
Act 3: The Escape
Suddenly, they shoot out of a dark tunnel into a natural cave, and realize the tracks end in a buffer. Anya jumps right away, and rolls off safely. Berthold, Ademar and Richard decide to wait if the buffer will hold. It doesn’t, and the three at catapulted harshly onto the ground.
After recovering and patching their wounds, the party can hear chanting far to the south, and voices arguing much closer, in the next cave. Carefully advancing, they come upon a bunch of thugs and their leader, who are arguing as to what to do! Meet the remaining of the Huyderman’s gang.
The party learns that cultists have been summoning daemons in the cave to the south. The Huydermans have tried fleeing north, but the complex was sealed off by another gang, the Valentinas. The river to the south is the only way to escape. The party and gang decide then to force its way through the cultists.
Rushing into the south cave, the party spots a dozen or so filthy cultists in crude robes and their leader, an albino sorcerer with a swarm of flies around him. All cultists have their skin flaking in long strips, but one of them is even more heavily mutated with scrawny legs, strong upper body, oozing buboes. Yet, they recognize the beggar woman from the wharf who had assaulted them. In the center of the cultists is a greenish vortex that has already spawned nine tiny, putrescent bodies, with sharp horns and teeth, that exude a foul-smelling slime from every orifice. It seems the cultists are in the process of summoning more of the tiny daemons.
Across the room, past the cultists and daemons are two rowing boats and the river… the only escape!
While the gang members engages the lightly armed cultists, Berthold run straight for the sorcerer, while Anya and Richard start taking aim at him. Ademar is sneaking through the room furniture hoping to get closer.
A short battle ensues, where Berthold hold his ground, nearly alone against the albino sorcerer and the mutant woman, but for Anya and Richard supporting fire. The laughing daemons try to overcome the adventurers but when the sorcerer is promptly finished by a thrown dagger from Richard, a disruptive wave of energy dispels 6 of the 9 daemons who disappear into the void. The remaining daemons and cultist mutant are disposed of by the party. In the meantime, half of the gang members have been losing ground to the remaining cultists but the other half was able to plow through and get their gang leader to a boat.
The party decides to flee the cave, and jump into the boat with the gang leader. As they row their way to safety and a well-deserved (albeit underpaid) reward, they can see the remaining gang members falling to the giggles and filthy blades of the cultists…
What will become of the gem in the Councillor hands? Will the cultists recover from the loss of their leader? Will the Huyderman’s gang debt toward the party be of use? That is for another story!