Now that we’re back onto the main BTAM plot the usual Spoilers ahead alert applies. This session Balock (played by @Benelio) and Maldron (played by @TonyLayter) were once more at a point of indecision. Where to next? What to do next?
Following last weeks happenings Captain Hermann of the watch suggested they follow up the job of bringing the heads of The Seven to the Prince-Bishop Franz Von Hatzfeld for which there is a substantial reward. They start the day questioning locals about goings on in the area; what do they know about The Seven and Karlstadt and where have all these damned insects come from? While checking out the details on the town noticeboard they see another job about a bandit problem in Thüngen. With the rest of the party unavailable for duty they decide to chase down Adelbert Klepzig at The Iron Pig Tavern.
Adelbert is an intense fellow, clearly not a man of any significant means. Tempting the adventurers with booze, but not yet cheese (that will be after the job has been agreed), he tells them that the small village of Thüngen has been taken over by vicious bandits led by a ruthless cur going by the name of Dittmar. The bandits are waylaying travellers heading east with the help of the villagers; of course the poor inhabitants are not doing this willingly, Dittmarr and his gang are holding their children hostage with a threat of killing them if they don’t comply. They have already killed Thoffson the Dane because he raised an arm against them.
Adelbert doesn’t have any family, but is concerned about his business suffering – he offers 50 pieces of silver to rid Thüngen of the bandits and hints that the grateful villagers will likely give a further reward. Unable to bear the thought of these children suffering the battled hardened Black Dogs take up the offer (with a round of cheese to seal the deal), but first decide to visit the Marienburg Fortress to speak to the Prince Bishop about The Seven.
At the foot of the bridge crossing the River Main they meet Captain Hermann again who introduces them to Captain Wilfred Linden, a member of the Prince-Bishops guard. Captain Linden, a cocksure but clearly capable soldier is unconvinced of their credentials and ability to aid Wurzburg and the Prince-Bishop until they reveal their Black Dog tatoos. They are taken into the fortress past other guards, training soldiers and then Von Hatzfeld’s security. Their weapons taken from them they wait a couple of hours for their audience.
When they finally meet Franz Von Hatzfeld they discover he is a typical noble, arrogant, self-assured and easily bored. However they learn a little more of the threat in Karlstadt and why The Seven must be killed, their heads mounted on the walls of Wurzburg to show the invading Swedes the good folk of Wurzburg will not tolerate the devils work. They also discover that Von Hatzfeld places no value on the lives of the folk of Thüngen, and that each day a few merchants take goods to the refugees outside Karlstadt. As soon as the Prince-Bishop agrees to hire them for the job, he is disturbed by a servant who whispers in his ear, and as a result quickly concludes his business with the Black Dogs. He asks them to attend him on the field to the south of Wurzburg where the witch trials are being held; their loyalty to the cause of killing creatures of evil will be tested there.
Making their final preparations to leave the town the troubled duo find that in response to their request for assistance from Franz Von Hatzfeld they have been allocated Captain Hermann who seems happy to accompany them and get away from the confines of the town. Before they can leave they take a reluctant final trip to the witch trials to witness the horror and brutality suffered by the poor women accused of witchcraft. As they approach, one of the victims, Alfrida Turmgever, is brought forward accused of dancing naked in her home and consorting with animals by Petran Longingbruck, a Burhger of the town. Knowing that he has no choice a conflicted Maldron carries out the Prince-Bishop’s order to execute the woman, and he swiftly beheads her, a quicker and more merciful death than she would have suffered at the hands of these more ‘civilised folk’.
Disturbed by the encounter Balock and Maldron, accompanied by Captain Hermann leave Wurzburg, glad to put the place behind them. They are lucky to be travelling by horse, one an old nag provided by Adelbert Klepzig so they can quickly reach Thüngen, the other acquired by Hermann from the watch stables. Anticipating reaching the village of Zellingen before dark they travel for a few hours, the stunning countryside a balm for the misery of Wurzburg. However, there seems to be no escape from the plague of insects that seems to infest the area.
Passing a farm off the road, a field of wheat between themselves and the small farmhouse, Balock notices a hand protruding from wheat and a head that seems to be looking at them strangely. Their curiosity piqued and never shy of getting into trouble, they decide to investigate and discover that to their horror the head and hand are severed and impaled on poles, then they see other body parts of different sizes similarly impaled and blood pooled beneath each. Trails of blood lead to the door of the farmhouse. What the hell is going on here they ask…
The noise they make searching the barn gives the insane Swedish soldier inside the farmhouse a chance to don his breastplate, grab his sword and load and prime his musket. When they open the door it’s no surprise that Maldron has his arm nearly taken off by a musket ball. A quick retreat and they fall back on the tried and tested method of setting the wooden farmhouse alight, waiting for the maniac to run out where they can more easily deal with him. Their plan works to a point, but the Swede climbs out of one of the boarded windows around the back. A fight ensues and despite the Swede being a brute and a capable fighter they are able to quickly dispatch him. The farmhouse on fire they decide to make a quick withdrawal in case other Swedish soldiers are nearby, and after grabbing the breastplate, sword and musket, head off to the village of Zellingen.