The night passed without incident on the barge. When morning arrived, everyone was rather eager to get underway and out of the city. Josef remarked that trouble seemed to follow the party like a hungry puppy. Reiner was inclined to agree.
‘Cursed we are! Cursed!’
This was further supported by the local news that two noble men were murdered in a brawl that night. Everyone guessed that it was the two fop-tastic fairies that they almost had a scuffle with. Because this scuffle would be known among some locals, it was decided that whatever haste being employed to get underway, was not hasty enough. There was no mention of the would-be spies and their demise.
Reiner hated boats and riverfolk in general, but never felt more relieved to be on a boat as it passed out of the dock and beyond the city walls. In fact, everyone was relieved.
Passage was free, in a sense, but everyone needed to help with boat duties. Josef had a first mate, whose wife and child lived on the barge. Garrett, who envisioned some future career as a pirate captain, wanted to help Josef out with nautical duties so he could learn more. Barrick was swabbing the deck, Reiner was doing some carrying, and Thyrann was…resting…or changing the baby, or something.
The main road ran alongside the river, and at times it was close enough to have a conversation. It was at just such a time when a posse of roadwardens happened along. They had come from Altdorf and told the news of the noblemens deaths. Everyone felt like they were being interrogated (which they were), but the roadwardens soon passed on without judgement. A rare occurrence, normally.
It wasn’t long before the ‘cursed’ theory reared its head. And its tentacles. A massive bog octopus attacked the barge. Huge tentacles rose up around all sides of the ship as it grounded to a halt in the middle of the river. The flailing tentacles lashed out at whatever they could find, and at the prow of the ship the massive head and body of the thing rose up, beak snapping.
Josef grabbed the ships harpoon, ran to the prow and started attacking. Reiner was attacked by two tentacles but was holding his ground and beating them back. Barrick…went for a swim. A tentacle wrapped its way around him, lifted him into the air, then plunged him into the river. Garrett and Thyrann decided the best course of action would be to not be in the action. Rushing down below to fetch a barrel of pitch, Garretts plan was to hurl the pitch at the head of the octopus, throw a lantern, set it alight, and burn it into submission. Boats are also flammable, right?
Reiner fought his way forward and attacked. A tentacle eventually got hold of Reiner, but only after a lot of struggling, was the creature able to lift him, and dunk him into the river. All the while, Barrick was drowning.
What felt like an age went by, and finally Garrett and Thyrann emerged from the ships hold, put down their sandwiches and playing cards, saw the octopus, and remembered ‘Oh, right…the barrel!’
Suddenly, a ghostly wind blew across the scene. Thyrann hurled the barrel of pitch, while Garrett chucked the lantern. But it was a wild shot…yet…it didn’t matter. Some other force was at work. It was discovered that Barrick had called to Yohan Gurst, the ghost, to come and save him. Yohan guided the lantern and barrel to its target. The creature burst into flames, releasing both Reiner and the hapless Barrick from its suckered grasp. Garrett then unleased a flurry of arrows into the creature. Dying, the thing sank into the water and both Reiner and Barrick climbed back on board.
Soaked to the skin, Reiner was heard to remark, ‘Cursed we are! Cursed!’
They had used one of their three ghostly cries for help.
Luckily the ship wasn’t damaged and they were soon underway again. Further along the river the noticed a smalled water lough. Normally used to keep various things at bay and out of the used waterways. Clearly the bog octopus had smashed its way through.
The cursed crusaders arrived in Weissbruck, a merchant town half way between Altdorf and Bogenhafen, and the barge was docked. However, barely off the boat and things looked decidedly bad…that ‘spy’ from Altdorf was again standing in a doorway across the way from the docks.
After some debate about approaching him or not, our ill-favoured foursome decided to arrange a watch on the boat, and to place a man on a building of the dock yards as a lookout. The plan was to have the lookout fire a crossbow bolt into the deck of the ship as an alarm.
Garrett took first lookout duties, and Thyrann was next. Not having any crossbow of his own, Thyrann had to borrow Reiners. Something was afoot. Thyrann shot a bolt into the stern of the barge. Readying for battle, Garrett, Barrick and Reiner came out on deck. Men were approaching on both left and right of the dock, and another, the crossbow wielding scarred neck spy, was popping off shots from behind a barrel. Thyrann, in an uncharacteristic show of something, got down from the roof and approached the assassin/spy. Garrett fired off some shots (from the safety of the ship) as Reiner crossed the gangplank. Reiner took a bolt, like a man, from the assassin, and preceded to assault one of the attackers. Barrick fired a bolt off, then drew his sword and followed Reiner across.
Reiner quickly cleaved his man, then made a dart for the assassin leader to help Thyrann. The assassin was cut down swiftly.