Bezahltag 4 to Angestag 6 Nachgeheim
Escorted by the Dwarves, the heroes marched to Osburg. The Dwarves camped outside the city and Commander Katalin, in farewelling Kadfina, informed her that should she ever find herself at the gates of Karak Ziflin, speak his name and she will gain entry.
The next day, back on their own again, the heroes set off for Ussingen. Around midday, they came across two Ogres, lounged across the road, tending a campfire. The heroes were standoffish. Kadfina had fought alongside some Ogres when fighting alongside Wolfgang’s hounds, so she knew that they were very strong, very hungry and always looking for a fight.
As the heroes approached, one of the Ogres stood and yelled at them in broken Reikspiel. “Well cum to empah toll boo. In name of Empruh give food and booze!” He also waved a piece of paper that apparently gave the Ogre’s authority to toll passersby.
The heroes debated what to do. Some argued that they should see the Ogres off – by what right did the Ogres block the flow of law-abiding Empire citizens, and if not the heroes, who would remove the Ogres? Others argued however to just step off the road and avoid the Ogres altogether. Others argued to give them some of their rations and the remaining poison
Gard rode forward to investigate the legality of their warrant but before he could ascertain its authenticity, the Ogres tired of the heroes’ standoffishness and decided that they were hungry, and that some cooked horse would satisfy. Gard turned and rode into the forest with both Ogres in pursuit. Andred fired at the Ogres, but between the range, trees blocking his sight and the speed of the Ogres, he missed.
Gard took the Ogres on a merry chase, intending to lead them slowly back to the rest of the heroes, but Andred suggested that, now that the Ogres were gone, the heroes quickly run past the Ogres “Toll Booth”. When Gard returned to the road, the Ogres still thrashing around behind him, he saw the heroes were gone. He rode back towards Osburg for a while, but when he did not catch up to them, he turned and led the Ogres back towards the toll point. After a while, they gave up on catching him, and Gard continued riding towards Ussingen.
Detlef and Andred had taken the time to build a camouflaged ambush point, but when Gard rode past with no Ogres in tow, the heroes re-joined and continued onwards.
Later that afternoon, they found a beached, burnt-out Barge. Detlef took the time to wriggle through holes in the hull to search in the gap between the deck and hull. Although he found the dead bodies of some unnaturally large rats, and some sacks of grain roasted by the fire, there was no wealth to be found and he struggled back out, covered in dirt and soot.
Later that evening they found a shrine, although all sign of the god it was consecrated to was missing. The heroes searched around for some sign of the Cult it was assigned to, or the desecrators, but funding nothing they continued on, to the pleasant surprise that Ussingen was closer than they had imagined it to be. They would spend that night under a roof with the comfort of ale and a warm meal.
The next day was sweltering. The heroes sweated in the intense summer heat. Although the road was set alongside the River Schilder, the water did little to cool the air. Stopping for lunch under the shade of some trees, the heroes were alerted to trouble when further back down the way they came, someone called out for help. Looking back, they saw a small group tussling. Andred and Gard jumped on their horses and rode towards the fracas while Detlef and Kadfina followed on foot.
As the mounted heroes drew closer, they could see that a traveller had been attacked by what appeared to be mutants. Seven people were dragging a body from the road. They were mutants. One had long fangs poking from his mouth, another had three legs and a long furry tail, a third was covered in discoloured lumps, the fourth was covered in feathers, with the remainder appearing normal.
From extreme range, Andred took aim and struck one of the mutants. The remainder, having heard the horses galloping up, charged Andred and Gard. Andred fired again, and again, again. His shots mainly struck true, and when two of their group were dead, the remainder broke and fled into the forest. Andred continue to fire at them while Gard galloped up to two mutants that were still trying to pull the body off the road. With all the mutants fled, Detlef and Kadfina finally made it to the scene of the battle.
Detlef watched the tree line to ensure they were not ambushed, while Kadfina searched the mutants. Gard and Andred looked to provide aid to the traveller.
Kadfina received a rude shock when, as she checked one of the bodies, its chest cavity suddenly ripped apart and a clone of the body she was searching (an exact duplicate except that it was half the size and unclothed) ripped its way free and tried to attack her. She quickly cut it down.
The traveler was dead, and with no clear sign of who he was, nor where he was heading, the heroes decided to bury him and claim his belongings. The remaining mutant corpses they burnt on the shore of the river.
After that grisly work done, the heroes cleaned themselves in the river and continued down the road to Eilhart.