Berlin, Heart of Germany
Word reached the members of the Aegis Society that the Pythia foresaw some event related to the Zodia taking place in Berlin, Germany. After introducing the group to their newest member Aeric Falkenberg, the team is instructed to travel to Berlin, find the issue , acquire the medallion and return to the Society headquarters in Athens. To reach Berlin, the group traveled by steamer to Istanbul, and then by train to Berlin.
Upon arriving they were conveyed to the Falkenberg Estate, which would act as their base of operations during their stay in Berlin. After several days on a steamer and a train, Aeric rented a beer-hall and treated the group to a celebration, complete with food, drink and dancing. It provided an opportunity for him to learn about the members of the group, as he was appointed their new field leader.
The cause for their dispatch to Berlin was not difficult to surmise. The morning following their arrival, the local newspaper, the Lokal Anzeiger 599 ran a story of an unusual trio of bodies located along the banks of the Spree river. The description was so unusual, that the group had no difficulty in identifying the situation as the reason for their visit.
After reading the newspaper, the group realized that they had a couple of locations to follow-up on, in order to begin their investigation.
The scene where the bodies had been located the night prior was at the foot of a bridge, known as the Oberbaumbrucke, which crossed the Spree river. It bordered the notoriously dangerous Rixdorf neighborhood, and had been the scene of other corpse drops. However, due to the description of the bodies as published in the morning paper, the team decided to head to that location to investigate the scene of the crime. Yao, John Tidewater, George Papageorge, Aphrodite Vago, and Scrooge MacLeod would conduct the local investigation at the scene.
Upon arriving, the group discovered that the scene had been badly despoiled by the efforts of the police to remove the bodies. very few clear clues remained, but the few that did, were quickly noted by the team. Yao and john investigated the bridge, where they found signs that a wagon or cart with red wheels had stopped for an extended period of time. This was determined by the large pile of horse manure located on the bridge indicating that a horse drawn cart had stopped and waited here for at least a half an hour. Judging by the traffic flow, the two surmised that it would have taken place late at night, the previous evening, since the street cleaners cleaned the bridge in the early evening. And this time would have been between cleanings. The traffic also would have prevented extended stopping for any length of time any other time of day or night. They also determined that the horse was very well fed, seeing signs of oats, and grains prevelent in the droppings. The two headed across the bridge into the neighboring forest to see if they could track the route of the wagon further.
Unfortunately they lost the trail and decided to split up in an attempt to relocate it. It was during this time, that an African man, later identified as Sanja, met Yao and provided him with a letter, requesting that he post it for him. The letter however was addressed to Evangeline Frankenstein, so when Yao asked for assistance later with the letter, it was immediately suspect and held for later testing. oddly enough, it was around this time that john did not return to the group or the estate. It was unclear what had become of him, but attempts to locate him in the Forest were unsuccessful at the time.
meanwhile back at the bridge, George was able to locate a silver pocket watch that had been trampled into the mud at the river bank. It seemed likely that this was a possession of one of the victims, or the murderer, so it was taken into evidence. Additionally, a series of regular holes were also found in the mud, indicating that someone had been present who had been using a walking stick. This was certainly a clue. George also located a patch of mud that was textured. After some inspection it was surmised that the textured pattern was caused by the presence of a burlap bag, commonly seen in use for grains and flour. This unusual pattern was definitely out of place and also regarded as a clue.
Unable to locate any additional clues at the scene, most likely due to the extensive damage caused by the police recovering the bodies, Aphrodite, George and Scrooge decided to drive along the river into the Rixdorf neighborhood proper. They had been forewarned that the neighborhood was dangerous, so they were careful in their exploration. Upon reaching the more built up portion of the neighborhood, they encountered a fence, selling various silver items. They engaged him and offered to sell him the watch they found, in an attempt to collect clues, but the moment that the fence noted the maker’s mark on the back of the silver casing he refused it. He warned that people with those watches were being killed and that they should get rid of it. The watch it appeared was more than a mundane clue. the pocket watch also bore the hand scratched initials " HB" on it’s back
After completing this portion of their investigation the bridge team collected Yao, looked for John, but were unable to locate him and returned to the Falkenberg Estate.
The Medical Operating Theater
according to the newspaper report, the bodies were sent to the Berlin University Medical Operating Theatre to be inspected by famed physician Anslo Weir. As Aeric was acquainted with Weir already, he decided to take Evangeline Frankenstein and Nadya Simza with him to investigate the corpses while he distracted the Doctor.
Upon their arrival, Aeric convinced the doctor to take a short walk with him to discuss funding for his research while his companions studied the bodies. While the two were away, the women went to work.
Initial investigation showed that there were three bodies all in an exceptionally desiccated state, nearly mummified, despite the fact that they were located on a wet muddy riverbank in a relatively wet climate. All were in the same state and showed signs that the drying was exceptionally rapid, bypassing the normal decomposition and Rigor Mortis cycles associated with death.
They all wore workers garments, most in fair condition. each man bore the same Tattoo Marking located on the webbing of their left hand, indicating that they were somehow connected, perhaps as part of a group. Each had some money in their pocket.
In addition one of the men carried a silver pocket watch in excellent condition, with only the maker’s mark scoured off and a wooden coin bearing the words “Kalkhaus Mietshaus” on one side and a dot of red paint on the other. He would later be identified as a man nicknamed “The Nose”
The second man had a Family Photo in his pocket, with no indication of who was in the photo. a Cheap engagement ring, barren of any engravings, and a silver pocket watch bearing the initials “KG”. He has not been identified.
The third man carried a silver pocket watch chain, which had been broken and a Handwritten Note. This man has been identified as a man nicknamed “fingers” since he was missing hid ring finger from his left hand.
Realizing they were short on time, as Nadya and Eve could hear Aeric and the Doctor approaching, the pair returned the bodies and their possessions to their original positions, with the exception of one of the pocket watches, bearing the initials and the wooden coin.
Conference and Discussion
The teams returned to the estate and discussed what they had each found. The most obvious lead was the wooden coin. This coin bore the name of a notoriously nasty tenement house located in the Rixdorf neighborhood. Although it was not known what the significance of the red paint was, the coin could potentially be important. considering the dangers associated with the neighborhood, it was decided to travel as a group to the tenement and see what information could be uncovered.
The Tenement House
The Kalkhaus Mietshaus is known across Berlin as one of the dirtiest and most dangerous tenements in the Rixdorf. They rooms do not have doors, and they pack as many as 20 families into the rooms that are available. When all the rooms are full they charge people for the right to sleep in the halls and on the stairs. The result is absolute squalor, disease and unsanitary conditions.
Upon arrival at the site, the team decided to split into two groups. The first group would consist of Aeric, George and Aphrodite, who would guard the carriage that they arrived in. They would use the pretense of George acting as pimp, Aeric his muscle and Aphrodite his prostitute, for the purpose of attempting to blend into the neighborhood.
The second team would consist of Yao, Nadya, Eve and Scrooge. Their job would be to gain access to the tenement and see what information they could acquire, then return to the carriage afterwards.
At the door, the tenement team were forced to relinquish their wooden coin and an additional 60 DM to gain entrance into the building. There they discovered a man named Marx, who claimed to have once been an economist. describing the man with the missing finger, Marx was able to tell the group that he was a member of the Echmanner, a local gang of thugs. He also advised that they all stay on the third floor with their friends. He also provided them with a room number commenting on the fact that the rooms on the third floor had doors, when no one else did. In return for his assistance, Eve gave him some money to buy himself a new pair of shoes and perhaps a little for a decent meal.
As the group were weaving their way through the mass of destitute people on the stairs, another situation was beginning to brew outside. In an attempt to aid the tenement team avoid unwanted attention, Aphrodite began performing acrobatic feats of prowess seductively using the sunshade poles from the carriage. This began to draw attention of the crowds outside and to aid in the illusion, Aeric began to collect pfennigs from those assembled, while George looked on.
It didn’t take long for the local members of the Echmanner gang to take notice. They advanced in force on the show and demanded their “share” of the take. Knowing that they could not cave in without some sign of resistance, the outside team attempted to talk their way out of it, but were unable to defuse the situation completely. perhaps he was interested in seeing what his associates could do, as Aeric attempted to rile the gang members into attacking, but George intervened with a challenge. He challenged their strongest member to knock him down with a single punch. If they could do so, they could have the money, otherwise they would leave.
Thinking they had an easy win, the gang members accepted and their largest member approached. George, using the extreme body control techniques used in his show prepared himself and took the impact with ease. The man cheated, taking a second punch, but was unsuccessful in knocking George down. When things threatened to escalate George casually lifted the entire carriage over his head, intimidating the gang members who withdrew back to their corner.
As the display of physical strength was underway, the tenement team reached the third floor of the building where they encountered an individual on guard. The guard challenged them, and all attempts to talk their way past him failed. He whistled loudly alerting the floor and the group inside was suddenly plunged headlong into combat with a rapidly increasing number of Echmanner.
The group waded into the fray, all except Nadya, who subtly manipulated fate into her group’s favor without any outward sign of activity. A vicious fight ensued, and the Echmanner were trounced, but not without cost. Scrooge was incapacitated by a series of violent attacks, but not killed. Eve kicked the last Echmanner out a third floor window into the street below, which triggered the Echmanner outside to attack the group at the carriage. As the battle raged outside, the tenement group rushed out to assist their companions. Within a few moments, most of the Echmanner that had been involved in the attack were laying dead or terribly injured and the remainder had retreated in panic.
With the gang members handled and with no additional likelihood of danger, the group recovered Scrooge and took him to the carriage. As they were tending to his injuries, Eve and Yao searched the apartment discovering a large stash of silver and around 500 DM. One of the watches bore the same makers mark, so Eve procured it to assist in the investigation. Yao collected the cash and as they departed the site, he scattered the money among the masses of people crowding the corridors.
The team then returned to the estate to treat Scrooges injuries.
New Course of Action
After assisting in Scrooge’s recovery, the group assembled to discuss their leads and where they may be able to find additional information. They suspected that a mill was involved in some fashion as a result of the horse droppings and burlap bags that had obviously been at the scene, although the exact connection was unclear and very tenuous at best. As such, a review of the local mills were decided upon. To achieve this, A team consisting of George, Scrooge and Naomi Johnson was assembled. Naomi although not a member of the Society, spoke German, a skill that the group had in short supply collectively.
The prior evening Aeric had managed to locate and interview the police detective working the case, Gustoff Marx of the Prussian Royal Police. After a significant amount of drink, he managed to gather significant details, some of which led the investigation in new directions. As a result of his inquiry, the group learned that the detective had witnessed the actual murder take place, although he was unable to provide fine details, it seemed that they were dealing with three distinct parties. The murderer, which appeared to be some sort of creature, the victims (all Echmanner), and an unidentified man in a mask carrying a walking cane. He had also uncovered the the fact that there had been a robbery prior, and knew the name and address of the robbery victim. As a result it was decided that Eve and Aphrodite should head to the victims house/business as potential patients. He was a doctor specializing in treating Female Hysteria. His named was Doctor Henri Zolner.
Also the prior evening, George and Nadya had conducted some tests upon the envelope sent by Sanja, which turned out to be dangerous and poisoned. They also disassembled one of the pocket watches, where Nadya discovered a hand etched symbol resembling a bulls head on one of the interior cogs. This reminded her of the Zodia, specifically Taurus. George and Nadya also did some work with some alchemy, which proved potentially useful if used at the correct time.
It was the discovery of the bull’s head symbol, that offered a link to their original purpose for being in Berlin. With no good leads to locating the watchmaker, short of going to every business, it was hit upon that Nadya and Yao could head to the watchmakers Guild-house to see if the mark were registered. Eve provided an illustration of the Mark in question to aid them.
The Doctor is in
Eve and Aphrodite arrived at Zolner’s business and made their way inside. There they arranged for Eve to have a physical and Aphrodite to undergo treatment for Female Hysteria. As Aphrodite underwent her treatment, Eve was free to move about the lower floor and investigate. She discovered an unusual papyrus and linen book in the library, a sandstone block holding a cast iron quadrant compass marked with the date “1858” on the bottom, and evidence of the break in and theft. Unable to go upstairs, she returned to the waiting room just as Aphrodite was finishing her treatment.
Next Eve and Aphrodite went into the exam room with the doctor, who began Eve’s examination. Befuddled by her difficult to detect vitals, he left the room to retrieve additional equipment, which provided the two women an opportunity to share information. When the doctor returned, Aphrodite convinced Eve it was necessary for her to undergo the hysteria treatment as well, giving Aphrodite an opportunity to investigate the upstairs uninterrupted.
As Eve underwent her procedure, Aphrodite slipped upstairs where she discovered several damning photographs of prominent women in very compromising positions. She pockets a few of the photos in case they were useful, and then headed downstairs to steal the unusual book and inspect the sandstone block and iron compass. She then slipped out to their waiting carriage, deposited the book and photos before returning to the waiting area at the last possible moment.
The women left after noting the arrival of another patient, with the promise of a follow up appointment on Friday. The returned to the estate to share their findings.
The Watchmaker’s Guild-house
Armed with the illustration of the watchmaker’s mark, Nadya and Yao made their way to the guild-house, in order to connect the mark with an individual or business. Once there, the clerk was easily able to identify the mark as belonging to one of the longest running family watchmaking business in the city. He identified the mark as belonging to the Geberhart und Sohne business and identified the current owner as Kurt Geberhart. As the conversation continued, it was mentioned that the family had been responsible for building and maintaining the central clock tower in the old city hall building. This become the pair’s next stop.
The Clock tower
Nadya and Yao next made their way to the old city hall building, now a city revenue office. They were able to gain access to the tower without being noticed and made their way to the works of the tower clock. Unable to locate the Taurus head markings on the back of the clock, You made his way to the front and was able to locate the symbol on the front side of one of the component pieces. This all but confirmed Nadya’s suspicions that they may have found the Taurus Zodia. rather than confront the Zodia at that time, the pair returned to the estate to share their findings.
When leaving the clock tower Nadya and Yao saw John Tidewater entering a red carriage. he departed before he could be hailed.
Naomi, Scrooge and George made their way to the north-side of the city along the river. There they located the only three mill sites. The first was abandoned, the second was small and showed no obvious indication of being suspect, but the last mill named the Rote Kornschrotmuhle, seemed different. It was a large quadruple wheeled mill, with a large workforce and central building. The trio witnessed a number of bright red painted wagons being loaded on the premises, which could easily fit their suspect wagon on the bridge the night of the murders. Additionally, they witnessed a number of workers leaving their job for the day receiving wooden tokens with red paint on them, very much the same as the token that had been found on one of the murder victims.
In an attempt to gain additional information they three decided to enter the main administrative building in the hopes of questioning someone. Instead, they learned very little concrete, but overheard and unusual language being spoken, noted the extreme unease and obvious protectiveness of the individual who met them at the door and the odd answers or lack of answers to their questions. These facts firmly established the mill as a place of interest.
As they were leaving scrooge managed to track one of the wagons, which led him to believe that he was seeing the group making deliveries. They were able to intercept the now empty wagon on tits way back to the mill and after waving it down were able to engage the drivers in some questioning. The drivers first negotiated 50 DM each for their thirty minutes of time, which the trio paid. The drivers answered the questions oddly, but one piece of information was gained that may prove useful. They were able to identify the name of the mill’s foreman as Frische Uldermann.
As the wagon was leaving scrooge managed to possess the wagon to use it to spy upon the drivers and was surprised to watch them discard the money and then drive their wagon, horses and all into the river. Armed with this disturbing information the pair returned to the estate.
Sharing the joy
The group reassembled at the estate where they learned the name of the Berliner Lokal Anzeiger journalist, Stefan Torst, who had written the news story. It was agreed that it was very likely that he had seen more than he had written down and should be questioned for additional knowledge. this task was assigned to Aslef, Yao and Aphrodite. Aeric also revealed that all the Echmanner had their tattoos drawn by an English ex-pat named Milton Knowles who owned a shop named the Shangri-la Tattoo Parlour
It was also decided that Nadya and Aeric would visit the watchmaker and his family to test the situation there. They would try to gauge the theory that they were Taurus Zodia, and see if they could connect the dots to the other events.
They all agreed that they should investigate the mill further and that the Rabenkopf was still someplace that needed to be visited as well.
The others would conduct research on the description of the creature the policeman described, as well as the strange compass and book found at the doctor’s office.
Nadya and Aeric arrived at Geberhart und Sohne, where they noticed a distinct lack of silver goods for sale. There were a number of gold items and jewels still available, but the lack of silver only deepened the abnormal connection to recent silver thefts in the city.
Nadya questioned Kurt and it seemed as if the man had no idea that he was a member of the Zodia lineage. in fact it was only through significant convincing that he was willing to even entertain a possibility. Through her skillful work, Nadya was bale to gain access to the family and was able to sit down with them and discuss their history a bit.
It was discovered that there was an old book, containing the names of their direct lineage that stretched backwards for a millennia or more. In the front cover of that book was a circular indentation, where nadya surmised the original medallion of the Taurus was originally embedded.
It became apparent that the family was under threat by the Echmanner, but the exact nature of the threat was difficult to coax out of the family. Only after Aeric asked the father to walk outside with him, was it revealed.
While Kurt was away on a trip to buy components for his watches, members of the Echmanner smashed up his business, stole his silver and brutally raped, his oldest son Dieter Geberhart, his daughter Birgit Geberhart and his wife, Margarethe Geberhart. To insure future compliance, they had also kidnapped the family’s youngest member, Stefan Geberhart holding him at an unknown location until the father paid them extortion money and ongoing protection fees. It was during this captivity that Stefan contracted Tuberculosis, which would eventually be fatal.
In order to gain the trust of the family, Nadya instructed Aeric to find a goat or pig and bring it back to the house. Aeric returned a half-hour later with a goat. The goat became the receptacle for the young boys tuberculosis, which Nadya transferred using strong ritual magic. Afterwards, Aeric was instructed to cut the goat’s throat and burn the remains. he did so, adding his shirt and jacket to the fire as well. The pair took their leave of the family to allow Nadya some much needed rest.
The Newspaper man
Although they did have a name, the group did not have an address. In order to better locate the newspaper man, Stefan Torst, Aslef, Aphrodite and Yao visited the newspaper office, where they managed to talk their way into acquiring the address.
They then made their way to the man’s apartment but arrived to find a murdered body in the room. It was quickly determined that it was not the news man, but was actually a member of the Echmanner, who had been murdered for some unknown reason in the newsman’s apartment.
Using her acting skills, Aphrodite spoke with the neighbors acquiring the name and address of Stefan’s cousin, while ruining a potential courtship between Stefan and a young lady living down the hall from him. Using the story that she was pregnant with Stefan’s child, Aphrodite was able to collect much needed information, which led them to their next location.
The Opium Den
It seemed that Stefan’s cousin was actually running an opium den. Yao broke down the door and disarmed the man. Intimidation revealed that Stefan had fled to his employers estate. The owner of the paper, Wilhelm Mardunst. Not entirely trusting the source of the information, Aphrodite insisted that he accompany them to the estate.
The Mardunst Estate
The trio arrived at the outer gates to the Mardunst Estate and were forced to climb over the wall to gain entry to the property. However, when they rang the bell to the house, they were surprised to be granted immediate interest. The chief butler was very grabby and it soon became apparent that Mardunst must regularly invite prostitutes to his home. This worked in the women’s favor as they had been mistaken for such and were therefore able to gain easy entry into the house.
While they waited in the Kitchen, Yao watched the cousin in the carriage. Conversation tipped Yao off to a possibility that Onkwani may be in Germany, somehow taking an interest in Opium. Little other information could be gathered, as the man knew nothing else about it, but it was something to keep in mind as they moved through the city.
Meanwhile, inside, Aslef and Aphrodite were able to identify Stefan. Aphrodite was able to entice him upstairs, but it became obvious that there was going to be difficulty communicating as she did not speak German. Fortunately, Aslef arrived and helped to interrogate the newsman.
The pair discovered several significant details about the murder, confirming the third party theory and adding a new element to the story unmentioned by the policeman. The duo escaped from the upper balcony and rejoined Yao. They ejected the cousin and returned to the estate.
Next Stage Planning
The team reconvened at the Estate and discussed all the things that they had previously uncovered. They determined that there was a need to investigate the mill and the Rabenskopf, as critical locations for the next step of their investigation. Less important, was the need to revisit the Watchmaker and his family, and to visit the Tattoo parlor that they had discovered earlier.
As they felt that further investigation of the mill would be best handled under the cover of darkness, and that visiting the Rabenkopf in the evening would also be best, they turned their attention another mystery which they were determined to investigate further, namely the disappearance of the horses and wagons into the Spree River following the interactions with George and Scrooge.
Since it was along the river and most likely not critical an investigation would take place late at night, the team opted to investigate that site sooner rather than later. To make this easier, the team needed to make a few preparations so that the event would go smoothly.
Prepare to Dive.
As the scene was underwater, and it was unclear what might be found, it was determined that George, with his ability to hold his breath for incredible lengths of time would act as the diver. To help him find his way in the murky water, Aeric fashioned a makeshift lantern from a sealed canning jar, some marbles, some cotton balls and an electric torch. They then tied a rope to their carriage and around George’s waist.
To help hide their activities, the group had arranged the appearance of a picnic at the river’s edge. This would shield the underwater exploration efforts from unwanted attention.
In preparation, the team activated a variety of abilities in anticipation of a potential fight. Scrooge then animated a newly modified rope snake into a more eel-like shape which then followed and aided George on his search.
The Coffin in the Deep
George waded into the Spree river and despite the aid of the light, found his visibility reduced to approximately that of three-feet. As a result he moved slowly. Once below, he discovered an object which was later identified as a modern coffin. It was weighted down with weights tied to the pallbearer’s rail and resting in the mud at the bottom of the river.
Looping a rope through the pallbearer’s bar, they were able to draw the coffin out of the river. Once the majority of water had leaked out of the top seal, they were able to pry the lid open to discover a series of eel-like animals writhing in the remaining water trapped in the bottom of the coffin. Cursory glances indicated that the animals had circular tooth-filled mouths reminiscent of a remora or lamprey.
Beneath the writhing mass, the remains of a body could be found. It was decided to dump the strange animals, and kill them all. The party dumped the coffin, and Yao used a tree trunk to roll them into paste. The eviction of the nasty creatures led the party to discover the remains of a man, well dressed whose bones were completely stripped bare. The clothing was in good shape, indicating that his remains were not in the water very long nor that the creatures had burrowed through his clothes. It was surmised therefore that the creatures had eaten their way out, stripping the bones clean on the way.
Equally disturbing, was the fact that the body had been chained down to the bottom of the coffin. He would have drown slowly as the creature ate him from the inside out. Worried that there would be some sort of supernatural backlash, the party loaded the coffin and body into the back of the carriage and returned to the Estate.
Wards and Wanes
The team arrived back at the estate and immediately took the coffin down into the basement. There, Nadya created a spirit and physical ward around the coffins, measuring 8-feet in diameter. She then tested the wards by asking George to step into the circle and then attempting to leave. George found himself trapped inside the circles, until Nadya created a pass stone, which allowed the bearer to pass through the circle unharmed.
After wards, Nadya and Scrooge both decided they needed some rest after the exertions of the day.
Aphrodite, Yao, George and Evangeline remained behind to attempt to collect any information they could. At this point they found almost nothing beyond the facts they had surmised, leading Eve to retire to the library, Aphrodite to retire to her room for the night, and George and Yao to stand watch over the body. To aid them in this task, Yao placed a large mirror above the open coffin so he could more easily see the interior of the casket.
During their watch, Yao uncharacteristically fell asleep.
What Dreams May Come
The group was unaware that they had absorbed some of the psychic trauma experienced by the victim or victims of the coffin. It was not clear whether it was the coffin or the body that held this trauma, but Yao, Scrooge and Nadya all experienced terrible dreams.
scrooge dreamed that he was trapped inside the coffin, watching the water fill the small space slowly as the air leaked out. he experienced the pain, as the creatures inside him awoke and began to burrow their way out through his flesh, eating as they went. He watched as he scratched frantically at the roof of the coffin that held him. The dream ended as the creatures burrowed into his eyes.
Much like Scrooge’s dream, Nadya also dreamt of being trapped inside the coffin. She was also watching the water fill the container, but was also watching the creatures burst through her skin until the flesh beneath her clothing was writhing with the creatures. She watched as they burst in massive numbers from her flesh.
Yoa’s dream was entirely different from the other two. Perhaps it was his proximity to the coffin during the dream. In his dream, Yoa was in a room with walls constructed of wood. There was a large pool of water there, and he was neck deep in the water with his hands above his head. On a nearby walkway he saw a creature, which he was later identified as a Lebensdieb. Yao was suspended by a chain, with his hands above his head into the water.
The creature was keening, and Yao noted the pattern as well as the rhythmic sound of sluicing water. As the creature keened, Yao began to feel pain as the small swimming creatures began to consume him.
Recounting the Terror
Upon awakening or being awoken, the group discussed the dreams, taking notes of the things encountered. This information would be used later to assist in identifying the creature. It also confirmed that the Mill was a point of interest for the team’s investigation.
Time for a Drink?
Determined to explore at least one of the two most dangerous of the sites they had identified that night, the group settled upon the Rabenkopf, which was a tavern. With a name that translates into English as Raven’s Head was most assuredly connected to the Legend of the Rabennarbe currently sweeping the city. The connection was unclear, as the tavern was a well-established gang hangout, especially for the Echmanner.
The group also knew that this location was somehow connected to one of the murder victims, as a handwritten note bearing the name of the tavern and the name of the bartender were found in the pockets of the victim. Hoping to make additional connections, perhaps to the mill, or to uncover additional information on the mysterious vigilante, they headed to the tavern located in the Rixdorf.
Arriving at the site, the group parked the carriage across the square and then entered the tavern. As they made their way to the bar, they noted the distinct sea related songs, despite being located in a land-locked city. There were gang members drinking, some dancing and singing and knife throwing all taking place.
The group made their way to the bar, where they bought drinks and surveyed the room. They noted an individual sitting at a table surrounded by several men, all Echmanner. It was believed that he was some sort of Boss. He would later be identified as Tomas Thorn, while the bartender would be identified as, Heinrich Manstein.
Attempts to gain information were foiled by the difficulty of dealing with Thorn, but a few details were noted by the group.
First, he never seemed to speak, although he never looked up and held his hand in a manner which hid his mouth. As a result it may be that he is unable to speak or speaks using some sort of art. It was even surmised that he may be some sort of thaumaturge. he also asked for a Talent of silver. however, this price was bypassed after some initial conversation began.
While there was little information that was uncovered, a couple of important bits were acquired. Chief among them, was that all the gangs were collecting silver and providing it as a sort of tribute, which would guarantee them a level of protection from the River Monster. In addition, it was proven also that the gang was no friend of the vigilante.
The conversation degenerated rapidly, when a reference to the Masons was mentioned. The group was forced to leave the tavern. but things began to degenerate into a brawl. Suddenly Echmanner members flooded from the tavern into the street, while a whistle brought two additional groups towards the team. This rapidly devolved into a free-for all.
As the carnage spread, a sudden bellow sounded and the Aspect of Taurus knocked over the carriage in the square and began to attack the combatants using some sort of exploding stone ability. This panicked the Echmanner who retreated. Suddenly the Vigilante, Rabennarbe appeared, fighting the Aspect. Attempts to overcome the creature were unproductive, but the Rabennarbe was able to trick the creature into charging through the front of the Tavern. This allowed the party enough time to escape, as the Rabennarbe disappeared.
After returning from the fight at the Rabenkopf, the group settled in for some rest, settling the badly beaten translator up in a room on the estate. The others turned in after a difficult evening, but some were unable to rest effectively due to the lingering effects of the nightmares they had seen the evening prior.
The following morning, Aphrodite and Scrooge conducted an interview with the Translator, Eduardo Telamondo, revealed several interesting tidbits of information on the echmanner, as well as his own story. The most critical pieces of information was concerning the identity of the man at the Rabenkopf as Tomas Thorn, as well as identifying Heinrich Manstein as a member of the Gang despite not bearing the tattoo.
The conversation also firmly connected the mill and the Gang together, including the use of the wooden tokens to pay for housing for the workers from the tenements. He had indicated that he had attempted to get employment at the mill, but that they refused to hire him because he was “too smart” and “healthy”. He indicated that there were at least one or two workers dying at the mill each week. The mill would send money to the family of the deceased worker and handle all burial expenses for them.
This information, when taken in context with the grim discovery in the river likely implied a more sinister cause to the deaths of those who “died” at the mill. To show appreciation for the assistance provided, Scrooge offered Eduardo the position of headmaster at [[Metanopoli | Metanopoli], and agreed to relocate his entire family.
George and Aeric paid a visit to the Shangri-la Tattoo Parlour run by the British expatriate, Milton Knowles. With little prompting the pair learned that Milton performed tha tattooing on the Echmanner in exchange for his parlor to remain untouched by the gang. As such, he was intimately familiar with the membership. He was able to identify four major figures in the gang. They are , Heinrich Manstein owner of the Rabenskopf, Tomas Thorn an under-boss for the gang in Rixdorf, Felix “The Finger” Mendelsohne second-in-charge, and Viktor Stroppe, the leader of the gang.
While the tatooist did not know the location of the two leaders of the gang, he advised that rumors placed them somewhere in the Templehof neighborhood. While on site, George took the opportunity to have a full back Tattoo of a Greek Hoplite in Gold mail standing his gorund against a violent looking hydra.
Revisiting the Geberharts
Nadya, Yao and Eve decided to return to the Geberharts in an attempt to further narrow down the location of the missing Zodiac Medallion belonging to the Taurus Zodia. After Nadya’s assistance with curing their sick son, Kurt Geberhart was happy to tell them that he had a cousin named Stefan, who had changed his last name to Torst. This meant that the group had already encountered the Zodia in possession of the medallion without realizing it. he told the group they could take the medallion if they desired with his blessing.
The group also learned that a bank was aggressively attempting to collect a massive debt against the watch maker and his business, in an attempt to seize his land. Seeing an opportunity to turn Geberhart into an ally, they convinced Aeric to use his wealth to purchase the debt or to provide the balance of the debt to prevent this from happening.
As the trio headed back to the Estate, their carriage was attacked. A group of Ashanti Tribesmen killed their driver and caused the horses to run out of control towards the river. Knowing what lay beneath the surface of the waters of the Spree, Nadya attempted to climb out of the carriage to regain control of the horses. The door of the carriage, however, gave way, causing her to be badly injured when the carriage’s rear wheel struck her in the chest.
Realizing they were easy targets for the Ashanti’s arrows, Eve and Yao managed to leap from the moving carriage in enough time to avoid being drug into the river. Yao headed for a nearby building where the tribesmen were located, and Eve rushed to aid Nadya.
Honey, I’m back!
As Eve reached Nadya, a single figure leaped from a nearby roof top. It was the Blackened Denarii Sonnellion, known also as Sanja. He was determined to finally settle his anger with Eve and the two fought back and forth across Nadya’s exhausted and injured body. Despite Nadya’s assistance by afflicting him with a Malediction, neither were able to land a blow.
Just as it seemed that Sanja may finally get the upper hand, the fight was interrupted by the arrival of Elizabeth Wortham a Knight of the Cross. Unwilling to fight the Knight and Eve, the Denarii fled. After brief introductions, Nadya and Eve made their way back to the Estate, while Yao’s quarry escaped due to the timely arrival of the local Prussian Royal Police. Yao also returned to the Estate.
Return the Wayward Wanderer
The team was surprised to find John Tidewater waiting for them at the Estate. He was questioned and provided a recounting of his absence, which included the location of a massive store of stolen silver located in a warehouse in Aachen, which had been transported by red wagon to the site. He had also been unfortunate to have been delayed unexpectedly over night upon his return to Berlin, and was only able to return to the estate that morning.
With the knowledge of the medallion’s location finally known, the group realized that they had a choice to make. By technicality, they were in no way required to deal with the Lebensdieb infestation that they had uncovered. They knew there were at least five of the creatures in the city, and that given enough time the infestation would grow to terrible proportions. However, their goal was to acquire and return the Zodia medallion to Renette Villefort for safekeeping.
Additionally, they had no real desire to deal with, or against the Rabennabe vigilante running around the city.
After some discussion, they decided that the right thing to do was to deal with the Zodia and the Lebensdieb. This meant dealing with the Mill, four leaders of a large street gang and destroying any young that may be active in the river. It also meant finding a way to deal with Stefan Torst and acquiring the Zodiac Medallion.
The group sat down for further planning, looking for a way to resolve their issue as efficiently as possible. To this ends, they send a message to Amelia Archer in the hopes of locating additional information concerning the creatures and a decisive means of effecting their destruction.
h4. A Plan of Action
After Aeric discussed the new names with the police he was told that two of the men, known leaders of the Echmanner, lived somewhere in the Templehof district of the city. Further investigation identified one of the likely properties, as it contained an unusually high concentration of pools fountains and small canals on the property. This gave them a second potential location to set up their final conflict with the Lebensdeib. They only needed a plan to draw them all together and also a means of actually defeating them.
Eve and Nadya had each found some references to an affliction to yew wood, but they were unable to substantiate this at first as the stories in which this played a role were anecdotal and could have been merely coincidental. However, When Aphrodite had a follow-up discussion with Eduardo, an unusual fact came to light. Eduardo reported that a few weeks ago orders from the gang leadership had been sent to the foot soldiers to cut down a large number of “spindly looking trees”. The groups cleared away all these trees from the river banks, before scouring the neighborhoods and removing them from the common streets as well.
These cuttings were hauled by hand and by red wagon to a vacant lot located behind a brothel named the “Golden Pussycat”, where they were burned. Once they were set alight, the gang members were ordered to create a human barrier to prevent the fire brigade from interfering with the burning.
The identity of these trees were made out to be yew, when George was able to look it up in one of his botanical books which, although illustrated by hand made identification of the tree as Yew possible.However, with the cities Yew supply already destroyed by the creatures, difficulties to acquire the wood would be significant.
Eve, however, had the forethought to inquire with Aeric’s gardener, who confirmed that there were in fact several Yew trees on property. The group was then able to harvest some, creating a number of throw-able spears and handheld stakes. These primitive weapons, it was hoped would allow the group to destroy the creatures if they were encountered.
Implementing the Plan
As had been decided, the group made their way to the mill after dusk. They were surprised to find that a ring of wagons had been placed as a barricade and at least 100 Echmanner had been summoned to the courtyard to protect the facility. The initial plan was to set fire to one of the mill buildings, in hopes of drawing out the creature and scattering any innocents. With only gang members present, the group would focus on just drawing out the creature, which they were hoping to destroy by testing out their Yew weapons on the creature.
Yao, Aphrodite and Nadya crept closer to the barrier in anticipation of making their way into the encampment and setting the building on fire as originally planned.
However, before they could implement their scheme, an unexpected event occurred…
The Attack of the Masked Vigilante
Riding through the darkness, the Rabennarbe jumped his horse over the barrier, then used his massive speed to engage the Echmanner at the site. As this created an excellent distraction, the group launched their assault as well. Eve, Yoa and Aphrodite rushed into the fray, followed by Scrooge, Aeric and George. Scrooge deployed a Yew wood hummingbird toy which he used to attack enemies and later harass the creatures as they made their presence known.
The group had different portions of the plan, George and Scrooge would sow chaos into the mix, by using some specially designed smoke crystals, which blocked and limited lines-of-site across the rapidly spreading battlefield. Yao and Eve engaged enemies, thinning the ranks of the Echmanner, and hoping to identify and engage the creature they believed to be present.
There were in fact all five of the creatures present at the site. The Echmanner, although a large mob, quickly became food for the creatures as they bulked up their power by consuming their followers. The creatures displayed their paralyzing powers as well as their feeding process. In addition, it was revealed that the creature possesses a number of odd tentacle-type appendages, which were capable of delivering a corrosive acid-like mucus.
As the battle unfolded, Yao and Aphrodite found themselves in the immediate vicinity of the creature they suspected to see at the mill. They were both frozen by the creature, which then began to feed upon their energies. It was surmised that the creatures either consumed the life-force, or the temporal energy of the victim. The Paralysis power seemed to pulse, weakening periodically, which permitted those affected an opportunity to recover the use of their bodies.
During one such weakening, Aphrodite was able to break free and throw one of the Yew stakes at the creature. She stuck him, destroying him. This was the confirmation that the Yew was the weapon needed to defeat these terrible creatures.
From that fateful moment, The group managed to gain the initiative. With the Rabennarbe and then the sudden appearance of the Aspect of Taurus, the Lebensdeib found themselves suddenly outclassed.
Between the humming bird and Yao’s amazing Spear throwing abilities three more of the creatures fell in the battle. Eve finished off another, leaving none alive to continue the assaults against the people of Berlin.
Nadya’s entanglement of fate both advantageous and disadvantageous, played a critical role in the destruction of the creatures.
When the conflict ended, and the remnants of the Echmanner had scattered, the Rabennarbe brought the rampaging aspect under control. It was noted by the group that he referred to the creature as “cousin.” This led the group to initially believe that the vigilante may be Kurt Geberhardt, but instead, when Rabennarbe revealed his identity, it was clearly an adult version of Dieter Geberhart, the second cousin to Dieter Geberhart.
It was revealed that the Taurus lineage had the ability to manipulate the flow of time, allowing the normal 13-year old boy, to accelerate his age to that of an adult, and back as desired. Torst had dropped the use of the Aspect at the end of the battle, and was unaware that the group had managed to talk Deiter into revealing his location to them.
He was captured, and with much conversation, was convinced to turn over the Medallion without a fight, proving out his cowardly traits and bringing the Society’s mission to an end.