Wanderers of Krath

Husgrad
Where it all began

Our tale began at the Springflower Inn in Husgrad; a citadel of Krath.

The characters met at the Springflower Inn; a small and dingy free house, frequented by poor farm labourers and the odd ne'er do well. 

They were Vasily and Osha – people with their own reasons to leave the citadel. 

 Vasily bought Osha and himself a drink. The innkeeper was happy enough to serve him, but said he would not serve the vagrant Osha; who went to draw a knife, but was restrained by the brawny farm boy.

They overheard word of a circus in town – an oddity. Absent anything better to do, they went to the circus and spoke to Anton, a bear handler, who told them to come back in the evening to talk to “Baba”.

They went back to Vasily’s quarters and met Marta, his younger sister. Marta was sewing, and hurriedly hid a piece of embroidery, which she laughed off as “nothing”. 

Osha went to her bolthole, but found someone creeping about in the darkened space. She hunkered down and hid, the intruder finally giving up and leaving. She followed, but could not catch up – the intruder had too much of a head start.

Vasily stayed and pressed Marta on what the embroidery was. He snatched it from her, finding it was a a head scarf, embroidered as one would for a wedding.  Vasily pressed his little sister, and managed to drag out of her that she loved Grigori, the son of a local worthy (and that this was reciprocated); though there is no hope of providing her with a suitable dowry. They ate a meal in strained silence.

Later, Vasily, Osha and Marta went to the circus and saw a strongman, tumblers and the bear perform. Osha took the opportunity to pick a few pockets, while Vasily and Marta wondered at the feats of the performers. 

After the performance, they went to meet with Baba. They passed close by the Bear; who seemed remarkably, and unsettlingly intelligent. There was something of the fae and weird in that bear. 

Baba turned out to be a tiny and wizened old woman. She said she would take them with her when they left town; but that they would need to find a method of "paying their way". 

Thinking to find a cache of funds, Osha snuck into the Boyar's gardens, looking for a way into his manor, but was discovered by a young girl. She convinced the girl not to flee, but fell into discussion with her. She turned out to be one of the Boyar's children, and told her about her brother Kal – a "very clever man". 

Vasily met with Kal, and was brought into his confidence. Kal said he wanted to get away from Husgrad, but was unsure how. Vasily promised to help him escape from Husgrad, provided he could bring the book The Account of Gabriel Vermar as payment for his passage.

 

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Getting out of Husgrad
Vasily provides for his sister; Osha settles a score

Having secured the book, and thus passage out of Husgrad, Vasily had to work out a way of providing for his sister.

Osha knew that Dmitri must have had more money – he had gloated of his riches. She went to Dmitri's house in the market quarter with Vasily, hiding in an alleyway around the corner until they saw Dmitri leaving.  Osha then went inside, finding the house still occupied by one of Dmitri's thugs. She glibly said she had money to repay a debt.

Outside, Vasily attempted to cause a distraction. He had wanted to simply cause a commotion amongst the stallholders, but a fruiterer accused him of stealing and tried to strike him. Vasily easily overpowered the man, and bullrushed him through the front door of Dmitri's house. Dmitri's henchman barked a challenge at Vasily, who attempted to diffuse the situation; but the thug was having none of it – going for cudgel on the table. But Vasily was too quick and too strong – beating the thug unconcious and leaving him lying on the floor.

In the meantime, Osha had taken the opportunity to sneak upstairs. She searched the room, finding a few coins; but was defeated by the lock on Dmitri's strongbox. Vasily - his blood up - simply tore this free of its restraints and heaved it out the window, scattering coins and valuables across the street and causing a near riot.

The two managed to gather enough coin and plate amidst the throng to pay Marta’s dowry. Vasily passed this off as "family heirlooms, buried in the forest for an occasion such as this", and impressed upon Grigori's father that he considered this to be a token of the joining of the two families – the old man was very touched by this gesture, and agreed to the match.

The wedding occurred in something of a rush – a matter for gossip; but this had to be endured; for a week later Vasily, Osha and Kal left Husgrad in secret with the Circus, bound for Tzarograd.  

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The thing in the forest
A detour on the road

After leaving Husgrad, Vasily and Osha, (with Kal in tow), made their way north with the circus caravan. They were not told to where they travelled, only that they would arrive in Tzarograd for winter. 

They seemed to be taking a detour from the main road – Kal noting that they were not headed to Tzarograd, but further East. They asked Anton what was happening, he shrugged and said "Baba knows the way".

While camped on the road one night, and Mishka became nervous, whimpering and pawing the ground. Anton, looking discomfited, spoke to Baba; who provided everyone with an amulet that stunk of weird herbs. She said that there was a creature in the trees that could be driven off with the oil in the amulet. 

Osha, Vasily and Kal took a torch and struck out into the tree line. Walking some distance, the air grew close and even colder. A shape emerged from the darkness – shaggy and lupine, bipedal and hunched, with wicked fangs and glowing eyes. 

At this moment, the torch guttered and died. 

Osha's nerves failed her and she fled blindly into the trees. Kal stood slack-jawed. But Vasily stood firm, drawing his cudgel and charging the beast. It proved even stronger than he, biting and clawing the big man and leaving him torn and bloodied before it ran off into the wood. 

Osha regained a hold on herself, but found herself lost. She risked calling out in the darkness, and was overjoyed to find her flight had not carried her far. Vasily managed to get the torch burning again, and they returned to the caravan. 

Returning to camp, Baba admonished the wounded Vasily for not using the charm like she told him to; but explained that this creature was a Leshy – which are not known to be vicious. Baba conjectured that something must have angered it. They resolved to explore further in the morning. 

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Tzarograd
New digs, an Oath, and some dirty money

Very much on their own in a strange new city; Osha, Vasily and Kal decided to set themselves up for winter. 

Short on funds, they decided to find a room they could share. They found a single, dingy room in a tenement on Tannery Row – some of the least desirable real estate in Tzarograd. 

Osha found this to her liking – it beat being on the streets for winter; and that there was a gang that controlled the surrounding streets. She managed to break into the gang; finding herself in the middle of a power struggle between the existing leader, Radov, and his Lieutenant, Marek. 

Deciding that Marek might be the more maleable to her long-term aims of taking over; Osha convinced Marek that she supported him as leader. Radov overheard them and threatened Osha, who overreacted and stabbed him. Marek was shocked, but Osha convinced him that this was a good thing, as Marek was now in charge. 

 

Meanwhile, Kal found employment as a scribe in the Chantries – the halls of learning in Tzarograd - a sort of proto-university. His changed circumstances seemed to have an effect on the man; as he 

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A theft, and Kal gets roughed up
In which our heroes steal some sweet loot

Assisted by Vasily, Osha broke into the house of a noble family to steal the strange book for Benedict. 

She made it in undetected and found the book stuffing it in a sack. Before leaving, she found the arms of a noble hung on a mannequin – a fine hauberk, a spangenhelm, a sword and dagger. She decided to steal these as well – wrapping them in cloth and lowering them from the window to Vasily. 

When they returned to their house, they showed their ill-gotten gains to Kal, who was extremely upset; saying that the sword and hauberk were far too recognisable. If they tried to sell them, they would be caught and hanged for sure. 

Osha kept the dagger, and Vasily wrapped the rest in oilskin and buried them in the basement of their tenement. Osha lied to Kal, convincing him they had thrown the arms in the river. 

When they returned the book to Benedict, he was very happy, paying them in silver and offering them another job – to find him a “fresh” body. 

When they returned to their house, Vasily found that Kal had been beaten up. Kal raged at him, telling him that a man named Sergoyin had roughed him up, and that he deserved to die for it – “Suffer not this insult to your master!”
 

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Grave Robbing, and sorting out Kal's problems
In which Osha steals a body, and Vasily gets into a fight

Osha and Vasily decided that if they were to find a fresh body for Benedict, then the best place to find one would be the family crypts of the Ossary in the noble quarter (the bodies of the poor are interned outside the walls before being burned in mass pyres come spring). They bought a sleeping draught from Xiang. Osha poisoned a pot of tea and gave this to the Ossary’s caretaker, knocking him out.

Within the Ossary yard, they found a crypt that had recently had offerings put outside. Inside, they found the body of a young woman, wearing a find dress and the embroidered headscarf of a young woman to be married. Vasily could not bring himself to remove the body – it reminded him too much of his sister in Husgrad – and he left. Osha had no such qualms, dumping the body on a cart and handing it over to an overjoyed Benedict, who pronounced it “Perfect! Better than perfect!” Osha also gave Benedict the letter from Xiang outlining his wares. He was thrilled at this news as well – saying he would order materials in the near future, and would have Osha and Vasily act as his agents. 

Vasily went to find Sergoyin – determined to beat him up, though not to kill him. When confronted, Sergoyin demanded the six Roubles that Kal owed his boss – someone called Kuril. Osha had heard of Kuril – a gang boss who controls a significant portion of the docks. Vasily had no knowledge of the debt, but undaunted he attempted to intimidate Sergoyin into cancelling the debt. Sergoyin did not take kindly to threats, and stabbed Vasily twice – to no great effect, but tearing his doublet and soaking it in blood. Osha intervened in the fight, slashing Sergoyin’s arm and forcing him to drop his knife. He fled. 

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Placating Kuril; and Marek wants some cash
Writing cheques you can't cash

Marek came to Osha, and told her to collect money from the Tanners – “We need some cash. Go and shake them down.” Osha knew it was early to collect the protection money; but went anyway. She went with the aim of intimidating them, but failed to do so, and was driven off by angry tradesmen. Returning, she explained to Marek that the Tanners were broke, and couldn’t pay regardless. Marek raged at her – saying that she was weak, and that he would show these upstarts who was in charge. 

She soon found out that Marek had run up a gambling debt, and that the money was to pay this off. 

Kal came to Vasily in confidence – saying that Osha was “A liability…she can never be accepted into the circles will will mix in. She is dangerous!” Vasily tried to convince Kal that they would need Osha’s knowledge of the underworld to succeed, but he was having none of it. The argument petered out unresolved. 

Osha and Vasily went to Kuril – who turned out to be a fairly normal-looking woman of around thirty years – trying to sort out the debt Kal owed, and to head off some kind of gang war. Kuril accepted money from Vasily for Kal’s debt; but then turned to the matter of what to do about the injured Sergoyin. 

Sergoyin demanded the “Blood Price” for his injury. Rather than offering Kuril money for the debt, Osha suggested that she could lead the Tannery Row gang as Kuril’s lieutenant, and pay her tribute. Kuril accepted this, silencing Sergoyin’s demands for blood. Sergoyin looked furiously at Osha – sure to be plotting revenge. 

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Marek meets a bad end; and Vasily's friend goes mad
Our heroes tie up a loose end, and Raz loses his shit

Deciding that Marek was a liability, Osha determined to murder him and take over the gang. Osha and Vasily went to Benedict and took an order for materials to Xiang. Benedict gave them a bag of gold coins as payment, and a list of materials. 

They convinced Xiang to add on a phial of Hellbane poison – determined to use this to knock off Marek. 

Osha went to the inn that the gang uses, finding everyone bruised from a fight with the Tanners. Marek was drunk, and gave Osha shit about needing to be tougher. The rest of the gang slowly left, as Osha sat listening to his Marek’s witless drunken banter. She took him upstairs to “put him to bed”. 

Vasily snuck into the inn and held Marek down while Osha poured the Hellbane down his throat. This killed him fairly quickly, though not without a great deal of thrashing about. The innkeeper came to investigate, but Osha convinced him that a drunken Marek had simply thrashed about the room, and that she would pay for the damage. 

Vasily visited Raz and Mirov. Raz was in some kind of melancholy, and had been furiously writing for days. Mirov was worried for his friend, saying “He hasn’t been the same since we drank the Black Lotus tea. 

When Raz saw Vasily trying to read his scribblings, he flung himself at Vasily, attempting to strangle him. Vasily easily overpowered him. Raz babbled about a city destroyed by a rain of fire, of witch-kings and daemon gods; before having some kind of fit. 

They called for a physician, who said that his humours were out of balance and that he would need purging. 

Mirov was very worried. He and Raz are out of money, would be unable to pay a physician, and if they were to ask other merchant families for assistance, news of Raz’s descent into madness might scandalise his family. Vasily said that he “knew someone who could help”.  

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Osha takes over the Tannery Row Gang, and treating poor Raz
It's tough at the top, and Vasily engages in skulduggery

With Marek dead, Osha found that the Tannery Row Gang were near to breaking up – saying that the Dyer’s Row gang would surely take over. She convinced them to stay strong under her leadership; managing to find two new members – Adro, a bankrupted shopkeeper, and Bjorn, a Mercanian sailor trapped in Krath for the winter.

 

Osha went to the Tanners, seeing what the situation was. The tanners had been pretty badly roughed up by the gang. They said that they could not make much money, as they are out of furs and hides beyond the odd dead cat or dog. Osha said she would see what she could do.

 

Meanwhile, Vasily visited Xiang to buy something for Raz, and managed to lay his hands on some “Milk of the Poppy”, which sedated Raz to the point of being manageable. While there, Xiang explained to him that it is said that Black Lotus sometimes allows the drinker to see visions of worlds beyond our own, and that some go mad at these visions.

 

When Vasily returned to Raz and Mirov, Mirov told him that they were broke, and he didn’t know how he would pay for treatment. Vasily convinced him that his knowledge of the Furriers of the city would be worth something to them. Mirov was concerned, but told him of the Yurivitch family, traders in bulk furs and hides.

 

Osha went to their warehouse, but was driven away by the city watch before she got a good view of their operations.

 

Vasily took the Raz to see Benedict, who initially said he was too busy to help; but changed his opinion very quickly when he found out that Raz had drunk Black Lotus tea. He said that he would look at Raz. He said that Black Lotus tea sometimes gives visions of other planes of existence – places beyond death. When Vasily said he had been writing, Benedict asked to see all of his notes, saying that he would have his friend (the physician Marius) treat Raz.

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Vasily meets a merchant; and Osha's robbery goes tits-up
So many 1's...

Vasily wangled an introduction to the Yurivitches, a family of fur and hide merchants. His conversation left Mr Yurivitch with an inflated sense of his own importance, but allowed Vasily to gather some useful facts – to wit: they were engaged in some manipulation of fur and leather prices, and were playing the tanners against each other to increase their profits. 

Osha decided that this was the time to strike. She gathered the gang, and went down to the Yurivitches' warehouse. She had two of her thugs start a pretend fight, which drew out the warehouse guards. The gang members fell upon the guards and subdued or drove them off. 

They decided to keep their ambitions small, and to only carry off a single bale of hides for the tanners. However – bales of hides are considerably heavier and more awkward than they look, and they were just outside the warehouse when they heard the city watch stomping towards them. They were attempting to drag their ill-gotten booty back inside when the watch were upon them. 

Osha caught a burly watchman flat-footed and burst past him before legging it up the street. Two members of her gang were not so lucky – caught and dragged off to the watch house. 

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