The Strigany dragged a young peasant from the Verfelfluss. Apparently, the young man had been robbed, knocked on the head, and tossed into the Grausee. Fortune, however, brought him to the shore near the camp. After treating his wounds, the grateful young man identified himself as Gilles, who had been making his way north towards Ubersreik when he was robbed along the Nulnerweg. Sigmar knows how he floated across the Grausee without being swallowed by a stirpike, let alone drowning, but clearly Sigmar - or perhaps Manann or one of the River Gods - saved him from certain death for some heroic purpose. Praise Sigmar!
With a thankful and confused Gilles fished from the Verfelfluss and treated, it occured to you none of you had seen Rutger recently. An inspection of his tent revealed a minor mystery - his bed had been slept in and his clothes were still hanging there. The mystery was brief but gave way to a larger one when you discovered poor Rutger's mutilated body mere yards from his tent. Stranger still, monstrously large, three-toed tracks lead from Rutger's tent to his body and then to the banks of the Verfelfluss. Esmee could see the tracks continuing on the other bank.
The death of their patron Rutger shattered the resolve of the Strigany. Reiko proclaimed that Grandmother Vadoma had been right all along, that the camp was cursed and that the infamous Beast of the Ortschlamm had claimed Rutger's life. The Strigany bit their thumbs almost to bleeding and made signs against the return of the Beast, then began packing up their tents and wagons to abandon the camp.
Johanna Stiegler was in turn mortified and infuriated by Rutger's untimely demise. She fumed at how - even in death - Rutger was still causing her problems and misfortune. Her lack of respect for the poor dead young man apparently infuriated Thulgrim, who cursed Stiegler to her face. Stiegler, red-faced with fury, offered ten crowns to anyone who would bring them the head of the murdering beast and avenge Rutger. Unmoved even by the prospect of gold as a reward, you left poor Rutger lying in the mud and sought no justice or vengeance for him.
Reiko made sure Rutger was decently buried, something that apparently slipped your mind to do and may have lowered the Strigany's esteem for you.
Grandmother Vadoma provided some additional information about the Beast of Ortschlamm: the Beast was eternal; it had always been here and always would be here; many men had entered the Ortschlamm to kill it, but none had returned.
You found Rutger's key to the pay chest on his body, which you gave to Thulgrim.
You did make some tentative, fruitless investigations. Where did the monstrous tracks lead? Into the Ortschlamm. Shall we follow them? Into a marsh? Absolutely not! Are there molds of giant monstrous claw-feet in the boxes, tents, or wagons? No. Why is Stiegler crying? Don't know, don't care, but we'll violently knock her down to look for those molds of giant monstrous claw-feet we know must be in there! What does Thulgrim think or think we should do? Who knows!? Why do these footprints, while monstrously large, seem obvious and very peculiar, even to our untrained eyes? Watch our shoulders collectively shrug! What's making that terrible, mournful wail coming from the Ortshclamm that silences the birds and beasts of the area for minutes at a time? We don't hear anything!
When poking at the anthill with a stick from a distance of 10 yards turned up nothing obvious or satisfactory you turned your attention to the problem you had refused to confront the day before: the removal of the oghams. While the Strigany made ready to leave and Stiegler wept inconsolably in her wagon, you spent the afternoon removing the Black Stones. The work was muddy and difficult, but eventually the stones came down. When largest, central stone fell, a feeling - a palpable ripple of relief - spread outwards through the mist, over the camp, and into the Ortschlamm. And from deep within the Ortschlamm came a great, heaving cry.
Your efforts, however, also revealed something large under the stone. You began digging into mud and peat, attracting the attention of Thulgrim and a few Strigany, who came up to see what was going on. Thulgrim pitched in and helped, and eventually you unearthed a large, inhuman, alien granite sarcophagus buried beneath the stone. The sarcophagus bore strange, pre-human etchings and runes, and the figure depicted on the lid was not human at all, but a alien monstrous thing with a triangular head and a single eye. Sigmar protect us!
You cracked open the sarcophagus and found some bits of bone, hair, and rotted cloth - and 6 primtive and ill-formed gold torcs larger than any man's arm or neck. Thulgrim claimed these for the Reuter-Stiegler concern and paid you a finder's fee of 6 shilllings in return.
The Strigany seemed a little less urgent to depart after the stones came down. They even broke out their instrumetns and played music during dinner, but the attempts at merriment were soon obliterated when a peasant - perhaps a peat farmer? - came stumbing into camp gripping his stomach. He fell over at your feet, his guts spilling forth from a ragged, gaping wound in his belly. To add to the horror, he petrified in front of your eyes, as if he had been boiled in oil like leather. The Strigany bit their thumbs again, pissed on the fires, and hid in their wagons for the rest of the night. They swore to leave this cursed place at dawn.
Apart from poking at the man with morbid curiosity and indecently taking samples of his congealed blood - something only a necromancer would do - no one provided the poor unfortunate with a burial. Thulgrim did this task himself, though with typical dwarfen directness: he tied a stone to the body and heaved it into the Verfelfluss.
You decided to watch over the camp and Thulgrim agreed to help you.
Angestag, Pflugzeit 30th, 2512 IC
Morning didn't bring better news. During the last watch before dawn, Thulgrim knocked poor Torvald over the head with a shovel, did the same to Johanna Stiegler and stole her key, hitched a small brick cart to Ferdinand's horse, loaded the Reuter-Stiegler paychest into the cart, and skarpered off. At least he made sure young Torvald wasn't left facedown in the mud to die.
Infuriated at the turn of events, you decided to hunt Thulgrim down. As the Strigany left camp en masse before you, Stiegler - seemingly relieved and uncharacteristically charming - offered to help you chase after him by offering you a ride in her well-appointed wagon. At least as far as Ubersreik, anyway.
Thulgrim's trail did indeed lead towards Ubersreik. Only a few miles from the camp, he apparently opened the chest and removed whatever was in there.
Stiegler said the pay chest contained 50 crowns, more or less.
Where the wagon track from camp intersected the Nulnerweg, the trail turned north. By afternoon, you were back in Messingen - the town you met Rutger in - and the locals confirmed that a dwarf matching Thulgrim's description had passed through earlier in the day. He sold Ferdinand's horse and the brick cart for pfennigs on the crown and bought a new hat and pair of boots without a haggle. He then strode quickly out of town towards the towering walls of Ubersreik. An old local named Tuskersson offered that the best place to look for a dwarf in Ubersreik was der'Assk'n'ammer - at least you think that's what he said.
After some back and forth with the local fleshtrader, Gustavus - who had thought the day had been his luckiest ever - Stiegler compensated the man for the return of Ferdinand's horse. As evening fell and the walls of Ubersreik loomed over you, you negotiated your payment from her, as well. In the end, she honored what Rutger had contracted for, opening her purse to the tune of one crown and a shilling to each of you. More tea?
Unfortunately, you arrived at the great South Gate of Ubersreik too late - the city had closed for the night - and you were forced to make camp with the other travelers outside the city walls. Luther and Cy took the opportunity to wander around the carts and migrant camps that lined the last mile of the Nulnerweg for sign of Thulgrim. Cy was apprehended by the guards for poking his thumbs into other people's pies, but making a pot of stew for hungry and bored guards on a chilly Spring night ended up being his only fine.
Festag, Pflugzeit 31st, 2512 IC
In the morning, the great horn above the gate sounded, and the massive oak door swung ponderously open. Two dozen fresh soldiers, dressed in the blue and red of the Emperor - not the blue and silver of the Jungfreuds - marched out of the city and began collecting gate tolls and admitting people in. Stiegler's gold and postion paved the way in for you, allowing you to slip into the city without being interrogated by the guards.
Safely inside the walls - walls still festooned with the rotting corpses of traitors - Stiegler finally bid you farewell. With a smile, she invited you to drop her pet name, Jojo, at the best inn in the city, the Bridge House Inn. You made your through the Marktplatz, past the enormous imposing statue of Magnus the Pious and the glistening High Temple of Sigmar, and to the Bridge.
The Ubersreik Bridge is a marvel of dwarfen construction. It spans the entire width of the Teufel - a river that runs red with iron deposits washed down from the Black Rock Highlands where the Jungfreuds derive their wealth. The magnificent bridge is both a spectacular feat of engineering and an enduring symbol of Ubersreik's alliance with the dwarfs. It connects the two halves of the city to make a whole. A tall-masted warship can easily sail beneath it and an army can march across it.
As promised, dropping "Jojo's" name at the Bridge House Inn had a positive effect.
Additional Notes and Miscellanea
Luther paid 1/- to obtain a Writ of Warrant for Capture and Arrest with Thulgrim's likeness on it.
All "guards" in the city are currently State Soldiers from Altdorf. Most of the former city guard currently rots atop pikes on the city walls. Those that don't fled to Black Rock Duchy - or simply fled - or swore new oaths to the Emperor and joined the State Soldiery.