In the early morning hours, you boarded the Trandafir to begin your work for your new employer, Rutger Reuter. The Trandafir was a weathered old Strigany barge, haphazardly loaded with cargo. Once again, Rutger effusively nattered about how terrific everything was and how excited he was to start this new adventure with you: the construction of a new mill where the Grausee feeds into the Verfelfluss. You met the boat captain, a deep-voiced stern Strigany named Reiko and his crew and became acquainted from afar with Reiko's grandmother, the ancient crone Vadoma, who sat upon her stool on the prow of the boat, constantly muttering to herself and beseeching her ancestors to protect the ship from the Beast of the Ortschlamm, a nefarious bog the boat was going to sail by as it made its way from Messingen to the camp.
During the next 2 days, Vadoma would repeatedly call-out to "the ancestors" for protection from this mysterious Beast.
The boat floated well-enough and sailing upriver towards the camp was peaceful. Cy made an excellent meal from the boat's larder (and knicked some of the Strigany's potent qweshy), ingratiating you to the Strigany crewmen and women, including a dark-haired beauty named Chella who danced with Cy until her brother, Radii, interposed himself. Reiko, who had been playing his 8-string mandola and singing, stepped in to avert a fight. As a deepening fog enveloped the barge, the anchor was dropped and the colorful paper lanterns unlit. Ferdinand sat first watch while everyone else went to sleep.
Backertag, Pflugzeit 27th
The next morning, with only a few more miles to go, the Trandafir was still enshrouded in fog.
The Strigany commented in passing that the fog was ever present and thicker closer to the work camp.
As the barge progressed further upstream, the Verfelfluss began running faster and colder. The Trandafir struck a rock hidden by the fog, sending old Vadoma, a large Strigany man named Radomo, and Ferdinand and his horse, Robb, plunging head-long into the icy river. Crates toppled over and supplies fell into the river as the old boat's timbers moaned under the strain. Luther leapt into the river after Grandmother Vadoma while Ferndinand struggled to save his horse and the rest of you sought ways to relieve the other dangers.
Esmee soon spotted a very large creature swimming quickly through the water towards Vadoma and Luther, apparently attracted by the old woman's panicked thrashing. Despite everyone's best efforts to haul them back to the barge quickly, Luther was forced to draw his weapon and fight the monstrous fish alone. Fortunately, Luther prevailed.
During the crash, a crate fell atop Chella's arm, breaking it. Cy helped mend her broken arm successfully.
Comment: I neglected to impose any difficulty modifiers on Luther's combat Tests in this situation (for fighting in chest-deep icy-cold fast-flowing water, for having to keep a handle on a panicked old woman and a rope), so Luther's success here, while earned, might have been earned a little too easily compared to the danger he was actually in. Additionally, the stirpike should have Charged Luther to initiate its attack, giving it +1 Advantage immediately. I mention this only to remind everyone that combat in WFRP is very dangerous without added difficulty and that you should not take Luther's survival here for granted.
Unfortunately, the Trandafir wasn't so lucky. It broke apart, to the dismay of Rutger and Reiko. Rutger promised a gold crown bonus to each of you to carry the supplies by foot the rest of the way to the camp, which fortunately was not more than a few hours away. The stirpike was hauled ashore; Cy proved his worth again by deftly butchering the fish and feeding everyone before you set off southward. Rutger thanked you profusely for going above and beyond what he had contracted you for, beaming at your bravery, and asked for your help with chipping in and setting things right when you got to the work camp. He stated plainly there would even more money in it for you.
The rest of the journey to the camp was uneventful, though it was gloomy and encased in the ever-present fog. As you got nearer to camp, Rutger vacillated between his usual extroverted joviality and sudden bouts of pensive sadness. When Luther inquired what was bothering him, Rutger brushed aside the question muttering something about bad dreams before returning to his normal effusive self.
You arrived at camp in the late afternoon. The camp was situated on the thin isthmus between the Verfelfluss and the Grausee. It was blanketed in thick fog as the Strigany had said it would be. The construction site was surprisingly ramshackle and slap-dash. The foundations for the future mill were too close to the river and water-logged. The building supplies were disorganized and exposed to the elements. Some of the new cut timber was rotting and dozens of expensive new tools were already rusted. Even if there was an inventory of supplies, it would be nearly useless because nothing in the camp was in a place that made sense for its use or purpose.
Additionally, the camp lay very near a stone circle of ominous black monoliths. The Strigany would bite their thumbs to ward off evil whenever they looked at the stones. When you first gazed upon them, a shiver ran down your spines.
Rutger saw none of these problems though, Sigmar bless him. He only saw the wonderful progress that was being made on the mill and mused how successful the business venture would some day be, despite all these little unexpected setbacks. He summoned the foreman to you, a more-dour-than-usual dwarf named Thulgrim, and whispered that he had brought new friends who might help with that little thing that our superstitious Strigany friends won't help with you know the one I'm talking about WINK.
Rutger, exhausted from the journey, gave Thulgrim his key to the pay chest before retiring to his lavish tent to sleep. Thulgrim commanded you to follow him to the opposite side of camp where sat an opulent wagon, quite apart from the half dozen or so Strigany wagons that ringed the camp. There, you would meet with Frauline Stiegler, Rutger's business partner in this endeavor, and see about the bonus Rutger promised you. As you approached the wagon, a rough-looking peasant departed the wagon and made his way directly out of camp. Asked who that was, Thulgrim replied bluntly that he didn't know.
Frauline Stieglar was none-too-pleased when disturbed from her heart's desire: a little rest. When confronted with the news that Rutger had lost the barge and promised you each a gold crown bonus on top of that disaster, Frauline Stiegler flew into a rage, bitterly complaining about Rutger and the progress on the mill, hissing at Thulgrim, "As if my esteemed partner hadn't already demonstrated his incompetence and profligacy ("reckless extravagance")! Dwarf, I already have a site rammed full of so-called assets that stubbornly fail to sweat for me! Bring that chest inside and set it on the floor, but I'll not authorize the spending of a single brass penny until I see some progress!"
After her bout of rage, she finally looked you over and softened a little bit, asking you to forebear payment until the morning. She blamed her rage on a lack of good sleep and bad dreams. She also hoped that you would help around the camp (as you were probably more reliable than the Strigany), and that for your efforts she would pay you double whatever Rutger had promised you, and that unlike Rutger, she always paid her debts.
Rutger had promised to pay you three times what you would normally expect to earn for a week's work (your Social Standing income x 3, a minumum of 3 pfennigs) plus the crown bonus. Thus, Stiegler is offering to pay you (your Social Standing Income x 6 [min 6p] plus 2 crowns). Handsome pay, indeed, should you take her up on it.
She retired to her wagon to seek the sleep she said she craved, and the Strigany, very thankful for your help saving Grandmother Vadoma, found comfortable places for you to sleep among their wagons and tents.
Meta: it was clear to you that there is friction between Rutger and Stiegler. Rutger seemed to take pains, whether by his good-nature or by a deeper-purposed ruse you do not know, to paper over or avoid talking about their differences, while Stiegler made no attempt to hide her contempt for Rutger. Likewise, it was plain as day that Thulgrim despised them both, but for what reasons he never hinted at. In gossiping with the Strigany over the past days, you know that they, at least, don't hold Rutger in the same apparent low regard as Stiegler and Thulgrim do. In fact, they think rather highly of him: he has never mistreated them, he has always been kind towards them, he has always paid them what he owes them, and while his careless optimism causes him to exaggerate almost everything, he is not duplicitous or conniving.
Bezahltag, 28th Pflugzeit
Although most of you slept without problem, Ferdinand was plagued by fitful sleep and bad dreams. The fog still blanketed the camp when you woke.
Thulgrim approached you in the morning with a pot of thin gruel that he shared with you for breakfast. He told you that Stiegler had ordered him to ask you to dig up the black stone circle, a tedious task the very superstitious Stigany had refused to do. He offered you a shilling a stone each (7 shillings each) from his own pocket to topple the stones just to get it done quickly and satisfy Stiegler. Once toppled, he said, hopefully the Strigany might overcome their superstitious nonsense and help drag the stones away and dump them in the river.
When you asked why Thulgrim had not dug up the stones by himself without help from the Strigany, he shrugged off the question with contempt: the largest stone is 9 feet tall and weighs more than a few horses; it would take 3 dwarfs or 1 ogre to safely topple it, and more to move it. While Thulgrim used contractual clauses to defend his inaction on the stones, it is also something he simply cannot do alone.
You inspected the stone ring. Thick mist curled about the black granite stones. The oghams were carved in mysterious swirling motifs and symbols. Someone had attempted to deface the largest one (fairly succeeding) in the distant past. And while lichen and plants covered the outer 6 stones, no vine twisted over nor no moss clung to nor no insect crawled across the largest ogham.
Torvald felt the distinct presence of dhar upon the stone, a indistinct curse of some kind, like a black spear holding something in place, giving some credence to the Strigany's superstitious reluctance to approach the ring.
While the rest of you discussed the possible dangers of pulling down the stones, Cy took it upon himself to strike one with a pick. He neither damaged the stone nor turned into a puddle of goo.
Refusing to proceed, you marched back to camp and confronted Stiegler and Thulgrim about the stone. Stiegler said she wanted the stones pulled down and taken away so that future construction on the site would be unimpeded. She even offered you another 2 crowns from her own purse to pull them down, but you refused, winning you no favor at all from her. Thulgrim seemed entirely non-plussed with your refusal and he scoffed at your superstitious poltroonery. He decided he might as well send for some peasants from the relatively nearby town of Grausee, who'd probably do the work for far less and with less kittenish mewling, just to finally appease Stiegler.