We open in the swamp, The Cursed Swamp of course! As Odwin and Nicodemus trudged their way through the muck along with a mustachioed bodyguard named Wolfram and two tired scribes named Gregor and Emma.
The diplomatic mission had left Altdorf about ten days ago under a cloak of secrecy. Lord Quinton, the new diplomat to Marienburg, feared a conspiracy against them. All the precautions of fake papers and changing routes seemed to work for awhile, before a group of River Wardens attacked them as traitors, beating Lord Quinton and shooting a bullet through Nicodemus’s shoulder.
Lord Quinton then suggested that the mission split into two groups taking two different routes, and half of the critical documents along with them. His grim reasoning being that it was less likely the traitors in the River Wardens would kill both groups before reaching their destination. And so after hiring a surgeon for Nicodemus, the smaller of the two groups, now under the leadership of Odwin, departed for Marienburg.
They were now quite lost, and in the middle of the Cursed swamp.
Just as the scribes were preparing for another round of bitching, Odwin’s acute hearing picked up the wet clopping of distant hooves…
He ordered Wolfram and Nicodemus to take up defensive positions, as a lone rider slowly emerged from the tangle of the swamp and made their way to the group.
He was huge, and both he and his horse were exhausted. He ran a gloved hand over his sweating brow, slicking back his mane of red hair. Odwin thought he was a bit familiar, and Nicodemus thought he smelled terrible.
“Are you the Diplomatic Mission to Marienburg?” Asked the huge man.
“Yes…And who are you?” Nicodemus noted the mans dirty River Warden’s Uniform
“My name is Felix Tyrgveson” he said, pulling a large bundle of documents “And Lord Quinton told me to bring these to you”
Odwin approached Felix and cautiously took the bundle. They were indeed the other half of the official documents that Lord Quinton had taken with him when the mission had split in half.
“If you have come into possession of these…What has become of Lord Quinton?”
Felix looked down on the young man with sad eyes
“I killed him…”
Nicodemus shouted out before Odwin could respond. “Mutants! All around us!”
Emerging from the growth and swamps around came a bevy of some of the most disgusting creatures any of them had ever laid their eyes on. Covered in pockmarks and boils, five of them, one with the head of an infant and the body of a man, a hulking giant with half of his body transformed into a woody growth, two with the plants of the swamp having become part of their bodies, all moving in tandem to the orders of a huge man with the tusks of a boar. The surrounded humans got ready for an engagment. Just as the mutants were closing in for the kill, a sound resounded from the hill to their eastern flank..
“Montjoie! For ze Lady!”
A dirty, dirty man then charged down the muddy hill and crashed into one of the mutants.
The battle that followed was brief but bloody, Nicodemus was nearly crushed, and it took the combined efforts of Wolfram, Felix and Odwin to finally deal the killing blow on the tusked leader of the pack, but after a few minutes of intense fighting, the party triumphed, with only a fresh coat of blood and mutant vomit as their victory prize.
After cleaning themselves off with swamp water, they properly introduced themselves to their timely ally.
“Thank you for your timely assistance back there. I am Odwin Hagen”
“Excellent to meet you Odwin! I am Claudemer le Brionnac! And I am a knight of Brionne”
Nicodemus was a bit perplexed at this claim to nobility, but hey, Bretonnians were weird.
“Ah, another noble, amazing!” Nicodemus bowed “I am Nicodemus von Grimminhagen”
Felix snorted “Names Felix, you fight pretty good Claudemer”
“Well of course I do. I’m a knight!” Claudemer scratched at the scabs on his neck.
Quickly realizing that they all had a common destination, they accepted this eccentric Bretonnian into their group before resuming their trek through the swamp. But sunset quickly came and the party made camp on a patch of relatively dry land
Claudemer decided to take first watch, writing of this most recent battle in his book of chansons and conferring with his squire and companion
“These seem like doughty fellows Master! It may be prudent to remain by their sides, especially if the Sinking City is as dangerous as it seems.” Tancred proclaimed in his sing-song way
“Where were you during the battle?” Claudemer quipped sourly.
“I was off relieving myself! Lots of diseases one can catch in these swamps you know”
“First you lose my steed, and then you let me be captured by that priest! And now you-“
The baritone voice of Merovich cut in, “I think that the lad is right Monsieur, The Lady brought you to these folks side, we should remain for the time being, and see what She has ordained for us!”
Claudemer mulled it over before sighing. “Alright, I am convinced, we will stay with these Imperials, although they seem a crude bunch…”
Odwin heard all this chatter, but not understanding Bretonnian, he only thought that Claudemer was praying, and just went back to sleep.
In the morning, the party trudged through the swamp for awhile longer before they arrived a road! oh mercy! And it was not long before the squawking of gulls could be heard, the smell of salt on the wind, and then, finally, the great walls of the city of Marienburg!
The group quickly made their way to the gate, where the heavily accented guard took a boot tax of two bones each, confiscated Felix’s crossbow (only members of the Marienburg city watch may own crossbows) and let them into the city. After being harranged by a horde of boatmen and river rats, eager to ferry them over to the city proper, they party bought a ride from a feisty lady who would take them to the Imperial Embassy for only two silver!
Passing under the Great Hoogbrug Bridge, they arrived at the stately houses and official buildings of the Palace District. Quickly getting lost, the group eventually made their way to the Imperial Embassy, and after a short argument with the guards, were brought inside to see Herr Johann Exckhardt, the Official Representative of his Imperial Majesties Court to the City of Marienburg and the Province of the Wasteland.
Herr Eckhart proved to be quite difficult. Curt, grumpy, mean spirited. Odwin still dutifully handed over the papers, and Eckhart looked them over, until his face contorted into a scowl at the sight of one of the letters.
“Which of you imbeciles opened this letter! This one! With the seal of the Emperors Witch Hunters!”
“Twas I Sir” barked Felix “I had to do it Sir, I had to make sure these papers were legitimate” Felix declined to mention that he received the papers after killing their previous owner.
“Your going to be in deep trouble. Don’t you know that what you did is heresy!”
“Yessir, but I did what I thought best given the circumstances.”
Herr Eckhardt smiled snidely “You’re lucky then to be under my protection.”
Felix breathed out his nose.
The party quickly learned that Odwin was technically the highest ranking diplomat left alive of the original mission, and Herr Eckhart did not really seem to care for the idea of this boy taking his place while he went back to The Empire.
“Well. I suppose I can keep you all on retainer until this business is sorted out. Make sure to check in, I may have useful work for you.”
“Can we have some money” Odwin smiled.
Herr Eckhardt sighed “Take this. Find lodgings somewhere nearby, Suiddock should be within your standards. And remember! You all work for me now! So you will do as I say until this matter is clarified!”
The group departed the embassy, biding goodbye to the scribe Gregor.
With the unpleasant business of dealing with Herr Eckhart over and done with, the party promptly got lost on their way to Suiddock, despite Odwin’s best efforts, but after flagging down a boatman, and negotiating their way through his absurd Wastelander accent, they managed to get there for only three silver.
Suiddock was absolutely bustling. But the neighborhood straddling Marienburgs busiest canal was not a rich one. Hordes of hard working Salt-of-the-Sea folks made their livings here loading and unloading cargo, building small boats, fishing, sailing, and providing all the services that such folk need to live. The money lived across the Hoogbrug, on the North Side, the hard folks live here in Suiddock.
It only took a bit of asking around, and one generous tavern keeper, for them to find a landlady willing to take their money, and soon the whole party found themselves in the penthouse suite of a six story tenement, a large and moldy room full of leaks, pests, a tiny stove, and two (luxurious!) chamberpots.
Welcome to Marienburg!