Chapter 29 - Band on the Run
Dietmar prays while waits for his companions to return. As he opens his eyes, he sees a cloaked and hooded person stalking around the sacristy grounds. The man introduces himself as Vesogoth - he hails from a small village two days' travel to the east, but had come to Wunschau after the Plague began to rage, because he heard it was an isle of stability. For the last several months, he had been making the abandoned sacristy his home base, as nearly the entire suburb of Westweg has been abandoned. This is the first time he has seen anyone here - and against all odds, it's the person who was most responsible for what reconstruction there has been. The friar recounts his story, his ministry since he came to Wunschau, and his wanderings with his companions, to Albenheim and then back. The stranger, Vesigoth, has seen the city fall under the sway of the Flagellants, and is wondering if it is time to move on. He relates his own tale, ending it by professing his belief in the wondrous power of his own crucifix. As Dietmar launches into a homily, his other companions, Cilly 'Wechselbalg' and Nit, return with Carrot the Donkey from Schloss Rabenwald in a dejected mood. The effort to prevail on the margrave to reconcile with the elves has failed, and now they too wonder what is keeping them here. Dietmar attempts to contact the bishop but receives no response. As night falls, a spectral presence manifests. Nit is on watch, and observes the presence advance and attempt to make anguished sounds, though it cannot do so. She wakes her companions, and Dietmar and Cilly recognize the ghost of Manfred, Franz's brother. It still seems to be trapped here in this world, unable to find release, because his brother is still beholden to the Sensenmann. It eventually flies off, but the friar's attempt to reach out to Franz beyond the veil also yields no results. The three companions, and the uninvited guest spend the night at the compound, The ghost does not return. In the morning, they are visited by Bedrzich, the bishop's assistant. He tells him that the bishop did receive Dietmar's message, but the prelate recommends that Dietmar leave town. They stayed away too long, he says, and in the meantime, Hilda was able to sway the Rat into getting released, and prevailed on them to open the gates to the Flagellants. The Vehm is also actively watching to see if any of her enemies return. Therefore, he recommends that the companions stay away from Wunschau. He agrees with Dietmar that eventually, the power of the Flagellants will weaken, and the bishop will do his best to minister to the people until such a time arrives. In the meantime, the wealthy keep their heads down and join the processions, and burn their own vanities. Despite Vesogoth's suggestion that they reach out to the city oligarchs, Dietmar fears that the bishop, though not a brave man, is right. The best thing to do is to move on - perhaps to Rotz, from where he and Cilly, and several of their lost companions, had come to aid Wunschau in its time of need. The group moves on along the river, followed by Vesogoth. Perhaps in Rotz, Nit assures Carrot, they can finally launch their musical act. But shortly after leaving, they hear cries for help from the river. Carrot is sent to investigate, but ends up charging headlong into the water. There are several nude women, with aquamarine hair in the water, beckoning the donkey into the water. Cilly charges headlong after it, and the rest of the travelers join in as well. The women, once they have lured people in the water, turn out to possess sharp talons, which they use to try to rend their flesh. Carrot begins to sink under the surface, and Cilly is beset by two of the singing women simultaneously, while Dietmar calls out judgment upon them, and Vesogoth fires crossbow bolts at them, not always advisedly, as he comes close to hitting his own companions. Nit tries tries to overwhelm the women's song with disturbing magical babbling and chanting. Though the creatures are much tougher than they look, eventually, four of them float up, apparently dead. The last two make their getaway into the underwater reeds. Carrot and Cilly get out of the predicament with their lives, but only just.
Character(s) interacted with
- Bedrzich, the bishop's assistant
- the ghost of Manfred
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