Ageron and Krondal both found themselves wrapped up with the tricky problems of integrating their new members, and this left a number of interested parties with idle hands.
Felix returned from successfully integrating the former Fidelii into his rangers and realized that he would need a new home or base where he could be a bit away from any political intrigues. Gina decided that she needed to get a bit more involved in political intrigue, and Holtz decided it was time to get serious about being magely.
(Editor’s Note: Due to a very busy week, a lot of time lapsed between playing and writing this down. There may well be edits, and players are encouraged to make their own where I may have erred or omitted something useful.)
Gina decided that Widow Uda might be determined to become a problem. With this in mind, she set out to gather some information that might be useful in the future. She did an exceptional job of tailing her during the week and pinning her schedule down. You never know when that might be handy. Over the course of her investigation, Lyrces invited her to a private meeting. He tasked her with going to the imperial lands and looking for evidence of the suspected wizard. If she can bring information back, this would be huge to developing her standing among the Fideli Elders. (It may be somewhat troublesome for everyone else though.) All during her meeting, Gina couldn’t help but notice that old map and wonder what Holtz might be willing to do to obtain it.
Back at Dunwick, Felix set out to find Holtz just to check in and see what the recently-revealed wizard might know about anything. He learned about the dwarven rumors about the contract with the Ludwig’s being voided which was of interest. It also became clear to him that these rumors were not just idle gossip, but were being intentionally spread by the dwarves.
Upon finding the wizard, Holtz told Felix about the ruins north of town and led him out there for a couple days of intimate inspection and mapping. They located an old mess with a nice set of underground cellars that looked like a good place to equip as a supply station for the rangers. Unfortunately, the mapping was a little more complex and a stray note had the wrong building marked. (Felix would later instruct his rangers to fix up and camoflauge a supply point where indicated on the map—a location much less suitable.)
With a lot of idle time while Holtz drafted the maps (the first in the vale to be seen by someone other than him), Felix poked around looking for an answer to the mystery of the missing stone. In a stand of high weeds, he finally found an old, broken pick head. The pick head seemed to be clearly dwarven in make, with some undeciphered markings.
The pair returned to Dunwick where Felix immediately thought to ask Borgash about the runes on the pickhead. Borgash said, “Those aren’t runes. They’re a fake. That’s clearly not really dwarvish writing.” Borgash recognized a single runic inscription of a clan name: Stoneburner. (Holtz tried his hand at translating it for himself, but garbled it as “Stonecutter”.) Feeling somewhat untrusting of the vehemence of the denial, Felix set about seeking anyone who might be able to read dwarvish. Holtz helped by making a few rubbings and line drawings of the runes that could be distributed. Eventually a miner named Finn was pinpointed as knowing how to read dwarvish runes, but he was away down south on an exploratory expedition.
In the village of Kohlberg, Gina tried to find her contact Sigmund Jaeger to learn more about points of interest that she could use to entice Holtz. She couldn’t find him, but met a man named Hrolf who claimed to be one of Sigmund’s friends. It became clear to her very quickly that Hrolf was not who he pretended to be, and worse…he was a spy who was clearly targetting her. Luckily, she spotted the deception and through careful analysis, managed to feed him a number of pieces of bad information while figuring out that he was not even a former Fideli, but was from Altdorf. On top of that, he had some very shiny dwarven coins. He appeared to be a spy for the dwarves, and on top of that, not just some amateur. She was just good enough to make him on first contact.
Gina knew she needed someone she could use to learn more about this Hrolf character, but her spy network was…well…not really going yet. She needed to find someone she could use. A short trip to Dunwick and a little bit of poking around turned up the name Kogo Sevrin. Kogo was known around court as someone Ageron might be trying to develop into an “intelligence agent”. Gina figured she could use him to investigate Hrolf, and also to feed misinformation back to Ageron later. Kogo seemed to be very interested in being a spy, but it remains to be seen if his skills match his fondness for jargon.
Holtz decided it was time to pick an apprentice, and returned to Kohlberg. It took a little time and subtle questioning, but he finally settled on one of the Marked members as the most likely to develop into an apprentice. Sigmus was that man. Holtz began the process with the formal system of teaching him to read. Just as a test, Holtz slipped an arcane letter into a sheet of text. He hoped to see if Sigmus was starting to get the feel of how to identify unknown texts, but the response surprised him. Sigmus pointed to the character, one that can stand in for the letter “F”, and said, “I”ve seen this one before…when I was a boy.”
Sigmus went on to relate how, on an ogre hunting expedition as a lad, his raiding party had to hole up for safety for a few days. They did so near the base of the pillar of stone that is home to the City in the Clouds. (Editor’s Note: There are some subtle and some significant revisions in the next couple sentences.) He remarked how, on a clear day as he wandered near their camp, he saw some massive characters carved into the base of the stone, and could see winged figures flying far, far overhead. He mentioned the carvings, but no one else in his party knew what he was talking about. He returned the next day as the fog settled, but could not find them again.
Having set Kogo on Hrolf’s tail, Gina sought out Holtz and interrupted his training for a short time. She tried to talk him into stealing the map from Lyrces and planting it elsewhere, but she couldn’t pursuade him how this was in his best interest. In the end, Holtz agreed that, if Gina got the map then Holtz would figure out how to set up her target for her.
In the meantime, Felix decided to seek out the group’s old liasion, Eric Groenig. It was obvious that he knew a lot about the vale, but there just hadn’t been time to pin him down to talk. Conveniently, the mining expedition had been escorted by a party from the Groenig camp, so he could possibly kill two birds with one stone. He set out alone to trail them.
As he passed near the Hag’s Wood, he saw obvious signs of the undead on the march. However, they were set up on the old heights above the river, and down below on the banks, they were crafting proper, albeit crude, boats with which to cross. They clearly intended to go after the Fideli Delzig in the near future. He decided not to try to swim across that close to them and followed the Groenigs’ tracks. These led him up into the mountain and to a natural bridge that allowed easy crossing of the river. He eventually caught up with his quarry as they were heading back north, just as they crossed the River Neue.
He spoke with Eric for a bit, shared a bit of news about the vale and learned a few things of interest. (Felix specifically withheld any news of potential rifts between Ageron and Krondal. Eric grinned when Felix mentioned that magical weapons seemed capable of killing the undead for good.) First, Eric advised against harrassing the Fideli Sigmar unless they started to move. He wouldn’t elaborate. Second, he did confirm that all the stone in the valley appeared to go into the massive dam that was built, just about due east of his meeting with Felix. Third, he mentioned that there were large, metal creatures walking about that had been seen from far, far away.
He got Eric to help him locate a suitable base for his rangers where they could safeguard the vale and be close enough to help but independent of other forces. Eric agreed to show him some good caves near the natural bridge where the rangers could protect that valuable avenue.
Felix also spoke with Finn who told him that the item was dwarvish, but odd in ways he couldn’t quite place. Runes were formed strangely, the imagery was handled in unusual ways. But he did definitely identify the name as “Stoneburner.”