Scene One: The Study of Balthasar Konig

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Scene One: The Study of Balthasar Konig

Post by Barrier Peaks » Sat Jul 01, 2006 10:30 pm

19 Fore-Mystery, I.C. 2522

It is hot in the Imperial city of Nuln; unbearably so. The reek of the squalor of Neustadt is amplified tenfold by the heat, as garbage and the contents of countless chamber pots simmer upon the cobblestones of the quarter. Flies have appeared in the city in record numbers, to feast upon the refuse, sparking fears of impending plague. The sound of their buzzing is constant, especially in Shantytown.

The conditions in Altestadt, also known as the Old City, are little better. Though the inherent smell is somewhat improved, the stale wind that blows intermittently across the city constantly reminds the aristocracy that their lesser counterparts are nonetheless downwind of them. The Altestadt is the home of Nuln's wealthiest citizens, and it rises above the rest of the city. The higher you go, the more opulent the homes and estates become, until you reach the Palace at the city's highest point.

For most of you, wealth is a distant dream, or a fond memory. The comforts provided by an abundance of gold are denied to you, at least temporarily. Whether you are a native to Nuln, or merely a visitor seeking business or pleasure, there is always money to be had in any one of a variety of endeavors. Your fellow men, for instance, and the bounties laid upon their heads by the powers that be.

What brings you into the company of one another boils down to a mixture of fate and convenience. For the Dwarf, Vargroth, and the bounty hunter, Hildred, their relationship is both professional and cordial. Both have worked together in the past, though on vastly different terms: Hildred would provide the prisoners, while Vargroth would lock them away. These days, Vargroth has left the cool stone and iron of the prison for the dust and mud of the open road.

Verena's initiate, one Burgolf Hurz, a large Middenlander with several unique attributes, has recently made the acquaintance of Vargroth and Hildred. Being bound to Verena, the Goddess of Learning and Justice, Hurz's interest in seeing that Law is served is more than guaranteed. When hunting one's fellow man, it always pays to have at least one of the Gods on your side. That he is good with medicine is an added bonus.

Then we have the rat-catcher, Mozart, along with his dog, Strohmian. His place in this story is precarious, not tied solely to the service of justice so much as to the jingling of silver. Being a native of Nuln, and knowing its seedier side, has made him quite appealing in his role as guide. Plus, the bounty is large enough that splitting it five ways still brings Mozart and his dog one rung higher on the ladder of life.

Lastly, we come to our fifth and final soul, who is perhaps the strangest of the lot. Dwarfs are known, trusted, and understood throughout the Empire; Humans, too, are as common as turds in a privy. But an Elf, in Nuln, in the company of Humans and a Dwarf? It causes most to pause and ponder, and none pause and ponder the circumstances so much as Laurenor himself. To see the world, to bring back news of it to his people; that had been his goal when his journey first began. Now, some years later, it continues still…

There was talk of work, yes? Of a bounty, yes?

Thieves are no more or less common in Nuln than in other cities the Empire over. What is common in Nuln, and not so common in the world beyond its walls, is art. Nuln is a city of culture, prestigious in equal measures because of its universities, its cannon, and its artists. Paintings, sculpture, music, and musings are as valuable to the city's high society as are gems and gold. This makes such things ripe pickings for enterprising thieves looking to make a score.

Enter one such thief, Ursula Kummel. A red-haired maven from Averland, little is known of her except for her reputation as a burglar and a liar. As crooked as a stick in water, she's been rumored to steal the gold from the teeth of those men she's lured into her bed. Known by many names, she is also a master of disguise who vanishes like a teardrop in the rain once she's made her move.

This brings us to the matter of Balthasar Konig, a burgher of Nuln with a penchant for fine musical instruments. His prize? A lute of almost magical note, crafted over a century ago by the famed artisan Viktor Klein. It's worth? A thousand crowns, perhaps more, but only if kept in one piece.

Ursula crept into Konig's bed not two days ago, and took payment for her affections in the form of his cherished lute. Konig had little to say of this, as he was fast asleep at the time. When he awoke, naked and alone, his momentary relief at the absence of his evening's entertainment was replaced by the heart-wrenching horror of the empty spot upon his study wall. The lute! Stolen!

Konig has gone to great lengths to assemble a group capable of finding Ursula Kummel. A businessman with connections, he has spread much wealth about these past two days looking for clues to her whereabouts. Somehow, the Gods have seen fit to lead him to your motley band. Together, you know of Kummel's modus operandi. Hildred has heard accounts of her predations on dozens of occasions, but she has remained ever elusive.

It seems that now, after all this time, the so-called "Scarlet Harlot" will finally be brought to justice.

It is here, in Konig's study, that you find yourselves on a seasonably hot summer afternoon. Konig, a frail-looking man dressed in a fine silk robe, pats his sweaty face with a perfume-scented handkerchief. He looks at you all with rheumy blue eyes, not entirely trusting that his contacts have made the proper references. With a sigh, he averts his eyes from the lot of you, and glances at the empty hooks upon the wall behind his desk.

"No offense," he says with a sniffle, "but if you didn't come so highly recommended, I might not consider you to be capable. On first glance, of course."

He turns his gaze back to you, and produces a sheaf of papers from a drawer in his desk. "This is the contract," he says. "I don't expect you to be able to read it, so I will explain it in simple terms…"

He skims the text of the contract, pausing to emphasize important points such as terms of service and payment.

"One-hundred gold crowns." He coughs, tapping the requisite words with his finger for emphasis. "Twenty to be paid upon acceptance of this contract, the balance to be presented to you upon the return of my undamaged lute. As to the woman, you may do with her as you will. If the local magistrate will take her in trade for a bounty, why, consider that to be a bonus that I want no part of."

He continues with his review of the contract. "Should the lute be recovered in less than pristine condition, there will be no further payment of any kind. Should the whore," he spits, "be captured, you may still turn her in for whatever reward she will warrant."

"Lastly," Konig says, "perhaps most importantly. My wife must never find out about this. I will be very displeased should she come to find that I have been unfaithful to her while she has been away. I expect that you are all professional enough to keep your mouths shut in this matter."

He places the contract upon his desk, and produces a stylus, a bottle of ink, and a shaker of sand. "Should you accept these terms, make your marks. Then we will discuss the purported location of the woman. She is here, in Nuln, but only Verena knows how long she will remain here."

And so now, it is your turn to speak and be heard…

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Post by devlin1 » Mon Jul 03, 2006 4:05 pm

The filthy rat catcher, Baldrick, hat deferentially in hand, shifts from one foot to the other uneasily, trying to work out how to divide twenty into five equal parts. He remains silent, however, knowing better than to speak unbidden before his betters have.
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Post by BlanchPrez » Wed Jul 05, 2006 11:19 am

Vargroth took no insult by the noble's disdain of he and his fellows apparence.

"Aye, we 'tain't pretty, but we gets the job done. Rest assured, herr burgher, we will find this woman, and return yer lute to ye. I appreciate craftmanship and understand yer concern. I give ye me word as a dwarf that the lute will be returned unharmed."
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Post by mordraine » Wed Jul 05, 2006 9:07 pm

Laurenor watched the nobleman's movements with slight distaste. To the elf's eyes (and nose) Konig was as disagreeable as his associates, so he was bemused as to why the burgher thought himself their betters. He shrugged inwardly, dismissing the puzzle for later.

"Indeed, my dwarven associate speaks truth, as relates to the procurement of your lute," added Laurenor, "It shall be returned."

The elf was careful to specify which portion of Vargoth's statement he agreed with. The others may not be attractive, but Laurenor himself was quite becoming, or so he fancied.
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