We had some breakthroughs here at the beginning of black powder week. Luckily for us, we caught some breaks in this matter. Following certain leads, we discovered a message from Stark sent to Rudi, indicating he had given him the sausages. The urchins got ahold of the message Stark had sent to parties unknown, and it indicated that he was indeed behind the kidnapping. We also followed leads which had Noddin take the Fleischer’s next door neighbor to dinner at Chez Louis, a widow named Garten. She confirmed the mystery serenader, but more importantly he found out that Chez Louis had a performer named Maria de Miragliano who sang some nights at the restaurant. Not coincidentally, patrons of the restaurant had found items going missing during their dinners there. Putting two and two together, I figured that the singing was somehow charming the patrons in order that they could be robbed, and that this Maria was likely the same person who had been singing beneath Hannah’s window, thus enabling her kidnapping through sorcerous means.
The final piece of the puzzle was resolved by the discovery of the hovel where Stark was keeping poor Hannah imprisoned. I followed him there from his shop, and was surprised when one of Noddin’s urchins led the rest of my friends there later that evening. It was good though, because the padlock on the door was too heavy for me to break, but Noddin was quickly able to pick it.
Entering, we found Hannah chained to the floor. However, she had been horribly mutated, and indicated it had been tainted sausages which had done it. I immediately put her out of her misery, as there is no room in this world for that which Chaos spawns, even when it is forced on an innocent such as Hannah. Only the oblivion of the Ruinous Powers lay ahead of her.
She managed some dying words, but it was not information which I hadn’t already surmised myself anyway. The plot was clear: Stark was attempting revenge against his rival by destroying Hannah. He was using warpstone or something similar to created tainted sausage, probably using Albrecht’s shop. He had sent that sausage to Rudi, and therefore it was likely Rudi was either dead or hideously mutated. Stark was in league with Maria, using her to further his nefarious plans, which probably involved sneaking the tainted sausage into the Fleischer stores in order to discredit him.
We resolved to confront Stark immediately. At his shop, Noddin had some trouble with the lock. While he was working on it, a small dog (which I surmised to be Bonifaz, but was wrong) grabbed a string of sausage and bolted out the window of the shop. I feared it to be tainted, and so I gave pursuit. Furdok tried as well, but his short little legs kept stumbling over things in the street. I grabbed the little dog and prevented it from eating the sausage. Then I tied it to a tree while we went inside the shop.
Inside, we were confronted by Rudi the mutant monstrosity and a mad, cackling Stark who possessed a glowing medallion which seemed to control Rudi. Stark retreated down a hole in the floor while Rudi prevented our pursuit. Luckily, Rudi was easily overcome with little trouble. However, pursuit through the sewers of Stark proved more difficult. One of his hired hands was waiting in ambush down there, firing a crossbow at Furdok before fleeing.
Finally we emerged at the riverfront, where Stark had Maria tied up on a barge. He used the medallion to force her to sing to us, our first indication that she was not a willing accomplice. Luckily for us we had been braced for this assault, our minds strengthened by our previous exposure to the fiendish powers of Chaos, and nobody succumbed to the song. Stark, however, tried to use Nurglish sorcery on us, but luckily we avoided it successfully as well.
Furdok kept the henchman busy while the rest of us concentrated fire on Stark. It took a bit, but I managed to finish him off with a couple of fletches to his chest. Then the rest of my companions helped Furdok finish off the henchman. Maria we freed, but it was apparent that her power stemmed from some sort of mutation, which made her dangerous and tainted even if it was not visible. We took the medallion and the mutant songstress to the Sigmarites, and had them both destroyed.
In the end, we had to break the bad news to Herr Fleischer about his daughter. He was aggrieved, but appreciated our efforts and gave us our reward. We did not mention to him the fact that I had to kill her myself…my human compatriots seemed to think it would cause him unnecessary pain to tell him his daughter had been tortured and mutated, so I kept silent. Now we can concentrate our efforts on finding the owner of the sword. During this time, we spoke to Lady Becker and got some further leads towards locating the officers we were seeking, so we shall see what pans out.