Spurring the coach past the gate and into the waiting stables, Herr Hendrick endeavoured to answer, in a slightly concerted manner, Halion’s question regarding the state of the Lodge. He reminded them that the staff had seemed lazy and shiftless recently, and that their attitudes allowing the manor to fall into a state of such disrepair was why they were here. As they were surrounded by servants – who made no effort to help unload the carriage until a pointed word brought them around – further explanation would have to wait.
At the entrance to the Lodge the trio were greeted by Lord Rickard Aschaffenberg himself, who warmly and loudly greeted his new staff, and bade them to transport the supplies from the coach inside. Once the trunks had been carried – a task easily accomplished by Bissil and Halion, and less easily by Rigor – the Noble directed them into his private study where he confirmed the purpose of their assignment: Pretend to be new staff getting the lay of the land and investigate the other servants. Both Aschaffenberg and Hendrick had specific personnel in mind, but refrained from commenting lest he colour their opinions.
He had time to answer some questions regarding the nature of the Manor. Lord Aschaffenberg had inherited the estate when his brother, the previous owner, had mysteriously vanished roughly a year ago and that all of the staff who are currently employed were employed by the time apart from Herr Hendrick, who was his personal retainer. As it was late afternoon, they were to be given free run among the estate, though should all return for dinner whereupon they could brief him afterwards on their findings, and then resume in the evening.
With no more productive information forthcoming, the group set out to investigate the various areas of the estate. Halion made for the Hospice to check on the wounded. There she met Dr. Stefan Sieger, a doctor who was rather condescending towards the idea of an Elf helping him, and Sister Sonja with whom she struck up a much better rapport. The sister confirmed that all those in the infirmary were indeed injured, though the two guards still present had caught the worst of it. Sonja was also tasked with keeping the former blacksmith, Kordan Kurgansson, calm as he had succumbed to madness following the initial Beastman raids, and he was prone to shouting fits.
Bissil set off for the guardhouse where he was initially warmly welcomed as a clear fellow soldier, but his attempts at questioning whether or not there had been any sinister motives to the Beastman attack were misinterpreted as mocking the humans’ lack of abilities in combat, and they rather tersely ignored him and proceeded to go out on an unneeded patrol. Rigor meanwhile made for the roof of the manor, reasoning that if there was a secret conspiracy they would almost certainly head to the roof, and in spite of the poor repair of the tiling proceeded to make a search up there.
As the Pedlar searched, Halion and Bissil met up to investigate the Stables where they made the acquaintance of those therein: Albrecht Krug, Hans Kurtz and Franz Lange. The former was the only one seeming capable of doing any work, but took a dislike to the non-humans present and initially attempted to hustle the pair out of there until a show of force from the Dwarf sent him scurrying away. Bissil chose to follow him, while Halion made a friend out of the remaining stable hand who had himself been injured in the attack and was taking a tonic Dr. Sieger made for him in the assault. He confessed that it did sap him of his strength, but he was looking forward to a revitalizing meal this evening, before trying to get back to work. A subsequent search of the barn by Halion discovered a loaded Blunderbuss in apparently good repair in the loft, which she made a note of but ultimately decided to leave there so as not to tip her hand.
Rigor’s search from above noted that the Estate, though damaged, was in good enough repair to repel an assault with some competent guards, and found no signs of a secret conspiracy up here. However, while observing the manor he noted that Lord Aschaffenberg’s room’s dimensions didn’t match up with what he had seen earlier, and he resolved to investigate this discrepancy. Heading back inside, he decided to bring this up after dinner and instead spent his time congenially chatting amongst the servants that he saw, all of whom were polite if not particularly forthcoming. One such conversation led to him finding a note that had been hurriedly tossed aside that worried him: a simple warning that “Goose is Good”.
Bissil pursued Albrecht to the kitchens where he made the acquaintance of the cook Karla Wagner and managed to charm the older woman. She offhandedly directed Albrecht down to the wine cellar to fetch her something to cook with, and when Bissil made to follow him she attempted to delay the Dwarf, a suggestion which he rather blithely ignored. Cornering Albrecht in the wine cellar, he intimidated the servant who spat promises of vengeance and threats that the Dwarf did not know who he was dealing with, but before he could get too greatly into these promises a voice from the top of the stairs told him to cease babbling. Gregor Piersson, the Steward of the Manor, had come in response to a frantic cry from the cook to help deal with the rowdy dwarf in her cellars. Escorted by two other manor servants, he told both man and dwarf to get out of the cellar and to make ready for dinner, which Albrecht quickly obeyed while Bissel turned his intimidation on the Steward, but to little effect.
Now certain that something untoward was happening, any further investigations would have to wait as the dinner bell had sounded, and everyone was to gather in the dining hall…