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The Enemy Within: Power Behind the Throne – Too Close for Comfort (S3E07)

Captain's Log, 23rd of Vorgeheim, 2513.

Seventy two gold crowns are in my possession. Haven't had so much money since... Bogenhafen, perhaps? I would pay much more than that to forget what I was subjected to yesterday. Ah, it's all for Sigmar in the end and perhaps the heavens will recognize that. So at least I've got that going for me. So we were still at the garden party. Harbull had prepared himself to apologize to Petra and further pursue a sweet romance. I was greatly supportive of this and wished him the best. However, there was another fellow who began to hunt the lady... our marine and local champion, Werner Murmann! I hold him in high regard but it was a complete bastard move to seduce her first.

He doesn't even really fancy her! Pure spiteful c

Harbull, I just took a swig, what were you writing down just now? Embellishments? Excellent. Harbull resigned himself to following our plan: speaking with the oily merchant Gotthard Goebbels. I myself was trying to gain an audience with Katrina Todbringer, the Graf's beloved daughter, and braced myself for wading through her entourage of templars. I planned to learn who was closest to the Graf and work on investigating the hypnotist plot from there. The creature that stopped me was no mere knight in shining armour, however. A small being stood in front of the princess, hunched over and warding me away with its bony hands. It turned its face towards me, a wrinkly thing of horror forged by age and bitterness, and began its questioning. It was her chaperone, Hildegard Zimperlich, and I was in for it now.

I tried my best to be pleasant. Honestly, nothing would work and she wouldn't even let me say hello. Apparently the title of captain means nothing. She was as unshakable in her stance as Magnus in his faith. I tried to prove that I knew her brother through the court physician, Luigi Pavarotti. Calling him over was a big mistake. She regarded him as a libertine and me as a cad. The knights huddled closer to their princess and Pavarotti and I were forced to retreat. He warned me against the old prune and recommended someone of a higher status. It was sort of strange to say, but Pavarotti had great advice and I kept it in mind.

I wandered over to Harbull, drink in hand, and felt that my attempts at charming people would constantly go badly. I was proven dreadfully, dreadfully wrong. So I was reminding Harbull of how we were invited, the champion's invitation, and Goebbels took an interest in my title of captain. Finally, I thought, another who loved the sea and rivers as well as I! He asked if I had been all over the ocean "sailing to many ports". I replied that I haven't and asked if he was well traveled. He claimed that he absolutely was without a doubt. I was very impressed by his adventurous nature. A friend of his named Raffael was delighted by our conversation and looked at me with considerable interest. I guess she too had a love of seamen. Harbull, are you okay? Oh, you just remembered a funny joke? Be sure to tell me it sometime...

Gotthard also asked about how much the crew and I, assuming us as strong types doffing our shirts, would sweat as they worked and I enjoyed the sun. I told him truthfully that I worked as hard as my crew, overseeing that we don't crash into rocks, and that indeed our crew would work in conditions such as the blazing sun. He seemed extremely pleased, I assumed by our great work ethic, and asked me my thoughts on plays involving musclebound pit fighters. That lead to a discussion of the barbarian opera and I agreed to see him there.

I knew at that point that something was off about that conversation. As our doctor and I walked away, I asked Harbull and he informed me that Goebbels was clearly interested in "a shag". A shag, of course! My plan was to, eh, get him back to his office, Harbull could sneak in while he's distracted, find any incriminating letters, and then we'd find a way to bring him to justice. It was unfortunate that the only way I could find out if he was a Chaos practitioner was through erm, "exciting him", but it was for the good of the crew.

Rallane approached us and said that he had been told of the hypnotism. He wanted to discuss our theories on who could be the culprit. We went towards this strange sculpture of the moon to get some privacy as it was considered too eerie for most. Damn thing reminded me too much of that deviltry in Bogenhafen. Anyway, we came to the conclusion that we should convince the military officials, wizards, Law Lords and Todbringer why the news taxes are a terrible idea. Rallane had no real power as a court minstrel, so he turned to us instead.

An excellent scheme was proposed by Harbull: get Werner, the new champion, and the former champion Dieter to speak to the princess. We could learn who was the most influential to the Graf and perhaps gain a lead on finding Charlotte. It was the perfect scheme. According to Katrina, the Law Lords would have the most influence so we should speak to them. Their conversation was quick and to the point. Well, except for when Harbull and I had to remind him to ask about the Bretonnian. Had to signal to him about the hair by pointing at my crimson doublet and hair repeatedly. Someone asked if it was a new Tilean dance trend. Werner thanked me aloud, confusing the princess, and I quickly melted back into the crowd.

The opera was, much like the knight story, utter bilge. We had to share the carriage on the way there with Marshal von Genscher. Man was about seven feet tall and easily took up most of the seats. Harbull did convince him that the taxes would cause riots. Riots that would primarily target the military as a force of oppression. Genscher was concerned by this and would speak to the other military officials as soon as possible.

So I couldn't understand the play at all. Not just because it was in Tilean, mind you. The man couldn't win the love of a beautiful maiden, so he gets a fearsome barbarian to advise him. I think? There were a few fights and the barbarian won every single one with clean slaying. No arms flying. Not very true to real battles. Every stage show gets that wrong. It all ended with everyone being married somehow. Goebbels and Raffael each sat at my side. I think he enjoyed the opera, he kept gripping my leg during some of the more passionate moments. I suggested returning to his office afterwards and they were thrilled by the idea of "after hours entertainment". Sigmar help me I was frightened. This was not the sort of attention that a captain wanted.

The merchants had a fine guild. Three floors tall, done in a Tilean style. That's what he told me in the carriage anyway. I quietly prayed to Sigmar that Harbull was not far behind. His office was well furnished but he was more eager to show me the nearby lounge area. It was much more of the luxury I expected him to indulge in. There was a long couch, a chair close to its right and one farther away to the left. I sat down gingerly on the left chair. He pulled across a red veil to cover the room. It was at this moment that I forgot to come up with an excuse for leaving.

He removed a Bretonnian wine bottle from a globe case and offered me a glass. Gotthard insisted that I enjoy it and sit on the couch as he claimed that it was more comfortable. As soon as I did, he sat uncomfortably close to my left. Raffael suddenly appeared in a dress that would bring great shame to her mother, and sat uncomfortably close to my right. I needed to buy time for Harbull and myself. I began to try my hardest to discuss the opera.

"So the music really, ah, helped when it was the middle point of it and all the confusion started with the three maids that claimed that the prince's brother was actually the baker's daughter in disguise. Even though..."

It bought me several minutes but not enough. Gotthard brought over an etching book with a "nautical theme" that I apparently would enjoy. Oh good, I thought, I could just tell them stories of my experiences on the tributaries of the Reik and maybe they... as each page turned sheer horror made it harder to tell my tales. Bodies shouldn't even do that and I mean how could you even put your... it was all very wrong. Perverted isn't strong enough a word for it. Forms became contorted and flesh mingled and merged in a sea of bodies. I was truly thankful for not falling into the wine's trance. If they got any ideas from that hideous woodcut book... I'm not talking about it further. What an awful book and artist. A waste of good wood... why is that so funny, Harbull? Nevermind. The wine proved to be my savior as I claimed to be getting sick and fled clumsily into the street.

Harbull got a letter from his desk. Addressing Lady Magritte von Wittgenstein as his sister. I was thankful that I didn't narrowly avoid a Chaos shag for nothing. Now we had what we needed. All we had to do after that was to get him back to the Templar's Arms and let The One make him talk. Most of today was spent following Goebbels. Nothing out of the ordinary really. He went to the horse show, had dinner and worked in his office. I had hoped to see him discuss cult business with his associates but I guess last night put him off it for a bit.

Werner was challenged in the arena. It was a local member of the Knights Panther. I bet all I had won from last time on this match. The fight was incredibly close. Both seemed to be evenly matched and consistently tried to break the legs of the other. Eventually, Werner knocked him down with a blow to the forehead. Our marine had to be restrained before he could hurt the poor fellow further. Harbull had seemed fairly certain of this result beforehand and quietly regretted not neglecting Werner's previous treatment.

So that's how I now have this sack of gold crowns and a painful memory. I look forward to bringing that Wittgenstein cultist and his unholy pleasures to light soon.

Alive or dead, it matters not.

  • Johann Dasbuut.

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