The heroes arrived in Hamburg no worse the ware, managing to lose their pirate pursuers among a small cluster of islands off the coast of the United Provinces. Leaving Captain Otto to unload his cargo and manage his affairs, the rest set out to equip themselves for the expedition south to the forlorn castle of Von Staler.
Breaking his exile, Wilhelm der Grosse made pains to keep a low profile. Still he was recognized and called out, fondly, by his great bear of an uncle, Lord Helfrid Klotten. Overjoyed by this unexpected visit, Lord Helfrid insisted the cadre reside at the family estate as his guests while they were in Hamburg.
That evening, the cadre dined with Lord Helfrid and his wife, Frida. Well aware of Wilhelm’s situation, Helfrid assured him of discretion. On news from Dusseldorf, yes, Wilhelm’s brother Alfreid still reigned there, much to the consternation of Lord Helfrid. Indeed, Helfrid had been amongst the few tied to the Heuber family who had opposed Alfried’s succession, and had paid a personal cost for his opposition.
After the rest of the cadre had retired to their rooms, Lord Helfrid asked for a moment of private with his nephew. It seemed his daughter, Erika, against her father’s demands, had taken to the company of an unscrupulous card player, Kurt Seher. A willful spitfire as a child, Erika’s demeanor had not softened in adulthood. Yet despite her disobedience, Lord Helfrid could not bring himself to send her away.
And so Lord Helfrid proposed a solution to his nephew. Erika did not know of his visit. So go pay a visit to young Kurt and impress upon him the severity of his situation. Perhaps, with Wilhelm’s insistence, the young man would see the wisdom in parting ways with the young woman.
Wilhelm shared the dilemma with his companions, who were only too eager to help. While Renoir scouted the vicinity of Kurt’s usual haunt, a gambling house called, The Red Door, Captain Otto dispatched his crew there for some much needed carousing. The ensuing melee was brilliant to behold, or so Renoir reported.
The next evening, Captain Otto again dispatched key members of his crew to deliver a message to young Kurt. They returned with disturbing news. While they had been “gentle persuading” young Kurt, a number of men descended on the Red Door and took Erika away. These men, it appears, were agents of a local loanshark, Oskar Hammerich – a man with enough money to buy himself into the nobility of Hamburg.
A rude peacock of a man, Lord Hammerich mockingly denied any involvement. The sharp ears of the group, however, caught his admission to his chief lackey that the deal would go down as planned, regardless of any bargaining with the cadre. A beggar in an alley across from the gates of the estate suggested that men on horse had ridden north with a young woman.
In the neighboring village of Moskburg, the heroes found Lord Hammerich’s men as well as an unknown party, along with a Romanian witch and an Italian of stature. Hammerich’s men were in the process of handing over young Erika when the heroes launched their attack.
While the Italian managed to escape, the cadre slew the witch and forced the surrender of both Hammerich’s remaining forces and those of the other party. Erika was not only rescued, but proved her worth with shots from Isabella’s pistols.
Under interrogation, the other party admitted they were agents of Prince Dreschler.
...to be continued.