Twenty four hours before the Orphans escape into the swamp, the Mercenaries are celebrating with their orphan protege’s and their good friends Chadwick and Kinley. The day culminates with the singing of birthday songs (with the orphans all celebrating at once as none know their exact age or birth date) and the blowing out of candles. As they do, however, Samiya notices a shadowy figure behind Chadwich and shouts a warning.
And then there are assassin’s everywhere. Kinley shouts for the orphans to get their weapons from upstairs, and the Orphans scamper away. Chadwick and the Mercinaries fight off a small army of assassins, clearing the first floor of the orphanage. As they do, they hear Kinley shout for the orphans to flee through the swamp, and the party pushes the fight outside to try and give them time to escape.
There they find themselves surrounded by several hundred soldiers wearing an unfamiliar uniform. Safely in the middle of them is a well dressed old man and the Lord Mayor Sigmund. Kinley turns herself into a cat and flees through the swamp into town. The party and Chadwick stand and overhear the following exchange:
Lord Sigmund: There, you have Chadwick and his ilk. Now, you promised me a holdfast outside this disgusting swamp for my services.
Well Dressed Man: Of course, your nation thanks you for your service my good mayor. Unfortunately I am not accustomed to giving away anything in this world, and certainly not to those of such tiny vision.
~The well dressed man shoots the Mayor in the head, and he falls into the swamp, he then turns to the party.~
Well Dressed Man: “Ah, and what do we have here. Boarhardt washouts? Fae whelps? Orphans with delusions of importance? Ab-so-lute-ly Delightful.”
Chadwick: Who the hell are you, bro?
Well Dressed Man: “Oh, forgive me. Where are my manners? I have worn many names over the years, and I find that too few of them really capture what one might call, my essence. You see, at my very core I am a lover of the arts. Music in particular. Don’t you just think that when an orchestra swells just right… ah… well it makes all the difference.”
Chadwick: “Your name, Bro.”
Well Dressed Man: “Now, Chadwick you just never did have an ounce of patience in that thick skull of yours. I would have thought you of all people would remember me. After all, when last we met I thought I left a rather… permanent impression Upon you. Or, at least, your lovely Enzia.” He makes his thumb and ponter finger look like a gun, points it at Chadwick, and says “Bang.”
The Maestro: “Ah, and the music swells at last. Yes, now you remember me. Oh, I did think you would even-”
~Chadwick throws his sword across the battlefield with a shriek of rage, but as a reaction the Maestro casts shield and it ricochets off. Kareese tries to mind control the closest soldier, Ukko prepares to cover the entire area with fog, and the rest of the party prepares for combat as Chadwick charges through the soldiers in a furious rage. A moment before he reaches the Maestro, however, he is shot in the chest by the Maestro’s gun and falls to his knees before the Maestro.
The Maestro: “You try my patience, Chadwick.” the Maestro sighs. “Oh, that does bring back a recollection. These original Boarhardts were so difficult to kill.” He unloads the remaining five rounds into Chadwick, his head, his neck, into his torso. “There, now we can rest assured that he is once more with his beloved Princess. Poetic, I think.”
~as the party launches forth to attack, five more assassins drop on them from the roof and begin to cover their mouths with wet rags. Fumes begin to cloud their mind. As they pass out, they overhear one last statement.
The Maestro: “Now, I am afraid I must dash. Now to find some children. So much to do today.”
When the party awakens, some time as passed and they are once more in the local jail cell. The Maestro stands before them and offers them freedom if they give up the location of the orphans, which the party refuses. Eventually the Maestro is interrupted by a soldier who announces they found the Bandit’s Hill Fort and believe the Orphans are there. He leaves the party with a promise they will finish up their business later, but also states “I could never kill so many of you Boarhardts, why it would be a shame!” But refuses to say why as “Why, that would be telling.”
With the guard to the jail dead on the far side of the room, the party attempts to escape in new ways, with Aurius breaking upon one of the doors enough for Kareese to try and sneak through, but she gets stuck halfway. Azmaranthe arrives to the rescue after using acid to melt through her lock, and the party prepares to escape to their steamship. While looking through the Lord’s Manor, they find the staff all dead and various mysterious soldiers looting the place. After killing one mage, they find a cloak that allows the wearer to assume the same image as the other mages, and presume that each of the soldiers have similar enchantments upon their gear making them anonymous.
A plan is made to pretend to be captured to sneak past the garrison outside the Lord’s Manor, and it goes… poorly. While the ruse works at first, most of the party is unable to break free from their ropes and after some rather clumsy flailing they manage to escape Lord’s Ise to the center of Barrelbog.
Here the party finds Chadwick’s corpse, left on the dock where he had been gunned down. On his body they find a magical bracelet made out of reddish hair and golden looped bands and coded message reading:
~This letter was found upon Chadwick’s body. It appears to have been written in a far more elegant hand than you have known Chadwick to ever have known, yet it lacks the precision of Kinley’s scrivener-like script.~
 , 1/1
 , 1/1
____  __ _ _ __
At the bottom, scribbled in a clumsy hand that is definitely Chadwicks, is scribbled “The Fool’s Fable.”
With no time to decode the message, the party continues to fight through the town, eventually entering Crocardo’s shop to help him fight off a pair of looting soldiers. One is taken captive, and interrogated.
From this soldier the party discovers that their army reports directly to the Maestro and Horn-Helmed Knight and is stationed out of their barracks in the village of Crownbridge, one of the outskirts of Kingsbridge, capital of Ovid. They discover that the soldiers are all disguised, and that each has leverage held over them (in this case the soldier’s mother) to motivate them in their tasks. Tasks that prove horrific, as it is implied they have been kidnapping and killing children at various locations around the country. They also apparently have other aims, including some sort of failed attack and shelling of the city of Taintsville in southwestern Ovid. The party knocks him out, and leaves him to be found by his companions, but not before finding the following coded message in his possession:
This coded message was found upon one of the mystery soldier’s bodies as you fought your way out of Barrelbog:
Cz uif Nbftusp’t psefst, tfdvsf uif upxo boe ljmm boz xjuofttft. Uif dijmesfo bsf up cf bqqsfifoefe bmjwf. Uif xjudi boe Dibexjdl bsf up cf ljmmfe po tjhiu. Tipvme boz puifs Cpbsibseu nfncfst tipx uifntfmwft tfdvsf boe bxbju gvsuifs psefst.
Op gvdl vqt uijt ujnf. J xjmm opu ibwf bopuifs sfqfbu pg Ubjoutwjmmf.
At the bottom of the page is a sigil of a helm in profile, with a large unicorn-like horn extending from it.
the party also found the corpse of Mr. Livingskin, an undead fellow and former mayor killed when Lord Sigmund took power. Having been living in the village in secret and hiding his undead shame, he gave the last of his unlife to protect his neighbors. From him John Clonter aquired a fine top hat and monocle to go along with some quality suspenders he acquired earlier in the night.
After saving a number of villagers (and stacking them on Ukko’s back like a series of koalas, reaching the large cooperage by the docks, they find their steamship captain near dead and Lisandra informed them that snipers have the docks covered. Healing and collecting the remaining survivors, they make their way through shelter after shelter, eventually discovering Kinley lying dead of a gunshot on top of her journal. The party secures the Apple-Covered journal and discovers it to be a Book of Domesday. Through some clever use of Fog, the party sneaks aboard the steamship and sails off into the night, fighting a handful of swiftboats that give chase before being safely off and away. They set a course to Jones swamp, and decide to head to Highchurch to drop off lady Lisandra before investigating Crownbridge.
Meanwhile, in a clearing on the outskirts of the wilderness, the orphans huddle for warmth beside a fire. After eating their dwindling food supplies and finding a way to make the most out of a natural water spring, they decide they need supplies if they are going to make it to the town of Witchwood. They resolve that they will not rely upon the help of He Who Watches and instead make for the town of Port Heartlands to find food and tools before crossing through the wild back-country of the heartlands towards the western town of Witchwood.