The blog is moving house!
The new address for the blog is http://periloustales.net
All future blogs will be made at the new site, while this one will remain as an archive for past blogs.
The blog is moving house!
The new address for the blog is http://periloustales.net
All future blogs will be made at the new site, while this one will remain as an archive for past blogs.
What do you do when you land out of the sky in a foreign land in a big mansion surrounded by peculiar foreigners who are steadily approaching you with spears drawn?
You get down on your motherfucken knees and pray they don’t stick you with the pointy end. That’s what Liliana and Wilfred, her trusted companion and butler did. Well actually, running is also a viable option but when you got a near 20 stone butler and a one-armed frail girl, your not going to get very far…
After stepping out of their now shattered house, and praying they didn’t land on someone, they are approached by a dozen spear-wielding foreigners dressed in fancy regalia and strange armour of a design that they’ve never seen before. They approach, spears lowered and only a few inches away from them.
Liliana shouts out in Reikspiel her full name; Liliana de Karling-Satou, which does not get a response other than a shout from one of the guards in foreign tongue.
As they are kneeling and hoping not to get speared, a man dressed in finery robes approaches. A long golden dragon coils down the side of his robes and the guards part way to let him through.
He looks at the house behind them, frowning, and then returns his gaze to Liliana. Interestingly, he points at Liliana while talking to one of the guards. Then, weaving his hands together and uttering something in foreign dialect, Liliana and Wilfred soon feel something grip their wrists. Looking down they see a magical thin blue energy coil around their wrists in the shape of a snake. Magical bindings no doubt! In Liliana’s case, the one-armed bandit that she is, the energy coils around her only wrist but she finds her arm sluggish and painful to move.
The guards pick them up and march them off towards a great walled city that they happened to land not far from.
– Wei-Jin, Capital of Cathay
Marched through the archway at spear point, Liliana and Wilfred step into a world that is both beautiful and terrifying.
All around them are market stalls containing exotic species that they’ve never seen before. The architecture fills them up with wonder as they gaze upon it, particularly Liliana who mentions she now knows why her father wanted to go back here. She even spots a few ornaments that her father used to trade in back in Marienburg, so so far away now…
As they are walking through the streets, Liliana spots a very strange creature on the shoulder of an old man.
– Known as a Catmonk.
– Another creature she spots, known as a Barktail.
Dazzling with confusion and wonderment, she spots an even stranger sight; a woman with scale-like skin and tattoos has a small winged creature perched on her shoulder that Liliana swears she’s only ever heard about through fables and children’s books.
“Is that a dragon!” Liliana shouts with excitement, pointing to it and poking at Wilfred.
“I… do not know ma’am, I’ve never seen a dragon,” he replies.
As they continue their path through the streets, it dons on Liliana that this city is immense. Probably even bigger than Altdorf. All around her she can hear the native tongue flapping about as its citizens go about their business; trading, gossiping.
Yet her ears perk up at something familiar; an accent, Reikspiel! She turns and sees two merchants having a chat amongst each other. Hoping to gain their attention, she purposefully tries to fumble forwards and does a pretty good job at it and succeeds in getting their attention. Unfortunately, the guards are not having it and pick her straight back up and give her a sharp point in the ribs for her efforts. The merchants simply look on and refrain from getting involved. Who’d blame them?
Soon the hustle and bustle of the busy streets start to die down as Liliana and Wilfred get brought to a quieter part of the city. Unfortunately they can now make out the unmistakable sound of soldiers training in a barracks, and a barracks that they are marching towards.
They are led in and promptly shown to their cells. Liliana gets the strong impression that her magic is being suppressed here, and actually feels her body temperature warming up, and not the usual chill that accompanies her.
They are both dumped into a cell. Yet they are not without comforts; the cell is pretty big. A 6×6 room with a bunk bed, clean sheets, a basin with fresh water and a jug of water for drinking. Even the toilet grants privacy. Both of them remark how well they are being treated, and Liliana ponders whether they know her mother is a Satou. But Wilfred points out that all the cells seem to be of this size and possess similar comforts.
After scrubbing up and getting clean, a couple of hours pass until they get their food handed to them by a guard.
Yet where is the forks? And why is the food on a plate made out of wicker, and why are there two bamboo sticks! “Savages don’t even know how to eat,” remarks Wilfred.
Both Liliana and Wilfred dig in. Liliana has a hard time trying to eat using the sticks and just gives up, resorting to using her hands. Wilfred however has mastered the art and eats his grub. His offer of assistance is rebutted by the ever-proud Liliana.
Liliana remarks at how well they are being treated, but Wilfred makes a point that maybe they are just warming them up for the slaughter to come, a sort of last meal and all that…
“Sometimes I wish you weren’t so… logical, Wilfred.”
Another couple of hours pass. They hear footsteps approach. A man soon appears at their cell. Cold dead eyes stare in at them, belonging to a face that is heavily scarred.
– Qin Taoi (Qin – Pronounced as Chin)
He steps into their call, pulling up a chair and sits down, facing them.
“We have not been properly introduced. I am Qin Taoi, and who might you be?”
Liliana is taken back, “You speak Reikspiel?”
“No. But I speak your tongue. Names.”
Both of them give their names, but Qin takes an interest in Liliana’s name. “Satou? Curious. How did you come by a Cathayian name?”
Liliana was about to go into a full-fledged story about her father and how he met a woman in Cathay when Qin waves a hand in protest, “Enough. I’ve not got the time for it. Perhaps later. Now to more pressing matters… My superiors tell me that you dropped out of the sky, quite literally. And in a house no less. I know you possess magic, but not of the sort that could do that. How exactly did you come here, by what means?”
Liliana is up front with him, telling him everything he wants to know. He simply sits quietly and listens intently. When she finishes, the man finally speaks.
“An orb you say? Well we have this orb in our possession, and we will study it in detail. Jianguo will see to that. But you tell a very tall tale. A remarkable one at that. Indulge me…” The man stands up and approaches Liliana, his hand gestured towards her. She feels herself become stiff, unable to move.
He puts a hand upon her forehead and right away she can feel a pain at the forefront of her forehead. The pain increases. Wilfred shouts out but Liliana tells him not to do anything. The man steps away as Liliana stems the flow of a nosebleed.
“Interesting. It seems your mind is heavily fragmented. I could not learn much from it.”
“As I said. When I used the orb with my father, his memories became mine.”
Qin nods, “It seems you may be speaking the truth after all. It is time to leave. It will do you no good to remain locked up here. Put these on and I’ll have you released.”
He hands both of them two jade bracelets that on any other given occasion they might be regarded as a beautiful gift, but in this instance… they knew better than that.
“These bracelets will allow us to monitor your activities, among other things… I would not recommend removing them. You are permitted freedom of movement within the city and outside the city, provided you do not travel far. Understood?”
They nod and put the bracelets on, feeling them tighten around their wrists.
They follow the man that Liliana has now dubbed ‘Cold Eyes’. Along the way, Qin inquires further as to Liliana’s surname. Liliana tells him that her mother is Ao Sueh-Satou. Her father was a merchant from Marienburg and spent much of his fortune committing to a travel to Cathay many many many years ago, using the silk road route through the perilous region known as the Darklands, a desolate and inhospitable wasteland. He spent many years in Cathay, and had married a young nobleman’s daughter, attaining her hand in marriage. This would be her mother. Her father had journeyed back to Marienburg, but sadly her mother had died on the route giving childbirth, and the event has haunted her father ever since, giving him a profound sense of guilt over it.
Qin listens and replies, “Well. That’s a good story. But frankly that’s impossible.”
Liliana is surprised, “Why is it impossible?”
“Because Ao Sueh-Satou is not dead, as you say, nor has she ever been married, to the best of my knowledge. Right now she is up for auction on the slave market. Her father had gotten himself involved in some nasty business, and put the family name in shame. As I said, quite impossible.”
Liliana is speechless, and doesn’t know what to believe. Has everything her father told her been a lie regarding her mother?
They enter the main foyer of the barracks. There, they see an old man staring at them intently.
– Yan Hong
“This is Yan Hong. He’ll be your guide throughout the city, and will see to it that you do not fall foul of our customs here or become prey to any misunderstandings. As for me, I will no doubt have more questions for you later once we find out more about this orb of yours.”
Qin heads off but not before making an exchange with Hong in his native tongue.
Hong turns to them, saying, “I have been whisked off my feet and have had my whole day ruined because of your abrupt arrival. Lets get this straight; I am not going to show you every corner of the city and I am not a tour guide. I am here to keep you out of trouble. That’s it. We are not friends and we are not here to have fun. Understood?”
Both of them reply that it’s understood.
“Good. Now. Where too?”
“Has accommodation been arranged. We are quite tired…”
They follow Hong out of the barracks and do not travel far to reach their hostel. A rather simple affair that consists of beds under a roof, and not much else. Liliana however wants to see this slave market, to which Hong replies “I did not peg you as a buyer of flesh.”
“I am not, but I am curious regardless. We do not have such things from where I come from. Everyone is free to do as they please.”
Hong agrees, and Wilfred stays back in the hostel to get some rest and much needed shut eye. The poor butler has been through a lot, and certainly deserves a pay rise after this.
They travel down towards the market area and Liliana hears the loud boisterous voices of a foreign tongue shouting and bargaining. No matter the language, one cannot mistake the sounds of trading taking place.
Liliana perches herself down and watches with keen interest. Slaves are not the only merchandise up for sale. Livestock and valuable material goods are also being traded. By the time the slaves start to line up, an hour has already passed by.
The first one up is a young muscular dark colored man, baring his chest and standing proud as the auction is underway. Liliana asks Hong what his crimes are, if any.
“Murderer. He killed a family of outcasts.”
“Outcasts? Like strigany? Nomadic peoples of a sort,” Liliana replies.
“I do not know what a strigany is, but yes, nomadic outcasts that wander without a purpose. The law does not protect them, and this man was found with their blood on his hands. But murder is murder, and he still had to pay, and this is his punishment. A life of servitude.”
“Back home, he’d have gotten a hanging.”
“Here, death is saved only for the few and sometimes, privileged. A life of atonement is usually preferred, to give back to society that the sinner has wronged. Ah… He’s just been bought.”
Liliana watches as the man descends down towards a young attractive woman flanked by two burly looking bodyguards. “Perhaps he’ll make do as a fine warrior.”
Hong smirks at that, “I think she bought him for other reasons…”
Another slave is brought towards the auction, and Liliana sees a young beautiful cathayian woman brought up onto the center platform.
“Now she’ll fetch a handsome price… noble blood that one,” Hong states.
Liliana tries to look away, and asks Hong as to who she is.
“That is the only daughter of Satou senior, the traitor who put his family in shame.”
Liliana looks towards the stage. Could it really be her mother? And if so, will she share the secret to her youth, perhaps a cream of some sort?…
The trading is fierce and there is a lot of back and forth motions, but finally a victor emerges. A plump sort of man steps up onto the stage to aid his new purchase.
Liliana remarks at how she hopes the new owner will treat with her with respect and dignity. Hong replies, “He seemed like a nice enough man. Met him earlier when he was seeking directions. Emmy I think he called himself.”
Liliana perks up at that, “Emmerich?”
“Yeah, that was it. Emmerich Karling. Nice man. A merchant from some place called Marry or something.”
Liliana is flustered and in disbelief. Words are coming out but she is struggling to piece them together.
Wanting to find out for herself, she strides over as the man known as Emmerich takes his purchase and makes his way out of the market. Liliana stops him, “Excuse me sir… but…”
He turns around and sure enough, standing there in the flesh, is Liliana’s father!
Albeit, a younger fitter version of her father.
Liliana tries to explain who she is, and how she knows him. She starts rambling on, throwing little facts she knows about her father at him, confusing the man greatly.
“Away with you! I know what this is about, some clever scam you dream’t up! Well you’ll not have my money!”
Liliana tries to explain when Wilfred comes around the corner, looking somewhat distressed. Not even noticing Emmerich, he strides up to Liliana, “Ma’am! You won’t believe this but something is not right. There’s a crack in the su…” Liliana guides Wilfred’s head towards Emmerich and Wilfred is utterly speechless.
Well, not entirely. He tries to slur out a response, but faints.
“Tell me what year it is!” Liliana cries out.
“2486 you mad woman!”
“But it can’t be… it should be 2512!”
At this point, Hong strides over, pointing an accusing finger at Liliana, “I knew it! I knew you’d be trouble!”
She tries to defuse the situation and pleads with Hong to show Emmerich to Qin, aka Cold Eyes. After Emmerich declares he’ll do this if it shuts her up, they agree. Wilfred comes around and wakes up groggily.
But something is amiss…
All around them, the scenery is changing. Quite literally. Emmerich and all the bystanders start drifting away, piece by piece, as if slowly dissolving into the wind. All the buildings around them start to fade, and now… they find themselves in a desolate dark-bleached desert. If you can call it a desert…
“Ma’am I was trying to tell you! Back at that hostel, I noticed a crowd staring up into the sky. I looked up and saw the sun, but… it was cracked! As if thorn in half! And then a desert like this starting to encroach upon the buildings and expand…”
Looking around them, they see nothing but a desolate wasteland as far as the eye can see.
They get a great sense of dread and foreboding just standing in this wasteland of ruin. Then they notice something… on the ground not far from them, only a couple of feet, a sort of glowing … portal?
They approach it and indeed see a portal in the ground, big enough to fit one person at a time, but they do not know where it leads.
Wilfred is about to go first, but Liliana beats him to it and jumps through, followed by Wilfred.
They find themselves in a house, but not just any house. This house is quite big and rather fancy. A statue stands in the corner near the doorway depicting Handrich, a minor god that is popular with merchants and traders.
They hear footsteps above, and decide to hide. They see a cloak wardrobe and try to fit in, but Wilfred’s girth forces him out as Liliana fits in nicely.
“Well. This is unexpected,” a mans voice is heard. Wilfred looks up and see’s a well dressed handsome man looking at him from the foot of the stairs.
“Tell the woman to come out.”
Liliana steps out, “Hel…” she stops when she realizes who it is…
“Wilfred… Leave.” Liliana says as her eyes lock onto Gideon. (For those that don’t remember, Gideon was the daemon that the party fought in Bogenhafen who attempted to open a portal for his master, Tzeentch. He had also kidnapped Liliana, tortured her and was going to use her as a sacrifice, until she escaped. He was subsequently killed.)
“Well now… You are full of surprises, little mortal. You are supposed to be tied up…” Liliana does what she does best… she rambles on and talks shite. She does a pretty good job at confusing Gideon who is mightily confused as to how she’s missing an arm, but her rambling only pushes Gideon’s amusement so far when he shouts “Enough!” and sends Wilfred flying against the double doors. Liliana sends a magical dart of energy towards Gideon, surprising him and drawing blood. It only angers him…
Gideon starts to transform into his true image when Liliana feels a tight grasp around her shoulder, and is pushed through the door. Unbeknownst to her, but known to Wilfred, there was another portal behind the door. But where did it lead? Anywhere but here, they thought, as they ran through it while Liliana shouted at Gideon “Tzeentch likes me betteeerrr!”
They find themselves in Liliana’s old cell, one Gideon had used to chain her up on the wall. (This was established on a random roll with both Wilfred and Liliana providing 3 locations that they’ve been to in the past. The roll landed on Liliana’s cell.)
But they notice something odd. On the wall they see two figures, but occupying the same place in time. They appear to be fading in and out. And they can hear “Heeeelp…” from the two figures, but it is the voice of a man and a woman. Liliana suspects it might be herself, and that the man might be none other than Karl Teugen, Johann Teugen’s missing brother. Both seemingly stuck in time. Shits getting weird…
Liliana freezes the bolt on her cell door, and Wilfred breaks it open, smashing it easily. Liliana recalls the exit is a flight of stairs leading up and heads that way with Wilfred.
As they come to the top of the stairs, they suddenly realize they are falling!
The land is coming up on them fast when something swoops by. They hang on for dear life and only when they have a moment to think they come to realize they are on the top of a dragon!
Their insanity is already at its limits but now a dragon?!? They realize that the dragon is being ridden by a rider who is strapped in at the baseline of the neck of the creature. The rider notices them and curses at them in a foreign tongue, they recognize it as Cathayian. But the rider is not pleased, nor does he want them on his dragon as he attempts to knock them off. It’s a struggle but eventually he succeeds, knocking both of them off as they continue to free fall to their deaths.
Just as the land is about to say HELLO they feel a painful stinging sensation in their wrists. The bracelets…
Then they vanish.
And just as quick as they vanish they reappear in the cell that greeted them upon their first visit to Cathay, and a familiar scarred face is staring at them.
“It seems you two have been having a lot of fun lately… We have been monitoring you through those bracelets, yet… it seems at one stage you managed to travel a thousand miles from here and at another point, you appeared directly above the skies of Cathay. It is fortunate that you are here now and I acted when I did. Explain.”
Liliana does her best to explain the crazy last few hours. Her story seems completely unbelievable and crazy, but Qin does not show any sign that he doesn’t believe her.
Once her story finishes, he speaks, “So it’s true… and our worst fears have been realized. What I’m about to tell you might seem bizarre, even more so than the story you shared to me. We have been studying the orb. Not I but those who are my superiors. What they tell me is quite disturbing. Even trying to fathom it is… hurting my brain. It appears that I am not real. None of this is real. Except… both of you. You see… you are trapped within the orb.”
“WHAT!?!” is the collective response from Liliana and Wilfred.
“Indeed. When you used the orb with your father, it ensnared you. Both you and your dead father. It collects memories you see, it’s not a teleportation artifact. Rather, you are experiencing the memories of your father, yourself… and I dare say, anyone else who has ever been ensnared by it. If these other memories have not surfaced, then it is only a matter of time. Furthermore, through careful study of this orb… we have been unable to determine its origin. We originally thought that it might be an elvish creation, but… it seems it is much more ancient than that. Yes, even more ancient than the elves. So you see… the crack you see above in the sky is in fact the crack in the orb.”
“How do we get out? Can we not simply fly out of the crack?”
“I would not… recommend it. I do not know. We do not know. Frankly the notion that we do not exist is completely terrifying. The dragon emperor has not been informed of this. Not surprising as I believe nobody wishes to inform him that he simply does not exist.”
“So what now…” asks Liliana.
“You spoke of an elf that your father betrayed? Torendil, correct? And your father used the orb to send Torendil somewhere? In reality… he trapped Torendil inside the orb. He could be found, but, where would your father have sent him? Another consideration is that Torendil could be experiencing rifts of different memories, like you two have been.”
Liliana points out that her father once trekked across the Darklands, that he may have sent him there.
“If so… finding him will be difficult. But I believe this is the only way. He is a scholar and he may have studied this artifact in detail, although I believe he may not have attained the nature of its true purpose, and we only have through great effort and using much of our knowledge of the ways of magic.”
Liliana agrees its the only viable lead they have. Qin leads them out, after handing Liliana the broken orb which is altogether useless, but hopes that Torendil might be able to work something out.
They head out and are greeted by four fearsome looking warriors.
“These are the Tsayian. Our best warriors. They will accompany you on this task. They have been informed… Now, stand together.”
As they get together and bunch up according to Qin’s instructions, a rift starts to form… “I must ask quickly!” Qin shouts as he starts to weave his magic. Unknown to them, Qin is casting a magical binding that will, in theory, ensure that when they travel through a portal or in this case, a rift, they will travel together. He finishes his spell as the rift consumes them whole…
*Liliana and Wilfred are given the option of rolling a 1d20 and then deciding between them which location they would like to go to. The list of locations are a combination of their memories and memories of others.
Liliana rolls a 16 and gets Nippon, a fabled land that is said to exist east off Cathay, although not so fabled to Cathayians as they know it well…
Wilfred lands a 20…. ‘Where no man has gone before’ at which point I, the GM, ask them ARE THEY SURE they would like to go with Wilfred’s choice. Then the two options are left up to a roll, a 1d6.
123 is Liliana’s choice, while 456 is Wilfred’s choice. A single 1d6 is rolled and it lands on 6!
So as they are consumed by the rift, they will be transported to a place where no man has ever gone before…
Get those fate points ready!
The story of Liliana de Karling-Satou continues as she makes her way back to her home; Marienburg.
It’s a 3 month journey on the river to Marienburg. Liliana is on the Berebelli, along with her brother, Johann and Kall’s uncle, Ernst Steurmann.
It’s a rather uneventful journey, but along the way Ernst and Liliana share a few moments to talk. Ernst is concerned about Liliana and how she seems to have ‘changed’ in an unusual way, such as her pale complexion and the cold that now emanates from her. Ernst has no idea that Liliana now possesses ice magic, although he certainly has had suspicions ever since the Maria-borger back on the river reik when Liliana tried to tangle with that vampire, and lost an arm for her efforts.
Ernst is on deck, relaxing and chilling out with a cup of reiklander wine as he and Liliana chat among-st themselves. Talk soon steers towards the subject of her brother who Liliana finds it highly amusing that Johann has now taken up the cause of Shallya and become somewhat recluse as a result, even to the point of not drinking anymore.
As Ernst is chatting and drinking, he notices something peculiar in his cup of wine… He stares at it for a moment, lending an ear towards the cup as if he was trying to hear something. Then he goes wide-eyed, and approaches the now concerned Liliana who he hands the cup to, saying, “Err… I believe it’s for you?” Ernst hands her the cup, and heads down the cabin.
Liliana peers into the cup. At first, it looks like she see’s her own reflection, but… as it becomes clearer, that’s not the case. She see’s not her reflection but the face of Gertrude, the old crone that aided Liliana and Kall Horst outside of Bogenhafen, and the witch that managed to fend off the demon known as Gideon, nearly at the cost of her life.
“Can you hear me child?” a strained voice comes across.
“What’s that? I can’t quite hear… one moment, I need to boost the signal!”
Liliana is shocked and taken back by the sudden appearance of Gertrude, and in a cup of wine no less.
“I think you shocked poor old Ernst aunty Gertrude…”
“Sorry about that, wrong cup ya see.”
Gertrude tells her that she wishes to thank Liliana for her efforts in dealing with the demon, Gideon, and that she hopes she is doing much better.
“I hope your reading that tome I gave you child, you have much to learn. But remember, your power comes at a cost, and you must respect it… do not use it willy-nilly, only when you have to.”
“How come you didn’t put this spell in the tome, Gertrude?”
“This is old magic deary. Far beyond your means. Besides… I don’t want you calling me up every sodden day!”
They both laugh but then the tone changes to a somber one… “I wanted to get in touch with you to also warn you child… I saw it in my dreams. You need to know.”
“What is it Gertrude?”
“I do not know when, but you will come across a boat. I saw its name written on the side. The Maria-borger… Liliana, do not get on that boat! Whatever you do, do not ste-“, “Aunty Gertrude…”
Liliana gets a word in and explains to the old witch that has already happened… Gertrude curses under her breath about something concerning dreams and Morr, and tells her that her divination powers are not what they used to be.
Liliana brings up the subject concerning the news of the Graf and his wife, the Countess Frau. Gertrude mentions in a rather matter-of-fact manner, “O that old sister of mine. Yes I know all about that…” Liliana is taken back by this, and shouts out for Ernst to come up on deck.
“Gertrude, you gotta tell Ernst this about the countess!”
“The magic is fading child, I can’t hear so good.”
Ernst comes up, a look of disbelief still present as Liliana comes over and holds up the cup of wine to him, “Ernst, meet Gertrude.”
But when Ernst peers into the cup, the face of Gertrude is no longer there. Johann has also been quietly observing all this after coming back up on deck.
Liliana goes into a hissy fit and Ernst excuses Johann while he talks to her.
“Liliana… what in seven gods are you doing? What is all this? Talking faces in cups of wine?” at that Ernst gets the rest of the wine and pours it onto the deck.
“Liliana, we need to talk about what just happened…”
The two of them have a frank discussion, and Liliana comes out with the truth that she has… magic.
“So, your a witch… that Gertrude one, a witch also?”
Liliana nods as Ernst sits down and sighs, “If you were anyone else… I’d get some rope and string you up on the nearest tree. But your not… and I consider you a friend. Perhaps despite what they say, there may be such a thing as a ‘good’ witch.”
The Berebelli barge continues along the river and after a few more weeks, Marienburg is finally in sight.
Marienburg City of Gold, The Big Waterway, Handrich’s Gem and Sith Rionnasc’namishathir, as the high elves would call it, is just a few of the names the city is known as.
The city is dominated by water canals, and to make a real-world comparison it is essentially Venice in many ways. The bridges of Marienburg are its lifeblood as are the many rowboats that ferry residents and visitors alike to the city districts.
The Berebelli pulls into the south-docks, as it does, Liliana spots a familiar face.
Wilfred Ernst van Noordermeer the 3rd, the Karling-Satou family butler/servant for the past 15 years. (Played by another player, Cortez, who also plays Durgin the dwarf slayer)
“Greetings Miss,” Wilfred says as the barge pulls in.
Liliana is no doubt excited to see Wilfred and steps aboard to greet him.
“Wilfred! It has been too long!”
Wilfred doesn’t get too excited though and maintains an air of professionalism as he urges for her to step aboard the waiting carriage to meet her father. Ernst Steurmann greets him briefly and says he will be along shortly as he needs to pay the docking fee as well as deal with some last minute business, and Johann nods towards Wilfred, but makes his excuses and says he wishes to go to the temple of Shallya for a moment, and will be along later.
Wilfred and Liliana get on the carriage and make their way through the city at a sluggish pace.
Liliana inquires as to how her family is doing, particularly her father, Emmerich.
“Could be better Miss. He is bed-bound these days I’m afraid, quite frail and ill. He spends nearly all his time at the estate Miss, while your brother Heinz spends his time at the family offices in Treasureholm.”
Liliana asks after her step-mother, Freda, who is the mother of Johann and Heinz, “In Tilea Miss. On Tilean business I believe.”
“Tilea? Freda? On a business trip? Tell me… my brother Heinz wouldn’t have anything to do with that, would he?”
“I wouldn’t know Miss…”
The carriage continues along when the subject of religion comes up as Liliana tells Wilfred that Johann has found… religion, and in the form of Shallya. The old butler seems to take it in his stride, refraining from giving his opinion on the matter when a man in a dirty brown ale-stained robe comes up to the side of the carriage, walking along as the carriage slowly but surely is drawn through the city.
“Go away,” comes the quick snappy reply from Wilfred.
“Might I part in some wisdom perhaps? Have you ever heard of Osras, the God of Misconceptions? Maybe I can share a mome-“, “Fuck off!” cries out Liliana, who is quickly chided for doing so by Wilfred for using such foul language.
After a few more attempts in being heard, the man promptly fucks off, and the carriage continues through the south-gates towards the family estate.
The Karling estate lies 2 hours (if walking) south of the city and off the beaten track, but not far from the main south road that heads on towards the Grey Mountains and other parts of the Empire.
Liliana straight away notices that the estate’s gardens are unkempt and left to grow to its own devices. Wilfred explains to her that the gardener had to be let go, along with all the other staff. Liliana is aghast at the notion that her father had fired the servants and let the Karling estate get into such a mess.
The carriage pulls up, and Wilfred departs, helping Liliana down. They make their way into the main hallway of the estate. Liliana notices that the paintings that used to don the hallway are all gone. The ornaments that used to line the walls are also gone, as to the family crests.
Wilfred, when asked about this, tries to explain to her that her father simply wanted to create space and preferred the hallway to be bare.
Liliana doesn’t buy it… and makes her way to the upstairs landing and heads for her father’s master bedroom.
Opening the door, she steps in, while Wilfred waits outside the room, closing the door.
There, she see’s her father under rows upon rows of bedsheets.
– Emmerich de Karling-Satou
His complexion is pale, and he has lost a lot of color in his cheeks. “Who goes there…?” he feebly cries out.
Liliana approaches him and sits on the bed next to him, reassuring him.
“Liliana? My sweet child, it is you!”
“Yes father, I’ve come home. For good.”
The two share a moment and talk of recent times. Emmerich is deeply concerned and becomes animated once he realizes that his beloved daughter has only one arm, and doesn’t look well herself. She calms him down and says that much explaining will be done later, but that he should rest.
Yet rest is the last thing on his mind, “No. Much work is to be done my sweet Liliana. Much work. Noordermeer!”
Wilfred pokes his head in, “Yes Sir?”
“Fetch me that high elf! Torendil… Head down to the elf quarter and find out where he’s at, he should have been here by now.”
“Yes Sir, at once Sir.”
Wilfred makes his way down to the stairs, but as he walks towards the front door, the bell above chimes. Someones at the door…
Peering through the hatch, and then realizing who it is, Wilfred opens the door.
Torendil, the high elf, has made good timing. Wilfred has seen the elf on a near daily basis over the past few months, but has never spoken to him. He suspects the elf is a powerful mage, but is not privy to the relationship between Torendil and his father.
Torendil strides past him and makes his way upstairs into the master bedroom. Wilfred notices that he’s holding a peculiar small box.
“Torendil! Your late.” – Emmerich.
“Preparations are already made. Our agreement is still in effect?
Liliana grows concerned and asks her father why a high elf is here, but Emmerich does not answer her as he becomes visibly animated and despite seeming frail, does his best to climb out of his bed, with the help of Liliana.
“Are you ready?” Torendil asks Emmerich.
“Yes, lets get on with it.”
“Father… what is all this about?”
“Shhh now. In good time. This is all for you.”
Liliana can’t help but be deeply concerned about whats happening.
Torendil then sets down the box, and hovers his hands over it while chanting something in elvish tongue.
The runes on the box start to glow… and then they twist and form, making new shapes and forming links in a chain around the box.
Liliana, who is knowledgeable when it comes to runes, only knows that they are elvish runes but not as to their purpose or meaning.
When Torendil finishes, the runes begin to darken and the box stops glowing. He cautiously opens the box, and in it is a strange but beautiful orb that lights up the whole room.
Torendil picks it up using a cloth, and Liliana again expresses concern, but it goes unnoticed. Emmerich is growing increasingly impatient as he seems eager to hold it.
Torendil reaches out towards Emmerich, and gestures for him to take it.
“Our agreement as previously discussed,” Torendil says as he hands the orb to Emmerich.
Emmerich does indeed take it, his hands shaking. Yet Liliana notices that her father seems greatly relieved once he grasps the orb.
Emmerich closes his eyes for a moment as he grips the orb, letting the cloth drip to the floor and now holding the orb directly in his two hands. Fizzles of sparks emanate from the orb and flow over Emmerich’s fingers.
His eyes open, and flicker to Torendil… “I’m Sorry Torendil.”
A spark of thin energy shoots from the orb and strikes Torendil. He vanishes into thin air…
“Father! What have you done… What’s going on!” Liliana cries out.
“Is everything ok in there?” Wilfred says from behind the closed doors outside.
Emmerich looks at Liliana, and then looks at the painting that is hanging over his bed. The painting depicts the water gardens of Wei-Jin, the capital of Cathay.
He looks back at Liliana, saying, “Liliana… My sweet Liliana. Do you know what it is that I desire the most out of this world?”
“You miss Cathay…”
“Not just miss… I wish I had never left. It pains me to even think of it. Your mother… my beloved, my true love would never had perish on that foolish journey back to this cursed city. I do not even know why I left to go back to this rotting cesspool of greed.”
“But what of Johann? What of your friends that you have here?”
“I have no friends! They are only after my money, well… there’s nothing left for them to take, and I’ll not let them take my soul. Wilfred and you are like family… Johann, Heinz… they are my sons, but…”
He starts to trail off as Liliana tries to reach out to him, “This is for you my sweet. I do this for you.”
He closes his eyes, and grips the orb tightly.
The whole house begins to shake violently. The paintings that are left on the walls drop and their frames smash upon the floor. Doors begin to shake off their hinges and cracks begin to form in the floor.
Liliana shouts out for her father but he is not listening. Desperate, she tries to use her magic to move the orb, and succeeds! (She used a Move Spell and passed)
The orb darts over to Liliana and she grips it tightly… but something is not right. (At this point she fails a toughness test, and a subsequent WP test)
Her mind is mentally under-siege by whatever power is within this orb. Emmerich shouts out, “Liliana, No!” as he races towards her. Wilfred tries to do the same but is warned by Emmerich to stay back.
Emmerich grips the orb, and now the two of them are holding it together. Yet Liliana’s interference has caused the orb to become unstable… sparks of lightning shoot out from towards the foreheads of both Liliana and Emmerich.
Liliana see’s her father’s thoughts… She see’s images of his memories. His time treeing across the darklands on his long journey to Cathay. She sees… her mother, her true mother, Ao Sueh-Satou… Then images of Gertrude, as her own memories come flooding in.
Liliana tries to get a grip, at least a mental one, of whats happening. The house around them is falling apart and something will need to be done. But she fails… (failed a WP test)
Suddenly she is brushed against the wall as her father is the last one to grip it, yet sparks of lightning shoot from the orb, sending him flying across the room through a set of doors and into the other room.
The house stops shaking, and the wall behind Liliana crumbles apart.
She looks out, and see’s a land that is alien to her…
(To be continued in part 2)
Durgin, Eckhardt, Borri and Tafwick are at the signal tower. Kall and Ulrico remain on the barge.
Much deliberation is had at the signal tower between the four party members as to what to do concerning the gunpowder. After what must pass as 20/30 minutes of discussion, they set about setting the explosives. The signal tower has four floors to it, and only one way in, although one can get through the windows that are placed on the first and second floor, and the roof has a clear open top. They decide to place the gunpowder on the first floor (ground floor), and set the fuses. Borri and Tafwick are given the task of actually lighting it when trouble starts, and are to wait just outside the signal tower. The fuse itself extends from the first floor, through the first floor’s window, and outside, where Borri and Tafwick will be waiting for the signal. The signal itself is Eckhardt’s whistle (he actually has a whistle blower).
1 Whistle to run to the tower as Eckhardt needs help. Or was that to light it? 2 Whistles to light it, or was that to run? Confusion is had as to what whistle means what, and further deliberation is had! Regardless, their plan is to try and lure the vampire into the tower, and once then, blow it. Eckhardt has even taken the precaution of putting a cart at the bottom of the tower and filling it with lots of grass and stuffed sacks to soften any landing that might need to be done in a hurry.
Once they got their whistles sorted, Eckhardt and Durgin begin their watch an hour before sundown at the topmost floor; the open roof. Kall and Ulrico will remain on the barge, and Borri and Tafwick will wait below.
Grott Isembeard, the dwarf foreman, makes his way to the barge to check that everything is ok with them. He asks them if they know what their friends are planning at the tower, and Ulrico replies that he does not. He’s informed by Grott that they plan to blow up the tower, and he himself is having doubts about it. Ulrico isn’t happy, and says that blowing up the tower is pointless, it’s likely not to kill the monster that they are trying to bait. Grott, clearly not happy now that he’s being told that blowing up his precious signal tower is going to be utterly pointless, marches towards the tower itself. Ulrico follows.
When he gets to the roof, Grott calls out “Slayer!” and the two have a very tense conversation.
Grott questions the Slayer’s bravery and basically says, “I’ve heard much tales of a Slayer’s bravery and prowess in combat… Yet I face one now who wishes to avoid a fight, and instead resorts to resolving it through cowardice.”
“Are you calling me a coward!?!” Durgin shouts as he marches up towards Grott, and gets into his face…
Grott backs down almost immediately. Durgin tells him that this is the only way.
Grott Isembeard sighs, “Perhaps you are right. I will take your word for it…”
Grott departs, and Durgin looks at Ulrico, “Ulrico?”
Ulrico promptly fucks off.
Much fucking off is had as he makes his way back to the barge to join Kall.
A few hours pass. Other than a rat that Eckhardt finds chewing on the tower’s pulley (which he squishes) the descent into the night is rather uneventful. The weather is also proving to be kind. No rain is had and little wind is to be felt. It is quite warm.
But the air grows colder as the night presses on, and a chill is felt as it hits past midnight. It is around 1am when Tafwick hears something; something moves within the tower. But he only heard it for a couple of seconds. He tells Borri, who investigates, but returns with a frown and tells Tafwick that he’s hearing things.
Up top, after a good few minutes is spent staring out into the night, Durgin feels something grip around his ankle.
Looking down, he see’s the decayed body of one of the dwarfs from the basement level of the signal tower. It has crawled its way up the tower silently, and now seeks to latch its teeth around Durgin’s ankle. But Durgin reacts quickly enough, and strikes down at the deceased dwarf with his axe, killing it instantly and sending it tumbling down the towers steps.
“Eckhardt! It’s here!” he shouts.
Eckhardt is ready to blow on the whistle, “No don’t blow! But I bet its here!” Durgin shouts.
He proceeds to start shouting into the night, loudly challenging it.
Frustration is had. Eckhardt then follows suit, well… kinda.
“O weary me, what will I do? Me, Eckhardt Konrad, waiting here… I said Eckhardt Konrad!” he shouts.
Durgin gives him a very sour look…
His obvious bait doesn’t seem to work as there is no sign of the vampire.
Another hour passes. It is around 2am when the watch down below, Taf and Borri, hear something scrambling up the steps.
“Lets get ready…” Taf whispers.
Up top, Eckhardt hears something as well… a low growl. He see’s a hideous shriveled pale creature at the top of the steps, staring at him.
Eckhardt’s resolve is tested, but he remains firm as he reacts to it pouncing upon him.
Durgin joins in as blows are exchanged, and Durgin gets in front of Eckhardt, to deliver a blow to the creature.
Eckhardt, unable to strike at the creature with Durgin in the way, hops around to the other side and gets behind it.
Flanked on both sides, and stuck between a slayer and a tough former soldier, the creature has little to no chance as its picked apart by their expert blows.
The creature falls to Eckhardt’s last blow. Durgin knows what this creature is, due to his now long dead Rememberer’s knowledgeable ways in the undead; a Ghoul.
Durgin says its not an undead thing, but rather a twisted creature that was perhaps once a man, now with twisted features. Although he recalls that vampires do take a liking to them as minions… There may be more.
Before the fight had fully transpired, Eckhardt had blown his whistle. Twice. The signal for them to come running to the tower, but not to light the fuses.
Tafwick lights the fuse…
Actually no he doesn’t, but that would have been great…
He does however cut the fuse on his way up to the roof, only to replace it later.
The party now arrive at the tower. Durgin and Kall make their way down to the dwarf camp to fetch Grott Isembeard, and to also check that they are actually still alive. Last they heard of the dwarfs was a few hours ago when they were happily drinking away, and their banter was heard in the distance. Obviously Grott hadn’t informed them of the party’s plans to blow up the tower, cause if he did, there would certainly be less banter.
Having established that Grott and his lads are soundly asleep, they wake Grott up and get him to the tower to show him the creature. Grott is startled by the hideous features of this thing.
“It certainly matches the description of what one of my boys told me. White skin, pointy ears and yellow eyes. Aye… So is that it then? Is that all there was too it?”
Grott seems relieved, but that is soon replaced by despair when shouts are heard below. Making their way down to the basement, the party see Tafwick and Borri peering down into this…
A stone trapdoor leading down into an underground passage. It had blended in with the stonework nearly flawlessly. (Everyone failed their perception tests in the basement). Tafwick chucks down a fire arrow and establishes that it goes at least as far as 20 to 25 feet down. That’s a long way down…
Grott is asked if he knew about this or if he recognizes the stonework. “Course I didn’t know! This is not my doing or my lads… but we did build on top of a mound, which had a flat stone base which we simply built over. That’s why we didn’t need to do any demolition work, it was a perfect spot for the tower.”
Grott’s told to wake his boys and keep watch above, as the party begin their cautious descent down into the crypt below.
After what seems like forever, they reach the bottom. A foul smell of rot, decay permeates the air. Cobwebs are everywhere, but visibility is pretty good as they are using their lanterns in a confined space, which lights up the whole narrow passage. At the end of it, they come to a set of double-doors on each side; left and right. A wall simply blocks their passage ahead. They take a closer look at the doors and notice that they all have runes on them. Borri peers at them, wondering if they are dwarf runes. He doesn’t recognise as dwarf runes, and is unable to determine their purpose, but it certainly makes the party cautious. Too bad Liliana isn’t here with her fancy book on runes!
Durgin however throws caution to the wind, and kicks the right-side door in. It opens up into what looks like a dust-filled study. And two current occupants, who turn, and moan at the rude interruption.
Durgin charges in right away and goes at it. The party can only watch as Durgin quickly dispatches the two squishy corpses. They are no match for the slayer’s axe. But more distant moans is heard. And then more. And more.
Soon the party is split facing zombies on both sides, left and right. 9 zombies in total try to chomp the party into pieces. But the zombies are slow and certainly pitiful, and are only a threat in vast numbers. They are quickly dispatched, but not before one takes a nibble on Durgin’s nipple!
The party are now certain that the vampire must be nearby, as Durgin points out that the last time he fought the Necrach out in the hills, it had raised a dozen or so zombies with relative ease.
Once the undead threat of rotting flesh has been dealt with, the party begin searching the joint. The crypt is quite large. To the right is a study. Old maps, books lay scattered about. Tafwick has a good gander at them, and a few maps show promise, particularly in value. He’s slightly worried however coming across one map that looks particularly ancient and nefarious in purpose.
The map is certainly curious, and tells of a place called The Dark Lands, not a place he’s ever heard of. He pockets the map as well as a few others of the Empire.
He also finds a book written in a text that is alien to him. He snuffs out a small chest, a somewhat ordinary looking rusted container with a strangely out of place lock on it, as if the lock is brand new compared to the chest. He puts the chest in his pack.
The halfling’s fidgety fingers also lay claim to a book, this one he can read however.
– Dagmar von Liddleston?
Further on on the right side, beyond the study and through another door, Eckhardt comes to a section that seems to be devoted to a library. Dusty tomes lay in their resting place upon shelves. Lots of shelves. With lots of books…
Eckhardt slowly backs out, not wanting to investigate further just yet. On the far left side, the party find a laboratory of sorts. Ulrico finds an apothecary kit along with some herbs that go into his collection. He does find around 15 dubious looking poultices that he decides its probably for the best that they stay where they are. Borri finds 4 potions with no labels on them. He pockets them for now.
They also notice two sets of doors that remain closed and unexplored. One in the laboratory that looks like it leads further inwards into the crypt, and the other in the study area, again, leading further inward. Before any consideration is put forward to explore further, Kall Horst shouts out for Eckhardt to come over, who is nearest to him. Kall is currently in the narrow corridor passage that contains the stairway up into the signal tower.
Eckhardt replies, “What is it?”
“Something odd here…”
Eckhardt comes over, and Kall motions for him to look at the dust covered stairs of the crypt.
Eckhardt doesn’t have to look for long when he spots invisible footprints appearing on the stairs, and only visible due to the dust.
“Tafwick!” he shouts as Eckhardt grabs him.
“Let me go you swine!”
The voice was not of the halfling, but rather a man. Eckhardt tightens his grip and Kall aids him with his net, tossing it over the invisible form that Eckhardt seems to be struggling with.
The net floats over, and remains in the air. As it nestles down, the net starts forming the shapely figure of a man. Eckhardt shouts for some water or something. Ulrico comes over with a bucket, puzzled and confused when he spots Eckhardt struggling with something that isn’t there.
He throws the bucket of water over the net; as the water takes effect, they start to notice something taking form. Bits of fabric starts appearing out of nowhere, and then slowly the full gradual reveal of a man in grey robes.
The man is pale, his skin milky white. His features are gaunt, his eyes sunken. He looks remarkably frail for someone who appears relatively young, and leans heavily on his staff, which he is quickly relieved of when its knocked away from him.
The staff is crooked, is topped by a solid black gem that appears to glow with an inner light.
Eckhardt does not loosen his grip around the mans throat, but instead tightens it. “Who are you! Speak!”
The man croaks out his name, “Dagmar von Liddleston. Fools! Let me go or I will destroy all of you!”
His defiance is met with the party’s tenacity, and they attempt to glean more information from him, but Eckhardt’s grip is too tight and the frail man faints on the steps.
They bring him into the study and Kall binds him to the chair, making sure that he’s tied up tightly. He searches him and finds a key…
Tafwick produces the journal he found, and lays it on the table. The key fits the book latch, and it opens. There is quite a few entries, and the party snuggle up together to read…
It seems Dagmar von Liddleston has lived a very interesting life. Through reading his journal, they discover that he is in fact a rogue grey wizard, turned necromancer. He genuinely believes that he is doing good with his powers. Worse still… they find out it is he that is responsible for releasing the Necrach, which, if his journal is to be believed, now remains concealed down in the crypt after becoming too rebellious and discontent.
The party try and wake him up. During this, Eckhardt and Tafwick peruse the library. Tafwick finds lots of books, too many in fact! But he looks for a spot on the shelves where the dust has cleared, signifying recent use. Indeed he does. He approaches it and finds a book with the label, ‘Journal of Heinrich Kemmler; Abridged version’. Tafwick takes it and puts it in his pack. Better hope the witch hunters (or anyone for that matter) do not find that book… Heinrich Kemmler’s reputation is known to many, even the peasantry have heard of the infamous exploits of Kemmler. Anyone caught carrying his works might as well hang themselves if caught. Anyone traveling in the vicinity of the one carrying that book might as well also hang themselves!
Dagmar von Liddleston finally comes around, albeit groggily.
They try to glean information out of him as to how to stop the Necrach.
“Fools! Why would you want to release it! Leave it be and let me go, you’ll not hear from me ever again.”
“That’s not going to happen… One way or another, your going to die. If you cooperate, we can make it a quick painless death. If not…”
Another party member says, “Tell us how to defeat it. You say its concealed down below, but is it really? How long till it breaks free? And what then?”
“I care nothing if it breaks free, my life is forfeit!” the necromancer replies.
A hard slap comes in from Durgin, who proceeds to also push the frail man against a table.
“You’ll tell us what we need to know now!” he shouts at him.
That has seemed to slap the defiance out of him as the man relents and sighs. “I have lived all my life to do good. That was only my intention… To lead the way in a new era of magical science. Yet I have made certain choices that I am not proud of. Perhaps the only thing I can look forward to now, is… as you promised, a quick death. But, before I aid you, I need you to help me.”
“Help you with what?”
“A dear friend of mine. Gelfrid.”
“Your apprentice?” asks Eckhardt.
“No, someone who I consider an equal. He is at Drachenfel… surrounded by vampires. I wish you to kill him, to end his torment. For he is one of them himself.”
The party scoff at that. Drachenfel is far far to the south-east amidst the Grey Mountains, and the castle has a fearsome terrible reputation, as it used to be the fortress of Constant Drachenfel, the Great Enchanter. A rightly feared necromancer who is, hopefully… long dead.
The notion of helping him with this task is put aside as they want to know how to stop it.
“You can’t! It’s too powerful! If you wish to truly stop it, then leave it here and alert the authorities if you wish.”
Suddenly, the necromancer leans forward, clutching his head, “Argh! Get out of my head!”
He stops squirming, and he bolts upright in the chair. His eyes are glazed over as they slowly ascend towards Eckhardt.
A voice, not that of Dagmar, but of a more sinister darkly tone comes out, “Now you reap what you sow… You can stop this slaughter. All you have to do… is give me the one known as Eckhardt. Do this, and I will spare you from a fate worse than death. Abandon him to his fate, mortals… for you cannot contend with my wrath.”
Tafwick says “What do you think guys? Sounds like a good deal to me…” Durgin tells him to shut it, as an axe comes swinging, not towards Tafwick (as much as everyone would love that) but towards the head of Dagmar von Liddleston. The frail wizard turned necromancer is killed instantly.
“Right, to the stairs! Chokepoint!” Shouts Eckhardt as there is a mad rush for the stairs, fearing that the fiend may be released.
Borri tags behind however, picking up the staff that was dropped in the corridor. Not wanting to leave a magical staff just lying around, and fearing it might be used against them, he picks it up and smashes it against his knee. Crack! Fizzle! And Pop! The staff explodes, quite literally, in a puff of magical energy. Borri feels a tremendous force of energy pushing against him, and braces himself. The dwarf’s stubborn hide saves his ass as the force dissipates around him. (He passed a Very Hard Toughness test)
He climbs the stairs to join his party as shouts are made up towards Grott Isembeard that they may have to blow the tower up after all.
Grott is not happy, and even more so now that his lads (who were with him) are now aware of the plan to blow up the tower. The dwarfs are not one bit pleased, and argue amidst themselves as Tafwick slides past looking for the barrel of gunpowder.
And deep down in the crypt, something terrible stirs.
An ancient evil…
After licking their wounds (lots of licking is done) from their dreaded encounter with the Necrarch vampire, the party opt to staying on the east bank, hoping, praying… that Brother Valdric was right, and that the fiend cannot cross running water.
Once the morning comes, and relief is had that they are still very much alive – just about -, they decide on what to do. Durgin, the dwarf slayer, calls for a meeting.
Everyone is assembled, and much discussion is had on what to do now in relation to this threat. Durgin says that he plans to fight it at any opportunity given, but he does not expect the party to share that risk.
“It’s toying with us, playing with us. That thing is immensely powerful. I should know. I fought it for a full night, and still I only sensed that it was playing with me,” says Durgin.
Yet the party know that not much can be done – they decide that their best course of action is to get to Kemperbad, and perhaps head for a Temple of Morr to seek aid once again from them.
Ulrico tends to their wounds as the party continue down river. It will take nearly a month for them to reach Kemperbad, and they are only 7 days now into their journey!
The weather is kind and warmer now than before. Summer is only around the corner, and the party can look forward to warmer nights and longer days!
There’s also tension to be had… Tafwick, the halfling rogue is causing a stir with Borri as they exchange some heated words. Ever since Tafwick lost one of Borri’s daggers in a game of ‘toss the dagger’, the two have not seen eye-to-eye. Durgin and Borri however have made-up. The two were avoiding one another and refusing to talk to one another, but after sharing some company together on a watch along with some Josef Bugman’s Triple-X branded ale, the two dwarfs have started taking a liking to each other.
The next day passes by. The morning and early afternoon is relatively uneventful. But it seems Durgin has something on his mind when shouting is heard from the slayer, “TAFWICK!”
Tafwick, fearing for his life and unsure if he did something wrong… scampers up the mast of the barge as quick as a feline. Eckhardt even gives him a slight boost.
Durgin shouts for him to come down, promising him that he won’t harm the little fella. After some persuasion, Tafwick climbs down and the two have a not-so private conversation at the end of the barge. It seems Durgin is looking for a new Rememberer, and Tafwick had already approached the dwarf indirectly concerning it. But Durgin states that it wouldn’t be right to seek one out until the threat of the vampire is dealt with, post-haste. Then perhaps Tafwick will be given the honor of such a duty. However, Durgin says that should he fall in battle with the ferocious fiend, then Tafwick is to send word of his death to the Slayer King at Karak-Kadrin.
The barge continues its way down the river, and comes to a slight bend. However the party were not paying attention and didn’t notice another barge coming up on them, a much larger barge with a scorpion bolt thrower at the front of it!
They see a flag hoisted up, and instantly recognize it as the imperial insignia – an imperial cross with a skull in the middle of it.
They hear a voice shout, “Ahoy there! Imperial Riverwardens! Drop your anchor and prepare to be boarded. This is not a request!”
Borri immediately drops the anchor and Ulrico who is playing the role of the captain of the barge steps up on deck. Kall Horst and Eckhardt, both wanted men… put on their shallya masks and head down below deck, while the rest act casually.
The barge pulls alongside them and they get boarded by the Riverwarden captain. Several marines are also on hand, watching carefully.
– Riverwarden Captain
The captain boards their barge flanked by two other wardens. Tafwick takes a keen interest in her, even going as far as to boldly wink at her, but its ignored as her full attention is on Ulrico.
“Are you the captain?”
“Yes,” he replies.
Ulrico hands over his registration papers, courtesy of the Palisades.
“Well Herr Gutter,… are these your passengers?”
Ulrico tells her that the two dwarfs are (lucky they didn’t see Borri driving the barge, or that would be a conundrum needing to be explained!) passengers but that the halfling is the chef, and that he has two crewman down below that are sick, possibly with food poisoning.
She drills him further, asking about his destination, which he gives as Kemperbad, and what he’s trading in. Her two lackey’s start searching the barge as she makes her way over to the dwarfs.
Borri’s missing hand is commented on, to which he tells her he lost it in a forging accident. She also notices Durgins injuries, but not much is said to Durgin. In fact, he’s mostly ignored by the captain.
Heading down below deck, they do a quick search. Eckhardt is given a brief look over as is Kall, but none are given a good glance on account that the riverwardens don’t want to catch whatever it is they may have.
Durgin and Borri catch a glimpse of another figure on the other barge that wasn’t there before, looking over at them with steely eyes…
He goes back down below after giving the barge a good look over.
Satisfied, the captain boards her barge and bids them a safe journey. Phew!
The rest of the day goes peachy, and it is the next morning.
Borri wakes up puffy eyed and sore. After Ulrico gives him a good looking over, he realizes that somehow, stinging powder was sprinkled over his face. Similar to the same kind of powder Franz Baumann used back in Bogenhafen, which Kall Horst managed to secure a bag of. Suspicion immediately falls on him!
But he checks his stock of powder… they are still there.
Borri is confused, and even more so when he notices that some crowns are missing! 6 crowns to be exact… He spends most of his time searching down below, getting frustrated.
It is evening time when the party come across something of interest…
They spot a tower of some sort in the middle of being built, and along with two dwarfs on the bank who shout over, “Hey there! Can you give us a ride! We’ll pay!”
They shout again a few times as the crew discuss what to do. Finally Borri shouts back asking how much?
But he’s interrupted when another voice, this one stern and angry, shouts “Oi! You two! Get your scrawny hairy asses back to that tower and help with those beams, or I’ll swear on the ancestors I’ll send both of your names to the book of grudges!”
The two dwarfs totter back to the tower, their heads hanging low. The dwarf who was doing the shouting introduces himself, “Hey there strangers! Sorry about that! The names Grott Isembeard, what can I do for ya!”
Borri recognizes the tower, and comes to realization that this is the signal tower that his guild leader was talking about, althrough Borri had refused the request for aid. Awkward!
Some dialogue is exchanged between the two. Borri tells him that Higmar Hammerfist sent him, but any mention of ‘helping them’ is avoided as Borri says they are on their way to Kemperbad. Grott is about to let out a flurry of frustration when he spots Durgin…
“Is that… wait, can’t be! Is that a slayer!”
“Your eyes don’t deceive ya,” replies Durgin.
“Then perhaps you can lend me your ear in private?”
Durgin makes no delay in heading over to him, followed by the curious halfling, who insists that he’s only present to confer with the others of what’s being said.
“Listen… I need ya help,” says Grott Isembeard, “See this here tower? Know what that is? It’s a signal tower… and it’s the last one we need to build. Now, 12 of us came here to do a job from the Dwarfen Engineers Guild, and we aim to complete it. But… we are already behind schedule, because only 6 of us remain. Yes, only 6. The others… they have died, and we don’t know what it is that’s doing it. Some have become paralyzed, stiff as mortar. Hard as iron. Others, have gone missing. And a couple have round up chewed and half-eaten. Morale is at an all time low, as you can tell from those two cowardly laggards, and I myself am at my wits end. Listen, all I’m asking is that you, and perhaps your companions, spend a night in the tower. Just one night. It will give my lads a good morale boost, and, if perchance something does show up, I’ve certainly got faith in someone like you to defeat whatever this fiend is that is preying on my boys.”
Durgin doesn’t hesitate in wanting to help, but admits his companions may need some enticement. He heads back and discusses it with the crew.
They are all onboard depending on what reward is offered, other than Borri and Durgin who are happy to help fellow Dawi in need.
They approach Grott again regarding enticement; Grott says that he can pay them 5 crowns each… “And perhaps I can throw in… no, actually, never mind.”
Durgin presses him to be open, and Grott says that he has a surplus keg of explosives stuffed with gunpowder in stock, on account of their previous demolition work on the other towers.
“Yes, that will do. Definitely. Yes. Certainly,” is the collective response.
Realization soon dons on what this means… And within a space of 5 minutes of being promised a keg of gunpowder, there is talk already about blowing up the signal tower!
Borri is firmly against it, but the rest, at least from those that expressed their opinions on the matter (Tafwick, Eckhardt and Durgin) seem to be in favor of a big kaboom. The party suspect that the fiend that is causing the recent deaths may be the Necrach. This is further suspected by Durgin when he is shown one of the bodies of the dwarfs.
The now rotting – and very much chewed – corpse of Alf Skiddensson, one of the first to have died. Questions arise as to why this body has not disappeared like the others. Durgin however gets a strange ‘whiff’ from it, other than the fact that it just flat-out stinks. The whiff he detects is the same taint he briefly sniffed on Borri’s hand when he chopped it off. Tomb Rot. Durgin further suspects the vampire is involved. Eckhardt has his doubts as this doesn’t seem to be the modus operandi of this particular vampire.
Discussion is had once inside the signal tower as to how they might trap what they suspect may be the vampire. The party believe that if the vampire can be lured into the tower, then they can hopefully detonate the powder keg within, providing a narrow window of escape. Eckhardt goes on to further explain that back in Weissbruck, he encountered his first vampire at an inn. It had climbed up to his window, yet it couldn’t enter. Instead, it looked straight into Eckhardt’s eyes and commanded him to ‘invite it’ in, which he promptly did. If this Necrach suffers from this same weakness, they would need to invite it in first…
But, someone states, “Hang on… if this thing has killed other dwarfs while inside the tower, then that means…”
“It’s already here!”
Before further plans are made, the party realizes that this is all for naught unless they can get Grott Isembeard to agree to allowing them to, well… potentially blow up their tower! Bloody vandals!
Durgin approaches Grott. It doesn’t go down well…
“Blow up my tower! WHAT! Ya must be having a laugh, surely! A jest!”
Durgin tells Grott that this vampire is extremely powerful, and this is the safest way in dealing with it without others potentially suffering from its wrath. The other option, is to get on the barge and simply leave. Grott replies to that notion…
“Leave! … Let me ask you something. Have ya got any rope with ya? You do? Good! Cause you might as well tie a noose and head out to one of those trees out there and toss it around my neck, and kick the bucket from under me. Cause that’s what will happen to me and my lads if we leave. This isn’t just some sodden tower! This is an imperial signal tower. We are on commission from the Empire. If we just abandon our post, then we’ll all be hanged for sure for desertion on duty.”
“But surely if we blow up the tower, you can build again, right?”
“It would take months with 6 of us!”
Back and forth the discussion is had. But each time, Grott gets nearer to the conclusion that if they continue as they are, there will be no one left to do the job. Durgin, with much effort, eventually wins him over…
“Perhaps… perhaps your right. Enough of my brothers have died. If we were to rebuild, I would like to do it knowing that we are safe. If this is the cost of that… then so be it. But I’ll warn you, the lads won’t like it! I’ll have to do this on the sly, at least up until the explosion of course. I’ll have to get them drunk on fine strong ale, which I’m running low on.”
With Grott Isembeard on-board, now the party just have to come up with a plan that doesn’t involve blowing themselves up into fleshy bits.
And this… this is why the party should not have nice things to play with.
*GM Note*: A new player joins us today who is playing Dwarf Slayer Durgin Mendrisson, along with another new character played by long-term player Darren who has previously played Liliana and Johann (Sister & Brother) and is now playing a cheeky halfling rogue. But the adventures of Liliana and Johann are not finished yet… And will be continued in a mini-campaign series called ‘Marienburg Episodes,’ which I hope to start soon, as Liliana’s absence from the party may only be a temporarily one. Or if her time in Marienburg goes astray, perhaps a permanent one!
Continued on from previous blog…
It is a new day in Altdorf. As the sun slowly rises up on the great imperial capital of the Empire, so too are the party of 4, who will soon become a party of 6 again, after the mysterious and strange departure of Finja Dietrich. Will she ever be seen again? Who knows…
After having their breakfast, Eckhardt, Ulrico, Borri and Kall make plans. Johann is nowhere to be seen. It was mentioned by Dahlia Blackheart that a unnamed barge will be made available to them, and that they should start their journey down to Kemperbad as soon as possible. So the party decide that the barge should be given a good look over, to see if it comes stocked with any supplies. They make their way to the docks.
Dahlia told them to keep an eye out for some specific ‘markings’ on the barge, and indeed, they come across a shoddy looking half-painted Reikeel barge. And as they approach, a small figure pokes his head up and groggily stands up. A halfling.
– Tafwick Bramwood-Redd, ‘at your service’
The little guy introduces himself as Tafwick Bramwood-Redd. The party are not impressed.
“So, where’s the help we were promised?” Eckhardt asks.
“I’m it guv.”
“No, seriously. Where’s the help…”
Seemingly well mannered and well dressed, the halfling still fails to impress them, but the party concede that he’ll have to do.
“So what’s all this business about then? I literally just woke up on the barge a few moments ago. Seems my employer really wanted to make sure I wasn’t late… I was told to help you lot in entering Castle Wittgenstein, but not to the particulars as to why?”
The party do not share their mission in full with Tafwick at the moment, but do tell him that they are making their way down to Kemperbad first to observe a meeting between a cult called the Purple Hand, and another apparent cult called the Red Crown.
As the party check the boat over for supplies (and indeed they find some rations as well as a box of commercial ready linen to make their trip at least seem legit) an old friend shows up once again, Ernst Steurmann, and with Liliana in tow.
Liliana is still somewhat dazed and shaken from her experience, having only just woken up. The party share their sympathy for her pain and Liliana is grateful for all that they did for her. She tells them that she will be off to Marienburg with her brother, heading back home on the Berebelli with Ernst coming along to seek full payment from her father. Seems Liliana’s recent troubles has caused her to reconsider her time with the party, and indeed resting back up at home and keeping out of trouble seems like a very good idea.
Liliana makes her way to the Berebelli, while Ernst stays behind to show the party how to operate the barge. Specifically Borri volunteers to do it, and the others watch also.
Eckhardt decides however that he best make his way over to the Temple of Morr and fetch Gutz Ironside, their ogre bodyguard. As he makes his way onto the pier, this… shows up.
– Durgin Mendrisson, Dwarf Slayer
An orange mohawk, tattoos and a furious look of craze in his eyes, a sturdy muscular dwarf approaches Eckhardt. Eckhardt freezes.
“Are you Eckhardt Konrad?”
Eckhardt takes a moment to ponder… “No,” he says after much consideration.
“Then where is!” Durgin shouts.
The party stop what they are doing and observe cautiously.
“What you want with him?” Eckhardt says.
“Its urgent. I need to speak with him at once. You don’t know where he is? You match the description…”
Eckhardt finally gives in.
Durgin speaks plainly and bluntly to him, as the others are also in earshot.
“I was told you had a vampire problem…”
“I may,” Eckhardt replied.
“Well, then your problem is my problem.”
“What’s this about vampires? I didn’t sign up for anything like this?” says Tafwick.
Durgin continues speaking to Eckhardt, “Not long ago I encountered a powerful one, just in the hills south of the city. The bastard killed my Rememberer (a dwarf chronicler) and I’ve been hunting it ever since. I came here to report my sighting to the Temple of Morr, perhaps hoping for a lead on where this bastard might be hiding at. They told me to seek you out, and where I might find you. Apparently your being hunted by this thing. And if that is the case, then I’m staying right next to you manling, so I can greet it with my axe next time it shows its ugly face!”
Eckhardt is somewhat relieved, although the others are apprehensive. Borri in particular is cold and distant in his feelings towards Durgin, and tension in the air quickly rises later on between the two.
For now, Durgin and Eckhardt make their way to the temple to speak with Brother Valdric, while the rest of the party prepare the barge.
The two are shown to Brother Valdric. “Tell him manling about the vampire,” Durgin states.
Valdric makes a heavy sigh, “Yes… This dwarf came to me this morning with some dire news. Seems he had fought a powerful vampire south of the city, and his… chronicler was slain in the process. Yet he told me that his chronicler, who was a budding vampire hunter according to him, knew what kind of vampire he was dealing with before he was slain. A Necrarch. An ancient and powerful yet incredibly rare breed of vampire. Valdric goes on to say that the last recorded encounter in writing was over a hundred years ago, according to their own records. Valdric expresses doubt that Gutz would suffice, but Eckhardt says that he is now in the company of a dwarf slayer and an ogre, and is pretty confident.
“There is some information I wish to depart with you however, before you go. I can’t attest as to the accuracy of this information, but it might be helpful. I believe your traveling by barge, is that correct? Well, that may be fortunate… You see, according to one particular entry in our records concerning this particular breed of vampire, it seems they are most vulnerable to a particular weakness. Although this weakness is evident in less powerful breeds, I was quite surprised to see it present in a being as powerful as this. It appears that they are unable to cross a running stream, or a river with a current. Again, I cannot confirm the validity of this claim, but if true, then you may be wise to stay on the barge.”
Thump Thump Thump Thump Thump
Gutz Ironside squeezes through the door, and looks down upon them.
“Gutz ready! Gutz Go! Gutz… *sniff sniff*”
Gutz peers down at the dwarf slayer. He looks angry.
“Little gobi with orange hair! Gutz hate orange hair! Orange distracting! Chop hair now!”
Gutz raises his axe, and is only stopped as Valdric tells him to calm himself. Eckhardt explains to Gutz that the dwarf is also a new bodyguard.
“No! Gutz bodyguard! Gutz is enough! Gutz smash pointy teeth!”
The dwarf challenges the ogre, and again hostilities are nearly about to break out but Eckhardt manages to convince Gutz.
“Keep orange hair out of sight!” Gutz shouts as he makes his way out of the temple.
Eckhardt sighs and follows. Just outside, they see a wagon full of fresh meat, along with some livestock tossed in. A pig. A sheep and what looks like bits of a cow, half of which is already chewed.
Sighing again, they make their way to the barge.
But trouble is already brewing when Gutz proclaims that he hates water, and that he won’t be traveling on it. Eckhardt is the only one trying to convince him, while the others are content with not having to share a barge that may sink with an ogre onboard.
Gutz shouts that he can keep up with the barge, which is good enough for Eckhardt.
The party leave Altdorf, and make their way south of the river, heading towards Kemperbad. It’s a long journey. Approximately just under a month’s worth of travel.
(Red Line shows the route they’ll take on the river)
Three uneventful days pass by. The traffic is light, with only less than a dozen barges been seen during their three days of travel. The weather has been mostly kind, although on the 2nd day they experienced some heavy rainfall, and on the 3rd day, the heavens look they’ll pour. Gutz has also been able to keep up, and doesn’t seem fatigued from his constant walking at all.
Night approaches on the 3rd day, and the party decide to shore up again. There was some debate earlier as to whether to moor up on the west bank where Gutz is, or to remain in the middle of the river, as Valdric had told Eckhardt about the particular weakness of this vampire. But Kall says that they may get into trouble with the river wardens who may not take kindly to a barge anchored in the river. The party seem to fear wardens more, and decide to moor up on the bank.
They setup watch. Borri and Durgin begin the first watch, as Durgin eyes Borri with jealously as he watches him down a few gulps of Josef Bugman’s Triple X. Their watch goes along peacefully, and the 2nd watch is now due. Eckhardt and Ulrico. Borri tries to wake up the resisting Eckhardt, and decides to pour some of Josef Bugman’s ale down his throat…
Eckhardt immediately jolts up and starts slurring his words. He groggily and clumsily makes his way up the barge. Seems dwarven ale didn’t agree with him…
He and Ulrico begin their watch.
Mannslieb is on full display…
– Mannslieb, 1 of 2 moons of The Old World
Yet the radiant light that was being provided by the moon soon fades, the night grows darker, and shapes streak across the moon in the sky. Dark clouds start to form, and it rains. Heavily.
Gutz squirms uncomfortably in the rain, and Eckhardt decides to toss him a piece of linen cloth, as it drapes over his head. Yet as he does, Gutz bolts upright. Eckhardt and Ulrico watch as Gutz slowly turns his head towards the forest.
He slowly stands up as the linen falls off him. Gutz takes out his big axe, Mr Grindy.
“Something stinks…” he says, sniffing his armpits, “and it ain’t me…”
Eckhardt tells Ulrico to wake the others. Ulrico heads down to the cabin. Eckhardt looks out groggily into the darkness, still reeling from that dwarven ale. He spots something…
There, in the darkness… to the right, he spots two glowing red orbs staring back at him. And then, a voice, a sinister gravelly voice speaks out, “I… See… You…”
“I… Bring… A… Gift….”
Eckhardt is frozen in place with utter fear. Gutz snorts, staring into the darkness and growling.
The rest of the party come up onto the barge. wondering what’s going on and why Eckhardt looks like he suddenly saw a ghost.
Then, something shambles towards them. A shape in the dark. It.. moans. Gutz points towards it.
“Death approaches…” he simply says.
Then it comes into view.
Finja! Despite the rotting appearance, they recognize her. The last known sighting of Finja was from Ernst Steurmann who said she was heading for the town of Reicthlick, yet it appears she may never have gotten to the town at all. Gutz doesn’t hesitate as he steps forward to the shambling lone figure. It’s no contest as Gutz cuts her in half from the mid-section, and delivers a derisive snort.
“Ha! Is that it! Is that all you can throw at us!” shouts Durgin into the dark.
“Quiet dwarf, have some respect… that was a friend of ours…” says Ulrico.
Yet something still stirs in the darkness, and something moves. Eyes dart to it, and the party get a fleeting look of it for just a moment.
Durgin immediately shouts out, “COME BACK YOU BASTARD! COME BACK! ILL HAVE YOU! YOU COWARD! YOU PONCE!”
It disappears, but not before departing with this, “Your next… fresh meat… I’m coming for you…”
Durgin shouts obscenities at it as the rest remain stiff at what they just witnessed.
The party wait for daylight to come, but are not getting anymore sleep as a result of what happened.
As the morning sun rises, Ulrico is the first off the boat.
“What you doing?”
“Burning her body,” Ulrico replies, “It’s the best thing to do. Trust me. I’m from Stirland and I’ve heard the rumors and tales. Not taking chances.”
After the burning, the party continue on.
The party have journeyed for 6 days now, and made a brief stop at a small river village called Autler to stock up on much needed supplies.
It’s on the 6th day that the party fall foul of a great a horror…
Night comes on its usual schedule, never late. The party get ready for another tiresome but necessary and cautious watch. Yet as they are just pulling towards the west bank, they see Gutz, dropping his meat wagon and charging into the forest while roaring out at some invisible foe. He swings his axe but it cracks against a tree, and swings again, but whatever it is, the party are unable to see it as the tree’s are full of shadows as night takes over.
They quickly decide to pull in faster and Borri masterfully guides the barge onto the bank. Eckhardt, Durgin and Tafwick step off and run into the forest after Gutz, while Borri, Ulrico and Kall stay behind fearing that the barge might come under attack.
They follow the sounds of the rampaging ogre, only getting fleeting glimpses of him as he continues to battle it out with this invisible foe.
Then… silence. The forest goes silent. The party slow down, and cautiously approach the last spot they heard Gutz.
Tafwick splits up and stays on the flank as Durgin and Eckhardt make their way.
Eckhardt spots a pool of blood further up near a tree. He approaches, halberd ready. As he does, he see’s Gutz, but Gutz has his back to him.
Gutz slowly turns around. All the fury, all the rage that Gutz i known for, is no longer there… but a blank look. His eyes seem to glaze over. Blood pours down his face from a piercing and ugly festering wound upon his face. Gutz doesn’t look good… He slowly approaches Eckhardt.
Eckhardt knows what that means, having been a victim of mental hijacking himself. Gutz is being controlled… He runs.
Gutz swings his axe at the spot that Eckhardt was a moment ago, but it was ill-timed and a sluggish blow. Durgin, however, remains still, looking at Gutz…
He charges Gutz, letting out a cry as he swings his axe. Gutz flinches back and lands a sluggish blow on the dwarf, a solid hit that severely injures Durgin. Durgin strikes back though with two sift blows. Gutz is in no condition to fight back as Durgin hops onto the ogre and delivers the killing blow, ready to send his axe down upon the head of the ogre. But Gutz suddenly snaps out of it and regains his freedom, but the last look is utter confusion as Durgin drives the axe into the forehead of Gutz Ironside. Gutz Ironside falters and falls.
During that mighty fight, there was a scream, a plea of help. It came from Tafwick. Eckhardt was about to assist Durgin with Gutz when he turned around… and saw it, standing near Tafwick. Tafwick was frozen in place, “I can’t move!”
The vampire fiend had cast some dark spell upon him, restricting his movement. Eckhardt bravely charges at the vampire.
Shadow and concealment seems to surround this vampire as Eckhardt delivers a strike, but is unsure if he landed a hit on its skeletal figure. Great bony hands stretch out and slice towards Eckhardt, infused with rot and dark magic. Eckhardt’s arm is nearly shredded along with his armor as he takes a severe blow, and drops his halberd, but not before taking another swipe at the fiend, this time certain he landed a blow.
Tafwick lands a shot from his sling, again uncertain if it did anything at all. The creature simply goads them on.
Then, a great orange fury starts charging. Durgin the dwarf slayer charges with all his fury at the fiend, demanding revenge for the death of his trusted companion, his Rememberer.
Durgin lands a true strike and its a powerful one as the vampire taken back by this sudden change.
“I’m not finished with you mortals. You killed my pet project, and I shall return…”
The vampire forms into a mist that escapes on the wind, as Durgin shouts after it “COME BACK YOU COWARD! ILL HAVE YOU!”
Borri and Ulrico, who decided to leave the boat, make their way over. They witness a dead ogre, a missing halfling, a severely wounded Eckhardt along with Durgin who also looks like he might keel over at any minute… Wait, a missing halfling?
They call out… nothing.
They look around, there is no sign of him.
They call out again… Then they hear something. Something barfing. They turn and see, well… vomit, but, it looks like its coming out of mid-air, a couple of feet off the ground.
It stops, and then a voice that sounds like Tafwick, “Err… guys, I may have a problem. I think I’m invisible…”
It turns out that Tafwick just drank an incredibly rare and potent magical potion that was likely given to him in secret by the Palisades, with a note attached that read “Drink me when thou at Wittgenstien, and thy shall be granted entry.” But in his moment of cowardice, Tafwick drank the potion. O well…
Ulrico tends to their wounds as Borri heads over to Gutz Ironside, who lays motionless on the ground. “We should burn the body, but not before we give it a good search..”
Borri roots around Gutz’s body for anything that might be of value, and then picks up a few crowns.
Yet the greedy goldlust dwarf does not notice that something is not right with Gutz. His skin is cracked, like cracked mud under a heavy sun, and it appears to be… rotting? But by the time he realizes it, he notices it now on his own hand!
Borri witnesses it coil up his hand, just past his wrist. “Cut it off! Cut it off! Slayer! Now! Cut it!”
Borri is frantic as the magical rot works its way up his arm. The slayer comes over and takes a look, without hesitation he CHOPS IT! Borri’s hand lob’s off… the rot seems to be gone. Blood is gushing out of Borri’s stump, and he quickly gets Ulrico’s assitance in cauterising it.
The pain is agonizing and brutal. Yet the sturdy dwarf strides on despite the pain, contemplating his future as a smith, and not only that… but his ability to dual wield hisfine hammers.
As the party lick their wounds, a pack of vicious wolves, no doubt attracted by the scent of fresh blood approach in the dark. Yet Durgin the slayer is in no mood for them and simply roars and shouts at them… they make a quick hasty escape darting away from them.
A beaten badly injured group of Old World adventurers take as many quick strides as they can towards their barge and begin to shore up on the other side of the bank.
The party wind up staying in Altdorf for a further 3 days…
Kall Horst arrives on the morning of the 2nd day, and meets up with the group. He’s heavily injured, and seeks the services of Ulrico and the Temple of Shallya.
Borri picks a bad time to go smithing as there is some heavy debate as to what to do with this newfound delay. After selling the carriage, and dealing with the business concerning the Temple of Morr, Borri decides to head over to the dwarf district. He enters the shop of Tot Blatter, a smithy among many within this particular district. He seeks out an apprenticeship, and after putting on a display of his work, Blatter realizes he doesn’t need an apprenticeship at all, but rather an evaluation by the guild. He pays the 50 crowns needed to be evaluated, and after proving his work by smiting a fine mail coat, the dwarf council for the Dwarf Guild decide that his work was indeed excellent, and that his evaluation was a successs.
Borri Rognisson is now a guilded member of the Altdorf Dwarven Guild Society, attaining the rank of Journeyman, and his guild certification.
Borri continues to smith over the period of 3 days.
On the 2nd day, the party hear rumors concerning a disease coming out of the town of Rechtlich. It is confirmed by the Sisters of Shallya. The party learn that refugee’s are arriving on the outskirts of Altdorf, setup into makeshift tents.
The party know that Rechtlich was the town in which Jacob Grimm, Handrik Grimm’s brother, was believed to be, and told them that Ilse was believed to be in his care. But every decision the party made led them further away from Rechtlich, and only delayed their search further.
Finja and Ulrico head out to the refugee camp after getting some masks bearing the symbol of the Holy Dove of Shallya as protection. They hope to learn more about this disease before deciding on what to do concerning Rechtlich, after all, as Finja pointed out, the party’s promise of a pardon relies on finding that girl.
Borri and Eckhardt call their endeavors foolish, and have decided that the risk is too great. Earlier on, Borri had arrived with news of a new possible avenue for money. The dwarf guild have given Borri a task to seek out and investigate a Signal tower, south-east of the city along near the banks of the river. Apparently some dwarfen engineers went missing, others were found paralyzed to death, and they would like him to visit after paying him the sum of 35 crowns in advance. Borri hopes to convince his party members, but such convincing doesn’t go as planned as they rebel on him, with exception to Eckhardt. The party is splintered as to what action to take.
Should they go south-east to this signal tower? A 3-4 day walk, or to Rechtlick, a 2-3 day walk, and even less on horseback. Kall points out that their pardon may be in Rechtlick, but the news of a disease has the others greatly concerned.
Finja and Ulrico make their way to the refugee camp. They do not get close to any of the tents, keeping their distance. Instead, ask one of the sisters for the particulars of this disease. They are told that the disease is quite unusual. It seems to affect men more than it does women, and the symptoms are bizarre. Accelerated growth of hair, teeth and prolonged features of the body, mainly around the face. It’s already got a nickname… The Beast Within.
Finja and Ulrico head back to the gates, but doing so without checking a vital source of information: could Jacob Grimm be lying in one of those refugee tents? Could even Ilse be there unknowingly? But the thought doesn’t rise, and they continue back to the city.
Eckhardt brings Kall back to his room to rest and recover. Borri makes his way back to do some smiting when he’s accosted by an old crazy man.
“How much?” he asks right out, coming up to Borri.
“How much!” he asks again.
Borri is confused, and replies, “For what?”
“For the Banana!”
“How much you offering?”
“500 Crowns” the man replies, and shows Borri a hefty bag. Borri takes a gander and see’s that there’s nothing but pebbles, but the main claims its gold all the same.
He goes rooting in his back for any such signs of a banana, but the man gets frustrated.
“No you soft-headed fool! I want that Banana!”
“The one that’s sticking out of your ear!”
Borri is pretty certain that the old coot is crazy, but none the less he begins bargaining with the man for his invisible banana.
The cost climbs up to 1,500 pebbles. But Borri is backing out of the deal, instead telling the man to meet him later.
“Give me the Banana!”
“I’ll visit you later and I’ll give you a different banana.”
“No! I want that Banana! GIVE IT TO ME!”
The man drops his pebbles and goes for Borri’s ear, Borri doesn’t resist much as the man’s filthy fingers dabble in his eardrum. Then the old coot pulls away, holding something in his hand, but there is nothing there.
“It’s mine! Heheheheheh,” the crazy man runs off. Borri shrugs and carries on.
On the 3rd day, a lot of events unfold.
Johann wakes up after a particularly disturbing dream.
In his dream, he finds himself at the Temple of Shallya. He see’s his sister, Liliana, her back is turned away. There isn’t much light, and the air is cold, snappy. Liliana turns to face him. Johann see’s that his sister is blind… For where there should be eyes, are nothing but empty black sockets.
“I cannot see…” she says, “Johann, you were suppose to protect me.”
She approaches him, “Why can I not see, Johann… Why were you not there to protect me?”
Johann replies that he tried, and that he was sorry, but Liliana continues to repeat her statement.
Johann has started shouting now in desperation as Liliana repeats. Suddenly the room goes dark, and he finds himself in an eerie spot.
Johann is alone. No weapons but the clothes on his back. Darkness surrounds him, except for a strange light above that shines down upon the path that he is on. The path is littered with skulls and bones. Johann can hear whispers in the dark… and a voice, a taunting demonic voice, “Eyes are the windows of the soul. Shatter them, forever…”
“There is no escape from my domain. Feed on my hatred… ”
“They are all going to die…”
Johann tries to put the voice out of his head, and concentrate on this strange place. (Following part is written by the player who plays Johann, Darren)
Before him stood the tentacles, ever hungry and writhing. They emerged from the void and had an air of patient danger, like a spider laying in wait. Johann realized this to be some kind of test and gripping a skull from the pathway devised a solution. He quickly tossed a skull towards the tentacles, dashing through without a scratch.
A sense of joy and relief filled him and he quickly paid due to Shallya. “The bleeding heart protect me and the white dove guide me.” Before the whispers once more beseeched him. Realizing his faith was being tested as much as his mind or body; Johann faced the second set of leaping tentacles. Instead of a skull, in his hand he had the symbols of his past life – his belt; crafted from finest leather by Marienburg artisans owing his family a favor and his right sleeve – emblazoned with the Karling-Satou crest.
He tossed his past away, discarding them to the hungry tentacles and dashed through, ducking low as the shred of his old life were devoured in an instant. Shallya’s light filled him, as the whispers receded for a moment.
He gave due; “The bleeding heart protect me and the white dove guide me.” Before the whispers renewed their assault as severe as a Winter’s tide.
The third of his trials loomed; thicker, thorned tendrils that looked far more fleshy than the previous pair. The questing limbs dripped a sizzling acid; small piles of smoke rose from the skulls beneath the tentacles… Johann first removed his boots; forgoing his past life’s comforts. He then removed the symbol of Shallya he had paid to be added to his trademark green jacket in Altdorf. Holding the bleeding heart emblem in a clenched fist, he wrapped the boots up in his jacket and launched it into the acidic viper’s nest and dashed across the bone floor barefoot.
It was a narrow thing and his feet were rapidly opening in his movements. But he met one more test, one which seemed impossible. An obsidian pit, deeper than even the black abyss surrounding the rest of the path beckoned. The gap was large and the mess of fleshy vines interweaving and snapping at the edges with mouths on stalks practically dared him to try and pass. He heard a female voice, one he presumed to be Shallya speak;
“Trust in your faith as you trust in my faith in you.”
Surprisingly the sinister whispers agreed. Telling him to jump across.
With a curse and continued muttering of his mantra Johann and sprinted to the pit; leaping as soon as his toes met the edge. Despite the repeated lunges of the tentacles, none found their mark and with Shallya’s blessing he landed safely. Spying a familiar small chest.
For next pair, he does the same, although discarding bits of his clothing to serve as distractions. Johann gets to the end after making a very daunting jump over a black pit of obsidian, while clutching the bleeding heart that he embroidered on his jacket sleeve.
At the end, he see’s an altar, flanked by two Sisters of Shallya, praying, their eyes are closed. On the altar, is a small chest. He recognizes it as the one that Liliana gave him.
He approaches it and opens it. There, he see’s a pair of eyes. His sisters eyes, green as ever. He picks them up.
Behind the altar, he see’s three statues. On the left, a bestial daemon, snarling. It’s claws are stretched out, as if waiting for something. He hears laughter coming from behind. He does not recognize it, but he feels his sister might…
In the middle, a statue represents Shallya. She is holding out a bowl. A single tear is shown on the statue, dripping down her cheek.
On the right, another statue, this one also demonic in nature, yet, the face is very much human. He recognizes the face… His oldest brother.
Johann approaches the statue of Shallya, and puts the eyes in it. A radiant light comes out, blinding him. Now, he finds himself back at the temple, in Liliana’s room. There, he see’s Liliana, embracing him, while saying, “I can see again Brother!”
The dream ends.. Johann wakes up in a heap of sweat.
It is early morning, the sun is just coming up. Johann decides to head down to the docks after picking up some menial labour for a few pittance. He’s no stevedore, but his help is appreciated regardless.
While working on the docks, Johann spots a familiar sight… The Berebelli!
It pulls into the pier, and Johann heads up to the barge. He see’s Ernst Steurmann, battered, bruised and nursing some recent injuries, but none the less alive. He steps off the barge and onto the docks. Johann is glad to see him, but Ernst is surprised.
“What are you doing in Altdorf?” he asks.
“We brought our sister here, to the temple of Shallya.”
“I wish to see her…”
They head over to the temple, but Johann is met with a very excitable priestess.
“You must come quick, it’s your sister!”
The two of them head down to Liliana’s room, and by all the miracles, there, they see the one-arm bandit that is Liliana, sitting up in bed and drinking some hot soup.
Johann is on the brink of tears as he hugs her, and Ersnt simply smiles.
The two catch-up, and plans are made. Ernst says that he was planning to head back to Marienburg, after he met a ‘friend’ of his in Altdorf, and that Johann and Liliana are welcome to come.
Liliana needs time to recover, and Johann feels now’s the best time for it.
Finja has left in secret during the early morning. She left a message with the innkeeper to relay to the others. Her destination; Rechtlich. Her purpose; to find Ilse, the daughter of the Graf.
A few hours pass, and the others eventually get up, make their way down for breakfast. There is no sign of Finja, and the innkeeper relays the message to them. The party are unsure what to do. They have no horses so they can never catch up, unless they are lucky enough to find a carriage that happens to be riding out right about now. Ulrico decides that Borri should know, and proceeds to make his way out of the boatman.
As he opens the door however, he bumps into Johann. And beside Johann, he see’s Ernst Steurmann.
The two shake hands. Ernst says he has urgent news that can’t wait, and that he should fetch the dwarf. The rest of the party wait up in Kalls room as Ernst chides Kall on his recent injuries, always getting into trouble.
Ulrico comes back with Borri in tow.
Ernst sits down and begins to relay them the news.
“Graf Wilhelm von Saponatheim is dead…”
“How did he die?” asks Eckhardt.
“Rumors are bedridden and in his own filth. Although I believe the Countess may have had a hand in that, I think we all know that. That sorceress bitch also tried to do me in, sending her men after me. I was ready for them though… I discovered something however that you lot may be interested to know. 4 of the 6 men I killed had Purple Hand tattoo’s on their chest, which leads me to suspect that the Hand is involved in this. If that is the case, then it spells dire consequences for us all.”
The party ponder on this, as Ernst continues, “There’s something else. The Countess called off the search. I must admit I fear the worse for poor Ilse. With the Graf dead, and Ilse still missing, I think there’s little to no hope of a pardon now. I plan to go to Marienburg, hide it out there for awhile, let things simmer down. But… I may be able to help you lot. I’ve a friend to meet tonight. It’s the reason why I’m here. I’m hoping they might be able to help us all. I suggest if your interested, make your way down to The Three Emperor’s Inn on the Street of a Hundred Taverns.”
The party agree, but Borri tells Ernst concerning Finja, and that she went alone early in the morning, only leaving word with the innkeeper.
Ernst frowns, and says that he knows a stablemaster in Altdorf that can lend him a horse for a few hours if its urgent. He’ll try and catch up.
Ernst leaves through the south city gate, and gallops ahead down the road, hoping to catch up with Finja.
After a couple of hours, Finja spots him making his way down the road. She draws back her cloak and gets his attention.
The two converse, but Finja turns her back on him in typical woman fashion and continues on down the road, leaving Ernst to trail behind, while trying to talk some sense into her.
Alas, despite telling her that the Graf is dead, and that the Countess has called off the search, and also stating that Liliana is awake, Finja continues on. She says Ilse may still be able to issue a pardon, but Ernst is not so sure on that. Regardless, he calls her stubborn and foolish, but it’s her decision. He turns back and heads back into the city, giving the news to her former companions that Finja Dietrich is gone, and is unlikely to return.
After an hour just before sunset, the party meet up at the Three Emperors. Ernst is already there, helping himself to some ales. They get some drinks in and sit down for the next few hours, drinking and chatting.
Only a couple of hours before midnight, the place starts to get roused up. The patrons are slamming their tankards down on the tables, shouting, “Dahlia! Dahlia! We want Dahlia!”
This repeats for a few moments until the chant is replaced by cheers as a well dressed man in colorful attire steps onto the stage, and announces, “Ladies and gentlemen. My esteemed patrons, I have the pleasure of introducing you to the one and only, the beautiful, the talented… Dahlia Blackheart!”
And indeed, a young blond woman steps onto the stage, carrying a lute, and holding a chair. She plots the chair down and sits, stringing her lute.
Then, she starts playing a tune…
The song captivates the crowd, and they are utterly silent as the song continues.
Once Dahlia finishes her song, the crowd cheer and stand, applauding her. Then, as if nothing happened, they go back to their drinks and chat amongst themselves as Dahlia steps off the stage.
She puts her lute away, and approaches the far back table in which Ernst and company currently sit.
“Ernst, you old dog.. It has been too long.”
Ernst stands up, but gets pushed back into the chair. “Not here Ernst, too much familiarity.”
She pulls up a chair. The party learn that Dahlia is actually the contact Ernst spoke about, but not only that, but she is a member of the Palisades. An organization that they never heard about until now. Ernst tells them that the Palisades deal with problems, before they become a problem. They are primarily concerned however with the protection of the establishment, rather than global threats. As such, they safeguard Elector-Counts who come to the Capital, and see to it that the Emperor is well and truly protected from external and internal threats.
Dahlia is somewhat displeased at Ernst blowing her cover, but Ernst says that they are good people, and that they need her help, and that they may be able to help concerning this Purple Hand business.
Ernst goes on to explain the last recent events concerning the Graf’s death, then the Countess and her possible involvement in the Purple Hand. Eckhardt explains to her also about the Purple Hand’s interest in him, and how he has a dead doppelganger. This definitely gets Dahlia’s interest… He also explains about the inheritance, for which Dahlia requests to see this so-called letter.
Dahlia reads it, while letting out a few chuckles to herself. “I must apologize. You see, the inheritance was our idea. And there was no inheritance to speak of. We wanted to lure out one of their high ranking members for questioning, and it seems that Kastor Leiberung met an ill-fate on the road, and by some strange coincidence, you happened to come along and take his place. Again, apologies that you got caught up in this. But, perhaps we can take advantage of this. Nobody but you seem to know that this man is dead, right?”
Eckhardt nods, but states that the Purple Hand may not be… happy with him. He says his last encounter with one member was in Weissbruck. There, he managed, or at least hoped, to have led them on a wild goose chase back to Bogenhafen to find this inheritance that doesn’t exist.
“Perhaps there is another way… You are already involved in the Purple Hand, and they seem to be interested in you. Perhaps we can help each other out… Would you be willing to travel East, to Kemperbad, in the services of our glorious Empire?” The party slowly nod in agreement.
“Good. There will be a meeting taking place in Kemperbad. We do not know the exact time or day, but we do know it will initiate once our agent enters the town. We would like you to go there, observe, report and follow. Our agent will be leaving Altdorf in a couple of days time, we would like you to get there before and… wait. There is more details of course, and I’ll show one such detail now..”
She takes out a letter, and gives it to Ulrico to read.
“As you can see, we have a contact within the Purple Hand. However, the cult is splintered into different groups. Sorta like the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing, otherwise I’m sure we would have known about the Countess.
“Now, under different circumstances, I would not be having this meeting. Ernst, you and I may go a long way, but not long enough for me to consider doing this. You see, my hands are tied, and I fear that there is a leak within the Palisades, otherwise we would have relied on our own sources to deal with this.
“There is more detail, but now I must know if you are all in. If not, then this conversation never happened.”
The party agree to go all in.
“Good. You’ve chosen good company Ernst. I will make arrangements for a barge tomorrow. It will have no one on-board, except someone who we consider to be a reliable sort. A halfling by the name of Tafwick. He’ll accompany you and aid you in this matter. I’m sure Ernst here will show you the robes concerning the operation of the barge. Ernst, have you got a map on you?”
Ernst gets out a map, and displays it onto the table. Dahlia draws a dagger from her boot, and starts making pointed marks on the map.
“You’ll journey down the river from Altdorf, heading to Kemperbad… here. Once in Kemperbad, you’ll wait for our contact to show up. You do not need to know the name of our contact, just yet, for security reasons. You’ll recognize the contact from a distinctive feather cap. It is a blue feather with a light orange tip. Our contact knows to wear it for the meeting. Once there, observe and report. Our contact will not be able to risk writing a report for us during and after the meeting, so we will be relying on your report. Then, we suspect judging by the letter, our contact will be heading down to Wittgenstein castle, here on the map where Wittendorf is.”
Eckhardt recalls Wittendorf, a small village in which he was pulled out of the river, many months before he met up with the group.
“Here’s where it gets tricky. We want you to infiltrate the castle. Our contact has their own mission, but recent events has me concerned, and has forced us to act sooner. Baroness Ingred von Wittgenstein lives a secluded life at the castle, along with her only living daughter, Lady Magaritta von Wittgenstein. The family keeps to themselves, but for quite sometime now we started to suspect odd goings on at the castle. Reports of abductions from the nearby village, and other strange goings on. We wanted to investigate, but every time we did, we would get blocked. I suspect the Baroness Ingrid knows someone very powerful indeed to keep us off their backs.
“It was only until recently however that a link between the Purple Hand and the Baroness was established. Once again, more nobility seem to be allying themselves to this cult, for whatever reason. We want to know what the Purple Hand is doing there, and if at all possible, put an end to it, without compromising our contact. If outsiders do this, all the better.”
Eckhardt slowly puts the words together, “You… want us to kill the Baroness? I thought we were getting help to get out of trouble, not get into more of it.”
Dahlia replies, “If the Baroness is engaging in treasonous activity, then perhaps it would be best for all concerned, if she… would take a trip up the river, if you get my meaning. But do not concern yourself with trouble, you’ll have more than enough to contend with. But not with the law. As I said, the von Wittgensteins are a reclusive family. They do not engage in the political affairs of other families and keep to themselves. This would normally be, an internal matter. But… recent events have forced me to seek outside help, such as yourselves, and Ernst here has kindly presented such an opportunity. The rumors concerning the recent disappearance of the Emperor from public showings, and the rumor mill that he’s ill, is… somewhat true. Ever since then, my superiors are blocking my efforts to investigate this cult along with the Emperor’s health. Something is going on, and I’m afraid for what that might mean for the Empire. You do this for us, and we will be in your debt, and part of paying that debt off, will be to ensure that the Bogenhafen authorities lose interest in you. The Witch Hunters are a.. different matter, but we’ll try and pull some strings. If you have any further questions, now’s the time…”
The party remain silent.
“Good. I’ll give you an address to carry messages too. Be wary of using pigion carriers, and do so only if absoloutely urgent. Otherwise, try and meet me in person here at the Three Emperors. Praise Sigmar. Praise the Emperor.”
Dahlia gets up, and leaves
The party are not sure to be relieved, or utterly frightened.