The Veiled Blade

Part Twenty
Beaten, Bruised and somewhat Broke

John_Blanche_-_Nuln.jpg

A short time later a couple of city guard turn up at Die Goblin und Hammer tavern and take custody of the bound assassin who remains resolutely tight lipped. Once they leave Allen encourages the rest of the group to also leave his tavern and to take their trouble with them. Out on the street in the early hours of the morning, Fickenja and Durgar opt to follow the others over to the hospital while Carla decides to head over to the rich merchant’s mansion and assume her new role as his cook.

Once the majority of the group manage to drag and slouch their sorry bodies over to the hospital they are dealt with by Sister Karina who recognises the fact that the majority of them have already received treatment at the establishment and is loathe to provide care willy nilly. The group has precious little gold to their name and Cadrigar has to use his charming skills to convince the priestess of Shallya to at least take in the two worst injured of the group – Ulric and Mathias, for 1gp each. The downside to this arrangement, however, is that the beggar and boatman will need to remain resting in the hospital to regain their health.

With all generosity exhausted, the rest of the group files out from the hospital, several of them still in a very bad way, and opt to shamble over to the Markt Platz and wait for the apothecary to open. After painstakingly spending a few hours huddled in a shop doorway watching the market stalls being erected and the shops being prepared, The Amazing Doktor Schroedinger’s opens. The group piles in and the startled shopkeeper asks them their business; they make inquiries about purchasing another bottle of the recuperative preparation of “Kussen die Drachen” but the 15gp price is more than they can afford and he requires no work of them. A desperate Heinrich pickpockets 5gp from Jeffric while he is busy futilely haggling with the merchant – the badly injured young herdsman then uses the purloined coin to pay for an individual draft of the potion which goes some way to restoring his health. Wracking their brains as to how they might raise the required coin to get treatment for everyone as well as being able to put a roof over their heads, the group recall that they were recently approached by the Merchants’ Guild with extra work for one of their special patrons. The duly head off to the only place they know to contact the guild – The Green Dragon tavern.

Carla has been admitted back into the merchant’s mansion and makes her way round to the kitchen where she encounters a scullery maid called Anna. She proceeds to pump the 12 year old for information concerning the inhabitants and the layout of the mansion. A couple of hours later Herr Baudach, the household manager, is up and enters the kitchen, enquiring why breakfast hasn’t been prepared and proceeds to give young Anna the thrashing of her life for her failure to inform the new cook of her most pressing of tasks. Resisting the urge to intervene, the young Tilean mage learns additional info from Jack the houseboy and after failing miserably to strike up a working relationship with Frau Kintz the house keeper, she manages to place a shopping order for her ingredients – her plan being to insert a potion into the food at a future point.

When she believes herself to have been left in the mansion largely to herself she ventures to sneak up the stairs, intent on locating the study containing the letters. After trying the first door on the right she encounters a less than pleased Herr Baudach conversing with the master of the house. The master proceeds to question the latest addition to his staff and quickly realises from the freely given and undisguised information provided by Carla, that she is part of the group who has caused so much commotion in Reiksdorf. Carla simply declares that she has taken the job so as to earn a living and has retired from adventuring.

The group arrive at the Green Dragon and speak to Karl. They learn from the now morose barkeeper that Tarquinius has been found brutally murdered in a nearby alleyway that very morning – they are smart enough not to volunteer the fact that their miss-information has caused this event. They enquire of Karl whether the job offered by the powerful patron is still on offer; Karl tells them that he will have to find out and that they are welcome to remain within tavern and eat and drink for free while he is away. Prior to leaving, Karl is approached by Jeffric who takes out a loan of 30gp at a rate of 25% which will be due in 5 days time. Karl warns him that the debt will be owed to the guild and that enforcers will be dispatched to collect should repayment be late.

With newly obtained coin in hand Jeffric and Cadrigar leave the confines of the tavern while the rest of the group chose to either cower or rest up there. The duo head back over to the Markt Platz, are approached by a Halfling food vendor who identifies himself as Eric Hasgarn, but they are so paranoid that they chose to quickly walk on by without engaging in conversation. A short time later and they are back at Schroedingers where they purchase a bottle of the much sought after potion which they immediately imbibe. They also swing by Arnell’s Armoury and buy a two handed axe.

Arriving safely back at the tavern they await a short time with the others when Karl makes a reappearance and informs them that the job is still on if they want it. He tells them that the patron will see them at five in the evening and that he will take them to him. They ask him if he has any weapons he can give them and he disappears again to check with one of the guild enforcers – returning a short time later with a metal breastplate and four swords. Partially rearmed and recovered from the worst of their wounds, the group wait in the tavern until four pm before taking a coach with Karl.

The coach winds across the town and a short time later they find themselves outside a very familiar mansion compound – it is the same place they staked out the previous day and which Carla has infiltrated as the new cook; it is the place where the palace guard have told the group to obtain the hand written letters from a rich merchant. Karl leads them in and they are instructed to leave their weapons in the guardroom. Once inside the mansion they are taken upstairs to the far room which turns out to be a lavish study; inside the study stands Herr Baudach, who instructs them to stand before the desk of the seated merchant who is introduced to them as Marius Uns, a wealthy gold merchant.

Bandera_Stirland.png

View
Part Nineteen
Unarmed and Feeble

Harry_el_Martillo_por_John_Blanche.png

Ulric falls to the ground having been shot in the arm with a crossbow bolt. Hearing the scream, Cadrigar manages to jump over the greased floor and goes skidding down the stairs, slamming down at the bottom. Jeffric tries in vain to get up off the table but slumps back down. The Elf pedlar picks himself up and staggers to the nearest table just as a shadowy figure leaps out from the dark and strikes him in the arm with a sword.
Jeffric finally manages to slide off the table and collapses to the ground in pain. Ulric crawls under a nearby table for cover.

Mathias goes running down the stairs to render aid and comes sliding down the stairs and attempts to charge at the assailant but instead slips and falls flat on his face. Upstairs on the landing, with assistance from Carla and Heinrich, Durgar manages to get up off the greased floor and comes charging down the stairs to render assistance to his colleagues.
Durgar races down the stairs and flies at the attacker but the man is too swift and darts out of the way and the dwarven pit fighter slams into the table.

Carla, realising that she has the ability to strike at their foe from afar, manages to jump across the greased floor over to the banister and begins to caste a spell. Heinrich, reluctant to risk his life in the melee below, dives back into the room and looks for a chamber pot to throw at the foe. Fickenja, laying barely conscious on the landing floor tries to get up off the floor but slips and cracks her head and promptly blacks out.

Downstairs the assailants blade flashes out at the retreating back of Cadrigar who is perilously close to death. The Elf races back up the stairs and the attacker turns his attention to the other three members of the group who make repeated attempts to knock him down but with little success. Mathias receives a sword blow to the back in the process which leads to him making a desperate attempt to flee from the tavern but only to discover that they are all locked in.

Carla attempts to cast the Wind Blast spell but misspeaks the incantation which results in a catastrophic miscasting that sends the Tilean mage flying up into the air and crashing back down. The force of the miscast spell propels Heinrich into the opposite wall, injuring him badly while the unconscious Fickenja is sent flying along the hallway.

Downstairs the group continue their battle with their assailant, taking turns to charge at him. Durgar manages to use his superior fighting skills to dodge two sword strikes that would have surely hit. Mathias manages to charge into the attacker and stagger him. Carla, picking herself up from the floor comes running down the stairs, intent on casting a sleep spell on the attacker. Ulric manages to grab the man from behind and holds him in a bear hug; the Tilean mage races up to them and castes the spell but accidentally touches the beggar who slumps to the floor unconscious.

The attacker’s blade flashes out once more and narrowly misses. Carla quickly recasts her spell and finally manages to lay a hand on the attacker, sending him to sleep. The attack is finally over, and the unarmed group has managed, somehow, to survive without the loss of life. The four severely injured members of the group, Mathias, Cadrigar, Jeffric and Heinrich all immediately leave for the hospital to seek urgent help.

Fickenja and Durgar tie the unconscious body of their attacker to the kitchen table and begin to question him once he awakens an hour later. Judging from the man’s skills it is clear to them that the man is a trained assassin – they now need to determine who paid him to attack them and why. They attempt to illicit information from him using crude means of torture but the man stubbornly refuses to give anything away. They ask the tavern keeper, Allen if he recognises the man and he does say that although he doesn’t know the man he is sure he has seen him around before. They question Allen harshly, saying that the man would not attack his tavern without clear motive, which in turn leads the bar keeper to realise that he has done nothing wrong in all the many years he has lived there. He realises then that it is not himself the man has come to harm but the group – he asks them directly who they have crossed and Fickenja and Durgar both look sheepish as they realise that in all probability the assassin has been hired by the Thieves Guild.

Allen tells the group to get out from his tavern and never to return. They ask him in turn to fetch the city guard to take the assassin away.

BattleStandard.png

View
Part Eighteen
A New Job

Zombie_Dragon.png

The group are taken downstairs to the ground floor where Sgt-At-Arms Stern ushers them into a side room. The senior guard has arranged for all their equipment less armour and any weapons; the group are horrified and protest, asking how they are expected to carry out the burglary of the mansions house without arms and protection. Brent tells them that they are not being hired to cause a disturbance or to cause any casualties; in fact, he tells them that if they cause an incident he may well have them executed. He advises them to use guile and stealth to fulfil the task; he also furnishes them with additional information – Marius Uns is currently lacking a cook (since Gus has been framed and imprisoned by persons unknown) and the letters they are to steal are being held in a bureau in the merchant’s study on the first floor.

The group leave Die Schwartz Tor and decide that the first course of action is to conduct a reconnaissance of the merchant’s mansion. Walking all the way across the town and into the upmarket district of Die Ecke which consists of wide tree lined lanes running between the walled compounds of the wealthy citizens. Having located and observed the mansion the group splits up and Heinrich and Cadrigar opt to remain and keep watch to observe what time the guards change their watch.

Jeffric, Mathias and Durgar go to Die Goblin Und Hammer tavern to make enquiries about the alleged cooks job. Mathias spots Allen the barkeep, who in turn apologises for turning the boatman in the previous day, stating that he had no choice. Allen gives them all free drinks to make amends and while they are enjoying their free ale they spot a strange sight at the next table; Jan the beggar is sat there enjoying a hearty meal, and he is barely recognisable due to the fine suit he is wearing.

They approach him and engage him in conversation. Jan is vague about his new found fortune but he mentions that he is still looking for help in going down the sewers to retrieve a sizeable cache of loot from an abandoned Thieves Guild stash room. He states that he will take 20% of anything found and the rest will be evenly divided between the group. They tell the beggar that they will think about it and will let him know; Jeffric manages to guilt trip Allen into giving him a dish-washing job for 90 minutes in return for some coin.

Carla, Ulric and Fickenja head back over across town to the Markt Platz where the Tilean mage visits the Emporium and buys a good supply of ingredients for her spells. The beggar siblings decide to try and obtain some much needed coin by plying their trade, but unfortunately for them they are out of place and they fail to illicit anything from the wary town folk and worse still a city guard patrol approaches them and moves them on. Concerned about being jailed the trio head to Die Goblin Und Hammer to join the others.
Heinrich and Cadrigar are approached by a city guard patrol as they keep watch on the mansion. They are challenged and moved along but the daring pair opt to return to the site and continue their observations. Cadrigar inexplicably becomes quite ill, possibly from the stress of resent events; while Heinrich uses his companion’s illness as a mask for his presence in the area they are unfortunately approached again by the same pair of guards and are threatened with imprisonment if they don’t leave the neighbourhood immediately. Heinrich decides to take the sick elf over to the Temple of Shallya where he manages to obtain the help of Sister Anetta who administers some medicine.

All the group meet up again in Die Goblin Und Hammer and compare notes. They have gained little information to help them but they do solidify a plan of approach. A short time later Carla is stood outside the merchant’s mansion; she talks to the guards through the gates and says that she is there for the new job of chef. The guards are confused but the young woman seems sincere so they let her onto the grounds and tell her to head over to the kitchen and ask to speak to Her Baudach. A short time later she is being interviewed by the stuffy and unpleasant house manager; he asks her lots of probing questions about her culinary skills and she manages to bluff him with a list of exotic Tilean dishes. Impressed at her non-existent skills he offers her the job which includes lodgings in the mansion.
The young mage returns to Die Goblin Und Hammer and informs the rest of the group of her success; and they ponder a plan. The day is almost done and the group have to worry about where they will spend the night. Fickenja uses her charms on Allen and beds him, which in turn helps to gain a reduced lodgings rate for the rest of the group.

At 2am that night Cadrigar, who is meditating, observes the handle of the room’s door slowly turn; he alerts the rest of the group and Heinrich shouts a challenge which goes unanswered. The group, all sat up in their beds, stare at the ajar door but the minutes pass and nothing stirs. Growing tired of waiting and being braver than the others, Carla walks over to the door and opens it wide and goes to walk out onto the landing. A sword flashes out from the side and imbeds itself into the door frame, inches from Carla’s face. The shocked mage backs away and Jeffric charges towards the door armed with a chamber pot; as he reaches the threshold he goes flying – the floor has been greased. He smashes into the opposite banister, overbalances and plummets down onto a table in the hall below, severely injured. The rest of the group wait in the room, poised and scared. Still nothing stirs.

Finally Durgar loses patience and races towards the door, armed with a knotted sheet. The dwarven pitfighter grabs the doorframe and goes to swing around in order to clobber whoever is outside, but he too slips on the grease and lands heavily on his ass. Fickenja comes running out of the other room, awoken by all the commotion; Durgar pleads for her to help him up, which she attempts to do, slipping on the grease herself and banging her head hard on the floor.

Ulric, having deduced that the passageway is indeed greased, leaves the safety of the room and manages to navigate down the flight of stairs. He is attempting to render aid to the unfortunate Jeffric who is unable to move. The woodsman hears a noise coming from behind him and he shouts a warning out to the beggar; seconds later a crossbow bolt flies out from a dark corner and hits Ulric in the left arm.

Order_of_the_Bloody_Rose_Banner.jpg

View
Part Seventeen
A Friendly Chat Amongst Friends

Demon.jpg

Half the group are sleeping in a room within the Green Dragon tavern and Cadrigar the elf is on first watch when he hears the sounds of several boots coming up the steps and onto the landing. The elf pedlar hisses for everyone to wake up and informs them that some people are outside when the door to the room is kicked in and a figure with a crossbow appears yelling at them all to remain still. Armed uniformed men spill in and begin to manhandle everyone from their beds and drag them outside and into a waiting caged coach. The group has been arrested by the city watch but no one will tell them what the charge is.

The coach trundles along the winding streets and several members of the group attempt to hide various belongs inside themselves(!!!) or in their crotch with mixed results. A short time later the coach pulls up outside Der Schwartz Tur and the five group members are bundled into the tower where they are processed by the duty sergeant. A short time later they are stripped of all their belongings less the clothes they stand in and are all separately taken down several flights of stairs into the bowels of the building to an ill lit dungeon and pushed down a flight of stairs. This is a fairly easy arrival for the three members of the group who possess night vision and can discern the large basement room ringed with alcoves in which ragged and dirty fellow prisoners peer into the dark at the sound of new arrivals; but for the members of the group who do not have night vision it proves a highly hazardous journey especially for Heinrich the herdsman who has a phobia of basements and who initially resists entering the dungeon. He is quickly tackled by the guards, one of whom cracks the herdsman across the head with a cudgel and then pushes him down the stairs. Heinrich takes a tumble down the flight of steps and lands hard, knocked unconscious.

Once they are all in the foul smelling basement dungeon they huddle together and try to take stock of their surroundings. A man sitting in one of the nearby alcoves strikes up a conversation with them and introduces himself as Kaspar, a gambler who has been in the dungeon for a few weeks for not paying a gambling debt. The group learns that none of the other members, Carla, Matthias or Jeffric have been brought into the jail. They speak to a couple of other people nearby but learn nothing of value other than that everyone seems to be there for fairly petty crimes and all expect to be released in the near future. Looking around to see if anyone is paying the group any specific attention Ulric spots a Halfling peeking at them from an alcove on the other side of the room. They all walk across the filth strewn floor over to the now terrified Halfling who identifies himself as Gus. They question the nervous Halfling and learn that he is a chef for a rich gold merchant called Marius Uns and that he alleges to have been framed for theft, namely a cart of ingredients. They ask him if anyone has been brought in for a serious crime and Gus points at a mean-looking figure sat slumped in a corner. A short time later a couple of guards come into the dungeon and dump a bucket of slop into a central trough – it’s feeding time and all the inhabitants rush over to the trough and begin to stuff themselves with the foul half rotten food. The mean looking man pointed out by Gus saunters up to the trough and uses a wooden latrine bucket to scoop up more than a fair share if the swill and takes it back to his corner.

Eager to waste no time in hatching an escape plan, Ulric immediately approaches the strange man, with the rest of the group in tow for safety. It soon becomes clear that the surly man, who says he’s called Johann, has little interest in assisting the group in their endeavours until they mention that they will pay him. The experienced murderous thug then pumps them for details as to where the gold is and how to obtain it, clearly intent on learning the set up for his next crime as soon as he’s released – the group point him in the direction of Tarquinius at the Green Dragon.

Elsewhere in the tower, up on the fourth floor, Mathias is rudely awakened by Sgt-At-Arms Brent who has the boatman dragged from his cell and taken to a nearby room and strapped into a chair. For the next hour Brent, under the supervision of Captain Aldous, proceeds to torture Matthias, applying screws to both of the man’s hands. As the blood flows Mathias manages to master the pain but is none-the-less in fear of what damage the guardsman may do next to him. He is asked to give an account of his and the group’s actions in Reiksdorf and in Reikers Ferry in particular. The Palace are aware the group has spent several days in the Chaos besieged village on the other bank and have even transported a number of the population to just outside Reiksdorf. Mathias confirms the groups movements and reasons for being in Reikers Ferry by tries to distance himself from matters by saying that he spent most of his time on board his boat, Der Silber Kessel, and that he doesn’t really know too much of what’s going on which is actually a half-truth. Mathias was not privy to the group’s dealings with either the Merchant’s or Thieves guilds and during his interrogation gives Tarquinius’ name as the Thieves Guild contact who sent them to the quarantined village to kill Gregor.

Next on Brent and Aldous’ list is Jeffric. The Sgt-At-Arms enters the woodsman’s cell with a guard and takes a very different approach in his interrogation. Brent attempts to enter into a frank discussion with Jeffric but the woodsman knows he has done wrong and seeks to sell the experienced guardsman a number of lies which results in Brent signalling the guard to crack the prisoner across the head. Eventually Jeffric realises the danger and futility of his situation and gives a fairly honest account of the group’s activities and reasons for going to Reikers Ferry. The woodsman does make the mistake of admitting to seeing beastmen and the forces of Chaos attacking the village – something which directly contradicts the Palace’s quarantine decree as well as also blaming the assassination task also on Tarquinius (no one seems to remember talking to Cornelius, the Thieves Guild contact!).

Last but not least, Brent pays Carla a visit. The Tilean mage lays on the hard floor, hooded and bound. The Sgt-At-Arms removes the young woman’s hood and makes her promise to be good, informing her that there will be harsh consequences if she tries to use any magic. She agrees to behave and Brent proceeds to give her food and water before questioning her. Carla is better able to deny knowing everything that has been going on having been separated from them for a large amount of time. She does however confirm the group’s dealing with both the Thieves and Merchant’s guilds.

An hour later and all three of the prisoners are removed from their cells and taken downstairs to join the rest of the group in the communal dungeon. Once more reunited the group spend much time exchanging accounts of their recent adventures as well as hurling a few recriminations at each other when the three latest arrivals reveal that they have been interrogated and that their captors may now have a very good idea of what they have all done. Ulric once more reasserts their need to concoct a solid plan of escape and toys with the idea of ambushing the guards the next time they come down to deliver the food; Heinrich points out that the group have been discussing everything aloud in the dungeon!

Before any firm plans can be laid a troop of guards enter the dungeon and call for all members of the group to exit. They are marched up a great number of flights until they reach the fifth floor where they are taken into Captain Aldous’ office. The Captain is sat behind his imposing oak desk and to his side is a stern looking middle-aged man in colourful robes who remains resolutely silent. Aldous starts the conversation with giving a brief summation of the group’s crimes, and is promptly interrupted by Ulric who proceeds to run his mouth off several times, challenging the Captain’s authority and attempting to argue. The Captain loses his patience and the guards give Ulric a couple of blows to the face, knocking out a tooth. Resuming his speech, Aldous informs the group that there is sufficient evidence to have them all tried as heretics and publically executed; there is however a way out.

Aldous then outlines a job that he wants the group to complete within 48 hours in return for forgetting their crimes. He wants them to break into a wealthy merchant’s compound, one Marius Uns, and steal a number of handwritten letters from the man’s study. The initial brief is vague and light on details and Fickenja demands some more clarity on just what it is that they are supposed to steal. A coy Aldous resists giving much insight into the whys or whats, merely admitting that the letters in question are written in a woman’s hand and that the group should steal all letters they find if in any doubt.

Dragon.jpg

View
Part Sixteen
Locked Up!

Demon_Painter.jpg

The freshly summoned Lord of Change screams in fury and stomps towards the burning barricade that is holding the horde of beastmen attempting to invade the besieged village of Reikers Ferry. The colossal demonic creature smashes through the barricade with ease, sending burning logs crashing across the ground and a flurry of embers into the air. The young militiamen turn instantly run away in absolute terror. The group, astonished at such a terrible sight before them are made of sterner stuff and hold their ground.

With the main defences finally breached this is Father Lucius’ signal to complete his spell and a crackle of thunder and rolling clouds in the sky above mark the arrival of the air elemental who descends to the field of battle in a funnel of turbulent air. The massive creature, made entirely of animated air particles, engages the greater demon of Tzeentch in combat and the two giants begin trading blows.

With the flaming obstacle now removed the beastmen begin to flood through the gap, several of their number being trampled by the two battling colossuses. Casdrigar defends the priest of Taal while Durgar, Heinrich and Fickenja wade in to meet the invaders’ advance alongside the fighter’s of Ulric. Sir Gregor, fully recharged from the previous night’s rest finishes his prayers to Solkan and his mighty double-handed sword bursts into flaming blade. There’s a furious flurry of clashing blades and axes, bellows and screams of fury as the two sides fight a desperate battle. While most of the group struggle to land their blows Sir Gregor and his flaming sword cuts a swathe of the chaos beasts down and the last anyone sees of him is the lawful champion disappearing amidst a crowd of beastmen beyond the broken defences.

After trading several blows with each other the Lord of Change resorts to its magical abilities to defeat its foe; blasting the air elemental with a stream of multicoloured fire that evaporates the creature. The demonic monster stomps over to Father Lucius, picks him up in his gigantic talons and proceeds to tear the priest in half. Realising that their situation has become utterly hopeless the group yell to one another and turn and run as the wave of beastmen rally and charge after them into the village. Their pursuers are slowed by the abundance of villagers who have come to fight the fire at the rear of their village – the marauding beastmen cut the civilians down and disappear into the hovels and cottages.

Reaching the jetty, the group comes to a dead stop; none of them can swim and there is no boat to board. Screams and smoke fill the air and a short time later beastmen begin to stream out through the lanes towards them. With no other options left and a certain death almost upon them the frantic group leap from the jetty and into the water. They thrash around, all of them about to drown when miraculously, as if sent from the gods, a small fishing boat appears in the dark and the fishermen throw out their nets to permit the group to clamber aboard. The vessel turns and sails away leaving Reikers Ferry to its bloody fate as the forces of Chaos reave it.

Cold, shivering but mercifully still alive, the group recount the battle. The astounded fishermen, who are from Nuln, freely give out blankets and wine to warm and comfort them. A short time later the vessel pulls into the docks of Reiksdorf and the captain pays the mooring fees and bids farewell to the group who are eager to flee the dockside as quickly as possible lest the city guard arrest them for breaking the quarantine of Reikers Ferry. The group manage to make their way to The Green Dragon without encountering any trouble just before the doors shut. Karl welcomes them and gives them a shared room and some food free of charge and the group settle down for the night with only the vaguest idea of what they will do next or of what has become of Dolwen and the rest of their numbers.

Carla wakes up in the morning in the Green Dragon and asks Karl if he has arranged the means of transport to Reikers Ferry. The barman tells her that he has sent a runner to make the arrangements with a contact and that she needs to go to the ferry terminal on the docks and ask for Christof. The Tilean mage subsequently sets out for the destination and sometime later finds herself outside the back of the ferrymen’s office where she asks for Christof. The ferryman duly identifies himself and after bartering over the cost of the trip and receiving advanced payment of half the fee he instructs Carla to go and wait on the boat while he fetches his equipment. Carla walks over to the jetty and identifies Christof’s slender vessel when she spots a pair of city guard walking down the gangway towards her; turning around she discovers a second pair of guards coming from the other direction. She quickly contemplates casting a spell but instead opts to jump into the boat and attempt to flee via the river; however, in her haste and panic she over balances when trying to climb into the boat and falls into the water. Thrashing around she is fished out of the water by the guards her immediately restrain her, inform her that she’s under arrest and bundle her into a coach waiting a short distance away.

As the coach trundles through the streets of Reiksdorf the young mage considers her options before deciding to caste a Zone of Cold spell that makes the guardsmen inside the coach shiver; having seen the magical air disruption of the spell being cast there is no doubt in their minds who the cause of their discomfort is and one of them quickly knocks her out before she has a chance to caste any more deadlier spells. When Carla wakes she is in the dark, seemingly with some sort of canvas hood over her head and her limbs bound. All she can tell is that she is lying on a hard cold stone floor; from somewhere nearby she can hear the faint singing that sounds oddly familiar.

Across town Matthias leaves the hospital and heads directly to the docks and spends a considerable amount of time searching for his boat, Der Silber Kessel, but there is no sign of it anywhere along any of the many jetties. Looking about him he realises that it could easily be within one of the many boathouse that populate the dock. He decides not push his luck any further and temporarily admits defeat and makes his way back across town to Die Goblin und Hammer where he approaches Allen the barkeeper, who is surprised to see him. Matthias enquires whether the barman has seen any of his group and is told that they have not been there for several days bit Carla was there only a day before. Matthias asks if he can stay and wait awhile in the hope someone turns up and Allen happily gives him a free tankard of ale and some food. A short time later the boatman is aware of a presence standing behind him and turns to find four members of the city watch there; they tell him that he is under arrest by authority of the Palace and is restrained and taken to an awaiting coach that takes him to Der Schwartz Tor, the imposing tower outside of the Markt Platz. Inside the tower Matthias is processed by the duty sergeant before being taken up the long winding flight of stairs and into a bare prison cell. As the door closes he hears the sound of some awful singing from a nearby cell and recognises as Jeffric’s voice.

Nuln_flag.jpg

View
Part Fifteen
Screaming for Vengeance

john_blanche_knight_panther.jpg

Outside the southern gate of Reiksdorf, Captain Aldous continues to question Jeffric the woodsman, who has turned up at 10pm with a rag tag crowd of desperate, distraught and injured villagers. Suspicious and sceptical of what the woodsman is telling them, the palace guard commander unlocks the main gate, has the cart driven through while he wanders over to a couple of the nearby children. With an avuncular air and some soothing words the commander is able to quickly learn the truth from the mouths of innocents. Having ascertained that the refugees are in fact from the quarantined Reikers Ferry, Captain Aldous addresses the people and informs them that they will be loaded onto the cart and transported a short distance away to safety and medical assistance. Without further ado the small group, including the now dead body of a fighter, are put onto the cart, accompanied by guards, and are driven away to the south, away from the town.

Jeffric is not taken away on the cart with the others; instead he is placed under arrest and transported by coach under guard to Der Schwartz Tur, the imposing tower in the centre of town, just outside the Markt Platz. Inside the tower he is processed by the custody sergeant, stripped of all his belongings, and is then marched up a long winding flight of stairs to the fourth floor and placed within a small bare cell. Locked inside the small dark cell the woodsman is left to stare out of a small window at the sprawling town below, which is beautifully lit by the twin moons of Manslieb and Morslieb which shine balefully down from the night sky.

The next morning, over in Reikers Ferry, half the group are still stranded there following the theft of Der Silber Kessel. They greet the morning sun amazed that they are still alive and that the forces of Chaos have not attacked. The strange distant storm and unearthly screams in the middle of the night serve further to unnerve the Fledermaus’ and Heinrich; all three now desperately want to abandon the village to its fate but Durgar urges them all to hold steadfast and face death heroically.

Unsure of what the correct course of action now is, but unhappy to sit around doing nothing, Cadrigar heads back to the jetty once more and makes an unsuccessful attempt to orate and stir the crowd of remaining desperate fifty villagers into action to save themselves. Apathy reigns and there is precious little resources or skills left available to the huddled crowd which now largely consists of the elderly, the sick, the lame and the lazy. The best that the Elf pedlar is able to manage is to acquire a pitch fork and inspire some old ladies into knitting him a jumper.

Heinrich, the young herdsman, is by now frantic to escape the village. He spends most of the day going house to house, searching their contents and opening boxes and barrels in the hope of locating an axe to build a raft. Unfortunately all the skilled hands who could have helped construct a raft have either already fled or have been killed and worse still, most of their tools have gone with them.

The rest of the group spend man the day manning the barricades and keeping watch for anything coming out of the forest; having spent the entire night awake and alert they now catch up on some much needed sleep by using a four hour guard rotation with half their numbers sleeping in the two nearby rear cottages.

At half six in the evening Cadrigar’s sharp elven eyes detect movement somewhere in the scrubland between the village and the forest. Looking more intently he makes out the form of first one then several more beastmen crawling on their hands and knees through the long grass. The pedlar alerts the rest of the guard to the presence of the threat and Ulric, who is standing on a cottage roof, attempts to fire an arrow at one of the beastman but in doing so breaks his bowstring; he is then forced to utilise his crossbow. The beggar fires a couple of bolts and manages to strike a target, making one of the creature bellow in pain. The beastman reconnaissance group realises they have been discovered and signal back to their compatriots hidden in the forest with a series of horn blows.

A line of twenty beastmen suddenly emerge from the forest and march towards the village and the rear defences at a steady and disciplined rate. As they near, Uric and Fickenja begin to loose a series of arrows at them with varying success – managing to graze a few and seriously injure one of their opponents. The sound of the frantic shouting and bellowing eventually rouses Heinrich from his futile search for woodworking tools and he races back to the defences.

Once the line of beastmen reaches within twenty foot of the barricades they break into a charge and the group quickly give the command to set fire to the pitch and tar treated barricade. Cadrigar and one of the warriors of Ulric instantly put torches to the wood without delay and the structure erupts in a eight foot wall of intense fire; Durgar and two of the young militia men are not able to clear the barricade in time and are seriously burnt by the flames. The dwarven pit-fighter drops and rolls across the ground trying to put out the flames but suffers severe wounds before he manages to snuff them out.

The beastmen are held at bay by the wall of flame and Ulric, Fickenja and Heinrich continue to rain arrows and crossbow bolts down on them through the fire, killing or injuring a great many of them. Struggling to see past the flames several members of the group manage to discern Grimalpapa, the dread Chaos sorcerer and commander, stood at the forest edge, surrounded by beastmen. Timo Graf, the Chaos warrior, stands nearby and is directing another line of twenty beastmen and marauders into the village.

Cadrigar also sees with alarm that the firewall is also setting alight the outer perimeter wooden walls on both sides of the village flanks – which threatens to turn the entire settlement in a raging inferno. The elf pedlar races back to the jetty as fast as he can and manages to convince the frightened crowd that they must help fight the fire and save their village and themselves; the villagers duly run back into the village to get buckets of water while Cardigar returns to the rear defences.

The arrows continue to fly down onto the beastmen and the group’s ammunition begins to rapidly deplete. Ulric decides on a solo plan of drastic action to get over one of the defensive flank walls and attempt to sneak over to the forest edge and assassinate the Chaos commander. Father Lucius and Sir Gregor stand to the side of one of the rear cottages, praying and meditating intently, and when asked by a frantic Heinrich why they aren’t doing anything to help the battle they respond that they are waiting for when the barricade breaks before unleashing and spending their powers.

As the last arrows fly from the bows and crossbows of the group they see that the second line of beastmen and marauders join up with the first group on the other side of the burning barricade and moments later the night sky above begins to turn a series of strange hues comprising of vibrant greens, pinks and purples amidst rolling clouds which emit a series of forked lightning bolts. Through the scene of battle a couple of the group manages to see Grimalpapa lift his staff into the air, completing the last part of his summoning spell and a funnel of thick multi-coloured smoke rapidly descends from the heavens into the middle of the scrubland and a horrific feathered bird-like monstrosity, standing over twelve feet tall, emerges from it and utters an ear-shattering scream of rage and fury that rends the air.

banners1lg.jpg

View
Part Fourteen
Waiting for the Man

john_blanche_mcdeath.jpg

Confronted with the terrible scene of the goblin wolf riders riding through the crowd of panicked evacuees, hacking them down with spear and sword, Jeffric leaps off the raft and charges up the bank with sword drawn. The other five men on the raft follow him although only three of them have weapons. The goblins are absorbed in the mad glee of their slaughter and fail to notice the men’s arrival and the woodsman is able to kill one of the wolves instantly, sending its rider tumbling. The other goblins turn and attack the small party while the villagers scatter, except one man, running for their lives.

A deadly battle ensues with the seven men fighting frantically against the ferocious beasts and their evil riders. Splitting into two groups they face up to the goblins, seeking to take out the wolves first, and blows are exchanged. Three of the men are killed outright in the battle and another severely injured before all the evil creatures are all dealt with, leaving Jeffric, who has received a couple of light wounds himself, to bring order to the chaos of the aftermath.

Organising the nearest of the villagers into search parties, Jeffric waits half an hour before he decides that they all need to get away from the forest at the soonest opportunity for fear of more greenskins turning up – he decides that those who have chosen to flee into the forest for safety will have to be left to their fates. At three o’clock in the afternoon Jeffric leads 16 men, women and children past eight bodies of the fallen and keep along the river bank, heading north for Reiksdorf.

While Carla waits in the Markt Platz she is approached by Tariq Qaleem who engages her in casual conversation before he tells the young mage that Tarquinius would like to meet with her and the rest of the group as soon as possible in the Green Dragon. With no better options open to her Carla decides to make her way over to the tavern where she finds the Merchant Guild’s fixer in conversation with Karl. Speaking with Tarquinius she is told that one of the major patrons has a very important and urgent job for the group following their excellent performance in Der Kopf. Carla asks if she can start the job on her own but is told that the majority of the group is required – she then asks that instead of being paid for the job if the Guild can do something in regards to the current situation with Dolwen’s abduction; Tarquinius assures the Tilean mage that this is possible.

With a clear plan of action before her but no idea of when the rest of the group will return to Reiksdorf Carla is at a lose end and she asks Tarquinius if there is anything she can do to earn some money and he tells her that she should speak with Karl as there are more packages to be delivered around town. Speaking with the barman Carla learns the details of the deliveries – deliver two packages to Elke Klein in Linz Strasse and Bill Becker in Der Dunkel Schlupfwinkel and take payment of 60gp, keeping 20gp for herself.

Striking out from the Green Dragon Carla heads across a bridge into Der Drachen and struggles to locate the first address, quickly becoming lost in the warren of worker’s hovels. She stumbles into a drunkard who she asks for directions – the man offers to lead her to her destination and the young mage accepts. It’s only when they go down steps and arrive at the filthy canal that Carla senses things are not right; before she can say anything the drunk punches her in the stomach and demands she hand over her bag and money. Moving swiftly the mage touches the drunk and casts a Sleep spell and seconds later the inebriated attacker falls to the ground fast asleep; Carla then quickly makes her escape and searches the nearby streets, eventually stumbling across a small factory where a worker finally points her in the right direction.

Arriving on Linz Street Carla knocks on a couple of doors until she finally locates No.8 which is answered by a small boy. The mage asks the boy to fetch Elke and a short time later a very rough looking fishwife comes to the open door and manages to utter the correct passphrase – Carla tells the woman that she has a parcel for her and that she requires payment for it; the woman disappears back into the house to apparently retrieve the payment. Minutes pass as Carla waits on at the open doorway when suddenly a mean-looking young man comes running down the hall and attacks her, wildly swinging his fists at her. The young mage reels back and attempts to speak to the man but he keeps swinging so she finally draws her sword and threatens to strike him – the man believes her threat and quickly runs off. Puzzled at what has just occurred, Carla goes back to the doorway and calls out to the woman and the boy but nothing stirs inside the house. After the minutes pass by the mage ventures into the house and begins to wonder from room to room in the ramshackle and dingy abode. Moving upstairs she encounters a couple of closed doors and draws her sword and goes through the nearest one; within she finds the boy sat on the bed and the woman stood next to it, looking pensive and guilty. Intent on earning her coin and completing the job, Carla demands payment from the woman, who quickly realises that her plan for robbery has gone awry, miraculously produces the money from under the mattress. Carla promptly leaves and heads for Der Dunkel Schlupfwinkel.

Making her way across Der Drachen to the working class tavern, Carla enters and quickly discerns her target via a quick chat with the surprised barman (he doesn’t understand why such a charming and decent seeming woman would want to associate with a low life like Becker). The mage walks over to the seedy-looking man who is busy talking with a younger man in a corner snug. Carla uses the pass phrase on the older man, Bill, which has the desired effect of making the older man dismiss his companion. A quick exchange of the package is made under the table and Carla sadly fails to realise that she has been short-changed by 5gp. With her delivery mission completed Carla returns to the Green Dragon and makes payment to Karl before paying for a room for the night which is fast approaching.

Over in Reiksdorf the other half of the group spend their day largely manning the barricades watching out for any signs of the chaos threat. Discussing their situation it suddenly occurs to Cadrigar that the group has forgotten to do something important – they have failed to contact the Thieves Guild contact, Nyle Lunt, as Cornelius had instructed them to do. Thinking about the storming of Der Silber Kessel and its subsequent theft, the elf pedlar wonders if the mysterious Lunt has had anything to do with it. To settle matters, Cadrigar sets off for the jetty and begins to question people there whether they know Nyle Lunt and he fails miserably – largely due to him having developed an understanding of human townfolk but having almost no experience of human villagers and their strange ways. Having learnt nothing after questioning a couple of people the elf returns to the rear defences, defeated.

At least half the group no longer want to remain in the besieged village, the Fledermaus siblings and Heinrich are beginning to lose their nerve. Durgar, the dwarf ex-pitfighter is adamant that they should all stay and help defend the village against the foul forces of Chaos and help to save the lives of the villagers. The herdsman desperately scours the small village looking for tools to build a raft despite lacking any woodcrafting or boatbuilding skills. Night comes and the hours pass uneventfully as all members of the group scan the nearby woodlands waiting for the imminent attack. At ten o’clock a thunder storm rends the sky and is shortly followed by lightening – to Durgar, Cadrigar and Ulric’s enhanced night vision they observe a swirl of wondrous colours, pinks, purples and greens, colliding in the far distant horizon – out in the depths of the woodlands something unholy cries and screeches into the night. The group forgoes its routine of watches and rest as they expect an attack at any moment. As dawn subsequently greets their weary and tired eyes they all realise that the attack has not come and they have survived another 24 hours in the village.

At 10 o’clock at night a very tired group of villagers, many of them women and children, arrive at the outer walls of Reiksdorf. Jeffric leads them all along the length of the wall to the southern gate and knocks on the closed doorway; he is concerned that the injured man in his party is now very close to death following the arduous trek. A surprised guard opens a hatch and asks the woodsman what he wants; Jeffric tells the guard that he is from a village to the south that has been attacked by Orcs and that they are need of aid. Following his orders the young guard runs off to inform the guard commander who in turn informs the Palace guard. It is over forty minutes before the hatch in the gate is opened again and Jeffric observes a cart full of guardsmen arrive. Two imposing figures accompanied by a number of guards come and walk over to the gate. The man introduces himself as Captain Aldous, head of the Palace Guard and he asks a series of questions to Jeffric who is unable to say the name of the village he is from. The woodsman, in charge of a rag-tag band of scared and tired women and children and a near dead man, appears to be in some trouble and have some questions to answer.

Dwarf_banner_03.jpg

View
Part Thirteen
Operation Certain Death Part II?

john_blanche_ignorant_armies.jpg

Carla and Dolph return to Reiksdorf and the coach duly pulls up at the Temple of Verena. Inside the young cleric speaks with Sister Charlotte and relates their recent adventure in Little Hook to the priestess. Impressed with what she has been told about the Tilean wizard’s apprentice, Charlotte takes Carla upstairs to her office and makes the offer to sponsor her to be a Cleric of Verena. Carla mulls over the offer but in her heart she does not wish to be bound to any particular way of life and the restrictive rules of following a religious path – she decides to politely decline the offer and the priestess tells her to take her time and consider the offer. The priestess then gives Carla her 25gp pay for the job as well as a gift for saving Dolph’s life – “The Grace of the Just”, a magic ring. The Tilean mage leaves happy and makes her way to the Markt Platz and The Emporium where she uses some of her newly obtained monies to pay for another lesson from Grundolf. The Dwarf Alchemist teaches Carla “Wind Blast”, a spell that can knock an opponent down, and the young apprentice then buys some magical ingredients. As the day progresses she decides to make her way across town to Die Goblin Und Hammer and pays for a room for the night after making inquiries of the rest of her group’s whereabouts with Allen the barkeep.

The next day Carla makes her way back to The Emporium and asks Randall if he knows anyone who can take her across the river to Reikers Ferry. The proprietor tells Carla that it will probably be possible to bribe one of the ferrymen to break the quarantine and transport her to the beleaguered village but it will cost plenty of coin, something which she is running short of since she owes much of what she has to Fickenja for a previous loan. She convinces Randal to make enquiries around the Markt Platz to see if someone is prepared to hire her magical services in order to earn some coin.

Mathias, intent on spending the entire night sailing the villagers across to the other bank, sails the boat up to the jetty and Sven the Swimmer casts a rope across a mooring post. The boatman tells Nils and Marion that he will no longer need their services as he wants to make room for additional passengers aboard the small vessel. The two warriors of Ulric duly leap onto the jetty and try to make their way past the throng of desperate people only for the crowd to surge – a large group of men push their way past the queuing women and children and swarm aboard Der Silber Kessel, several people being knocked into the water in the process. As Nils and Marion draw their sword and desperately fight to hold back the panicked villagers several of the men who have stormed aboard the boat are following a weasily looking man’s orders to cut the mooring rope and push the vessel off – right in front of Mathias’s eyes Der Silber Kessel is commandeered from him and sailed away from Reikers Ferry.

Packed in on his dangerously overloaded vessel it quickly becomes apparent to the boatman that the weasily looking man, the same man who had sinisterly observed Jeffric and Mathias constructing a raft days before, is a member of the Thieves Guild. The thief is in fact Nyle Lunt, the guild’s representative in Reiker Ferry who Cornelius had instructed the group to liaise with – which they failed to do. As Lunt orders one of his men to take charge of the sail Mathias gives an order to Florian, the remaining warrior of Ulric, to attack. The five thieves pull their daggers and short swords and rush to attack the boatman. Florian strikes with fast and furious skill, beheading one of the thieves and seriously injuring another before being struck down himself when attacked by two of the men simultaneously. Mathias fights bravely but there are too many attackers and several savage blows from Lunt’s own sword cause him serious injury and knocks him unconscious. Leaving the boatman for dead the thieves sail to boat to Reiksdorf. One of the terrified passengers must have had a sudden attack of conscience as Mathias wakes up the next morning in the Hospital, relieved of all his belongings but thankfully still alive.

Back in the village the group set about preparing the defence against the next expected Chaos attack. Jeffric heads over to the jetty to speak with Oberon about securing a work party to gather pitch and tar for the defences and learns of the theft of Der Silber Kessel. Fickenja attempts to rally the much depleted and underage militia, which consists of eight teenagers, but the youngsters resist the strange woman’s attempts and she has to resort to Durgar’s heavy handed action to get the majority of them to assist in the construction of the defences. Over the next four hours the group plus some of the militiamen and four warriors of Ulric pick up the palisades, the remnants the rear fortifications, off the ground and stack them from the left wall to the right, four beams high and then coat them in tar.

The defenders then assume positions with several staying by the newly constructed barricade, ready to set it alight in the event of an attack, while the remainder are positioned either in or on top of the two rear-most cottages. They spend the night on watch taking shifts to ensure that they all at least get some sleep. Dawn comes and there has been no sign of anything stirring in the opposite forest; Fickenja heads over to the Temple of Taal and speaks with Gregor, who is alarmed at the news that the majority of the villagers have not been evacuated as planned and that the group’s vessel has been stolen. Fickenja asks the Champion of Law why he thinks the forces of Chaos didn’t attack as expected and he informs her that it is his belief that the shock and damage caused by their raid on the Chaos encampment has made Grimalpappa reconsolidate his forces – the group’s actions have bought them some time but it’s clear that their foe will be back, the only question is when.

Most of the group decide to remain manning the rear defences in case of an unexpected daylight attack. Jeffric opts to head back to the jetty and recruit more of the locals, this time to help him construct a raft. Using his wood-crafting and leadership skills he manages to construct a makeshift raft capable of carrying six men, just after midday; there then ensues a heated debated amongst the locals as to who will get a place aboard the raft – to solve the issue and prevent a fight breaking out Jeffric quickly picks five men and immediately sets off. Heinrich learns of this later, much to his annoyance, and attempts to gather some of the men to construct a second raft but the remaining men are so disillusioned that they can’t be bothered.

On the Reik Jeffric finds it a struggle to steer his rudimentary vessel and the fast flowing waters quickly drag him off course and away from his goal of Reiksdorf. The woodsman and the other man desperately paddle and attempt to right their course but it is several miles later before they manage to hit the opposite bank, right at the beginning of a large forest. Bizarrely, as the fates would have it, this is the exact spot where Mathias had deposited the evacuated villagers the day before. As the men scrabble for the muddy bank they witness a commotion of running and screaming and they see that men, women and children are fleeing in all directions as five goblins mounted on great wolves ride amongst them, slaying them with sword and spear. Jeffric urges the men with him to get ashore and help save the unfortunate refugees.

Khorne.jpg

View
Part Twelve
Possibly not the brightest Boatman

john_blanche_ogres_tower.jpg

The arrow strikes Dolph and he falls back with a cry. Three of the four assailants then charge towards the injured cleric of Verena and his companion, Carla. The Tilean mage concentrates, uttering the words of her newly learnt spell, and manages to generate a powerful fireball that slams into the young man carrying the scythe, killing him instantly and scorching his partner, who abruptly turns and flees. Only two combatants are left – the older man armed with a bow and a much younger man with a sword; the former fires another arrow and it strikes Carla in her right arm, breaking her concentration and ruining her next spell. The young man then closes on the mage and swings his sword at her, fortunately missing – Dolph rushes in and strikes the boy with his dagger before being brought down by another well aimed arrow to the midriff. Carla is left to fend for herself and exchanges a string of parrying blows with the young man while the older man covers the distance and joins in the hand to hand combat. All the inexperienced combatants flail with their blades for several seconds before Carla accidentally drops her blade and is then struck in her left arm trying to pick it up. She retreats and tries to cast another spell but is unable to perform it under such pressure and is then struck on the head with a glancing blow that sends her crashing to the ground. The older man moves in to deliver a killing blow but is suddenly pelted with rotten fruit and stones as a crowd of angry villagers appear, shouting abuse and threats at the man, who turns out to be Christof Taumler, the main suspect of the murder of Ambrose Bauer. The village has witnessed Christof’s act of unwarranted brutality against a priest of justice and his female companion, and this serves to cement the community’s belief that they are looking at a murderer – they warn him to be gone lest they hang him and he duly turns and flees with his son.

The villagers take the injured cleric and Carla to the tavern where a local hedge witch, Maria, administers healing drafts and mutters spells to re-invigorate the injured pair. A couple of hours later both Dolph and Carla are well enough to sit up and converse with one another. The young cleric believes that they have achieved what they came out to the village to do and that they should return to town and report the turn of events to the High Priestess; Carla is more than eager to agree to this and they both gladly jump into their coach and begin the return journey.

Across the Reik, deep in the Chaos haunted forests, several miles outside of Reikers Ferry, the Klum brothers carefully, under the cover of darkness, retrieve the unconscious and near-dead adventurers – Heinrich, Durgar and Ulric, and drag them over to a small cart concealed a short distance away. The two brothers then spend the next few hours carefully picking their route back in the darkness to the village while avoiding any enemy patrols and encampments. They transport their precious cargo straight to the Temple of Ulric where Cadrigar and Gregor staggered in several hours earlier. Inside the temple Father Lucius and Galina once more provide emergency aid in the form of magic and prayers throughout the night to help revive the group and return them to good health in time for the morning.

Back in Reiksdorf Fickenja and Mathias awake after an uneventful night in Der Dunkel Schlupfwinkel and after breakfasting decide to walk across town to Die Goblin Und Hammer tavern in the hope of locating Carla. Upon arrival they discover from the barkeep, Allen, that Carla hasn’t been around for a couple of days so the pair opt to pay a visit to the nearby Temple of Shallya in hope of locating Ulric’s parcel delivery from the tailor’s. After questioning the temple attendant they learn that Ulric’s imprecise delivery instructions have probably resulted in the parcel being intercepted outside by one of the many thieves or beggars operating in the area. The pair decide that there is nothing else to do but press on and return to the Temple of Ulric to collect any fighters that Brother Jacob has managed to recruit for them.

After checking in briefly with Jeffric at the boat on the docks, Fickenja and Mathias arrive at the Temple of Ulric and speak with Brother Jacob who informs them that he has managed to convince five worshippers to go with them to Reikers Ferry; the priest introduces the five men – Vlad, a Kislevite, Lars a Norseman, Nils, Florian and Marion, who are all locals. All the fighters are keen to travel to the besieged village and fight the enemy and Mathias briefs them up on what they will face while they walk over to the dock. As the party boards Der Silber Kessel a messenger boy comes running up to Fickenja and relays the message that Tarquinius would like to speak to the group at The Green Dragon at their soonest convenience; Fickenja is tempted to go but this will mean halting the transport over to Reikers Ferry and they quickly learn that some of the fighters are not prepared to wait around the area for a couple of hours – this forces their decision and Fickenja dispatches the boy with a message that the group is currently busy and will drop by once they have conducted their current business. They then cast off and sail across the river and forty minutes later they are pulling into the beleaguered village where the desperate crowds of villagers are still crammed onto the jetty. Mathias quickly realises the danger the crowd represents – the three have already decided that they will use their vessel to evacuate all the stranded villagers in a series of trips but the frantic people may swamp the boat in their desperation and either sink or overturn it.

At 2pm Mathias steers the boat up to the jetty and instructs Vlad and Lars to disembark and prevent anyone from boarding. The boatman quickly moors the vessel and then stands on the prow and addresses the desperate crowd, having to rely on the fighters to quieten the mass down to be heard. Mathias tells the assembled people that they are there to rescue them all and that there is no need to panic – several people attempt to bribe their way onboard and the boatman’s attempts to quieten and convince them to relent fail and it is left to the quick wits and ferocity of Vlad and Lars to re-establish order and keep the crowd at bay with the Norseman even sticking his sword in a man’s leg. Fortunately for the group the village elder, Oberon, appears and manages to instil order amongst the crowd and agrees a transportation strategy with them – women and children will be transported first and the first load is quickly boarded. Five women and ten children are accompanied by Sven, a strong swimmer with two lengths of rope to help with the landings. Fickenja, Vlad, Lars and Jeffric leave the boat and make their way over to the Temple of Taal while Mathias, Florian, Nils and Marion plus the fifteen women and children quickly set sail for the other side of the Reik.

Fickenja and her party are reunited with the rest of the group who have been recovering in the Temple of Taal; they all recount their recent exploits to one another and it becomes clear that those who nearly met their end fighting Grimalpappa bear some ill will towards Gregor and Cadrigar. The group debates their next steps – the main reason for the group being in the beleaguered village is their insidious mission to assassinate Gregor in order to secure the release of their boss, Dolwen, who is being held hostage by the Thieves Guild. They consider several different options open to them and are unsure which option is best but all of them doubt their ability to take down the Lawful champion and so still hope to involve Gregor in a desperate defence of the village against the horde of Chaos in the prospect of the forces of darkness doing their dirty work for them; they also plan, since the village’s population will soon be evacuated, to set the whole village on fire in order to incinerate their Chaos foes in an inferno.

Mathias knows that sailing Der Silber Kessel directly to the docks of Reiksdorf would be to risk arrest by the city guard for breaking the Palace’s quarantine of Reikers Ferry; he therefore decides that the best course of action is to transport the populace of the village five miles to the south of the town. This will mean a hard trek for the men, women and children, but Mathias quickly rationalises that at least they will all be alive. After sailing past several miles of muddy banks and grassland the boatman spots a large forest that reaches right up to the water’s edge and decides that he has found an ideal unloading point; he instructs Sven the swimmer to get ashore and tie the end of the rope to a sturdy tree. The experienced swimmer has no trouble with his task and a short time later there is a 20ft line of rope between the shore and the boat. Mathias then foolishly instructs one of the women to take a child over the rope by herself, which she attempts, only to quickly lose her grip and plunge under the waves – Sven has to jump into the river and swim over to her; miraculously the man manages to rescue both the woman and the girl and drag them to the shore. Nils, Florian and Marion berate the boatman for his stupidity and instruct him to sail the boat closer, which he manages without grounding the vessel. The fighters then clamber outside the boat and form a human chain and guide the women and children safely ashore. With the fifteen villagers now on the other side of the Reik Mathias quickly turns the boat around and sets sail for Reikers Ferry, leaving Florian behind to protect the unloaded party.

Mathias and the boat arrive back in Reikers Ferry an hour later at half four and decide to exploit the daylight and waste no time, quickly loading another group of villagers. This time they include five men in the transport to protect the party on the other bank. Moments later Der Silber Kessel is once more plying across the mighty Reik and an hour later it arrives at the same spot and finds that Florian has a small fire going – Mathias manages to expertly sail the boat close into the shore again. Using the same techniques as before the fighters safely convey the villagers from the boat to the shore where they join their brethren’s makeshift encampment. With another load successfully transported but with approximately seventy more villagers left, Mathias tells the group to make their way south and then turns the boat around yet again and sails it back to Reikers Ferry where they arrive just as the day’s light dies at half seven.

Icon_WoodElf.png

View
Part Eleven
A Hero's Death

drastic_plastic.jpg

Timo Graf clambers out from the ruins to see what all the commotion is and observes the young villager, Martin, who was recently befriended by his master, squirming and thrashing across the ground with two arrow shafts imbedded in him while his Master’s familiar, Greek prances and screams for help – more worrying is the sight of an Elf crouched over the youth, an armoured knight slowly lumbering forward with a double handed sword and the immediate threat of a screaming dwarf charging towards him.

The Chaos Champion has little time to think, all he can do is react and he steadfastly marches forward to meet the dwarf’s bezerker attack. There is a clash of weapons as Timo attempts to cleave the dwarf with his mighty axe – but the determined orange-haired dwarf’s attack is sure and Durgar manages to drive his pike into the Chaos warrior’s flank. A counter blow hits the dwarf and sends him sprawling.

Inside the ancient ruins the dread sorcerer, Grimalpappa’s careful preparation for a powerful enchantment to aid that night’s attack on the nearby village is ruined by the completely unexpected sounds of conflict from outside. Incredulous at the interruption he dispatches his two pets to attack wherever has had the temerity to launch a raid on his temple. The two Chaos spawn come flying out of the ruins with their tentacles flailing and maws chomping – the unnatural sight of them drives terror into the hearts of Heinrich and Ulric who are busy readying their bows. Cadrigar, having risen to provide aid to Durgar finds himself in combat with the multi-coloured terror and manages to defend himself with lightening reflexes against several poisonous bite attacks that would surely have proved fatal. The other horror races at Sir Gregor who manages to cleave the creature in two with a mighty swipe of his fearsome blade. Heinrich gathers himself enough to fire a fatal arrow at the prone form of Martin Wulfe before he and Ulric turn their arrows on the familiar which still prances and calls for help.

Grimalpappa himself emerges from the ruins and surveys the battle scene and notes the two men armed with bows in the distance. He uses his staff to caste a well practised summoning spell and seconds later a Blue Horror materialises right in front of Heinrich and Ulric, further filling the two men with terror. The horrifying lesser demon lunges at Ulric and the beggar drops his bow and defends himself with his sword. Heinrich takes aim at the sorcerer and fires an arrow which hits the target in the arm; Grimalpappa, observing the approach of the Lawful Champion, Gregor, and realising him to be the bigger threat, manages to conjure a fireball and strike the knight. Sir Gregor reels back and moments later another fireball strikes him, bathing him in flames; the tired Champion realises then that he has committed a grave error in strategy in undertaking this strike – he is still tired from the previous night’s combat and is under-powered. Timo, having knocked the dwarf down rains blow after blow down on his opponent and finally manages to land a severely damaging blow.

Unbeknownst to all parties, the group did not venture on their own into the forest depths; they were followed by Golo and Jonas Klum, disciples of the druid priestess, Galina. The two brothers are lay priests and pupils of druidic magic and they observe the desperate fight and quickly conclude that the forces of Chaos vastly out number and out-power the heroic group. They cast a powerful illusion spell and moments later Timo believes that he has severed the dwarf’s head with a mighty strike – Durgar for his part, falls unconscious having been struck by the glancing blow.

Fireball follows fireball and Gregor is driven further back, unable to concentrate and cast his own spell. Cadrigar desperately flails with the spawn, neither able to successively land a strike. Heinrich keeps firing arrows at the sorcerer and Ulric manages to plunge his blade into the Blue Horror’s head, killing the foul creature instantly. Grimalpappa finally turns his attention away from the Lawful Knight and concentrates on the young herdsman who is determinedly trying to kill him with his arrows. The sorcerer has already expended a lot of his power and decides to use a more powerful and deadly spell to deal with the threat – he casts the Transformation of Tzeentch and the multicoloured wave travels out towards Heinrich. The shock of the magical waves knock the herdsman out cold but thanks to the nearby Klum brothers a successful counter spell and illusion spell is cast and to all present it appears that a truly horrendous fate has befallen Heinrich as his body appears to swell and transform into a host of hideous mutations.

A number of beastmen, having been woken from their slumbers by the sounds of fighting emerge from behind the temple and rush in to join the fray. Ulric witnessing the seemingly awful demise of his compatriot fires another arrow which finds its mark, hitting the sorcerer in the same arm as before which serves to generate the unexpected and long forgotten emotion of fear into the minion of Chaos’s foul heart; at that point, wounded and having expended much of his powers, he fears for his life and screams at Timo to deal with the threat while calling several of the approaching beastmen to come over and shield him from the arrows of his foes. Sir Gregor finally manages to utter his battle prayers and his mighty blade once more springs into flaming power, but he too is experiencing the unfamiliar sensation of knowing that he is gravely wounded and very close to death – he calls for retreat and Cadrigar joins him in a tactical retreat. The spawn is still flailing and attempting to gnaw at the elf who is incapable of striking with a blade; Sir Gregor finally steps in and makes short work of the foul creature.

Ulric, having witnessed the terrible death of Heinrich, the arrival of beastmen reinforcements and the flight of Gregor and Cadrigar finally loses heart himself and turns and flees. Timo races towards the beggar and swings his mighty axe at him, cutting into his leg, bringing the young man down. Golo and Jonas again come to the rescue and cast a spell to render Ulric unconscious and put the image of his death in the Chaos Champion’s mind. Gregor and Cadrigar manage to escape in the confusion, retreating back into the woods and retracing their path whilst avoiding the beastman encampment they encountered earlier; several hours later they emerge from the trees outside of Reikers Ferry.

Back in Reiksdorf Finckenja and Matthias make their way across town before darkness falls and reach Der Dunkel Schlupfwinkel tavern, located in a quiet corner of Der Drachern. They find the tavern dreary and unlively – its patronage is light and no bauds play to enliven the scene. They speak with the bar maid about the mundane troubles of the town before asking about Old Krieger, the mercenary captain; the barmaid points them in the direction of a surely middle aged man sat nursing an ale at the bar. The beggar and boatman make an approach and quickly discover that the weary and sceptical mercenary will only talk to them if they buy him some more ale, which they duly do, wisely engaging him in small talk, but less wisely winding him up with some ill chosen words. Fickenja struggles to find adequate questions to pose to the man but does manage to learn that he was hired by the Palace to venture south where his band of mercenaries were cut down by an overwhelming number of Orcs. Old Krieger states that there are far more Orcs to the south than is currently believed by the townsfolk and that it’s only a matter of time before they are at the town gates; he also adds that if he had his time again to venture south he would ensure he had scouts and a powerful mage in his company. Fickenja is fixated on obtaining help for Reikers Ferry and tries her damndest to convince the veteran swordsman to join them in the morning when they return to the besieged village – Krieger isn’t interested in the slightest, simply telling the beggar that the village is already doomed and that anyone attempting to hold back the Chaos horde will surely die.

To the south in the village of Little Hook Carla and Dolph speak with Boris Fischer, the farmer responsible for creating the guard rota for the defensive wall. The old farmer is wary of the outsiders and has no wish to put himself and his family at risk by revealing what has recently occurred; but the lure of gold proves strong and Carla manages to convince him to give up the rota from a couple of nights ago and learns that Christof Taumler, the man suspected of killing Ambrose Bauer, as well as two young men, Ludwig Kammer and Ernst Lange, were all on the wall at the time of the farmer’s death. The cleric and mage visit Ludwig and try to convince the young man to tell them what occurred when Ambrose died but the man is clearly in fear of telling the truth and he tells them both that the village has its own justice and rules that a quite different from those of the town.

Disgusted at what they have heard but unable to convince Ludwig to give them something concrete Carla and Dolph head over to Ernst’s farm where they find him sharpening some tools in the back field. The young farmer is also scared of telling the strangers what he knows but Carla does manage to appeal to the man’s conscious and he tells them prior to their departure that they should check the nature of the arrow that killed Ambrose Bauer as it was clearly not an Orc’s weapon as reported. Satisfied that they now have a clear lead the pair decide to head over to the tavern to ask a few more questions of the locals but as they leave the farm they observe four men, carrying a sword sickle, scythe and bow, walking towards them. Carla and Dolph fail to see any threat and move as if to walk by; the older man with the bow, without warning lifts his weapon and fires an arrow, hitting Dolph in the body.

helbrecht.jpg

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.