The Veiled Blade

Part Ten

Operation Certain Death?

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Sir Gregor, Durgar, Cadrigar, Ulric and Heinrich stay stock still, staring at the group of beastmen. Heinrich readies his bow while Ulric un-slings his crossbow, both intent at firing at the group. Cadrigar and Durgar are less sure of the wisdom of such a move, recalling their recent encounter with beastmen and their failure to slay a single one of their foes. After a brief debate they all agree to simply avoid danger and try and creep past the beastmen – cautiously, keeping down wind and careful not to step on any twigs the five men manage to slowly ease by undetected.

They continue their journey going deeper into the forest, all about them are still signs of the beastman horde’s passage. As they carefully press on one of them spots something moving up ahead and they come to a stop and creep closer, weapons at the ready. Heinrich finally catches sight of the creature and it appears to be a strangely green-hued dog with red eyes; the Sheppard is well experienced in handling animals and so he opts to approach the Chaos Hound and attempt to befriend it. The beast growls and prepares to attack and Ulric firs on it, hitting it in the foreleg while Heinrich turns and runs. Durgar rushes in and delivers a killing blow, making short work of the foul animal. The group gather around the corpse of the slain beast and are studying when another Chaos Hound comes rushing out from the undergrowth and charges at Cadrigar. The elf pedlar is exceptionally lucky as the deformed dog’s bite only causes a grazing injury and its scorpion stinger misses. Ulric and Heinrich let rip with their bows and Durgar slashes with his sword and the creature is quickly dispatched with minimal injury incurred.

Taking stock of the situation they are determined to continue and once more continue their journey; another mile later they hear a braying noise and turn in time to see a monstrous creature, half-man and half horse, clutching a broadsword, come charging at them. Durgar, Ulric and Cadrigar are all bunched up and in the direct path of the Chaos Centaur; it attempts to strike Ulric several times but repeatedly fails to land a single blow as a flurry of blows are rained down on its head and flank. With three defenders frantically slashing away with their blades the monstrous guardian of Chaos quickly succumbs to its wounds, leaving the path the Chaos encampment open to the group.

After walking another mile the five men can smell and hear the camp long before they can see it. A general hub-bub and a horrendous animal reek emanates through the woods. Cautiously the group edge forward and Heinrich scales a tree and manages only to catch sight of a narrow break in the woods ahead and what appears to be the jutting edges of some sort of ruin to the right. Cadrigar opts to climb another tree in order to get a better view, which he does – he can make out the majority of the encampment in which over a hundred beastmen currently slumber, resting before nightfall when they will march once more. Clear on their destination the group slowly and carefully creep around to the right so that they approach the rear of the ruins. As they near their target the trees thin out and they can spot a young man in peasants clothes sat on a rock, reading an old looking book, laughing and giggling intensely to himself – he is also accompanied by a small winged green monkey-like creature which prances and chitters next to him. The group quickly conclude that the young man must be Martin Wulfman, the local simpleton who has befriended the mysterious Grimalpapa. Without any hesitation Ulric and Heinrich once more ready their bows and this time no one speaks up to question the wisdom of their actions. Two arrows flash through the air and strike the man in the arm and body, taking him completely unawares. The young man collapses to the ground and begins to thrash around while the while the small monkey-like creature begins to scream shrilly. Sir Gregor, Durgar and Cadrigar run forward, the elf keen to examine their victim while the dwarf prepares to meet anyone emerging from the temple. The elf pedlar observes that the young man’s eyes are pupil-less shifting multi-colours of the spectrum and odd bony growths appear to be emerging from the sides of his face and head. As Durgar runs past he sees a shape emerge from the shadows of a open passageway in the back of the ruins and moments later the huge form of an armour-clad brightly coloured Chaos Warrior with a fearsome axe steps into view and balefully glares at the dwarf with murderous rage.

Carla travels with the young cleric of Verena, Dolph, out through the south gate of Reiksdorf and their coach continues for several miles through gentle hills and woodlands until it reaches long stretches of tilled fields interrupted by the odd stone wall and small farmhouse. Dolph relates the joys and meaning of a life spent following the goddess of Justice and also reveals that he hasn’t travelled to the village of Little Hook for over two years. The coach pulls up outside a rather ramshackle tavern that sits at the heart of the farmland village; stepping out the coach Dolph exclaims his surprise at seeing a very tall rudely constructed ten foot high wooden fence running across a couple of fields in the distance – this was not here the last time he was in the village. They head inside the tavern where they meet the barkeep and make casual conversation with him; the young cleric asks about the wall and is told that the small farming village has been under intermittent greenskin attack for the last few months and seven locals have been killed in scouting raids as the creatures have emerged from the nearby forest. Dolph asks where he can find the individual he has be sent out to meet – Ambrose Bauer – he is shocked when the barman reveals that the farmer was killed two days before. Carla and the cleric head off to the nearby Bauer farmstead, which happens to be the site of the great wooden wall; Bauer’s widow reveals that her late husband was having problems with the neighbouring farmer, Christof Taumler, who is suspected of moving the shared field markers during the construction of the border wall and stealing over a hundred feet of land. The wife reveals that her husband was killed by an arrow while he was conducting his allotted slot of guarding the wall and she believes that Christof did it and passed it off as an act of the greenskins. Carla and Dolph set off to the man who is in charge of producing the guard rota, Boris Fischer, in order to question him about who was on guard when Ambrose died.

Fickenja, Matthias and Jeffric manage to steer their roughly constructed raft across the Reik and land a short distance from where the Silber Kessel is moored. Returning to the group’s vessel Matthias relieves the kid sitting his boat and manages to persuade Jeffric to stay and watch the boat while he and Fickenja make their way to the Temple of Ulric a small distance away. They enter the god of Winter, Wolves and Battle’s temple and observe the scarcely populated inner sanctum complete with fire pit, burning ceremonious flame and murals of warfare. The meet with the priest, Brother Jacob, and relay Father Lucius’ message of help and the true situation of Reikers Ferry and the Chaos attacks. The priest of Ulric is shocked at what he hears and tells the pair that there is only a small number of worshippers currently present in his temple but he will talk to them all that evening and try and convince them to lend a hand in defending the beleaguered village – he approves of the duo’s plan to secure armed help but warns them of the danger of their plan to take the Silber Kessel across the river to the village and smuggle villagers back, breaking the Palace’s quarantine. The pair leave the temple after having agreed to returning the next morning to collect any willing volunteers from the worshippers. They opt to cross town and visit Der Goblin Und Hammer and approach Grundolf, the mercenary captain, and enquire about hiring some of his men but are duly laughed at when they reveal that they have only 10gp – the cost of hiring one of the skilled dwarf fighters is 50gp per day. They leave empty handed and head of across town in the dark to Der Dunkel Schlupfwinkel to meet with the other mercenary captain they have heard about – Old Krieger.

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