Following a hard weeks graft on the construction sight the gang are keen to get back to sailing up the Reik. The weather has taken a turn, dark clouds brood on the horizon and it’s been raining all morning.
Wandy’s in his cabin with Elvis flicking through his newly found book on astronomy and the erratic patterns of Morslieb, Gnoblar’s cramming hard on his medical studies and Reni is doing an inventory on her supplies. Rowlocks takes his usual place at the helm and Werner keeps him company on deck in the rain.
Shortly after lunchtime, the Jolly Nobber approaches a tight bend on the Reik and vision of the bend is obscured by the forest on either side. Before they know it a massive trade barge comes careering round the bend and its heading for the Nobber. Rowlocks takes in the river flow, trusts his instincts and pulls hard on the rudder. It’s close but his expertise allows him to swing the boat out of harms way. The big trader slows down, they exchange pleasentaries and continue on their way.
They continue up the Reik as the storm draws close, the rain intensifies and the wind picks up.
It’s nearly dusk. The storm catches up with the party and unleashes all its energy. Thunder booms, lightning cracks all over, the wind rages and the rain becomes torrential.
The party members downstairs are getting thrown about, Elvis whines whilst Rowlocks and Werner are battered by the storm on deck. To make it worse, ominous sounds can be heard from the forest along the banks, strangled baying and howls. Shapes flicker amongst the shadows. Rowlocks and Werner start to get a bad feeling about their current situation.
The river is raging, swollen and surging and Rowlocks is commanding the vessel with all of his skill.
It’s now dark and Rowlocks only has the dim moonlight and the lightning to navigate with. All of a sudden a massive lump of debris, a log from a fallen tree, speeds down the torrent heading straight for the Jolly Nobber. Rowlocks slams the boat to the side, avoiding the debris but losing control as the Reik takes over. He draws on all his experience and battles to regain the barge. Its heading for the bank as he just manages to pull her round.
The forest edges become even more foreboding, with beastial cries, shadows and movement. The river is out of control and the storm is furious. Decisions need to be made.
No one wants to get off the boat, what lurks in the forest? Fuck that, let’s sail on.
They press on, their lives essentially in Rowlock’s hands, but theres no better man for the job.
Just then, a vicious side wind catches the main sails and threatens to pull her over into the blackness of the Reik. There’s seconds before the plunge but Rowlock’s instincts kick in and he’s up and pulling down the sails before the boat tips. He and Werner manage to save the vessel and it’s back to the rudder for Rowlocks.
Half an hour of battling the ferocious storm in the dark and the swell on the river drags the boat threatening to smash it into the bank. Rowlocks loses control, Werner braces and shouts but at the last min the experienced boatman once again drags the barge away from danger by a sliver.
There’s no reprieve, if anything the rain gets worse – this cant go on..
Just then, the lightning seems to illuminate a building in the distance by the edge of the river. Focusing his eyes through the rain, Werner can just about make out some candle light in what appears to be windows.
They heads towards the silhouette, desperate for some sanctuary.
Theres a wharf next to a decrepit ferry and within a second Werner and Rowlocks are securing the Jolly Nobber to it as best they can. They head downstairs and rally the troops. No ones staying on the barge, they grab their cloaks, coats and weapons and jump off onto the wharf.
Just next to the wharf is a small building that Werner heads into. It’s been turned over and theres signs of a struggle, he finds a small purse and relieves it of its contents. Gnoblar follows a trail of blood that looks like someones been dragged out, but the trail goes cold in the rain and mud. They head towards a small side door in the 12 ft high wall. The door is open.
Now closer, they can tell it’s an inn – The Hooded Man.
Theres a selection of standard coaching inn type buildings but they decide to head straight for the main bar, lights and merriment can be heard from inside although the windows and doors are firmly locked, drawn and bolted.
Werner bangs on the door. The laughter stops, scraping sounds can be heard from inside but nothing happens. He bangs again.
The door unlocks and unbolts and slowly opens. A grotesquely fat blob of a man pulls open the door with a look of surprise. The party plea for shelter and he shows them into the bar. A man, dressed in a roadwarden’s uniform suspiciously eyes them as they enter and draws on his pipe.
“We don’t want any of you adventuring sort round here tonight,” says Otto the fat bastard. A big eyed individual thumps a mop around near the back of the bar.
The guys insist, and explain that the storm is raging and they simply seek shelter. Otto begrudgingly displays the worst customer service ever and goes to fetch them the drinks. Elvis shakes himself dry and further annoys the already annoyed landlord. The roadwarden wants to know what they’re doing here on such a night?
Werner calmly lies and explains that they are simple traders heading to Kemperbad. The roadwarden quizzes them about bandits in the area, they convince him they’re not bandits and Otto brings the drinks in dirty tankards.
“I suppose you want feeding too?” Says Otto and stomps off back towards the bar.
“I’ll have some stew!” Shouts Gnoblar – he likes his food. Some of the others are not sure about the current situation.
The storm was intense but the party feel far from relaxed. The roadwarden heads off through the back of the bar and the guys have a quiet chat.
It seems no ones hungry and suspicions are rife. Reni’s freaked out and doesnt like the place. The blood outside? None of it feels quite right.
They decide Gnoblar should head up to the bar and see if he can check out anything that’s going on. It’s a good idea and he overhears the conversation in the back.
“Dont panic Otto, they’re only travellers, Tzeentch will be pleased to have their souls as well.”
The roadwarden emerges and stares at Gnoblar, Gnoblar says he wants a drink and tries to look as much like hes innocently waiting at a bar as possible.
The evening continues and eventually they are shown upstairs to the dirtiest common room ever. They hear the door quietly lock.
The storms still battering the pub from the outside and everyone is a bit on edge. They decide to wait it out for a bit. Werner offers to take first watch, but no ones really sleeping. A while later, Werner hears footsteps outside the door and some goings on. He keeps listening.
Half hour or so later he can just perceive a strange, distant, discordant chanting. No one seems keen to leave the sanctity of the room. After a while, Werner has had enough, let’s go see. Seems the situation is getting steadily worse so they decide to do something about it.
Wandy rolls up his sleeves, closes his eyes and the tumblers in the lock turn. Let’s go.
Werner takes point (as always) and they head out into the corridor. They bypass the other top floor rooms as they are keen to get down stairs and closer to the chanting.
Down the stairs they creep, but the bar is empty and the sound is louder.
They head into the kitchen and notice a mop and bucket full of blood but nothing else. Rowlocks realises hes stood near a hatch to what must be the cellar. Down is always bad, so it must be down there.
They head down into the cellar and find the usual inn type stuff. They do notice a blood trail. Gnoblar follows the trail and finds a paving stone, a loose one, and they prise it up. The chanting is loud now and a ladder leads down into a very small room with an ajar door.
They pack into the room leaving Elvis above. Werner peeks into the next room and sees the source of the chanting. The “roadwarden”, the horrendously fat landlord, the guy with the eyes, another bloke in a cloak and there is some, what appears to be, tied up hostages,
Everyone steels themselves, Werner steps into the room.
The chanting reaches a raucous level and now he’s inside the room he can see what’s going on. The strangers are all hailing a large shimmering statue on a plinth.
Werner looks into the shifting void and the void stares back. The switching, shifting, colour changing, mutating swirl of symbols and shapes enters his mind. As the others pile in, the roadwarden plunges a knife into a bound victim at the front.
All hell breaks loose as the statue explodes into reality in the shape of a pink horror. With its head inside its chest and it’s long spindly, suckered arms, it screeches, twists and roars as it jumps straight at the roadwarden.
Werner, Rowlocks, Gnoblar and Reni are rooted to the spot in fear – but not Wandy. Wandy’s not fucking scared of demons.
The attention of the bad guys is the demon. Wandy bravely runs to the other side of the room and starts to untie one of the hostages. The roadwarden attacks the horror and the other bad guys move forward towards the demon.
Rowlocks snaps out of it, grabs his bow and heads to the steps at the back of the room to get a shot on the demon but its chaotic and they whistle past.
Gnoblar is next to pull himself together, he joins Rowlocks on the steps and fires his crossbow into the fray. Otto joins the roadwarden with the creature, and big eyes heads to Wandy.
The demon slashes Otto across his midriff and blood and fat pour out. The roadwarden smashes the pink bastard in the arm and it reels.
The cloaked figure turns to Rowlocks and Gnoblar on the steps. He has no face and scraps of skin hang from his skull, the two archers loosen their grips on their weapons and are overcome with fear.
The released hostage is paralyzed with trauma and whimpers in the corner. Wandy takes in the scene. He focuses hard, draws back his arms and unleashes a blast of wind at the Roadwarden and the demon knocking them off balance and blowing dust and shit everywhere. Elvis barks.
The sounds of battle and screams of his friends pull Werner out of his trance and he springs to action. Sword and shield in hand he charges into the melee with his axe held high intent on bringing it down on the demons head. He’s in the mood for it and with two almighty axe attacks he cleaves the beast in two, smash!!! Hooray!!!
Instead of dying, the horror splits into two, blue smaller versions of itself. Fucks sake.
Wandy continues his wind power on the demons and the roadwarden. Otto slams his club into Werner crumpling through his armor. The roadwarden also swings his sword at Werner but the blow is absorbed by his shield.
The man with no face slices his long sword into Gnoblar with a massive hit, almost dropping him to his knees. Reni can’t move. Elvis stops barking
Big eyes battles his way towards Wandy fighting through the wind. Werner now has Otto, the roadwarden and the two demons surrounding him.
The imminent danger brings Gnoblar to life. Gnoblar hits out at no face and swings past him. Reni then rushes in, hysterically fighting through the tears and tries to stab him, but it’s a wild shot going wide.
Bulging eyes takes swing after swing at Wandy but he cant touch him through the wind blast vortex.
Werner makes a tactical choice and takes a few steps back narrowly avoiding slashes from the blue horrors and lashes out with his axe at Otto. Otto is waddling around clutches his already wounded stomach. Werner shows him no mercy as he launches his axe into the side of him with enough power to slice through the fat. Otto slumps to the floor oozing.
Rowlocks flicks into action, drops his bow and comes down the steps at skull faced man catching his leg.
The man with no face backhands Reni with his sword and knocks her to the floor and she’s not getting up. The roadwardens sword cuts into Werner, as Werner cuts down one of the demons.
Without warning, from the ladder where they came into the room, comes a hideous figure of a man with spider like legs with suckers on the end. He bursts into the room and goes straight at Rowlocks hitting him in the side.
The remaining demon battles it’s way towards Wandy whose being attacked by the man with big eyes. Wandy’s holding his flank with a mixture of wind power and luck.
Werner and the roadwarden are going toe to toe in a brutal clash of sword and axe.
The grotesque man with no face takes a look at the heavily wounded Gnoblar and drives his sword towards his neck! It’s definitely going to kill him when it’s almost fate itself steps in and at the last possible moment, no face stumbles, slips slightly, and the blade narrowly nicks Gnoblar’s neck. Shitting hell!
Rowlocks slices at spider boy and its wincy, wincy spider as he takes a blow to the torso. Werner and the roadwarden continue to battle it out in a exceptional display of hand to hand combat.
With the demon and goggle eyes at his feet, Wandy drops the tornado and heads to no face to slash him from the back.
With backs to the wall, Rowlocks surges forward and drops the spider with a flurry of blows.