The Enemy Within

Session 23

Into the breach

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Rain lashes down on the courtyard of the inner bailey. The adventurers stand and survey the scene as lightning flashes up brief glimpses of the castle buildings. The creepy birds watch their every move.

Ok, stick to the plan, there’s two things we need, the boat and the meteor.

After a brief discussion, it is decided that the large main castle building can wait till last and the party will make their way round the outside first, checking out what’s there, whilst avoiding the darkness of the large black pit in the centre of the courtyard.

Marching order is set, Durak at the front followed by Werner, then Wandy and Gnoblar in the middle, with Rowlocks covering the rear.
To the right hand side, opposite the main castle, they approach an area with 8 foot high walls. As they get closer, strange vines, tendrils and growths cover the walls, seeming to twitch and flex as they approach, at the end of the tendrils a splayed green hand grasps the walls.
Theres a wooden gate in the centre. Werner is good at climbing and considers jumping the wall, but the tendrils put him off.

As they get closer, the gate swings open of it’s own accord.

Inside, through the darkness they can see a mass of twisted and repulsive growths, mutated vegetables.

They stand and stare into the blackness of the garden through the darkness of the night storm.

No one’s keen to enter, and Wandy puts forward the case that there’s no boat or meteor chunk in there probably, and we should move on, and no one needs much convincing.

The next building around the perimeter castle walls is a 2 story old temple of Sigmar. As they get closer they can see the walls of the building are elaborately carved with scenes depicting the heroic adventures of Sigmar and moments from the empires history that he helped to forge.

Strange discordant music can be heard through the ajar door, and strange purple mist whisps through the gap.

Everyone pushes their way through and enters to a bizarre scene. It seems that this is no longer a temple of Sigmar.

A thick layer of acrid lavender smoke, two feet deep, covers the main floor of the temple area. Amongst the smoke, semi naked, writhing humans seem to be lost in an orgy of pleasure, moving to the strange discordant organ tunes.

Whilst taking in the scene, and much to everyone’s surprise, Rowlocks and Durak start dancing with abandon, as if no one at all is watching, lost in the music.

Wandy, Gnoblar and Werner try to shout them and snap them out of it, but it’s not happening.
At the far end of the room is a large dias, on top of which an altar stands. To either side are two silver censors from which the smoke pours. Behind the altar is a large statue, twice human size that appears to be both male and female.

Gnoblar, Wandy and Werner decide that the manic music is driving the dancing and they should try and stop it, they head up the stairs to the gallery.

Up on the gallery area, the source of the music can be seen. A large demonic looking organ is blasting out the bizarre sounds and music. They take a closer look.

The organ has multicolored keys and is fantastic carved from a variety of woods. The organ’s pipes have tiny heads at the top, which ‘sing’ out the notes from their tiny heads.
In true Werner style, he wants to smash it up and draws his axe. Gnoblar and Wandy tell him to hang on a minute, they’re not sure about this. If the organ stops, the music stops and maybe something bad will happen and they’ll then have to deal with the people downstairs maybe? We should probably look around first.
They head back downstairs to search around the altar.

With Rowlocks and Durak dancing, Gnoblar, Werner and Wandy push their way through the writhing bodies on the temple floor and head to the dias and the altar.

As soon as they’re about to step on the dias, to their surprise, piercing scream can be heard and a humanoid figure comes hurtling from near the statue behind and performs a double somersault and lands in a fighting crouch before them.

Werner and Wandy stand paralysed by fear. The creature is about 5ft, with white skin and deep green saucer like eyes. Its face and figure resemble a woman but its arms end in crab like claws which click together.

With everyone else either dancing to the manic tunes or petrified by fear, Gnoblar takes the lead..

“Why are you not dancing?” She says, “enjoy yourself”
“I think I might,” says Gnoblar.
She edges closer..
“You all look so grim and unhappy, surely life if about having fun.”

The creature slowly steps closer to Gnoblar, and Gnoblar starts dancing.

At this point, Rowlocks comes to, breaking out of the dance trance he’s been in, he looks round at the scene and heads to stand near Gnoblar.

“I think we could all have some fun here” she says and reaches out to touch Gnoblar with her claw. Gnoblar recoils, but she is determined and attempts to snatch at Gnoblar. She gets him.

For a split second Gnoblar feels a magical pull on his mind, but he is mentally strong and pushes back, not allowing the thing inside his head.

The creature is lightning quick and tries to strike again with its other claw and tail but Gnoblar manages to get out the way.

Rowlocks pulls along side, draws his sword from it’s scabbard and slashes out but he misses.
Gnoblar unsheathes Barrakul and attempts a hit from the other flank but he swings wildly past.

The creature focuses its attacks and Rowlocks and it’s claw cuts through his chain armor drawing blood.

The discordant organ plays on and the lavender smoke whirls round the melee fighters.
At this point, Wandy overcomes his fear, sees Rowlocks and Gnoblar fighting for their lives, and uses all his strength to ready his massive bastard sword, and heads into the fight. Werner stands staring at the creature, unable to move.

The creature is quick and rains blows down on Rowlocks. Rowlocks dodges one claw, parries the next but he’s not ready for the tail which slashes into his arm, blood spurts from the open wound.

Wandy heaves up his bastard sword with all his might and unleashes it’s full power at the monster. Sigmar shines down at the unlikeliest of wizards with a massive sword, and Wandy drives the blade straight into his foe, causing maximum damage.

The creature reels and turns to face Wandy. With blood running, Rowlocks sees his chance and lashes out with his sword. It hits into the monsters side, and in a split second the beast disappears with a puff of pink smoke.

Relief. Werner snaps out of it and takes in the scene as the music plays on. Gnoblar immediately grabs his medical bag and rushes to staunch Rowlocks wounds. Wandy looks at his sword. Durak continues to dance.

After a quick patch up, the general consensus is – we need to get out of here. Keen to leave the temple they leave the revellers and the organ playing and drag Durak out into the storm, leaving the madness behind.

Away from the temple and the sounds and back into the night and the storm, after a short distance, Durak comes round – what happened? What was that about?

The rain lashes down and the party continues round the the next building which is a tall circular tower.

Large black storm clouds move swiftly overhead as thunder rumbles. The group move through the darkness and the rain towards the tower.

The steps leading to the entrance are cracked and peeling. They take their usual order and Durak pushes open the door followed by Werner.

Inside the entrance hall, the black carpet seems to move and shift underfoot. Crunches can be heard and dark red stains appear under boots. Suddenly a stone floor is revealed as hundreds of cockroaches scamper for cover. Everyone is momentarily grossed out ad they decide to move swiftly into the next room. Durak brushes the roaches off the door handle and pushes it open.

This circular ground floor room is even worse, thousands of cockroaches cover every surface, three or four inches deep. They swarm around a trough in the middle of the room in which lots of small white eggs can be seen. Cockroaches drop from.the ceiling and everyone is keen to move on. They can hear music coming from above and move swiftly to the stairs.

Although the room contains more roaches there are considerably less. They find bookcases containing information on art and architecture, and around the walls there are portraits of the Wittgenstein family which they take the time to look over. The music is louder and now singing can be heard in accompaniment. Again, everyone moves swiftly to the stairs.

Upon entering the top floor, the adventurers are greeted by an unusual sight. A human sized cockroach sits upon a stool, playing a harpsichord with his fore legs. He wears a white powdered wig with spectacles on his head, he has a gold pocket watch and handkerchief.

Hands move to hilts, but stop immediately as the roach stops playing and jumps up.
“Ahh visitors! Please do come in and make yourselves at home! Please don’t disturbed off by my appearance, please, have a drink! It’s been so long since I’ve had visitors!”

Theres a slight bemused pause, but after a few seconds, and sensing no threat, everyone sits down, but no ones thirsty.

A welcome respite, and for the first time in what seems like days, everyone relaxes briefly and indulges in conversation.
They quickly learn that this is Ludwig Von Wittgenstein, the ex-head of the family. Now grossly mutated and retired to the tower with his ‘friends’. Converstation is chatty and pleasant. Ludwig asks about art and recent developments in the capital and the party ask about the Wittgensteins and the castle in general, ensuring the Lidwig doesn’t perceive them as a threat.
They learn that lady Ingrid, Ludwig’s wife, is now the head of the family and barony. Lady Magritte and Kurt Wittgenstein live in the castle and the brother, Gotthard, has moved away. Ludwig knows not about the location of any meteor, but does discuss the misfortune of the family has endured since Dagmar went after a fallen star.
They ask of their boat, which Ludwig says maybe in the water gate.
After a short while and further discussion, they give their apologies and explain that they must be going.
Werner tries to encourage Ludwig out of the tower but he assures him that he is perfectly happy where he is.

After polite goodbyes, they head off quickly back down the tower and into the night storm.

Across the courtyard, on the far side is a domed building and the last they wish to check before the main castle keep. So they head over avoiding the pit in the centre.

It turns out to be a glass building, but the glass has turned green over the years and it’s impossible to see in.

Once inside they find themselves amongst a vast collection of exotic fauna. After a few moments they quickly notice large bird like creatures. They have birds legs and wings, but human torsos and heads, feathered and beaked. They hop around furiously once they gain sight of the group and tweet and sing.

Wandy is again quick to point out that this isn’t going to help find the boat and it doesn’t look like the meteor would be in here, so they should leave before any hassle occurs. Everyone quickly agrees, leaves back through the door as the ‘birds’ start heading towards them.

The final step. With the perimeter building investigated, just the main castle remains. They can see the main castle doors or a smaller door in an annex on the north side. They opt to take the smaller door and after a quick gear check the head in.

Through entrance halls, store rooms  kitchens and dormitories, our heroes quickly deduce that they are in the servants wing of the castle. The servants they do encounter don’t seem that bothered by their presence and continue their duties. Whilst on the first floor, they decide to head towards the main part of the castle.
They start heading towards the more important looking double doors.
Now out on a patio/veranda area, outlooking the countryside below and the Reik, they are once more plunged into the storm. They head through the double doors on the other side and enter into a posh looking ladies bedroom.

The room is luxuriously furnished with gilt edgings to the furniture and bed. A dressing table holds various jars and creams and other bits. The room also contains dead bodies in states of mutilation and decay. They quickly deduce this is Magrittes room and everyone rifles through, stealing her jewellery.
A single door leads north, but the party stick to the plan of going for double doors and they head south into a long corridor with various doors along the sides.

They opt to enter through the closest door opposite.
Werner and Durak push open the door. They are greeted on the other side by a large warrior dressed in full black plate mail armor. His helm is decorated with the skin of a dire wolf and at his side are an axe and shield. He turns and faces the party as they barge into the room.

Theres a tense pause while both parties assess the situation.
“And who are you? What brings you to my room?”
“Who are you and what are you doing here?”
It’s a tense stand off while Werner and the Warrior size each other up.

“I am Ulfhednar, a guest of Magrittes, but you do not look like a guest?”

The adventures are battle worn, soaked to the bone, bloodied and some are wounded and bandaged- clearly not guests.

Gnoblar steps in and parley ensues. Before long the angles shift. It seems Ulfhednar and the party have a common goal.
He wants the castle for a base of operations for his warriors, and seeing an opportunity, offers to work with the party to kill the Wittgensteins, clear the castle, on the understanding that the party can take the meteor they’re after, and he can keep the castle. The party see an opportunity to gain help in achieving their goal, and also the long term benefit of gaining a powerful allie with a castle.
The deal is made.

Ulfhednar needs to head to the guest room next door to get his travelling companion and everyone follows.

Snoring can be heard from the room and Ulfhednar heads in. A roar of anger is heard followed by hushed talking and silence.
Ulfhednars companion, Crakatz, looks bad tempered and dangerous. He is enormous and has the head and legs of a bull. He follows Ulfhednars word.
With two new additional members to the party, the sweep of the castles first floor continues and they head down the corridor.

At the end they enter a large room which is rammed full of every type of clock imaginable, all ticking and chiming and set to different times. With Ulfhednar and Crakatz at the front they pick their way through. At one point to giant mechanical knights storm out of a clock when it strikes and Rowlocks find himself in the middle. Luckily his quick reactions don’t fail him and he dodges aside.

Through the other side, they push forward into the next room.
They are greeted with the scent of felines. The room is full of cats and they flock around the party as they enter, seeking attention.
In a high backed wooden chair sits an old ish woman dressed in expensive, yet dirty, clothing. She immediately begins to scold the adventurers…
HOW DARE YOU ENTER LADY INGRID’S CHAMBERS!! Peasants and commoners!!! IN HERE! You’re all the same you folk…”

As she continues her tirade, Ulfhednar looks back at Werner, and within seconds he and Crakatz have cleaved the old lady in two. Her cats are furious and attack, and although they are many, they are no match for the party and the room becomes a blood bath.

They take a moment to look at Ingrids stuffed trophies, various animals and roadwardens and tax collectors, and then then take her jewelry box and contents.

“Let’s fucking kill ’em all!” Says Ulfhednar, and Crakatz laughs.

The room next to Ingrids looks like a taxidermists workroom, but as they enter a vase flies through the air and smashes next to Gnoblar. Everyone stands guard and looks round, but nothing can be seen.
Although no one can see an adversary, Wandy can see, with his magical senses, a whirling apparition. More objects begin to rise and fly through the air and a few of the gang swipe the air with their weapons.
They quickly decide to leave and close the door behind them.

There are stairs in the corridor heading to the ground floor of the castle. They’ve been in the doors off the main corridor and through the other doors to the main rooms of the floor, but they realise they have missed one in Magrittes room, the single door at the back. They head back that way and try it out.

Getting their bearings right, they realise this door probably leads to the castle’s front tower, and push inside.

The tower itself has no ground floor and is supported by flying buttresses. The bottom of the tower is entered from Magrittes chamber. Once inside they see some womens clothes and what looks like lens grinding equipment and an old telescope. Stairs lead up.

On the next floor they enter into a library. Wandy is quick to pour over the books and finds various tomes connected with the the darker side of magic and necromancy. Dagmar’s diary is here, detailing his trip to the Barren Hills and various aspects of necromancy. There is much that can be learnt maybe, and Wandy takes the book.
Gnoblar finds a letter on the table. It’s from Gotthard Wittgenstein to Magritte and details his exploits in Middenheim. They take that as well. Ulfhednar is keen to move on and the take the stairs to the top floor.

The party reaches the top floor, a d quickly enter into the room. It resembles a mad scientists laboratory. Tubes, vials and bottles bubble and fizz and it’s a maze of multicolored pipes, vapours and brass rods.

The most dominant feature of the room is a large wooden platform and at each end stands a 10ft steel column. The four corners of the platform are attached by lengths of rope to a huge block and tackle, by which the whole thing can be raised to the roof. Another system of levers and rods is used to open the roof to the elements. The steel columns are connected both to a lightning rod from which trails a large kite, and to four wires connected to a skull cap.

Once inside the electrical storm is in full swing, roaring above them. Lightning arcs overhead as the rain and wind pound the top of the tower, with everyone exposed to the elements. The room momentarily floods with stark, white light. Rain falls through the roof and spits onto the equipment. Coloured tubes of glass pulsate with the energy of the storm above.

Lady Magritte stands on the platform raising the whole thing to the roof. Strapped onto the table is a monstrous caricature of a human being.

Before anyone can react, lightning strikes the aerial conductor, and, with a terrifying clap of thunder, a surge of electrical energy sets the metal columns quivering with raw power. A loud crackling sounds can be heard as the room fills with the stench of burnt flesh. Lady Magritte stares expectantly at the table.

Ulfhednar grabs his axe and shield and rushes to the platform. Rowlocks knocks an arrow and shoots up to Magritte on the far side of the room, but it’s a difficult shot and he misses.
Magrittes looks at the intruders with fury, she raises her hands to the sky and a moment later, smoke whirls and a large, armed skeleton appears right in front of the party.
Gnoblar peels off to the left hand side and begins to load his crossbow. Wandy considers his options, but it’s too compact for a fireball.
Durak and Crakatz close in on the skeleton fron either side and battle commences as the skeleton fights on two flanks.

At this moment, the grotesque monster grabs the edges of the table, pulls itself up and stands. It’s truly horrific, 8ft tall and stitched and melded from innumerable bodies and corpses.
It’s too much for Wandy and Werner. Upon seeing the creature they are overcome with fear, turn on their heels and flee as fast as possible.

Rowlocks reloads his elven bow and let’s fly but he’s not having much luck, Gnoblar fires his crossbow from the other side but misses. Crakatz and Durak trade blows with the skeleton smashing into it’s sides.
Ulfhednar is now on the platform heading for Magritte, but the monster blocks his path, he hits out but the monster doesn’t react.
Magritte sees Rowlocks firing up at her and focuses her attention on him. She tries to enter his mind and a battle of wills ensues, but Rowlocks is too focused and pushes her back.
Durak smashes into the skeleton with his axe and it clatters to the floor in pieces.

Rain lashes into the room as lightning lights the tower. Noise, flashes of light, claps of thunder and the sounds of battle make for a chaotic scene.

Gnoblar reloads his crossbow as Crakatz and Durak turn to the direction of Magritte.

No sooner have they begin to move when Magritte closes her eyes and looks to the sky. Within seconds and with a wisp of darkness, three more skeletons appear next to Magritte and Ulfhednar, and another in front of Durak.
Crakatz roars into a rage fueled by battle and bloodlust.

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