Ulfhednar stumbles. With skeletons to one side, the 8ft monster to the other and Lady Magritte behind, he staggers backwards, turns and jumps down from the raised platform and makes his way towards where Gnoblar stands at the edge of the room. Everyone’s not sure what’s happening, but the fight continues.
The open roof still let’s in the storm and flashes of electricity light up the laboratory.
With Werner and Wandy gone, fled in panic, Ulfhendar backed against the wall, Rowlocks surveys his options. Magritte, the skeletons and the monster stand on the raised platform at the far end of the room. Krakatz and Durak battle in the centre of the tower with one of Magrittes skeletons. He loads his elven bow and let’s one fly at Magritte, but it’s a chaotic situation and the arrow misses its mark. He’s not having much luck with his bow.
And neither is Gnoblar who fires his crossbow as the bolt hits the wall.
The skeletons next to Magritte head out into into the room, spreading out towards their targets. One heads for Rowlocks at one side, one goes forward towards Durak and two jump down the right hand side of the platform.
Magritte appears to be lost in concentration, incanting and gesturing with her hands, with eyes closed.
Ulfhednar seems to struggle, leaning on his axe and swaying. Krakatz, seeing his partner in trouble, heads over and stands guard in front of him, defending his position from incoming attackers.
Gnoblar heads closer to behind Ulfhednar and uses his bulk as protection as he sets about reloading his crossbow.
Rowlocks sees the approaching skeleton, drops his bow on the floor, unsheathes his sword and grabs his shield from his back.
He launches at the skeleton, smashing him with his blade edge, but missing on his return swing, chips of bone and armor fly off.
The monster, slowly lurches forward and heads off the platform and stands between the skeletons that Rowlocks and Durak are battling.
Magritte continues her dark magic, and focuses her gaze on Durak. After a split second, Durak drops to the floor, dribbling and cooing like a baby.
The monster roars into action throwing the might of his 8ft frame round in an arc hitting the skeleton next to Durak, smashing it to pieces.
Although taken aback by the monster’s kill – what is he doing? Rowlocks is locked into melee with his foe, but the skeleton is outmatched, Rowlocks’ sword comes down on the undead and slices through his femur, dropping him to the ground.
At this point, much to everyone’s relief, Werner bursts back into the room. He’s overcome his fear and he’s ready to kill.
He charges into the fray, heading towards the two skeletons to his left. He launches across the room into them but he misses.
The monster lurches towards where Werner is battling the skeletons. Rowlocks sees Werner outnumbered, and charges to Werners side and faces a skeleton, whilst the Wittgenstein abomination flails wildy at Werner and the skeleton he’s fighting.
Gnoblar shoots his crossbow again at Magritte, who is now exposed on the platform but the bolt goes wide. At this point, Magritte jumps down, hands aglow, and enters the melee and tries to grab Rowlocks with her hand, but he’s too quick and jumps back out the way.
Gnoblar sees Magritte enter the battle in the middle of the room and rummages in his backpack and pulls out a small bottle of purple powder. Gnoblar has been using his pharmaceutical skills and has tried to distill a useable format of the magic dulling fungus he found a while back. He pulls the cork and lobs it in front of Rowlocks, where Magritte is, hoping it has an effect. Rowlocks’ skill with a sword betters Magrittes magical defenses and he draws blood on her arm and leg.
Ulfednar is hobbling and resting on his axe, he has the look of someone who is struggling. Krakatz guards his front side.
Werner has been battling and battling with the two skeletons and the monster, but he’s struggling to land any blows, despite the effort he’s putting in.
Rowlocks slashes his blade into Magritte with a skillful blow. It draws blood and she winces. She returns by grabbing Rowlocks’ hand as he withdraws his sword. Rowlocks gasps in pain as a green whisp travels up his arm to his body, seeping through his armor. He cries out and snatches his arm back.
Werner continues to fight the skeletons while dodging the monster’s swings, but the skeletons are battling hard and he can’t seem to get his axe in.
Gnoblar throws another of his dust bottles at Magritte.
Rowlocks is now heavily wounded and another hit like that from Magritte and it will be his last. She lashes out again, accompanied by a snarl of hate.
Rowlocks uses all his remaining energy to just dodge Magrittes hand of dust. This makes her over stretch, and he pulls back his sword arm and runs her through. He snaps his blood-covered sword back out of the torso and she drops to the floor in a pool of blood.
Rowlocks is on his last legs and sees his chance to exit the melee, pulls back and runs to the other side of the room to grab his bow.
The skeletons are wearing Werner down but neither him or the Monster are able to make contact.
“Right, Krakatz, NOW!” yells Ulfhendar, and stands tall and grabs his axe. He turns round and swings the axe with all his might at Gnoblar! What the hell!
Everyone is stunned at Ulfhednar’s act of betrayal. Ulfhendar’s axe slices into Gnoblar and blood spurts out from the wound.
" Mwhuhahaha," screams Krakatz and runs straight at the mindless dwarf on the floor, wounding him badly.
Gnoblar is backed into the edge of the room with Ulfednar in front of him.
There’s nowhere to run, he grabs Barrakul, his vorpal blade, from its sheath and swings at Ulfhednar with all of his might. The blade drifts in and out of reality as it passes through his armor and cuts into him.
The might warrior, towers over Gnoblar and raises his axe to reign blows down on the halfling. He slams it down straight at Gnoblar. He tries to dodge out of the way but he’s not quick enough. At the last minute, almost as if fate intervened on Gnoblar’s behalf, as his foot moves to dodge, he treads on a small metal cylinder- one of Magrittes scientific instruments. This causes him to fall and tumble towards the door and out of the way from Ulfhendar. Ulfhednar turns, assesses his immediate threats, and sees Werner with his back turned and charges at him.
Rowlocks grabs his bow and fires at the enormous frame of the monster but misses.
At that second, Wandy comes running back up the stairs and into the room. With his nerve steadied, he quickly evaluates the situation.
Gnoblar has crawled to where Rowlocks is on one side of room, and on the other Werner fights the skeletons, the monster and Ulfhednar.
In the middle of the room, Krakatz is about to smash the enfeebled Durak to pieces. Sensing the immediate danger, Wandy pulls back his sleeves and unleashes a powerful blast of wind straight at Krakatz but also creating a barrier across the room.
Werner has been unable to get into his rhythm, it’s been difficult, but then something clicks, and he roars into action. He smashes straight through one of the skeletons and the monster accidentally fells another. Empowered by his, kill he continues his momentum, wounding Ulfhendar in a flurry of blows.
Rowlocks and Gnoblar stand on the fire side of the room with their missile weapons loaded but unable to risk firing through the wind.
Wandy holds the blast as Krakatz struggles through the gust. Durak is blown onto the floor.
Axes are flying as Ulfhednar and Werner go toe to toe. Ulfhednar tries to catch Werner off balance, but he’s too quick. Werner has now found his groove and he slams into the armored warriors side with his first blow then opens a wound on his calf with the backswing.
Ulfhendar swings wildly in reply, but his blows clang off Werner’s magic shield. Werner has the momentum and plows into the warrior with his full power.
There’s nothing he can do as Werner’s axe cleaves into his side and he drops lifelessly to the floor.
Wandy holds his blast as Krakatz battles through the force of the wind, looking to hurt Durak.
Werner’s blood soaked axe now comes expertly at the enormous Wittgenstein monster. He’s in full flow as it chops some of the flesh from the creature. The monster retaliates in a blow that could take Werner’s head off, but he’s too quick and dodges out of the way.
Within seconds Werner’s axe hacks repeatedly into the beasts torso and he goes back to being dead.
Only Krakatz remains and seeing Werner now free and dropping bodies all over, Wandy drops his wind and Werner charges into him, eager for more kills.
Werner is too tough, too armored and too strong for even the mutant Krakatz, and he can’t seem to hurt him. Werner is in full battle mode and seems unstoppable. He smashes Krakatz with his axe and opens his chest up. Krakatz dies.
Everyone stops for a moment and looks round. Wow.
“What’s happening?” asks Durak.It’s clear that all the enemies are dead, and everyone slumps to the floor and catches their breath.
The party get themselves together. Gnoblar sets about applying any healing treatments he can to help, and everyone else searches the bodies and the room.
Werner kicks the body of Ulfhednar and starts to unattach his direwolf headpiece and trys it on for size.
Wandy picks over the body of Lady Magritte and recovers a jet black wand and a ring.
Onwards, they have to find the meteor.
Leaving the storm and the tower behind, the party head back into the main castle and down into the previously unexplored ground floor.
The main staircase leads them into the great hall of the castle. Once a grand dining hall for high-society events, now lays covered in grime and grease, with rotten food on the table.
The party hear whispers coming from different angles..
“Ohh look at them,”
“They’re going downstairs..”
They pay the voices no heed and look around the hall at the tapestries and objects.
Everyone turns quickly towards the stairs, and out from an area between the bottom of the staircases hobbles an ancient butler.
“Make yourselves at home gentlemen, you must be hungry after your journey, do help yourselves and then ill show you to your rooms.”
Before any of the bemused group replies, he nods and smiles and returns to his space under the stairs.
After a look at some of the wall paintings, Gnoblar sees a downward staircase just passed the snoozing butler.
They form their usual marching order and head down the staircase and under the castle.
Once downstairs they find themselves in a stone corridor in the castle dungeons.
The corridor has three doors and they take the one to their right.
This opens up into a massive wine cellar full of all types of alcohol from all over the empire. Werner makes a note of where all the booze is and they move over into the door opposite.
The smell the have been experiencing is getting stronger and stronger the closer they get to the door.
Durak pushes open the door and they see a small room in which sits a large ogre feasting on a human leg. He’s filthy and so is the room. He carries an enormous axe, while bright green and orange hairs protrude from his muscular arms.
Neither party is threatening and after some pointless smalltalk, Wandy and the others thank him, tell him they’ll see him later and close the door to the foul room.
In the next corridor, opposite them is a door which is crudely boarded over with a primitive skull painted on it. A debate occurs over the possibility of the room containing the chunk of warpstone or something deadly that might be worse. They decide to leave it for now and check it out later, heading down the corridor.
A door lays ahead, but to the left is some more stairs heading further down. They head for the stairs.
It’s pitch black and torches are lit for the descent.
The stair case seems to go down forever and they consider going back, but continue to persevere.
After about 200ft the shaft levels out and opens into a cavern.
Their torches light up the area and water can be seen. It’s a small lake, and seconds later, low and behold!
It’s the Jolly Nobber!!!
Yes!! Spirits rise as everyone is elated by the sight of home, but before they can celebrate, Rowlocks gives everyone a shhh, and voices can be heard coming from a door cut into the caveside right where the boat is moored. A portcullis hangs shut over a waterway leading out of the castle and onto the Reik outside.
Right. Werner, Rowlocks, Gnoblar, Wandy and Durak huddle together and make a plan. Now they’ve found the boat, they have an exit strategy. They decide to continue the search for the warpstone meteorite and head back up the stairs and into the unexplored part of the dungeon.
They head into the next room which appears to be a torture chamber, complete with iron maiden and instruments of pain. Also, suspended from a cage in the middle of the room is an emaciated, pale bearded man with a bizarre grin on his face.
Whoever the man is, he’s clearly mad and they leave him to it and push through the door on the other side.
The next area is dark, damp and dingy and it’s soon clear that these are cells.
The adventurers spread into the room. They find tortured and beaten villagers in one and an imperial tax collector in another. The inmates are incredibly frail and while they are explaining to them that they will be back to save them a voice calls out from the darkness of the corner.
“Gnoblar sir!! MR GNOBLAR SIR!!…Oh please, please be you!”
It’s Dumpling! And she’s in a bad way. Gnoblar unbolts the cell door and reassures Dumpling that everything’s going to be ok, but they’re not safe yet. She must stay here and they will return and get her!
As reluctant as she is, she agrees and cowers back into the corner.
There’s one cell left to check, and when they enter Rowlocks noticed an engraved engravement on the stones in the cell.
‘Way out to Herman’s Hermatige’ and a crudely drawn arrow.
At the back of the cell they find a loose stone. After some fiddling about, it clicks and can be pushed back revealing a passageway behind.
With torches at the ready they delve into the darkness beyond.
At the end of a roughly carved passage lays a dead end. Some more searching reveals more secret passageways. One leading to where the staircase is that leads down to the Watergate, and another on the other side.
They continue away from the stairs and it opens out into a chamber.
In the centre of the room is an open 3ft cube of lead. The cube is hollow and the lid lies on the floor next to the box. The walls and floor of the cabe are unnaturally black.
“It’s gone! We’re too late!”
Our heroes stomachs drop as they realise the warpstone is not there.
On the floor at the back wall is a freshly excavated small tunnel. Piles of dirt and rocks lay scattered next to the opening. From the tunnel comes a gust if fresh air.
“That’s a fresh tunnel!” yells Durak.
Quick! Everyone heads into the tunnel. Rowlocks notices large rat footprints around the entrance.
The tunnel meets a natural 12ft crack and opens out. At the other end is another freshly dug tunnel. Three skaven warriors stand at the tunnels entrance brandishing their weapons.
Everyone is stuck single file in the tunnel. Rowlocks peels to the side and fires and arrow and Wandy pushes forward into the opening. He sizes up the three skaven standing in the tunnel entrance and raises his hands.
They glow white hot and a split second later a fireball goes hurtling down the tunnel at the skaven. They scream and squirm, their fur now alight, they writhe and call out in pain, dropping to the floor in a smouldering heap.
A small crash can be heard coming from down the tunnel that skaven were guarding and, as everyone tentatively steps forward, a black swirling mist heads out of the gap and moves steadily towards the party.
Wandy once again launches into action and fires a wind blast at the mist, forcing it back down from where it came.
At that very second, a rumbling can be heard and a deep tremor runs through the castle rock.
“Whoah, that’s not good,” says Durak as he worriedly looks round.
“We have to get that meteorite, quick,” says Gnoblar, and as everyone shoots forward, another tremor shakes the tunnel and dust and rocks rattle down from above as the earth under their feet quakes.
“The whole things going to come down!” shouts Durak, as he draws upon his mining experience.
“But the meteor!” replies Werner.
There’s a brief pause of indecision as minds race with options. The crack above them grumbles and begins to shake. Dirt and earth begin to drop from above as deep tremors rock the floor.
“We’re all going to die in here!”
With that, the decision is made, and everyone turns on their heels, and heads as quickly as they possibly can back towards the dungeon.
It’s pure panic, the whole place is coming down around them. They sprint back through the tunnels and head towards the stairs to the watergate.
“Get Dumpling!” Cried Gnoblar and Werner rushes the other way to the cells, burst in, throws Dumpling over his shoulder and runs towards the stairs with Dumpling crying out in terror on his back.
Everyone throws themselves down the long staircase as fast as they possibly can without losing control.
The place is shaking and massive deep booms and vibrations can be felt from all around. They burst into the watergate and run onto the Jolly Nobber as chunks of masonary splash down into the water.
Rowlocks barks orders and everyone is all hands on deck, unmooring and grabbing oars.
Werner drops Dumpling on deck and looks around, the portcullis is closed!
He leaps off the boat and runs to the door where the guards were before. He’s guessed correctly and inside the room is a wheel and chains, the mechanism for the portcullis.
Rocks plunge into the water from the cave roof as the whole cavern shakes and rumbles. The pressure is on and Werner heaves the wheel with all his strength as it screeches and grinds into action.
Werner pushes hard until the metal gate clanks into place. He sprints as fast as possible as the Jolly Nobber slowly drifts away from the dock. Werner jumps the gap and lands on the deck.
Terrible noises can be heard coming from above, deep sounds and rumbles as the whole earth shakes, dust and debris continually fall from the roof accompanied by distant crashing sounds.
As Rowlocks drops the main sail, Wandy has a stroke of genius and conjures a windblast that fires directly into the sails. This shoots the river barge forward at pace lifting the nose of the boat and jolts everyone as they desperately cling on!
The Jolly Nobber lunges forward into the main flow of the Reik and out of the cavern. As it does the whole cave system collapses behind them in a cacophony of noise dust.
As Rowlocks guides the boat to the far bank of the river, everyone stands on deck looking up at the scene.
Its the first light of morning, and above them stands the remains of Castle Wittgenstein. The whole area is in ruins and rubble. The high cliffs that the castle once stood on have also collapsed creating a different landscape, like the aftermath of an earthquake.
The storm has passed and the morning sun shows thick dust in the air across the landscape, like a layer of fog. The cliffs continue to crash down into the Reik and nothing has settled yet.
Our heroes sit in silence on the deck of the Jolly Nobber, exhausted, wounded, in awe of what they have just experienced. They sit in quiet contemplation and stare up at the complete destruction of Castle Wittgenstein.