The Enemy Within

Session 25
Aftermath

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The dust hasn’t settled. In fact it hangs in the air as the morning sun shines over the trees. The landscape is unrecognisable. The cliffs have partially crumbled into the Reik and all kinds of debris litter the rivers surface, slowly drifting downstream. Where Castle Wittgenstein used to stand is an enormous pile of rubble and stone, and smoke rises from various places.

It’s a peaceful moment, with only the sounds of the birds and the ambience of the river.
On the deck of the Jolly Nobber everyone sits exhausted, looking at the scene in front of them. It’s been a long night.

The party are fatigued, battered, weather beaten and wounded and in all round need of rest. They discuss their next move.

The first thing is to get out of here and away from carnage they’ve been involved with before people start showing up.
Rowlocks gets everyone into gear and prepares the boat. Half a day’s sail downstream towards Kemperbad, then pitch up somewhere safe and get some rest. Everyone helps, despite the temptation to collapse, apart from Dumpling who is in bed downstairs, recovering from her traumatic ordeal. Gnoblar gives her something to help her sleep.

Shortly after lunchtime, a safe spot is found, near to the forests edge so Gnoblar can try to replenish some of his herb stocks. The boat is secured and after some lunch, everyone relaxes and rests.

The Jolly Nobber has been turned over, probably by Kratz and his friends, and anything laying around if immediate value has been taken – but they haven’t found the secret compartment built by Werner.

The next five days pass leisurely, its the end of the summer and everyone enjoys some well deserved downtime after chaos of the last week. Rowlocks spends his time fishing and chatting to Werner and Durak while the warriors spa on deck, perform weapons and armor maintenance and drink ale. In his cabin
Wandy is deep into his books, studying his latest find of Dagmar’s diary. Gnoblar has gathered some herbs which he begins processing into pills whilst reading his physician manuals.
During the evenings, laughs are had, stories are told and plans are made.

There’s been a few traders pass, and an increased number of river patrols heading towards the castle. The river patrol are fobbed off with tales of innocent traders who know nothing about the events up river.

Werner has been told to take the ransom he doesn’t have to Middenheim.
After finding a letter to Magritte, they know that there is one of the Wittgensteins remaining, who is enjoying the high life, in Middenheim.
These facts, combined with Rowlocks burning desire to find an archery competition, which they know there will be at the Middenheim carnival, the decision is made. The plan is to call in at Delberz so that Wandy can visit Heironymous, then head north to the City of the White Wolf.

Everyone is back to full strength apart from Dumpling, who is back on her feet pottering around, but still not quite herself.
But spirits are high and Rowlocks steers the barge down stream.

It’s pleasant sailing and a much needed change of pace. They opt to steer straight past Kemperbad and continue towards Altdorf.

The next day, as Rowlocks steers the Jolly Nobber downstream, he sees a trade barge up ahead. A man stands on the deck and waves as they approach.

The Maria Borger is a trade vessel, not too dissimilar to the Jolly Nobber, and as Rowlocks brings her closer he can see the captain is distressed.

“Hey there, I’ve got a couple of sick men on board, are any of you medical?”
Everyone looks at Gnoblar, whose just appeared on deck. Gnoblar sizes up the situation for a minute, then offers to help.

Once alongside, Gnoblar, Werner and Wandy jump aboard. Bernhardt introduces himself and the crew and explains that two of his men, Karl and Hans, have been taken ill. The sailors are cold, pale and deathly white with cold sweats.

No one knows what to think about the situation, alertness levels are high and the party are quite suspicious. Gnoblar agrees to go take a look at the patients and heads down the stairs.
Karl and Hans both have the same symptoms, and despite Gnoblar’s knowledge of common diseases, he can’t pinpoint the cause, and they don’t look good. Wandy spots two small puncture wounds on the neck of Karl, Gnoblar takes a look. Bernhardt says this is strange, they weren’t there yesterday? Further inspection finds them on Hans too. Bernhardt reassures his struggling mates that they’ll be ok and says the bite marks might have been from rats.

Werner spots a small pendant on the floor, a religious symbol to the god Taal, and picks it up. Immediately, Hans starts mumbling things about being made to take it off.

This makes everyone even more suspicious, is it Bernhardt doing this?

After some chat, Bernhardt reveals that he does have some special cargo on board, that he picked up from some large mercantile operation in Kemperbad. With two sick crew, he’s finding it hard to man the boat and make the journey on time. It seems he’s been paid very well to make a delivery. After some persuasion, he let’s the adventurers down into the hold to have a look.
It’s a large single crate with a large lead seal on one edge. The crate bares a coat of arms and Wandy takes a look. His time spent in academia and his knowledge of heraldry pays off, and he recognises it as the Orlock family that died out in the Age of the Three Emperors, hundreds of years ago. Hmmmm.

OK. Gnoblar reassures Bernhardt and says they’ll think of a way to help and they head back onto the Jolly Nobber.

It’s a funny situation. Back on the Nobber talks are held. What’s in the crate? Lead seal? Is it possible this could be something to do with the skaven and the warsptone? That would seem almost too good to be true. Whatever it is no one feels like opening it. How come Hans and Karl are sick but Bernhardt and his wife aren’t? We need to stay off the boat in case whatever it is is contagious.
Initially the plan is to offer to pay for the cargo, take it and deliver it, then Bernhardt can take his crew back to Kemperbad to get medical help.
They decide they don’t want the cargo on board and that they should tow the Maria Borger, and make it easier for the boat to make its deadline. It’s a long way to tow a boat, but really it’s a plan to stall for time and see what happens over the next few days.

Bernhardt is delighted with the offer of help and Rowlocks makes the necessary preparations. After a couple of hours they’re off and heading down the Reik.

It’s a slight setback but no real problem. Night sets in and everyone moors up and settles down for the evening. A watch is set up on the Nobber and everyone gets some rest.

The next morning, Rowlocks is up with the birds, checks the boat and shouts across to Bernhardt- no reply. He hollas again but nothing. He wakes everyone else up.

There’s clearly no signs from the Maria Borger as it floats lifelessly on the Reik. Werner, Gnoblar and Wandy decide to board and have a look, everyone else stays on the Nobber.

There’s nothing on deck so they head downstairs. Hans and Karl are still ill in bed, further searching locates Bernhardt and his Mrs. They are both sick, pale, weak and in their cabin in bed, they can barely move.
A medical inspection by Gnoblar reveals two small puncture marks on their necks. This is not good. There’s immediate talk of cutting the boat loose, torching it and heading to Altdorf, but after further talks they decide to go look at the mysterious cargo.

In the cargo hold, Werner grabs an iron bar and wedges it in the crate and levers it open.
Inside the crate, much to everyone’s surprise are two coffins. One lays open, surrounded by soil and earth. Inside the other lays a man, dressed in fashions from centuries ago, blood seeps from the corner of his mouth.
“If this is what I think it is,” says Wandy, “Then this is a very dangerous situation, vampires are very powerful, formidable adversaries.”
The instinct is to immediately run and get as far away as possible, but Gnoblar has other plans. If they leave the Maria Borger, then there is the possibility of multiple vampires running amok in the Reikland.

Gnoblar decides they must be killed. Wandy tells him he needs stakes of birchwood to run through their hearts to truly finish them off forever. Luck is on their side, as it’s daytime they currently pose no threat, but it won’t be long.
Gnoblar heads off into the forest with Werner to collect the necessary wood. Werner then uses his carpentry skills to carve stakes.

A couple of hours later, it’s time. Gnoblar takes his stakes and heads below.
First, the main cause of all these problems, the Orlock Vampire. He leans into the coffin, places the stake, aims a hammer and runs him through. The vampire wrenches upright, gasps, looks Gnoblar in the eye, smiles and drops down lifeless.
The next four prove to be more difficult. Although Bernhardt and his crew are weak, they are not unconscious, and they beg and plead for Gnoblar to stop, but he knows he has to put them out of their misery and save them from an endless nightmare.
He steels himself, fights through their sorrowful begging and kills them one at a time.

With the deed done, he returns to the Nobbar, leans into the Reik and washes his hands. Rowlocks cuts all ties with the Maria Borger and leaves it to drift. With that, they set off towards Altdorf.

A few days later the spires of Altdorf rise in the distance as the boat sails along. Having had a bad experience on their previous visit, and still concerned about the potential murder charges from a few months ago, they decide to head straight past to Delberz.

It’s easy sailing in the late summer sun. The waterways around Altdorf are busy as ever with trade boats, tourist ships and river patrols.
The boys reminisce of the last time they were home in Delberz, which seems like an age ago.

A few days later, they arrive back in Delberz, and it’s a welcome sight.
The first port of call is Heironymous. The wizards house is on the outskirts and on the river, which is convenient for mooring.

Everyone jumps off the boat, and Wandy leads them up the path to the stone tower house.
Hans Peter Schiller opens the door with his usual look of disdain. Always in Wandy’s shadow, Heironymous’ second favourite apprentice looks unhappy to see the adventurers..
“Oh, it’s you lot, you’re back. I suppose you want to come in…”

As they enter the study, Heironymous, who is usually always preoccupied, is overjoyed to see them and is off his odd-socked feet to greet them.
Schiller is ordered to bring refreshments, and everyone gets comfy and the debrief begins. The wizard is keen to hear the whole tale and talks go on into the night. The party indulge him with the whole adventure they’ve been on, the signal tower, Grissenwald, the Barren Hills, Kemperbad, Wittgendorf and Castle Wittgenstein.
He listens intently and the different possibilities and hypothesise are discussed. Who has the warpstone meteorite? Where is Etelka? What actually happened? Everyone speculates, but the only real lead from the affair, is the group know there is a living member of the Wittgensteins, Magritte’s brother, in Middenheim. Werner’s ransom also has something to do with Middenheim. Combined with Rowlocks’ archery obsession and the upcoming carnival, the course is set. Middenheim it is, and Heironymous also thinks this is the best course of action based on the circumstances.

But first things first, Wandy needs to study and train, which gives the party some further downtime. Werner heads back to his parents inn with Gnoblar, Durak and Rowlocks for a few days drinking and eating, and Dumpling begins to pull herself together and starts tidying and pottering on the boat.

A week or so later, everyone regroups and plans the journey. Middenheim is not reachable by boat, so they negotiate to leave the barge moored at Heironymous’s house and Dumpling will stay on board, and help Heironymous.

Plans are made and options are weighed up. In the end, they decide not to go by coach or cart, and they head into Delberz to buy a wagon and horses. Werner will drive the wagon up the main Altdorf to Middenheim road and hopefully be there before the carnival starts.

They need to travel light and everyone heads back to the barge to decide what to bring and what to leave on the boat.

After a while, the backpacks are ready and they say their goodbyes to Heironymous and Dumpling, jump on the wagon and Werner whips the reins – the journey to Middenheim begins.

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Session 24
Session 26

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Session 24
The destruction of Castle Wittgenstein

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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.

Durak dribbles.

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.

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Session 23
Session 25

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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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Session 22
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Session 22
Assault on Castle Wittgenstein

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The sounds of the guards arguing about their bets, laughing at each other and generally messing about, travel down the open staircase to Rowlocks and Werner. Rowlocks creeps carefully as he can and has a peep over the top step.

They sit round a table, playing cards.

Rowlocks and Werner plot their next move.
The rest of the team remain hidden around the ruins on the far side of the courtyard waiting to see what happens at the main gatehouse.

Right. Werner and Rowlocks will rush the guards while they are unsuspecting, and slaughter them before they have a chance to raise the alarm. It needs to work. If it doesn’t and the alarm is raised the assault on Castle Wittgenstein will probably fail and they will be trapped inside the castle.

They ready their weapons and slowly tiptoe to the top of the stairs. On the count of three, they burst up the stairs straight into the room and into the seated guards.

The element of surprise is key and it is the last thing they are expecting. It’s instant confusion mixed with fear and the guards don’t know what’s happening.

Werner hacks into the two on his side in successive hits before they can even stand. One immediately hits the floor to the right, bleeding and at deaths door. The other is heavily wounded by his axe and knocked to the left. He staggers, bleeding, but manages to stay on his feet.

Simultaneously, Rowlocks longsword is a blur of metal as he slashes into the two guards on the other side before they know what’s hit them.

It’s the perfect attack, while the guard cry out in pain or fumble for their weapons, the axe and swords are straight at them. Rowlocks runs one through while Werner drops the one that’s staggering near the stairs.

The remaining conscious guard calls out, ‘Attack! We’re under attack!!" But he’s wounded and laying on the floor. Before he can shout anymore, Rowlocks turns out his lights with his blade.

That couldn’t have gone any better. The guards lay in pools of blood on the floor while Rowlocks and Werner give each other a smile.
They must secure the gatehouse. They open the door to the adjoining room that contains the workings of the portcullis.
Once inside they kick over the unlit fires that could heat metal and water for the murder holes and inspect the pulleys and cogs of the portcullis. As long as the guards dont get up here, the outlaws waiting outside could get in without fear of getting trapped.

They head back down and outside. Thunder booms and streaks of lightning light up the sky. The storm is nearly here and rain pours down on the castle courtyard. They pull their cloaks around them and head to the main gates and into the wind.

The main gate is barred from the inside. It takes both of them to lift the massive wooden beam. They throw it to the side and push open the gate slightly.
Werner gives the signal and stands staring into the darkness.

Within seconds shapes can be seen moving in the gloom of the storm. Sigrid and her band of outlaws are ready and they swarm from the undergrowth towards the main gates.

Sigrid is on point and leads the band through the open gates.

“Well done boys,” she says as she meets them. “That’s the easy part, now let’s do this, good luck!” She slaps Rowlocks on the shoulder on the way past and her and her outlaws draw their bows and swords and flood into the courtyard.

It’s on.

Werner and Rowlocks head to the ruins to grab the others.

Within seconds, through the noise of the storm, shouts can be heard. This is quickly followed by the sounds of battle.

As the full party head back across the courtyard it’s a sight to behold. Sigrid has left some of her outlaws to secure the main gates, some have headed to the outer gatehouse to secure the route to the inner bailey, but the main force have headed to the keep.

The castle guards have streamed out of the keep and are locked in combat with the outlaws who are trying to push forward. Crossbow bolts fire down from the battlements, outlaw archers return fire with their long bows. The frontline is constantly shifting, screams and shouts ring out from all over, the rain and wind lash at the combatants.

The sound of swords clashing against shields and armor echoes through the courtyard as the defenders fight desperately to protect the keep and the gatehouses. Rain whips across the battlefield in sheets, making visibility difficult, as lightning illuminates the dark sky. The thunderous clash of battle mixes with the booming of thunder, and the smell of blood and sweat mixes with the scent of wet earth.

The melee is gruesome and violent. The surprise attack, from the inside of the castle, has caught the defending guards unawares, but they are professional fighting men and sergeants and lieutenants bark orders as they try to rally to a defensive position. This is matched by the determination and organisation of Sigrid and her outlaws who are fighting for both revenge and their futures.

Occasional forks of lightning flash over the castle illuminating the carnage.
To the right of the keep is what looks like a guard tower and crossbowmen are firing down on the outlaws blindside.

Rowlocks, Werner, Gnoblar, Wandy and Durak decide to secure the tower.

They assume their usual order and head up the staircase to the outer door with their weapons ready. Werner heaves open the door.
He steps into the doorway and immediately stands still, rigid, paralyzed by fear- he wasn’t expecting skeletons. Three undead skeletons stand in the room. The wind from the storm enters as Werner opens the door and rattles their tattered armor. They raise their swords and head to Werner.

Werner’s massive frame blocks the doorway and the others can’t get in to defend him in his fearful state and he’s so scared he can’t defend himself.

As one of the skeletons weapons clangs against Werner’s armor Rowlocks acts. He stands forward and pulls Werner backwards out of the doorway and enters into the small outer room. He smashes into one of the undead warriors knocking him back. Durak sees the gap and enters into the doorway and cuts down one of the skeletons with his axe.

Wandy and Gnoblar stand outside, covering the rear and surveying the ongoing battle that is raging across the way. It’s difficult to see whats happening as it’s the middle of the night and the storm is pounding overhead. Flashes of lightning give glimpses of epic scenes within the castle walls and on the battlements. Arrows fly and clangs and screams can be heard, so the stay put and cover the rear.

Werner doesn’t move, he can’t overcome the feeling of dread. Rowlocks hacks down one of the skeletons with one swing and wounds another straight after,  while Durak battles the last. Rowlocks and Durak are too skillful for them and within seconds they are smashed to pieces, broken on the floor.

The room is small with another door on the other side. Everyone piles in and pulls the door to the outside closed, shutting the storm outside.

They party regroups and prepares themselves for whatever is behind the next door. Werner is back in the room and takes point as usual, pushing open the next door.

They enter into the main ground floor chamber of the tower. Ancient tapestries hang on the walls and the place is covered in a thick layer of dust and heavy cobwebs cover most of the room, but apart from that it’s empty.
Two doors can be seen on either side of the room and the group see a trail of footprints leading to one of them. They decide to follow the prints and have a look.

The door opens to a circular staircase. Keen to get to the top and take out the tower archers, they head up the stairs.

The top leads to a door.
Werner puts his earlier fears behind him and steps to the front to open the door. Before he does Wandy calls him telling him to wait.
What seems like an age ago, back in Delberz, Heironymous, Wandy’s mentor, gave him a magical ring to protect against the undead. Based on what happened when they entered the tower, Wandy offers the protective powers of the ring to Werner. Werner thanks him, slips it on and flings open the door.

Werner rushes into what looks like an old barracks. Three sets of bunks line the walls topped with mouldy mattresses.

Three more skeletons turn at the noise of the disturbance, but this time Werner is ready for them, shows no fear and charges straight into the one on the far right. The first swing of his axe rattles into the skeletons side, but his return blow swings wildly past.

At this point, at the top of the stairs, Rowlocks and Gnoblar stand gripped with fear and they can’t bring themselves to move or enter to back up their friend.

Once again though, Durak shows no fear and launches into the fray, charging across the room at the one on the left. He attacks twice, but the skeleton avoids his axe and maneuvers to dodge his blows.

The unchallenged skeleton sees the paralyzed Rowlocks in the doorway and moves to attack but his sword hits the door frame.
This doesn’t snap Rowlocks out of his fear, but it does Wandy and Gnoblar.

Gnoblar pulls out Barrakul and charges at the skeleton to protect Rowlocks. The sword shimmers through his broken armor and cuts into his side. Wandy charges to join him and bashes the skeleton backward with an expertly directed down stroke with his staff. They both flank the undead soldier and take his focus off Rowlocks.

Werner continues to battle on the right, but he fails to penetrate the skeletons defense and is wounded on the counter.

On the left of the room, Durak brings his axe blade round in a perfect sweeping motions and crashes it through the skeletal warriors ribcage dropping him instantly.

Near the doorway, the skeleton has two targets. He spins and brings his sword round straight at Wandy. Wandy tries to dodge but he’s not quick enough and the rusty blade carves into his side and he lets out a massive scream.  Its a deep hit and he is seriously wounded, blood soaks into his robes. He wishes he hadn’t lent Werner his ring.

Durak hears Wandy’s scream and charges the skeleton from behind and bone flies as his axe hacks through his femur. The skeleton stumbles and falls to the floor.

At the same time Werner uses all of his power and lands a mighty blow to his adversary, smashing him into the ground in pieces.

With the undead gone, Gnoblar immediately rushes over to tend to Wandy. He stops the bleeding, bandages him up and gives him one of his pharmaceutical capsules from his pouch. Wandy thanks him, winces a bit, and stands up.

The muffled sounds of the storm mixed with battles can be heard outside the tower. There’s nothing of interest in the room and only one door. Everyone checks themselves and gets into formation ready to go towards the top of the tower.

At the top of the stairs is a door. Werner pushes it open and it creaks loudly.

An indistinct outline can be seen in the dimness of the room, a grey figure sat on a wooden chair, amongst masses of shimmering cobwebs.

“Who dares enter my chamber unannounced?”
“Werner, and who are you?”
“Leave this place!”
“I will not, tell me what you’re doing here?”
“LeeeaVEE THIS PLACEEE!

With that, he stands creating a cloud of dust which obscure him from the party. When the dust settles, right in front of them stands a large skeleton figure, still dressed in armor, in his hand a bastard sword.
Now he’s close, everyone can see his ghostly features clearly and panic instantly begins to spread through the party.

Gnoblar takes one look, turns on his heels and bolts back down the stairs. He tries to push past Durak, who takes a look in the room and follows him.

Werner turns instantly, cries out in fear and heads down the stairs. Wandy also is overcome with emotions and runs with Werner, and they both push past Rowlocks.

Rowlocks sees nothing to be afraid of, readies his grip on his sword and steps forward.
He lunges forward at the creature and misses. The undead swings at Rowlocks, trying to knock the sword out of hands and fails, a second hit goes straight for Rowlocks but he manages to duck.
Rowlocks strikes back on the counter and hits, slicing through the chain mail. The skeleton tries again to disarm Rowlocks but fails, but his second swing clangs into his chest and is soaked up by his armor.

Rowlocks pushes forward again, forcing his move and striking twice with an expert flurry of blows. The skeletal warrior tries to dodge and parry but Rowlocks is too quick, knocking him further off balance. And again, with the momentum, Rowlocks strikes with a backswing and a foreswing. The undead dodges one, but can’t move his large sword round quick enough to parry the second, and it crunches into him. He pulls his bastard sword over his head and brings it down on Rowlocks’ shoulder cutting through his armor.

At this point, Wandy begins to creep back up the stairs. Werner has also pulled himself together and stops, turns and makes his ascent back up the staircase.

Rowlocks fights back but his swings are wild and miss completely. The skeletal warrior pushes forward with his blade swinging at Rowlocks. Rowlocks manages to dodge the first one and attempts to parry the second. He’s miscalculated and the ancient blade slices into his leg.

Rowlocks and the undead continue to battle, as Werner races up the stairs back to the room.

Taking in the scene, Werner sees that Rowlocks is wounded and on the back foot. He charges forward at the skeleton with his axe poised.
He smashes his axe, full of rage, full into the skeletons chest. The undead tries one last dodge to avoid the incoming blow, but he’s too slow. The axe smashes through his tattered armour, cracks his ribcage to pieces and he drops to the floor.

Rowlocks is hurt and Werner goes to help him. Over the next few minutes the rest of the party head back to the room, slightly ashamed at their lack of bravery.

They check over the room while Gnoblar bandages up Rowlocks. Theres nothing here apart from moldy food remains, dust and cobwebs, but Wandy does like the look of the bastard sword and picks it up.

The roof. They pull themselves together and take the final flight of stairs up to the top of the tower.

Opening the top door brings back the turmoil of the outside. Rain lashes down as thunder rumbles. Shouts, screams and clangs can be heard from the battle on the ground level.
At the top, two guards stand firing crossbows down on the outlaws below. They don’t notice the party due to the noise and darkness.

Werner and Rowlocks take one each and charge at their prospective targets. They both hit first time but miss the with a second blow as the guards turn in pain, screaming out.

Gnoblar sees his chance, with Barrakul in hand, rushes at the left hand guard. His vorpal blade sings as it flickers through the guards armor, cuts into his side and kills him.

Wandy, with his fresh new weapon, takes his chances and rushes the remaining guard. It feels good in his hands and with the momentum of his charge, he brings it round upon the wounded guard. The guard can’t move out the way as he’s already reeling from Rowlocks blade. Wandys bastard sword slams into him and he drops backward over the top of the tower, falling down to the battle below.

From the battlements of the tower they can see the action below. Sigrid’s forces are in hand to hand combat with the castle guards in and around the keep. Some of the outlaws have taken up position and secured the outer gatehouse and they are firing their long bows down on the guards in the courtyard.
Another group has proceeded to the inner gatehouse which leads to the inner bailey, exactly where our heroes are heading, and they see their chance while the outlaws have it overrun.

Before heading out they take a moment to heal up. Gnoblar heals Werner’s wounds and bandages him up. He can’t tend to Wandy and Rowlocks but he delves into his pharmaceutical bag and produces some pills that he’s distilled from herbs, which they take.

They take a last few minutes of solace as they descend the peaceful, dry tower before bursting through the bottom doors into the carnage below.

Adrenaline pumps as their senses are overloaded.
Melee battles are fought, bodies bleed out ,orders shouted, both outlaws and guards call out, shout, the wind howls, the rain pours down, all highlighted in the darkness by flashes of lightning.
It’s hard to get a grasp of what’s happening, and the temptation to wade into the battle to help their allies is felt by all, especially Werner, but with their eyes on their objective, they cross the courtyard and head for the inner gatehouse.

As they arrive they’re greeted by a few outlaws who stand over some dead guards.
“Good luck my friends, we will laugh about this in the morning,” says one of the outlaws as he grabs his bow and heads up to the top floor to give covering fire.

After a quick check to make sure everyone is still together, the party push through the gate and across the bridge which leads to the inner bailey.

A cold wind whips across the bridge that leads to the central tower. The party are plunged into the darkness of the night, as they take the full force of the storm. They push forward clasping their cloaks around them and pulling their hoods up. The sounds of battle can barely be heard behind them over the wind and rain.

The bridge leads across a chasm, and they are hundreds of feet up and on either side is a sheer drop into the darkness below.

The bridge from the outer bailey gatehouse leads across the cliffs and rocks to a central tower. The central tower sits atop an isolated pinnacle between the outer and inner baileys. On the other side of the tower is a similar bridge which leads to the inner bailey of Castle Wittgenstein.

They lean into the wind and head for the guard house.

Ahead, torchlight can be seen at the central structure. As they draw closer, they see a group of guards making a barrier across the road leading through the guard house.

The five guards stand in formation, peering into the darkness.

With the darkness of the night and the rain, they have the drop on guards.

Rowlocks knocks an arrow and everyone gets ready.
Rowlocks fires into the one who looks to be in charge and it hits him in the shoulder.
At the same time, Wandy pulls back his sleeves and unleashes a fireball which hisses it’s way through the downpour and slams into the group of soldiers.

The guards are caught unawares, they brace themselves and shout in panic.
Werner and Durak charge into the front line.
Wandy sends another fireball into the open flank.

The fight is short and within moments the guards are shot, sliced, burnt and dead.

They stand in the light in the archway of the central guardtower, sheltering briefly from the storm. They head inside and search around the tower.

There is little of interest apart from two massive winches which raise both the southern drawbridge behind them, which leads to the outer bailey, where the outlaws are fighting to control, and the northern drawbridge, ahead of them, which leads to the inner bailey of Castle Wittgenstein, and they hope, the meteor.

They decide to leave them be and they cross the northern drawbridge, across the sheer drop and towards the inner castle.

The inner bailey gatehouse is open and unmanned, and they cautiously step through.

Our heroes stand in the courtyard of Castle Wittgenstein. The walls and silhouettes of buildings loom in the darkness of the night. The rain and wind of the storm batter on.

The distant battle can no longer be heard and as everyone takes in the scene, eyes are drawn to vast numbers of evil-looking blackbirds.
They circle over head and peer down from their perches on the roofs of the buildings. Their eyes glitter with intelligence and they follow the movement of the adventurers closely, even hopping along the edges of the walls for a better view.

Lightning illuminates the inner castle for a split second as the adventurers gather a quick glimpse of their surroundings. Thunder rumbles all around as our party decide on their next move.

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Session 21
Session 23

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Session 21
A storm on the horizon

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The beastman lets out another blood curdling bestial roar and the hairs on everyones necks stand on end.

Immediately, adrenaline pumps through the concealed party’s veins. The plan to stay hidden and let them past is gone, and Kratz and the detachment of guards stare straight into the patch of undergrowth where the guys are buried.

Rowlocks, ranger of the woods, is in his natural environment and silently, with his elven bow in hand, peels off to the left through the trees hoping for a vantage point.

Gnoblar stands firmly behind Werner and weighs up his options, waiting to see what the guards do.

Sergeant Kratz pulls out his flail and draws his horse up next to the beastman, peering into the trees.

Wandy sees his opportunity while the remaining guards are all stood together on the little forest track, closes his eyes for a second, focuses. An almighty fireball comes bursting out of the darkness of the tree cover and winds it’s way through the trunks and smashes into the group.

They are caught completely off guard and were not expecting it, but they are lucky this time and, although dramatic, the fireball causes little damage.

Cover is now completely blown and four of the six guards brush off the magical attack  and head towards the source of the fireball, whilst the other two hang back with their crossbows searching for a target in the trees.

Werner takes a step forward and braces for the incoming attack, hoping to take the heat ahead of Wandy and Gnoblar.

At that moment, the beastman heads into the group with his spear held high. Durak steps forward alongside Werner and smashes the beastman on the intercept.

Rowlocks nocks an arrow into his elven bow and let’s loose, but it whistles through the trees and past the crossbow man he’s aiming at.

Before the four men-at-arms reach Werner and Durak, Wandy takes another chance at hitting them with a fireball. Once again, it comes raging though the trees and smashes into the group but causes almost no damage, and they head straight into Werner.

Werner and Durak and fighting side by side against the four guards and the beastman, with Kratz incoming on his horse. Two of the guards hang back with crossbows loaded.

It’s at this point, now they’re in close quarters, that they notice the stench. An overwhelming, putrid stench eminates from the soldiers from within their black plate mail. It’s stomach turning and distracting, almost making the melee fighters sick and affecting their game but they continue to battle.

The archers at the rear spot Rowlocks in the trees firing from the flank. One of the crossbow bolts skims past Rowlocks and slams into a tree trunk, the other does not. The other is a perfect shot, it flies true and with all possible force and blasts into Rowlock’s arm finding a gap in the chain mail links. Rowlocks staggers backwards and reels in pain.

Kratz now drives his horse into the melee and cracks his flail down on Durak’s helmet, almost knocking him off balance and hurting him. Werner swings again at the two guards in front of him, but his bulk and size amongst the trees are making it difficult, and he misses with both blows.

Before the Beastman is able to thrust forward with his horns and spear, Durak swings his hand axe in a clean backward and forward series of blows. The axehead slices open the belly of the beast, and the beast drops to the floor on top of his emptying guts.

Kratz rears his horse round to face Werner and delivers a series of swings with his flail. Werner is able to dodge one but is caught on the back foot as the metal flail heads crash into his shoulder.

Wandy and Gnoblar are just behind the frontline and take their chances to fire on the crossbowmen at the back. Gnoblar has been loading his crossbow and fires at the archer who shot Rowlocks, but it flies off into the trees. Wandy unleashes another fireball and this time it hits its target causing some serious pain.

The guards to Werner’s right, continue to pound away, looking for a gap in his defense, but most of these attacks clang away on his magic shield or glance across his chain armor.

With the beastman down, and although he’s wounded, Durak faces Kratz, who in turn, is attacking Werner. Being a dwarf is not helping Durak and it’s difficult to hit Kratz who is heavily armored and riding a horse. With this is mind, the plucky dwarf decides to slash into the horse in an attempt to bring it down.

With blood pouring from his bolt wound, Rowlocks drops his bow, draws his sword and charges at the closest crossbowman. He swings in vain and the sword edge does not connect.

Werner rains blows at Kratzs whilst holding the guards to the right on his shield arm. Kratz manages to parry an incoming blow and he’s now on the defensive.

Wandy sends out another fireball from the back to the lone crossbow man, hitting him again and knocking him back, he’s singed and wounded.

Durak tries to lay another hit onto Kratz’s horse, he misses the horse and wounds Kratz in the leg.

Rowlocks thrusts his long sword at the crossbow man he’s fighting. The blade goes straight through his defense and runs him through, piercing into his chest. Rowlocks withdraws his blood soaked sword as his foe drops to the ground.

Gnoblar sees the remaining, smoking crossbowman, draws his vorpal blade and charges straight at him. Barrakul, ‘Hope of the Mountains’ does not let him down. With all his might the blade shimmers in and out of reality, flickering through his opponents helmet and coming back into reality inside his skull. He slices the head clean off, and it drops to the floor in pieces.

Wandy, with Rowlocks and Gnoblar dealing with the crossbowman to his right, turns his attention the four guards who are trying to overpower Werner’s flank. He manoeuvres to the side and hits them with a wind blast, knocking them off balance and giving Werner an opening.

Werner takes his chance and his axe whirrs into Kratz’s plate and he let’s out a deep growl. Kratz attempts to return the blow but Werner dodges to the side.

Durak is struggling with the overpowering smell but also sees his chance, and with Kratz busy with Werner he buries his weapon deep into his horses hind legs and it drops to the floor, blood gushing, he jumps aside and Kratz rolls onto the ground and Durak slashes him on the way past.

Rowlocks, invigorated by his kill, charges into the fray, he swings twice at a guard but the arm wound is taking its toll and he misses.

Kratz is up and goes toe-to-toe with Werner, the massive powerhouses square off and Kratz smashes an almighty blow with his flail right at Werner’s chest. If it connects it will surely open him up, but Werner is too quick and brings his magical shield round to deflect the blow. What Werner isn’t expecting is an even mightier backswing following the parry. He’s not quick enough for this one, time seems to slow as the heavy metal ends of the flail head straight for his face. At that moment, by the freak chance of fate, Werner catches his foot on a rogue tree root and stumbles back and onto the floor, an accident that has surely saved his life, as the deadly ends of the flail nick the edge of his chin.

Kratz stands for a moment in disbelief. Durak is in a battle rage, covered in blood and screams right into Kratz’s side delivering a series of powerful blows that the sergeant can’t deal with. His axe finds it’s way through a gap in the black plate and lodges itself into Kratzs hip. He screams, drops his weapons, staggers for a moment and falls to the floor dead. Durak isn’t finished yet and his next swing cuts into one of the remaining guards killing him too.

Wandy wind blasts the final two guards into place as they try to power themselves out of the blast. Werner gets to his feet tries to finish them but misses, his swing affected by the wind.

Rowlocks and Gnoblar head over to the last couple of foes, but its Durak who has the final say. With two almighty smashes of his blood stained axe he drops them to the floor. It’s over.

Each of them stands for a moment and takes stock. Everyone is battered, bruised and bloody, but still standing. Werner, Rowlocks and Durak are heavily injured. Adrenaline wears off and they look round the massacre. What a battle.

After Gnoblar checks everyones wounds and they look over the carnage around them, they are keen to get back to camp as quickly as possible. They pile the bodies and weapons under trees and make note of where they are. They grab what weapons they can carry and Rowlocks guides them as quickly as they can go back to the outlaw camp.

The heroes stagger into camp and are quickly met by their outlaw friends who grab their packs and weapons and help them to comfort. They’re wounded and dazed, but safe. Their pains are tended to as best as possible and the exhausted party get some rest as Sigrid says they can talk tomorrow.

The sun is up and the camp is busy by the time everyone gets up. They head to Sigrid’s hut and everyone gathers round for a serious debrief. The party tell all: the trip through the caves; the reconnaissance inside the castle; the battle with Kratz and his detachment and making it back. There is much to discuss and they spend most of the day talking to Sigrid, Hilda and the other outlaws about what they have learnt.

Sigrid sends out some outlaws to retrieve what they can from the fallen soldiers, they return some time later with their helmets. It’s obviously been quite disturbing removing them as the soldiers had literally melded with their armor.

It will take a few days at least for everyone to get their strength back, and a multitude of different plans are made about how to infiltrate and invade the castle.

Maps are drawn, plans are made, scrapped and remade, options explored and many things are discussed. Could we open the gates to let the outlaws in from the inside with the new secret route? Could we dress as guards with the helmets and move around unseen? Beggars perhaps? Could we get to the walls and lower ropes? Should it be stealth or all guns blazing?

A few days pass while the party heals up. A fully formed plan is on the horizon. The plan is for the outlaws to hide in the trees outside of the main castle gates, while everyone else enters through the secret staircase into the outer bailey. Once inside, stealth will be used to secure the outer gatehouse, once secured and set, the outlaws will flood into the outer castle and overpower the castle soldiers.

Sigrid always has her outlaws safety at the forefront of her mind, and she is happy with the plan. Working together with the party is her best bet on having an impact and hurting the Wittgensteins, the time is now.

The next day, as sunset approaches, everyone will load up, get themselves ready and into position at nightfall, using the cover of darkness to aid in their attack and give them the element of surprise. From their reconnaissance mission, it looks like the guards are not expecting an attack at all.

As the sun fades, dark clouds can be seen on the horizon. The mood in camp is sombre. Everyone is checking their bow strings, sharpening their blades and tightening their armor buckles.

The once clear blue sky has now turned ominous, and the cheerful chirping of birds has been replaced by the distant rumbling of thunder. Slowly but surely, the wind begins to pick up, causing the leaves on the trees to rustle with increasing intensity. The fighters in camp can feel the cool air prickling their skin, as the temperature steadily drops. The storm is approaching. It’s time to head out.

Backs are patted and the two groups wish each other luck, promising to see each other, shortly, on the other side.

Rowlocks takes point and leads Werner, Wandy, Gnoblar and Durak through the woodland towards the cave system.

Once inside they take their known route to the staircase. It’s still a foreboding place, blood curdling screams and strange noises echo from every direction still. They press on, with strength in numbers, at a rapid pace.

Now at the top, inside the castle walls, they take up hidden positions amongst the ruins.

The initial plan is for Rowlocks and Werner pull up their cloaks around them and masquerade as beggars and scope out the gatehouse. The pull over their hoods, pull the cloaks around them and step out into the darkness of the castle courtyard.

Guards can be seen via torchlight on the towers and the castle walls, but they take little notice of the shambling figures down near the ruins. It’s dark and the guards are used to beggars shuffling around.

Rowlocks and Werner do a lap of the area, taking note of what they can see through the windows of the buildings, estimating what they may contain: coach houses, stables, etc. Everyone else lays hidden around the ruins at the top of the staircase and waits for what might happen next.

So far, so good. Lightning flashes in the distance followed by thunder.

They approach the gatehouse and inconspicuously walk around. They see that the outer gate is barred, a portculis is raised and the inner gate are open. They need to make sure that the portcullis cannot be dropped after the gates are open. This would trap the outlaws inside, preventing any retreat.

Things are tense and Rowlocks and Werner push open the left hand side door of the gatehouse and head inside. They find empty unused rooms and stores, then they follow a ladder up to the top floor. Once on the top floor their path is blocked by a locked door. They decide to head back down and enter back through the bottom floor door on the other side.

As always, Werner enters first. Once inside
he sees a large room with an open staircase to the left. Sitting behind a desk is a guard. He glances up,
“You know you’re not allowed in here, now fuck off!”
Werner stands still, cloaked, with his hood low and his cloak tight. Rowlocks stands behind him in the shadows of the doorway.

“I’ve told you filthy bastards to get out of here, theres no food for you in here now get gone before I break your jaw!”

The guard stands, now irate, “For fucks sake. Right, looks like I’m going to have to teach you a lesson you’ll not forget”

With this he storms over to the ‘beggar’ and pulls back his fist.
In one swift movement, Werner pulls his axe from under his cloak and swings upwards towards the guards chest. He’s not expecting it and theres nothing he can do and a second later he drops to the floor dead.

As Werner and Rowlocks stand for a moment looking at each other, wondering what to do, they hear the sounds of more people eminating from up the staircase.

Rowlocks creeps up a couple of steps and listens. It appears to be a group of guards, four maybe, arguing about some kind of bet, they’re playing dice or cards or something.

Rowlocks looks at Werner, Werner looks at the dead body on the floor and looks back at Rowlocks. 

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Session 20
Session 22

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Session 20
Into the darkness

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The tunnel is cramped, damp and dark. Rowlocks strikes up a torch and the bare earth of the roughly excavated passage is visible.
With the search of the village enclosing on the physician’s house there is only one option. Durak, with his keen low light vision, offers to scout ahead while the party follow on behind. He’s perfect for the job with his mining experience and his short stature.

Rowlocks leads the party, while Wandy follows closely behind, with Werner carrying the unconscious Gnoblar at the back.

It’s not easy going, but after about 20 minutes, Durak returns saying there’s an opening up ahead to the surface.

Daylight can be seen up ahead. Werner pops his head through some bushes and discovers that the tunnel has brought them north and they are in the graveyard of the Temple of Sigmar.

Right, the plan is, hide out in the Temple until and if the guards come this way. If they do, the gang will head out into the graveyard and if necessary head into the ‘not very inviting at all’ nearby woodland.

Werner slowly opens the back door and heads into the corridor into the room where Wandy and Gnoblar studied the village records a few days earlier. Everyone follows closely behind.

Upon opening the door, Werner is greeted by a group of eight or so village beggars, although these ones look particularly scrawny, dirty and mutated and are carrying bits of bone.

They look at him and he looks at them in a few moments of confusion. One of the beggars shouts out, “You cant have anymore food!”
Werner assures them he doesn’t want their food and after a brief exchange they begin to shuffle off into the front area of the temple as both parties suspiciously eye each other.

Maybe we should kill them incase they blow our cover? But wanting to keep a low profile and not cause a disturbance they let them go and take up residence in the room, which also has the only front facing window. Werner, who is still carrying Gnoblar, lays him down and Rowlocks climbs up to take position in the front window.

The scrawny beggars can be seen leaving through the front door and dispersing, but thankfully they don’t head to alert the guards and sneak off down the river.

Werner heads to stand outside the back door to watch the tunnel entrance, Durak waits just inside, Rowlocks watches the town through the window and Wandy stands near the still unconscious Gnoblar.

The guards can be seen sweeping the town and they’re inside the doctors house. It’s only a matter of time now before they find the bodies – and probably the tunnel.

A short while later, outside the back of the temple, Werner hears a loud whisper.

“Hey, you idiots, come here, quickly, and shhh!”
The voice is coming from a secluded patch of shrubs and bushes in the graveyard.

Surprised as this, Werner is unsure of what to do. “Who is it? What do you want?” He replies in an equally loud whisper.

“Just hurry, get the others and hurry!”
He tries to shout Durak, but Durak is inside and doesn’t hear him.

Deciding he’s got nothing to lose he heads over. He’s surprised to see the woman from the mill who rudely sent them away a few days ago.
“You and your friends are really fucking things up, the guards are smashing up the village and beating the locals, hurry, get the others and follow me..”
With this, and a new sense of urgency, he heads inside and informs everyone of what’s happening. Sensing a lifeline, it doesn’t take long for everyone to grab their stuff, pick up Gnoblar and head out the back door. Before they know it they are heading into the woods at pace, trying to keep up with the woman. Although they don’t particularly trust her, this seems like the best option at the moment.

The forest is bleak and putrid fungus and strange insects can be seen. It feels dark and suffocating, the roots of the trees seem to grasp at their legs whilst never being seen to move.

After about twenty minutes or so they noise from the village disappears into the distance and the party shout, “Wait a minute! What’s going on here?”
She stops and they catch up. Her name is Hilda and she is working with a gang of outlaws that are hiding in the forest. She doesn’t know what the adventurers are doing, but it’s clear that they are not on the side of the Wittgensteins. She does tell them that she thinks they’re fools and they have brought the might of the castle down unnecessarily on the village, having killed Jean Rousseau and caused a major fuss, but she will take them to the outlaw camp so they can speak to the boss.

Spirits are elevated now and the party feel like this feels like a long overdue piece of good fortune.

Hilda moves fast through the undergrowth and is always looking behind her. After a while they reach an area that looks like normal forest, untouched by the blight that surrounds Wittgendorf, Hilda explains that the outlaw camp is protected by the goddess Rhya, although the protection won’t last forever. She tells them to stay close and step where she steps, the routes in are heavily trapped. They follow close behind and soon break into a small clearing with shelters and huts and people.

As soon as they step in bows are pointing at them from all angles. The outlaws see Hilda and relax slightly, but still point their bows.

She leads the group into the centre of the clearing and they are met by the outlaw chief.

The outlaw chief is a tall, strong and beautiful looking woman. She speaks to Hilda for a few moments and then turns to the visitors, “My name is Sigrid, welcome to our camp. Enemies of the Wittgensteins are friends of ours. Come, let us talk.” She turns and heads into a wooden hut in the centre of the clearing and the guys follow and sit down.

It’s herbal teas all round and a much needed sensation of sanctuary for the party. A long discussion takes place with Hilda and Sigrid. Sigrid explains that about 18 months ago her husband was taken to the castle. During the incident Sigrid killed a guard and escaped to the forest. Since then, people who have escaped the village have made their way to the camp and they now number about thirty. They have been hitting the guards by guerilla warfare in small ambushes but haven’t really made much of an impact. In turn our heroes explain the course of events that have led them to Wittgendorf, and that they seek to destroy the great evil that is kept there. This would in turn, free the village and end the misfortunes of the local community. Discussions continue late into the evening and eventually Gnoblar comes round.

Sigrid warns of entering the castle, it’s a place of madness and death, but the party insist they must go. She wants to help, this might be the outlaws best chance to turn the tide, although an frontal assault on a castle, particularly one like Wittgenstein, is not an option. They convince her that there must be a way. She tells them of a possible way in through a cave system she knows of, although she has been too afraid to travel far inside, but she will lead them there so that they can recon the situation.

Everyone rests up for the night, and in the morning, Rowlocks, Durak and Werner will head into the caves for a look.

The next morning, it’s another nice summer’s day and everyone has enjoyed their rest in the relative safety of the camp. Gnoblar and Wandy make themselves at home while the others pack their backpacks and get ready to head out to the caves with Sigrid.

Sigrid moves swiftly and carefully through the forest and although Rowlocks finds moving through the undergrowth reasonably easy, Werner and Durak are not so successful. After a while they are clear of the natural forest, protected by goddess Rhya, and back in the gloom of the Wittgendorf trees.

As they get closer, Sigrid gives directions and leaves them to it and heads back to camp, as she is reluctant to enter the cave network.  Shortly after they find the dark, narrow, hidden entrance to the caves, which has been concealed by bushes.

The cave is dark and damp, and slopes downward into the earth. Durak’s low light vision puts him on point and Rowlocks and Werner follow close behind by the light of Werner’s torch.

After about 5 yards or so a deep grunting, bellowing sound can be heard ahead. They shuffle forward and the grunting is joined by a high pitched squeal. This sets everyones teeth on edge and the atmosphere is tense. They stick close together with their weapons drawn.

The situation is unnerving and they quickly realise why Sigrid didn’t want to come. The tunnels twist and turn, the T-junctions and off passageways all look the same. 

They stumble into a open area and the remains of a human skeleton can be seen. While they investigate the area, a blood curdling scream reverberates around the caves and Werner and Rowlocks look at each other. It’s too much, they’re both overwhelmed with desire to get the hell out of here and begin to panic. Durak, who is very experienced at being underground, grabs them and calms them down. Although Werner and Rowlocks have lost their cool they manage to override the urge to flee after Durak’s pep talk and they push further on.

As they come to a tunnel crossroads, Durak steps forward and two razor toothed lash worms whip out of holes in the wall. Durak is quick to react but one manages to take a chunk out of his arm.

They opt to head in a forward but right kind of way and before long they find themselves in a cavern filled with many types of glowing fungus and mushrooms. They carefully step through without touching anything.

A few further twists and turns and Durak stops and points ahead. There’s another cavern ahead and they can see four strange luminous outlines ahead.

Weapon grips are adjusted and within seconds the adventurers are rushed by huge rats.
The battle is short as Werner and Rowlocks cut through the rodents of unusual size, but during the melee Durak sustains a bite to the face and it looks nasty. It stings a bit, but he shakes it off and they push on.

They continue through the dark, hoping to find a way up to the castle, but before they know it they are back at the first T-junction they came to.
After a few hours in the caves and with the opportunity to leave right in front of them, they decide to head back to the camp, get the others and get Gnoblar to take a look at Durak’s bite mark.

They exit the caves, much to Werner and Rowlocks’ relief, and slowly and carefully head back through the forest to the outlaw camp.

By the time they reach camp, the bite mark on Durak’s cheek is swollen, inflamed and painful. Gnoblar takes a look, and although it’s definitely infected, he doesn’t know specifically what the problem is. He dresses it the best he can and Durak has a lay down.

Another restful night around the campfire of the outlaws is a welcome respite. Although there is a slight edge, knowing that the party have been highly sought after by the castle’s guards. Sigrid is concerned that this heightened state and the death of the village doctor and the recent events at Wittgendorf may drive the search further into the forest and nearer to the camp.
The caves are discussed and the Werner and Rowlocks are keen to head back in with the others, feeling braver now they’re not in the caves. As disturbing as the trip was, finding a successful path through to the castle is much preferred to the other options available.

In the morning, the guys pack their rucksacks and head back through the forest to the network of caves, once again initially escorted by Sigrid.

Werner, Durak, Gnoblar, Wandy and Rowlocks step through the entrance, light their torches and head into the darkness.

The caves are confusing and disturbing. Straight away blood curdling screams can be heard, reverberating from all directions, strange sucker marks are visible on the walls and the sounds on rocks cracking together and splashes and drops of water seem to come from all round.
Werner, Durak and Rowlocks have a good idea of the area they travelled around yesterday, particularly Durak. They avoid the lash worms, dangerous footings and steadily bring everyone through the caves until they reach some forks they haven’t been down before.

They have the uneasy feeling they are being watched and at some points Gnoblar swears he can see a face up in the darkness of the caverns but when he looks again it’s not there.

Strength in numbers gives Rowlocks and Werner a better outlook than last time but everyone can’t wait to get out of here.

Before long they come to an underground stream. The stream is easily jumped, but as everyone is making their way across, Werner notices that the downstream opening is little bit larger than the part where the stream enters the cave.

They stop to discuss it, could this be a way through the cave that may be overlooked? Possibly, but no one fancies taking off their armor, jumping into a stream in a cave network and swimming an undetermined length underwater in the pitch black in the hope that it opens to a breathing space. Werner thinks about it, it strikes him as an opportunity, but even he doesn’t want to risk it. They push on.

They’ve been here for hours now, a few times they have ended up back at the cave entrance. They have been attacked by bats, Gnoblar has taken some mushroom samples, but they have not found a way into the castle. They sit by torchlight and map out the directions they’ve taken. They discuss the stream once again but it’s too risky. The screams and noises continue and the party are discussing maybe calling it. After a second look at the stream they head north and determine that they have not yet been right at the next T-junction.

Durak heads off into the darkness, shortly after he calls back, “Come, this way!”

At last!

At the back of the tunnel is a roughly hewn staircase that ascends. This is exactly what they are looking for and with a sigh of relief they head up. It climbs for about 200 feet. The top leads to a featureless square room. Rowlocks feels round the ceiling and sure enough, ‘click’ and a trapdoor swings down.
Werner peeps his head quietly up,and low and behold, they are in a ruined outhouse of the outer keep of Castle Wittgenstein.

Everyone quietly creeps up and stations themselves behind the broken walls and takes in the scene.

They sit in silence and remain for a while and take in as much information from the stake out as possible. A variety of buildings line the inner walls of the castle. A large inner keep, stables, workhouse and other ruined buildings. Mutated beggars shuffle round the courtyard, they look much worse than the Wittgendorf beggars. They are filthy and close to death, mumbling insanities. One beggar with three eyes and no nose wanders past their position clutching a half eaten green potatoe.
Guards can be seen on the walls and walking through the buildings from the main gate and on patrols. Its difficult to ascertain how many there are without entering the buildings, but what is clear is that they seem pretty relaxed.

After what feels like long enough, they steadily creep back down the staircase and replace the trapdoor. The findings are great news and they need to get back and tell Sigrid and the others.

They carefully note the directions that have been taken and find their way back to the entrance.

It’s getting late and the light is fading, it’s time to get back. The group moves through the blighted forest swiftly and quietly.
Rowlocks is on point and he turns and signals for everyone to get down in the undergrowth and points northwards. From their position in the trees they can see a detachment of guards moving through the forest on a small track, they are heading their way.

They see Sergent Kratz on horseback and six other heavily armoured men-at-arms. Kratz the bastard, he impounded the boat. A short whispered conversation ensues, and although they want revenge on Kratz they decide that now isn’t the time and they should remain hidden and let them pass.

As they draw nearer, what they haven’t noticed is the beastman ahead of the soldiers, sniffing his way through the forest guiding the others.
As he pulls level, he looks up, smells the air, stares straight at where the adventurers are and let’s out a bestial roar. Snarling and pointing he cries back to Kratz and the others.

They immediately stare straight at the bushes where everyone is hidden. The cover is blown.

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Session 19
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Session 19
A date for dinner

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Everyone watches as the Jolly Nobber sails away up the Reik, confiscated by the bastard castle guards. Dumpling is beside herself and Elvis acts submissive as he looks out at the mangy dogs and beggars eyeing him up from the shacks around the wharf side.

What now?
Everyone looks solemnly at each other and they take a slow walk back up the hill to Wittgendorf village.
The party need some kind of plan and, with the meeting with the village doctor is a few hours away, they decide to go and investigate the mill in the village and then check into the pub.

After a short walk to the mill, while shooing away beggars, Werner strides up and knocks at the door. Nothing happens, so he knocks again. A short while later a man’s voice shouts for them to go away. They try to engage the occupant, saying they want to have a chat about the village goings on, but Gnoblar’s charm and Werner’s brutishness fall on deaf ears, but they don’t give up.
The bloke inside really doesn’t want to talk or let them in and, eventually, a window opens a floor up and a women shouts out, “what is your problem? Just go away! Leave us alone!”

At this point Rowlocks suggests that they should let it go and head to the pub, and they do just that.

Wandy feels a bit itchy.

The Shooting Star Inn is in poor condition, and although they’ve been in some shitholes before, this looks like the worst. They push open the door and head inside.
Herbert, the landlord, looks depressed as he polishes some tankards, and nearly manages a smile as they enter. Apart from a few locals sat at a table the place is empty. Herbert is welcoming and informs them that they are the first visitors he’s had for three years. Drinks are ordered and the gang look for the least broken, dirty table to sit at.

Herbert is chatty enough and they talk about the state of Wittgendorf, the misfortunes of the people of the area, the storms and blight of the land. They are offered the opportunity for some food, and although they lost their supplies, no one really fancies it. Wandy and the others are keen to glean any information they can about the castle but whenever it’s mentioned, the landlord remembers a job he needs to do.

After a couple of drinks they decide to head over and see Jean Rousseau, the village physician, even though they are a few hours early for their appointment.

Despite the state of Wittgendorf it’s not a bad summer’s afternoon, but the ominous silhouette of Castle Wittgenstien looms in, dominating the horizon and darkening the mood. Theres got to be some way into the castle and the doctor seems like the most normal person in the area, so hopes are high for the meeting.

Wandy feels even Itchier now and he asks Doc Gnoblar to take a look. It doesn’t take Gnoblar long to discern that he’s caught lice, probably from a beggar. Everyone takes a few steps back from Wandy.

Werner knocks at the door, and after a little while an elderly lady pulls open the door and stares quizzically over the tops of her spectacles. She’s clearly deaf, and after the fact that they have an appointment with the doctor has been shouted over to her, she shuts the door and disappears for a moment.

She comes back, shows the party into the surgery room and informs them that Mr Rousseau will be along shortly to meet them. Dumpling, Durak and Elvis take a seat on the couch at the back of the room and Wandy, Rowlocks, Gnoblar and Werner sit in the wooden chairs opposite the desk.

The place is quiet and as they wait, Werner suggests that they have a quick rummage round the room before he gets here, be able to hear him coming!
He is quickly over ruled, this might be the only decent lead to getting into the castle, and none of the others want to get into any trouble at this point, so begrudgingly, Werner leaves it and they all wait for the doctor.

After five minutes or so in comes Jean Rousseau, the village physician. He smiles at his guests and takes his place at the desk.

Discussions are pleasant, Rousseau asks about the visitors back stories and intentions and they in turn ask about local conditions and topical events. Jean Rousseau seems to be doing his best to help the local afflicted and when asked about the blue bottled liquid, he explains that it’s a concoction of his divising and it seems to give much needed pain relief.

Things are going well and Rousseau invites them through the door behind him to a more comfortable study room, and brandy and cigars are brought while they continue to talk. They discuss the downward spiral of the village of Wittgendorf, the storms and general bleakness of the area.

Feeling trust building, the party start to assure the doctor that they are here to help and they have vested interest turning round the fortunes of the village. Discussions of the castle and its inhabitants lead to Rousseau offering to host a dinner party the following evening, where the gang can meet with his friend – Lady Magritte from the castle.
He assures them that Lady Magritte is wonderful lady, who does her best to help the people of Wittgendorf under difficult conditions and that she will be able to answer all of their questions, and also sort out the obvious mix up with the impounding of the barge.

Happy with this arrangement, everyone’s finishes their brandy and bids farewell to Dr Rousseau, telling him that they will see him for dinner tomorrow.

As they walk back towards the inn, everyone has a chat about the meeting and how this might be a way in to the castle itself.

Whilst approaching the main village crossroads across from the inn they are approaching by a distressed woman, she is crying and wailing and she is carrying a baby wrapped in linen.
“Please help me!” She begs. She implores the party to try and help her baby, she has become sick and taken a strange tinge, Rousseau has also been no help. Her husband was also taken to the castle yesterday and everyone  realises that this was the man who was captured by Magritte when they first arrived.

Everyone looks at Gnoblar, Gnoblar says, “ok, let’s take a look.”

She hands him the baby and he holds it carefully as he unwraps its cloths.

As soon as Gnoblar sees the baby, his stomach lurches and he almost drops it as horrifying sight greets him. The baby is green and furry and has sprouted 8 legs, its slowly mutating into a spider and will probably be dead by morning.

Despite his physician training, Gnoblar feels feint and sick and hands back the baby. He explains that there is nothing that can be done and as harrowing as the woman’s screams are, they leave her crying on the floor and head to the inn.

The Shooting Star inn is as deserted as it was earlier. “Ahh, back so soon,” declares Herbert and grabs some tankards.

They decide that they have had enough for one day, and as it’s getting late now that they would have a drink and stay at the Inn. They negotiate a price and check in to a large mouldy broken room. Although no one has eaten much recently, they decline the innkeepers offer of food and settle down for the night and plan tomorrow.

It’s another fine summer’s morning, but there’s an unnatural gloom to Wittgendorf that can be seen from the Inns freshly unshuttered bedroom window.

Downstairs for a liquid breakfast, once again declining the offer of Herbert the innkeepers fayre, everyone chats about the day ahead.

They’ve no boat, no supplies and only what they were carrying when the Nobber was impounded. They decide that the dinner party later with Jean Rousseau and Lady Magritte is key to their entry to the castle, the recovery of the meteorite and to get back the barge.

With no leads or ideas as to what to do, and all obvious places in Wittgendorf explored they opt to keep a low profile and stay in the pub till later on before the dinner party.
Fearing that Dumpling and Elvis may be a liability, and in case of any trouble, they negotiate a fee to keep the room on for a couple of nights so that they can stay out of the way until they have more of a plan.

Although Dumpling doesn’t want to stay on her own in this place, she would rather that, than head out with the adventurers, so she reluctantly agrees to watch Elvis at the pub and Gnoblar assures her that they will be back to get her as soon as they have sorted all this out.

Afternoon turns to early evening and Werner, Rowlocks, Wandy, Gnoblar and Durak head on up to the doctors house for their dinner date.

They’re arrive at the docs and a knock at the door brings Rousseau’s elderly housekeeper shuffling along. She shows them in, but this time they are shown straight through to the study.

Upon entry, they are greeted by Jean Rousseau, who stands to welcome them in.
“Ah welcome gentlemen, let me introduce you to Lady Magritte.” Sat in one of the comfortable armchairs is the young and beautiful noble lady who they saw on the horse the day they arrived. The cold stare previously seen, has turned to a warm smile as she stands to greet the guests.

Everyone formally introduces themselves and takes to a chair for brandy and cigars. Small talk ensues and the party are polite yet inquisitive as they discuss the local area.
The conversation soon turns to the impounding of their barge. After hearing the details of the events of the previous Lady Magritte is very apologetic and explains that this must be some kind of misunderstanding and that she will rectify the situation as soon as possible.

“Sergent Kratz can sometimes be a little..over zealous”

The doors to the study open and Frau, the housekeeper, shows everyone through to the dining room.

Everyone sits down at the large table and the smell of the delicious food makes everyone’s mouth water. The party haven’t had a proper meal for days now and are looking forward it.

Frau brings through various small starter plates before the roast pork and all the trimmings, breads, sauces and vegetables.

Spirits are high and the mood pleasant as conversation with Lady Magritte and Rousseau continues.
Gnoblar asks about the Von Wittgenstein family and explains that that’s what he was shouting the other day, as she looked like a picture he’d seen. They begin to explain further, telling the doctor and Magritte about the curse on the land, the warp stone meteorite, and the fact that they can help. Lady Magritte insists she knows nothing of warp stones and meteors but she will help the party as much as she can.

The noble lady is keen to hear all about their travels and they tell her of Dagmar’s library and observatory, the journals and notes they have used to lead them to here.
They show Lady Magritte the notes, maps and journal entries hey have discovered in Dagmar’s observatory and she pours over them.
She appears to be amazed and full of wonder at the parties discoveries, and they arrange to bring them up to the castle the next day so Lady Magritte can make copies of her great, great grandfathers notes and that they can get their boat back.

Rowlocks asks about the person who they had strung up to the back of a horse when they first arrived.  Magritte clarifies that this was a criminal, a man who stole food when food is a important commodity. He was taken to the castle to be locked up for a few weeks, then he would be released and hopefully he would have learnt his lesson.

With nice food, good conversation, Bretonnian brandy, cigars and pleasant surroundings, it’s easy to forget the bleakness of the last few days.
After dessert and drinks, Lady Magritte excuses herself while she goes to powder her nose and Jean Rousseau talks through the difficulties of working with the people of Wittgendorf.

A short while later, Werner and Wandy start to feel slightly drowsy. Rowlocks and Durak start to feel a sensation of muscle loss and Gnoblar feels uneasy.

Jean Rousseau smiles, pushes his chair back and stands up,
“I am sorry gentlemen,” he says as he takes a few steps back and raises his arms.

At this moment the door to the hallway opens, and swiftly through comes four of the castles guards, complete with full black plate armor.

The food.

Rowlocks and Durak are paralyzed in their seats. Werner and Wandy are overcome with drowsiness but still functioning. Gnoblar, with his extensive medical and pharmaceutical background is unaffected by the poison, although he notices what’s going on around him and fakes drowsiness.

The guards immediately split down either side of the table and grab Wandy and Werner.
Werner hasn’t had a fight for a while and he’s about ready for one.

Gnoblar is first to act. He steps up, draws Barrakul and heads to one of the guards grabbing Wandy, who is trying to deal with the guards grapple.
Werner powers his way through the guards grasp, shakes them off and draws his axe and slices it into one of the guards legs.

Wandy slips out of the guards hold and takes a few steps back grabbing his staff. The armored soldiers draw their swords and the battle is on. One smashes his blade towards Werner but Werner dodges the blow.

Even though Werner is drowsy, he launches his axe in a side swipe and it clangs through the armor and blood runs down the black plate.

Durak and Rowlocks can only watch the carnage as their bodies refuse to respond.

Gnoblar tries once again to slash the guard with his magical blade but it swings wildly past. The soldier returns a blow but it narrowly swipes past Gnobar’s arm.

The guard who has lost grip of Wandy, draws his sword, lunges forward and the tip pierces Wandy’s arm and he wince at the pain, it’s a good strike and he is hurt.

Wandy thinks on his feet and his poison enduced sleepiness doesn’t stop him reacting. It’s a long shot, but if he can hit the guard he can sleep him. As his foe withdraws the sword from the wound Wandy grabs his arm, closes his eyes for a split second and the guard falls to the floor fast asleep.

Werner is fighting down the other side of the table and he has two soldiers on him. He roars with rage and swings directly at the one on the right and his trusty axe slashes through the plate. Not finished there, he spins backwards and straight round to the other, hitting him with a backhand. Both cry out in pain.

Jean Rousseau stands worriedly at the far end of the table surveying the scene.

Gnoblar, with one of the guards down on his side, turns and moves over to Rowlocks to see if he can rouse him. He gives him a few slaps but it’s no good.

Wandy fends off the warrior on his side as the melee continues on Werner’s side of the table.

Jean Rousseau, with the subduing of the party not going so well, draws his rapier and heads to Gnoblar. Gnoblar sees him coming and grabs Barrakul and the doctors face off against each other.

Werner is beginning to overpower the enemies on his side as one drops to the ground dead from Werner’s mighty blow.

Wandy powerblasts wind at the guard on his side and pins him to the wall.

Gnoblar and Jean go head to head, but the doctor’s rapier is finding it hard to parry Gnoblar’s sword as it shifts in and out of reality. They exchange blows and Rousseau’s quick rapier nicks Gnoblar’s hip.

Werner slices through the remaining guard on his side, killing him and leaving an expanding pool of blood on the carpet.

The guard on the other side, turns from Wandy and starts to run at Gnoblar’s exposed back.

Werner sees him going, sees Gnoblar battling Rousseau, and goes for the intercept.
In a flash, he goes from chair to table and then, like the hero he is, launches himself through the air, two hands on his axe handle, high above his head and brings the pain down with massive force onto the unsuspecting soldier.

Werner, now covered in blood, sets his sights on Jean Rousseau who is fighting Gnoblar. Gnoblar is wounded and Werner intends to bring an end to the battle of the doctors.

Jean Rousseau is no match for Werner. The unarmoured doctor can only attempt to deflect the brute force of the incoming bounty hunter. It’s no good as Werner’s axe powers through his meagre defense and buries itself into his side. The doctor slumps to the floor nearly in pieces.

Werner is not finished yet, he runs over to the sleeping guard and mercilessly executes him.

Aftermath.
Everyone looks round at the dining room. The place is now smashed up, chairs overturned, bodies and blood lay around.

With the room and doors secure, the able members of the group take stock, inspect their wounds and look round.

Shortly after, Durak and Rowlocks are able to move and Gnoblar has a look at peoples wounds.

A plan is required and discussions ensue. Lady Magritte has escaped and although she doesn’t know the outcome of events, she knows where they are and it won’t take long for her to figure out the rest.
Although patched up, Wandy is seriously hurt and Werner and Gnoblar have injuries.
They decide they can’t go back to the inn, and they will probably be seen leaving the house. With nowhere else to go they choose to hold up at the doctors house, secure the perimeter and hold out through the night and hopefully Wandy can recover some magic after a rest and Gnoblar can have a look at his wounds in the morning. Right, to search and secure the house.

Outside of the dining room, in the corridor, is the housekeeper, feinted and laying on the floor. They leave her there for a moment and explore the rest of the house.

They turn over the study and find a letter from Magritte to Rousseau. It’s clear that Magritte has been supplying Rousseau with something which he in turn has been giving to the villagers.

Inside a cabinet Wandy finds a pottery jar containing what looks like unusual leeches, of many colours and wierd little faces. He immediately shuts the lid and puts them back.

In the study they find further correspondence between Magritte and Rousseau. They conclude that they are in cahoots, using experimental procedures on the villagers with whatever Magritte is supplying him with, and that the doctor is in love with Magritte and he easily complies with her wishes.

The bottom floor is clear and they decide to look down into the cellar via a nearly hidden doorway.

The scent of decay wafts from the depths of the cellar. As always, Werner lights up and torch and is first down into the darkness.
A buzzing mass can be seen at the end of the room. As they draw closer they can see that it is thousands of big black flys. The flys swarm around a body. It’s been mutilated and abused. It once had four arms that have been sawn off and buckets of blood and mess lay around under the bench. It’s a grotesque scene.

On a table nearby, various tubes, funnels and bits and bobs lay around and Rowlocks takes a look. One of the vials has a strange black swirling dust inside. Concerned about opening it, and unsure of what it contains they pocket it to inspect later. In one corner of the cellar is a poorly crafted door. Upon opening it, they see a roughly hewn passage and Durak says it looks like similar shoddy craftsmanship to the ones they found the other day in the village. They close it and exit the cellar back up the stairs.

Upstairs are three bedrooms. One for Rousseau, one for the housekeeper and another. They carry the housekeeper upstairs and as she comes round they tell her to remain quiet and Wandy magically locks the door with her inside.

With the house secure, the shutters are drawn, the lights are dimmed and Gnoblar sets up in the surgery to try and sort out peoples wounds. He has a look, but in his wounded state he is finding it difficult. He cant manage to tend to his own wounds, but he does administer some pills to the others.

While Gnoblar sets up surgery, Werner and Rowlocks go to have a look at the back yard.
In the yard is a small shack. they hear whistling and as they approach and peep inside, they can see a grotty still, lots of blue bottles and a man happily working away. This must be where Rousseau has been producing the Rotgut for the villagers.
They decide to not cause a fuss and leave him to it, heading back inside and locking the doors.

As they sit round the surgery and discuss what their next moves can be, they hear a knocking and shouting at the back door. It’s the man from the shed.

Werner creeps up the hall, stands behind where the door will open and unflicks the lock.

In walks a strange looking man with funny stubby fingers. As he walks past Werner, Werner shuts the door and he turns to face him.

After a few seconds the man is a gibbering non sensicle mess. It doesn’t take Werner long to realise the man is an imbecile who can barely talk. Werner knocks him out easily and he is then locked inside the other bedroom. They now have two hostages.

What to do. It’s evening time. Gnoblar has an option to tend to his wounds. He can take one of his herbal remedies, which will sort him out, but it will put him to sleep for 24 hours. As drastic as it is, this seems like the only option. At some point the guards will come, and being already wounded will be a massive disadvantage. They just hope they can hunker down until that happens. He takes his pill.
Wandy tries to get some rest and the others take watch throughout the night.

Early in the morning, the villagers start banging on the back gate door, obviously keen to get today’s fix of Rotgut. No one does anything and eventually they leave, but they will be sure to return.

Werner, Rowlocks and Durak are stationed at the upstairs windows and are continually watching in all directions expecting trouble at any moment. Magritte must surely have worked out now that the party have spoiled the plan and that her guards and maybe the doctor are dead.

Sure enough, a detachment of guards can be seen in the distance heading down from the castle.

Outside on the street there are already soldiers patrolling around harassing the villagers and beggars, although these ones don’t seem to be coming to the docs house.

They are in the street outside of the house and everyone watches through the slits in the shutters.
“Where are they?” they shout, “are they in the woods?” As they grab an old man and rough him up. A small crowd gathers and beg the guard to let the guy go.

“If none of you are gonna talk maybe the fate of this old git will encourage you to be more helpful.” They beat the man and the villagers are too fearful to act.
Werner is upset by this scene and is itching to get out there, but he is talked down as this may blow their cover and they’re not in a good position for a fight.

They can only watch as the old man is strung up to a tree and his wrists are slit.

The soldiers from the castle are now in the village, spreading out and throwing the villagers around and busting into their already broken houses.

It’s only a matter of time now. They are heading to the doctor’s house and doing a clean sweep of the village as they come.

Shit. A new plan is needed quick. Wandy and Werner are wounded and Gnoblar is unconscious. After a swift discussion they plan their escape through the tunnel in the cellar. They quickly grab their things, Werner picks up Gnoblar and they head down into the cellar, squeeze into the roughly dug mud tunnel with a torch and shut the door behind them.

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Session 18
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Session 18
Wittgendorf

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Once back on the barge, the party take stock, unbuckle their armor and relax. Dumpling knocks up some stew and everyone has a rum while they discuss recent events. A watch is set and everyone gets some rest.

The next day, it’s a beautiful summer’s morning and everyone decides it’s about time they had a day off.
They stay moored near the signal tower everyone spends the day fishing, relaxing and chatting. All except Wandy, who wants to spend some time studying one of the Grimoires found in the library.

Just before bedtime, with the sun going down, Wandy bursts onto deck with his hands in the air,
“I’ve got it!” He shouts, and looks joyous as he explains to his friends that he has worked out how to channel balls of flame to burst from his hands!
Drinks are poured as discussions and plans go on into the night.
Everyone is slightly nervous, as the week that was given for Werner to hand over 20,000 gold passes by…

The plan is to head to Castle Wittgenstein and find the meteor.

The boat is readied, and they set sail south, back towards Kemperbad.

It’s high summer and it’s a lovely few days sailing. On the third day, in the afternoon a River Patrol boat comes by and the sergeant insists on a boarding and search. No one is worried as there is no contraband on board, and they explain that they are off to Kemperbad for pleasure purposes. They are heavily armored and the patrol wants to know why, but once Werner gets talking about his latest bounty he’s taken and his good work for the people of Kemperbad, a rapport is struck and they are bid farewell and good luck.

Apart from the odd trade barge and some fishing boats as they near Kemperbad it’s easy going.

Fearful of reprisals for the overdue threats to Werner’s life, they opt to bypass Kemperbad as swiftly as possible and head straight to the castle.

A few days later, the ominous presence of Castle Wittgenstein can be seen looming in the distance on the cliffs casting a shadow over the Reik. They slowly approach the rocky edges of the river and head to the small disused wharf on the bank beneath the village.

Wittgendorf is sorry place, ruined, overgrown and broken. Dilapidated shacks and broken buildings make up most of the village.

Dumpling and Elvis stay on the boat as usual and everyone grabs their gear and jumps off.

Within a few minutes of disembarking, they are surrounded by filthy, scrawny beggars grasping at their clothes begging for food and money. They push them away and offer various lies about going to fetch some money and not being able to give them anything, but the beggars continue to harass them nevertheless.

With their new entourage, they climb the path up the hill of the embankment to the main part of the village.

Upon reaching the top, they see a beautiful looking woman in blue, sat on a white horse, surrounded by guards. One of the beggars is bleeding out with a missing limb while the guards manhandle one of the villagers. He calls out to the party but they don’t intervene and watch how the events unfold.

Gnoblar realises that this woman has an uncanny family resemblance to the portraits seen in Dagmar’s study.

The guards bind the man, place him on the back of a horse and begin to make their way towards the castle as the woman throws the party a cold hard stare.
Our heroes follow the woman and the guards up the path walking behind, where  Gnoblar shouts,
“You a relative of Dagmar are you?”
The woman turns her head and throws another cold, hard, stare but they continue up the path.

At this point the guys decide to stop following and head back to the centre of the village. They’ve seen a large ruined temple to the north of the village and it looks like a place of interest.

After watching a dog kill a beggar then run off with his arm, then the other beggars pick him up and carry him off, they head across the little bridge towards the temple.

The temple is the largest building in Wittgendorf, at the north of the village just over a little stream.

Werner, Rowlocks, Gnoblar, Wandy and Durak step through the foyer and into the main temple area. It’s the first time since they’ve arrived that they have had any sort of positive feeling. It’s clear upon entering the abandoned temple that it was once a temple of Sigmar, the founder of the empire who is revered as a god.

In the main room is a large alter which stands on a raised dais and behind it is a skillfully carved statue of Sigmar himself, arm raised in as though in blessing, and to either side are two strangely lit lanterns in stands.

Everyone begins to search the area and Rowlocks discovers a large key upon the alter next to a large leathebound book. Wandy comes over to look at the book and reveals that it is a retelling of the legend of Sigmar.
Whilst examining the book, Wandy notices an ancient parchment underneath. He picks it up and reads it aloud.
It describes part of the legend of Sigmar which foretells his return to save the Empire in its hour of direst need.

When Wandy finishes reading it, the lanterns flare brightly and the statue seems to glitter with intelligence and life. Wandy hears a voice, “That hour is fast approaching, will you be ready?”
“I will be ready,” replied Wandy.
Everyone looks at Wandy wondering who he’s talking to and what he is on about..
The voice replies to him, “I shall give you a sign,  go now and find the source of the chaos that has blighted my lands.”
The lanterns flare once more and the statue returns to it’s normal looking self.
Wandy is awash with flow of some sort of spiritual power and he feels strong and fearless.

Everyone else looks puzzles as Wandy begins to explain what’s just happened.

The party is just about to search through one of the two side doors when Werner takes one last look at the statue, and in a moment of inspiration he pulls at the statues raised arm. Amazingly, it pulls down, thuds and creaks can be heard and the alter begins to lower into the darkness below leaving a hole.

Everyone gathers round and peers into the darkness. They decide that Werner should light a torch and drop down and see what’s there. He’s a good climber and in no time he is beneath the temple.

It’s dark, damp and dismal and Werner is in the crypts beneath the temple. The place is smashed and ruined and remnants of former priests resting places are scattered about with gnawed human bones all over the floor. The niches where the bodies once laid are empty apart from one which remains untouched, although he does see a poorly dug tunnel at the back of one of the niches.

The untouched niche bears a plaque with some writing, but Werner can’t read so he heads back to the hole and shouts up to say what he can see.

Gnoblar jumps down and goes to investigate.

" Here lyes the body of Siegfried von Kesselring, Loyal servante of Sigmar. An honoured Templar and man of courage"
The others come down into the crypt and come to take a look. When Wandy approaches he sees the words on the plaque appear to glow.

After three, they slide off the lid of the ancient coffin.
Inside is the skeleton of a knight dressed in rusted plate. It is clear that it has been here for a long time, however, on his breast is a shining long sword sheathed in a gem encrusted scabbard which seems remarkably intact.

Wandy picks up the sword and attempts to remove the blade from its sheath, but, despite his best efforts he is unable to pull out the blade.

Gnoblar takes the sword from Wandy, closes his eyes and pulls the sword. The sword comes easily out of the scabbard and he holds it aloft. It is in perfect condition, keen edged and shiny.
Along its blade runes glow. Durak, who is in awe of the blades craftsmanship reads the dwarven runes – Barrakul – hope of the mountains. As Gnoblar moves the sword the blade seems to shift in and out of reality, with only the glowing runes visible as it flickers.
Wow. Everyone looks at it mesmerised for a few moments before Gnoblar places it back in its scabbard and the decide to move on.

At the back of the crypt a sloped tunnel raises and the decide to head that way.
It leads to an old mausoleum which is in ruins, the sarcophagi have all been opened and the corpses removed. The outward door of the mausoleum leads to the graveyard at the back of the temple. A strange fog hangs around the graveyard and the vast majority of the graves have been dug up and the corpses are gone.

With this, they decide to head back into the crypt and investigate the roughly dug tunnel Werner found. Durak points out that is is a poorly made tunnel.

They crouch down and follow the tunnel for some time before coming out, back in the village at the back of one of the shacks.

Keen to explore the other areas of the temple they haven’t yet investigated, the party head back to the temple and explore the doors to either side of the alter room inside.

The rest of the temple is mainly ruined rooms of the old priests, kitchens, store rooms and cupboards.

The only room that remains untouched is locked. Wandy uses his arcane powers to unlock it magically, and straight after they realise that the large key they found earlier fits the lock perfectly!

Once inside they discover the temple library and priests study.
There are shelves and shelves of scrolls and books that seem to be in no particular order at all. Keen to learn as much as possible, Wandy and Gnoblar, the academics of the group, set about reading through as much as possible and piecing together the information. This takes several hours.

Wandy and Gnoblar learn of the demise of the area around the castle. Once a rich area with an abundance of crops and fine wines, but following the exploits of Dagmar, the area becomes twisted, barren and mutated, plagued with storms, warped flora and fauna and eventual ruin.

After relaying the sorry tale to the others, Wandy takes the time to study the vaulted ceiling with its arcane script. It tells the history of the temple, built on the site of one of Sigmar’s legendary battles. It also details the last stand of Von Kesselring, the former owner of Gnoblar’s new sword, and how he valiantly held the temple against a horde of beastmen and chaos warriors until reinforcements arrived, fatally wounded in the process.

It’s getting late after all this research and everyone would like to get back to the safety of the Jolly Nobber for the night and consider the events of the day.

As they head back through the shit hole of a village, Durak notices someone watching them.

They see a man, who appears not to be a beggar or a poverty stricken villager, and they head over for a chat. It’s Jean Rousseaux, the village physician, and he apologises for not coming to see them earlier, and after some further pleasantries he offers them to come visit him tomorrow at his house when he’s not so busy. The party agrees and heads off back to the boat.
It’s good to be home but everyone’s a bit on edge. They takes turns on watch and Wandy places a magic alarm on the boats boarding area.

It’s an uneventful night, and after a nice breakfast from Dumpling everyone gets there stuff together and heads back out to the village for a further look around.

Once again surrounded by beggars, they head to have a look at the doctors house, although they arn’t scheduled to meet him till later, curiosity gets the better of them and they head over for a look at his house.

The house isn’t as run down as all the other shacks and they stand around and watch for a short while. They see beggars entering the back yard, and then, after a few minutes, leave carrying blue bottles. Now they think about it, they’ve seen quite a few blue bottles laying around the village in the dirt.

Just as they begin to discuss this, Wandy springs into action grabbing everyone’s attention – the boat!! The alarm is going off and they’ve specifically told Dumpling not to go near it!

Quick!! To the wharf!!

Rushing down the slope towards the wharf the gang can see a commotion at the barge. Dumpling is distressed, standing on the wharf holding Elvis while heavily armoured guards and men at arms swarm the boat. There’s twenty or so, most are mounted brandishing crossbows.

“Hey, what’s going on?” Shouts Werner, as everyone rushes to the riverside.
Immediately, crossbows are pointed at our heroes, and one of the guards, who is dressed head to toe in black plate mail responds.

“You scum have not paid the toll to use the wharf at the castle, so your boat is impounded until further notice, so I suggest you fuck off or your filthy carcasses will be feeding the crows!”

Werner is enraged, Gnoblar tries to parlay, explaining that they were unaware of the toll and they would be willing to pay, but it’s no good, the sergeant isn’t having it. Dumpling is in a state apologising, but it’s no good.

At the risk of starting a fight they cannot win, Rowlocks calms the situation, quietly saying to let them take it, they know where the barge is going and we are planning on heading to the castle at some point, we should try and get it back later.

The situation is worrying, all their belongings and supplies are on board, not to mention the small fortune hidden in the secret compartment.

The party are helpless as they watch the Jolly Nobber sail up the Reik into the distance as the guards laugh, climb back on their horses are head up the track.

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Session 17
Session 19

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Session 17
All along the Signal Tower

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Everyone looks at each other, then looks at Werner.
It’s late evening in the Drum and Hat, just off Kemperbad’s main square, and the events of the last few minutes have everyone looking concerned.

What are we going to do about this situation? Should we try to track these guys down? Shall we get out of here and try to lose them?
A mass discussion breaks out as the party process the events and talk their way through the possibilities.

As they are about to finish their drinks and head back to the boat, they see the patrons of the inn slowly move to the side as three men make their way through the pub crowd.

Wearing a feathered, wide-brimmed hat, exquisite outfit and bejeweled rings on his pudgy fingers, a man, who seems to be well known, sits down at the table flanked by two gorilla-esque men.

“Good evening gentlemen,” he says, and swirls his fingers round for a round of drinks.
“My name is Luigi Belladonna, and I would like to know- where is she?”

Straight away everyone assumes this must have something to do with Reni…

Playing dumb doesn’t work out as it’s clear he knows she is their companion.

“We’ve had a look on the boat, so we know she’s not on there, nice dog..”
Werner is instantly annoyed that they have been aboard the Jolly Nobber, but after a testy exchange he decides nows not the time or place.

A woman comes past and thanks Mr Belladonna for his assistance and donations to the soup kitchen and he humbly sends her on her way.

The gang opt to tell the truth – if she’s not on the boat, they honestly don’t know where she is.

Things are tense yet polite and Luigi finishes his drinks and says he will see them soon with a wink.

As he’s obviously a well connected man, they see if they can get any leads on the letter they have just been given, hoping that he may recognise the symbol with the hand. They hand him the letter.

“I’m afraid I can’t help you with this symbol, but you guys certainly know how to get yourself in trouble don’t you?”
And with a smile he gets up and leaves them to it.

Drinks are finished and everyone is keen to get back to the boat.
To their surprise, although there has clearly been people on the boat, nothing seems to be missing. Unlike Reni, who is missing.
Dumpling tells them that she was here, the men came and she was gone.
It’s late, and due to recent events, a watch is set up through the night.

The next day, Durak heads to the dwarven armorsmiths and gets measured up for some chainmail. Gnoblar does some shopping at the herb based market stalls and they spend the evening in the pubs chatting gossip and rumours with the locals.

A day later and there’s still no sign of Reni, so Durak collects his armor, some supplies are collected and the Nobber is ready to make the trip back downstream to the signal tower.

It’s the height of summer now and it’s a beautiful few days sailing down the Reik. Whilst on deck, Rowlocks and Durak have the uneasy yet familiar feeling that they are being watched. They scan to forests edges on the banks of the river but nothing. Wandy studies his grimoires in his cabin while Gnoblar spends time in the lab fiddling with dusts and powders.
It’s late afternoon on the fifth day of travel when the silhouette of the signal tower comes into view.

The Jolly Nobber pulls up to the wharf beside the tower. It seems like an age since they first docked here to help those flustered dwarves months ago.

Dumpling stays on the boar with Elvis and everyone else grabs their stuff and jumps onto the riverbank. As they disembark they see two horses hitched up beside the tower. The swirling ramp which leads up to the entrance door is round the other side, and as they walk round they hear a woman’s voice call out….

“Ahhh at last! My shadows have arrived!! It’s great to finally meet you, do come round, I believe you have something for me, and I have something for you…..”

On the upper layer of the signal tower, on top of the stone observatory is a woman, draped in noble attire.

ETELKA HERZEN!

After months of tracking and chasing, numerous adventures and encounters, the party finally get to meet their quarry.

The stand for a moment taking in the current scene. Etelka has moved round the other side out of view. This is unexpected.

The party move round in single file towards the other side of the tower with Werner at the front, and as they do, they are both confused and amazed at the scene that greets them.
On the grass at the bottom of the signal tower are four dead dwarves face down in the mud. Their friend, Aynjulls Isembard, the renown engineer, is staring straight at them and he had a blade at his neck. The blade is held by, none other than, the book guy from the coach and horses, who Wandy tried to talk to on the day that our party met. This is a strange turn of events.

The man with the knife sneers an evil grin and looks up at Etelka as she looks down on the adventurers.

“And now…it’s time to hand over the keys, I suggest you do this at once or the world will be one dwarf short..”

Aynjulls looks at the the guys, terror on his face and a tear in his eye.

Rowlocks discreetly slides an arrow out of his pack under his cloak. Everyone looks at each other. Tension builds.

“We don’t have what you seek,” yells Werner.
“Now, now, don’t take me for a fool,” retorts Etelka.

The seconds that pass seem like hours. Everyone stares at each other. She’s going to kill him anyway, at least if we rush the book guy he may stand a chance?

Rowlocks shoots – the arrow whistles up into the air.

“Oh dear,” shouts Etelka, “I was hoping you were going to play nice…”

She grins an evil grin, leans over the edge of the stone tower and hurls an enormous fireball straight down at the party.

Werner, Gnoblar and Rowlocks are engulfed in flames and the smell of burning flesh and hair bursts round the bottom of the tower.

Wandy steps round to get line of sight on the book guy and blasts him with a wind blast knocking him and Aynjulls off balance. Gnoblar rummages in his satchel.

The man holding the knife steps forward through the wind and slices Aynjulls throat from the back. Blood pours down his beard and sprays out, he turns pale and drops to the ground.

And that’s it, it’s on. Werner storms forward in a blur drawing his axe and Durak, enraged by the deaths of his kinsman, pulls out his weapon and they both charge Aynjulls’ killer. Axe blows rain down on the guy and cut through his clothing like a knife through butter. All four blows from Werner and Durak land strong and in moments he’s dead on the floor.

Gnoblar, when he was at Etelka’s house in the Black Peaks, harvested a load of the strange mould that drained Wandy’s magical powers. In his lab on the barge he has worked on processing this into a liquid and now he is furiously dipped Rowlocks’ arrowheads into vials in the hope that they will dull Etelkas’ magical prowess.
But it’s not going well, it’s a really difficult shot, shooting upwards to the tower to hit a barely visible Etelka and the arrows are pinging off into the air.
“Fuck this,” shouts Rowlocks, grabs the vial and launches it up at the female Wizard. It also misses.

Rowlocks drops his bow, unsheathes his sword and storms up the ramp towards Etelka.

Seeing his advance, Etelka summons a sword directly in Rowlocks path on the precarious ramp and it slices into his arm as he let’s out a shriek.

Battle ensues, and the animated sword is proving difficult to hit. Rowlocks is battling the sword as Durak comes up the ramp with him, but theres not much room and Durak can’t get involved. At this point, Etelka disappears from view.

Wandy and Gnoblar take cover at the bottom of the signal tower.
Rowlocks is already wounded from the fireball and during the battle with the sword he’s been wounded further and things arn’t looking good.

The sword arches through the air in a mighty swing. It looks like it will connect and slice Rowlocks arm straight off at the elbow. In a crazy twist of fate, as it comes in, Rowlocks stumbles on some rocks, falls backwards past Durak and hits the deck.

Werner has an idea. He runs round the bottom of the towers ramp and uses his superior climbing skills to come up behind the sword.

The animated sword now has Durak on one side and Werner on the other and the tables have turned. After many clangs, parries, thrusts and smashes, Durak manages to clatter the floating weapon and it dematerialises.

As always, Werner is into the tower first with the gang following. He searches around but Etelka is no where to be seen.

What’s the plan? They’ve come all the way here to open the bottom floor, but that’s exactly what Etelka wants them to do, but they can’t find her anywhere? Can’t come all the way here and not open it surely?

Let’s do this. The mere presence of the keys in Rowlocks’ backpack cause the secret trapdoor on the floor (previously used by the ghoul) to slowly open.

Opting to leave the trapdoor open, they all carefully climb down into the lower level and make their way to the central chamber. All the while, looking behind with caution, expecting a surprise attack from Etelka at any moment.

Once on the ground floor, Werner and Rowlocks spin the bars of the central chamber and open the chamber with the mysterious symbols and the keyholes.

After a final look behind them, the last key is inserted and, click, the floor in centre swings down revealing a trapdoor and a ladder.

Once again, Werner is first down with torch in hand into the darkness.
He finds himself in a central chamber, off to the sides are six small rooms, all containing hundreds of dusty books. This is a study and a library.

Everyone climbs down and begins to look around. In the middle is a table with three books open at specific pages. Wandy takes a look drawing on his arcane knowledge.

The first is ‘Astronomical records – being a guide to the Mysterious Phenomena of the Night Sky’. It’s an account detailing the fall of the meteor and its predicted landing place.

The second is ’ Omens and Prophecies of the Seer Unserfrau’. It tells of great darkness and shadow, the coming of the great mutator and the fall of the Empire of Man.

The final book is ‘The Diary of the Wizard Dagmar von Wittgenstein’. The final entry in the diary details Dagmars planned expedition to the Barren Hills and, more interestingly, the fact that when he finds the meteor he plans to take it in a special container to a specifically created lined room in Castle Wittgenstein!!!

This is it, the information both they and Etelka have been after, the location of the lump of warp stone.

“I knew it,” says Werner, “I knew we’d have to go to that creepy ass castle we’ve been avoiding.”
Everyone takes a moment to take in the revelations.

Wandy is keen to pour over the books found in the library. With the help of Gnoblar, the pair of academics begin to search through the library. There are many ancient tomes here and it would take months to go through them all, but after a couple of hours they find a grimoire with some spells and manuscripts and scrolls.

They exit the observatory, locking the library behind them and head towards the barge contemplating what lies ahead.

Before they step back on the barge they notice that the two hitched horses are gone.

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Session 16
Session 18

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Session 16
That which they seek

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It’s a grim scene.

Werner and Wandy stand in the middle of the cave, which is dimly lit by the odd beams of moonlight seeping through cracks in the roof from Morrslieb. Bodies, entrails, blood and guts cover most of the floor and the carcasses and body parts from the battle with the skaven litter the room.
Gnoblar is looking over the wounded. Corrobeth and Durak will probably be ok with some care and attention, but Rowlocks needs surgery and this is far from an ideal place to carry it out.

The conscious members of the party try to thrash out the best possible course of action.
Stay here? But one of the skaven escaped, who knows what might happen. Carry the wounded back to camp? Too far, too risky. Operate here in the blood soaked cave? Definitely last resort.

Eventually, they decide to try and remove the rock fall that’s blocking the entrance to the next part of the cave – maybe it will be a better environment?
Gnoblar needs torchlight to operate and the further in the cave they go the less the torchlight will be seen from outside.

Strange crashes and bangs can be heard out near the crater, and scratches and scrapes are coming from behind the rocks. They deduce that it must be the ghost’s companions that were murdered by Dagmar, but with the cave being sealed for what looks like hundreds of years, they’re anticipating problems when they meet them.

Gnoblar gets Corrobeth on his feet and explains what happened while Werner and Wandy shift the rocks. Corrobeth tries to heal Durak but he can’t do it. Doc Gnoblar steps in and uses his skills to tend to Durak’s wounds.

A little while later, everyone is on their feet moving rocks and boulders while Gnoblar watches over Rowlocks, he’s stable, but in a bad way.

A couple of hours and they’re making a break through. They can shift a massive rock that will give them enough space to get a man through, but caution is required, and they opt to make a small hole first to see what’s inside.

Behind the hole is darkness and a cool ancient wind blows over the group.

As Werner steps up to peek into the hole, deciding wether or not to push a torch through, a skeletal hand launches through the gap at him, behind the hole can be heard the wheezing pleas of ‘killllllll meeee’.

Right. With most of the party up on their feet they decide to heave the large stone to create a hole big enough for the skeleton to get through, and let Werner smash the skeleton to bits.

The rock is grabbed, they pull it to the side and Werner steps up, but the skeleton is straight through the hole and lunges with his sword directly at Werner’s torso.
It’s a good hit and it pierces through his chain mail, wounding him and causing him to wince.

Werner’s axe comes raining down and nearly breaks the skeletons femur. No one else can really get through and Werner stands his ground.
The undead’s sword rattles against Werner’s magical shield and Werner strikes back with two mighty blows and the skeleton is smashed to dust, eerily giving thanks as he crumbles.

Werner steps into the darkness and is immediately set upon by three more.
Werner has found his stride, and doing what he does best. He soon makes short work of the long dead members of Dagmars expedition.

The others edge in and as more torchlight fills the cavern they can see remains and debris of the long, forgotten companions.

Werner searches through and finds yet another map, more or less the same as the other two they have, with Dagmar’s observatory clearly labelled. There’s also a stash of gold, a silver flask containing a mystery red liquid, and a hexagonal key.

They quickly realise it’s the final key to the locked room at the bottom of the signal tower.

Gnoblar surveys the scene, they have little choice, he’s going to have to conduct surgery on Rowlocks here. This cave isn’t ideal either, but at least it’s not covered in dead skaven.

The clear some space, set Rowlocks down and Gnoblar gets his tools from his backpack and begins to prepare. Torches are placed around and the others stand guard at the back, apart from Wandy who stands by to watch.

Things are tense. It’s going to be a long two hours. Gnoblar sets to work.

As the operation draws to a close, beads of sweat drip down Gnoblar’s face. He’s never done a medical procedure of this gravity before and it’s not going as well as he had hoped.
Rowlock’s begins to shift and convulse, his eyes roll…“were losing him!!”

“Nooooo!!” Shouts Wandy, the others come to see, and watch the last of Rowlock’s life force drain from his body.
In the chaos, someone shouts to give him the liquid the just found in the silver flask. What if it harms him? He’s going to die anyway!

Split second decisions are made, the flask is uncorked and the mysterious liquid is poured down Rowlock’s throat.
They all stand back and look at his lifeless body.

Those next few seconds feel like an eternity, but wait, what’s that?

Rowlock’s cheeks begin to flush with colour, his eyes flicker, his limbs move, everyone holds their breath and looks at each other.
His head wound begins to rapidly heal over, he lifts his head.

“By the gods!! A healing potion!!!!” No one can quite believe what they just witnessed. Within minutes Rowlocks is on his feet and asking what the fuck happened.

Backs are patted, hugs are recieved and sighs of relief are deep. Wow.

They collectively and simultaneously decide that they have had enough of the Barren Hills and they can’t wait to get out of here now they have the final key.

Where is Etelka? They’ve followed her all the way here. Where is the meteorite? There’s no sign of either and the Devil’s Bowl feels far from safe. Let’s go.

Back to camp, couple of hours rest and then back to civilisation.

The journey back to the canoes and on to Unterbaum is a solemn one. Everyone’s pretty quiet, no fires are lit and watches are set at night. The overbearing feeling that they are being watched is making for some uneasy travelling.

Three days later the bedraggled, wounded party walk through the clearing to the welcoming sight of Unterbaum.

The villagers greet them and they are quickly escorted to Vorster’s cabin where he has been awaiting their return.
They have tea and Vorster and the other villagers are transfixed as Corrobeth retells the events of the past week.

These are dark times and Corrobeth and Vorster thank everyone for their efforts in the fight against chaos – brave heroes indeed. If the meteorite is out there, it must be dealt with, a lump of pure evil and power.

Despite the hospitality and kindness of the people of Unterbaum, the crew are keen to push on back to the barge.
They take a small hamper of supplies, freshen up and then set off to the inn of the Roaring Falls.

The noise of the falls is a happy sound, as the inn and then the Jolly Nobber comes into view.
It’s good to be home and Elvis, Reni and Dumpling were starting to get worried.

Time is of the essence and a plan is made. Now they have all keys, they must head to Dagmar’s observatory. But first stop, Kemperbad, to get some armor and bits and bobs.

At first light they begin to make the journey back down the Stir. The late summer sun disappears from view as they re-enter the gorge and the river is as raucous as ever.

Rowlocks is struggling, despite the efforts of Werner and Durak and the journey is slowed and he has to fight the currents as they head down stream.

The next day is no better as the river continues to throw the barge around. After lunch they enter some rapids. It’s a good effort, but Rowlocks can’t hold her and a protruding rock cracks into the hull causing some minor damage.

A day later and they are nearly at the crossing where Werner is after his ogre bounty. Before they approach a silent undercurrent swings the barge violently in a circle. Rowlocks loses the rudder and is banged to the side, if it wasn’t for his lightning quick reactions he would be in the river for sure.

The gorge narrows and the bridge crossing is above them as they sail under and head for the landing area near to the curving ascending path.

The ogre has been terrorising merchants and travellers of the road as they head to Kemperbad, and Werner wants to collect the bounty for sorting it out.

Werner and Durak head up the path to scope the area. Rowlocks hangs back while everyone else stays on the boat.

As Werner peeks over the cliff edge towards the bridge, he sees a wrecked cart and a massive humanoid, armoured with an enormous club, sitting eating something, he doesn’t spot them.

They make a plan. They will head up and go towards the crossing with their robes on and hoods up to give the impression of humble travellers. Rowlocks will sneak round behind him with his bow to get a clear shot.

They approach, the ogre spots them, laughs and charges straight at them. Werner drops his hood and draws his axe and shield, but Durak doesn’t move. The sheer size and power of the creature has him rooted to the spot in fear. Luckily, Werner and Rowlocks are not scared of ogres!

The ogre ploughs into Werner smashing his torso with his club and it hurts, Werner reels. But he is quick on his feet, dodging a second blow. Werner hits back at the towering monster cutting into him with his axe.
Rowlocks makes his move and heads through the undergrowth to behind the ogre. Durak stands paralyzed while the others stand nervously on the deck of the Nobber listening intently to the sounds of battle from above.

Werner and the ogre go toe to toe exchanging blows and snarls. Werner is light on his feet and is using all his agility to dodge the massive swings from the ogre’s studded club.
Werner’s axe pings of the ogre’s helmet as Rowlocks starts to bury arrows into creatures back.

Werner takes another crushing blow to the side but continues to hold his ground.

Durak overcomes his fear and springs into action charging at the ogre. No sooner is he into combat when, after scoring a hit on the ogre’s side, he is hit with a single return blow that is so powerful it takes him clean off his feet, nearly killing him.

The ogre is aware of Rowlocks but chooses to deal with the immediate threat of Werner. They are wearing him down, he’s hurt and beginning to fatigue.
He begins to shout, “Brunt! Brunt!”

This makes everyone nervous but the melee continues. It’s a great battle between Werner and the ogre and it could go either way, but Rowlocks puts another arrow into him and he begins to stagger.
At that moment, the bushes to the north start to move, thumping footsteps can be heard and another ogre bursts onto the scene. Shit.

They’ve got problems now, they have to put him down. Werner cuts into the first ogres leg and he looks like he’s going to drop. Rowlocks fires straight and true from the undergrowth. It’s a headshot, the arrow buries itself into the ogres thick skull and he slumps to the floor with a bang.

Werner turns on his heels and runs to meet the second ogre. Durak heads in too but a bit more tentatively as he is hurt.

Luckily, this one is not as heavily armoured as the first and Werner’s mighty blows strike hard. A few arrows from Rowlock’s elven bow and he’s already looking hurt.
Werner continues to dodge like a cat and the big, slow ogre is finding him hard to hit. Werner’s dwarven shield soaks up some hits as his trusty axe, already covered in ogre blood, continues to hack away at the ogres flesh.

Durak and Werner are hurt, but so is the ogre. Rowlocks takes aim, deep breaths, holds steady and let’s one fly. It whistles through the air and strikes the ogre in the neck, killing him instantly. Everyone breathes a sigh of relief.

Werner walks over to the other unconscious ogre and stands tall, then brings his axe down chopping off his head.

The ogres heads are severed and bagged, ready to collect the bounty.

They search the area, hoping to find the stash of all the loot the robbers have taken from travellers but they find nothing.

Their friends cheer as they see them alive and well as the head back down the sloping path to the barge. Werner takes a well earned rest as he is exhausted from the battle.

They cast off, and continue the tricky journey towards Kemperbad, all the time they feel the sensation that they are being watched, maybe the recent events are making them paranoid?

A day and a half later, they see the familiar sight of the clifftop town of Kemperbad and everyone is happy to be back to civilisation. All but Reni. She doesn’t seem overjoyed to see the place and immediately locks herself in her cabin, stating that she will remain there until they leave.
It’s heading towards teatime and the gang head up to the lifts to go to town.

Once inside, Werner collects his bounty. He tries to get double pay for two ogres heads, but the watch official isn’t having it and he walks off with his 100 gold pieces.

They need to shop and get supplies but it’s late and places are closing. As they are round the marketplace, they decide to head to their local Kemperbad inn, the Hat and Drum.

After the week they’ve had it’s great to be back, sat in a nice warm pub, with roast dinners and ales on the way!

As they relax, laugh and tell tales, a small boy approaches the table. He hands Werner a rolled up parchment sealed with a symbol. Werner, puzzled by this, opens the note and a lock of his own hair, which was taken from him a while back drops out.

The note is a final warning, demanding payment of 20,000 gold pieces, if it is not paid, death will swiftly follow. It has the symbol of a purple hand with a strange symbol inside of a twisted like worm.

They ask the boy where the note came from, he points across the crowded inn to a group stood near the door, he then vanishes into the crowd.

As Werner begins to stand, the hooded figure who stands inbetween four thugs moves his hands in a swirl and begins strange gestures. Werner’s hands pulsate and flicker with purple, but he draws on his willpower and mentally fights off the overwhelming feeling.

With that, the hooded man and the thugs, turn and disappear through the pub doorway into the night.

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Session 17

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