The Enemy Within

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
Session 21

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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 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 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
Session 24

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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 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 26
A Rough Night at the Three Feathers

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Bags are packed, wagons loaded, everyone is set for a road trip.
Werner jumps into the driving seat, everyone else climbs into the back and with a crack of the reins they’re off.

The road is quite busy. It’s the first few days of autumn and there’s plenty of traffic. People on foot and trader carts head towards Middenheim for the upcoming carnival, and the steady stream of usual traffic heads towards the capital. It’s getting cooler but summer’s death throes make for pleasant travelling.

Eight horse coaches thunder past the wagon as it trundles down the road.

It’s a few hundred miles to Middenheim and it’s going to take just short of two weeks, but everyone’s excited to see the City of the White Wolf and attend the Empire’s, and if not the world’s, greatest carnival!

The weather turns cooler over the next few days and the crew continue on their journey. They stop at coaching inns during the evenings and spend as much time as possible travelling the road.

Over the next few days, they chat to the odd merchant, they see the roadwardens drag a poacher out of the woods crying for mercy.

Five days into the journey, the light fades for the evening and the wagon pulls into the Shepherd and Tankard.

The inn isn’t that busy and everyone enters and surveys the area.

There’s a table of coachmen in the bar area, a couple having a quiet drink and a drunkard slumped on a table surrounded by bottles. Through in the lounge there appears to be a priest talking to an old man, standing in front of the fire.

“What will it be?” Says the innkeeper, and as Werner turns to the others, raised voices can be heard from the other room. The old man comes through with the priest trailing after him

He’s carrying a handful of small bones, he looks deranged, he approaches the party standing at the bar and his face spasms, he fixes his gaze at Wandy, he grabs at his cloak holding him by the shoulders and staring into his face and begins to talk wildly and rapidly before Wandy can pull away.
He talks of darkness, shadows over Bogenhafen, hooded figures and great evil, death on the Reik, the great mutator, chosen ones and peril, the walled city of the White Wolf, chaos and spiders, a power behind the throne and the empire in flames, the horned rat and the book of changes, the enemy within. He then pulls away as if his hands are burnt, he looks at everyone in the face and screams, running out of the inn door.
He talks so fast and manically that it’s hard to make out what he said and the details, the party, stunned, stand and look at each other as the priest runs after the man.

Everyone is unnerved. He seems to talk of what has passed and what will come to pass. He seems to have talked about the adventures they have been on.

What was all that about?

The innkeeper says, “you know that guy?”
They explain they do not and the innkeeper doesn’t know him, just came in earlier and sat by the fire.

The priest of Sigmar returns. He doesn’t know him either, he just stopped to offer aid as he looked in distress, just before the adventurers entered.

Right. Everyone sits down at a table with drinks and waits for food while discussing the old man.

A short while later, two young ladies, late teens and obviously of good breeding enter, along with a giant of a man, with a thick heavy brow, massive jaw, flattened nose and a huge woodcutters axe. They talk to the innkeeper and after a brief exchange with the giant, the large man leaves and goes back outside the inn. The girls stay at the bar for a drink.

At this point, the drunk man stands up and staggers forward. He spots the ladies and heads over. It’s clear that his presence is making the women uncomfortable, and when he gets lewd and ‘grabby’ they tell him to leave them alone, but he’s not listening.

Werner can stand this no longer, and he’s off his feet heading towards the drunk.
He grabs him by the scruff of the neck, and the pisshead asks what the fuck it’s got to do with him?
Werner is no match for this guy and slaps him round the face and throws him to the side.
The drunk man considers his options, says he was only messing and sits back at his table for another drink.

The ladies are extremely thankful and offer to buy drinks for Werner and his friends. The blue eyed blonds continue to show their gratitude and introduce themselves as Ulrike and Bertha Jung, travelling to Middenheim to see their cousin, Kirsten Jung, who is a lady-at-court for the Graf, Boris Todbringer.

The enormous man enters the inn, sees Werner, and holds up his axe and stomps forward purposefully.
“Stop Gundar, this here is Werner, our new friend, and it’s a good job he was here – where the hell were you? Some bodyguard you are!”
“Apologies m’lady, the horses….”
“Yes, yes..” Bertha cuts him off and Werner asks if they would like to sit down.

They join Durak, Gnoblar, Wandy and Rowlocks at the table and have a pleasant few hours chatting. It gets late and the ladies set to leave, but first they insist that they visit them in Middenheim. Ulrike writes down her address and hands it to Werner. He pretends he can read it, smiles and thanks them.

It’s back on the road and they continue. They pass a small market town with stalls and some roadwardens and traders.

After lunchtime on the next day, Werner spots a group of what appear to be beggars heading towards them on the road. They are attached together round the waist with a rope and the lead bigger has a cane. The beggar at the back carries a wooden cup and shouts, “Alms for the blind!”
When they get close, Werner takes pity on them, pulls over and throws a gold in the cup. They are extremely grateful! It’s a lot of money for them, they explain they are on a pilgrimage to Altdorf. After more thanks they continue on their way, and Werner, with an extra sense of contentment, cracks his whip and continues.

They’ve been on the road a week and are not making bad time considering how busy the road is now they are closer to Middenheim.
They see a group of poachers heading out the woods carrying an enormous stag, they give the wagon a shady look and watch it pass.

As they leave the Warriors Candle, the next day, it begins to rain. A strange, dull, rhythmically noise can be heard from up the road ahead.

Everyone peeps forward to see what the noise is. Werner can see. Its a company of halberdiers, marching along followed by supply waggons. Their uniforms are ostentatious, red and yellow and they look tired but determined. Werner pulls the waggon to the side and they watch them pass.

The next day, after lunch they come across an old dwarf, walking the road with an over laden donkey. They stop for a chat. He’s selling goods, nick nacks and trinkets, as well as donkey jerky. He tries to shift some of his gear, but no one wants half a pair of shoes or a wooden necklace. Werner does consider buying a massive gear from the doors of a far dwarves fortress, but everyone talks him out of it. They wave goodbye and continue on their way.

It’s been nearly two weeks now on the journey and they estimate it will be another 5 or so days.

It’s been a long day and everyone is pleased to see the sign of the Three Feathers as they approach the coaching in up the hill, the sun setting in the distance.

As the party’s waggon draws closer they can see its unusually busy. There’s a large ornate coach outside and lackeys, some in livery, are busying themselves with various trunks and chests as men-at-arms look on.

Everyone jumps out and heads in as Werner ties up the horses, parks the waggon and talks to the inns stable hands.

Inside the inn is bustling. There’s an arm wrestling competition going on between a large man and a man-at-arms. Others gather round the table shouting laughing. A grinning halfling sits a table with a pack of cards having a pint.

Ita a full ten minutes before anyone can get the innkeepers attention.
“Welcome,” he says at last, " I’m sorry to have kept you waiting for so long, but as you can see, we have a distinguished guest tonight – Gravin Maria-Ulrike Von Liebewitz of Ambosstein no less – and there are so many arrangements to be made. I hardly know it I’m coming or going with it all. Now, you want a room? Of course you do, ah excuse me again, I’ll only be a moment."
Everyone’s waits for another few minutes as he directs a train of servants upstairs.
“I’m sorry,” he says, “it really is mad this evening!”

They book a couple of double rooms, order a round of drinks and everyone takes off their cloaks and makes themselves comfy at a table in the centre of the room near the arm wrestling.

There’s plenty of people milling about in the bar, men-at-arms, servants and patrons.
It’s nice to have a relax in a busy pub. Werner considers the arm wrestling – he thinks he can take the big guy whose doing all the winning, but he decides to relax for now. Everyone chats about current events and what Middenheim may have in store.

About ten minutes later, three travellers with heavy cloaks enter, hang their cloaks near the fire, speak to the innkeeper and then sit down at an empty table for food and drinks.

Five minutes later, a gnome enters, books a room then goes to play cards with the halfling.

Gnoblar goes to the bar and talks to one of the servants. Seems the Gravin is heading to Middenheim to deal with a legal matter.

A short while later, one of the Gravin’s livery comes down and heads to speak to the guy arm wrestling. Bruno is ordered upstairs to his room as the Gravin doesn’t want him to injure himself.
Bruno stands up towering over the servant and tells him to get fucked. The servant scurries back upstairs.

After five minutes or so, the Gravin herself, accompanied three servants, comes down the stairs looking annoyed. After a short exchange with Bruno, he sulkily heads upstairs. Food arrives for the rest of the Gravin’s party and most of the men-at-arms and servants eat at the bar.

Food arrives for the party and they continue to have a few drinks and enjoy themselves. Everyone’s discussing maybe having an early night and getting back on the road, but Werner is having a nice evening and doesn’t seem too keen.

A well dressed couple and two coachmen then enter the pub. The couple clearly only have eyes for each other and speak to the innkeeper and disappear upstairs, the coachmen grab a beer and sit at an empty table.

Five minutes pass before more guests enter. It’s about half 9 now and three men enter, all wearing black robes of the god of death- Morr. They spend a while talking to the innkeeper. After much discussion they then leave the inn and return a few moments later carrying a coffin. They carry it upstairs and disappear.

Following their experience with the Maria Borger a while back on the Reik, the adventurers discuss the coffin and start to worry about the presence of vampires. Last time they saw a coffin there was a nasty one inside.
Just to be safe, Werner heads outside and looks for some yew trees to make some stakes.
It’s not too much trouble for the axe wielding carpenter, but while he’s outside a traveller on horseback arrives at the inn and gives Werner a wave as she passes. She hands her steed to the stable hand and heads inside.

Werner comes back in and rejoins his table for another round of drinks. The sturdy looking female traveller stands with a drink at the bar and chats to some of the servants.

As Rowlocks sits and watches the bar, he sees one of the men-at-arms give the female traveller a cheeky bum squeeze. A split second later he is laid on the floor with a bloody nose, the other members of the Gravin’s party back away and give their drinks a good looking at.

It’s about 10pm. At this point a liveried servant comes down the stairs and orders the gravins entourage to retire for the night, stating that they will be leaving at first light in the morning. The various members finish their drinks and drift off to the dormitory.

About the same time, male from the couple comes downstairs and orders a bottle of wine. Before he can return, Wandy spots him talking to one of the gravins servants. A heated exchange takes place and the man, who is now very angry, stomps off back upstairs and the servant heads to the dormitory.

It’s a bit quieter now in the bar, and everyone discusses calling it a night.
Gnoblar heads to the bar and talks to the woman. Her names Ursula and she works for the Kemperbad town council, off to Middenheim to deliver a message. She’s funny and chatty, and she joins the guys at the table for a round of drinks.

About 10 past 10, Bruno tentatively walks down the stairs, looking all around the bar room. Seeing none of the gravin’s party there, he shouts the barman for a mug of ale and tells him to ‘keep ’em coming’ and sits down at the table with the two coachman. A few minutes later, the arm wrestling starts again.

Werner’s had a few beers now and fancies his chances. After Bruno slams down the arm of one of the coachmen, Werner heads over. “At last! Some competition maybe!” Shouts Bruno and the coachman stands aside.

Everyone gathers round as Werner and Bruno roll up their sleeves and lock hands.

Staring each other in the eyes, they go at it. No arms move and it’s tense. Werner’s arm starts to faulter and the crowd gasps, but he gradually moves it back to upright. Everyone starts cheering and Bruno’s hand goes back. Both men are sweating with veins bulging.

Werner then feels a slight wobble on Bruno’s arm and goes for max power. He goes over the top with his fist forward and slams Bruno’s arm down. The pub erupts with cheering and much back slapping and mug clanging takes place. Bruno is the first to congratulate and orders a round for everyone. He commends Werner on his power.

“Hah, I reckon I could beat you,” shouts Ursula to Bruno, putting five gold crowns on the table.
“Well let’s see,” he says.

Ursula sits down and the crowd regathers. Bruno let’s his arm go down a bit with a smile, but he’s being gentle with the lady. He applies some power and the contest begins in earnest. Neither move and sweat breaks out on Bruno’s forehead. It’s evenly matched until Ursula’s arm wavers and Bruno slowly but surely forces her arm to the table. More cheering backslapping takes place and Ursula and Bruno laugh it off.
Spirits are high and the idea of bed is postponed while everyone sits in one big group.

A tray of drinks is brought to Bruno who offers them round and everyone grabs one.

A short while later, Durak, who is sat next to Bruno slumps down onto the table unconscious. Bruno laughs and makes comment about dwarves supposed to be able to hold their drink.
Immediately the party is suspicious, Durak likes a beer and he’s never done this before – there’s something wrong with the drink. Gnoblar sniffs it, yep, somethings not right. Wandy then spots one of the barstaff looking worried, he immediately leaves the pub through the main door.

One of the priests comes downstairs and talks to the landlord. A few coins change hands.
As soon as he leaves, Ursula stands and goes to talk to the barman. A few more coins change hands and she comes back to the table.

One of the gravins party, who was earlier wearing a wig and gown, comes down in his nightshirt and orders a brandy.
One of the three, of the first three people to enter the inn, goes upstairs and the lawyer looking person goes back upstairs too. The other guys friends the head upstairs too.

Rowlocks, Wandy and Gnoblar want to go to bed. Werner doesn’t, but he reluctantly heads upstairs. They grab Durak and carry him upstairs.

They’re in the corridor in the opposite wing to the gravin’s party and they split into two rooms. Durak, Wandy and Werner in one and Rowlocks and Gnoblar in the other. Werner stands outside the room for a few moments to survey the scene. Durak’s flat out already and everyone else gets comfy.

From down the corridor, raised voices can be heard. As Werner heads down to have a listen they abruptly stop.
As he’s walking down the main corridor, a door opens and the brandy drinking lawyer pops his head out stating that he heard something. Werner agrees and he goes back in his room and shuts the door.

As Werner turns the corner he bumps into the man who was with the lady earlier. He turns to a hushed voice and asks Werner, being the ‘adventuring type’ would do him a favour? Head into the dormitory and find a man called Hans Empresser, and ask him to call at his room, with 10gc for the trouble. Werner considers this and accepts.

He heads back down and through the bar, just as Ursula heads out the main door. He asks around in the dorm and finds Empresser.

On the way to the stairs, Werner stops and talks to the man, questioning him on what is going on. He doesn’t want to say and Werner suggests he may be in danger and maybe he should pay Werner to stand guard as he goes in the room. This worries Empresser and he begins to open up after much negotiating.
It seems that the man is from a rich family and is having an illicit affair with a lady from a rival family. Empresser knows this and wanted to ‘speak to him’ about it. This gives Werner even more persasive power and adds to his case of protection. Empresser agrees and heads to the room.

Werner hangs back then stands outside the door where he can hear voices.

As he does, one of the gravin’s servants comes to Gnoblar and Rowlocks’ room, knocks and requests him to come and speak to Rechstandler, the lawyer. Gnoblat thinks for a moment, the says OK. He leaves the doorway and follows the servant, but not before heading down the corridor and grabbing Werner to come with him.

Not far from his own room, he knocks on the door. In short, the lawyer is being blackmailed by the people in another room. Could Gnoblar and his colleagues murder them for 250 gold?

It’s a significant amount and Gnoblar and Werner arn’t sure what to make of the situation, but they don’t want to do it. Gnoblar explains that he is not a murderer and thanks but no thanks.

They exit the room and Gnoblar goes back to bed and Werner heads back to where Empresser and the bloke are.

Outside the room, all is quiet, no voices.
I thinks for a moment and knocks on the door. The man, who we now know to be having an affair, asks what he wants.

He insists that no one is in the room with him and as Werner begins to argue, saying he knows there is a great noise can be heard coming from downstairs. It starts with hammering and turns to shouting.

Werner goes to the top of the stairs to listen. There’s a group of loud drunk men inside and they are demanding to know where someone is. The innkeeper says he’s not here, but apparently his coach is parked outside. Sounds of brawling can be heard in the bar.
As Werner heads back to finish his conversation, two thugs head upstairs and they’re going to breakdown every door till they find Friedrich! The main instigator is a large, very drunk man and he is now upstairs.

They’re at the door opposite Rowlocks and Gnoblar and they break it down, don’t find what they’re looking for and move to the next one. Werner heads back to that end of the pub.
Gnoblar suggests they open the room door so they can see he’s not there and Rowlocks opens the door, they snarl and look in and head next door to where Wandy and Durak are.

Werner turns up and tells them to back off. Punches fly and the thugs start on Werner. A couple of the inns workers join in and there’s people everywhere. The fight sends one of the thugs and a servant slamming through the door and onto the floor of Wandy’s room as Werner knocks out the one outside. Werner hasn’t had a fight for a while and he is well oiled and still armored. He quickly overpowers the remaining drunk man and drags him downstairs.

In the bar, the rest of the patrons have overpowered the other two thugs and they’re all thrown to the floor. The man is Thomas Pramhandler and he is looking for his Mrs that he suspects is here with someone. The innkeeper has had enough of them and they are bound, locked in the cellar and will be given to the roadwardens the next day.

This is probably the man Empresser went to see. Armed with his new information, Werner goes back upstairs to confront him.

He answers the door. Werner explains that he knows of the affair and what’s happening and asks where Empresser is. Schmidt let’s Werner in and he looks round, but he’s right, he’s not there. Werner insists he walked him there, but Schmidt explains that he left. Werner is suspicious, but leaves him for now and heads back to the room. Before he takes his armor off, he hears a muffled but violent arguement. He heads back into the corridor. Everyone else has been trying to get some sleep but it’s not going well.
There’s nothing outside.

Just then, from another room in the corridor in front, loud bangs can be heard.

It’s the room with the initiates of Morr, and thinking of the coffin, Werner gets everyone up before he investigates and by the time they get there the innkeeper is already there. He insists there’s no problem, and the priests already told him there could be some noise as they had to conduct some services over the body during the night.

Before they knock, everything goes quiet. The innkeeper knocks on the door, and one of the priests answers, apologises for the noise and insists that they will remain quiet for the rest of the night.

Inside the room, two initiates sit upon another. The one at the door explains that his brother sometimes has ‘spasms’ due to his connections to ‘the other side’. This makes him an excellent priest of Morr, but can be inconvenient. He shuts the door. The landlord looks at the adventurers all puzzled, says, “whatever next” and suggests everyone goes to bed, it’s been a long night already.

Everyone agrees and retires for the night.

It’s about twenty past twelve and everyone’s dozing is abruptly cut short. A loud scream can be heard from down the corridor towards the gravin’s wing. When the adventurers arrive, they find servants and others crowded round the door of Bruno’s room. He’s been found dead with a dagger buried in his back. Everyone in the inn is summoned to the bar room.

This roll call also leads to more bodies being discovered. Empresser is dead, the lawyer is dead and a servant is missing.

The innkeeper states that a murderer is on the loose and advises everyone to lock themselves in their rooms until the roadwardens appear tomorrow.

Before everyone leaves, the Gravin displays the dagger that killed Bruno.
Once held aloft it looks familiar. One of the inns staff says, “didn’t he have a dagger like that?” And points at Wandy. It’s true, Wandy does have a dagger just like that, and to make it worse, it’s not on his belt where it usually is. Hushed whispers echo round the bar as Wandy says – “I didn’t kill him!”.
Ursula looks puzzled, the gnome and halfling and everyone else look shocked. And everyone stares at Wandy.

The Gravin then speaks.
“I am authorised by my aunt, to exercise her imperial right to dispense common justice. Therefore, I rule that the party be locked in their rooms without armor and weapons, with guards placed outside their window and door, until the morning, when I shall decide further on a course of events.”
“However, you…. ‘big man’”, she points at Werner, “I sentence you to replace my murdered champion until it should please me otherwise.”

Our heroes all look at each other and consider their options. There’s too many to fight, the pub would lynch them. With their options dwindling, they reluctantly agree, insisting that there’s been a mistake.

Men-at-arms swarm the group and march them upstairs to relieve them of their weapons and armor. Rowlocks, Wandy and Gnoblar are locked in the room with Durak, and Werner is led to Bruno’s room and locked in. The latest dead bodies are handed to the priests to watch over. Everyone goes to bed.

Rowlocks, Wandy and Gnoblar think how to get out of the situation, consider trying to escape and various other plans, but they can’t agree on a decent exit strategy. Once more, they’re in the shit.

About 30 minutes into discussions, the door opens. The gravin wants to talk to them.

Rowlocks, Gnoblar and Wandy are reunited with Werner in the corridor and they’re taken to the gravins room.

“I’m sorry that it was necessary to lock you up, it seemed like the easiest way to calm everyone down. I believe you to be innocent, no one would be stupid enough to leave their own dagger as a clue. Anyway, we have till dawn to discover who killed Bruno. I’m sure that Danmerblatz is behind this. I’m heading to Middenheim to fight a lawsuit against him. If I’m right, his agents will try to kill my new champion,” she gives a wry smile, “but this time you will be waiting for them. You’ll lock yourself in Bruno’s room. I’ll let you get a weapon each, I don’t want you trying to make a break foe it do we? I’ll leave the guards outside your room for appearances. Let’s get moving, there isn’t much of the night left.”

The party grabs a weapon, heads back to Bruno’s room and sits in the dark trying not to fall asleep.

Time passes…

The drinking, the travelling and the staying awake takes it’s toll and nearly everyone falls asleep, but not Wandy..

About 2am, Wandy hears scraping from the chimney, Gnoblar’s awake too. No one moves. Werner is asleep on the bed and Rowlocks has dozed off in the chair. Through the half light, a figure can be seen dropping down from the chimney and lightly stepping onto the hearth. With his night vision, Gnoblar can clearly make out one of the inn workers delicately tip toeing through the room with a knife.

Gnoblar launches forward to grab him, but stumbles and misses. Rowlocks wakes and instantly attempts to grapple the intruder, but he’s also unlucky and doesn’t manage to get him. Knowing the game is up, the inn worker runs back towards the chimney. He’s fast and he’s crouching ready to jump up.

There’s one last chance before he vanishes, and Wandy leaps forward at full stretch, aiming for the guys trailing ankle. He slides across the floor, closes his eyes at the last second and his finger tips brush the assassins legs. His magic touch sends the intruder straight to sleep.

Werner wakes and the gravins men-at-arms burst into the room. They throw the adventurers a smile, ‘nice work’. They set about binding and gagging the man.
The gravin enters – “I knew it!” She says, “I can’t thank you enough”

After more thanks, the weary bunch head back to their rooms ready to meet with the gravin in the morning.

In the morning they head down for breakfast and are greeted by the thankful Gravin. Everyone is present, apart from Ursula who has disappeared during the night. They pull up at the gravins table.

She thanks them for their involvement, and thanks Werner for standing in as a would be champion for the night. “Unless, of course, ‘big man’, you would like to actually represent me as my real judicial champion? At the trial in Middenheim in a few days? You look like you can handle yourself. I will pay you a daily fee for your employment and a bonus if you win?”

Werner considers this. He’s been looking for new career options for a while now and this might be just what he needs. Also, fighting for a living, that’s right up his street.
But what about his friends? The gravin says they can join her retinue as extra protection for the remaining journey to Middenheim, but after that, they’re on their own. We’ll see about Werner after the trial.

Werner accepts and everyone gathers their things, loads up the waggon and joins the train of coaches carts.

That was a rough night at the Three Feathers.

A few days later and the waggon pulls into the valley below Middenheim and through the trees, up on the mountain, the towering fortress city of the White Wolf can be seen ahead.

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Session 25

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