The Enemy Within

Session 18
Wittgendorf

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gnoblar jumps down and goes to investigate.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quick!! To the wharf!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Session 17

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Session 17
All along the Signal Tower

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ETELKA HERZEN!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rowlocks shoots – the arrow whistles up into the air.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Session 16
Session 18

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Session 16
That which they seek

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It’s a grim scene.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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