Everyone watches as the Jolly Nobber sails away up the Reik, confiscated by the bastard castle guards. Dumpling is beside herself and Elvis acts submissive as he looks out at the mangy dogs and beggars eyeing him up from the shacks around the wharf side.
Everyone looks solemnly at each other and they take a slow walk back up the hill to Wittgendorf village.
The party need some kind of plan and, with the meeting with the village doctor is a few hours away, they decide to go and investigate the mill in the village and then check into the pub.
After a short walk to the mill, while shooing away beggars, Werner strides up and knocks at the door. Nothing happens, so he knocks again. A short while later a man’s voice shouts for them to go away. They try to engage the occupant, saying they want to have a chat about the village goings on, but Gnoblar’s charm and Werner’s brutishness fall on deaf ears, but they don’t give up.
The bloke inside really doesn’t want to talk or let them in and, eventually, a window opens a floor up and a women shouts out, “what is your problem? Just go away! Leave us alone!”
At this point Rowlocks suggests that they should let it go and head to the pub, and they do just that.
Wandy feels a bit itchy.
The Shooting Star Inn is in poor condition, and although they’ve been in some shitholes before, this looks like the worst. They push open the door and head inside.
Herbert, the landlord, looks depressed as he polishes some tankards, and nearly manages a smile as they enter. Apart from a few locals sat at a table the place is empty. Herbert is welcoming and informs them that they are the first visitors he’s had for three years. Drinks are ordered and the gang look for the least broken, dirty table to sit at.
Herbert is chatty enough and they talk about the state of Wittgendorf, the misfortunes of the people of the area, the storms and blight of the land. They are offered the opportunity for some food, and although they lost their supplies, no one really fancies it. Wandy and the others are keen to glean any information they can about the castle but whenever it’s mentioned, the landlord remembers a job he needs to do.
After a couple of drinks they decide to head over and see Jean Rousseau, the village physician, even though they are a few hours early for their appointment.
Despite the state of Wittgendorf it’s not a bad summer’s afternoon, but the ominous silhouette of Castle Wittgenstien looms in, dominating the horizon and darkening the mood. Theres got to be some way into the castle and the doctor seems like the most normal person in the area, so hopes are high for the meeting.
Wandy feels even Itchier now and he asks Doc Gnoblar to take a look. It doesn’t take Gnoblar long to discern that he’s caught lice, probably from a beggar. Everyone takes a few steps back from Wandy.
Werner knocks at the door, and after a little while an elderly lady pulls open the door and stares quizzically over the tops of her spectacles. She’s clearly deaf, and after the fact that they have an appointment with the doctor has been shouted over to her, she shuts the door and disappears for a moment.
She comes back, shows the party into the surgery room and informs them that Mr Rousseau will be along shortly to meet them. Dumpling, Durak and Elvis take a seat on the couch at the back of the room and Wandy, Rowlocks, Gnoblar and Werner sit in the wooden chairs opposite the desk.
The place is quiet and as they wait, Werner suggests that they have a quick rummage round the room before he gets here, be able to hear him coming!
He is quickly over ruled, this might be the only decent lead to getting into the castle, and none of the others want to get into any trouble at this point, so begrudgingly, Werner leaves it and they all wait for the doctor.
After five minutes or so in comes Jean Rousseau, the village physician. He smiles at his guests and takes his place at the desk.
Discussions are pleasant, Rousseau asks about the visitors back stories and intentions and they in turn ask about local conditions and topical events. Jean Rousseau seems to be doing his best to help the local afflicted and when asked about the blue bottled liquid, he explains that it’s a concoction of his divising and it seems to give much needed pain relief.
Things are going well and Rousseau invites them through the door behind him to a more comfortable study room, and brandy and cigars are brought while they continue to talk. They discuss the downward spiral of the village of Wittgendorf, the storms and general bleakness of the area.
Feeling trust building, the party start to assure the doctor that they are here to help and they have vested interest turning round the fortunes of the village. Discussions of the castle and its inhabitants lead to Rousseau offering to host a dinner party the following evening, where the gang can meet with his friend – Lady Magritte from the castle.
He assures them that Lady Magritte is wonderful lady, who does her best to help the people of Wittgendorf under difficult conditions and that she will be able to answer all of their questions, and also sort out the obvious mix up with the impounding of the barge.
Happy with this arrangement, everyone’s finishes their brandy and bids farewell to Dr Rousseau, telling him that they will see him for dinner tomorrow.
As they walk back towards the inn, everyone has a chat about the meeting and how this might be a way in to the castle itself.
Whilst approaching the main village crossroads across from the inn they are approaching by a distressed woman, she is crying and wailing and she is carrying a baby wrapped in linen.
“Please help me!” She begs. She implores the party to try and help her baby, she has become sick and taken a strange tinge, Rousseau has also been no help. Her husband was also taken to the castle yesterday and everyone realises that this was the man who was captured by Magritte when they first arrived.
Everyone looks at Gnoblar, Gnoblar says, “ok, let’s take a look.”
She hands him the baby and he holds it carefully as he unwraps its cloths.
As soon as Gnoblar sees the baby, his stomach lurches and he almost drops it as horrifying sight greets him. The baby is green and furry and has sprouted 8 legs, its slowly mutating into a spider and will probably be dead by morning.
Despite his physician training, Gnoblar feels feint and sick and hands back the baby. He explains that there is nothing that can be done and as harrowing as the woman’s screams are, they leave her crying on the floor and head to the inn.
The Shooting Star inn is as deserted as it was earlier. “Ahh, back so soon,” declares Herbert and grabs some tankards.
They decide that they have had enough for one day, and as it’s getting late now that they would have a drink and stay at the Inn. They negotiate a price and check in to a large mouldy broken room. Although no one has eaten much recently, they decline the innkeepers offer of food and settle down for the night and plan tomorrow.
It’s another fine summer’s morning, but there’s an unnatural gloom to Wittgendorf that can be seen from the Inns freshly unshuttered bedroom window.
Downstairs for a liquid breakfast, once again declining the offer of Herbert the innkeepers fayre, everyone chats about the day ahead.
They’ve no boat, no supplies and only what they were carrying when the Nobber was impounded. They decide that the dinner party later with Jean Rousseau and Lady Magritte is key to their entry to the castle, the recovery of the meteorite and to get back the barge.
With no leads or ideas as to what to do, and all obvious places in Wittgendorf explored they opt to keep a low profile and stay in the pub till later on before the dinner party.
Fearing that Dumpling and Elvis may be a liability, and in case of any trouble, they negotiate a fee to keep the room on for a couple of nights so that they can stay out of the way until they have more of a plan.
Although Dumpling doesn’t want to stay on her own in this place, she would rather that, than head out with the adventurers, so she reluctantly agrees to watch Elvis at the pub and Gnoblar assures her that they will be back to get her as soon as they have sorted all this out.
Afternoon turns to early evening and Werner, Rowlocks, Wandy, Gnoblar and Durak head on up to the doctors house for their dinner date.
They’re arrive at the docs and a knock at the door brings Rousseau’s elderly housekeeper shuffling along. She shows them in, but this time they are shown straight through to the study.
Upon entry, they are greeted by Jean Rousseau, who stands to welcome them in.
“Ah welcome gentlemen, let me introduce you to Lady Magritte.” Sat in one of the comfortable armchairs is the young and beautiful noble lady who they saw on the horse the day they arrived. The cold stare previously seen, has turned to a warm smile as she stands to greet the guests.
Everyone formally introduces themselves and takes to a chair for brandy and cigars. Small talk ensues and the party are polite yet inquisitive as they discuss the local area.
The conversation soon turns to the impounding of their barge. After hearing the details of the events of the previous Lady Magritte is very apologetic and explains that this must be some kind of misunderstanding and that she will rectify the situation as soon as possible.
“Sergent Kratz can sometimes be a little..over zealous”
The doors to the study open and Frau, the housekeeper, shows everyone through to the dining room.
Everyone sits down at the large table and the smell of the delicious food makes everyone’s mouth water. The party haven’t had a proper meal for days now and are looking forward it.
Frau brings through various small starter plates before the roast pork and all the trimmings, breads, sauces and vegetables.
Spirits are high and the mood pleasant as conversation with Lady Magritte and Rousseau continues.
Gnoblar asks about the Von Wittgenstein family and explains that that’s what he was shouting the other day, as she looked like a picture he’d seen. They begin to explain further, telling the doctor and Magritte about the curse on the land, the warp stone meteorite, and the fact that they can help. Lady Magritte insists she knows nothing of warp stones and meteors but she will help the party as much as she can.
The noble lady is keen to hear all about their travels and they tell her of Dagmar’s library and observatory, the journals and notes they have used to lead them to here.
They show Lady Magritte the notes, maps and journal entries hey have discovered in Dagmar’s observatory and she pours over them.
She appears to be amazed and full of wonder at the parties discoveries, and they arrange to bring them up to the castle the next day so Lady Magritte can make copies of her great, great grandfathers notes and that they can get their boat back.
Rowlocks asks about the person who they had strung up to the back of a horse when they first arrived. Magritte clarifies that this was a criminal, a man who stole food when food is a important commodity. He was taken to the castle to be locked up for a few weeks, then he would be released and hopefully he would have learnt his lesson.
With nice food, good conversation, Bretonnian brandy, cigars and pleasant surroundings, it’s easy to forget the bleakness of the last few days.
After dessert and drinks, Lady Magritte excuses herself while she goes to powder her nose and Jean Rousseau talks through the difficulties of working with the people of Wittgendorf.
A short while later, Werner and Wandy start to feel slightly drowsy. Rowlocks and Durak start to feel a sensation of muscle loss and Gnoblar feels uneasy.
Jean Rousseau smiles, pushes his chair back and stands up,
“I am sorry gentlemen,” he says as he takes a few steps back and raises his arms.
At this moment the door to the hallway opens, and swiftly through comes four of the castles guards, complete with full black plate armor.
Rowlocks and Durak are paralyzed in their seats. Werner and Wandy are overcome with drowsiness but still functioning. Gnoblar, with his extensive medical and pharmaceutical background is unaffected by the poison, although he notices what’s going on around him and fakes drowsiness.
The guards immediately split down either side of the table and grab Wandy and Werner.
Werner hasn’t had a fight for a while and he’s about ready for one.
Gnoblar is first to act. He steps up, draws Barrakul and heads to one of the guards grabbing Wandy, who is trying to deal with the guards grapple.
Werner powers his way through the guards grasp, shakes them off and draws his axe and slices it into one of the guards legs.
Wandy slips out of the guards hold and takes a few steps back grabbing his staff. The armored soldiers draw their swords and the battle is on. One smashes his blade towards Werner but Werner dodges the blow.
Even though Werner is drowsy, he launches his axe in a side swipe and it clangs through the armor and blood runs down the black plate.
Durak and Rowlocks can only watch the carnage as their bodies refuse to respond.
Gnoblar tries once again to slash the guard with his magical blade but it swings wildly past. The soldier returns a blow but it narrowly swipes past Gnobar’s arm.
The guard who has lost grip of Wandy, draws his sword, lunges forward and the tip pierces Wandy’s arm and he wince at the pain, it’s a good strike and he is hurt.
Wandy thinks on his feet and his poison enduced sleepiness doesn’t stop him reacting. It’s a long shot, but if he can hit the guard he can sleep him. As his foe withdraws the sword from the wound Wandy grabs his arm, closes his eyes for a split second and the guard falls to the floor fast asleep.
Werner is fighting down the other side of the table and he has two soldiers on him. He roars with rage and swings directly at the one on the right and his trusty axe slashes through the plate. Not finished there, he spins backwards and straight round to the other, hitting him with a backhand. Both cry out in pain.
Jean Rousseau stands worriedly at the far end of the table surveying the scene.
Gnoblar, with one of the guards down on his side, turns and moves over to Rowlocks to see if he can rouse him. He gives him a few slaps but it’s no good.
Wandy fends off the warrior on his side as the melee continues on Werner’s side of the table.
Jean Rousseau, with the subduing of the party not going so well, draws his rapier and heads to Gnoblar. Gnoblar sees him coming and grabs Barrakul and the doctors face off against each other.
Werner is beginning to overpower the enemies on his side as one drops to the ground dead from Werner’s mighty blow.
Wandy powerblasts wind at the guard on his side and pins him to the wall.
Gnoblar and Jean go head to head, but the doctor’s rapier is finding it hard to parry Gnoblar’s sword as it shifts in and out of reality. They exchange blows and Rousseau’s quick rapier nicks Gnoblar’s hip.
Werner slices through the remaining guard on his side, killing him and leaving an expanding pool of blood on the carpet.
The guard on the other side, turns from Wandy and starts to run at Gnoblar’s exposed back.
Werner sees him going, sees Gnoblar battling Rousseau, and goes for the intercept.
In a flash, he goes from chair to table and then, like the hero he is, launches himself through the air, two hands on his axe handle, high above his head and brings the pain down with massive force onto the unsuspecting soldier.
Werner, now covered in blood, sets his sights on Jean Rousseau who is fighting Gnoblar. Gnoblar is wounded and Werner intends to bring an end to the battle of the doctors.
Jean Rousseau is no match for Werner. The unarmoured doctor can only attempt to deflect the brute force of the incoming bounty hunter. It’s no good as Werner’s axe powers through his meagre defense and buries itself into his side. The doctor slumps to the floor nearly in pieces.
Werner is not finished yet, he runs over to the sleeping guard and mercilessly executes him.
Everyone looks round at the dining room. The place is now smashed up, chairs overturned, bodies and blood lay around.
With the room and doors secure, the able members of the group take stock, inspect their wounds and look round.
Shortly after, Durak and Rowlocks are able to move and Gnoblar has a look at peoples wounds.
A plan is required and discussions ensue. Lady Magritte has escaped and although she doesn’t know the outcome of events, she knows where they are and it won’t take long for her to figure out the rest.
Although patched up, Wandy is seriously hurt and Werner and Gnoblar have injuries.
They decide they can’t go back to the inn, and they will probably be seen leaving the house. With nowhere else to go they choose to hold up at the doctors house, secure the perimeter and hold out through the night and hopefully Wandy can recover some magic after a rest and Gnoblar can have a look at his wounds in the morning. Right, to search and secure the house.
Outside of the dining room, in the corridor, is the housekeeper, feinted and laying on the floor. They leave her there for a moment and explore the rest of the house.
They turn over the study and find a letter from Magritte to Rousseau. It’s clear that Magritte has been supplying Rousseau with something which he in turn has been giving to the villagers.
Inside a cabinet Wandy finds a pottery jar containing what looks like unusual leeches, of many colours and wierd little faces. He immediately shuts the lid and puts them back.
In the study they find further correspondence between Magritte and Rousseau. They conclude that they are in cahoots, using experimental procedures on the villagers with whatever Magritte is supplying him with, and that the doctor is in love with Magritte and he easily complies with her wishes.
The bottom floor is clear and they decide to look down into the cellar via a nearly hidden doorway.
The scent of decay wafts from the depths of the cellar. As always, Werner lights up and torch and is first down into the darkness.
A buzzing mass can be seen at the end of the room. As they draw closer they can see that it is thousands of big black flys. The flys swarm around a body. It’s been mutilated and abused. It once had four arms that have been sawn off and buckets of blood and mess lay around under the bench. It’s a grotesque scene.
On a table nearby, various tubes, funnels and bits and bobs lay around and Rowlocks takes a look. One of the vials has a strange black swirling dust inside. Concerned about opening it, and unsure of what it contains they pocket it to inspect later. In one corner of the cellar is a poorly crafted door. Upon opening it, they see a roughly hewn passage and Durak says it looks like similar shoddy craftsmanship to the ones they found the other day in the village. They close it and exit the cellar back up the stairs.
Upstairs are three bedrooms. One for Rousseau, one for the housekeeper and another. They carry the housekeeper upstairs and as she comes round they tell her to remain quiet and Wandy magically locks the door with her inside.
With the house secure, the shutters are drawn, the lights are dimmed and Gnoblar sets up in the surgery to try and sort out peoples wounds. He has a look, but in his wounded state he is finding it difficult. He cant manage to tend to his own wounds, but he does administer some pills to the others.
While Gnoblar sets up surgery, Werner and Rowlocks go to have a look at the back yard.
In the yard is a small shack. they hear whistling and as they approach and peep inside, they can see a grotty still, lots of blue bottles and a man happily working away. This must be where Rousseau has been producing the Rotgut for the villagers.
They decide to not cause a fuss and leave him to it, heading back inside and locking the doors.
As they sit round the surgery and discuss what their next moves can be, they hear a knocking and shouting at the back door. It’s the man from the shed.
Werner creeps up the hall, stands behind where the door will open and unflicks the lock.
In walks a strange looking man with funny stubby fingers. As he walks past Werner, Werner shuts the door and he turns to face him.
After a few seconds the man is a gibbering non sensicle mess. It doesn’t take Werner long to realise the man is an imbecile who can barely talk. Werner knocks him out easily and he is then locked inside the other bedroom. They now have two hostages.
What to do. It’s evening time. Gnoblar has an option to tend to his wounds. He can take one of his herbal remedies, which will sort him out, but it will put him to sleep for 24 hours. As drastic as it is, this seems like the only option. At some point the guards will come, and being already wounded will be a massive disadvantage. They just hope they can hunker down until that happens. He takes his pill.
Wandy tries to get some rest and the others take watch throughout the night.
Early in the morning, the villagers start banging on the back gate door, obviously keen to get today’s fix of Rotgut. No one does anything and eventually they leave, but they will be sure to return.
Werner, Rowlocks and Durak are stationed at the upstairs windows and are continually watching in all directions expecting trouble at any moment. Magritte must surely have worked out now that the party have spoiled the plan and that her guards and maybe the doctor are dead.
Sure enough, a detachment of guards can be seen in the distance heading down from the castle.
Outside on the street there are already soldiers patrolling around harassing the villagers and beggars, although these ones don’t seem to be coming to the docs house.
They are in the street outside of the house and everyone watches through the slits in the shutters.
“Where are they?” they shout, “are they in the woods?” As they grab an old man and rough him up. A small crowd gathers and beg the guard to let the guy go.
“If none of you are gonna talk maybe the fate of this old git will encourage you to be more helpful.” They beat the man and the villagers are too fearful to act.
Werner is upset by this scene and is itching to get out there, but he is talked down as this may blow their cover and they’re not in a good position for a fight.
They can only watch as the old man is strung up to a tree and his wrists are slit.
The soldiers from the castle are now in the village, spreading out and throwing the villagers around and busting into their already broken houses.
It’s only a matter of time now. They are heading to the doctor’s house and doing a clean sweep of the village as they come.
Shit. A new plan is needed quick. Wandy and Werner are wounded and Gnoblar is unconscious. After a swift discussion they plan their escape through the tunnel in the cellar. They quickly grab their things, Werner picks up Gnoblar and they head down into the cellar, squeeze into the roughly dug mud tunnel with a torch and shut the door behind them.