Sunday, 21 March 2010

Their Fated Travels...(Chapter Eleven) - A Restless Night

Their Fated Travels…

RPG Party events as told By Robert James Freemantle

Based on the 2nd edition WHFRP game chapter of the same name

This story contains spoilers for that book’s (Ashes of Middenheim) adventure

Chapter Eleven

A Restless Night

Extract from the diary of Rissandrea:

Day 38

We slept in a cave. After hearing the roars of nearby beastmen herds, we decided that gaining their attention from our campfire would not be the wisest thing to do.

Though the days are warmer right now, the nights are still cold. Some terrible draft washes through this forest, like a curse upon it.

It is said that beastmen are the true children of chaos. I can understand that.

I only wish our night of so called rest hadn’t put us more ill at ease about the brass skull we carry with us.

Extract from the diary of Dieter:

Day 38

I was on guard duty while the others slept, then it happened. Good job really as I could feel myself drifting off too. The last thing I need is to see the future according to Morr when I’m in this place. I already know the future. Lots of killing, perhaps some of us being killed, me trying to save these idiots and getting myself hurt or worse into the bargain - all just to save myself. It’s not fair. If I can find some way to get even with the Gods…

Anyway, I’m getting distracted now. As I was saying, last night the skull was suddenly out of the backpack. I woke up Tordrad, shaking him perhaps too violently as he stood up with wide open eyes and looked every bit like he was going to tear my head off. I like this side of him! You know where you stand with the man.

The commotion woke the do-gooder Rissandrea. The reason I got spooked was, well something felt wrong about the skull. Something inside it was…different somehow. This time it felt like something was within it, watching me. Though the others were quickly awoken and asking what was wrong, I was unable to mouth an answer. Something was happening to me.

Maestro’s diary:

Day 38

It was all he could do to point at it. It was at that moment that enough sleepy dust had cleared from my eyes for my magically attuned senses to switch on. I saw a witch sight apparition coming from the skull itself. It wasn’t magic exactly, but it was power, old power. A red misty hue coming up from the skull. Evidently some energy of Khorne, which could only mean one thing – daemonic influence. This was confirmed when Dieter was suddenly no longer in control of his own actions. I could tell he was fighting it but something was making him walk towards the skull. I saw a red trail leading from it to Dieter.

I quickly took the accursed object and put it back into the backpack. The red essence trail remained though, the tethers of it in the air were strong.

From the diary of Tordrad:

Day 38

I tell that Dieter he possessed. Waiting on word to strike him down if he attack wizard. He did not.

Extract from the diary of Tobias:

Day 38

Strangely though the others speak of the disturbance last night, I do not remember it properly. It was as if it was just a dream, one that they all had and think is real. All I know is that it started with that Death fellow.

Rissandrea’s diary:

Day 38

Dieter’s own willpower against the forces of corruption were immense. I’ve never seen anything like it. It actually drove the evil back out of his body. I actually felt the shift cross a different path. It made my skin crawl and my hair stand up on end wherever it moved. This too is a sign of my own increasing power.

That’s when I saw it shift across to the barely awake Father Odo. His will was a lot less guarded and his senses were dulled where he was still between wake and sleep.

Maestro tried to wake him. His shouts of warning did nothing and the priest simply kept walking towards the skull. I was closest and no one was doing anything. I had to do something!

Tordrad’s diary:

Day 38

The priestess girly, she has great arm on her when angry! She slap half asleep priest hard on kisser. Very good laugh for me. I think I not make her angry ever.

Rissandrea’s diary:

Day 38

After I had helped Father Odo wake up, I quickly explained that he was being overwhelmed by a daemonic force and together we prayed to drive the thing back into its place. I do not feel it was banished back to the daemonic realms though. I feel it retreated back into the skull.

After that, none of us felt like sleeping any longer and we got going.

As they trekked over northwards, heading back to the great city of the white wolf a sound rang out in the distance. A flock of birds flew skyward at the deep horn blowing. Faint war cries were picked up on the wind and a second horn blew somewhere off to the other side of them.

Voices that sounded like beastmen were heard off to the extreme west and east of the group’s position. An ambush had been plotted, confident in the tread of their own forest, they did not care about giving up their position now. They would enjoy the thrill of the hunt, of prey who were trying to escape.

Tobias was back in his scholarly robes and pointed out, “We’ll never get to the city in time.”

Maestro answered, “That doesn’t matter, we must try to escape their net.”

The group hurried north and their decisive evasive action had bought them a little while longer. They had almost managed to press on for an hour when the first ungor broke from the tree line to the side – more were following up behind him.

Their step was far too quick for humans to escape anyway.

Maestro had considered jumping onto the back of Avalanche and ordering Tordrad to ride them away. But then he realised that he’d only have to finish whatever terrible quests were ahead of him alone with the Kislevite. He quite enjoyed having the support of a whole team around him. It was other people who might get cut down instead of him. That suited the wizard perfectly!

The ungor bows were of little help to them, for the place where they attacked on either side was low – an embankment that led up to the road fairly high above it in this section of the woods. Moving on as they had, had at least given the group a slight positional advantage but still they were outnumbered.

Ungors engaged the group in hand to hand combat all around and more were on the way. Two full squads of ungor raiders had ascended from the undergrowth.

Tordrad had the biggest advantage, being able to ride up and down the road section, cutting down the ungors who scrabbled onto the road from the low embankment, their footing not quite stable yet.

Dieter was busy fending off two at once. He knew that he had little chance of killing any with so many potential attacks to come in, so he held them off and let Ulger play distraction while he waited for an opportunity to turn the tide of the battle somehow.

Rissandrea drew her gun and made the sign of the holy mother to her order as she opened fire with the magical pistol. Great gushes of white energy exploded out of the barrel with each shot. Each shot fired was a kill, disintegrating chaotic flesh where it connected. To her, she was putting to rest poor souls unfortunate enough to be born into the bodies of beastmen.

Tobias was firing his stone shots from the sling, expertly aimed and calling for his team mates to move aside when required.

Dieter looked at Father Odo, crouching scared, shaking, and shouted at him, “Priest, you useless cretin, do something to help us!”

He did nothing but remain prone, with his hands over his head in-case a stray axe or stone hit him. Dieter at that moment decided that he would make the man pay for that. He’d annoyed him too much on this trip, being useless baggage, not pulling his weight like he should have been, for Dieter’s liking. When all of this was over…

Maestro knew that something had to be done. The group was outnumbered and the amount of pressing attacks meant that it was all the group could do just to parry and defend.

Their circle of defence was decreasing all the time though, shrinking down. Soon they would be back to back and then they would be overwhelmed perhaps. Maestro though was confident that the abilities of the group would see them through, if he could just buy them a moment of time. He concentrated his aethyric channelling and spoke the words of a sound spell, letting it lightly tumble from his lips. He based the manifested sound off of the death throes of the minotaur they had met earlier, but increased its volume and intensity. He fancied that it perhaps sounded like one of their leaders, a doom bull he believed they were called.

The spell’s intended effect was a success. The ungors paused for a moment in startled surprise and this was enough to let the team push back and cut down a couple more of their number, however the sound had also attracted a minotaur, which had managed to pinpoint the exact position of the ambush. It joined the fray and the group moaned in downhearted acceptance. Tordrad charged at it on his horse, bringing the lance up into a kill position. The minotaur lowered its horns at seeing the challenge and charged in kind at the Kislevite.

The lance was longer, it impacted first, momentarily picking the minotaur up off of the ground as it deeply impaled the beast’s shoulder. It roared in maddened battle lust and tugged the lance out of Tordrad’s hand, throwing it aside. Tordrad quickly reached for his shield but was not in time. The minotaur’s axe was coming across, aimed directly for Tordrad’s neck. The speed and technique of the creature’s strike was perfect, the perfect killing blow. Tordrad was left exposed for those few seconds as the world seemed to slow down for him. He knew that he was dead, that he had failed to protect the wizard, that he had failed to return to his people with his head held high again. None of it would matter now. He accepted his fate, that he and the minotaur were alone in this battle and the minotaur had won.

However, he was not alone. Avalanche had perceived the threat and rose its front end upwards in a split second of timing to make the axe miss its target by very little. The cold rush of draft across the kislevite’s neck proved how close the blow had been. Quickly he came to his senses as Avalanche neighed ferociously, as if in defiance. The horse brought its front hooves down hard on the minotaur’s arm, breaking it in three places from the impact. The great creature had been put to one knee. Tordrad lashed out with his scimitar but the minotaur’s killing fury knew no bounds. It grabbed the Kislevite’s weapon arm in its great hand, taking the blow of the blade into its body just to be able to grab the man and finish him with its bare hands like it had with so many other humans over the last few weeks of the war. Before it could land a blow that would have rendered Tordrad from consciousness and perhaps his head from his shoulders, a crossbow bolt shot out from the undergrowth and struck the beast in the side of its neck. It gurgled and collapsed dead immediately. As Tordrad stood up, similar other shots came out, striking down four of the ungors. The combination of this and seeing the minotaur’s lifeblood pumping out of its corpse had been too much for the remainder of the ambushers and they fled, as another round of bolts sounded out and felled two more of them.

Within moments the roadside was clear of attackers and the group’s saviours revealed themselves.

Dieter immediately sat down on a tree stump and began sewing up a wound on his arm. He ignored the men who had revealed themselves here.

Extract from the diary of Tobias:

Day 38

Then we were saved by three witch hunters –Mathias Hoffer, Jakob Baur and Ulrich Fischer. Apparently “Ulric” and variant spellings of it are the most popular name for boys in all of Middenheim…No surprises there then. It is interesting to see that these men wear amulets about their necks, with the same symbol on that we saw at Kroen’s gravesite and on Malvanius’s ring. The sign of sword and hammer crossed in front of a twin tailed comet with the letters O and F prominently to the sides.

These men wanted to know of our mission and the others filled them in. Apparently us asking around about Kroen’s death got their attention and they followed us out here. They had been trying to find us. We were lucky they did.

Obviously these men are of the Ordo Fidelis. They aren’t even meant to exist, officially and the fact that they are involved in this simply illustrates the growing danger of the situation this group finds itself in.

I write this in the hope that when I bring this diary back safely with me, to take my leave from Maestro and the group permanently, that the contents of the book reflect the danger of my duty, beyond even the job description, that perhaps there might be a bonus waiting in my wages.

The men are to accompany us back to Middenheim anyway. They are keen for us to get the skull away from this forest, out of enemy hands.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Their Fated Travels...(Chapter Ten) The Shrine In The Forest Part 2

Link for it at DeviantArt as always -

Their Fated Travels…

RPG Party events as told By Robert James Freemantle

Based on the 2nd edition WHFRP game chapter of the same name

This story contains spoilers for that book’s (Ashes of Middenheim) adventure

Chapter Ten

The Shrine in the Forest Part 2

The magical light from Maestro’s staff illuminated the walls and the others wished it hadn’t. Depictions of historic moments in the chaotic worship of battle, of Khorne adorned the walls in a crude brass writing against a dark red wall.

Maestro spoke, “A Khornite beastman of some importance is buried here”. The wizard screwed a small telescope into the enlarged socket of his spectacles. It looked every bit like an over sized jeweller’s magnification appraisal device. He called it a monocular, designed by his own hand from lenses he’d stolen from the telescopes of the Celestial College of Magic. He continued to study the dark runes along the walls as the others examined the passage left and right.

Dieter could not shake off a feeling of de-ja-vu. Perhaps it was something he’d seen in a dream he couldn’t completely remember, he thought. He made mention of warning for traps.

Tobias, still dressed in his black leathers, held himself low in a constant stoop, (which he only ever did at night) took a stone and threw it to the left. Nothing happened. He then threw one to the right and as it bounced along the ground from his skilful skimming action, some pressure point in the floor must have been activated as a previously concealed compartment in the wall opened, as an iron spear trap activated. It swung into the passage to a point that would have been level with a person’s chest.

The group looked at Dieter, partly with relief and partly with concern at the bigger question. He simply shrugged and pointed out that Morr’s influence was strong within his dreams.

Tobias managed to find a secret door and onwards they pushed until their already careful tread was brought to a halt from the sound of wet slushy slopping sounds around the corner. Having stopped, they avoided running directly into a terrible thing indeed. It was roughly humanoid in shape and covered in a red mist. Its features were a hideous snarl and upon closer inspection it seemed that it was in fact bones covered in a strangely semi solid jelly of blood underneath.

It rounded the corner as the sound of a second one could be heard, clearly approaching from behind it. The party stared in horrified unison. Dieter had removed the minotaur’s head while outside, he had chopped it off with his machete saying that he wanted to study it and even use its horns for potion making. Right now though, Maestro’s eyes were upon the head Dieter carried, as he looked back to the approaching bloodcursed creatures.

Maestro spoke, “Dieter, you need to give me that thing’s head.”

Dieter seemed defensive to that idea, “This is my trophy, I’m damned if you will take it.”

Maestro scoffed at him in insolence, “You’ll be damned if I don’t.”

Dieter scowled and snarled a little then reluctantly handed the head over to the wizard adding, “Whatever you do, it better work…” The intent of harm was somehow behind those words as Maestro took the minotaur’s head and quickly held it up before the creatures. They didn’t stop. Maestro spoke aloud in the language of chaos, dark tongue, <”Here me now servants of blood.”> This seemed to work, the bloodcursed paused as Maestro continued dramatically, <”Bound in honour as you are to the skull throne, you would seek to serve your master’s brutal designs. In standing in our way you only threaten to harm them! I am here on pilgrimage to he who lies in this place. I come to complete my training in the ways of Khorne! I bring this trophy”> Maestro pushed the severed head at them once for effect, <”in offering to the blood god, to the skull throne, a mighty minotaur that I did kill in battle, thus honouring him too. Now I being his head to let him be honoured upon the skull throne.”>

The front bloodcursed kept coming but Maestro held his confidence and character in place. The atrocity of formal human life reached out and took the head from Maestro, examining it in its hands, turning it this way and that before being satisfied and taking it away with him down the passage he came from. The others in the group looked shocked. It had worked…they hoped.

Next they came upon a large triangular shaped room with a fountain in it, but instead of water this one streamed blood in a great gout around it.

Maestro was taking no chances here either, making a dark prayer to the blood God himself in dark tongue, the others held their breaths at this, waiting for some terrible thing to happen as the wizard walked forwards first. Nothing did. Dieter’s danger senses were buzzing but somehow he knew that his proximity to the wizard at this moment in time was saving him. He still felt grieved for the loss of the minotaur head. No-matter he thought, he would have to find another one…

Soon they came upon a great antechamber. At the far end was a statue of Khorne sitting upon a brass throne. Skulls and bones were littered around it, as a ghastly dedication to the deity.

Suddenly, two skeletons appeared out of the heaps of bones in the room. They began to close in on the group.

Rissandrea shouted, “It seems this place is guarded, perhaps your trick did not work Maestro.”

Dieter answered for the wizard, “No, I feel this is them being nice to us! A test. Kitten herders could have gotten this far after all.”

Rissandrea laid a comforting hand upon the anointed priest’s shoulder saying, “it will be alright, we are close now” as she brought her staff aside to reveal the gun in her robes. The shot drove out and bore a way through the skeleton’s skull, melting it from an expanding hole. This jolted the others into action. Quickly they engaged the skeletons as new ones emerged. Soon they were fighting six in number. Father Odo put his hands over his head, as the ringing sounds of metal upon metal clanged and reverberated around the room peculiarly, coming back to him loudly.

Quickly, all of the skeletons were dispatched with skill and soft grating noises drew their attention to the rooms that had opened now on either side.

From the diary of Maestro:

Day 34

I have recovered a hammer, its head broken into 3 pieces. Rissandrea has assured me that the design and runes upon it are dwarfish. Curious that she might know such a thing…

Dieter stumbled upon a tattered banner that we recognised as belonging to the Knights of the White Wolf.

Rissandrea herself found a helm of the Knights Panther. We will do our utmost to return these items to their proper factions when we can.

Little else of interest was found in our search of that trophy room. It was the room on the other side though that was of more significance…

Extract from the diary of Tordrad:

Day 34

Saw sarcophagus in tomb room. Jumped river of blood that protected it and pulled lid away. There I saw long dead body of Beastman champion. I wait for him to rise, to attack. He do no such thing. I take horned brass skull away from around his neck. Wizard, he babble some more. Not care.

Rissandrea’s diary:

Day 34

Maestro has informed us that the writings on the tomb walls tell the story of the beastman champion in there. He was called Kazron Gorespite. We have gotten away with the skull, but it feels too easy…What is important at least is that it is not in the enemy’s hands now.

Maestro’s diary:

Day 35

Rissandrea seems worried that I incited the words of dark tongue in that evil tomb. I did not fear it though, as I explained. Much of the power of Gods is in what they have us believe, not what is actually true. Secondly, I knew that I was playing against the element of Khorne, of the God who gives praise to brutal slaughter and abhors magic. I am a wizard, therefore I am already safe for the ideas and notions cannot corrupt me into wielding a weapon like a warrior. I simply am not strong enough to do so. Were it Tzeentch, I would not have been so careless, but I did what was needed to get us through safely.

From the diary of Tobias:

Day 36

It is my academic opinion that the brass skull is imbued with a terrible presence of evil. I know this by the way the Kislevite’s horse becomes upset when near it.

Another thing that strikes me as odd is that it keeps managing to find its way out of the backpacks we put it in! When we wake in the morning, there it is, sitting on the ground watching us. It is eery! I will be glad to be back in the city and rid of it!

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Their Fated Travels...(Chapter Nine) - The Shrine In The Forest Part 1

Chapter nine is up now. Including a cool Tordrad flashback, as we show you more about the history of these characters.

Their Fated Travels…

RPG Party events as told By Robert James Freemantle

Based on the 2nd edition WHFRP game chapter of the same name

This story contains spoilers for that book’s (Ashes of Middenheim) adventure

Chapter Nine

The Shrine in the Forest Part 1

Extract from Rissandrea’s diary:

Day 31

We have rested for four days now in the great city, doing our own thing in the days and coming together again for the evening meal.

We are staying at a reasonable inn. We at least have our own rooms. The money made from the last few weeks of adventure have allowed for that. It seems that a good coin will be made if we continue this path.

Money is ultimately of no good of course, but perhaps I can refurbish my church. It could pay for more travel costs so that our priests may spread the word of compassion and healing even further abroad, more often.

I have taken these days to concentrate on self improvement. I have practiced the focusing techniques the holy mother showed me.

I am like a container. With each lesson I learn, I grew that bit larger. Though I am empty for now, once I am filled, I shall hold more knowledge than if I had not trained.

I must stay on this path, for I feel that much more suffering is before this group.

There I shall be.

Extracts from the diary of Tobias:

Day 31

We have been summoned to the great Temple of Ulric. Our deeds against the skaven, our mission to recover the artefact have not gone unseen.

Maestro’s diary:

Day 31

Not another temple!

Now then, this is what I was talking about previously. How ridiculous religion is. For example, Sigmar means very little to the temple of Ulric, for the devotees of this city mainly see the white wolf. Yet Sigmar when he lived also worshipped Ulric…

Extracts from the diary of Dieter:

Day 31

I am unsatisfied.

We have done much as a group, yes. Seen much. Killed many. I feel so empty inside.

I am incomplete.

I need it my way.

Prepared just right, to satisfy.

They want to spend the evenings with me. My legs are as good as tied at the ankle right now.

Still there is much I don’t remember. What have I unlearnt I wonder?

Who am I? Who am I truly?

Extract from the diary of Tordrad:

Day 31

I have no idea what they are all saying, but it sounds like we are going out on a mission again!

Extract from the diary of Rissandrea:

Day 31

I greeted a senior priest at the temple, a Father Ranulf in my official capacity as a representative of the Shallyan order.

The rest of the group were happy to let me represent them.

There we also met a blind priest, Father Odo.

It was explained that Father Odo has had a terrible vision…

Maestro began laughing at that…

He described a huge stone standing on some grass, covered in bones and skulls, like trophies adorning it. He says that blood began to drip down the stone and there was an earthquake like effect. He saw the ground crack open and a black armoured warrior was suddenly there. The warrior bore the crest of the blood God. He said that around the great warrior’s neck was a horned skull, made of brass. He saw red light pour from its eyes and he swears it spoke to him, saying, “I shall be free.”

Perhaps a terrible omen of something to come. It seems that the temple wishes to hire us to accompany Father Odo so that he may attempt to find the place he saw in his vision. Perhaps the Gods have given him warning to prevent a powerful artefact of chaos from emerging into the wrong hands.

I have agreed to aid him, on our group’s behalf. When I told them, only disappointment did I see in their eyes. I told them to have faith, that the Gods are showing us the way to root out evil on their behalf.

Extract from the diary of Tobias:

Day 31

It seems that the priest believes this huge stone to exist somewhere in the Drakwald Forest.

It looks like there is no getting away from it. We are to go back in. I have a very bad feeling about this. I cannot shake the feeling that someone somewhere is lying to us. Only by being the willing pawns it seems will we find out. Let us hope that when or if we do, we are not at too much of a disadvantage to do anything about it.

Extract from the diary of Rissandrea:

Day 32

Father Odo is a nice enough man, but something troubles him in his sleep. He is restless, at odds with something. From seeing this, I do not believe he is lying to us.

Tobias is different too, not just tonight though – every night. Something changes about him. It is concerning. The way he stands, the way he walks, even the way he talks. He has taken to wearing strapped leather armour under his robes. At night, he sheds the robes and wears only the armour. Only when the moons are out in the night sky. Something about his manner is more abrasive, aggressive and intolerant at these times.

On the thirty-fourth day of their travels (the third day of this particular trip) they came across broken trees and bushes. In the distance they could hear canine snarling and growling accompanied by the distinctive whinnying of a horse. They quickly made their way to the origin of the noise.

There they saw a pack of wolves circling and snapping at a beautiful but strong horse, doing its best to defend itself against the attackers.

The horse was barded but had no saddle. Red war paint that had decorated its entire underside had been smudged and nearly completely rubbed away. Some traces of it remained though, as crimson patches on its skin. It was almost completely white in colour save for the few solid marks and speckles of black on its lower legs and a black marking across half of its face, like a mask. Upon its garb was the sigil of the bear, the same Kislevite symbol worn on Tordrad’s full plated armour.

Tordrad saw this and charged headlong forwards with a roar of bloodlust that the others had never heard before.

His axe lashed out and began cutting wolves that turned their attention to him. Quickly the others moved forwards to support his attack. Ulger set upon one wolf and quickly got the better of it.

Rissandrea did not fire her gun. Such opponents were not evil enough to warrant its use. She instead stood her ground and prayed.

Maestro fired magical dart shots to keep wolves at bay. They were not greatly effective but they stopped him getting surrounded.

Dieter smiled, a maddened blood lust took him and something the others had never seen in him before. Another strange thing Tobias noticed was Dieter’s shadow. It seemed almost too angular, like branches extending from an evil tree.

Dieter charged forwards swiping skilfully with his stave. It struck the beast to the face breaking teeth. He grinned at it with satisfaction. A machete was suddenly in his other hand. He dual wielded both weapons at once as skilfully as someone could wield just one.

The others didn’t have time to take in the intricacies of his combat. They had their own lives to safeguard. If they had been watching however, they would have seen a most strange thing happen. He impacted his machete into the creature’s flesh, deep into the shoulder. Then he reached down with his other hand and put his palm across the wound. A terrible smile on his face widened as the animal’s flesh seared suddenly where his palm touched it. The wolf howled in distress and Dieter cackled at this. Somehow the skin of the creature had melted, cauterized shut around the weapon with the machete still inside it!

With a yank, Dieter pulled the weapon free from the wolf’s skin. The damage was horrendous, matched only by Ulger who had torn the face from a wolf.

Dieter commented, “Okay, who’s my next patient?”

Tordrad was skilfully slicing wolves down, this way and that. Nearly every stroke was a kill. He fought in a way that the others had never seen before. Though outnumbered, he used his great axe relying on his agility to keep him from harm. It worked, for he had succumbed to no wounds.

The rest of the pack retreated, now outnumbered as they were. The horse had smashed one wolf’s head with its hooves, caving the thing’s skull against a nearby tree stump. Ulger was over there, licking at the exposed brain.

Tordrad carefully approached the horse from the front then moved to the side and ran his hand along its body. He patted it, nodded his head with a huge joyous smile across his face as he saddled it with the saddle he had bought earlier. He had been planning on buying a horse…

With one move he was on its back, rested neatly in the saddle. He said a word in Kislevite. Tobias smiled, “That is one word I do know my friends.”

Dieter looked menacingly at the halfling, “I’m no friend of yours halfling.”

Tobias ignored this and continued, “He said the word ‘Avalanche’. I believe it is the beast’s name.

Rissandrea looked confused, “You mean to say he perhaps already knows this horse?”

Tordrad understood her question by the tone of her voice and he pointed at the horse then at himself.

Maestro commented, “I do believe you are right Rissandrea, I think that is his horse…somehow.”

Tordrad seemed to understand that too and nodded his head enthusiastically and grinned. He patted Avalanche’s side and brought it to a marching trot, “Come” he said, in an incredibly strained Reikspiel. The others moved on too.

Extract from the diary of Tordrad:

Day 34

Today was best day for long time. Avalanche has returned to me. Like a brother to me, and now he found me. Must have wandered a long way. Perhaps it is our blood bond that tells him where I am. I am gladdened, whatever it may be. I did not want to have to buy another horse, not when one had chosen me all those years ago…

Seven years ago…

Tordrad rode ahead of a column of winged lancers; this was a normal patrol for his unit. They had spent several days on the lookout for signs of any chaos incursions, activity on the borders had increased. Clearly something had been stirring the tribes up.

The night had set in and Morrslieb crudely shone with a dark green light, as if mocking them as the riders made their way towards the nearest stanitsa to take shelter.

At that moment the normally cold weather changed in an instant, to that of something even colder. The suddenness of it was clear as Tordrad’s horse, Avalanche breathed a great gout of steam suddenly, looking every bit like a dragon in miniature.

The blaring of a horn caught the rota’s attention and they turned to face the sound.

On a great snow dune some distance away was a score of chaos marauder horsemen.

As these men of primitive battle urges charged down towards Tordrad’s cavalry unit from all around, the eyes of man and beast glowed the same green colour as the moon.

In retaliation Tordrad let out a cry to his men in their native tongue, “Fall back together, don’t let them flank us, then we crush them.”

As he said this, one of the lancers was hit in the chest with a throwing axe and a wall of flame erupted from the ground behind the rest before they could turn their horses round to find better positioning.

Realising there was no way out, Tordrad swore under his breath and brought his lance to bare as his men formed up behind him for a counter charge that met the marauders head on.

His lance struck true against the metal shoulder plate of the chieftain as it sent a spark on contact, the force of the blow dismounting the foe from the horse. Tordrad was forced to quickly raise his shield to block a flail that had been aimed perfectly to crush his skull, quickly turning the weapon’s directional velocity aside before dropping his lance onto the firm ground below them as he lashed out at the marauder with his scimitar, taking off one of the man’s arms.

He lost concentration on the man’s screaming as a loud roaring distracted him. He turned to look in the direction of the sound to find a sight that made his heart beat ever faster in sensation in his ears and throat.

The marauder chieftain had almost fully finished a transformation process. His body had torn and contorted out of all human recognition until the creature he stared at looked like a cross between man and beast. He recognised the signs of a “were” mutation, the creature before him now being half human, half sabretusk. The terrible fusion of dangerous foes tore the Kislevite’s mounts apart with their riders still upon them falling from their steeds, littering the ground in confusion, fear in their eyes. These men were prone to the attacks of the mounted horsemen who unrelentingly continued their attacks from the saddle.

Tordrad’s mind raced. He started to consider whether or not now would be the time to unleash that which he kept inside, that which he feared to let out. He feared that were he to let it loose, it may keep him on the outside forever, changing him irrevocably, terribly.

Before he could decide a sudden flail blow struck him in the back of the head. His helm absorbed the brunt of it, but he was rendered from consciousness as the sound of his men screaming from the ring of fire closing in rang in his ears for mere moments.

Eight minutes later, Avalanche’s mind calmed a little more as he sensed the enemies had lost his trail.

His wounds were deep but were not serious enough to threaten his life, for his body was powerful. He was a horse of great size. His rider Tordrad was still unconscious, lain forward in the saddle across Avalanche’s thick mane.

The horse had bolted past the marauders, who had attacked its side viciously. The blood from Tordrad’s head wound mingled with that of the horse’s cut on its neck.

Avalanche had jumped the narrowing ring of fire before it was too late, evading the dark sorcerer’s incantation by a small miracle. His hooves were burned though, but survival had been more important than the pain.

For the rest of the night he bore Tordrad upon his own wounded body, making sure to keep moving but decreasing in pace as the bleeding wounds took their toll on his stamina. Eventually he had brought them to safety, as the first rays of the morning sun began to protrude across the flat horizon here, the stanitsa came into sight. Guards spotted them and ran out to help.

Seven years forwards once more.

On day thirty-five, the group came upon a clearing. Already Dieter’s senses were alert, the others noticed. He went as far as to raise a hand for the others to remain where they were.

Tordrad placed a reassuring hand on his horse, which remained quiet too.

All eyes followed Dieter’s gaze. In between the green of the protruding bushes, they could make out the huge crude stone atop a massive grassy mound covered in skulls and other items that looked like offerings.

Maestro and Tobias recognised it as a herdstone. Beside it, standing on guard duty but facing away from the group’s position stood a great hulking brute of a creature, humanoid in shape but far more terrible than even a beastman.

A minotaur stood on guard. Its garb was red and it wore the symbol of Khorne on its loin cloth, front and rear. It held a massive brass great axe, far heavier than anything a human could wield. The creature’s horns were blood soaked, left stained from whatever battle had bloodied them last.

Dieter crept forwards slowly. The others waited. While he was turned away from them, he incanted something quietly under his breath. Suddenly it was clear to at least him that with each careful tread on the ground, he made absolutely no sound whatsoever.

Silently Dieter approached the monstrous beast from behind. He made good time, coming up to it. The others looked on in wonder at why it hadn’t noticed his presence for his was now directly behind the minotaur. He brought his machete low and under his body. He spoke a spell as quietly as he could and electricity crackled through the weapon. The creature had heard that though and turned its head sideways to see where the sound was coming from. It was too late though. Dieter reacted immediately, jumping with a stab manoeuvre, the machete blade dug through the creature’s neck, partially damaging the nerves in its body. The electricity pumping through the blade singed its skin. It was dug in so deep that the machete was unrecoverable for the moment. It spun around and Dieter used the opportunity to strike it about the face with his stave. He pulled back at once and Ulger charged in with a leap, just missing the creature’s throat, it tore a chunk of flesh from its chest instead before being thrown off by the maddening beast. The beat of hooves coming at it told the minotaur that it was going to be in trouble without help. It grasped the great horn it wore round its neck and made ready to blow it. Before it could though, Tordrad’s mount had drawn him level with the creature, and his sword lashed out, striking two fingers from the minotaur’s hand and cutting through the black chain that held it in place. The horn fell to the ground.

It roared in defiance and struck out at Tordrad who was no longer there. He had circled around it to the other side, lashing out with his blade as he went. Vicious cuts littered the creature’s upper body all the way around but still it did not fall. Tobias was wearing the leather outfit. The sun was no longer in the sky. Like a shadow of the night itself, the halfling bounded into the back of the creature’s legs stabbing it with a small blade as he made contact. It knocked the thing forwards, making it lean over to not lose its balance. Dieter snarled and jump kicked, launching himself from the stave. His foot met the embedded machete and drove it in even deeper.

With a froth of blood erupting from its mouth, the minotaur collapsed in surprise.

Tobias was all over the creature, stabbing it and dodging away deftly. Tordrad drove his axe deep through the beast from high above on horseback and it fell instantly silent.

Dieter recovered the machete and held it low while Ulger licked it, cleaning it for his master without even needing to be commanded.

The others looked at this strangely. The dog had been acting in a surprising manner during its ownership to Dieter.

Maestro took the large horn and stared through it at its larger end.

Tobias looked sternly at him, “Don’t even think of blowing that horn!”

Maestro recoiled a little defensively, noting that Tobias’s voice was a lot more edgy as well. It sounded angrier than normal.

Tobias made his way to the herdstone and inspected it, seemingly trying to figure out where the brass skull might be.

Dieter busied himself with removing the minotaur’s head with a sawing action from his machete.

The others noticed that the herdstone was adorned with some fresher heads, and these varied in race, those of humans, elves and dwarfs.

Maestro reached into a sack he held and pulled out a different pair of spectacles. He blinked affirmatively and frowned as he read the strange graffiti that was written in blood across the herdstone. After a few moments of trying to read it he started, “Ah well, it is written in dark tongue. The writing seems to be a record of beastmen who assembled here previously, with leader names and number of followers for each. They…ah yes, they seem to call this place coast hill, no wait, GHOST HILL” he corrected.

Dieter shook his head.

Rissandrea smiled bravely, “I preferred the first one, I must admit.”

Tordrad dismounted and stared at the ground about them. He noticed it was dotted with the remains of campfires, varying in size. The one closest to the herdstone he noticed, was the largest, almost ten feet across and ringed by burnt stones. He also saw bones from humanoid carcasses sticking out of the ash. He touched the area to discover it was completely cold. None had been here in a while.

Tobias began pulling stones away from one section of the hill. The others could see why. Beneath it was a picture, previously hidden from view. As they too helped to clear the debris of stones and bones they revealed a door – a large image of Khorne sitting on a throne placed high on skulls was etched into it.

Tordrad pushed at it with all his might. The others saw a slight crack appear but it simply would not open.

Even as the others helped him, still it would not budge.

Maestro spoke some words aloud, words in a terrible dark tongue. Once he had finished his recital, almost immediately the doorway slid open revealing the uninviting darkness beyond it.

The group looked at the wizard in some surprise. Maestro shrugged, “What? I tried a simple phrase of opening in the dark language. It seems my guess had been correct.”

Father Odo remained quiet in his foreboding melancholy, as did the rest of the group. The terrible vision he had seen did not bode well for what they knew they must do next. The group reluctantly went inside. If anyone had been watching from a side view, it would have seemed like they were walking and disappearing into a small hill. Soon they were out of sight from the outside as Maestro’s magic focused on his glowing staff lit the way on.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Their Fated Travels...(Chapter Eight) - Rats In The Walls

The group have found themselves in Middenheim, but there's no rest for them! They are brought directly more adventure, even though they haven't had a chance to stop for the last week or so.
Little do they realise the scope of the quest they are truly undertaking. All they can do is follow Maestro, for he is the anchor of fate, an anchor that is raised and moving for the first time in his life.

Their Fated Travels…

RPG Party events as told By Robert James Freemantle

Based on the 2nd edition WHFRP game chapter of the same name

This story contains spoilers for that book’s (Ashes of Middenheim) adventure

Chapter Eight

Rats In The Walls

Extracts from the diaries of Rissandrea:

Day 27

It is heartening that our first stop is the holy temple. Perhaps we can meditate on the weeks that have passed and take stock, to better understand what has happened to this country.

The refugees are safe. The orphans have been delivered. All is well. Our mission was a success.

The temple of Sigmar was smaller than I expected for a city of this size. Not so surprising perhaps, with the deity of most worship being Ulric in this city.

Extract from the diaries of Tobias:

Day 27

We delivered the holy icon to a Father Morten at the Temple of Sigmar. He believes the likeness to their God in the picture is unusual enough to have been drawn from life, based on the costume Sigmar is wearing.

Well, if it keeps them happy, that is a good thing.

We were paid a reward for the find. Though my coin purse is fit to burst anyway. I can’t imagine why, but for some strange reason my personal wealth, that which I carry on my person is increasing by the day…

It would be foolish to complain I suppose.

Diary of Maestro:

Day 27

I’m not one for all this religious malarkey, but I kept a lid on it, for the sake of the others…well even for the sake of myself. They would call me blasphemous! Just because I don’t want to worship a load of Gods that they tell me to worship.

People have been telling me what to do all my life and look where that got me?

The thing that bothers me most about these Gods is that they used to be alive, they used to be us. That cannot be a God! That’s like saying I could do some great deed and be remembered as a God afterwards. It’s a memory, of an ideal or an inspirational lesson.

The politicians will bend anything into a cause, if it means uniting in faith…or perhaps that should be - controlling the people. It is perhaps more like a stealthy martial law. Especially when you look at the witch hunters...

But no, even the dwarf Gods were once living amongst us. Powerful heroes of no doubt, but they have passed from this world and it is surely only their memory that people worship.

I do not think mortals should be bestowed with such veneration.

Next thing you know, you are revering them before they are dead. Then you have a dictator on your hands…

Still, I cannot explain the miracles of Shallyan faith for example. Just what are they harnessing I wonder?

This will require some further investigation at any rate.

Oh, I also handed the magical tome that Granny Moescher used to make the dark ritual, into the Priest at the Temple. When he asked why I brought it there, I said that they can burn it in whatever holy fire they wish to…all I knew was that I did not want to throw it into the flames of that great fire, or what was left of it. I would perhaps only then be giving back the ancient knowledge to the ones who probably created it and “inspired” it to a follower somewhere who would write it.

Dieter’s diary:

Day 27

I was glad to get away from the Temple. It was sickening to my stomach to have to stare at idols that draw so much worship. So much wasted time.

At last we were free and about the city, then my heart sunk when I saw the city watch approach us…

Diary of Tordrad:

Day 27

All the guards want to do is talk. Take us away and talk. Better I not understand what they say. Better I think of mead and meat meal next to warm tavern fire soon.

Soon I rest. Long trip.

From the diary of Rissandrea:

Day 27

The city watch commander, one Ulrich Schutzmann wanted to ask us some questions about the beastmen we encountered in the forest.

Then there was a knock at the door and a note was handed to the commander…

Dieter’s diary:

Day 27

I bloody knew it! I think I’m part of some sick joke of fate.

It turns out that while we were being de-briefed, news came through of Father Morten’s murder.

We were the last ones to see him alive. Oh, that looks wonderful for us!

Thank you very bloody much, Morr. I know it’s you doing this. What next? Will you send countless assassins at the group to kill them off too?

What stokes my fire even more is that they asked if they could take our weapons from us. I was about ready to give him my machete in a way he would not have liked, but I wouldn’t have gotten away with that anyway.

As it turned out, the others negotiated another play.

It was agreed that we would “assist with enquiries.”


From the diary of Tobias:

Day 27

Here we go again. There’s no rest for the wicked. Or Maestro. Or those who keep company with him. Unfortunately I am the latter and am now embroiled in this new mess.

We have been issued with warrants to conduct investigations into this case.

We gained entry to Father Morten’s quarters and there saw his body slumped over the desk.

Dieter managed to identify the cause of death. A poison tipped dart in the back of the man’s neck.

The icon was of course missing.

We brought the evidence back to the commander. When we told of the strange scratches we saw on the window sill, he confessed to us that there had been other murders too. There is nothing to easily tie them together of course, the three other victims. The commander did tell us of the ratmen however, the skaven. He believes them to be more than just a myth. He believes they are behind this.

Extracts from the diary of Dieter:

Day 27

The cause of death in each case was a poison tipped dart. On closer inspection, I believe the green substance coating the darts is a warpstone derivative.

Again, this is perhaps more proof of skaven involvement.

Somehow I know I have encountered the ratmen before, but I can’t…I can’t remember. Like so many of my memories, so much of my past is unknown to me.

Travelling with this group is at least stimulating my mind enough to help me remember some things.

Extract from the diary of Maestro:

Day 27

One of the murdered fellows had a grave for us to visit. The gravestone bore the same mark upon it that I saw on Malvanius’s signet ring.

Dieter’s diary:

Day 27

From the scene of the third murder we found blood that trailed towards the sewer. Of course we went in…

Tordrad’s diary:

Day 27

Sewer smelly. No room to stand.

Tobias’s diary:

Day 27

After pressing further into the sewer, we saw a shape ahead of us in the gloom. It became aware of our presence as we did of its. It was a skaven, dressed in black.

I cannot remember who, but one of us shouted the potential danger of more poison tipped darts in such a confined space.

Maestro did something quite interesting. He cast a ‘sound’ spell, to imitate splashing feet all the way along the sewer tunnel, thus throwing the would be assassin off guard. The group managed to close the gap and silence the foul creature. At once, its body began dissolving into liquid.

As we pressed on, we came into a common area where six very surprised rat people stared at us in terror. They did not seem as astute as the creature we killed in the tunnel before. Nor did their bodies dissolve when they died.

We made very easy work of them. One of them fallen from a pebble I slung into its mouth. It had swallowed it and choked to death.

Amidst the fighting, a cloaked assassin type skaven set about us. Tordrad was very fast on the uptake, luckily, cutting the creature off from the rest of us before cutting the creature to bits as well.

Truly that Kislevite is a skilled fighter. He tore through the skaven like they were paper. Even the leader of them, the assassin one looked like a child fighting a man.

Maestro managed to blast one’s leg off with a magical dart. Rather impressive. It fell over and bled out.

Extract from the diary of Dieter:

Day 27

Ulger got a good meal from the rat people. He is learning fast. My training with him is paying off already.

Following that room, now piled with bodies, we a small quarters ahead. I got a terrible gut feeling about entering the room however and noticed a trap. A crossbow had been rigged up amongst the rubble opposite the rough hewn opening, with a tripwire across it to activate its mechanism. A nasty surprise for any intruders not canny enough to avoid it.

I notified the group and the Kislevite cut through the wire to force activate the bolt to fire. It still almost hit the halfling…

Oh and I hate Tobias. I hate all short people at any rate. I even say so aloud. What can he do about it? Nothing. There’s something about the halfling that just winds me up wrong.

Every time I think dark thoughts about him though, the damned marking on my chest feels as if it burns a little. It is probably only psychosomatic.

When we stepped into the chamber beyond, we saw an ancient shrine to the dwarf God Grungni. He is apparently their God of mining and construction. How ridiculous! Yet more short people. Luckily I don’t have to put up with one of those in the group as well.

Rissandrea’s diary:

Day 27

An eventful day. My powerful blessed gun ‘redemption’ spoke aloud to the skaven of the sewer. It had reduced one of them to a smouldering pile of ash atop a pair of crude shoes.

Again, skaven are beings of chaos. Beyond saving. I did redeem their sins with a fair trade, their lives.

When we left the sewer, we brought back to the commander the only evidence we could find, the gold frame that the icon had been in. The picture part itself was nowhere to be seen.

There are many unanswered questions at this point, but for now, some well deserved rest. After the journey we just endured through the forest getting here!

Tordrad’s diary:

Day 28

Head hurts. Drunk lots. Ate lots. Woke up middle of day. Happy.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

What's New With HGP - Latest

On my gaming blog - Honest Gaming Prose - you will find a focus more on miniature wargaming right now.

There's an article containing my impressions of Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2nd Edition here

Possible rumours of a Warhammer Fantasy division similar to Forge World!

And a review for the Malifaux rulebook. See my point of view and final score here

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Their Fated Travels...(Chapter Seven) Through The Drakwald

Their Fated Travels…

RPG Party events as told By Robert James Freemantle

Based on the 2nd edition WHFRP game chapter of the same name

This story contains spoilers for that book’s adventure

Chapter Seven

Through the Drakwald

They quickly discovered that the barge had taken them to Untergard, a town in the eastern region of Middenland, somewhat south of Middenheim.

As they walked from the small docking area, they saw the horror, the carnage that had been wrought upon the people. A terrible devastation had visited upon the town recently. The bridge across the river had become a focal point in the chaos incursion. Khazrak, the powerful beastman warlord of the nearby forest had marched his armies to claim this critical point. If captured, it would have been a successful further entry point towards Middenheim.

The allied armies of order had assembled and turned the little town into a battlefield of epic proportions. Thousands of soldiers had fought desperately to hold the bridge at any cost.

They had won, driving Khazrak’s army north towards the main city instead.

The bodies had now been cleared away, but still people sat wounded, buildings were damaged, spirits were low, their faces were pale and their clothes were ragged and torn.

The storm of chaos had brought this place low.

Rissandrea was horrified and did not know who to help first. Before she could decide, a commotion from up ahead made the five of them walk over to find out what was going on.

A huge crowd of people had gathered to watch as one Captain Gerhard Schiller, a grey haired veteran in his fifties stood up on an upturned box and began to speak, “People of Untergard, this is a glorious day. I have received a letter from Count Todbringer of Middenheim. The old wolf still lives and the city of Middenheim also stands strong.”

The crowd cheered and the captain motioned them for silence. They obeyed, obviously respecting him as a veteran of their people.

He continued, “Count Todbringer sends his thanks to all of Untergard for the part we played in hampering the invaders. He said, and I quote, ‘The battle for the Untergard Bridge will go down as one of the most glorious battles in Middenland’s history’. Be proud, people of Untergard, for our sacrifices have not been in vain!”

When the cheers died down the man continued, “To show his gratitude for our valour, the count has sent us a token of his appreciation.”

The captain reached into a bag and pulled out a loaf of bread and a bottle of wine. “We were honoured to receive thirty loaves of bread and a dozen bottles of wine, straight from Middenheim.”

The crowd cheered wildly, the sight of food was a marvellous thing for them, after all they had been through, with their food supplies running low.

Suddenly there was a loud crack and the bottle smashed, showering glass over Schiller and the rest of the bread.

“That was a…gun wasn’t it?” asked Tobias.

As the crowd panicked and rushed to escape the coming threat, Dieter’s eyes were fixed, looking out at the great stone bridge itself. The others turned to follow his gaze. They saw a group of mutants advancing on the people, assorted weaponry in hand.

As the mutants came closer, the group could see that that one had tentacles instead of arms, the second had horns and thick fur, the third had a pig-like snout and the fourth had a third eye in the middle of his forehead.

Maestro ran with all his speed towards the bridge. Even Tordrad was surprised at how quick the wizard could move if his life depended on it. Maestro took cover against the left hand side of the bridge, where the stone was thick enough to keep him out of sight.

Tordrad drew his hunting bow, notched an arrow and calmed his breathing. Tobias shouted, “Bloody mutants…pardon my Bretonnian…” as he readied his slingshot and ducked in case of another shot.

The Doberman that Dieter had rescued appeared by his side. With its master gone, it seemed to think of the would be doctor as its new owner.

Tordrad’s arrow was unusual, tipped with a bulbous end. He fired, loosing it off towards the enemy as they reached the bridge at last. It thudded directly into the chest of the first mutant and exploded on contact. The creature was set on fire and flames around the bridge spread to the next one, burning it badly. Still it came, with the others behind it. Rissandrea stood beside him and considered the situation.

The Kislevite fired again. Another direct hit, this time into the creature’s leg, felling him as the resulting explosion on contact tore the limb straight off. The others were burnt in the eruption but still they came.

One passed off of the bridge. Tordrad drew his axe with lightning speed and charged towards it. The mutant thought twice about attacking but decided it was too committed now.

As the second mutant passed off of the bridge, Maestro’s staff lashed out and struck it to the knees. His attempt to trip it was unsuccessful, but it had staggered forwards a little. The Doberman sprang forwards grabbing the mutant’s head in its jaws and shaking it about this way and that. It was left prone, bent over.

Dieter smiled at the sight commenting, “Good boy, that’s brain food” as he ran towards the mutant and hit it in the back with his staff. The dog finished him off.

Tordrad had his mutant on the ground, on top of it overbearingly. His axe handle choked the thing to death as its eyes bulged and its tongue fell out of its gaping horrified mouth.

Extract from the diaries of Dieter:

Day 20

The Doberman has chosen me as his pack leader. I am honoured to lead him. He fights well for me and he has a keen intelligence beyond that which I see in others of his kind. We have an understanding.

I did not know his name so I have named him. From now on, he shall answer to the name of Ulger.

Extract from the diary of Rissandrea:

Day 20

We were fortunate enough to not be harmed by the mutant attack. Captain Schiller was pleased that we were present, thanking us personally.

Another person appeared who was intriguing to me. She called herself ‘Granny Moescher’. I could tell that there was something unusual about her. The way she skilfully helped to heal some of the wounded citizens, I considered that perhaps she was gifted as my own mother had been.

After that, a woodsman named Hans Baumer had entered the town, with a sorrowful group of people in tow. People who had fearful eyes. They carried their possessions upon their backs. Refugees and survivors.

Extract for the diary of Tordrad:

Day 20

Hans Baumer, the woodsman. He is brave man. Saving those who wandered the forest without home.

Then he told of beastmen army, over two hundred strong, coming for Untergard. Someone in the town had translated for me.

I want to fight, though the seventy five or so people left would perhaps be killed if they try to hold the town. No army in sight to save us. I hate to run, but I agree with the woodsman that we should.

Extract from the diary of Maestro:

Day 20

By all accounts Grimminhagen just up the road has had it bad as well and would offer no aid. In fact, when I suggested it, everyone shifted uncomfortably and looked at me like I was a beastman.

I am not yet skilled enough in the ways of magic to read the future of this town, but I do know that if two hundred beastmen assault, there will be no way to hold them off.

We all agree that we should leave.

When captain Schiller agreed too I felt my worries evaporate away…for a little while at least.

Dieter’s diary:

Day 21

I am loathe to turn my back to any enemy, but I do not feel that we should die just to save a town that has nothing to do with us. It was agreed that we would leave this morning. I mean to see it happen. I will not allow foolish heroics to get in the way…

From the diary of Rissandrea:

Day 21

Everyone took what they could carry. Every worldly possession that means anything to them as we accompanied them on their journey north.

Perhaps the skilled fighters of my group will offer some protection were they to be attacked.

Granny Moescher walks with her band of orphans, those children she looks after personally. Her heart is filled with good intention yet the others seem concerned about her. Maestro told me that he tried to feel for power emanations. He said he felt nothing. I told him that this was surely a good thing. He disagreed, stating that there was a difference between feeling no power and feeling absolutely nothing. He suggested that it was if she was putting up a block, very unusual in a person and a suggestion of power in itself. He went very quiet at this and spoke to Tobias at great length.

It seems the halfling collegiate scribe is quietly satisfied with Maestro’s progress. He isn’t telling him that though, I can tell. He doesn’t want Maestro to begin resting on his laurels. He feels he is lazy and unmotivated after all.

Tobias’s diary:

Day 22

Herr Schiller has organized the citizenship into impressive marching columns, with a front point, rearguard and flanking units on our march through the forest.

It was an obvious choice that we would not be able to take the most direct route to Middenheim, through the Drakwald Forest itself. That would be akin to suicide, with the beastmen being strongest there.

Day 23

It is slow going. We must keep pace with carts and the children of course are sometimes unruly. I’m not particularly keen on children. I am happy to leave them being someone else’s dirty faced problem.

I have been marching with the front columns. I was picked as one of the first watch lookouts last night. It’s the strangest thing: Come morning my coin purse was stuffed fuller than it had been. I also had a lot of jewellery nearby, as if someone dumped it next to my bed. I asked if any had belonged to the people and they stepped forward to claim their items. I am not sure what happened. Perhaps some weak attempt at framing me.

The area is war torn. All over I can see evidence of battles and blood stains. This war is truly more terrible, epic in size than anyone had realised. Even I had not been notified about the severity of things in northern Middenland.

It is said that if Archaon breaches the city of Middenheim, he means to step into the flame of Ulric. I have heard it suggested that such an action might bring about godhood in him.

These are dark times indeed.

When we get there, if we get there, I hope that buffoon Maestro stays away from it. I don’t want him accidentally falling backwards into the flame. I don’t think I could live in a world where people worship him as a deity.

…The news is at least confirmed, the battle for Middenheim is over. Archaon’s forces by all accounts are retreating. Hopefully they are not retreating straight for our path. Theoretically they will retreat eastwards.

The way to Middenheim should be improving with every day. Wonderful timing.

Dieter’s diary

Day 23

Later today we arrived at Grimminhagen. The captain led us around the ruins. This place has been struck even harder by the touch of chaos. Who knows what other atrocities we will see as we journey ever further northwards.

Extracts from Maestro’s diary:

Day 23

The people of Grimminhagen would not relent and allow the refugees entry into the remains of their town. When war has been upon them, still people find a way to hate each other. How fitting it is indeed that chaos should be the threat to humanity; chaos is in itself the product of man’s darkest desires manifested against his fellow man.

I began to have my suspicions about Granny Moescher. They were heightened still when it was discovered that she had disappeared from the camp. Schiller wanted her found, as she was their best healer…

Hans Baumer had helped the group find the old woman’s trail. As Maestro stared at the indented footprint, a strange thing began to happen. The entirety of it, the space where the old woman had placed her foot glowed with a faint dark amber colour.

When he explained this, Tobias replied, “Your magical senses are improving at last Maestro. Amber or brown is the colour of beasts, of the arcane winds of Ghur. Now you can see them, follow it Maestro.”

The wizard stared ahead of him and saw more footprints begin to light up faintly. It was enough of a trail in the dark for him to lead the way.

Dieter watched the wizard go about his tracking, mental discomfort clearly on his face. He secretly worried about the wizard’s potential power and how it could interfere with his way of doing things.

It only took ten minutes for Maestro to find the way to her. What they saw upon arrival made them tense up.

Granny Moescher was standing in a forest clearing, a bundle of medicinal herbs in her hand, noticed Rissandrea.

The old woman stared in surprise at three wood elf warriors, with bows trained upon her.

The leader spoke, “Explain yourself witch, or my arrow flies true.”

The old woman replied, “Don’t be so foolish, the elder races are supposed to be wise. I am simply gathering herbs for the people of Untergard”.

Dieter recognised the herbs too, but decided to remain silent. He was also aware of a darker use for this particular herb.

Rissandrea spoke up, “I am an initiate of the Shallyan order. Hear my words. I have used such herbs as these in curative treatments of the sick. The woman is telling the truth.”

Gilmir, the leader of the squad allowed his hard expression to soften, but still his bow remained sighted on its target.

He began, “She has the smell of magic upon her.”

Maestro couldn’t bear being in the company of elves. He truly disliked them. There had been some unfortunate incidents in the past that had led to this. Though his strife had actually been with their Ulthuan cousins, all elves were now a problem.

The others of his party could sense it. They had never seen him like this. Anxious yes, worried indeed, serious and contemplative sometimes, but never agitated. They didn’t know what to make of it. The elves noticed it but perhaps thought it was just the usual rantings and bizarre ways of a wizard.

Maestro had begun, “Excuse me, yes elves, hello? Yes here.”

One elf’s bow pointed towards Maestro. He was a little taken aback but continued, “Yes, well you see I am a wizard of the Celestial College.” Maestro looked them in the eyes, authority and self importance beaming.

He continued, “That woman has the wind.”

The elves looked at each other then back at Maestro. Even Granny Moescher turned to look at the wizard. Maestro saw the confounded expressions on their faces and quickly continued, “No, she has the brown wind…no that doesn’t help, I see in her aura the lore of Beasts, not dhar.”

The elves recognized this. Their own casters harnessed the lore of beasts as well. They lowered their weapons upon hearing this.

The leader of the warriors spoke, “I have been leading my kithband in hit and run attacks against the invaders for many weeks. Now we are only encountering small bands and stragglers. She could have easily been one of them.”

“Perhaps you should be more concerned then” started Maestro, “about the ten score beastmen roaming the southern townships…”

With that, the elves looked at each other and set off immediately to the south.

Maestro looked at the three of them and considered their numbers before adding, “That means a solid two hundred of them…” and shrugged his shoulders.

Extract from the diary of Rissandrea:

Day 24

We came upon a terrible sight. Bodies everywhere, on the road. A massacre along with two wrecked wagons. That could easily have been our group. The woodsman tells us that the arrow hafts are goblin made. Truly this war has turned the powers of disruption onto our heads. Anything could happen now.

Extract from Dieter’s diary:

Day 24

I don’t like this Granny Moescher. Maestro and Tobias feel the same. I overheard them talking about it. If I see one false move from her…

I wish I could do something pre-emptively. No, they would never accept any explanation if I did. I have to stay with this group…

Extract from the diary of Maestro:

Day 24

Granny nodded at a nearby bird. It was as if she were communicating with it. I believe she was. But what message or plan might she have? I am nervous, I must admit. The surge of her power is now revealed to me. She is powerful. More powerful than I. She kept repeating a name to herself when she viewed it at a signpost: Fahndorf.

She mumbled something about her family dying there.

Extract from the diary of Tobias:

Day 24

I have been watching this woman. Through information she has given away, I have determined that she is over a century old. Of that which she refers to, it is beyond the time of the others…but I know of it…Any power that can prolong a person’s life like so cannot be a good thing. Once we arrive at the city, I will report her to the watch.

From Tordrad’s diary:

Day 24

The priest sigmarite had been blessing the dead when he too joined them. I heard scream and he fell down out of sight. Impaled on spikes. Must have been hidden goblin trap. He did not take long to die. Said something in his language to the others. It is our new mission now I think. I climbed down to retrieve item he held up.

From Rissandrea’s diary:

Day 24

Poor Father Dietrich! I have prayed for his soul as it left this realm. With his dying words, he made us swear to deliver a holy relic to Middenheim. The Temple of Sigmar. We of course agreed and he died in peace at least. I am not yet powerful enough to save a man from such wounds. Perhaps I will never be.

Dietrich’s last words were, “Praise the Heldenhammer” and with that, he was gone.

The holy icon we now carry is a small painting of Sigmar. It looks old. Very old.

From Tobias’s diary:

Day 24

As we pressed on, our escort’s scouts came upon Immelscheld. The town was sacked, with survivors in a terrible state. We made temporary camp in the ruins just outside of the town. We are almost there.

Maestro’s diary:

Day 24

We made camp while supplies were fetched. I saw what I had feared I would see. A black raven flew from the back of old lady Moescher’s caravan.

The raven is a sign of ill omen. ‘Tis a mark of grim deathly purpose. ‘Tis the grim poise that emerges to take a life.

Tordrad’s diary:

Day 24

I thought I would get rest. No chance of that, with the wizard idiot shouting, that we leave with him now.

Tobias’s diary:

Day 24

Maestro alerted us to the old woman’s leaving. We set out in the direction the bird was seen flying. It meant retracing our steps for two hours, back to what is left of Fahndorf, on its outskirts.

We soon discovered that the old woman was about a terrible business. Revenge! For her family lost. Her ritual, a summoning, meant to kill those she sees responsible in the town.

Maybe we will have to kill her. She will perhaps have some expensive amulets or the like to claim as my own.

When the group finally caught up with her, having followed the smell of “arcane burning” as Tobias had put it, they saw a terrible sight. In the middle of a clearing stood Granny Moescher, completely focused on an incantation, a ritual, Tobias pointed out.

A massive bonfire was before them. Some strange shadowy essence interacted with it. It became clear that it itself was the focus point for the ritual, as the old woman spoke words, the flames licked from one colour to the next. Some terrible daemonic visage could be seen inside the fire, getting clearer by the moment.

“A portal to the daemonic realm” said Rissandrea, discomfort clear on her face. She had grown used to the feeling of exposure between the physical world and the chaos realm. As the two interwove and blended their synergies into one space in time, her skin felt as if it was bleeding, as if something good in her power was being challenged and torn from her. It was as if her holy spiritual defences were being flayed sadistically by some invisible hand. She ignored the pain, it was part of her duty; she just instinctively knew that somehow.

They stared at the flickering flames that cast reflecting hues across their faces and then their eyes adjusted to the brightness of the fire to focus enough on the pack of wolves that circled the old woman, defensively it seemed.

Tobias spoke aloud, “She cannot be allowed to complete that ceremony. It is a portal to the daemonic planes, something terrible is forming inside it!”

Tordrad drew his axe. Maestro looked around worriedly at the many wolves before them. No, Tordrad would be mauled, he thought.

Dieter’s dog snarled, showing its teeth and Dieter said a few words to calm it, then patted it and said, “Good boy, Ulger”.

Granny Moescher did not seem to know they were even there. Maestro realised that it took the old woman’s full concentration to maintain the portal and he picked up a stone ready to throw it at her. He stopped suddenly and handed it to Tobias. “Tobias, fire at her.”

“Yes, good idea” said the halfling. He popped the sharp angular stone into his slingshot and hurled it forwards without hesitation.

The image inside the flames was now so clear, that its ferocious snarling teeth could be seen. Maestro fancied that he could smell the thing’s breath even from where they stood!

The stone hit the old woman directly in the cheekbone and temple.

With the ritual interrupted, the old woman fell to her knees, surprise was clear on her face. At that moment the fire spluttered as the creature inside the flames shouted something in anger. Suddenly the bonfire exploded, in a myriad of colours and aethyric energy.

The blast took in the prone body of the old woman and the wolves around her, scarring the earth. Her last words were, “I am sorry father, I failed you”.

A huge draft of energy wafted against the group as the magical trails that only Maestro could see spun around and whisped eventually into nothingness, like the embers of the fire itself. Soon even the bonfire was out.

Maestro picked up the grimoire that the old lady had carried. It was quickly clear that it contained the commands of dark ritual magic she had been using. The wizard put the book away in his backpack. Tobias stared at him sternly, “You are making a mistake Maestro.”

Maestro talked back to him, “I know what I’m doing”.

On the twenty seventh day of their journey, they did at last see the Ulricsberg looming up ahead of them. Atop the huge imposing rock sat the impressive sight, the famed great city of Middenheim, still standing strong.

The flags of the Emperor and Count Todbringer flew from the battlements.

The damage from the invasion was clear, most striking from the mass graves everywhere. The walls were damaged on the surface only. Some of the city seemed to be ruins, even from this distance. The enemy’s war machines had taken their toll.

The war was clearly over though. Perhaps they were looking at a brighter future, wondered Maestro. Then he remembered that such an idea didn’t fit the course his fate had taken so far. Yes, he thought, it will probably only get worse in fact.

They hurried on, through the gates into the now pock marked city of the white wolf.

TFT Original Content Versus Book Content

With six chapters online right now, you've followed the story from all original content. Because this adventure is a WHFRP career based system, it means that we do need to move onto the book adventures too.
Now, because some of them coming up are from the book and not original, they would be documented in a somewhat different manner.

There will be a warning at the top of each one, explaining what sourcebook the adventure comes from so that you can decide if it will be a spoiler for your own WHFRP playing experiences. Keep in mind though, this will be second edition material, not third.
Also, you will notice that because it is from the book, a lot of it is going to be portrayed as journal entries. This will move the thing along quicker, keep track of what is happening in the characters careers but focusing it on the element that isn't in the book. The original ideas, feelings and points of view from these specific player driven characters. These characters aren't like most characters. Their thoughts on certain issues might take you by surprise from reading their journals.
Another interesting point of this is that they are a lot more honest in their journals than they are to each other. You can then get a stronger sense of who each character is.

Even when we're on the book content, there will be elements of original content thrown in too, to make things go along as the GM sees fit.

Alright then, so chapters 1-6 were totally original content.
Chapter 7 will be the first update from a sourcebook material play session.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Their Fated Travels...(Chapter Six) - Barge On Through

You can read the latest chapter of our adventure here -

Their Fated Travels…

By Robert James Freemantle

Chapter Six

Barge On Through

Book 2

Extract from the diaries of Maestro:

Day 1

‘Tis a fresh new start. I’m sure that whatever the fates have in store for me, I shall find the way to keep them appeased, or the College master accompanying us at the very least. Yes I think it is him I should worry about the most. It makes me nervous, him watching me all the time. It isn’t natural. As danger has found us when I want to scream and run the other way I look at him and realise I cannot.

Taken from the diary of Tobias:

Day 1

I hope my wife understands. Who am I kidding? She is probably over the moon, to have some peace. In truth, so am I.

That Dieter fellow has joined us all of a sudden, but why? First he seemed so cold, now he says he missed us being a group. Could it be that he hides his good feelings on the inside? I don’t know, he is too hard for me to read, like no one I have ever known. Perhaps I am reading too far into it, I suppose the extra help can only be a good thing.

Dinner with everyone else tonight.

Dinner was fantastic, lobster. Perhaps we will get sick of it every night. They seem to have a lot of lobster here.

Day 2

Uneventful day.

It is a beautiful night tonight though. Not that I have a telescope to enjoy it to its fullest. Maestro should be studying the stars though, for his training.

…Lots of people on the deck tonight, looking overboard…looking the other way. Their backs are turned to us. It would be so easy. Yes it would.

Confined myself to the bedroom for the night though. I can’t think why I would have done that, but I can’t find the damned key anywhere. I need to get out. I need to roam and see all.

Day 3

When I awoke I knew where I had put the key. How very strange. It was indeed hidden though, as if…from myself. The only reason I even knew that is based on the writings in this diary which appear to be my handwriting.

Taken from the diary of Rissandrea:

Day 4

Everyone is enjoying the lobster.

Maestro still seems bothered by me somehow…

I have not seen much of Tobias in the evenings. Perhaps he likes to meditate in the quiet hours.

Extracts from the diary of Tordrad, translated from Kislevite:

Day 7

I am sick of lobster. Nearly every day, lobster.

Journey is boring.

Need to fight something. Feel better then.

Extract from the diary of Maestro:

Day 10

I felt a little queasy and threw up. I think I am perhaps sea sick.

Extract from Tobias’s diary:

Day 10

That moron Maestro has eaten too much and been sick. Who does he think he is? A halfling?

Extract from the diary of Tordrad, translated from Kislev:

Day 10

Starting to go crazy from boredom.

Maestro stuffed his face full of suckling pig and then he was sick. Weak southerners and their gentle stomachs. For all the good living and weight they carry upon them you would think they’d be used to it. They cannot hold their drink either.

The wizard gets drunk just from smelling my vodka. He is a stupid man. Worse still, I must risk my life to save his.

From the diary of Dieter:

Day 15

Maestro is on deck every night, looking up at the stars and back down to his lavish looking tome. I can tell it is filled with arcane language.

When he is not doing that, he is busy meditating. This is unlike him.

From the diary of Rissandrea:

Day 16

The war is about us, on all fronts to the north and yet we trickle towards it instead. I feel redundant. Truly I should be there to help the sick and wounded. Shallya guide me where you need me. I shall have faith in thee, dearest one.

It is good to see Maestro taking his study seriously. I see him mediating each night, concentrating his thoughts on something up there in the cosmos, something the rest of us certainly cannot see. Perhaps he may yet be a great wizard one day. I would like to see that.

Onwards their vessel took them. The barge had been forced to a halt several times, for vast armies to pass across improvised plank bridges so that they might aid in pushing back the chaos forces that besieged the land. Then there were the priority barges that required the usage of the river’s full width of several at once, to move up it with soldiers and supplies. Aid had to be brought to key places that the river could reach safest.

All of this meant that the journey up river was taking longer than they expected. However, it wasn’t all bad for them as it had allowed them to get off and walk around several habitats, towns and villages.

As they continued, on their oft broken part journeys onwards, they were pushing further north all the time, following the river deeper and deeper through Middenland.

One thing was becoming clear though, the further north they ventured – they were coming closer to the presence of the chaos armies.

Several burning buildings and fields had been spotted beyond the riverbanks as they watched from the relative safety of their barge.

They did not know how far they were going to go. Maestro had suggested that they depart when it “feels right”. Some of the others mistakenly thought that this was just a wizard being mystical, giving great insight for the others in a subtle manner, as they had heard wizards would do. They were wrong though. Maestro had no idea what he was doing.

The normal monotony was broken on the seventeenth day however…

Dieter was having a conversation with Maestro, talking about the cosmos and the true significance of the star constellations. Tobias was doing his best to pretend that he wasn’t listening in when of course he was. The topic was fascinating to him too, being studious in the celestial teachings of astronomy as he was. Maestro had studied the subject a lot during his apprenticeship. He carried with him a beautifully bound grimoire of spells, in a book that made him look like a master wizard, albeit without the years, or indeed the robes. He did not fully know any of the spells in there though and this was why he was studying when he had the chance.

The truth of the matter was that he could probably cast some of the spells to a fashion. Some of the lesser ones for sure and perhaps some of the celestial ones, but it was ill advised. He had not yet mastered the weavings of the spells, their complex patterns that one would have to traverse and manipulate with the proper tone and pronunciation of the arcane language, a language that originally hailed from the High Elves and perhaps the Old Ones. Maestro was not comfortable with that fact. He and elves didn’t…get along most of the time.

One wrong word from him though, one mispronounced vowel and the entire spell could backfire dangerously. Therefore, attempts at the full spells were strictly forbidden. They were given only passages to practice in separate pieces. To be on the safe side, they were practised out of their original spoken order, just in case an apprentice would get a little carried away and speed through his elocutionary exercises.

As they continued their conversation, Dieter began to get an uncomfortable feeling in the pit of his stomach. He momentarily considered if it had been the seafood but realised otherwise. It was a feeling he could always rely on, usually indicating that something bad was going to happen. It had never been wrong. When he mentioned to the others that something was wrong, the look on his face and their own instincts of his seemingly sixth sense convinced them to take him seriously.

Maestro volunteered a suggestion, “Perhaps an octopus is assailing us.”

“I doubt it. It hasn’t happened yet. But whatever it is, it’s about to. I feel like something is coming, something with murderous intent. It’s the intent I feel, burning with hatred.”

Tobias’s mouth was open in shock and surprise at the sort of words the man was using here. The implications were serious.

Dieter’s head suddenly turned to face the front of the vessel. His eyes narrowed and he spotted them coming, pointing his finger that way, “Goblins coming on rafts, towards the bow!”

Maestro saw them too, at last. The element of their surprise had been lost. Tordrad had heard the shouting and looked to Maestro. The wizard told him, “Goblins”.

“Aaaaah” came Tordrad’s reply, his face joyous with the news that he would have the opportunity to kill greenskins again.”

Quickly they ran to the bow, where Dieter’s alarmed warning had attracted the marines aboard the barge. Specialist soldiers hired specifically for the defence of the vessel itself. Better that insurance would pay for itself in this way than a recuperation of monetary value for goods afterwards. After all, if you lost your life into the bargain, what good was it then?

The first grappling hooks clanked against the side, digging into the wood where they bit. Marines began pulling them off from the edge surface. This was only making them drop back down to the goblins that had thrown them however and more were arriving by the moment.

They were trying to think of a better plan when there was a huge jolt. The barge had hit one of the raft raiders dead on, knocking the inhabitants clean out, as they sank to a watery end and still the barge pushed forwards.

A squad of goblin had made it up on deck, having ridden alongside the barge unseen. A man attempted to fight them with his walking cane and a boot dagger, while his dog barked and jumped into the fray.

The dog had quickly mauled one of the goblins as the man and a goblin stabbed each other in unison, neither were skilled enough to avoid the other’s attack. As the goblin fell overboard, so did the man with him, unable to move from the pain of his stomach wound that had already bled heavily across the deck. There was a huge splash as together they hit the water. Several thumps confirmed that they had been sucked in under the flow of the vessel’s movement.

The dog, a Doberman of good size barked and growled as more goblins took to the deck and surrounded it with hungry murderous intent in their intelligent keen little red eyes.

Dieter was first to act, seeing that the marines already had their hands full elsewhere. He ran in best as he could and swung his stave, growling as ferociously if not more than the dog had been. Together they pounced and a goblin was sent to the deck only to be mauled as the animal tore apart his prone form. Dieter swung the stave repeatedly to keep the goblins back and backed up so as not to be overwhelmed from a joint attack if it came. “Here boy” he called to the dog, who seemed to understand the threat and move back with him. More marines appeared at last and took the fight to the goblins, pushing their lifeless bodies overboard. All eyes turned to the very front of the ship. Lots of hooks were attached. Goblins were climbing the ropes that would lead them to the deck.

Maestro spoke the words of a ‘drop’ spell. At that moment, the goblin he had targeted felt compelled to let go of the rope he was holding, falling down it instead and taking another with him as he fell.

Tordrad charged forwards and beheaded the first unopposed goblin he came to. He kicked the body overboard and turned to meet the next head on. Blood gushed outwards in a foul smelling spray as his scimitar cleaved another in two at the chest.

Tobias hurled pebble after pebble, hitting a few goblins, dazing them long enough for a marine to run them through with a sword.

Maestro spelled another goblin that attempted to climb. It too dropped the rope it was holding and fell to the raft on the other side of the rope, capsizing it from the impact. More goblins were in the water. Arguments broke out between them on the water’s surface with several strangling each other as they floated next to their rafts.

Rissandrea saw the marines about to be overrun and reached into her robes where against the inside layer she wore a leather holster. From it she pulled a gun! It was of a beautiful craftsmanship, spectacularly fashioned, ornamentally pleasing to see. She took aim, squinting one eye. Her finger squeezed the trigger. At that moment, Maestro felt a sudden energy surge in his surroundings, something powerful. His eyes were drawn to the gun Rissandrea had fired. It shot with a satisfying meaty cracking sound, as a trail of white energy, a projectile with a tail giving the effect of a tracer round flew from the barrel straight into a goblin’s face. His entire head exploded. Rissandrea took aim again as several goblins panicked, worrying that they would be next. Dieter stared at the spectacle in as much shock as the goblins, who were scattering around the deck getting behind each other.

There was suddenly a hulking slam as large green feet landed on the starboard deck. The group’s eyes took in the terrible sight of an orc. It had used the distraction caused by the goblins to climb aboard unseen.

Great green hands appeared against the port side railing as another orc was nearly up on deck.

Maestro readied his staff in case it came to having to defend himself. Tobias’s pebble shot bounced off of the left side orc’s head, with him being none the wiser. Rissandrea’s gun however was more decisive. Another great cracking boom sound erupted from the barrel as the holy imbued bullet slammed into the orc’s chest, making a smouldering hole right through him to the other side. Tobias ran and should barged into the great beast. Somehow this was enough to push backwards its already unsteady frame, as it fell overboard into the river below. Blood quickly pooled up to the surface, like an underwater volcano erupting.

Tordrad had heard Maestro’s frightened reaction and came over to face the orc brute. It struck out wildly at him. The huge Kislevite, larger than the orc parried the blow and brought his foot to bear against the orc’s belly. It doubled over in pain and shouted in frustration. With it exposed, Tordrad accepted the invitation and sliced its head clean off of its shoulders. So powerfully had he struck the creature, that the orc’s head had rolled down the deck towards the bow and halted in a position that faced the goblins.

They took the dead orc’s fearful expression seriously and began jumping overboard. It was up to the marines to mop them up now.

If Tordrad even had of been able to speak Reikspiel he still wouldn’t have listened to Dieter’s shouted suggestion of, “Perhaps we could keep this one alive to question him.”

A short while later when they were certain that no more attackers would be coming, the group were talking amongst themselves.

Tobias had been staring at Rissandrea strangely. She caught sight of this and said, “Oh not you too, what is wrong with me then?”

Tobias looked suddenly surprised. He blushed a little and spoke, “I was not aware that my expression of concern gave me away. Well perhaps I should explain. I am somewhat confused by your actions in the fight we have just been in.”

Rissandrea took him seriously and awaited what he would say with interest. It was as if she didn’t know. Tobias was taken aback by this too as he started, “Well, you are an initiate of the order of Shallya. This I understand. But don’t the scriptures say that a devotee of Shallya must wield only a quarterstaff and then only to defend herself. Therefore I do not understand why you pulled out a gun and shot it. Not that I am being unthankful…simply you have piqued my academic curiosity young lady.”

Maestro chipped in, “A magical gun at that. Those were no normal bullets, I must say. A fine piece though.”

Tobias looked at Maestro as if he too was barmy. That fact was perhaps the more sound idea but still he was more intrigued with what the holy woman would have to say.

Rissandrea drew the weapon once more and inspected it, turning it this way and that to admire the engineering of it as she spoke, “Well I am a little different to what you might be used to.”

Even Dieter was interested by this point and was listening in, pretending that he wasn’t.

Rissandrea continued, “Do remember, I am of the Vhor sub-sect of the Shallyan faith. We are taught that to carry arms is no sin against Shallya. To use them wrongly though, that would be.”

Maestro seemed genuinely confused and asked, “So, picking your nose with the barrel end would be against Shallya?”

Rissandrea stared at him and didn’t even answer. She continued, “Murder is indeed a heinous act, to steal away all a person ever was, all they are and all they ever will be.”

Dieter rolled his eyes at what he considered to be the rantings of a lunatic at that moment in time.

Rissandrea continued, “But against evil souls. Orcs and goblins who are by nature evil, a living plague upon the land, against chaos daemons or those daemonically imbued, those who are tainted beyond repair, those are souls without salvation. Those are souls beyond rescue. Shallya teaches that we should be merciful to our enemies. Ending lives such as these is itself a mercy unto them.”

Tobias stared in shock. Truly this woman was unusual. So meek a little lady, in her purest of white robes yet with a capacity for such destruction when confronted with pure evil. Everything Tobias had ever known about the churches was being challenged here. It made him uncomfortable. Nobody liked change, especially halflings.

Rissandrea smiled as she put the gun away into its holster and informed them, “It is indeed a magical weapon. Its name is Redemption. It was once owned by a legendary witch hunter: Albrecht Schuher. His life ended from disease, but still I carry a token of his faith on my person. Still the idea of his work will go on, where I see fit.”

Just before leaving Altdorf, Rissandrea had stopped into the famed curio shop ‘Zuchi & Petrillo’s’ where she had bought the weapon.

Dieter was leaning against some wood paneling and without even looking he asked, “And of the sword you carry? Perhaps Emperor Magnus once lanced a boil with it?”

Rissandrea gave Dieter a scowling look. He ignored it.

Rissandrea suddenly became overcome with sadness. She looked down to control herself, lest she start crying. Within moments she felt ready to speak again, “This sword…this sword belonged to a Breton. A questing knight who stumbled into my arms dying of a terrible wound. I…did all I could but Morr’s pull upon his soul was too strong for me. I took his sword as a reminder of the first life I lost. As a reminder to always seek to improve myself so that it may never happen again. It will always remain as I found it, in its scabbard.”

Dieter had uneasily shifted on the spot at the mention of Morr’s name. Perhaps it was just his imagination, but the sigils in his chest felt like they burned a little too.

After that, the group sat quietly and listened to the world around them as they began to journey through scenic woodland on either side.

Three days after that, they had been forced to disembark. The barge captain had been informed that it was unsafe up ahead. That the armies of chaos were not far away and the route by river to the north was greatly contested.

They had no idea where they were, but it was obvious that it was in or near the Drakwald Forest region…