Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Their Fated Travels...(Chapter Fifteen) Trial of Fire Ablaze!

Read it at DA - http://robafett.deviantart.com/art/Their-Fated-Travels-Chapter-15-162960710

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Their Fated Travels…

RPG Party events as told By Peter Davis-Parker

Second Treatment, plot co-ordinating, editing 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 Fifteen

Trial of Fire Ablaze!

Extract from the diary of Tobias:

Day 40

After I rejoined the group at the trial my mind kept wandering. I spent years trying to forget, but that tavern made the memories come back.

The past – The Moot –

A halfling, Jeremiah Wilwart walked through the laboratory door flanked by two halfling soldiers who had been posted to him to protect his secret experiments of military interest. They headed towards his study. As he rounded the thin corridor he saw his twin sons inside the room, the door opened wide.

“What? What is going on here. You both should know my study is off limits.” he questioned.

The elder of the brothers – who was in fact only minutes older – shuffled uncomfortably. The other who was dressed in thieves garb spoke, “I needed to get the elixir you prepared father. You should not concern yourself though. You never cared for me before, only for your precious Tobias – and it was he who gave me the key. I fully intend to leave and you will never see me again.”

Tobias checked his pocket for the key protesting as he did so. The key was nowhere to be found however until Frederick opened his palm. “You see father I have the elixir and your notes, lest you want me to destroy both I suggest you tell your dogs to let me pass.” spat the younger of the two with venom dripping from his words, such was his hatred and jealousy.

Tobias struggled with a great internal conflict knowing why his brother had gone down the path that he himself had trodden long before. He knew that Frederick was a substance abuser now because... “Tobias” started Jeremiah, “what have you to say for yourself? How could you be so damned irresponsible? I thought you were done with that nonsense and now you have corrupted your brother it seems”

His thoughts interrupted, Tobias found himself without an answer. How can I betray father, but if Frederick’s condition is my own fault…but before he could make his mind up Frederick pushed past him and their father. The older halfling struggled to restrain his son and took from him the vial. “Son I know the thieves’ guild sent you for the recipe to the elixir and if it is so important to them, think what good it can do for this family.”

With that, the old halfling took the recipe in hand and put it above a nearby bunsen burner flame. It burned up quickly. The two soldiers present gasped as Jeremiah continued, “You will not take this though, one day you will understand.” Jeremiah put the vial back into his jacket. “Guards, take him away. Maybe a few days in the cells will give him time to detoxify his system from whatever foul substance lurks in his veins.”

Later that evening a shadow was cast over the cells. “Oh, it's you. What do you want? Come to gloat?” Spat Frederick, at Tobias who made his way quietly into the area in front of his brother’s cell with a look of greatest sorrow on his face.

Tobias only stared and began reaching into his pocket.

The present – Middenheim –

“Tobias is something the matter? You seem very deep in thought. Very unlike you.” Dieter asked nudging the halfling’s shoulder, a little harder than he would anyone else’s.

Shaking his head violently as if chasing the thoughts from his mind Tobias answered distractedly, “Yes Dieter I am fine. That kind of concern isn’t the norm for you though, is it?”

Dieter sneered at the halfling and swore under his breath. “I have a degree of concern for all of the group you little sneak-thief. Even you, but that doesn't mean you can keep trying to steal my wallet without consequence.” taking back his wallet.

Dieter moved to the front of the group to see Maestro had already grabbed the attention of the mob and he had been hurriedly pushed forward to give testimony in the trial. He spoke remarkably well and produced the evidence when asked. If Dieter and the rest of the group were not present it would scarcely have been believed. When asked about the ‘Sword and Flail’ tavern, Maestro gestured for Tordrad to come forward, which the Kislevite did - protecting a man huddled underneath a cloak to conceal his face. The cloak was removed to reveal Johan Opfer who then gave testimony on stage of his investigation and subsequent capture.

Maestro rejoined the group and told them quietly, ”Stolz seems glad that we got him back. Oh, how do you think I did?”

Dieter glanced up to the witness stand and then to the stocks where Bauer was being guarded more for his own safety than that of the so called jurors, who themselves were nothing more than an angry gang. “I dislike this entire trial. Something feels wrong here but I can't place it. You spoke remarkably well.”

Rissandrea nodded in agreement as Dieter added, “It looks like you have a future as a public speaker.” He then grinned at the thought of Maestro delivering a speech to a large crowd, being that the wizard was such a coward and usually had an inclination to blather on more than was necessary.

Somebody yelled that a dog had bitten their leg and Dieter looked down to see Ulger was still at his side. Another moaned that their wallet had been stolen and Dieter looked to see Tobias was no longer at his side. He sighed with aggravation. He had seen trials before and found them to be largely a formality. The judge and jurors had their minds made up long before the opening arguments had been concluded, for the most part as this trial was truly about one religion versus the other and each man present worshiped Ulric.

Maestro enthusiastically pointed, “Oh look, Liebnitz is calling the High Capitular Stolz himself to the stand. I don't believe they do that sort of thing normally. He must have some evidence. Perhaps the skuh...” Dieter clamped a hand over the wizard’s mouth as a couple of people looked around and then looked back at the trial. Dieter removed his now damp hand as Maestro had finished his sentence even gagged.

Dieter hurriedly spoke to mask Maestro’s muffled voice, “Mentioning such a thing here, now would be a bad idea. Such notifications would cause panic. We have seen one riot I would rather we not have another.”

All Maestro could reply with was, “When was the last time you washed that hand, my man?”

Dieter ignored him.

Upon the stand, things were heating up, “Mr Stolz could you please verify whether an icon of Sigmar was recently stolen from your temple? Think carefully Mr Stolz.” enquired Liebnitz, his tone official but with a hint of scorn for the man he had just called to the stand. The crowd yelled loudly at Bauer as Stolz’s response was drowned out under the noise.

”Well Mr Stolz I suppose we have some good and bad news. Here is your icon, but why is there a symbol of Khorne engraved on the back?”

As he said this, Liebnitz turned the frame around for everybody to see. There clearly was a mark of the blood God present on it! After a moment of stunned silence, pandemonium erupted. The crowd began to riot in two groups - the followers of Ulric and the followers of Sigmar.

The resulting wave forced the party forward amongst the throng. Among the cries of 'BURN THE HERETICS!' and many others less repeatable, the city guard was called in and the officials retreated to the safety of their respective Temples. The group fought their way through the throng and back to some semblance of relative safety in the Temple of Ulric now. There were too many people in public view for anything else to happen to the group, they reasoned – and by this time, they were so annoyed at the process of corruption about them that they would have welcomed an attack by the guards. No one was stupid enough to try it, much to Dieter’s dismay.

The group sat around the dining table where Father Odo had lost his life recently, or had it lost for him by one of the party’s many bladed weapons after his chaos spawn transformation of course. Some of the group saw Dieter take a bite out of a herb wrapped bar which was filled with some dark substance.

“Dieter what the bally heck are you are eating my good man? Seems unlike anything I have seen before and I must say it has piqued my interest.” Maestro leaned forward over the table expecting an answer when Rissandrea spoke up. “We are in the middle of a city wide riot and you are curious about Dieter's snacks. You are truly one of a kind Maestro Rophel Illefescion.” to which he quickly added, “In the flesh” grinning sheepishly.

“Yes in the flesh.” began Dieter, sounding put out in his voice he continued, “It's made from medicinal herbs and a small amount of gunpowder. It helps to keep the... the headaches at bay. Keeps me from doing things I might regret later. Alas, I think there is no cure for you though Maestro…”

The wizard smiled stupidly and mentioned, “Oh, magic is no problem anymore. Anything I need to know now is engineering related. Nothing a good spanner couldn’t fix.”

Dieter nodded with a sadistic internal thought showing on his face, “I couldn’t agree more.”

Maestro thought for a moment on what Dieter told him about the herb bar and was seemingly satisfied.

Rissandrea then asked out of concern, “What is it with your headaches? I have noticed them more often since you joined us - if you don't mind my asking.”

Dieter sighed before taking another bite, “Head injury long ago have had them since., it is not important. Where the hell is Liebnitz? I want to get that skull destroyed and get out of here.” Father Ranulf walked into the room with a small portable chest in his hands. By the way he was carrying it, it didn’t appear to be very heavy.

The priest spoke to them, “I don't know where Liebnitz is but I have the skull right here. I need you to take it to Professor Zweistein, even though the city is under curfew.” Maestro and Dieter looked each other in the eyes and both said together “OPEN THE BOX. I WANT TO SEE IT FIRST.” The priest shuffled uncomfortably but did as asked. Upon opening the box the group found the skull was already missing. In its place was the severed head of Johann Opfer!

Father Ranulf looked horrified.

Maestro raised his eyebrows and squinted one eye.

Rissandrea gasped and closed her eyes in silent prayer.

Tobias picked another pocket nearby.

Tordrad stared at the water in his goblet and wished it was potato vodka.

“Knew it” said Dieter smugly.