Thursday, 10 June 2010

Their Fated Travels...(Chapter Sixteen) The Truth Will Out!

Viewable also at my DA page here

Their Fated Travels…

RPG Party events as told By Peter Davis-Parker, Robert James Freemantle & Lory Cozens

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 16

The Truth Will Out!

They had been forced to fall back to the Temple of Ulric, as the Temple of Verena had been sealed off after the riots had broken out. Of course this was after the magistrates and court officials were inside safely.

Justice was swift considered Maestro, swift at running away from danger.

Dieter Sneered, “Well I wonder do we have to deliver Opfer's severed head to Zweistein or can we just hunt down Liebnitz right now?”

Rissandrea looked paler than usual. After all the battles the group had fought she found it hard to close off her heart to the suffering of others, the seemingly innocent.

Dieter saw this and commented in his usual clinical tone, “Rissandrea if you can't handle the sight of a decapitated head, I suggest you leave the room while we figure out what to do now.”

Tobias sighed and said, “Come now Dieter, not everyone has become as cold as Morr's embrace through the experience of death and chaos. The Shallyans are not accustomed.” Now if Death and I are injured, came Tobias’s sly thought as a follow up, perhaps she'll heal me first. He was sure to keep this thought inside his head. Dieter seemed to almost be trying to read the halfling’s mind.

After a moment of tense silence during which Tordrad noisily drank the last of the water in his goblet pulling a face of disgust that it was not filled with alcohol, Tobias started, “I think Tordrad has the right idea. We sit down and think carefully on our next action. There is clearly something large afoot.”

Maestro considered for a moment how large and hairy Tobias’s feet were in fact, then gave himself an internal poke for getting off track from the serious business about them.

Father Ranulf stood in the corner as pale as a ghost as the group argued amongst themselves about what they might do next.

Rissandrea looked over at the corner and asked, “Oh Father? Father Ranulf, will these papers allow us to get to the city watch headquarters without fear of arrest? The turbulent trial has created a curfew after all.”

The man just stayed in the corner staring off into space as Dieter approached the holy man ready to shake him out of his self induced trance he spoke. “Yes they should do. What will you say to them though? How will you find Liebnitz?”

Liebnitz was clearly nowhere to be seen and none of the staff knew of his whereabouts - that much they knew. They also knew it was very possible that he had barred himself inside the main hall because the entranceway had been sealed off and the doors closed. Not even the Temple staff were able to gain access to it.

Dieter and his dog were already walking towards the door ignoring the man's question. The rest followed as Maestro replied to the priest, “Don't worry yourself with details my good man. We'll make it up as we go along – It’s what we always do.”

Father Ranulf was not assured by that response. Maestro wasn’t trying to assure him though. He would have felt insulted if someone had suggested he had done as much, at that.

As they left the building the wizard mumbled under his breath, “Thank goodness we are out of there. Now we have more religious trouble. Where will it end?”

Dieter ignored the question which he only half heard, thinking to himself that something felt wrong with the situation, more so than earlier even.

Rissandrea had learnt to not take Maestro’s words to heart. She knew he didn’t mean them about her order…or at least not her order specifically. He didn’t mean any harm, that was the main thing…

The group made their way around the edges of the Temple. Dieter looked down at his dog padding slowly alongside them and noticed that the halfling was not there. Looking round back toward the building he saw Tobias with his ear to the Temple wall. “Hey rat bait. What are you doing over there?” began Dieter with hostility at the fore, “If you can’t behave, why not sit back down in the spring loaded trap in front of my pantry?”

Tobias acted as if he hadn’t heard the man. He was wearing his black leather garb and his robes were nowhere to be seen. This wasn’t a good sign thought Rissandrea, as she looked up at the moons in the sky, wearing a look of uncertainty on her pretty face.

Dieter pressed on with his enquiry whispering as loud as he could, “Get away from the wall before you attract undue attention.”

Maestro looked back to find out what had attracted the ire of Dieter and saw the physician in training striding toward the magically void master wizard, his machete unsheathed.

Maestro ignored the need to be quiet, quite deliberately and loudly asking, “Tobias what in the winds are you doing over there against the wall? Did you forget a tome or something? We can get it on the way back but right now we are heading to the watch, remember?”

This actually got the thief's attention and with the best possible luck not the attention of any guards. Tobias replied sharply, “Quiet fool wizard, before you give away my position. There is a room on the other side of this wall.”

The rest of them seemed clearly unimpressed.

“This is not the time to think of thievery Tobias…” stated Rissandrea, “Besides, the watch patrols could find us at any moment.”

“Forget the watch” snapped Tobias, “there could be valuable information in there.” The group shared a glance as Tobias continued, “Tell me, do you remember a room leading off from the hallway that leads to the contemplation area?”

The group looked puzzled, all except Tordrad who couldn’t understand so simply didn’t care. Maestro answered, “Actually, well no there were no doors there…”

Tobias smirked in a self assured manner. Even as his alter-ego self he was as smug as could be, “Then why is there a room on the other side of that door? It bugged me when I was in there and I wanted to check from this side.”

“But if there are no doors there, how could there possibly be a room?” started Rissandrea, “perhaps you’re mistaken?”

The thief put his face in his palm, exasperated by the stupidity of these people he found himself in the company of every night. Come to think of it, he didn’t quite know why they just turned up every night as they did. He tried not to think about it, seeing as the places they ventured led to profitable outcomes.

Tobias frowned one side of his face sarcastically, “If there is no room here then how do you explain that faint illumination coming from the blacked out window up there?”

It was only after he pointed the window out to them that it occurred to the rest of the group that he must be right. They all passed where that window would be and all recalled seeing no window since in fact they had only remembered seeing a fireplace and miniature sitting area in the side passage near that spot.

Dieter looked down at the halfling with menacing eyes, ”I agree Tobias, it is suspicious but we all agreed and that includes you, you sawed off runt that we go to the watch and get back up.”

Tordrad grasped at his scimitar as a guard rounded the corner and stared in their direction before moving on. By some God or another’s grace (it would depend who you spoke to – except Maestro of course) the man's lantern failed to penetrate the deep shadow cast by the height of the Temple. The halfling thief stated arrogantly, “Fine you lot go to the watch, but I am going in. everything I steal I get to keep for myself.”

With that, Tobias swung his grappling hook up and in through the small window which broke and sent some black glass tinkling down around them. Tobias began to climb up the wall. The rest of the group watched as he wriggled through the hole and then darkness and silence was all they perceived from the other side.

As the group turned to leave they felt concern for the halfling, even Dieter - although he would never admit it – plus that was for his own reasons anyway… But knowing that he could take care of himself they decided that hanging around was a bad idea.

At night at least when Morrslieb sat high and bloated in the sky above on this, seemingly the longest night since they had come together as a group Tobias would become a different person altogether. The peculiar illumination above them attested that the green moon sat very high indeed

“Oy! Are you lot coming or not” Tobias asked suddenly from above, his head poking out from the now fully opened window. He was lightly tugging at a line of rope attached to the large hook indicating for them to climb up. “It's a secret passage and I can hear chanting at the other end. It sounds like Liebnitz is in there. I heard a lot of hot air with words around it”

Sounds like him, thought Dieter.

Tordrad led the way up the rope. His years of military service made it look easy.

Rissandrea watched the Kislevite climb and considered that if need be he probably could have sheered the wall without the rope!

Rissandrea and Maestro both struggled up the rope next. It was decided they would both go together. Maestro went before the Shallyan stating, “It would be improper to be below a lady in this position.” Rissandrea nodded accepting his reason, except it was a lie. Maestro’s internal reasoning was that if he might fall, he would have something to soften his landing.

Maestro’s weak arms struggled to support his weight.

“Gosh” he said in embarrassment, “a few less cream cakes at the next bakery I think.”

“How about none at all?” stated Dieter.

“No, a few less.” Corrected Maestro quickly.

He was nearly at the top and started thinking about cakes. He could really murder a cake right now. No he thought! That would only be more weight on this rope. It was a great effort as it was! Perhaps half a cake, he decided. Yes half a cake. He started envisioning a nice half cream cake that just so happened to be double the size of standard cakes. Perfect he thought. Within moments though, even this comforting vision stopped helping him as he saw his make believe cake oozing with blood instead of jam. Yes, he thought, perhaps ‘murder a cake’ was not the best term to put out there in this stressful situation they were heading into.

He pushed these mad thoughts out of his head and kept climbing as fast as he could. Once he had reached the top and been pulled through the opening by Tobias, he looked down to see Rissandrea was right below him. He had been delaying her climb below him!

Rissandrea made it with Tordrad pulling her up the last few feet, one muscled sinewy arm extending down out of the window to bring her into the room with ease.

At last it was Dieter's turn, he had written a note to the city's watch with regards to the location of Liebnitz and the present situation they now embarked on, placing it on the dog's collar. With but a tap on its head, the dog bounded through the shadows to deliver the message.

Dieter scaled the rope. The others noticed that he was a lot more nimble than his limping gait and weighted reassurance upon his walking stave suggested.

As Dieter reached the window he realised why they had not heard a drop from the other side. The window was actually an escape route designed in case of a siege. A small and still rolled up rope ladder sat below the window just inches off the floor between the inner and outer wall.

Glaring at the halfling Dieter struck him about the head with the back of his hand. “There was a ladder. Why did you make us climb a flimsy rope?”

The halfling had no answer and so carried on down the overly narrow corridor they had found themselves in, without retaliation either, which Rissandrea considered odd.

The corridor was wide enough for only single file and the group almost tripped over each other trying to decide which order to walk in.

Tobias indicated for the group to follow him. Rissandrea cast a nervous look back to Dieter who just waved her forward impatiently. It worried her how his mood could change almost as suddenly as a lightning strike.

Before long, they came to the end of the narrow barely lit corridor and to what appeared to be a dead end.

Placing his ear to the door, the halfling heard nobody on the other side and pushed down on a lever that the others hadn’t spotted. It was coloured the same tone as the wall itself. This secret door slid open to reveal another winding corridor on a slight decline. They could all hear the chanting now but only Maestro could understand it. It was dark, tongue the language of chaos.

“Maestro, do you understand the words? What is he chanting about?” asked Dieter in a hushed tone. The group huddled together expectantly awaiting the wizard's reply.

“Oh you know. The usual ‘oh mighty Khorne’ speech, ‘accept these offerings’ that kind of thing. At least that is the gist. I can not make out the rest. Sorry.” The group nodded in understanding and drew their weapons before progressing slowly down the corridor. Even though Tordrad couldn’t understand the words being spoken he understood that chaos worshipers were here. He understood that he could be forced to kill all of them! The idea of this appealed to him somehow.

As they got near the end of the corridor Dieter stepped to the fore blocking Tordrad and Tobias. Before they could question why he had done so, a shadow appeared around the corner approaching cautiously and Dieter shoved his surgical blade into the exposed abdomen of the Brother of the Axe. A maniacal devotee of the dark lord Khorne evidently serving as a guard here.

Before a drop of blood could spill, Dieter using the leverage and angle of the blade pulled the man still skewered out of the hallway, keeping his body against the wall to offset his weight.

Another shadow appeared. This time cautiously as his comrade had made a strange sound around the corner. The guard then saw a splash of blood on the nearby wall and began to reach for his large axe. Dieter stepped in front of the red clad armoured man and casually slit his throat from ear to ear, side stepping to avoid the arterial spray as he said, “We are clear, for now.”

The group gaped at the site before them. They had all been in many battles alongside Dieter. Until now however they had not seen his medical expertise come to play in such a violent manner. “What?” he asked defensively, “We came here to do a job. Sometimes that means saving lives; sometimes it means taking them. I doubt there’s anything else between us and the exit.”

Dieter in fact knew there were three more soldiers to come before they could reach the secret door that led out of the area. He also realised how close he had come to letting rage take over. His blood was boiling hotter than was usual for him.

As they began to move again, Tordrad saw the three guards on their side of the entrance which led to the heart of this place.

Drawing his scimitar the Kislevite charged into battle without a word whilst Tobias loaded his crossbow and muttered “Well you can't always be right doctor.”

Dieter sneered and drew a throwing dagger he had taken from the skaven lair, pitching it at the guard on the right. The dagger flew through the air and sunk into the wood of the wall behind the guard. This distracted the man long enough though for Tordrad to smash his shield into his face. There was a satisfying crack as the nose broke and knocked the guard out.

Dieter rushed forward on his cane, Machete in hand ducking to avoid the bolt that sank into the knee of the guard in the centre.

“Aim a little higher next time and perhaps you’ll succeed in actually hitting me” shouted Dieter back at the halfling.

Maestro saw the third guardsman pull out a throwing axe and said aloud, “I don’t think I want you doing that!” The wizard had channelled the winds of magic around him very quickly indeed, as he focused on the axe handle and uttered the incantations necessary to wrap the weapon itself in magic overweighing it in the man’s hands. As the man attempted to throw it, it fell in a downwards ark digging in to his femoral artery. Grinning at this Dieter kicked the handle of the axe, pushing it deep enough to almost sever the limb before swiping his machete to the left where the halfling's target had been only moments prior, only to find the man cut to ribbons.

The halfling was stood above him, a grin on his face as he cockily stated, “What took you so long? That thing slows you down” gesturing to the cane.

Before Dieter could allow the spiteful thought to be born, the two of them looked over at Tordrad distracted by a loud slurping sound, as he was leaning back against the wall drinking from his flask.

Dieter looked at Tobias and smiled. The halfling almost thought he looked as if he was being nice. That couldn’t be right he thought. Dieter confirmed it and said, “Well midget freak, at least I didn’t get cut.” Dieter pointed at Tobias’s elbow which was bleeding. He hadn’t even realised, so sharp must the blade had been. He then considered if perhaps Dieter had done this to him while they were looking at Tordrad. No, surely not he decided -surely not.

The sound of fanatical chanting was loud now.

At this time elsewhere in the Temple, staff members were in the foyer now amassed at the great locked doors that led into the main hall. Worried attempts were being made to get the doors open. They would not budge though.

The group saw a small door ahead of them. It had no handle and only the slightest indication of being an opening from the slight indentation into the wall.

Dieter pushed on the door that lead out of this passage where the group stood open mouthed staring in shock at the scene before them.

A section of wall within the great hall had opened inwards straight onto an adorning thick cloth with religious symbols on it that hung on the wall. Suddenly the shape of Dieter could be seen through the cloth followed by a blade that plunged out of the holy writings near the lower side which tore across and made a hole through which the group stepped out from.

Liebnitz was standing in the centre of a group of five kneeling Brothers of the Axe, a dagger in his right hand and the brass skull, the evil item that had been the route of all this mess around his neck! They had been used all along, used to recover the skull! Rissandrea felt sick through to her stomach at this.

Liebnitz was speaking in dark tongue and raised the dagger high above his head, bringing it down straight into the heart of the man in front of him who willingly allowed his life to be taken.

Rissandrea brought a hand to her mouth and her eyes went wide, Tordrad clenched his fists and he began to shake slightly with rage, Tobias took a step backwards in shock. As Liebnitz did the act a look of disgust on his face Dieter frowned and thought about how it was such a sloppy performance, that he could have done a better job of it.

Maestro raised an eyebrow quickly calculating the expected size of the daemon from the ritual being performed, for such rituals were known to him, even if not practiced.

He considered how far he could get if he made a run for it, especially if the summoned monstrosity ate one of the others first. Of course it would be better if it was Tobias and it would be just his luck if it didn’t eat that damnable book that he was writing. On a positive note however, this would all be good material for his own book – covering the subjects of daemons and how to protect against them- he had been writing since their encounter with the portal in Altdorf.

Rissandrea was quick to point out, “Gentlemen I believe considering our opponents, that spilling their blood at this juncture would cause use more trouble in the long term. It would be wise to avoid doing that, for this is a sacrifice after all...”

“Yes we don’t want a portal opening up and Maestro utilizing another drop spell making it explode.” Dieter added much to the aforementioned wizard’s growing annoyance at this topic’s repetition once more.

“I only did that once Dieter!” Maestro jabbed his staff at the trainee physician.“But yes I agree with Rissandrea on this” continued the wizard, “Sacrificial ceremonies and blood get on just like a house on fire.”

Tobias piped up, “This is all well and good but, I don’t think your shaved ape is paying any attention to us right now”

Liebnitz in the time leading up to now had killed all but two of the Brothers of the Axe, these two remaining members saw the angered Kislevite rush forwards, his scimitar and shield at the ready, his mind set on eliminating them all.

Liebnitz pointed at them, “Destroy them, they must not interfere!”

The two men grabbed the great axes lying on the floor nearby and went to intercept them.

Dieter and Tobias also moved forward catching up with Tordrad.

Dieter snapped at the halfling, “Midget, get that damn Skull!”

Tobias rolled his eyes at Dieter’s words but knew that this was a sound plan and he moved ahead as the four men clashed with the brotherhood guards who stepped in to protect the ceremony.

As they fought, Tobias made his way around the chamber behind Liebnitz and kicked the man in the back of his knee making him fall forwards. In the confusion, the skull flew off of his neck and clattered onto the ground. The halfling gave chase to it but Liebnitz caught up with him in two large strides cutting him off.

Tordrad barely dodged to the left as one of the Brothers of the Axe made a swipe with the weapon that derived from their title, the blow coming within barely half an inch of connecting with the Kislevite’s neck.

In retaliation Tordrad lashed out with his scimitar almost severing the head of his opponent in one fell swoop. A second was not needed.

Dieter ran his opponent through with his machete, moving with remarkable speed to avoid the incoming blows.

Maestro, noticing Liebnitz had now cornered Tobias with a sacrificial dagger poised to strike spoke the lines to what was probably his most well practiced petty magic incantation – a drop spell.

The Dagger fell from Liebnitz’s grip and into the awaiting hands of the halfling who then used the faux priest of Ulrich’s knee as a step to grant him more reach and slashed at his throat. Liebnitz fell backwards blood gushing from his neck, a hand grasping at the wound in a vain attempt to stop the flow.

Rissandrea held a hand to her mouth at the carnage that took place so quickly. After a few seconds, she was able to regain her voice and asked, “Where is the skull?”

They looked around the room only to see the skull sitting in a pool of blood, an evil red glow surrounding it and growing brighter as it seemed to absorb the blood into it.

A shockwave of invisible energy hit the group making them stumble as the red light became so bright that it blinded them.

A roar echoed around the room and as the light faded, the party could see the manifested form of the daemon of the skull.

This was not just any of daemon but a daemon Prince of Khorne! A Monstrous form that exuded a threat to their lives with all of its essence. With each ominous breath it took it seemed as if it sucked oxygen out of the room, the very air they tried to breathe. Its shadow reached to the roof of the temple as the beast towered over them and screamed triumphantly at being set free.

Tordrad was first to recover as he rushed forwards. He was stopped as the daemon batted him away sending him flying into a pillar, his weapons sent scattering around it.

Tobias fared no better as he was kicked aside, an action that sent him rolling towards the famed flame of Ulrich! The very flame that had caused Archaon’s armies to invade the Empire.

The halfling’s cranium made contact with the stonework section below the flame as consciousness left him at once.

The holy flame flared as if in protest at the force of evil intruding on this holy place.

The great beast then focused its attention on Maestro, who it started to walk towards.

Maestro could see his own reflection in the daemon’s black eyes like a fly caught in a spider’s web. The wizard’s own fearful expression made him even more scared as it reminded him of how much trouble he was in.

The sound of gunfire brought Maestro to his senses as a bullet followed by a brilliant beam of light tore through the daemon’s right shoulder. The red skinned winged beast turned to look as Rissandrea held the still smoking pistol pointed directly at it, “Don’t just stand there” protested the holy woman, “Shallya heals those that help themselves.”

“Well I don’t plan on getting hurt - I don’t want to owe anyone, especially a Goddess.” came the wizard’s reply. He raised a hand, his fingers outstretched and crackling with azyr force.

After what seemed like an eternity, a concentrated bolt of lightning shot from Maestro’s hand and flew towards daemon.

As the aethyric energy lashed towards the daemon, it breathed out an oppressive plume of air so dense that it could be physically seen and the space between Maestro and the huge beast shimmered in response.

The spell began to lose its power as it travelled closer, as if the very essence of the daemon suppressed the winds of magic. This caused it to writhe in mid air. If an observer watched it in slow motion they would have seen it coil like an angered serpent before rapidly dissipating away at the edges.

A miniature crackling sound was all that could be heard and a strand no bigger than a thimble was all that reached its target. As it made contact with the creature’s cheek it fizzled away pathetically.

Maestro stood in place, arms outstretched in his casting position but also trembling slightly, “Oh… well that wasn’t helpful...”

Dieter looked at the wizard and shook his head before dashing forwards and slashing at the daemon, attempting to sever the achilles tendon on one of its feet as it began to stride towards the still standing members of the group.

Dieter dodged a fist that came at him, side-stepping to the right more nimbly than a man with his physical inconveniences should have.

Dieter counter attacked with his machete, striking into the right foot of the overly large foe. This made the daemon stumble forward seemingly losing its balance.

But suddenly it began walking properly again as if it had adjusted to the damage it had taken.

Rissandrea took another step backwards until she walked into the wall. Her shots had been doing damage, but the creature seemingly didn’t care, so strong was its life force. The holy devotee was frozen there in absolute astonishment. A roar of spite from the daemon jolted her out of her frightened dilemma and she spoke loudly to the trainee physician, “That’s impossible; no man could walk properly after that.”

Dieter replied, “Were this only a man.”

Tordrad pulled himself up. His body ached as he placed a hand on the side of his head. It hurt but he’d had hangovers worse than this, though now was not the time to be thinking of anything but the battle. One mistake could cost his client’s death – could cost his OWN death!

He shook off the blur in his vision and looked towards where he reckoned the daemon to be. A massive red shape confirmed that he was looking in the right direction.

The daemon let out a roar that seemed to goad Tordrad to attack. His anger was somehow reacting to the bestial challenge from the creature as a maddening rage rose within him - the likes of which he had not felt since he was seventeen. Something buried deep within him was responding, as if pulling on his internal chains of self control. Tordrad was determined to keep a tight hold on those chains at all costs.

One hand still remained on his head as if he was concentrating on keeping his anger at bay. His other was keeping him upright holding onto the pillar that he had been thrown into.

He punched the pillar with the same hand leaving an indentation slightly in the stonework. There was pain but he didn’t care about that right now – the pain helped him come to his senses.

Memories of what happened the last time he let himself get this angry began to trickle down into his forward consciousness, no matter how hard he tried to push them back. He could still remember the blood, the screams of the people that tried to stop him but he wondered if they too had also ended up as victims to his rage. Still these taunting thoughts echoed through his mind as if they were driving him on from some external source.

The daemon had indeed been influencing Tordrad’s mind, using his gifts of Khornite legacy to make the most hothead male in the vicinity feel the rage and desire to kill. It knew that if it made Tordrad let go of his control that he would be an easy subject to manipulate, perhaps turning him against his allies.

Tordrad again shook off the feeling that tried to seep down through his skull with an uncomfortable feeling like an unexpected rain drop down the back. He looked around at the state of his party, desperately seeking motivation enough to summon the strength required to face this monster. There he saw Tobias laying unconscious on the floor, slumped against the great flame’s base. He saw Rissandrea, against the wall wearing a look of pure fear upon her expression. He saw Dieter hiss and curse his luck. He saw Maestro was looking right towards him with a fear in his eyes and yet also a small gleam of hope, of reliance on the Kislevite’s strength - as if there was still a chance.

Tordrad took a deep breath and knew that now was not the time. He pushed his anger back down and after a couple of seconds smiled with renewed confidence as he rushed forwards into the fray.

He grabbed the spear that was stuck blade first in-between two flagstones and kept moving.

As soon as he reached the furniture he planted one foot on a chair and forced his entire body up onto the long table that ran a long way across the hall.

Bowls and cups were smashed and sent flying; cutlery bounced and bent beneath his huge feet as the Kislevite moved as fast as possible along the length of the table.

As he reached the end of the table he made a charging leap, using the momentum of his run to propel himself towards the daemon.

With both hands grasping the spear, he raised it above his head and said a prayer as he closed the gap <“Tor I beseech you, if I am to fall to this creature may I fall like a tower upon it and crush its bones so that the others may finish what I have started!”>

He slammed the head of the spear into the beast’s back, piercing the flesh and searing it as the power flowing through the weapon unleashed itself upon the daemon - causing it to writhe in pain.

Tordrad was thrown off, the spear no longer in his hands but still lodged in the creature’s back - he landed next to Maestro who had a silly grin on his face as he spoke, “Glad you could make it my man.”

Rissandrea shook off both her fear and Maestro’s nonchalant approach to the situation, “If this is the trail of my faith you have set me upon Shallya, then I fear the enormity of the task you prepare me for.”

Dieter shot back “Instead of thinking of what she needs you to do girl, try focusing on the here and now and let Maestro deal with the future sight.”

She sighed and pointed her gun at the Daemon Prince once more then pulled the trigger - only for it to not fire!

I’m becoming too caught up in this situation, I’m panicking to my detriment, thought Rissandrea as she realised she hadn’t reloaded. She looked around hurriedly for something to use as she knew her quarterstaff would probably just break against the beast’s hide. Her eyes fell upon Tobias’s crossbow still loaded with a bolt, it was however quite a distance from her and who knows what would happen to the group if she took her eyes off them for one second, but she had to risk it.

Tordrad was unarmed, but that didn’t matter to him as he had wrestled bears back in his native land and surprisingly, he was able to keep out of the creature’s way. Its slow movements made it easy to predict and adjust to attacks, each swipe of which could kill a normal man in one shot.

He was unable to hurt it by just trying to punch it but most of his weapons were scattered on the ground so he made do with what he had. He would never give up.

Dieter used the opportunity to get behind the daemon and begin slicing away at it and then moving back before it could connect a retaliatory swipe.

Rissandrea had managed to grab the crossbow and while still moving she prayed under her breath, “Oh dearest Shallya, I must ask for the help of another while we are guest in his house.” She ran around to the other side of the great flame, took aim and squeezed the trigger mechanism, propelling the bolt though the fire and out through the other side, the point of the bolt being the only part that had caught ablaze - but the way it burnt was intense, as if glowing with white heat.

Meanwhile the daemon swung an arm around, finally able to grab Dieter and threw him aside into Tordrad knocking both men over.

It then turned its attention back to Maestro who tripped over his robes as he tried to retreat backwards and realised he had nowhere to run and no one to hide behind. Blast it, he thought, if only I had been a master engineer I could have shot this thing with augmented bullets of killification! He knew that wasn’t a word, but he liked it anyway.

The beast was now towering over him, ready to deliver a final blow to the foolish mortal that dared to stand against it.

Rissandrea’s aim was spot on and as the bolt impacted squarely into the creature’s chest, cracks spread outwards from the entry point. The cracks began to glow with a holy light as the daemon let out a last roar of defiance, its corporeal form shattered and thus banishing its spirit back to the aethyr, the spear that was lodged in its back fell to the ground, the sharp pointed end landing in-between Maestros legs.

Maestro let out a sigh of relief as he stood up and dusted himself down, before smacking himself in the head with his palm, “Oh now I remember what I forgot to do, I didn’t ask for its true name!”

The sound of laughter mixed with coughing interrupted his thoughts on the matter.

“Fool… you think it to be that easy to defeat the will of the blood god?” Liebnitz chuckled as blood slowly trickled out of his mouth, “All you succeeded in doing was sending back but a fragment of my master’s true form to the heart of chaos!” a wide grin evident on his face.

The group had gathered around the dying man. Even Tobias was awake now nursing his head, “Well obviously we can’t kill a daemon like that.”

Maestro was agitated at the fact his knowledge of magic was being questioned but continued, “But get to the blasted point already I’ve had enough of your religious jabbering to last a lifetime, no offence” he spoke the last part in Rissandrea’s direction. She ignored it.

Liebnitz just laughed again causing him to cough more severely, “Then you truly don’t know of the other two relics holding the remaining fragments of his power?”

Before they could answer however he stated, “When the three are brought together, Xathrodox the Red Flayer shall return and bathe this world in the blood of the weak! Blood for the Blood God! Blood…” he never finished as his body finally gave in to the blood loss and collapsed onto the floor.

Before anyone had a chance to speak, the fire of Ulrich erupted and filled the entire room with silvery-white flames, consuming the corpses of the cultists but leaving the adventurers unharmed.

A voice resounded in their heads. It spoke, “You who have protected my Temple, spread word to others to put aside their strife as the true enemy of man is confronted. Let this mark be a sign to all.”

Moments later, a white scar had appeared on each of their right hands bearing the symbol of the white wolf holding a hammer in its forepaws. They stared in surprise at the small but impressively detailed design present on each of them.

Dieter sighed as he looked at the mark and shook his head. Oh great another bloody tattoo, he thought.