Monday, 28 February 2011

The End In Sight!

With book 4 being in the focus for me right now, I can finally see the finish line on this project. The end is truly in sight. Book 4 (Nuln) is pretty much going to wrap things for the entire story. Note I say pretty much. There may be an epilogue that deals out some interesting exposition, but you know what I mean.

I'm really looking forward to bringing the project to a close. That's not to say that I am not enjoying it. It's just that finishing it is a satisfying feeling. Doing that will allow the new hungers inside of me to properly manifest too.

Don't worry, there will be a proper ending. It's not going to let you down like Lost did. Hehe, but that's because with real nature like this - there's always the chance for a return series.

I know that this is the end run (however long it will be) because we the players at the table having wrapped things up haven't been meeting to play WHFRP for months now.

There's nothing left to do but plan for our next RPG sessions. We're going to be playing Dark Heresy by the way. Not that we plan to have THAT written up into an adventure like TFT was (and then voice recorded on youtube too...) No that certainly doesn't seem a likely thing to happen. But I will perhaps let you know how those sessions go...If I don't get tempted to start fleshing it out...writing it...

So until the final curtain draws to its close, I want to say, I hope you enjoy the rest of our story.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Their Fated Travels...Chapter 25 - To Nuln By barge Part Two

As always, you can read TFT here at -

or read it below via blogspot's line arrangement.

Their Fated Travels…

RPG Party events as told By Robert James Freemantle

Chapter 25

To Nuln By Barge – Part Two

Extract from the diary of Rissandrea:

Day 100:

I was standing on the deck admiring the view outside when something shocking came to my attention. Over on the river bank I was facing, some way ahead was a scene of slaughter. A caravan party with bodies surrounding it lay dead over the way. Many of the trees in the copse that ran along the bank were scarred and hacked, as if a group of violent minded people had passed that way. The boxes of goods they carried were fine cloth. I could see this as one of them had been busted open, revealing its contents. They had left that too.

Then the truth of the matter was revealed.

High above the barge, on an overhanging rock that jutted out from the mountainside above the river, a wild eyed bloodshot beastman peered over, watching the approaching vessel beneath. He gave a sharp hand signal and guttural command to a nearby gor, who held a rowing boat’s oar in his hand. He quickly wedged the paddle end of it underneath a large nearby boulder, with the help of two more gors pushing it with their hands.

The maddened beastman too resembled a gor, yet he looked like so much more as well. The veins beneath his skin stood up on end. He breathed heavily at all times and dried blood was clearly visible down his front and chin, originating it seemed from his mouth. He once had been a gor, but now he was something else. Tallagh Grorrv now commanded this troop, a force of beastmen he had once been an infantry fighter within. He barked a new order to the other side of the wide ledge. Fifteen ungors quickly took their positions, with bows at the ready, while the gors pushed the boulder to the very edge.

Then the troops waited for his signal.

Soon the barge was in the right location and he gave the order to open fire. The ungors shot their arrows over the edge and let gravity bring their plummet into an awful missile barrage.

Rissandrea was standing next to a marine, one of the posted guards that would attend such barges. They had been chatting about faith and life’s bigger meanings when the sky above them turned suddenly dark. They looked up just in time to see a hail of arrows come down upon them.

One arrow lodged into the collarbone of the man Rissandrea had been speaking to. Another arrow had landed close to Rissandrea – too close! It had pinned her robe to the deck, through the bottom flowing part that met the floor. She tugged at the material and it pulled free with a sharp tearing sound.

Next the Shallyan turned her attention to the injured man as the alarm began sounding. Shouts and screams could be heard already. A terrible voice carried on the wind, inciting some dark command in a language nobody present could understand…nobody conscious that was…

A dead passenger, a woman in her twenties was carried along the deck by an already grieving man. Her arrow wound bled profusely where the man had already removed it. Rissandrea looked around, trying to assess the injured and those who could be saved. The casualties were not many at least.

Suddenly a new hail of arrows came down, raining around the passengers and crew, but taking no casualties this time except for a crewman who had an arrow scrape down his cheek, making it bleed deeply.

The screaming commotion brought others from below, onto the deck to see what all the hubbub was.

The sea marines were ready, weapons in hand, shouting orders back and forth for defensive positions to be set up and maintained.

Suddenly there was a crashing sound, as a falling screaming ungor plummeted into the deck, smashing cargo and rigging with his descent. His body was crushed against the now split plank boards. This ungor had been unfortunate enough to miss twice with his bow hitting only water - giving Tallagh Grorrv all the excuse he needed to dish out what he saw as a fitting punishment for negligence in action. Again his wild cry sounded and again the arrows fired.

The captain of the vessel was looking up from his cabin, in distress, as his first mate was giving him a report of what was happening out there. The captain quickly turned the barge to the starboard and it pressed towards the bank with great power. This was a timely action, as the next hail of arrows landed soon after. Only two of them had made contact with the barge, thudding into the wood planks harmlessly.

The war gor cried in triumph at his foe doing exactly what he had wanted them to do! He gave the command at once and the gors hauled the boulder as hard as they could. They were pushing and pushing, but for some reason the boulder did not topple over the edge, simply choosing to shift weight back towards them as they stopped pushing. Tallagh was not impressed and screamed wildly at the gors who renewed their efforts suddenly. Even this fearful expression of energy on their parts was not enough to shift the huge rock.

It suddenly became clear why this was happening. An outgrowing tree had sprouted out from the mountainside and was stopping the boulder from rolling forwards properly.

Tallagh peered threateningly over the edge once more, seeing the barge was about to pass out of range for the planned arial attack. Failure was unacceptable to Tallagh. He had suffered defeats before, back when he was a normal gor, but since his new found strength of status, he knew no defeat whatsoever. He was not about to start now! The growling war gor watched the gors struggling with the root, to push the boulder around it somehow, while one of them hacked desperately at the small tree, to chop it off. Ineffective, thought Tallagh, who walked purposely up to the gors, looked at them a final time and kicked the one currently pushing the boulder at that moment – a great kick which connected with the entire bottom of his hoof. The impact was harder though than any kick had a right to be, snapping the small outcropping tree and pushing the boulder, gor and all over the edge into a plummet below.

Tordrad, Tobias, Dieter and Ulger had now joined Rissandrea on deck. Maestro was still out cold, but Rissandrea wasn’t so concerned about him. She had given the wizard a quick medical inspection earlier, under the watchful gaze of Angelique. The Shallyan had put his unconscious state down to over exertion and recent stress. He would recover well enough she knew – plus he had been left in the capable if rather large hands of the Sister of Sigmar, who stayed at the man’s bedside praying for many an hour.

On deck, Dieter looked up to see the falling boulder above. The others followed his gaze. Dieter calmly patted Ulger and stated, “If we die, we die.” before pulling his jacket up around his face to cover his head. Just then, the huge boulder landed: hitting the very edge of the barge, almost capsizing it from the force and making it rock violently.

Below deck, Angelique had ended up on top of the still unconscious Maestro, as she peered down at him and said aloud to no one in particular, “Sigmar truly works towards this union, does he not my love?”

Above on deck, the barge was still mostly intact. The boulder had pulled some of it away, but there was no breach enough to spring a leak. It had been mostly cosmetic structural damage. The boulder bobbed in the water, as if mocking them. There must have been some property within the rock, or air that kept it afloat even this long considered Dieter.

Rissandrea praised Shallya. Tordrad praised Ursan. Tobias grumbled and cursed, having been lurched backwards onto his back from the force of the blow. Ulger growled defensively at the new scent approaching from above…

Tallagh Grorrv had bounded forwards, his heart carrying his unnatural blood through his veins at an alarming rate, as he grabbed the two remaining gors and jumped over the edge, with one firmly in each hand. The two gors screamed fearfully at their unexpected descent. Their war gor leader roared with the lust of battle ahead. He could taste it coming up and he would let nothing step in its way.

Tallagh landed, his fall softened somewhat by the unfortunate gors either side of him. Their bodies broke upon contact with the boulder, but their leader who had still been gripping them had perhaps been lucky, with the equal distribution of force at his sides - and he had landed on his hooves, directly upon the boulder. Even with this small help, it was unlikely that any normal creature could survive such a jump – and thusly it was clear that Tallagh was very special indeed!

The maddened war gor let both gors slip from his grasp, into the deeps of the river below, before he bellowed a challenging war cry and leapt with all of his might. Within a blur of motion, the war gor had made the jump from the boulder that had landed behind the barge and the vessel itself. Had he waited any longer to jump, he perhaps might not have made it – although that theory was in some doubt, considered Dieter, who observed how easily the man beast had managed what was arguably a hard jump, making it look easy anyway.

The crazed creature landed, his hooves making a clud sound on the deck. He simply stood there, his huge chest moving up and down as he breathed in the battle to come. He unfastened a huge polearm from his back. Its deadly range was drastically more than the eye could behold, as a passenger attempted to run – the war gor swung the weapon outwards and struck the man through his shoulder with it. With a carefully precise yank motion, the blade tore the arm off. Gutteral screams ensued from the victim who stumbled away – satisfied with the horror, Tallagh allowed him to do so.

The crew’s onboard weapons had been unlocked to allow the marines access to them. A marine raised a handgun, aiming at the great beastman. He calmed himself and fired with a deadeye shot. The bullet did not strike its target in the way he had hoped though. The beastman swirled the weapon in front of him and there was a clanging spark sound as the bullet ricocheted off of the metal weapon head. Everyone gasped at this show of skill. Confidently Tallagh strode towards the quivering marine, who regained his senses in time to draw a sword. The weapon was quickly knocked out of his hand, even though he had struck with it. The beastman’s reflexes were on a scale beyond imagination. The marine ran from him and jumped overboard, screaming as he went!

Tordrad saw this and his face soured at this cowardice. He grabbed the only weapon at hand, a scimitar that lay nearby, and stepped forwards in determination.

Rissandrea walked behind him, ready to support as always. Lives were at stake and she would do whatever was needed to save them.

Dieter and Tobias sneaked forwards carefully, to get into flanking positions as quietly as possible.

4 weeks ago.

A bloodied copse not far from Nuln.

An Empire threat response platoon was mopping up the last beastman stragglers, of those foolish enough to run amok, attacking some of the smaller settlements in the area. This band of beastmen was only one of several running rampant across the lands, so near to the city without being picked off, especially during a militarily busy time that it was disquieting.

Still, with this battle, the chain of command was now severed from the head of the troops, for Captain Anders’s soldiers had at last found and killed the war gor in charge. His head hung from the captain’s horse already, chained up by the pierced ring that went through its entire nasal cavity.

“No wonder we won” Anders had joked, “It probably couldn’t see past that chunk of metal in its face.”

The men laughed in approval, as a release of the nervous energy that had built up in the face of battle.

Suddenly, Captain Anders became intrigued, as he saw what he had believed to be a corpse, getting back up - A beastman gor who didn’t look particularly spectacular but a little more powerful than the others of the squad around him.

Anders instinctively pegged this one as a chieftain, a unit champion. With a furious bellow, the gor commanded to the bodies about him. Several of them arose from the ground. This took the good captain by surprise, and he ran his hand along the feather in his helm as he would often do out of habit.

These were not undead. These were simply beastmen who were badly injured and would have normally laid there until either the Empire troops had gone or until the soldiers killed them, by stabbing the dead “just to be sure.” It was common for troops to be put out of a battle in this fashion, damaged sustained that the pain stops one from arising, or sometimes going in and out of consciousness while bleeding badly. But for those around the gor chieftain to arise on his command, this was something out of the ordinary. Anders glared at his intended target as it strode towards him, seemingly unaware of the head wounds it had sustained. The captain had his runner take his horse back out of the way as it was starting to spook, perhaps just from being in the presence of a true child of chaos.

The chieftain closed in on the captain, bellowing a challenging word in its bestial dark tongue. The captain drew his sword in response. The other beastmen indeed waited back to allow this fight to take place.

The chieftain picked up a bone cudgel from one of the dead of his kin and kept walking. As he did so, he threw the weapon at the captain’s face! Such an act was so unexpected that Anders almost didn’t doge the improvised projectile in time.

The chieftain, Tallagh Grorrv drew an axe. Anders was ready in-case this too was thrown at him. It wasn’t. Instead the beastman reached him and melee battle began.

This chieftain had a strong sense of battle skill, perhaps long honed over the years. His attacks were wild but with grace of balance enough to parry again from the captain’s counter attack. Already the captain’s sword had been knocked aside and he was open! The chieftain thrust the point on the weapon’s head up to take him in the gut, but Anders brought his metal clad boot across and kicked the axe against its flat part, redirecting the angle to miss him.

It was then Anders’s turn to be on the offensive. His speed was superb, forcing the gor chieftain to peddle back defensively with flurry after flurry of attacks.

Still the beastman retreated as Anders tested him from every conceivable angle. It would not be long now, the captain knew. Already he had gashed the creature to the arm twice. It was a testament to its willpower that it had not dropped its axe, for one blow had slashed right down to its hand, opening a wound between his forefinger and thumb. Gripping the axe would now be agonizing.

As the battle continued, with the human stepping forwards every few blows and the beastman retreating, a strange darkness over them from the sky was impossible to miss. As if a rainy storm were due at an accelerated unnatural rate. An explosive impacting sound off in the distance that made the ground about them tremor, not far from them, threatened to tear their attentions away from the battle they were in, but both fighters kept their enemy resolved before them. That did not stop the others of their respective groups from looking though.

Human and beastman alike, stood and gawped in shock at the smoke rising up from the site of impact two miles away. They couldn’t tell what it was, but something had fallen from the sky.

As the two adversaries fought on, a new presence in the sky above them again was impossible to miss, even though they dared give it much regard. A darkness began to grow as a large shadow formed over the two of them.

Tallagh swiped his axe in a wide arc to buy himself room and chanced a look upwards at the cause of the growing shadow. He was in disbelief at the huge chunk of green stone that plummeted towards their very position. The captain almost had Tallagh’s head off, but this time he jumped backwards just in time to avoid the fatal blow. Suddenly the beastman’s hoof struck against the body of one of his own kin and he fell over backwards with a crash – just as the warpstone meteorite hit their location, landing dead centre upon the Empire captain, who had looked up at it and smiled darkly with acceptance of his cruel fate.

As the large chunk of warpstone made contact, it killed the human outright and splintered immediately, with pieces firing off like shrapnel around it. The dust cloud and soil thrown up buried several of the fallen, both those dead and alive.

Tallagh’s rough leather armour tore open as warpstone flew at him. One particularly shard entered his body perfectly, like a needle bullet. It punctured the beastman’s heart and lay embedded there as the falling soil fell around him, burying him alive.

There he lay, for days on end, trying to dig his way out, but struggling, because the warpstone in his chest felt like it was killing him. For some reason, the wound had not been fatal. This warpstone had begun to mutate the area of its entry soon after contact. This effect had indeed resurrected the dead beastman’s heart and forced it to beat, against the will of all natural biological order.

Still Tallagh lay there, slowly digging his way out. The only food was that of his own kin, the body he had tripped over. Had that mistake in battle actually saved his life he wondered? Were he standing, what then would have happened? Was the shock perhaps lessened by him exposing less of himself to it on impact? That the body of his dead kin shielded him from much of the blast? For it had surely hit the corpse first. Whatever the reason was, he told himself that he was alive and his foe was dead. It was an intervention of the chaos Gods, he was sure. It was a sign that he had been chosen to fulfil some great deed.

The other beastmen who had been similarly struck with pieces of the foul tainted green stone had also mutated somewhat, but none of these survived. Only Tallagh would prove strong enough in body and will to dig his way out and be all the stronger for it.

4 weeks later…

Tallagh’s polearm smashed against Tordrad once more. With no armour to protect him, he was prone. Already the Kislev born warrior was bleeding in three places as Tobias and Dieter finally managed to attack. Ulger sunk his teeth into the war gor but the creature brought his other hoof up and kicked the doberman away, fracturing its face from the impact. It whined and pulled itself back up to a standing position as its master, Dieter threw a bottle of alcohol at the beastman. It impacted with a klish, harmlessly against his armour. Every attack from Dieter’s previously concealed scalpel was dodged.

Tobias let swing another stone from his sling. This time, it had hit the beastman. Again, he shook off this attack as if it were nothing and kicked Todrad hard to the chest, sending him sprawling across the deck. He cursed in his native tongue.

Rissandrea proclaimed, “I have never seen anyone do that to Tordrad! I fear this bodes ill for us all.”

Together, Ulger and Tordrad charged as Rissandrea fired redemption, the gun she carried. They had not bothered to search the Shallyan nor enquire for weapons and hence she hadn’t realised that weapons were not allowed – for it was unlike the order to carry weapons. The gun’s shot blazed out towards Tallagh, again with a tail on it like a white comet. The war gor had seen it coming though and side stepped, ducking his head under and around the bullet as the trail whizzed past him harmlessly! The soon to be priestess stared in fascinated horror. How could anyone dodge a bullet?

Ulger and Tordrad leapt at the same time, a jumping attack to bring the full momentum of their weight and gravity down upon the war gor. Tallagh did not balk at this. He placed his weapon’s handle in a horizontal position and thrust up outwards at them both. Not only was the war gor strong enough to hold the two of them in their jump, (Ulger at the neck) but his counterforce actually repelled them both backwards onto their backs, each landing with a terrific crash on the decking. Tordrad’s head had hit the board too hard and he began to lose consciousness.

Ulger was struggling to get back up. Dieter commanded the dog to stay put, telling him he was a good boy. Rissandrea rushed to Tordrad’s aid at once, pulling his eyelids open to check his pupils and whispering prayers of healing.

As another stone struck the war gor, he had decided that that was enough. He brought the handle of his weapon up and round into Dieter’s face, his movement a blur. The impact spun Dieter around to face the other way and dropped to one knee. Were any of these a threat to Tallagh, he would have made the executioner’s kill there and then. But they were not. Plus the one who had flung stones at him was on his mind foremost.

Before Tobias could load another shot, the war gor was upon him, with blinding speed. No-one they had seen had ever moved as fast as this, except perhaps on horseback. He picked the halfling up by the throat, lifting him off the ground so as to be level to level with his face.

Tobias desperately swung his hanging legs, but they were too weak to do any harm from kicking. His prised his hands around the grip of Tallagh, but this he knew, was also a futile gesture. Soon his face was beginning to turn red, as death from asphyxiation was only moments away – but just at that very same moment, the beastman, himself imbued with warpstone, recognized a trace of it in the halfling too. He was just like him. How? The confusion of this made him let Tobias go, who fell to the floor like deadweight. He was barely alive and certainly no longer conscious.

Dieter quickly ran up behind the war gor, jumped onto his back and called upon the small reserves of secretly kept illegal magic within him. A small amount of fire appeared in his hand as he brought it against the alcohol that stained the armour. It went up like a match!

Tallagh reached around and pulled the trainee doctor down and over him, as the fire blazed on the war gor’s body, burning him severely across the torso. He then held Dieter tight in a bear hug like manoeuvre until Dieter cried out in pain, as flames licked at him.

Dieter would not survive this long and this made him angry. So angry that the other, the presence almost took ahold of him again.

Dieter’s shadow shifted jaggedly, dancing up Tallagh’s body, cast unevenly against the burning flames. These same flames seemed to bother the war gor in no way, even though his skin was cooking through the armour he wore.

The shadowy hand curled up to Tallagh’s throat and there it snapped in movement, its fingers closing around the beastman’s windpipe to strangle him. This did throw the creature off of its attack. It began to struggle with the shadowy presence that strangled him, as he let go of Dieter.

Dieter’s skin was burnt up the left side, from waist up as far as his neck. He resolved that higher collars would be in good order. A strangely calm thought to have had, seeing as the pain he was in and the injury sustained should have been the things on his mind.

The warpstone shard inside the beastman’s heart had cauterized the wound when it struck – however it did something else as well. It mutated the cells of the organ itself, super enhancing it so that his heart would beat at an extraordinary rate. The heart inside the foul creature’s chest began to speed up, as abnormal amounts of adrenaline surged into his system. His gift was at last kicking up into a new gear – this time to compensate for the oddly paranormal attack the small curly haired human had brought upon him.

Everything around Tallagh moved slower than it ought to. He recognized this effect as beneficial. It wasn’t that the world was moving slower. He was moving faster! His eyes were perceiving input at an accelerated rate.

The presence that strangled him, cut off his windpipe. With an almost supernatural blurring shift of movement, Tallagh Grorrv moved out of the shadowy grip and roared at it with commanding presence. The blast of this sent it backwards flying into Dieter at once. This knocked the would be doctor onto his back and sent him sliding across the ship. The shock of the other’s presence so forcibly taken into him, brought Dieter low, making him convulse on the ground. Rissandrea looked about her, seeing that there was nothing she could do against the monster – with her team mates down. She could only try to save them in any way she could, but she feared that the dreaded beast man would not let her.

There was a terrific crashing sound as doors flung upon further back on the barge. Then very heavy quickened footsteps could be heard approaching.

A woman’s voice called out, “Beast! You shall face the wrath of Sigmar.”

Angelique Rosemead appeared at the front of the deck, bearing a great two handed hammer and pointed it towards Tallagh in challenge. She looked around at the casualties already suffered and saw again the beastman’s speed as he threw a charging marine over his shoulder and into the water, with but one hand.

“It ends here!” cried the plump woman as she ran towards the war gor with the hammer she had broken free from the weapons locker. The great weapon glowed with a bright intensity. A holy radiance could be felt from it and this made the beast man roar, as if in mental pain at its proximity. His skin began to darken in reaction to the presence, as if he was mutating once again. His fur was also changing, turning a bluer shade of colour.

The war gor waited, his long pole arm in a counter attack stance as Angelique neared him.

Just as Tallagh was ready to avoid the blow, the sister of Sigmar cut short her downward swing, bringing the massive hammer down against the deck between them as she cried out a prayer of strength to her God. She concentrated with all of her strength as a powerful zeal enlightened her muscles to a supernatural level.

When the hammer struck the wooden deck, it cracked from impact as planned – a huge gaping hole that shattered downwards to the water below as the holy infused energy connected to the weapon gave it a further mass charge of shock wave, finally released.

They were very near the end of the barge and the beastman had nowhere to go as the impact created fast splits across the whole deck and down the entire vessel.

Without warning, the entire end of the barge gave way and fell into the water with a large splash that sent water up over their heads, covering the entire barge.

Tallagh could not be seen amidst the wreckage in the water but Angelique was taking no chances. She looked back towards the captain’s bridge cabin at the other end and saw him looking back up the barge in concern. She took a deep breath and shouted a command at the top of her powerful lungs, “Captain, get away! Full speed ahead!”

The captain did not have to be told twice and within moments, the vessel was pulling away at its top speed.

Rissandrea continued to heal those who had fallen in battle as they pulled away from the place of the wreckage and all was still…

((Don’t forget to vote in your favourite character poll for this series. You can vote at fanfiction’s website via this URL -

Via warseer forum’s stories section of the site

Or through the following warhammer fantasy forums in their offtopic sections:

Da Warpath

The Herdstone

Bugman’s Brewery

Chamber of the Everchosen

The Daemonic Legion

Thanks for the support. Poll entry results amassed together will be listed here at the end of this story series. ))

Friday, 25 February 2011

Their Fated Travels...Chapter 24 - To Nuln By Barge Part One

You can read the chapter at here -

or below via blogspot's manner of ordering after a copy and paste -

((Don’t forget to vote in your favourite character poll for this series. You can vote at fanfiction’s website via this URL -

Via warseer forum’s stories section of the site

Or through the following warhammer fantasy forums in their offtopic sections:

Da Warpath

The Herdstone

Bugman’s Brewery

Chamber of the Everchosen

The Daemonic Legion

Thanks for the support. Poll entry results amassed together will be listed here at the end of this story series. ))

Their Fated Travels…

RPG Party events as told By Robert James Freemantle

Chapter 24

To Nuln By Barge – Part One

On their way back to Altdorf, the group had several questions to ask.

From the diary of Maestro:

Day 88:

I’m wondering now why we didn’t see a peep of that Anastasia girl during the skaven battle…I wonder where she was? Not that the authorities that be will even admit that there was a skaven battle, regardless of how much we tell them. The officials of the Empire have decided to keep the underfolk as mere myth and mystery. Something to scare the children into behaving themselves. From what I could understand of the officials I have conversed with and the study I have made, the greatest threat to mankind is the race of skaven. Though they are apparently too taken up with in-fighting and backbiting politics to properly unify enough to set upon mankind in a jointed effort. Were they to do so, it is considered highly likely that they would overcome us. If we knew for a fact that the underfolk truly did exist then we would fear them. Fear them for the bogey-men they are! We would attack and drive into their rat holds in great numbers. We would bring the fighting to them, for the first time in history and they would react by doing something that hasn’t be done in history – unify out of self preservation. That would be very bad for us…

Oh well, we’ll have to just let them carry on believing the myth and the lies. We’ll say it was merely beastmen that attacked us. It saves time and paperwork that way!

From the diary of Tobias:

Day 88:

Maestro was quite disturbed. He’s quite disturbed generally, but on this occasion it was Anastasia. Somehow she and our driver Samuel had gone missing. He brought this concern to me and I was able to explain what was going on. I am experienced enough at seeing other casters to understand what magic is in play here. Anastasia uses the ice magic lore that can be found in the Kislev people. Their raw magical power is channelled not from the eight winds like Empire wizards, but from the ley lines that permeate the lands. I observed that though she doesn’t understand how to weave magical words or willingly cast a spell, the girl can cast spells with her auto-reflexes. Just by wanting to protect herself from the skaven attack, she unknowingly weaved a shield of ice around both herself and Samuel. What made this all the more complex of course was the further genius behind it! The bending of the ice refracted light in such a way as to create a mirror of nothingness there to the air about it. For all purposes, the girl disappeared before us. I was the only one to have witnessed it.

It’s lucky for the group that they have me along with them. A scholar of such masterful understanding. The buffoon Maestro wouldn’t be where he was today without me.

Extract from the diary of Tordrad:

Day 88:

I have no idea what happened in the big fight. One moment I am fighting with three black cowled rat men – the next I am being pulled backwards by some force, through a hazy place that made no sense. It makes my stomach want to heave again just from remembering it.

From the diary of Tobias:

Day 88:

Ah and of course there is then the matter of Dieter! Oh dear. I saw it…I saw something that again no one else saw. I wonder why I am the only perceptive one amongst this group? Something changed in the man. Something was wrong with him. We need to be careful, to keep an eye on him. I am starting to think that he is not being honest with us about his past. If no one else will, I at least will try to observe him.

Extract from the diary of Rissandrea:

Day 94:

We arrived back in Altdorf safe enough.

It turns out that we have a second reason for going to Nuln now anyway. We have received new intelligence suggesting that the location of the final shard will be Nuln. I don’t have to feel so guilty about pressing the party in that direction now.

From the diary of Tobias:

Day 96:

We have used our contact in the Amethyst College, the lady wizard Gabrielle to aid us in the next leg of the journey. She has granted us access to a barge she was travelling on – ‘The Emperor Wilheim’. As long as we go to the Countess of Nuln’s masquerade ball as her entourage once we get there. Maestro wasn’t very keen at the thought of potentially meeting Countess Emmanuelle of Nuln herself. He has heard of her rather…hot blooded reputation for males that visit within her hospitality.

Extract from the diary of Tordrad:

Day 98:

Oh wonderful. We travel by barge once more. They serve us lobster. It just had to be lobster didn’t it? I wonder how long this time before wizard make himself sick? The bloated nincompoop, like all men of this Empire.

Extract from the diary of Maestro:

Day 100:

Of all the places I had to meet that woman, it just had to be while I was trapped on a barge unable to escape. I have to admit though, I was and am rather tempted to jump overboard and risk my chances swimming the rest of the way…

Maestro was stood upon the deck, taking one of his quick lung-fulls of air before he’d disappear back down below, like always. He couldn’t put his finger on it, but something had felt wrong about being up on deck. Something that his future warning senses had nudged in on. He looked around warily and still couldn’t figure out what it could be.

Meanwhile, on an upper part of the barge, high atop on the roof of the driver’s cabin, sat a rounded large figure of a woman, knelt on her knees in keen observation of a certain ragged and worried looking wizard below her. Her overzealous eye looked massive in the unrealistic lens of the telescope she looked through – however, when she opened her other eye, it too was just as large! Now she watched the man, as if he were her prey and she a huntress in the wild.

Maestro had adjusted his monocular, the implement he wore upon one of his spectacle lenses. He had felt something awry, as if he was being watched. Again he adjusted the monocular in the direction his mystical senses drew him to and he saw nothing – nothing but a blur of brown. He then realised that he was zoomed too far in – on some wooden decking. With a quick sharp little twist the viewfinder snapped back to reveal the entire lens filled up with a face! An image of a burly round faced woman who was looking back at him! She had a sadistic looking lustful smile on her face. Her smile was wide and revealed her mix of real and wooden teeth. The large wart under her eye had blue veins going through it, the same colour of blue as her own eyes, almost giving the impression that she was growing a third eye too. This was of course just Maestro’s way of seeing things and in no way an indicator of mutation – especially given the fact that the woman who glared longingly at him, who jumped and clinged onto a rope then swung down towards him crying out in a shrill cry of adventurous glee was a Sister of Sigmar – a Sigmarite Nun! Worse still he knew her. This woman, he knew from Altdorf. This woman was besotted with him. He had lost count of how many times she had tried to win him over…an admirer wasn’t such a bad thing as he saw it, even though he wasn’t interested – it was just how forceful she was about it.

Sister Angelique Rosemead had landed on the deck as a creaking strain poured out of the floorboards below her. She started speaking, “Oh my Maesty-ro, I have not stopped thinking about you. I waited with baited breath for when I would next see you my wuffy puffy.”

It was all the wizard could do to not let a panic attack come on. He steadied himself against some rigging and concentrated on the sensation of the rope and the way it hurt his hand the harder he clenched it.

Maestro looked around him with a shudder and said, “I’m just glad the others didn’t hear that.”

“Yes you are right” answered the overly enthusiastic brawny nun, “we should be alone together, to catch up on the past…and the future…”

Maestro spluttered and almost choked on just spittle alone before replying, “Oh no, I’m fine being up here thankyou sister.”

“Oh come now” came the nun’s reply, “you don’t have to be so formal with me! Call me Angelique. I like it when you say my name.”

Maestro replied, “Oh well in that case then, I would hate to disrespect your order and faith to Sigmar, sister.”

Angelique frowned at this. Then her jovial smile returned to her plump features as she enquired, “So what brings you aboard the Wilheim my sweet?”

Maestro sighed and answered, “We’re being roped into more service for others. All in the name of progressing, of getting better. You’d think I would have a control over where I’m going but fate or whatever it is just keeps pushing me in a particular direction.”

Angelique took Maestro’s hand in hers and seemed oblivious to the fact that it made the wizard squirm as she replied, “You cannot fight destiny, Maestro. What is meant to be…is meant to be…”

Maestro tried freeing his hand but it was no good – her grip was too tight. He simply considered that he was lucky to at least be a celestial wizard, in the most prime of positions to question and change fate if anyone ever was! It hadn’t saved him from this though, he considered…

Quickly changing the subject, Maestro asked Angelique, “And sister, what brings you toward Nuln?”

“Sigmar guides us in his own way my fluffy bunny. I am to attend Lady Emmanuelle’s fancy dress ball on a secret mission to uproot a possible chaos cultist amongst her bodyguard detail. So you can see, it was Sigmar who guided me to you.”

Maestro almost stupidly made the mistake of saying that he too would be in attendance at the ball and then stopped himself, realising what a mistake that would have been. It would have also further given Angelique ammunition towards her crazy theories of divine match-making between them. Suddenly a panicked feeling arose in him, that she would see him at the ball anyway. Then he realised that they would be wearing masks. All would be well then, he considered.

“Maestro’s hand was starting to throb now, in the grip of the nun. He asked, “Erm, could I have my hand back please?” and gave it a futile tug, before adding, “It’s starting to hurt, you see.”

“Oh poor little man.” Came the woman’s reply, “of course. Let me kiss it better for you.” And she began to do just that, even though the wizard strained in her profoundly powerful grip.

Maestro was scared of this woman, he hated to admit it, but it was the truth. Come to that, he was scared of most women. Angelique then oddly made a point of this in her next question, “My darling. Why do you play so hard to get? Why can we not just be together like we are supposed to? Why keep up this lie? This façade?”

Maestro winced at her forwardness. He had gotten used to living a life free of this woman and he didn’t much like the reminder of being back in it. He realised that if he told the woman that she wasn’t attractive to him, it might anger her in some way. He wouldn’t be able to defend himself either, because no spells or weapons were allowed to be used on the barge…Even with her bare hands, Maestro fancied the woman could kill him in seconds. He devised a new strategy – one that was not a lie – and with it he replied, “Look, I’ve told you before about my dooming? The warning curse. I had my stones read by an expert in this and I carry with me a dooming. Women. Women shall be my downfall it said. The further I am from women, the better it is for me, you see? If you believe so much in fate, and in my well-being, you will understand surely that this is for my best interests.”

The nun considered this for a few moments, a serious look across her features. To Maestro’s sorrow her confident smile suddenly returned again and she replied, “And it may be true, with any other woman. You were right to steer away from those other harlots and strumpets, my love. I think you are right. You are cursed by women. But let me ask you a question my wizzly wizardy woo-woo…”

The nun was oblivious to Maestro’s eye spasm as it twitched violently in protest to her wording. She simply continued, “The first place we met was when I was on a mission to your College? Do you remember that day?” Maestro solemnly nodded his head as she continued, “then we met after that, at the church of Sigmar, going to and fro and sometimes on official business? For blessed Sigmar’s church is only across the road from your College. Each and every time we meet, including now I am on official business for the church or am in the vicinity of the church building itself. Therefore, our meeting is guided by Sigmar – and in that regard it must be safe. Therefore, were you to fight against it Maestro, do you know what that would be?”

Maestro gulped and blinked his eyes once before quickly shaking his head, fearfully at what the crazed woman was about to say.

Angelique continued, “It would be blasphemy against HIM. You do not wish to blaspheme against Sigmar do you?”

Maestro could see nothing he could say that would get him out of this pickle. His heart beat anxiously in his chest. His head throbbed terribly with stress and then suddenly, he fainted. He would not wake for a very long time indeed. Dreams of doom and women, women and doom and blue veined warts garlanded his nightmarish slumber. He felt trapped within it, as if he might be sleeping for a thousand years. With Angelique waiting for him outside of that reality, he preferred it that way…

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

News On Book 4 - Nuln

With book 3 'Return To Altdorf' completed now (in both written and spoken word foms) my mind turns towards book 4, which will be chapter 24 of Their Fated Travels...
Oh and what travels they have been. When I think back to the gaming sessions that created these happenings, a fond feeling swells within me. These characters together like this are like old friends, let alone the players who play them!

Look out for book 4 'Nuln' - coming soon!

Oh and I should just mention, it would seem that YouTube has granted me the power to upload videos longer in length than 15 minutes. I think this may mean that I could contain whole chapters in single videos now...if this is the case, I shall attempt to do that. Bear in mind though that the YouTube upload space limit remains as 2GB per video - so regardless of how long it is, there's going to be a cap...

Their Fated Travels...Ch23 Part 5 (Spoken Word Version)

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Their Fated Travels...Ch23 Part 3 (Spoken Word Version)

Their Fated Travels...Ch23 Part 2 (Spoken Word Version)

Facebook Page Shutdown & Update On Releases

I have decided that I dislike facebook to the degree that I don't want to be a part of it anymore. This unfortunately means that Duz Andy Know?'s facebook page will also close. But quite honestly, if you haven't seen the videos on youtube yet, then there's not much more I can do. Anyone wanting to keep up should of course sub the series via Youtube itself. You can still get your Andy related updates on here as well, of course.

As for the "days are numbered" post I made - yes I can certainly see a conclusion on the horizon still. I'm not a mug after all - I won't keep making videos if youtube won't give better public access to new unknown creative content. Many people are indeed complaining about Youtube's commercialism of late - and how restrictive it even is to see updates for videos that you're subscribed to! Gosh!

I am planning on making some more DAK episodes, even though there hasn't been a release in a little while. This isn't helped of course by the fact that arranging a filming session with Andy is about as difficult as nailing jelly to a tree. He's a slippery snake of a customer, that one. I might even make an episode about that very thing...hmmm...
Again though, I emplore those who are interested in the concept of the show: Please submit fresh ideas for content. If I like it, I'll use it. You will have the intrigue and pride of seeing your idea on screen as well.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Their Fated Travels...Chapter 23 - The Skaven Attack

Read it at here -

or below in the way the blog formats the words with spacing etc.

Their Fated Travels…

RPG Party events as told By Robert James Freemantle

Chapter 23

The Skaven Attack!

150 years ago:

The Celestial College:

The seer council stared in horror and fascination at what they jointly foresaw would happen next to the group. Surely…surely this would be the death of them – they all agreed. All except one: Seer Magister Viez.

150 years later:

The present:

They had left the cities of Middenheim and then later - Altdorf behind them. They had presented only danger and mayhem. They were starting to feel collectively as if anywhere they might go would be fraught with risk to their safety - that somehow fate was trying to kill them. Little did they realise that in some ways, “fate” was against them. There were after all, powerful forces who were bound by contract of conditional payment of their deaths before they could get what they wanted – namely Morr. Dieter privately wondered if Morr’s agents would be seeking them out, to speed up the process of “the contract”. He wouldn’t have put it past them.

They indeed concluded that fate had been waiting for them in ambush at Middenheim and it was a wonder that no one ended up dead. Then they were drawn back to Altdorf again where more problems had befallen them. But again, they didn’t realise that by leaving by a remote route now, by running from fate they were heading into a danger far greater than anything they had faced so far!

It was almost certain that Morr was watching their progress and what was coming. If Shallya was also observing their progress right about now, she would have been putting her hands across her face and saying, “I can’t watch.”

“Oh crap” started Tobias as he observed the carnage around them. Though he was only meant to be a formal observer to the party, things had changed a little when Maestro had been granted his full magister’s licence. Tobias was now present on a semi formal basis, present to record some great deed that the Supreme Lord Patriarch had foreseen to come. His rules of actual party relations engagement had been slackened somewhat now. After all, with each night time that arrived, his thief self had broken all of those rules anyway. He had developed an actual admiration for Maestro now. He couldn’t believe that the wizard had come this far in so short a time.

They had taken a coach south from the city and it had ridden them quickly through much of the nearby forest, not far from the forest’s edge. Their destination was Nuln, the once capital of the Empire. The place where Rissandrea had been born. It was time for her to visit that place once more. Maestro had agreed to go too, because it meant the tricky matter of him taking on an apprentice wouldn’t come about if he wasn’t around in the College…

Their driver had received word from military sources that roaming bands of Beastmen had been seen on the roads that led directly south easterly towards Nuln. The driver had therefore decided to press directly south instead and when he had gone suitably far enough off of the orthodox route, he would cut directly east instead. Of course this made him happy as well because it meant the fare would be higher too.

The coach had rolled over a bump in the road which had turned out to be a body of an Empire Soldier. His uniform was too badly torn, his body and armour too disfigured to ascertain the livery’s origin. They had ridden on, only to come upon a section of the road that was covered in bodies. The further along the road they went, the more bodies they saw. They could tell from what little was left of the heavily disfigured men, that they were mixed units from a number of different armed companies around the Empire.

Tobias reminded the group that he had heard of some soldiers being posted as a guard on areas of importance even as far south as this. There was always the risk of a regrouped invasion forming and these men were the rearguard in place in case it did. They were out of Middenland now but even Reikland’s northern side had become destabilised from the war. In fact, one of the biggest threats to the area was the fearful people. When people were scared they did silly things. They would get paranoid with each other, unable to discern enemy from friend. These soldiers were also dealing with such problems as these.

The coach simply had to stop because the amount of bodies in the way made it impossible to pass. They would now have the unpleasant job of moving them out of the way first. The coach driver Samuel was already regretting accepting a job from the so called “heroes” of Middenheim and Altdorf. He told his manager that it would probably mean trouble for him, seeing as how much trouble they had gotten themselves into during just their short visit alone. The manager had been unsympathetic to Samuel’s concerns. He knew that his manager didn’t like him anyway. That was probably why he had been assigned the task of transporting this seemingly ill-fated group.

If there had been some sort of Old World transporters union then they might have passed a collective law banning the group from travel. Lucky for them, there wasn’t.

“What could have done this I wonder? Gosh I hope we’re not in danger” speculated Maestro. Rissandrea was a little disturbed by the wizard’s unfeeling tone. It wasn’t just this time she considered, Maestro would often react to atrocious things far more casually than she would expect a wizard to. After all, he wasn’t used to being up to his elbows in enemy intestines like Tordrad or Dieter were, yet he was so blasé even about things that would surprise the other two. She noticed that Maestro had no reaction to the scared orphans they had met on their way to Middenheim. He had felt nothing of their companions deaths along the way, those such as Father Odo. She had noticed Maestro’s lack of emotional regard for so many things, except his own safety. She wondered if he might perhaps have some sociopathic tendencies or an undiagnosed disorder. It wouldn’t be too hard to imagine – most wizards had something wrong with them, she had noticed. She could recall at least twice having to lay her hands upon the man’s head and recite calming blessings when his spells had backlashed badly on him, like a gust catching a match’s flame and burning one’s fingers – but on a far greater level, threatening his very sanity perhaps. Then there was his discomfort around women as well…he did indeed have a number of unresolved issues, she determined thoughtfully.

“Perhaps a beastman attack?” wondered Dieter aloud.

Tobias snootily replied, “That is unlikely, Death”

“De’ath!” corrected Dieter angrily, “If you keep calling me that, I’ll end up tying your tongue around a tree branch until you say it right.”

Rissandrea noticed how Dieter carried his darkness on his sleeve, but the more she tried to think about it, the harder it was for her to concentrate. That bothered her too.

Tobias continued in his snobbish manner, “These people have been eaten right here and now. Beastmen would at least take them to their camp and consume them there.” With that the halfling wiped his sweating forehead stressfully knowing he was perhaps close to extreme danger. As always, the halfling in the day time had a good temper for taking threats from Dieter. His night time self was a little more impatient however.

Rissandrea considered Tobias’s mental state each night. This perhaps concerned her more than any of the others. She saw it as her duty to get to the bottom of his problem too.

Dieter shrugged, “Perhaps they were starved followers of Khorne who didn’t just stop at a blood fix.”

Rissandrea formed the mark of Shallya in the air at the mention of ‘Khorne’.

Tordrad slightly squinted his left eye and curled his lip on that same side while looking at the state of the bodies around them. His keenly honed battle senses warned him that here had been the site of a great battle. <“We are all in great danger standing here, fools.”> he said in his Kislevite tongue and gave up trying to make them understand.

“Besides” continued Tobias, “you’ll notice the bones have not been cracked to get at the marrow as beastmen or orcs would do. Something has feasted, but in a hurry.”

Only Tordrad and Dieter did not hold their noses from the stench of decay around them. The coach driver went as far as to vomit for a third time, just to attest to the horrific surroundings that faced them.

Fourteen minutes later, they had moved all of the bodies aside. The coach driver rode on with a handkerchief still firmly across his face like a bandit might were he to rob this very coach.

They continued on the road, still passing bodies as they went but they were more thinly placed around them. In some cases they were thinly spaced because their limbs were apart from the torsos, but still they all had one visual factor in common – they had all been grossly mutilated in some way. Many were stripped to the bone.

Within seconds the road took a steep uphill slant. They could see the presence of more bodies at the top and the fearful feeling inside them, the terrible consideration of dread at how bad a mistake coming this way had been finally dawned on all of them.

A live soldier dragged himself to the top of the hill from the far side. His legs were missing from the knee down on his right and from the upper thigh on his left. He began rolling downhill. Maestro noted that it seemed almost comical, like the various slapstick plays he had seen in his youth but decided that he had better not say so publicly.

The coach halted at the bottom of the hill so as to not run him over.

As the party hurriedly got out, ready to rush towards him in a gesture of futility, the grievously wounded man reached a desperate bloodied hand towards them, bringing up red foam from his mouth as he did so then collapsed completely, face down.

Rissandrea’s face turned to stone - a permanent frown of mental grieving as if he had been a relation to her. At that moment in time, Tobias reckoned that she looked every bit like the mournful statues of Shallya herself. The truth was that those of the Shallyan order were more outward with their feelings; they were more emotional over the suffering of innocents.

As Rissandrea put her two palms to the man’s chest Dieter asked, “Can you save him?”

Rissandrea responded, “Were I to revive him somehow he would only suffer a few moments more before dying again, perhaps more painfully this time” Her face contorted in sorrow. It worsened as Dieter spoke, “His pain is of little importance. He can tell us what happened here.”

Rissandrea looked at Dieter in horror, momentarily her eyes regarded him as if he were the Everchosen of chaos standing in front of her at that moment in time, or perhaps some sort of terrible daemon. As her mind started to race, his smile somehow then had a calming effect on her and she started to forget how that original thought had come about. She thought more logically about it for a moment and replied when Dieter impatiently gestured with his hand for a required answer.

Rissandrea stated, “He has passed too far through the gates of death. For me to interfere now would be an affront to Morr himself. I would not seek to upset the higher powers.”

Dieter’s face flushed with embarrassment at this comment. Relax he told himself, she doesn’t know what you’ve done, but he let the issue go as it was with a respectful bow of his head.

Ulger smelled a patch of blood on the ground and lapped at it wistfully. Tobias looked at the dog and thought to himself how there seemed to be something wrong with it - some darkness about it somehow.

As the group reached the top of the hill on foot and the coach driver staggered along a few paces behind them huffing and puffing as he went, they saw a new carnage that made the previous find look tame. Before them now was the site of the true battle it seemed. This time there were so many bodies in the way that stretched further up the road that trying to clear the blockage might keep them here until nightfall. As the coach driver Samuel reached the top of the hill beside them, he stared for a second, his eyes bulged and he gagged, raising a finger to the others to indicate that his vomit had been a false alarm, that he was on top of the situation. Suddenly he threw up.

Maestro stepped his foot out of the contents of the man’s stomach and said, “Well that’s charming.” He was seemingly oblivious to his surroundings.

These bodies too were in a state of disarray, being mutilated like the others down the hill..

Dieter frowned and spoke cold and clinically, “The corpses have not been here for long. The blood is not dry everywhere yet. It looks like some wild creatures have eaten them.” Tobias replied, “But Death, no pack of animals would ever be large enough to consume so much, so widespread in so little time.”

Dieter snarled, “It’s De’ath you pompous fool and no it couldn’t have been a normal pack of animals, such as wolves. But I can tell you this much. The beastmen were indeed here.”

Dieter pointed at a nearby corpse. There they saw a dead beastman. As their view went wider, they saw more of the foul chaos children, littering the streets but most them had died in the fields of barley that faced onto the road.

“So there has been a battle between the two” said Maestro.

“Indeed” replied Dieter, “and the beastmen were heavily outnumbered. But the beastmen did not eat these men. Look.”

Dieter had walked over to a beastman corpse and pointed to it. As they got closer they saw that it too had been eaten similarly.

Rissandrea had never been surrounded by so much death. She stared in dismay at the loss of life, considering the pain and suffering wrought here.

Maestro’s expression became panicked, “If something has killed or eaten them both then you can guarantee we would fit the bill for a tasty snack.”

Tobias jokingly remarked, “Yes and if they ate you Maestro, your staff would make a handy toothpick for afterwards.”

Maestro glared at the halfling, “Oh really? Well at least they wouldn’t be drawing for the shortest straw of who gets to eat me, unlike you.”

Tobias spluttered, “I’ll have you know I have lots of meat on me! I eat good food and the fat would be tasty I…” then he commented, “…and why are we arguing about this?”

Tordrad had gotten the gist of the conversation and commented in his native tongue, <“Over my dead body will they eat you, wizard.”> Then Tordrad realised what he had said and felt disgusted with himself. It depressed him to have to say that. He commented as an after thought, <“But they can eat halfling all they want. I might eat him as snack yet! He so small. But perhaps there be good fight for me soon! Yes?”>

Maestro and Tobias simply stared at Tordrad as they saw him mutter something in Kislevian, laugh and take a swig of vodka. Tobias reckoned that Tordrad was definitely an alcoholic. Maestro smiled politely and said, “Yes Tordrad, I do indeed deem this area too unsafe to remain in any longer. Whatever did this might return.”

“We can’t continue in me coach though guv” said Samuel. He looked pathetic with a little vomit on his collar, “it’d never get over all the bodies. The only way round is through the field and as ye can plainly see it’s filled with beastmen bodies. We’d end up losing a wheel on a horn or something.”

Rissandrea had finally finished administering prayers for the bodies around her. She frowned with exhaustion and said, “As much as it feels inadvisable, I think we need to move onwards, on foot and quickly at that.”

So it was decided. Together they walked down the pathway, keeping just inside the forest so they could take cover by the massive trees here if need be.

Dieter stretched his mind out, as if connecting with the land itself. Something aethyric blazed inside him and suddenly he could feel vibration through the soles of his feet. He didn’t even know how because he had cast no spell, knowingly. Through the vibrations he could feel the party that walked beside him, yet there was something else. Further back – much further back behind them were lots of vibrations. He recognized the vibrations of two feet of a person walking, for the group with him set the norm, yet something felt different about the vibrations he felt some way away. He was sensing two feet in a normal stepping formation, yet there was an extra property connecting with the ground too, a sort of banging scraping. Perhaps a body being dragged behind someone, he thought. This feeling was multiplied by many however. He also perceived the vibrations of four feet too. He remained quiet about all of this.

Soon they could smell fire. The further south they went the stronger it became. They soon determined that its source lay somewhere deeper into the forest but not far. They came to a decision to head in and check it out. They would only look. Dieter and Ulger took the frontal position and walked far ahead of the others as he scouted, almost out of sight.

After eight minutes of walking they could see he had stopped and crouched beside some shrubbery to view something. They were finally catching up when he waved them to him and he stepped onwards confidently. As the others emerged they saw a hamlet, a tiny area of three houses surrounded by trees. Tobias commented aloud that there was no such place on the map. Rissandrea put forward that perhaps the map makers didn’t feel three houses important enough to list. “In theory then” said Maestro, “if this place doesn’t officially exist it should be safe.”

“Hah” said Dieter sardonically as he nodded towards the scene unfolding ahead in the forest clearing that served as the hamlet’s village square. In the square, a burning pyre had been prepared and four men were harassing a young woman. They had encircled her, leaving her no way of escape. They laughed amongst themselves at her torment.

Maestro commented, “Unbelievable, what is it with these people? Keep trying to burn everyone?” But his tone didn’t indicate that he wanted to try and stop it. Everyone assumed he did though and they moved forwards. Maestro didn’t want to be left behind so he pressed on as well.

The four men and the young woman were on a raised stone square shaped platform that had two sets of steps that ran a short way up to it.

Maestro had appeared behind one of the men, looking over his shoulder with interest. “Gosh” he started, “is this a private meeting or is anyone invited? Where’s the buffet?”

The men mostly ignored Maestro except for one who answered him, “We are going to burn this witch. We thought she was one of us, normal and decent, but then she changed. Then she became a magical freak. We can’t leave her to become a witch.”

Seeing Maestro’s surprise the man added, “It’s for all of our sakes, it’s a matter of public safety.”

Dieter stepped forward suddenly and barged in between the men, “You’re damned right it’s a matter of public safety. If you try and burn that young woman none of you will be safe…understand?”

The men paused at this but still kept their composure, even when they spotted the rest of the party walking up the steps. Tordrad’s visor was still down so they missed out on the expression on his face, for he recognized an element of his own people in the girl who he estimated to be around seventeen. Perhaps she is Kislevian, he wondered.

Maestro focused on his witchsight and was able to see the magical aura around the young girl. By all accounts her powers had just broken out and these men were persecuting her. Something seemed different about the energies around her body however, something that Maestro had never seen before. Ice! It looked just like small icicles falling off of her body.

Rissandrea stepped forward and spoke, “Gentlemen, though you are deprived of the learning and laws of the big cities, you must try to comprehend – those who are found to be magically gifted are shown the way into the colleges of magic. They are given a chance to avoid hedge wizardry and serve the Empire.”

“Indeed” butted in Tobias, “As was authorized by the elves two centuries ago in the time of Emperor Magnus the Pious. They allowed humans to practice magic in safer ways, where colleges were founded, as they mentored the Empire’s fledgling years of a new age.”

“Too man fancy filled words” said one man.

“Bah, we don’t care what any scrawny elves said” boasted another of the men, “that load of stuck up tight lipped plonkers. Look, this ain’t the city.”

Maestro bit his lip to stop himself agreeing with them on their last point about the elves…It was fine he reasoned, the elves felt the same way about him too.

Tordrad flexed his fingers and limbered his body up for a fight. Even this did not put the men off.

Rissandrea came back at them, “The Empire military is having to divert previous forces to policing the rural areas just so that this sort of thing doesn’t happen. What are they wasting their resources for if you would simply take the law into your own hands?”

One of the men seemed persuaded by this; it was clear on his face but not the others.

Maestro looked carefully at the young girl and squinted one eye as he asked, “You don’t have a particular love of engineering do you?”

The young lady looked at him confused. Maestro elaborated, “You know, spanners, wrenches, oil, gunpowder, wires, flux, cogs, things exploding and nearly blowing your eyebrows off - this sort of thing?”

The girl looked at him in a shocked manner, momentarily considering the wizard more warily than the men who were threatening her, then quickly shook her head to indicate no.

“Ah good” answered Maestro, “Very good. Well in that case young lady, I am to see you are trained by the colleges of magic!” Maestro waved a finger in an upwards spiral into the air, full of self importance. Tobias shook his head in consideration of Maestro’s foolish reasoning for his point. Maestro was used to seeing people do this so paid it no mind – he simply continued, “I am now a master wizard of my order. I have the power to introduce you to the collegiate. I have the power to train you myself even!”

The men became interested in Maestro at last, looking him from toe to head as if looking at him for the first time. One said, “Ah, so you’re a no good trouble making wizard are you? I can believe it. You look the part.”

“Thank you” replied Maestro.

Tobias rolled his eyes at how right the men’s description actually was, even though they were trying to be offensive.

“Not much of one though” came another of the men, “he don’t look like much.”

“True enough” agreed another of the men, “after we’ve done with this girl, you’ll be next on the pyre if you don’t leave, wizard!”

The men laughed and scoffed at the skinny frame of the man standing in front of them.

A look of stern concentration came across Maestro’s face. The winds of magic pulled and swirled around him like a vortex of power. Winds began to kick up around the men, seemingly concentrated around the wizard. Quickly the wind increased in strength, blowing Maestro’s robes and hair about magnificently. The men reckoned they could see Maestro begin to grow in size somehow. In actual fact he was slightly levitated off the ground.

The men saw Maestro’s angered eyes alive with electricity running through them, with a stare that threatened to tear them apart. At last, with this demonstration of great power and seasoned control noted Tobias, the men began to back away from the girl. The young lady herself even turned and considered moving away from the wizard. She fancied that he looked like he could explode with energy at any moment, but she held her ground, trembling a little as Maestro’s clenched teeth showed.

A calming but small hand rested upon the wizard’s arm. It was Tobias. Where the halfling made contact, the magical build up in that exact spot subsided. Maestro began to calm down at the reassuring touch and look in Tobias’s eyes.

The men stared at Maestro then over his shoulder at the others in the party. Dieter’s eyes were most disturbing to look at. His pupils were dilated and his sickening sneer spoke of cruelty they could never imagine. Rissandrea too could feel it and the hairs on the back of her neck began to stand on end.

Rissandrea put a hand out and gestured for the young girl to come to her. She did as requested and stood by Rissandrea’s side.

An excited chittering sound grabbed all of their attentions. As they all looked out towards a section of forest on the outskirts of the hamlet, swarms of rats swept forward like a purpose driven wave of brown water along the ground. Their red eyes were fixed as they swept towards their goal so quickly that they tripped over each other along the way. Everyone gasped in horror at the sight of thousands of rats together coming at them.

Suddenly more squeaking gave away rats emerging from the other side of the hamlet, cutting off any chance of retreat that way.

As the rats neared, the men began running as a terrible shrill squeaking sound gave away a new threat – that of a skaven packmaster leading six gigantic rats, unnaturally larger than rats had any right to be – and they were heading straight towards those assembled in the hamlet.

As the villagers ran, Rissandrea held the young women in place as rats swarmed over two of them, who fell to their knees screaming from multitudes of tiny bites all across their bodies. The shrill crack of the thirteen tailed packmaster’s whip each section ending in warpstone reminded everyone else of the true danger coming up. The other two men ran for all they were worth and went back into their houses. The sound of clicking locks and sliding bolts across doors confirmed that the adventurers were going to be getting no help from them.

Tordrad raised his newly acquired gun upon the resting place within his poleaxe and opened fire. A great chunk of flesh tore out of one giant rat which fell to its knees. Two of the other rats turned to feast on it but the packmaster’s whip decisively sounded once more, deterring them from that action. Tordrad took aim and fired again.

From behind, where the first swarm of rats had appeared came a disheartening sight: ten skaven slaves reluctantly appeared from the forest, backed up by five clan rats. The two were distinguishable based on their attire. The slaves were smaller and were less well equipped than the clan rats. A clan leader led the procession, inciting violence in his troops.

The party’s faces were shocked. That expression then gave way to fear. Even Tordrad would have admitted feeling fear. If he could have spoken Reikspiel though, he would have told them that the true mark of a man is not to be fearless, but to not let it sway you into retreat.

With that, another shot rang out, felling one more of the giant rats.

The group of rats were now close enough to see the features of the packmaster more clearly. Rissandrea took her holy blessed pistol out, an item that once belonged to a witch hunter of some renown, rested it on her horizontally placed forearm and lined up a shot. She held her breath and squeezed the trigger gently so as to not affect her aim. A bullet shot out of the gun with a huge glowing white tail behind it, like a comet. It struck the packmaster in the throat and he collapsed amongst his giant rats who turned and feasted on their tormentor, now freed from the shackles of his control.

The group still stood upon the raised area. Dieter shouted, “This platform will give us an advantage over them.”

“So you do mean to fight them then Death?” asked Tobias fearfully.

Dieter gritted his teeth hatefully at the halfling and answered, “We already are, you cowardly piece of crap. If I hear anymore from you, I’ll use you as bait for the next wave.”

Maestro channelled a dart spell and fired it at the skaven. It hit one of them but still they kept coming. Maestro decided that this was probably not the best time to start conserving his powers, especially as he had spotted the new threat coming from the distant tree line…

“Next wave?” asked Tobias, his voice was shaking a little.

Dieter pointed at the distant entrance to the area where yet more skaven were incoming. This time there was ten clanrats and some new types of rat men that they hadn’t seen here yet. Amongst the rabble were five stormvermin. These were the warrior breed of the rat people, naturally black of fur and better armoured than the others. They each carried a long pole arm. Also, creeping along carefully they could see five more skaven dressed all in black wearing hooded cloaks. They recognized them as assassins, like the one they had met in Middenheim’s under passages recently.

Rissandrea looked at the others in desperation and then threw that feeling aside, deciding to sight up for another shot instead. She would serve her goddess until the end, she thought.

Tobias loaded a bolt into his crossbow and fired it at the closest group of skaven. One of the foul rat men fell. The Halfling held an expression of hopelessness on his face as he glanced at the other group getting ever closer. Tordrad’s gun had rang out several more times, but the skaven were not stopping. The clan leader gave a shrill cry, louder and higher in pitch than any of the party had thought possible from skaven lungs.

“Oh that’s wonderful” started Dieter, “he’s just warned the others”.

“You mean to say you believe this is only the scouting party?” came Maestro reply.

“I do indeed” answered Dieter, “don’t worry, you’ll see the main force soon enough.”

It all made sense now thought Rissandrea, the beastmen and humans had been gnawed on, eaten. It had to have been the rats, those of four legs and those of two.

Dieter had suspected as much as well, again not sharing this information with the group at the time. He suspected that the skaven will have ambushed the loser of a fight between the other two forces and plunged through them while they were tired and disorganized.

“An army…” said Maestro.

“Well perhaps not an entire army” answered Tobias, “reports had been placed that skaven presence were fighting with the empire a short way away. Perhaps this is only a depleted army.”

“Oh well that’s alright then isn’t it?” came Maestro’s reply. The others couldn’t tell if he was being sarcastic or not as he blasted an oncoming skaven with a bolt of lightning.

Dieter waited, having no ranged attacks of his own, he simply paced back and forth atop the raised areas, muttering to himself every now and then. Rissandrea noted that it almost sounded like he was trying to reason with himself in some way.

As the first group of skaven got to them, they were thinned out in numbers from the many ranged attacks. Ulger growled defensively as Dieter patted the great doberman to reassure it. Tordrad fired one more shot at point blank range straight into the face of the clan leader amongst them, tearing its brain half out of its skull. The other skaven gasped fearfully as Tordrad ran forwards, smacked another clanrat to the mouth with the butt of his gun. Its teeth shattered as the Kislevian armoured tank of a man quickly swung the gun back into its holster and drew his great axe. In its drawing, Tordrad flowed it outwards into an attack which gutted another of the rat men. The Kislevite stepped into the group, tearing at them as he went.

Rissandrea granted her allies with blessings of Shallya, to embrace them with courage and inner strength, to bless them with enlightenment of thought so that they might react as fast as was possible for them. She hoped it would help as she struck a skaven to the chest with her quarterstaff, knocking it back down the steps. Dieter too plunged into the skaven, now with his beastman derived gauntlet on, he attacked assertively. It was paying off. He seemed so happy with the blood of his enemies across his face. Tordrad kept advancing. With each rat man he cut down, he stepped forward into another. Tobias continued to fire crossbow bolts. One skaven had reached the top of the steps at last and the halfling had been forced to thrust the bolt he was holding, straight into the creature’s face. As he withdrew the bolt, it had an eyeball and some flesh attached to it. Tobias grimaced and loaded it into the crossbow anyway, which he fired at the second group of skaven who were almost upon them. The shot whistled forwards cutting the air with a strange sound as it pierced the armour of a stormvermin. It fell to one knee with bits of the other dead skaven’s body hanging from the bolt.

At last the stormvermin were upon Tordrad. He was up ahead all on his own. As the stormvermin attacked him, their hits clanged harmlessly against his thick armour plating. Ulger was now busy biting swarms of rats that surrounded him and jumped towards his neck. His body was starting to bleed with bites, for he was more susceptible being lower down as he was.

The young woman finally gathered her nerve and started to attack the rat men too. Tobias noticed that she was firing icicles from her finger tips. Though the magical attacks were not killing them in one shot, they certainly slowed them.

Maestro gave a small lightning jolt into the area of the biggest rodent swarm, which fried a lot of the rats at once. This made most of them run away from the source of that damage, which they recognized as being primal energy. No creature would stay out in a thunder storm after all.

Some of the others had their work cut out for them, being forced to stomp on rats so that they didn’t get distracted from the coming threat ahead.

Tordrad’s huge battle cry made the skaven reluctant to attack; “Do Tor!” came the call from the Kislevian, who fought savagely. Still the stormvermin’s best attacks could not pierce his armour. The assassins jumped in and tried their luck. Their attacks too were harmlessly pinging off of the man who began cutting them down as well.

As one assassin attacked, Tordrad kicked the body of a dead stormvermin across the ground at it, tripping it up. Skaven were far smaller than humans but even so, this was a show of great strength from the man. He then brought his metal clad boot down upon the prone black garbed rat man, crushing its skull.

Though outnumbered, the group fought back skilfully, engaging the remaining skaven at close quarters and pulling into a circle around Tordrad to take the beatings off of him.

Eventually, much quicker than they thought possible, the attackers were all dead. The group collectively had become hardened to combats far worse than this. Even the assassins were able to have little effect in their attacks, because it was a fair fight, as their clan rat brethren fell around them plus they had not gotten the jump on the party – who instead were engaging them face to face. A terrible situation for a skaven to be in!

Two skaven desperately ran to get away. Tobias reacted quickly grabbing the weapon closest at hand as he swung a stone from his sling. It leapt into the air and seemingly disappeared into the sky, swallowed up by the clouds on the horizon. But then it must have dropped, because the intended target was hit in the head and fell to the ground like a sack of potatoes.

Tordrad casually loaded his gun once more, taking his time as he pushed the powder laden shot deep into the barrel. Maestro stared in surprise at Tordrad’s casual manner. He obviously intended to fire upon the skaven but it was running away at a great rate. Soon it would be out of range and away to warn any others that might be present.

Tordrad took aim and pulled the trigger. The rat man stopped suddenly, as if frozen to the spot then fell over sideways.

The others looked at Tordrad in marvel. Rissandrea examined him and saw his armour had been dented and tested in several places yet not pierced. When the Kislevian pulled a section of the plating away however, it was clear to see that he had suffered terrible bruising, in some places bleeding under the skin. Still he retained a grim smile and the fixed stare of his eyes were keen below his impressive thick eyebrows.

“Granted it was a bit more than just a mere scouting force” started Dieter aloud to the group as a whole.

They all stared at him sullenly.

Rissandrea looked around and saw no one else except Ulger had been hurt, so she laid her hands upon the great dog and let the healing powers that formed inside her do their job. She and the others had noticed her skills in this regard increasing lately.

Maestro glanced worriedly at the young woman. She didn’t take it personally. Just as well really because Maestro was that way with all members of the opposite sex.

Her face held recognizable traits of common Empire folk, yet her pale skin, slightly wider face shape and those striking blue eyes spoke of sterner northern roots of heritage.

Tobias looked to the young woman, “My young lady, it is obviously too unsafe for you to remain here. We should escort you away from this place with haste.”

“Yes…” came the young woman’s reluctant reply, with sadness sitting around the border of her words.

With the threat of potential harm to the young lady having passed, Dieter was now visibly uninterested in hearing anything else about her. He simply got down onto the ground and laid his ear flat against the dusty dirt track they stood on, listening for anything else.

“I won’t be able to train you though” said Maestro suddenly, as if in panic. The young lady noticed that the wizard would not look her in the eye as he spoke, “Before when I said I could, I literally only meant to explain that I am a master and can recognize that you need training…from someone else…”

Tobias looked at Maestro, seeing him stuttering over himself surrounded by half cocked incomplete thoughts. I wonder if he’ll always be this way, Tobias pondered.

“Do you have a name?” asked Tobias.

The girl looked down at him, almost quizzically at first, as if he had spoken a different language. “…Anastasia” came her reply.

Tordrad’s eyes widened with confirmation as he spoke in his native tongue, <”Ah, a good royal name is this. Makes me remember home to look at you.”>

<”Thankyou”> came the young lady’s reply in Kislevian, <”Though I suspect I would not hold a candle to the Tsarina’s beauty and power.”>

Tordrad was thoroughly taken aback at this. Since leaving his homeland, he had heard no one else speak his language. He had been alone, internally for so long. This could be a refreshing change he thought…or it could make him miss home again, in a way that even the vodka might not cure. He was always alright as long as he wasn’t thinking about it.

The young woman felt at ease with Tordrad and continued to talk openly to him, <”My father, he was from Kislev.”>

Tordrad nodded in understanding, a smile wide upon his face as she continued, <”He was disgraced, a soldier in the army, kicked out for misconduct. Made a new life here. He said he was lucky to find my mother, or else he might not have been able to go on living.”>

Tordrad became uncomfortable at these words. He shifted uneasily from one foot to the other and his skin cringed at this topic. He then considered who he had in the Empire, who gave his life purpose to ‘go on’ as the girl had put it. He looked at Maestro who was busily trying to swat a fly away from a plum he had removed from his robes, the wizard ducking and shouting threats of imminent lightning bolts at the fly who just wouldn’t give up trying to get at the overly ripe fruit. Tordrad shook his head and wondered where it had all gone wrong.

Suddenly a nearby house top floor window opened. One of the men who had been outside with them poked his head out and looked around at the carnage before asking, “So it’s over is it?”

“No thanks to you!” came Maestro’s angry reply, “And if anymore come I’ve a bloody good mind to blow the locks off your front door and see what you do then.”

Dieter stood up suddenly, a look of concern on his face. The others saw it and didn’t like it one bit.

The man in the window had seen something off in the distance, from his great vantage point, panicked and shot back inside pulling the window closed with great haste just as a unit of ten stormvermin appeared out of the tree line once more, halberds propped up on their shoulders in a marching position.

Anastasia shrieked in fear. Tordrad glared at them as he re-affixed his armour plating back into place. Maestro rolled his eyes in what at first glance might have seemed like an easy going reaction of “here we go again”, yet it was in fearful disbelief that the nightmare was indeed not over.

Rissandrea could not draw her eyes from the corpses of the two men, still being devoured by rats on the ground. She considered whether they deserved to have their souls consecrated by holy prayer, after what they were planning to do to Anastasia. She then fought that momentary feeling away, knowing that her order believed everyone deserved respect in death, that every soul was sacred.

Dieter asked Rissandrea, “Is Ulger alright to fight?”

Rissandrea looked at the dog with its tongue out panting and suggested, “He needs rest.”

Dieter replied, “No chance of that, lots of them coming in. I felt the vibrations.”

Tobias complained, “We should have left while we had the chance.”

Dieter responded, “No chance of that either, we would have run into them anyway, I feel them coming from everywhere – and we might not have had such a favourable positioning as this, somewhere out there.”

The others looked at Dieter momentarily as if he must surely hold some hidden secrets or powers that they didn’t know about, then turned their attention back to the oncoming skaven forces, appearing from the undergrowth in three places at once.

Still some distance away but closing fast, the Skaven forces came on en-masse this time. The group’s ranged shots did little to the enemy numbers from long range. They did not panic nor delay for even a moment.

Suddenly, a strange puff of smoke upon the raised platform they stood upon got their attention. One of the black hooded assassins had appeared out of nowhere and had his blades aimed for what he considered to be the least armed and weakest of the group: Rissandrea.

Tordrad saw this and sped forwards into a lunge which carried hard into the side of the devious killer rat-man, who judged his incoming foes trajectory well and jumped over the blade itself. Though Tordrad’s brute strength still lifted the killer along the ground and away from the woman, whose concentration was elsewhere anyway, focusing on keeping holy blessings freshly committed to this site of battle.

The assassin backflipped away from the Kislevite and as he did so he landed a kick into the taller man’s jaw.

Tordrad spat blood onto the ground and roared in challenge, rushing out to meet the Skaven as it retreated.

Maestro’s concern wasn’t the assassin itself, but the spell which had brought the foul creature to them. It had been a teleportation spell that had carried it here and that could indicate one very serious threat was approaching: A grey seer.

He had no way of seeing where it was yet, as skaven leaders always led from the rear, a place of pride and honour. To be sneaky and expect others to die instead of you was one of the greatest leadership traits that could be considered in a potential governing warlord.

The rest of the skaven were still some way off but what concerned Tobias as he watched was Tordrad’s hot headed attack. He was lunging and missing as the crafty assassin kept flipping and backing away from the man, drawing him further away from his friends. Tobias aimed his crossbow to try and line up a shot with the assassin, but Tordrad’s bulk kept obstructing the view. There was a chance he would hit the Kislevite if he fired. He cursed quietly and tripled that curse when two more of the devious assassins appeared as if from out of nowhere, surrounding Tordrad on three sides at once. The eshin triad was complete and focused together on one target. Tordrad realised too late that situation he was now in. He was too far from Rissandrea for her protective blessings to be of any good and too far from his allies for anyone to help him fend the assassins off. He fought defensively as best as he could, but that wouldn’t be enough to hold out for long. He figured he perhaps had only mere moments left to live. Already a number of blows from the assassin’s throwing stars had connected. They were softening him up from three directions at once. He was lucky that these weapons weren’t poisoned, but the blades and claws they wielded left him in no doubt of poison being present, as they dripped with a luminous green substance.

Tordrad’s blood dripped to the ground from several wounds. One across his forehead was bleeding across his eye. As the crimson life force poured out of his body, Dieter who had been watching likened it to losing his own. After all, were Tordrad to die, it would mean he too was closer to the end – closer to Morr’s eternal imprisonment. That was not acceptable!

Dieter’s panic at this thought, made him realise how small, how human he still was. There was something that could still frighten him. Regardless, he let those emotions run wild and the winds of aethyr gathered about him. He hadn’t cast this spell in while because it was dangerous…it would mean him coming closer to the other…But there was nothing else left but that choice. With his willpower, he tore open a brief gateway through reality and stepped through it. On the other side, he half slid, half walked through a sepia toned sub-domain that resembled the real world, except that spirits were also present and visible. It was a dangerous place for him to tread, closer to the daemonic realm than the physical dimension was. This was a place known as ‘The Hedge’.

As he moved through time here, long moments or minutes could pass while in the real world perhaps only a second or two will have gone by. Dieter raced as fast as he could towards Tordrad, who was moving in a strange blur of slow motion to avoid numerous incoming attacks from the Skaven. Some were beginning to connect, slashing into his thick plate armour, which was for now providing enough protection.

Dieter was getting close. He knew that he would have very little physical manipulation over events in the real world from here. He would only have the time to rescue Tordrad. He reached both hands out of the hedge reality and clasped Tordrad.

At the same moment in the physical realm, the eshin assassins jumped backwards in fright, seeing a shimmering disturbance then two hands reach out of thin air. A terrible magic power was at play, similar in feeling to that which they had witnessed from their greatest mages – the grey seers. At once, the three of them tensed their glands, as if to squirt the musk of fear – not that they could of course, because eshin assassins would have their glands removed, so that no scent would betray them to their would be targets. Skaven had a much better sense of smell than humans and given that most of their targets were indeed skaven this was important.

Just as Dieter grasped Tordrad tightly with both hands, a presence and resonating vibration that resembled a voice came from behind him, “You’ve left yourself open to me brother. It’s my turn now.”

Dieter screamed as the dark silhouette like person stepped into him and absorbed into his body. The spirit looked very much like Dieter – and as it entered the would be doctor’s body, his own body altered too. His eyes became black and his skin looked strange, like a translucent shadow that showed his real skin underneath it.

The now possessed Dieter pulled Tordrad backwards into the Hedge, with a supernatural strength far beyond that of the Kislevite man. There he moved quickly with Tordrad backwards through the hedge, floating back to the raised platform the others waited on.

In the space of just a couple of seconds, a blink of an eye Tobias had seen Dieter disappear from the spot he had been standing on, reach Tordrad in a haze of darkness, snatch him away from the clutches of the skaven assassins about him and then re-appear close by. The strain of this and poisoned globes of glass that had shattered near – thrown by despicable skaven wearing breathing apparatus to keep themselves from harm was too much for the halfling, who passed out. The last thing he saw was Dieter going crazy, tearing rat-men apart with his bare hands – then all was darkness…

As Tobias came around, the sounds of fighting alerted him at once that he would still be in danger. He found this odd as he expected to be dead: Being dead of course meant you were in no danger…As his eyes opened, Dieter had returned to normal, surrounded by many more skaven corpses than there had been.

Tordrad was fighting back to back with the trainee doctor, both wielding their melee weapons once again.

As Tobias pulled himself to his feet once more, he saw that the skaven had made it to the raised platform all around them. Huge areas of flame burnt and licked the ground here and there making the halfling wonder what had caused that. The question was about to be answered.

Dieter shouted to Maestro, “I see a new target of opportunity. Like before, ready?”

Maestro shouted, Give me a moment.” The wizard put a future sight enchantment upon himself and ran to the edge of the platform trying to find the target that Dieter’s finger was pointing at. His future sight, protected him from the lunges from those few skaven that had made it onto the platform and the ranged attacks aimed at the group from afar, by giving him minor insight into what would happen were he to step in a particular direction at any given time. He of course would have to trust that his second reasoned choice would be the right one, because a second new warning might not come in time in line with his new decision. Furthermore, there was the intense psychological strain such a spell would be the imbued person under, for they would often repetitively witness their own demise coming from the fate of their first choice of action. Maestro of course wasn’t your normal psyche anyway, so this protected him from certain problems that might befall a…different person.

Maestro spotted the target Dieter had referred to. It was one of the skaven weapon teams they had brought with them. Once the first skaven had died to the group, the grey seer commanding them had decided to bring the entire army to destroy the “pest” as he saw it – as of course he would be able to do, outnumbering them so greatly. What they hadn’t banked on though, was the group’s teamwork, talent and determination to win. Maestro and Dieter had already pulled this trick on several large groups of the skaven, incinerating loads at once and making them scatter into smaller controllable packs that had either wandered towards the group and died quickly or ran away in disorder. This time, the target was not an entire group of the rat men. It was a two man weapon team carrying a warpfire thrower. They had seen one of these make it the platform earlier and it had opened fire with its luminous green burning flame. Luckily though, Rissandrea had been able to uppercut her staff to the nozzle where the flames shot, sending the gout of burning would-be death up into the air above their heads. It had still rained down some smouldering, painful pieces upon their heads, but that had been better than being melted in seconds! The Shallyan devotee had then crushed her staff into the pipe that fed the weapon, connected to a massive fuel pack carried by the skaven behind. The flow of fuel blocked, the weapon stuttered and backfired, smoking terribly. The skaven had understandably abandoned the pack and ran away, and there it still lay upon the ground of the platform, unexploded and lightly smoking.

This time Maestro would show the skaven the error of their ways, bringing something so dangerous and flammable into battle. He concentrated his celestial magic and the air started kicking up. This focused downwards, onto the weapon team that strode confidently beside a large unit of clanrats. As the warpfire thrower came into range, the winds increased into a swirling vortex upon them. Their enemies on the platform were now in range for their burning death. The lead skaven at the front pulled the trigger, but as the flames shot out, they hit the swirling unnatural winds and spiralled into several luminous flaming green tails that swirled and dissipated before they could reach the group.

“Part one done!” shouted Maestro above the din of battle around them.

“Part two coming up!” replied Dieter, as he quickly moved to the platform’s edge with a bottle of pure medicinal alcohol in his hands. It had a raggedly torn off piece of cloth stuck in the top, soaking in the substance inside. Dieter concentrated a very small degree of fire by way of spell, through his palm and into the top of the cloth, setting it alight. He then threw the “molatov cocktail” at the weapon team. It struck the swirling wind and smashed against the front skaven. Within a moment, all hell seemed to break loose. An explosion of absolute ground shaking magnificence erupted from the spot where the warpfire throwers had been. The explosion tore into the unit next to them and felled two thirds of them from contact. Maestro’s winds were just enough to keep the oxygen coming in to keep the flames lit as he moved the winds over and across the unit of now running clanrats.

Together the two of them had pulled this trick a few times, but now they weren’t going to be able to get away with it anymore, Maestro knew, as he at last saw the culprit for the magical spells he had seen earlier appearing through the unit of stormvermin closing on them.

Grey Seer Snoutskar was unimpressed at the dismal performance from the army he had procured from the nearby Under-Altdorf’s council. Surely an army of skaven wouldn’t let a simple handful of humans (and one halfling) disrupt them from obtaining the chunks of meteorite warpstone that had recently landed nearby? It had been a simple recovery job. Now he was about to lose most of the army and this was unacceptable! There wouldn’t be enough hands to carry the pieces of warpstone back into the dens in time. What if other humans came and found it? Things would get messy and complicated for sure. More troops would be needed and the council would blame him! What insufferable ingratitude it would be! No, he reasoned, this had to be finished now – and he was the only one amongst this force with the strength to do it.

A mass of green lightning crackled onto the platform and began expanding. The grey seer meant to drive them down amongst the skaven below where they would become vulnerable to his underlings. As the sphere of green energy expanded, forcing the group to step further towards the edge of the area, Maestro stared with determination. Because this was a magical spell, he felt a sense of responsibility to have to stop it. He readied river’s edge from its scabbard and willed the water within it to expand at convulse in preparedness. The wizard himself was a user of the celestial elements. Lightning was his forte! He knew that this particular lightning spell didn’t have an infinite degree of energy. It wasn’t being fed in a constant stream from the caster. He knew that if he could only force the energy in the spell to speed up its consumption process it would burn out quickly. The others thought him mad when he began walking towards the expanding lightning energy. This was indeed an action very unlike him indeed, but this time he was confident in his knowledge that he would be right…he hoped.

Maestro readied himself against the stinging aethyr that closed towards him. He readied his weapon. When the lightning was close enough at last, he lunged at full stretch, wincing his eyes shut against the crackling stings from the small escaping lightning edges – and the watery blade penetrated the orb with a massive hissing burning wave of sound, as if in protest. The rubber on the handle protected the wizard, as the shock of the impact forced him onto one knee. The spell burned and crackled at an amazingly accelerated rate but did not expand anymore! Maestro had done it. As the spell faded away in crackling tendrils that became nothingness on their journey to nowhere, the wizard collapsed to his other knee, the pain in his body from the contest of arduous pressure almost too much for him.

The grey seer lashed his tail against the ground in frustration. So, he thought, they have one amongst their number almost as powerful as a grey seer! Then, he decided, he would show this wizard the true power of his honoured order. If this human wanted to see power, he would give it to him, and all of his friends.

Grey Seer Snoutskar bite into the piece of warpstone he had concealed in his mouth earlier that day. This was his emergency supply were the worst to happen. The worst truly had happened, all because of this wizard. Snoutskar’s heart began beating quickly with over excitement at what was to come, the slaughter and mayhem he would bring about. His eyes glowed green with mad power. The other skaven even knew to take a few steps away from him in this state. Again, the warp tinged lightning formed onto the platform, but this time from above, from a huge green glowing mass of energy. Lightning bolts tore down randomly across the entire length of the platform. Each shot singed the ground as it struck. The grey seer concentrated even more hateful power into it and the bolts began tearing the stone out of the ground with each strike.

Ulger was shaking a dying skaven between his great jaws when a bolt struck him and the rat man equally, felling them both. Both were barely still alive, with black smoke pouring off of their burnt bodies.

At the site of this, Tobias drew his dagger and raced as fast as he could to reached the grey seer. He determined with some instinct that he would be able to reach the vile rat mage with one strong leap and slit his throat while he concentrated. He wondered where such a tactic as this had come from, out of his psyche. He had almost made it too. He was just about to jump from the ledge when a bolt struck him in the top of the head. He collapsed to the floor, perilously close to the edge of the platform. The warpstone shard in his skull perhaps saved his life, acting as an interference to the power coursing in. He lost consciousness for the second time in this fight…

Maestro dived behind Tordrad who still stood tall. The wizard reasoned that if he were hit, at least Tordrad’s armour would attract the worst of it…It wasn’t that Maestro was consciously selfish or uncaring about others. He simply had an overly strong survival instinct, like that of a skaven. A skaven couldn’t help being that way and neither could Maestro. Perhaps it was some mental condition that was truly the cause of it, some psychosis or whatever it was – but such things were looked at in an unimportant light within the old world. In fact, issues of psychosis were encouraged because the communities of mankind were always under constant threat from the forces of darkness that co-inhabited the lands with them. In this case, it was a now insane magically charged rat-man who sought to end the lives of the group as fast as “skavenly” possible.

Maestro concentrated on his own lightning cloud spell. He summoned an aethyric cloud with the opposite polarity sensed within the grey seer’s spell. Already bolts of Maestro’s lightning shot down, attracted to the grey seer’s green energy. Some of the green bolts likewise were attracted to the normal lightning from above, move upwards to meet it. Where the impacts met, the two cancelled each other out into nothingness. Maestro held his hands over his head in a futile gesture of fear and self preservation. The wizard’s behaviour threw the grey seer off somewhat, with him considering it too skaven-like to be comfortable. It was a little frightening to imagine the enemy behaving like you. How would you defeat them then? He thought.

The others, including Maestro got off with only a few small minor burns. Tordrad’s sword had been struck with lightning, but instead of it burning him, the lightning had grown in power at the tip, making those nearby squint their eyes. After that, the blade had crackled with power for a while after. Maestro noted this out of curiosity, amid ducking under the Kislevite’s legs for protection. Just as the last lashes of the storm came to an end, they fizzled out right on Rissandrea’s position. She fell and hit the floor, with one last prayer to her Goddess on her lips. A vision of Shallya, she swore she saw forming before her as she closed her eyes…

Maestro was in so much pain he couldn’t move.

Dieter was wheezing from the effort his supernatural encounter had put him under, during what he remembered as being a “black out”. Tordrad was in no shape to fight the rest of the army alone.

Tobias, Ulger and Rissandrea were not getting back up, though all seemed alive, for now.

Tordrad regarded the lightning now crackling from his sword. He realised that this lightning was the normal colour, not the green that the grey seer had created. That could only mean one thing. He was creating it himself! But how, he wondered. He didn’t think to question it. He simply saw the opportunity this gave him here and now. The grey seer was readying to cast the same spell again, this time focusing even harder to finish the rest of them off.

Maestro suddenly realised that his protective wall off flesh, bones and plate had driven off somewhere, as the sky once more became visible to him. He got to his feet and scurried after his bodyguard. After all, how was he able to guard his body if he wasn’t there?

Tordrad had set off at a run, towards the grey seer. Snoutskar saw this and used the channelled energy thus far to emit a blast of green electricity from his fingertips into the man. It struck him and he fell to one knee shaking with the effort to keep moving. Green lightning danced across his body. His armour and clothing blackened where it contacted.

Maestro suddenly passed him and reached the edge of the platform. It wasn’t a good idea risking himself, he knew, but doing nothing in this case was perhaps an even bigger risk! Plus, if this grey seer killed Tordrad, Tordrad wouldn’t be around to die instead of him at some later date, like any good bodyguard ought to, as he reasoned it. So with that, he jumped from the edge of the platform, leaping long and far in mid air and incanting a spell as he went. The grey seer barely had time to re-channel again when Maestro made contact. His staff struck the grey seer in the mouth, chipping one of his incisors clean off. Maestro had given himself a tiny boost of magic from below, with his jump and this allowed him to levitate over the grey seer’s head to escape him, or it would have at least, if Snoutskar hadn’t reached a hand up and grabbed the wizard by the ankle. His taloned grip made the wizard’s leg bleed. Before the evil rat man could pull Maestro down to his level or stab something sharp up at him, Tordrad was already in cutting range. He sliced his sword across the grey seer’s nose, re-opening the scar on him that had so given him the name. This cut had torn flesh right down through the mouth, revealing several of his sharp teeth. Tordrad made ready with a final stab motion, perfectly aimed to go inside the open mouthed screaming creature.

With the last of his warpstone induced energy wearing off, he quickly forced out a final teleportational “skitterleap” spell on himself. Within the next moment, the grey seer appeared out of sight behind a tree in the distance. From there he scampered away, ringing the small high pitched bell of retreat and regroup, so that the remnants of his army would hear it and come.

Soon all of the skaven had gone. Clan eshin were already preparing agents to drop in at the scene when the humans had evacuated the area, so that they might dispose of the many skaven bodies that lie about here. After all, keeping the underfolk a mystery, an old wives tale to the majority of humans was the safest course for them. Less attention meant more prosperity within the Under-Empire – until the time was right for all of skavenkind to show itself, when the final great war would come and the skaven would inherit all, as was the promise of the Great Horned Rat all those years ago.

Amazingly, none of the party had died. Some had come close. Rissandrea had later spoken of seeing Shallya herself appear to her and tell her to return to her home, to Nuln and there lay proper monument to her Goddess. Rissandrea was firm in purpose now, resolving that her deity had entrusted her with a holy mission of faith – and she would not be found lacking in accomplishing it. Therefore, even though this disturbance had happened, she was still resolute about reaching Nuln. The group collectively decided that they would head back to Altdorf first and rest.

The girl they had rescued, Anastasia…she had no home left. Those in her village had turned on her and she had nearly been killed in the skaven attack. The only reason she was now safe was because of this group. She instantly hit things off well with Tordrad, having Kislevite blood roots in common at least. Therefore, she decided she would go with them for now, until such time that she could be taken to Kislev. Tordrad was notably not very eager at the prospect of the group being the ones to perhaps take her. Rissandrea wondered at this, thinking it strange that he might not want to see his home again. She believed that all of Kislev’s countrymen were a proud people, detesting the Empire in comparison to their place of birth. But for now, Anastasia didn’t mind where they went, as long as she was with them. This group were indestructible, in her opinion…Were that only the case…

150 years ago:

The Celestial College:

Seer Magister Artwieb gasped in realisation. The others nodded grimly. They all recognised the woman from the future vision as seen by Tristran back in Middenheim…This certainly did not bode well – and it gave the council a new timeline for attempted concentration to deal with. Perhaps now the end of the world really was coming, they considered.