The Travellers of Fate and the Paths of Chaos

A place away from nowhere...
Another day in Ulfstead

Mid-morning in Ulfstead:

After long and boring few days attempting to resupply and recover from the weariness of travel, three new acquaintances share a somewhat reluctant company in the nameless Ulfstead tavern that sits meekly next to the village square. The trio consists of a shy and brooding woodland scout who goes by the name Das Wald and currently sits on his own in a corner and hides behind his long, black beard, an ostentatious and verbose Dwarf from Karak Azgaraz who calls himself Quingar Shadowfoot the Unslow and who sits at the bar and scans the room from beneath his feathered hat to see if he can see any locals who haven’t yet succumbed to his superior skill at dice, and the burly and stoic mercenary Aelfic of the Landesnecht who also drinks casually at the bar and stands out as the only professional fighting man in town. It is a festival day, the first harvest of the year, and a few meagre entertainments and competitions have been organized for the villagers in the square. Inside, the tavern is dark and smells of stale beer and potatoes. Several men gather and talk in hopeful spirits about the coming feast and collectively mutter prayers to Rhya that the rest of the growing season will be good to them. Other than the locals and our heroes, a single pair of merchants sit and talk together at a small table. Their talk is animated and private as they lean in to talk to each other and gesture emphatically over some important matter. The final occupants of the tavern are the slight and weary looking owner who brings rounds of drinks to his patrons, aided by a teenage girl with long dark hair and a nervous laugh.

In the square outside, a small band plays a lively tune while the newly harvested gains from the fields are being displayed on tables nearby and prepared for a feast. A man who has some skill at juggling stands to one side and attempts to enthral the children, who instead mostly ignore him and scamper about and play a robust game of tag. A small platform has been constructed for this special day, and upon the platform stands the village alderman and another man who is set to play the part of a priest of Morr for the upcoming ‘dooming’ ritual. This ritual, you have heard, is meant to drive ill fate away from all children who have come of age this year. The children are displayed on the platform and the blood of a sacrificial goat and its milk are burned as an offering to Morr. Morr is meant to receive the offering along with any doom the children may have been intended for, and are thus cleansed. Other than the platform, the harvested goods, the small band and the juggler, there an archery range has been contracted nearby and a wrestling ring set up to test the mettle of the men of the village.

Das Wald, a man of the woods and awkward in the company of villagers, takes his leave of the tavern and has a look around. He sees an old man in brown, weather stained and travel weary leathers who catches his attention. The old man seems a world apart from the rest of the villagers as he walks calmly about the periphery of the activities, seeming to contemplate the weather and the dark forest more than the merry-making of the men and women. Das Wald decides to wanter over the the archery range and have a look at who is competing. He sees four men testing their skill, but only one of them has any real ability. The men seem nervous with Das Wald’s presence, and tell him to get lost. He mutters some excuse or apology but continues to observe. Despite the annoyance of the other participants, Das Wald joins the competition to try his skill against the others.

Meanwhile, the Karak Azgaraz Dwarf Quingar Shadowfoot the Unslow has been watching the two merchants who sit drinking and conversing together in the tavern. His curiosity is piqued by their privacy and he decides to approach them and suggest a friendly game of ‘Waak the Goblin’. His charming introduction is not lost on one of the merchants who says he could use a break from his conversation with the other merchant and he convinces his companion to play as well. Aelfric decides this is a good time to ask the merchants some questions and downs the rest of his drink and saunters over to see if he can learn anything from the pair. Half an hour later the merchant’s purses are a little lighter and although Quingar tries to entice them with the more advanced game of ‘Mine a Troll’ they are having none of it and they leave the tavern somewhat irritated at their loss. Quingar looks around at the stale faces of the penniless farmers around him and decides to leave as well, followed closely by Aelfric.

Once outside, Quingar heads over near the platform and makes some inquiries about the festival and the Dooming. Aelfric spies Das Wald preparing for the archery contest and heads over to watch the first round. That first round doesn’t go very well for most of the contestants; two of them missing the target and the local favourite, Hans, clearly coming out the winner. A second round begins and Aelfric decides to get in on the action, but he doesn’t fair much better and Hans scores a great shot with only Das Wald left to shoot. Das Wald takes his time aiming and when his arrow strikes the target Hans’ arrow is knocked loose and falls to the ground. Instantly an argument breaks out about who is the winner, with most taking Hans side but a few (likely those that bet on the bearded stranger) yell out that Das Wald has won! Das Wald tries to calm the situation down but the whole thing nearly comes to blows with only the intimidating presence of Aelfric managing to keep the peace. Das Wald moves away from the range to avoid further conflict but a few of the villagers follow him, berating him and refusing to leave him alone.

Quingar, near to the stage, notices that the Dooming is about to begin. Three children are brought on stage, two boys and a girl, and the ‘priest’ of Morr goes about preparing the cleansing ritual. Quingar notices that one of the boys looks absolutely terrified, he shakes and is quite pale and holds onto his sister’s hand with white knuckled desperation. The other two children seem nervous but unafraid and their mothers and fathers look on with the calm anticipation of parents at their children’s graduation.

Suddenly, Das Wald hears something approaching through the trees to his left. He turns to look and can just make out a large group of somethings coming fast and hard through the forest, smashing through all the brush in their way and charging headlong towards the village! He jumps to his feet and lets out a woodsman call of danger, “KoooWeeet!”, but he notices that only the old man he watched before takes any note of his call and responds accordingly by taking a defensive position. The rest of the villagers appear oblivious to whatever it is coming swiftly through the trees at them, but in a moment it becomes all too clear as a horde of foul Beastmen coming crashing from the tree line and begin to hack and barrel their way through the unprepared farmers, inflicting death and mayhem upon them!

Das Wald and Aelfric jump into action, with Das Wald clambering to a low rooftop and drawing his crossbow while Aelfric draws his sword and prepares for the onslaught. Quingar too prepares to fight, holding his crossbow pistol in one hand and his elegant rapier in the other. A fast and vicious battle ensues with Beastmen cutting down farmers and bellowing their fierce, beastly howls. Das Wald, Quingar and Aelfric defend themselves and the villagers as best they can though there are so many Beastmen it almost seems hopeless. Then a few Beastmen mount the platform constructed for the dooming and without hesitation gut the ‘priest’ and the other adults on stage as well as one of the young boys, but the other boy, the terrified one, they rip his from his sister’s hand and carry him, screaming, into the forest. After this kidnapping many of the Beastmen flee to the forest, though the remaining embattled creatures, full of bloodlust and fury, battle it out to the bitter end.

In the aftermath of the raid, dozens of villagers lie dead or dying on the ground. The village is in chaos with buildings smashed and the air filled with the moans of the wounded and the screams of the bereaved. Qungar immediately tries to bring some order to this mob and seeks out the alderman and tries to get him to rally his people. Das Wald, wounded and plainly seeing the need to aid others, heads into the forest to gather White Willow (a natural painkiller) which he bring back to the village and begins to boil in a pot and reduce to a paste for immediate use. Aelfric is the most sorely wounded of the group, and though he will not show his pain he heads off to find something with skill in healing, and is pointed in the direction of the house of a woman with some skill in healing.

Above the village and a bit to the south, a lone Elven Waywatcher comes towards this scene of disaster. Kestrel, as he is known by the humans he has met in the Empire, watches with some interest the disorder of the post battle confusion from a hidden vantage point but soon his curiosity compels him to enter and find out more of what has transpired. He calmly strides into town and approaches the imposing figure of the Aelfric the mercenary who is patiently being looked after by the healer Brigitte. Though the majority of the town is too panicked or confused to take proper note of the arrival of a Wood Elf in their midst, Aelfric seems to know not what to make of this foreign figure and barely has words for him when he makes inquiries of recent events. And so Kestrel moves further into town where Quingar is now managing to help bring some authority and order to the mob by influencing the alderman back to his senses. Kestrel passes the square and, sensing a somewhat kindred spirit, seeks to speak with Das Wald, busy in his preparations of the White Willow paste. He asks Das Wald what happened to which the man of the forest can only reply, “Ummm….. it was…… taken…. the child… Beastmen…. took the child…..” Kestrel somehow gleans knowledge from this and moves back towards the square where it seems a heated argument has sprung up over wether or not an attempt should be made now, so close to nightfall, or tomorrow to try and find the child the Beastmen stole. Some say it must be done now or the child will surely die, whereas others say he is dead already and if not then it is wiser to wait until morning when they will have the benefit of more light. None of the villagers seem very keen on taking after the Beastmen, though several, most probably family to the missing child, seem intent on a rescue.

After much back and forth and deliberation, during which time Das Wald is able to treat his own wounds, our heroes gather at the square and join the debate over what is to be done about the stolen child. Das Wald, seeing that Aelfric and the Dwarf Quingar is wounded, attempts to apply his White Willow poultice to their injuries. Aelfric is astonished at the bizarre forwardness of the woodsman and he, unannounced, slips medicine soaked hands under his jerkin. Aelfric pushes the bearded recluse away who then turns his administrations towards the somewhat less offended Dwarf. At last Aelfric can take no more debate, and wounded though he is he heads towards the forest in an attempt to lead the others to the chase. Still, it is some time before they join him and the light is fading quickly…

Aelfric, Das Wald, Quingar and Kestral enter the forest with less than two hours till nightfall and begin a search for the child or the Beastmen that stole him. The party fans out with the cautious Das Wald taking the right flank and a more confident Kestrel taking the left. Aelfric and Quingar take the middle and follow the incredibly obvious trail the Beastmen left as they crashed through the forest in both attack and retreat. All is quite except the occasional cracking of a branches from the less stealthy of our heroes when suddenly Kestrel, on his own, comes face to face with a snarling Ungor who rushes to attack him. Aelfric and Quingar continue oblivious to this but the ever alert Das Wald is immediately aware of not only the Ungor that is rushing Kestrel, but of three more Beastmen lying in wait for the Dwarf and the mercenary and, more pressingly, the growl of a huge and hostile wolf at his back about to pounce….

Kestrel steps back as the Ungor rushes him and he looses an arrow deep into the monster’s chest. The Ungor howls in pain but continues it’s blundering attack. At the same time two more Ungor’s rush out from the bushes and take Quingar and Aelfric by surprise, knocking Quingar in the head and narrowly missing the swordsman. Aelfric responds with a devastating swing that takes one of the Ungor’s heads clean off and in the melee that follows his blow is quickly followed by another that claims the life of a third Ungor who steps out, unwisely, to join the fray. Quingar, on the other hand, does not have as much luck with his adversary who clings to life despite a decent blow by the Dwarf and who finally manages to dispatch himself by setting off Quingar’s crossbow pistol and taking the bolt in the belly.

Meanwhile, Das Wald finds himself involved in a desperate and pitched battle with the huge wolf. His blows seems to nearly bounce of its thick hide and he tries a more desperate approach and calls to the beast in a well practiced howl that he is friend and one of its own pack. The wolf seems to pause for a moment as if considering this possibility, but then shakes off his stupor and resumes his savage charges. Aelfric, Quingar and Kestrel, seeing that their companion is still in trouble, rush to his aid. Quingar tries an old scoundrel’s trick and heaves a rock at the wolf’s testicles to distract it, and it is in that moment when a perfectly placed shoot by Kestrel sends an arrow through the monstrous beast’s skull.

The party then take a moment to breath in the silence that follows and as the twilight grows, consider their next move….

View
Into the Reikwald
in pursuit of foul Beastmen

At the ambush site a mile or so from Ulfstead, Das Wald kneels to pray beside the body of the giant wolf while Kestrel and Aelfric search for more beastmen tracks and Quingar leans against a tree rubbing his aching head. Das Wald feels a hand upon his shoulder but instinct tells him the touch is friendly and he does not pull away. Kneeling beside him, the old man from the village joins Das Wald in prayer and devotion to Taal, asking for the spirit of the wolf to be blessed and its body cleansed from the Choas taint that has transformed it so. The old man introduces himself to Das Wald and Quingar as Gedhard, or ‘Young Oak’ as some know him by. He tells Das Wald that he is much impressed with Das Wald’s ability and affinity with the ways of the forest. Das Wald learns that Gedhard knew his parents. Das Wald and Gedhard pray once more over the body of the wolf and Das Wald feels a power emanate from the old man’s words. Gedhard reveals to Das Wald that he is a priest of Taal.

The party heads back to Ulfstead, citing a need to rest as it is getting dark and the woods are too dangerous at night with the beastmen about. Quingar objects, insisting they press on and crush the Beastman menace and not return to the village without the child, but the party is in favour of returning to Ulfstead, and so he grudgingly comes along. Gedhard remains in the forest and builds a pyre on which to burn the corrupted body of the giant wolf.

Returning to the village the villagers are glad to hear that Beastmen were slain, though they are a little discouraged to hear the child was not found. The party goes to the tavern and is met with celebration at the new of slain beastmen but again, no news of the child is disappointing. Some villagers say the child must be dead by now while others insist he must be found. Quingar performs an old Dwarvish concussion remedy and hoists a cask of ale over his head, shoves a dagger in the side of it and lets the contents pour down his throat (making him quite drunk). Aelfric decides it’s time for sleep and the owner of the tavern says he regrets he has no rooms but Aelfric can sleep in the stables. Quingar starts a game of Mine a Troll but unfortunately loses to his canny opponents and then he passes out on one of the bear soaked tables….

Kestrel and Das Wald, being more comfortable outdoors than in, find a very suitable shelter just outside of town and take shifts on watch while the other sleeps. Sometime near morning Das Wald hears a rustling in the bushes near by and thinks he sees a man crouching in the underbrush looking at them. Disturbingly, Das Wald thinks he sees that the man has four arms…. Das Wald wakes up Kestrel who picks up his bow and aims it at the figure, who then takes off into the forest with Das Wald and Kestrel in hot pursuit. Das Wald, suffering for lack of proper lighting, stumbles and is held back, but Kestrel catches up with the man and downs him with an arrow to the back.. The man, now clearly possessing four arms, tries to painfully crawl away but Kestrel stops him and demands answers of who he is and what he was doing at the edge of the town. The man pleads for his life and swears he is alone and only wished to see his family again. Kestrel isn’t buying it and once Das Wald catches up they lead him back to town. The man begs them to not take him back to town and sure enough when they haul him before the villagers they scream at him and curse him and call for his execution! The village alderman, Oswin Brauer, comes out in his morning dress, spits at the man and echoes the call for his death. Quingar and Aelfric hear the commotion and come out to see what’s going on. Quingar questions the man with four arms, threatening him with his crossbow pistol, but the man insists he is innocent of any crime and only hear to catch a glimpse of his family. Once again the party demands to know if there are more like him and he growls and replies that “We will not suffer alone, we will rise up!” and with a savage burst of strength with his four arms he frees himself and charges at Quingar who fires his crossbow pistol and quickly dispatches him with an bolt through the forehead. The villagers decide to burn the body the Quingar suggest they send another messenger to Ubesreik to see if there is a priest of Sigmar to come and look into the presence of mutants in the wood and village. The party then seeks out some healing from Brigitte who sells them herbal concoctions of some rarity at a low price but a necessary one to cover her costs. After benefiting from the remedies, the party decides it is best to strike as soon as possible and to return to the forest in search of more Beastmen and to hopefully find the child. Aelfric calls out to the villagers assembled if there are any who would join them in their mission and his words bring three woodsmen out from the fold who heft their axes and say they will join in the hunt.

The party joined by three woodsmen then head back into the forest and pick up the trail of the Beastmen from where the ambush took place with Das Wald leading them from a distance of about 30 feet. After about an hour, Das Wald comes to a clearing and sees several Ungors at work spreading debris and leaves about the ground, seemingly covering up a couple of large pits with a kind of makeshift lattice of branches across them. A Gor stands nearby and orders the three Ungors around. Das Wald sneaks back to the rest of the party and warns them of the danger. Together the party comes to the edge of the clearing, takes cover and aims their bows and crossbows at the Beastmen. Another Gor comes into the clearing and beckons to his fellow Beastmen, urging them to hurry up their business and come away from the clearing. Arrows and bolts fly forth but luck is not with the party and nearly all their shots go wild! The Beastmen are surprised and all but one of the Gors (one who was injured in the ranged attack) cast about trying to locate where the attack came from. A vicious melee follows with Aelfric dealing out savage blows to the Gors and even the farmers joining the fray. Kestrels arrows fly true and Quingar impresses with his skilled rapier strikes. In a moment it is over and the Beastmen lay dead on the ground. The Woodsmen shake with excitement and victory but Aelfric tells them they should return to the village to treat their wounds, which they, not reluctantly, do. Quingar examines the bodies of the fallen Beastmen and discovers they have been scarred across the chest with a crude cut in the shape of a crescent moon. Das Wald examines the pits and is disgusted by the smell of urine and excrement. In one of the pits he sees a sack shoved into the mud which he fishes out with a long stick. Unfortunately the sack drops once he has it removed and there is a crack when it hits the ground. Inside the sack he finds a clay jug with some strange, viscous yellow substance leaking out. He transfers the contents of the jug to his water skin and puts a little of the substance on the finger of a dead Beastman to no noticeable effect.

After Das Wald administers first aid to the wounded, the party decides it best to move on as quickly as possible and once again the scout Das Wald takes the lead and moves deeper into the forest. Again after about an hour or so he comes to yet another break in the woods and finds himself gazing upon the crumbling walls of an old and abandoned keep. The party comes up shortly and hides amongst the trees and observes this forgotten relic of the past. Heading into the forest away from the keep and to the North a pair of Beastmen can be seen, and on the rickety walls of the keep can be seen two men; one of them with a horrendously hunched back and deformed face.

View
Assault on the Crumbling Ruins
"I am the dread Beastman Roberts!"

After surveying the perimeter of the ruined keep and discovering the southern edge to be not much more than a crumbling ruin and some large cracks in the western wall, the party decided to follow the trail the three Beastmen took to the North. Scouting ahead, Kestrel spotted one large Gor leading two Ungor along the trail. He wasted no time in seizing the chance for a surprise attack and began hammering them with arrows as he backed up along the path, keeping a good distance between him and their furious charge. Kestrel managed to severely wound one of the Ungors and bury two arrows into the huge Gor before he decided to turn and run back towards his companions. Meanwhile, the rest of the party had heard the bellows of pain and rage from the wounded Beastmen and came running to Kestrel’s aid. It wasn’t long before the two groups met rushing towards each other along the path and fairly quick work was made of the injured Beastmen as Quingar quickly turn the guts out of one with a nimble but savage strike and Das Wald and Kestrel took took down the other two with arrows. Aelfric once again proved himself a very staunch warrior as he easily parried the blows from the charging Ungor.

The Beastmen dead, the party debated wether or not to continue to follow the trail and see where it led, to mount an attack on the ruined keep or to return to the village to rest and see if they could replenish their supply of arrows. The group seemed to stand for ages in the path and argue out their next course of action and tempers were rising high, but in the end they decided prudence was the need of the hour and they returned back to the Village of Ulfstead to recuperate.

Back in the village the party was once again met with the cheers of grateful villagers who seemed more and more bolstered by the successes of our adventurers, especially since Kestrel had brought with him the terrifying horns of one of the Gors as evidence of their victory. Some of the jubilant attitude was lent a bitter note as several of the villagers asked if the party had any news of the missing child, which they could not answer. The Elf, Kestrel, tells of a fortress of Beastmen in the Reikwald not far from Ulfstead and the villagers are alarmed and begin to panic. Quingar tries to calm them by saying it is not so much a fortress but a crumbling ruin and not much account at any rate. Some are reassured by his words but other begin to whisper rumours of this great fortress in frightened voices.

Taking the celebrations to the tavern, food and drink was brought before the party as tales of battle with the Beastmen are shared by the excited and exuberant woodsmen who took part in the battle earlier that day. The men of Ulfstead laugh loudly and slap our party members roughly on the back in congratulations and admiration, while some of the womenfolk steal glances as the brave men who have rescued the village. Das Wald awkwardly approaches a small woman with dark hair and large brown eyes and asks her if she has “pair bonded” with anyone yet She blushes a deep red and asks him what he means. “Are you… married?” he responds, to which she blushes even more and tells him that she is not. A few more awkward words are exchanged and Das Wald learns her name is Tessa. She then excuses herself in a bit of a confused state and joins her friends who tease her and giggle.

Suddenly Aelfric stands on one of the tables and makes a resounding call for the village to rise up against the Beastmen and for all those who share their drink with the party to join the party in battle on the morrow with the foul Beastmen in the forest. His speech rallies five woodsmen to their cause and it is agreed that in the morning the party will once again head out with these woodsmen in company and seek the destruction of more Beastmen. Someone at the back of the tavern adds, “and rescue the boy…” and all murmur agreement that the child should be definitely be rescued. Many more plans are discussed that evening around beer soaked tables, and the woodsmen are unwaveringly enthusiastic about each one. In the end it is decided that an effigy of a Beastman shall be constructed using a goat’s head, a long pole and a cloak, and it shall be placed at the forest’s edge before the main gate of the keep at nightfall. Behind this effigy a fire shall be lit and it is hoped the image of a towering Beastman with flames at his back will confuse the occupants of the keep, at which point an assault will be mounted over the crumbling south wall in the hopes of taking them by surprise. This plan is devised using crusts of bread and beer mugs to signify enemy and allied positions on a wobbly stained table, but the atmosphere in the tavern is one of intense tactical intelligence and seriousness.

The next morning some arrows are purchased and a bow borrowed from the village fletcher and some jugs of moonshine and oil from the tavern owner and the troop of eager woodsmen and adventurers heads out towards the ruined keep. In a few hours they reach their destination and begin to prepare for their attack. Some different men are noticed patrolling the ramparts, one of them with strange elongated arms. A pit is dug in which to start the fire behind the effigy but during its construction a pair of figures emerge from the woods on the southern edge of the clearing and they seem to take notice of some noise where the party is working. To everyone’s horror, it is noticed that one of the figures has not human legs but the lower half of a hideous insect, a centipede! The other figure, a woman, has small horns on her head and it is she who points in the direction of those building the trench and she begins to wander over. The party scatters and hides as she cautiously enters the woods and looks around. Unfortunately, she spies the long sheathed blade of Aelfric’s sword poking out of the bushes and begins to retreat hastily to her companion. Wasting no time, Quinger looses an arrow and brings the woman down whereupon Kestrel follows up quickly with a series of arrows at her back which stills her struggles. Her centipede bodied companion shrieks on panic and scuttles across to the main gate (chased by some missed shots from Kestrel) to the keep where he pounds open the door shouting about an attack and demanding entry. The doors do not open however but the two sentries on the ramparts bring up a crossbow and shot bow and scan the forest for enemies. The party, however, remains hidden and eventually several figures emerge from the keep and collect their fallen comrade. The party retreats further into the forest as a small party of men and women from the keep search the near forest. Eventually they search party returns to the keep and our adventurers take up positions again and wait for nightfall.

Finally dusk arrives and the effigy is lit when Quingar, Aelfric and three of the woodsmen take up positions on the southern edge of the clearing with molotov cocktails at the ready. As the goat headed effigy goes up in flame Das Wald lets out a very convincing Beastmen howl and the sentries on the ramparts rush to the wall to see what is happening. At this signal, Quingar and Aelfric lead the charge towards the crumbling wall of the keep and all but quingar toss their now burning flasks of moonshine and oil over the ruined wall and see them light up the courtyard beyond in sudden bursts of flame accompanied by screams of fear and confusion from the other side. Quinger is able to distinguish amongst the shouts those of at least one child. At the gates Kestrel and Das Wald lead two woodsmen in trying to shoot down the sentries on the wall and manage to do so but not before Das Wald is hit badly in the shoulder with an arrow from a rather tough woman on the wall with a short bow. Once the sentries are down (one of which tumbled from the wall revealing his gross crablike legs) the archers run to assist their companions who have mounted the ramparts after scrambling up the crumbed wall on the southern edge. Aelfric was the first to surmount the wall and see before him a chaotic scene of about a ten or so figures running about in the half-dark seeking shelter from the flames. He draws his sword and heads halfway down the stairs to the courtyard and prepares to meet a sickening figure with no face and strange distended limbs rushing to attack him with a sword. Aelfric does not succumb to the fear that rises in his chest at facing (no pun intended) such a monstrosity, but the melee he enters blocks the stairs for others to join in the fray. Soon Quingar and the other woodsmen are on the wall and do their best to aid the fight as they can. Aelfric, seeing the bottleneck created by his potion, leaps to the group below him and lands safely attracts the attention of a whole courtyard full of angry figures. Right next to him a man with the lower body of a snake rises up and attacks, his mouth frothy with a yellowy, green bile that sprays forth as he screams a challenge to Aelfric.

The ensuing battle is confusing and chaotic with figures darting too and fro in the courtyard and Quingar and Kestrel holding a position on the ramparts dealing out death from above with arrows as Aelfric and the woodsmen fight a close fight with the hideously deformed mutants that engage them. In the midst of this, a grossly corpulent man with two mouths begins to bellow dire threats and proclamations of doom in a deep and throaty voice. The desired effect is never quite achieved though, for at that moment the scared but savage woodsmen cut down the faceless mutant and send him crashing to the feet of the huge man. Then a litany of dark and foul words begin to spill forth from the fat thing’s two mouths and Quingar feels his old wound twist in him though he summons up his iron Dwarven will and shakes off the strain it places upon him. Suddenly, more shouts of triumph from the two woodsmen at the bottom of the stairs as they cut down in two vicious strokes the huge, fat mutant and send him crashing to the ground in a pile of his own foul guts.

For a moment the air is still. The last shadows of the remaining retreating figures can be seen entering the inner rooms of the keep through a broken door and the party is able to catch their breath a moment before taking their next move…

View
Under the Ruins, Out to the Forest
Good planning can really save your ass

While Kestrel took the two woodsmen armed with bows to the ramparts overlooking the gate, Das Wald, Aelfric and Quingar searched the flaming ruins of the courtyard for evidence of the mutant band’s activities. The three other woodsmen warily watched the door through which a half dozen men and women had just run a moment before, bracing themselves for a counterattack. But no counterattack came, and while little of much use was turned up in the scattered debris of the yard, Das Wald did manage to find a wooden trap door set in among the paving stones. The door had been pried open recently, as was evidenced by fresh gouging on its surface, and a large black smear in the shape of an ‘X’ had been painted across it using dirt and animal fat. Das Wald opened the trapdoor using a spear and, ever curious, Quingar led the group (minus Kestrel) down the stone steps below with Aelfric holding a quickly made torch aloft for light. Before the group extended a dirty corridor that couldn’t have seen any use in hundreds of years save for a trail of fairly fresh footprints leading down beneath. Thirty feet later and the group found themselves in a square room about 25′ × 25′ filled with old, desiccated, crates and barrels and the corridor continuing on the opposite side of the room. Quingar’s dwarven eyes picked out one wooden box in particular that stood out among the others; copper bound it was, and locked. As Quingar examined the box, Das Wald looked down the far corridor as far as he could see, and though he saw nothing save the rough stone walls of the underground passage, he thought he heard, for a moment, a strange scratching sound coming from down the hallway, and at the same time, a very faint skritching sound seeming to come from all around. Aelfric stood by the near entrance to the room and listened as well, wary as always. Meanwhile, quingar set himself to try and pick the lock to the box and succeeded fairly quickly in doing so to the old, rusty mechanism. However, just as he heard the lock click open, there was another snapping click and a sharp needle darted out of a small hole near the lock and struck him in the hard! Quingar felt the sting of the wound, and for a moment the throb of potential infection, but the constitution of a Dwarf is strong indeed, and quickly sucking out whatever foreign material had been thrust into his hand, he spat it open the floor and the sense of potential poisoning threatened him no longer. Looking inside the box, Quingar saw a sword most finely crafted indeed. Despite the years it must have lain there, its blade remained sharp and keen. The metal was a dull grey in colour, a tarnish running deep into the composition of the blade that was not merely surface dirt but rather the colour of the metal itself. As well, where the hilt met the blade the metal was carved into the shape of a skull. Quingar, intensely interested in the blade, lifted it aloft and felt that it indeed was a very well crafted sword. Just then, Das Wald gave a shout of warning and let loose an arrow down the further hallway! Aelfric ran to his aid just as a huge monstrosity of a spider came careening down the tunnel and lay into them with slavery mandibles and powerful, striking limbs! At the same time, thousands of biting insect began to come out of the walls and fall from the ceiling upon out adventurers! Aelfric let forth a savage battle cry and rent a giant gash in the spider’s abdomen, sending a spray of giant spider blood across Das Wald and the surrounding walls. The creature let forth an inhuman scream but continued to strike out against them! Das Wald fled to the other side of the room which gave Quingar the space to rush in and deliver a dextrous blow to the falling creature and bring it to the ground, dead. The party’s troubles were not over yet however, as the swarm of insects continued to issue forth from all around them and threatened to bring them down! Das Wald, completely freaked out, ran down the further hallway wiping insects from his body and making as much speed as he could to get away! Qungar and Aelfric followed suit, lashing out with sword and torch as they fled! The creatures bit and stung them but soon Das Wald saw light in the distance and the party came to an area where the tunnel ended and the ceiling opened up to the Reikwald forest above. The corridor had taken on a more earthen composition and there were the sticky strands of spider’s webs at the mouth of the tunnel. Pulling themselves out, the party found they were indeed in the forest somewhere north of the keep. The trees around them were hung with several tightly wound packages of spider silk which from within they could make out the forms of both woodsman and Beastman! The party beat back what insects still pursued them from the tunnel and took stock of their surroundings.

Meanwhile up on the walls of the keep, Kestrel felt that all was well. The forest was peaceful and he felt content that all was secure. He sent a man down to watch over the crumbling southern wall of the keep and to make sure the front gate was securely closed and bolted. He could see that the other 3 woodsmen in the courtyard continued to watch the door to the inner keep. Suddenly, without warning, a hideous mutant with lizard-like scales and small leathery bat wings and a long reptilian tail reared itself over the ramparts from the outside and charged him! One, two, there arrows flew from Kestrel’s bow and the creature was sent tumbling over the edge of the wall. As he watched it fall, Kestrel saw more figures running the the keep and into the forest on the northern edge. “Let them go” he thought.

Quingar, Aelfric and Das Wald took it upon themselves to stuff the opening to the tunnel with burning debris to keep the insects inside, and hopefully burn them or drown them in smoke. Wanting to be out of the forest, Quingar, Aelfric and Das Wald decided to return to the keep, and exiting for woods saw Kestrel upon the ramparts waving to them. Soon they were all united in the courtyard and traded stories of what had occurred. It was decided that the tunnel beneath the fort was too dangerous and should be avoided, but the interior of the keep should now be explored.

Searching the ruins the party found a broken wooden symbol of Sigar, a silver chain with a dove pendant, a book of adventure stories and some coins. It was also determined that the fleeing mutants had piled up debris under a window in one of the rooms, climbed out and escaped into the forest that way.

Not wanting to waste more time, the party continued to investigate the forest path which led north and where they had followed the beastmen previously.

*this entry is incomplete due to writing fatigue. The next couple of sessions are also not entered… boo. If I get time I’ll try and put them in at least in point form…

View
The Intrigue at Grunewald Lodge
Curiouser and Curiouser

With the party now roughly acquainted with the grounds of Grunewald lodge and preliminary investigations made, Das Wald and Kestrel continued to familiarize themselves with the open areas of the property and made their way through the overgrown cemetery while Wulric contented himself with prying the guardsmen for clues while helping himself to a good share of the manor’s ale. Quingar, leaving behind a frustrated Karla Wagner in the kitchen, explored the courtyard at caught a glimpse of Gregor Piersson scowling at him from a second floor hallway window. All this while, Aelfric busied himself cleaning the triptych at the shrine to Sigmar and made a startling discovery; the iconic Sigmar’s Hammer was not a relief in the triptych at all but an actual Dwarven warhammer made to look as if it were part of the shrine with added dirt and grime! Aelfric removed the hammer and found the original hammer behind it, dirty but otherwise as expected. The hammer was clearly an ancestral Dwarven war hammer and Aelfric realized the importance of returning it to its proper family or risk being an accomplice to its missing status and possibly earning an entry into the Book of Grudges! Aelfric cleaned the rest of the shrine and Taking the hammer with him headed back towards the manor house. At the same time, Quingar had reentered the manor and entered the library where he found a corpulent and rather stuffy looking man totally absorbed in a book from one of the many musty shelves therein. Returning to the gallery through the eerily cold sitting room Quingar ran into Aelric who showed him the hammer. It was decided it best to keep the hammer hidden and Quingar swiped a potato sack from the kitchen for Aelfric to keep it in. At this point Das Wald and Kestrel entered the manor and the group convened momentarily in the hallway trading discoveries and insights.

Das Wald and Kestrel decided to head upstairs and question the doctor on the gortseite patch in the garden while Quingar and Aelfric entered the study. Upstairs, the doctor was dismissive of the existence of gortseite and claimed the plant was only a weed, though Das Wald could tell he was clearly hiding something. The gardener, who was also present in the hospice, provided no real assistance either way as his knowledge of gardening seemed to be rather remiss. Das Wald offered to burn the ‘weed’ but the doctor said it wasn’t good for the soil to do that. Das Wald and Kestrel said they would all the same and then left, to the consternation of the doctor who sent the gardener after them to forestall their efforts. Meanhile, Quingar and Aelfric had come across two of the house servants cleaning the study. When questioned, they said that the steward Gregor Piersson was not a bad man to work for and then a loud bang was heard next door and the servants made their exit. As they left a note dropped from one of their pockets which, when retrieved by Quingar, read “Goose is good”. Quingar took the note and he and Aelfric made a decent search of the study but found nothing but ledgers and rolls of parchment. Quingar took a quill and some parchment with him and the two then left the room to speak with the librarian next door. The librarian seemed far more interested in his books than their questions, but they did learn that no new additions had been made to the lodge in centuries.

Outside, Das Wald and Kestrel proceeded to set fire to the large patch of gortseite, much to the chagrin of the gardener who tried his best to stop them and stomp out what fires they were starting. Soon the doctor came running out and also tried to stop them but his efforts were easily thwarted by the burly Elf. As the doctor and gardener tried to put out the flames and Kestrel and Das Wald stoked the fire, a bemused Otto the dog handler watched from the kennels, and just then the diner bell was sounded. The doctor and gardener then conceded defeat and returned to the manor house, soon followed by Kestrel and Das Wald.

Inside, Quingar and Aelfric heard the diner bell as well and made their way through the sitting room once again towards the great hall. However, this time they strangeness of the room got the better of their curiosity and Aelfric sneaked a peak behind the blue curtain on the wall. Immediately he wished he hadn’t as a most horrible and terrifying picture of a distorted, vaguely human eye stared back at him! The painting oozed a terrifying supernatural energy and it was all Aelfric could do to remain calm in its presence. Quingar, also seeing the painting had a bit of a rougher time handling its repulsive imagery but still he managed to steady his nerves. Quickly Aelric replaced the curtain and deemed it best to just head for diner, but Quingar, before heading into the great hall, marched back at the painting behind the curtain and drove the Dwarven hammer into its centre! He felt a definite surge of power pulse down the shaft of the hammer as it connected with the painting behind the curtain, though he did not risk peaking again to see what effect it may have had. The pair then composed themselves and entered the great all where everyone, including Kestrel and Das Wald, had gathered.

After seating themselves around the great table with Lord Rickard Aschaffenberg at the head of the table and the rest of his household seated to his left and right, the assembled were brought the first course, consisting of a spicy vegetable soup, by a pair of overly tired servants directed but an irritated Gregor Piersson. Many excuses were made by several members of the party as to why they could not indulge themselves in the soup, with Kestrel making the most grandiose show of hoisting the bowl to his lips and appearing to drink it down in one gulp when indeed he barely let any enter his mouth. By the time the second courts of Venison and Goose was being brought out, Lord Rickard Aschaffenberg was becoming rather annoyed at the general lack of enthusiasm for what he considered to be a fantastic meal. Quingar tried to ameliorate the growing tension by telling some very strange and exclusive Dwarven jokes… though if they helped it was not clear. Suddenly, Das Wald got up from the table and excused himself much to the confusion of the Lord. Not but a moment after Das Wald had left, loud howls were heard coming from the kennels and then Otto got up and excused himself to see what was the matter. Quick on his heals followed Wulric (who made no excuse about leaving) who ran to the fortified walls of the gatehouse to look out and see what might be amiss. Das Wald as well took to the walls and looked out over the back of the property near where the dogs had been barking. In the dim tree line Das Wald thought he saw some humanoid shapes running in the shadows, but it was hard to tell more. Whereas Wulric at the gate had more luck, and caught in the moonlight he clearly saw several Beastmen running between the trees….

View
As above, so below
A curious case of divided attention

Das Wald, Wulric and Kestrel had left the diner table to investigate the source of Ott’s hound’s distraction, while Lord Rickard Aschaffenberg remained behind at the head of the table with the remainder of the household including Quingar and Aelfric. Outside, it became clear that the hounds were alerted to something outside the walls and Das Wald noticed man sized shadows moving through the forest’s edge which Wulric identified as Ungor Beastmen. Das Wald quickly responded with his ranger’s warning call and Wulric began to ring the alarm bell to alert the household. Unfortunately, it seemed the rest of the guards on hand had succumbed to whatever it was that was making so much of the rest of the manor occupants drowsy and they could not be roused to establish a defence of the lodge.

At the diner table the sounds of alarm reached those now being served their dessert course by a nearly sleep-walking Todd Heistlenburger. Vern Hendrick had collapsed in his pudding and it was all Aelfric could do to help Captain Anders to the door and across the yard to help defend the walls. Lord Rickard Aschaffenberg left the table to ascend the steps to his quarters, presumably to take up his arms, and was followed by Quingar who confronted him in his bedroom about the state of affairs at the manor and the possible existence of a demon (painting) on the grounds! Lord Rickard Aschaffenberg could barely believe his ears, but the Dwarf made a convincing story of it all and though Aschaffenberg insisted in going out to fight the Beastmen, he told Quingar to go ahead and do what needed to be done in terms of confronting the demonic presence he talked about. Quingar wasted no time but headed straight to the Hospice where he found Sister Sonja, the two wounded guards and Korden the dwarf. He told Sister Sonja of the demonic presence in the sitting room and brought her to the painting. However, once he threw back the curtain to reveal the painting, it wasn’t there…. someone had cut it out and taken it! On the floor next to where the painting hung Quingar found a pile of bandages which he realized were those that had wrapped the head and eye of Gregor Piersson. He then brought Sister Sonja to Lord Rickard Aschaffenberg, whom they found nearly passed out on the stairs to the second floor, and took him to the kitchen where Sister Sonja could administer what care she could to him. Quingar then returned to the hospice and presented Korden with the hammer Aelfric had given him whereupon the dwarf became lucid for a moment, recognizing the hammer of his ancestors. Quingar managed to convince him in his moment of lucidity that the call to action was now and he and Quingar must crush the chaotic forces at work in the manor. The pair then set off for the wine cellar to meet out some justice!

Meanwhile outside, Das Wald, Aelfric and Wulric were joined by Pieter Koch, one of the only guards not reduced to a drowsy stupor. When asked he admitted to eating the goose at diner. Pieter was adamant the group stay and defend the walls, and especially not worry about the missing elder race pair, Kestrel and Quingar. Soon the group spotted 4 Ungors advancing on the walls of the manor with long, large bundles of sticks. Wulric tried to rouse Captain anders by punching him in the stomach (to get the ‘poisoned food’ out…) but the effect was not quite what was hoped for, at least not right away. As the Ungors came forward, great shooting by Aelfic and the others made them think twice about coming back, and soon some flaming arrows were added to the defence of the lodge and a wooden bundle they had dropped while retreating was set ablaze (giving some much needed light to the situation as well). Wulric also spotted the coachman Albrecht Krug coming out of the stable hay loft with a blunderbuss and convinced him to join in the defence of the lodge from the walls as well. The now five defenders of the lodge marched around the perimeter of the wall and lit all available torches, trying to see as much of the forest as possible and guard against any attack.

Once in the wine cellar, Quingar managed to open the hidden door behind the wine rack after only couple tries whilst Korden threw himself into a frenzy smashing everything in sight. With the secret door opened, Quingar could hear a droning, malevolent chanting coming from down the passageway beyond and could see the flicker of torch light. Korden took off down the hallway screaming in a mad Dwarven battle cry, but before Quingar could do anything else a enraged Karla Wagnar, the cook, came down the stairs with a meat cleaver and attacked Quingar, yelling “Get away from the door!” Though Karla managed to wound Quingar slightly, it only made him mad and within moments he and the Skull Sword had made quick work of the cook, cutting her neatly in half. Then leaving the severed body in a pool of its own blood and wine from the broken bottles, Quingar cautiously made his way down the corridor revealed behind the wine rack; the sounds of struggle and chanting waiting for him up ahead.

On the wall outside, the defenders noted that the Beastmen had ceased to advance but Pieter and Albrecht cautioned against leaving the wall and warned the Beastmen could be back at any moment! Wulric spotted Otto in the courtyard with his dogs and suggested his hounds may wish to be utilized in the battle. Otto agreed and Wulric quickly opened the gate for him whereupon Otto left the manor with his dogs and set them loose into the forest. Moments later bestial howls combined with the baying of dogs erupted from the forest’s edge as Otto strode boldly forward after his beloved animals into the forest. Wulric Quickly raised the drawbride and sealed the door once again, unfortunately leaving Otto on the other side however.

In the basement, Quingar cautiously moved down the corridors beneath the manor and rounding a corner was faced with a terrible sight. Gregor Piersson was assembled with five other figures in robes, chanting around a circle inscribed into the ground. Gregor stood beside a stone alter and held a musty tome in one hand and a serpentine dagger in the other. Another of the robed figures held the unconscious form of one of the servants, Todd Hestlinger, and yet another of the robed figures could be seen struggling with the mad Dwarf Korden in the corner. Quingar, after a moments hesitation, charged at the figure closest to him a dealt him a savage blow. Then all hell broke loose and Quingar was swarmed! He managed to cut down two cultists before he was overwhelmed, specifically brought down by a blow from behind.

Outside, Wulric, Das Wald and Aelfric’s concerns over their missing team mates became too much and they started to head back towards the manor. Das Wald discovered the bloody mess in the wine cellar and let out his ranger’s warning call, hearing which Aelfric started to descend from the wall but Pieter attempted to stop him! Aelfric had had enough and struck the man a hardy blow. However, Pieter was not wholly unprepared and deal a terrible blow back in return. Aelfric then knocked him over the edge of the wall into the courtyard, but somehow Pieter managed to grab hold of Aelfric’s sleeve before he fell and the two tumbled into the courtyard with Aelfric landing on top of Pieter knocking him unconscious. Wulric, looking up, saw a disturbing sight on the roof of the manor. Against the hideous green glow of Morrslieb, a robed figure stood upon the roof with some small tapestty or canvas in hand and was beginning a dreadful incantation….

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.