The Gathering Storm Complete Play Report
(I have merged all my Gathering Storm posts into this one for easy access)
[WFRP 1e] The Gathering Storm 1
Within 10 minutes, someone walked out of Stormdorf, down to the ferry, and piloted it across the river. The man introduced himself as Lukas Kaltenbach. The fee, he said, was 20 silver to ferry the cart and everyone else across. The party mentioned they were looking for a missing merchant. Lukas suggested the Hogshead Inn.
The party was met by the Halfling proprietress, Keila Cobblepot. They let rooms, and immediately decided to go next door.
The Thunderwater Tavern must have been the most popular place in town. There was a bar, tables, and private cubbies to sit, talk, and enjoy the products of the brewery out back. One seat was conspicuously empty, closest the fireplace. The most popular drink was called Thunderwater Ale. It was potent, and nobody could drink more than a pint without feeling a bit tipsy. Cauis decided to make friends by buying a round of Thunderwater for everyone in the room, which cost him a full gold crown.
Hektor’s eye was immediately drawn to the blunderbuss over the bar. He spent the rest of the night surreptitiously casing the tavern in case he ever wanted to retrieve the firearm.
Zarkon was intrigued by Reinhold “the Rooster” who was playing a lute and reciting poetry, badly, near the fire. Zarkon found one lady who was trying to find Reinhold interesting and failing. He decided to ask her to dance. The lady, Denise, decided to take up the challenge.
At the bar, one of the young bartenders let slip to Caius that they had a stronger drink by the name of Marshwater. He said they used a live Reik eel in the brewing to add body to the drink. Caius was up to the challenge and downed the whole drink in one go. He was barely able to contain a wave of nausea as the bartender laughed and clapped him on the shoulder. The next Thunderwater was on the house.
Zarkon invited Denise next door to chat in a more intimate environment. At the Hogshead, he asked Keila about finding a better musician. He offered to dance in the inn as entertainment each night while he was there, if she could find someone who could keep a better tune than Reinhold. She found a drummer…and offered Zarkon some pie.
Events at the Thunderwater Tavern definitely died down but never died off completely. The party ended up leaving to get a good night’s sleep. The investigation into the missing merchant started in earnest the next morning.
The investigation started at the market as the party went to sell the coal from Ubersreik. Maxo Brunner, the Thunderwater Ale seller, gave the party directions on which booth to sell the coal at and suggested he would start an investigation at the Hogshead Inn, where most merchants stay when in town. He also distinctly remembered that Florian had a cart drawn by a sad-looking pure white pony.
Zarkon was headed to follow the lead, when he noticed another inn next door to the marketplace. The Lord Dorian looked to be a much fancier place than the Hogshead, and the reception Zarkon received had him immediately leaving to return to Keila Cobblepot.
Keila told Zarkon that Florian Wechsler had left suddenly in the early hours of the morning a few days prior. She remembered it clearly, because he had woken her up to settle his bill. She always got up early as it was to start baking, but he woke her before dawn. He left so early, that he even left his bodyguards in their room. They woke up later, confused, and headed out of town on their own. Zarkon decided to try to gather more information at the Thunderwater Tavern.
At the marketplace, Kraft was in the midst of selling the coal, when Caius was approached by a drunk-looking Estalian. Eduardo Castillo Rodrigues had a finely waxed moustache and pointed beard, a loose fitting shirt, torn leather trousers, and loose soles on his boots. And he recognized Cauis as the man giving out a free round at the Thunderwater the night before. He also overheard Kraft asking about the merchant Florian.
Eduardo remembered the merchant. Drunk, Eduardo had passed out just across the street from the Hogshead on the night in question. He saw the two bodyguards leave the next morning, heading to the ferry. Eduardo didn’t see Florian leave, but he did hear someone go by with a cart sometime shortly after midnight. Caius left immediately to go find Zarkon.
At the Thunderwater Tavern, Zarkon wasn’t able to get much more information. The bartender, Sebastian, didn’t remember anything significant happening that night that would have caused Florian to leave town suddenly. He suggested trying the gatehouse, as anyone leaving would have to pass by the guards.
There was little information to be had at the west gate, except the assertion that Florian Wechsler had not left town in that direction. The guard, Neil, was also sure nobody took the path heading to the north gate. At that time of night, a traveler would have been noted, especially one with a white pony. The party decided to check at the east gate.
A guard at the east gate, Peter, definitely remembered a cart drawn by a white pony leaving town in the middle of the night a few days ago. However, the cart and pony were not drawn by Florian Wechsler because, instead, the guard recognized the cart driver as Reiner Holtz. Holtz came to town every so often to sell hops and livestock. That night he had walked into town, and ridden out with the cart and pony.
Zarkon asked for directions to the Holtz farm. Peter pointed south-south east, where sullen rain clouds were streaked with red light. At first it seemed there might be a break in the rain at last, but then the wind shifted and the party was able to smell a whiff of smoke in the air. Something was burning in the distance.
[WFRP 1e] The Gathering Storm 2
To The Farm!
Something was burning in the distance. Thunder crashed, and lightning struck the temple of Sigmar behind the party. The tracks toward the farm were deep mud. There was no way Kraft could get her cart out to the farm. She stayed behind while the others went to investigate.
Rain continued to pour off their wide-brimmed hats and well-used ponchos. It seemed the rain hadn’t stopped this farm from burning to the ground. Every building had been set ablaze, with little more than a steaming, smoky mess remaining.
Feet squelched into mud. Slippery mud. The smell was nauseating. The scene was carnage. Carnage without bodies.
The party searched the scene, looking for victims…but also looking for Florian Wechsler’s missing cart. Rolf checked the remains of the barn. Nim used his spear to move rubble and look for bodies. Everyone could see the cloven-hoofed footprints leading directly east toward the Oberslecht Swamp. A single set of human-sized boot walked south east toward the road. Zarkon decided to keep an eye on the perimeter and started a walk-around.
Caius found an eight-pointed star daubed in blood and dung painted on the remains of the farmhouse chimney. He also found a cracked, wooden sign with the name EIGEL. Back up the driveway to the main road, Zarkon was waving to get everyone’s attention. As the sky lit up with lightning, he could see two shapes standing in the front yard of the farmhouse across the road. It looked like two men were arguing as a number of other figures looked on.
To The Other Farmhouse!
Standing in the rain in the middle of the muddy barnyard, two young men were screaming at one another. One of them was tall and gangly, with too-long, limp blonde hair and a pug nose. His clothes were torn and he was smeared with soot, mud, and blood. The other was shorter and darker, with close-set eyes and a weak chin. Those watching had similar features.
“It’s all your fault,” screamed the tall one. “They’re dead because of you!”
“My fault?” roared the short one. “I told you not to stop, Tristan! I warned you! But you never listen!”
Two large men, a woman, and another man watched from the barnyard. Multiple others had stopped their chores at various other points around the farm to watch the confrontation.
The group walked up the second driveway toward the barnyard. “What, exactly, is going on here?” Caius stepped forward to ask. The confrontation stopped for a moment all heads turned toward the party. Nobody moved or said anything. The two men looked back at each other. The short one shouted.
“What did you think would happen? Did you think they’d just go away?” He pointed toward the east.
“Why my family and not yours?” The tall one replied. Then he drew a knife. “It’s time to even the score.”
The party was unsure about getting into the middle of the scrap. Tristan lunged at the shorter man, and slashed him across the ribs. That’s when the large onlookers jumped in. It didn’t take long for the big men to subdue Tristan. The woman ran to the injured man. There was no less tension, but the altercation was apparently over.
From the farmhouse, an adolescent girl with close-set eyes, a squat pig-like nose, and a doughy face ran straight to Rolf. “Aren’t you just the most handsome man I ever did see! Come in! Come in!” She pulled Rolf toward the house. “Mama! We’re going to have a tea party!” Rolf didn’t fight her as she led him inside. Zarkon and Hektor followed.
The two large men tied Tristan up and led him to the barn. Nim and Caius didn’t trust their intentions, so they followed the men. As Tristan was tied to a chair, Caius tried to ask the men questions. “You don’t look like a witch-hunter; you don’t have a gun” the older man stated.
Hektor assured the man, “we’re in the process of acquiring one.” The man saw through the two’s bravado and invited them in to talk things over with Marie. It seemed Marie was the one in the know.
Inside, the young girl, Imelda, had set Rolf on the floor for their tea party. Many other presumed family members had followed everyone inside. Marie had someone pressing a cloth against the cut man’s ribs. Another she identified as Reiner was called into the kitchen with her to start the hot water.
Zarkon could see Marie pouring ale out of a small cask and into a mug. She looked at the mug, then at the cask, the shrugged and took both out the back door with her. Zarkon made and excuse to go into the kitchen, nodding for Hektor to follow.
Zarkon acquainted himself with Reiner, to the point where Reiner offered to head to the basement for some Thunderwater Ale. Zarkon and Hektor immediately slipped out the back door. Marie was heading for the barn.
Out front, Caius and Nim followed the two large men inside.
in the barn, Zarkon tried to put Marie to the question about the events in the yard…and the missing merchant Florian Wechsler. She fired back some probing questions. “Do you plan on staying in Hobbly/Stormdorf? Are you close to your hometown? Your family? What would you do to protect your family?” Caius’ answers seem to satisfy Marie. She invited them back inside to talk to everyone at once. Caius was worried about Tristan, tied to the chair in the barn. Marie assured they wouldn’t harm him. He was her nephew.
At first, the large man, Otto, started denying Reiner saw anything out of the ordinary on the night of Florian Wechsler’s disappearance. Then he grudgingly admitted that Reiner had bought the pony from Wechsler for a bargain price, as long as he took the pony out of town and didn’t tell anyone about it. He floated the theory that Wechsler had wanted to disappear. At no time in the story did Reiner speak for himself.
Marie admitted that beastmen in the swamp had burned the Eigel farm. But there wasn’t anything to worry about; the Holtzes were tougher than the Eigels and could take care of themselves. Caius offered to help with the beastman problem, if Marie helped with his investigation. After thinking for a bit, Marie answered “There’s someone I want you to meet. Please come with me.” She picked up a lantern, and all the Holtz family grabbed their rain cloaks. It seems everyone was heading back out into the storm.
To the Swamp!
The rain had not slowed. And Marie was leading the party into the swamp. The party didn’t hesitate to follow. Otto still slipped them all suspicious looks on the way.
As the twisted, stunted trees loomed overhead, the misty rain conspired to sink the swamp in perpetual twilight, though it was still technically daytime. The lantern’s feeble light helped, as they climbed onto a small hillock, rising above the boggy ground. A small cart rested on the edge of the clearing, but what caught the party’s eye was the massive, squat, brooding tree to the north.
Leafless, the tree’s evil-looking branches were festooned with fetishes and charms, the pelts of animals, collections of feathers, and bones. The knotty trunk was stained here and there with old blood (probably), and they realized they were walking over a collection of old bones. There was a cow’s skull, a horse’s leg, and other, more recent – and more disturbing – remains…including, possibly, parts of a white pony hide.
Nobody tried to turn back.
“Are you there?” Marie called into the forest around them. “I’ve brought friends. They can help us.” There was silence, then a flash of lightning and a crash of thunder sounded overhead. The lightning struck somewhere to the east, deeper into the swamp. “Please,” Marie called. “We don’t have much time!”
Cracking out of the undergrowth, a figure loomed in the twilight. He was hunched, and leaning on a wooden staff capped with an animal skull and festooned with feathers, teeth, and semi-precious stones. Those caught Hektor’s eye.
The figure’s torn robes were similarly decorated, with a leather mantle worked with animal bones. His arms were muscular, his fingers ending in grubby, claw-like nails. When he spoke, it was a raspy voice, unused to speaking at all.
“I hope you can help us. She is correct; time is running out. This very night, Izka the Madtooth comes to destroy the works of Man. He will not stop until no stone stands on another, until all the gods of Man are cast down and destroyed. You must take the source of his power and strip from him the favor of Khorne. You must steal the lightning stone.”
The party was agreeable to those terms, considering all the “works of Man” were at risk. The robed man had a plan: fight the beastman herdstone, steal the lightning stone on top of it, and escape the swamp. Was it too complicated to work? Lightning flashed, and thunder filled the air.
The group wanted to take the abandoned cart. As the muscle man, they made Rolf navigate the cart through the paths in the swamp. They also wanted a guide, after the robed man told them the swamp was dangerous without one. He agreed to take them to the herdstone, then he had to leave them to prepare to disrupt the herd once their totem went missing.
Using Hektor’s silent moving skills, and using Rolf’s strength to force the cart into submission, the group successfully snuck up on the beastman herdstone. The stone was in the center of a clearing. A large beastman, presumably Izka Madtooth, knelt in front of the stone, gathering the favor of Khorne as lightning repeatedly struck the top. There were also 3 gors and 5 ungors stationed around the clearing. Unless they wanted a large-scale battle, the party needed a plan. There were other beastmen in the swamp that could show up at any minute
Quickly (in the grand scheme of things) a plan was hatched, and Hektor picked up a heavy clod of dirt and stone to create a distraction. He tactfully threw the heavy clod overhead to the other side of the clearing. Seven out of 8 beastmen were distracted and rushed the far end of the clearing. The party attacked.
The Crossbro’s fired at Izka Madtooth. Someone threw a spear. Rolf and Caius charged the large Wargor, while Hektor headed for the lightning stone.
The robed man had said they only needed to remove the lightning stone from the swamp, and then he could turn the herd against Izka for his failure to protect it. Another option was to kill the beastman leader and let chaos ensue. The group went for the second option.
The party had a surprise round to fire missiles at Izka and get Hektor to the stone. Then the wargor started attacking back, and the rest of the beastmen charged back to the herdstone to defend it.
Caius and Rolf attacked Izka with one hand, while fighting off a beastman each with the other hand. Hektor slowly cut through the ropes lashing the lightning stone to the herdstone. The other beastmen surrounded him just as he finished. He started running back to the cart, as close to Caius as he could get.
The Crossbro’s shot at Hektor’s pursuers, as the rallying beastmen closed on the fleeing burglar…just as the two fighters slew the Madtooth. The beastmen stopped as Izka fell. Zarkon chose that moment to speak to them in their dark language using Gift of Tongues.
“Khorne has forsaken you. You are not good enough. He has used us to show you his disfavor.” Hektor dropped the stone into the cart, and the party headed out. Behind them, beastmen bleated battle cries and set upon each other in a frenzy for dominance.
They met individual beastmen on the way back to the farm, but none who wanted to challenge the group. They all seemed to be heading to the clearing to fight for dominance of the herd. Also, lighting occasionally hit the trail where the lightning stone had been the moment before, until the party finally exited the swamp. Then the storm calmed down for the first time in days.
Back at the Holtz farm, Marie was waiting on word of their success…and on the status of the robed man. They told her the man was alive and well the last time they had seen him. She smiled and thanked them for her help. Imelda was glad to see her new boyfriend Rolf and Cousin Zarkon.
They did not remain long at the farm, but Zarkon did toss Marie a couple silver. He knew her family had been through rough times, and the party might need allies in the future.
In Stromdorf, the head of the Watch stopped the party to ask what they discovered in the ashes of the Eigel farm. He wanted to know if he should be expecting an attack from the swamp.
“It’s all taken care of,” the party assured.
[WFRP 1e] The Gathering Storm 3
The head of the watch met the party as they returned through the east gate to Stormdorf. The man had a thin, humorless face and a long-waxed moustache. A black leather eyepatch covered his right eye. His good eye had a piercing stare. He wore a black wide brimmed flat hat set at a rakish angle, and he wore a breastplate over black jerkin. His jerkin and his close-fitting hose were both fashionably slashed. His left arm ended in a stump at the wrist. A splendid sword of obvious superior craftsmanship dangled at his belt. He introduced himself as Arno Kessler. “What did you find? Should I expect any trouble from out that way?”
Rolf responded, “We took care of it. All of it.”
Captain Kessler looked in the cart where the lightning stone sat. “What’s that thing?”
“Stone taken from the beastmen.”
“Is it going to be any trouble?”
The party cast some dubious looks at each other, but assured that the stone wouldn’t be anything the watch had to worry about. Kessler tells Rolf he can get his wound looked at tomorrow by Rolf Messer, the barber-surgeon.
As explanations and niceties happened at the marketplace near the east gate, Zarkon decided to head back to the Hogshead Inn. He popped into the Thunderwater Tavern to search for his dancing partner, Denise. He found her, and most of the rest of the town, and she went with him to the Hogshead Inn to hear his story. He set Denise and Keila Cobblepot down at a table and told them everything. He even spoke well of the Holtzes.
A number of people at the market overheard the watch commander asking questions, and they started to crowd around the group. A voice in the crowd offered to buy the party a round at the Thunderwater Tavern. “You took care of it? They took care of it! Huzzah!!” The crowd might not have really been sure what “it” was, but it seemed to make Captain Kessler happy, so they ran with it.
Everyone besides Zarkon went to the Thunderwater Tavern.
When the party arrived at the Thunderwater, it seemed everyone in town was already there. And they were eager to hear the party’s exploits. First, Kraft told the party that while they were gone, she joined the town in a hanging of two sheep rustlers out on the Field of Verena. She was able to pick up a couple rumors, too. First, she was told the town has a pillory for anyone who needs time in the stocks, but murderers and persistent felons get the gallows out in the Field. Secondly, she heard that the last person they punished on the Field of Verena was a scholar. About a year ago, Lazarus Mourn, who turned out to be a Necromancer, was burned there on a pyre. Even the rain stopped that day! No grass has grown in the spot since that very day.
Caius told everyone at the Thunderwater Tavern of glorious battle and how they took down the beastman. Kraft was not there, and had not heard the story, so it was a good tale for the villagers and to get the missing party member caught up. When he mentioned taking the beastman leader’s axe, Rolf held the axe up for all to see. There was cheering from everyone in the room.
While everyone was busy, Nim ducked out to the stables to move the lightning stone from the small cart to Kraft’s larger cart.
After the tale of the defeat of the beastmen, the party was able to hear so rumors and stories about the history of the town. It seemed a lot of trouble happened in this relative nowhere. One common theme seemed to be undead. From the stories, years ago (at least 50 now) the town’s militia captain, Lothar Mauer, defeated a small vampire army outside of town near the River Tranig. You can see Lothar’s statue on Market Square.
As far as the local graveyard goes, there was the graveyard in town, but that was full. Plus, they said it was helpful to have the Garden of Morr outside the gates, in case the dead ever rose again like they did when the vampire army attacked.
Speaking of the Garden of Morr, the rain has never stopped falling over the Garden since Lothar was buried there. Sigmar himself weeps inconsolably over the grave of the hero.
“The rain? You know why the rain never stops, don’t you? Hundreds of years ago an evil sorcerer lived out on the Tempest Knap. The sorcerer angered the gods with his hubris, and they struck him down…him and his tower. They’re still angry to this day. That’s why the storms never stop.”
Then, there were two other rumors that seemed to stand alone. The first was that Stormdorf used to rely heavily on its upland flocks for revenue, but a hundred years ago goblin tribes drove most farmers from the hills.
Finally, the party heard that there was a wizard staying at the Lord Dorian Inn. Word was that he was from Altdorf. The townsfolk seemed to like him, as every Wellentag he teaches the local children their letters in the common room of the Thunderwater Tavern.
Not long after that rumor, the Wizard, Niklas Schulmann, walked in the front door.
Dressed in flamboyant midnight-blue robes, this young man’s high cowl, skullcap, and flowing cloak were decorated with esoteric golden sigils. A small telescope, an elegant dagger, and several scrolls hung at his belt, and his staff was topped by a clockwork representation of moons and planets orbiting a golden sun.
Schulmann had a handsome face with a forked black beard. His deep brown eyes had a haughty stare. He portrayed himself with smug self-assurance as an eminent wizard, a prodigy of the College of Magic in Altdorf…which he brought up any chance he could.
“Where are the ones who brought the stone?”
Warily, giving away nothing, Rolf invited Niklas to sit at the table as they tried to get a feel for him. Kraft was quickly dispatched to get Zarkon. Schulmann barely scowled as he dusted off the offered chair before sitting. He greeted the party and expressed great interest in the stone, being as polite as someone in such a higher station can be to a ragtag group of wanderers.
Nim covertly used his skills of Magical Awareness to verify Schulmann was, indeed, a wizard.
Zarkon immediately left the Inn for the Tavern. Just seeing Schulmann, Zarkon was in awe. He quickly asked about getting some training from the eminent wizard.
“In need of training, are you? Yes, yes! Do come on Wellentag when I teach the locals how to read!”
Zarkon assured Schulmann he could read. He actually could use some pointers on Battle Magic.
“No? Not reading? Magic? Well, we can’t just start out with Battle Magic. No, no. That would never do. Poor, poor education, that. I suppose you already have Identify Plants? That’s pretty much a given…” Zarkon did not have skills in Identifying Plants.
“No Identify Plants? That’s simply unheard of! What if you walked right by some Cloudberries without even knowing what they were! Appalling!”
“And I absolutely MUST insist on Rune Lore before any Battle Magic. That is non-negotiable! We will have you a right proper foundation in no time at all!”
The party decided to show Schulmann the cart, if only to change the subject. Zarkon was all-in, trusting Schulmann explicitly.
Niklas Schulmann gave the lightning stone a cursory examination. He then told the party he was an expert in ancient elvish, and he could translate the text. He only needed a day or two to decipher the script. The party was agreeable to let him take the stone back to his rooms at the Lord Dorian Inn, but Zarkon was not going to leave the stone’s sight. Incidentally, Zarkon had been trying to find a way to get into the Lord Dorian since they first arrived in town. This helped with all his goals.
The party transferred the stone out of Kraft’s cart and back into the smaller cart so Zarkon could haul it over to the Lord Dorian. Schulmann shared a bit of his goals on the way over. It seemed his elders at the College of Magic in Altdorf had sent Schulmann to find these stones, which together form a map pinpointing a source of magical powers they wanted investigated. Schulmann was certain that his dissertation on the subject would grant him tenure at the College when all was done. He was also certain that the party would be rewarded if they were able to discover all the stones.
Zarkon was gone, and the party at the Tavern wound down. The others decided there wasn’t going to be any more searching for Florian Wechsler or the guild ring that night. Everyone went to the Hogshead Inn to go to bed.
As people were starting to fall asleep that night, an ill wind swept through town, waking some up while giving others uncomfortable dreams. Nim and Zarkon felt a little sick to their stomachs. Zarkon and Schulmann told each other of visions they just had of the undead.
Not half an hour later, everyone on the west side of town was awoken by battering at the door of the Thunderwater Tavern. Nim went to the window to look down at the front of the Tavern. The owner, Sebastian Brenner, is also looking down out of his own window. There are three humanoid shapes banging at the door. Brenner curses at the louts, loudly. Even the soundest sleepers are awakened at this point.
The door to the Tavern crashed open, and Brenner disappeared from his window. Nim gathered the others and headed down. On the way over to the Tavern, the party heard the deafening blast of a blunderbuss. When they get to the Tavern doorway, they see Brenner behind the bar with his blunderbuss and two of his brothers fighting two zombies hand-to-hand. One zombie lies on the floor with its head blown completely off.
There were a few moments where party members had to overcome Fear of the walking dead before they could join the melee. When they did join, the Brenner brothers let the party take up the fight as they backed away to safety. Kraft recognizes the two zombies as the hanged sheep rustlers from the Field of Verena. To confirm, the two still had nooses wrapped around their necks.
It was a prolonged fight, but ended up not harming the party. Investigation of the third zombie showed that it wore the uniform of a guard. The party was heading outside to check the west gate when they heard more yells from outside. A purple robed old man was hobbling toward the group from the direction of the market, a look of terror on his ancient, wrinkled face. “It’s alive! It’s alive!”
They calmed him down enough to learn that the skeleton in his study has come to life. Nim led the party to the old man’s house, with Hektor sent to collect Zarkon. Zarkon declined to join the party at the study, stating the minor disturbance not worthy of his attentions.
Everyone else entered the old man’s house and found his study floor to ceiling with books. Somehow in and amongst all the books, there was an articulated skeleton (as one might find in a medical student’s room) hanging from the ceiling. It was flailing about madly, its teeth chattering. A few blunt whacks pulverized the bones.
The old gentleman thanked them profusely and introduced himself as Professor Kopfchen. He offered them his gratitude and a mug of steaming tea. They quickly accepted the tea, and then headed back out into the town to see if anything else was amiss.
They were near the graveyard, so decided to check it out for more undead. Nothing moved inside the graveyard in Stormdorf. The Garden of Morr was outside Stormdorf, and just a bit beyond safe distance in the middle of the night. The party checked on the west gatehouse.
They met Captain Kessler at the gate house. A quick examination found that the guard had been jumped and quickly killed. Tracks dragged to the house from the Field of Verena. Captain Kessler assured the party he had doubled the guard and nothing more could be done that night. His watchmen were sending everyone back to their homes. “Nothing to see here, go to your homes.”
The next morning, the party, including Zarkon, were all awakened in their rooms by a summons to meet the Captain of the watch at the steps of the townhall in one hour. Zarkon noticed that Schulmann had already awoken and left the apartments.
At the Hogshead Inn, the party heard murmurings at breakfast. It was said there was a vast army of the undead approaching Stormdorf, led by a Vampire Count determined to seek revenge for the defeat of his kind by Lothar Mauer 50 years ago.
The party was on time meeting Kessler at the steps of the townhall. The watch Captain bid them good morning, then dove straight into business.
“The burgomeister wishes to talk to you. I was surprised when he summoned me; the man hasn’t stirred from his room since that young lass committed suicide in the town well, Morr bless her. He wants a task performed, and in my opinion you’re the best for the job. Follow me, the burgomeister can tell you himself what needs to be done.”
Kessler led the party into the townhall, up the grand stairway in the reception hall. Just before he knocked on the heavy oak door on the second floor, it opened and Niklas Schulmann emerged, still talking over his shoulder.
“Yes, yes, it’s necromancy, but I’m afraid I really can’t be bothered – terribly busy. Just kill the necromancer and your problem is solved. Oh, hello, here are the heroes of Stormdorf! Splendid. So you shan’t need me at all.”
With that, Schulmann left and Kessler, with a snort of disgust, ushered the party inside. Within was a large office, a layer of dust over the floor and furniture. One of the oak-panelled walls was devoted to books, another to shelves of parchment and scrolls. A door exited in the opposite wall. A large rain-spotted bay window looked out over the market square. Slumped on a red leather armchair was Phillip Adler, the burgomeister, behind a cluttered desk. He was holding a small portrait of a beautiful young woman, smiling from the canvass. She had long raven hair and wore an elegant, purple dress.
Phillip Adler himself was in his late 40s, but looked older. His height was diminished by slouched shoulders, and his fine clothes hung untidily from his thin frame. Red-rimmed eyes peered from under receding grey hair. His gaunt, unsmiling face bore an unkempt beard, and a whiff of unwashed odor lingered about him.
“My dear Madriga,” sighed the burgomeister, staring sadly at the portrait. “She was buried in that dress.”
He reverently placed the portrait on the desk and turned towards the party, his eyes tired and bloodshot.
“Last night she came to me. Her flesh hung on her bones, her dress torn and decayed. She clutched the silver pendant in her skeletal hand, my last ever gift to her, and her blue lips moved. ‘Save me!’ she wept. I woke shivering, and I dared not sleep again.”
He looked from one member of the party to another, as if searching for answers. Zarkon also mentioned having disturbing dreams last night.
“I need to know what she means. I need Brother Grabbe to come to interpret my dream, and if need be, to lay her spirit to rest.”
“It doesn’t take a genius to guess that Herr Adler’s dreams and these abominations might be linked,” interrupted Kessler, sternly. “The smart money’s on Lazarus Mourn being involved – we burned him at the stake nigh one year ago, but if we’ve learned anything from last night it’s that the dead don’t always stay that way.
“Brother Grabbe – the priest of Morr who presides over the Garden a mile southwest of town – is the resident expert on both dreams and the walking dead. We need him here. I’d send some of my men, but for all I know the town’s about to be invaded by an army of corpses, and we’ve got no Lothar Mauer to save us this time. I can’t spare anyone. And I can’t just send some messenger boy – we have no idea of the situation at the garden. This could be dangerous.”
Adler thanked the party profusely and tearfully, shaking each person by the hand. Kessler escorted the party out of the townhall.
Kessler offered each party member 50 silver coins, not bad for a day’s work. When they spoke of needing missile weapons, he offered bows and arrows to those needing them, instead of the silver.
“I organize the watch and the militia. Bows and arrows are often more readily available to me than silver or brass.
“The cemetery is only a mile to the southwest. If you leave within the hour, you should easily be able to bring back the priest by early afternoon at the latest.” Kessler saluted the party and wished them luck.
As Kessler left, Schulmann approached – he must have lingered outside, waiting for them. He looked very tired, as if he had slept short and poorly. He made sure to tell everyone, not just Zarkon, that he dreamed a dead woman leading a dead army, and a dead hero rising from the grave, wielding a greatsword and clad head to foot in armor decorated with dragons.
Schulmann sensed that this hero may be the guardian of one of the elven stones he was searching for. He urged the party to bring him the stone if they found it, as it was vital for the investigations of his elders at the College of Magic in Altdorf.
“My work here is greatly important, and this task is well within your capabilities. I have seen it in the stars.”
[WFRP 1e] The Gathering Storm 4
After establishing that Morr was Hektor’s god of choice, the party set out across the Field of Verena toward the Garden of Morr. Garden, Temple, Cemetery…all the terms are interchangeable when it comes to the god of death. The rain had picked back up, after the previous day’s temporary lull. Lightning struck the far side of town, near the Lord Dorian Inn.
It didn’t take long for Zarkon and Hektor to realize the party was being followed. Hektor casually mentioned it to Caius, and asked him to take care of it. Caius confronted a man poorly hiding in some corn stalks.
The man was dressed in stinking rags, his hair matted with dirt. His eyes bulged, and his mouth flapped like a dying fish (I can’t help but think of an Adam Sandler character). Waltrout (“pleased to meet you”) wanted to see his old friend, Brother Grabbe, at the Garden, but he’s been too afraid to go check on him…because the dead are rising, you know. He believes the party will keep him safe, as they have recently shown themselves as heroes.
The heroes ask Waltrout to lead the way to the Garden.
The cemetery is surrounded by a wall of dark grey granite, fifteen feet high and topped with black iron spikes. They arrived at the north wall, which looked to be approximately 500 feet long, with no visible gateway. Waltrout tells them the gate is on the other side, to the south. He isn’t sure if they walk to head down the east wall, on the side of the river, or down the west wall, on the side of the corn fields. Nobody cares either way, so Waltrout led them along the west wall.
The party noticed a lightning rod set in the west wall, catching the occasional lightning strike from the storm, and directing it into the ground.
On the south wall, with the river not too far away, stands a solitary black gate, covered by a slate roof. Beyond the gate is the entrance to a dark tunnel, flanked by two life-sized skeletal statues wielding scythes. Under the slate roof there is a slab of stone, where a coffin might rest before being brought into the temple. A raven sat on the roof, its caws mocking the party.
The heroes again asked Waltrout to lead the way. Waltrout wanted someone to go with him in the dark. Nobody exactly volunteered, but Hektor was willing to play a scouting role. The two stepped into pitch dark.
Hektor’s night vision didn’t work in the tunnel. He turned to look back outside, but he couldn’t see anything there either. He stepped back out of the tunnel. Waltrout was a step ahead of him, leaving the darkness. The raggedy man was pale with fright.
The darkness was obviously unnatural, but Hektor didn’t think it out of place for the entry into a temple of Morr. He invited everyone into the tunnel with them.
Several steps into the dark tunnel, Hektor and Kraft heard someone rush back toward the gate entry. When they exited the unnatural darkness into natural darkness, those with night vision could see that Waltrout wasn’t with them anymore. “He noped out of there.”
Kraft lit her lantern, and everyone could see a low doorway yawning wide open into more darkness. The doorway was flanked by a black pillar on the right and a white pillar on the left. Hektor told everyone they represented the dual nature of Morr. A brief philosophical/theological discussion ensued.
Beyond the door, they found themselves in an underground temple. The tunnel had apparently sloped downward. The temple had a checkerboard floor stretching 50 feet to an altar decorated with stone skulls. The temple was cold and dark, outside of Kraft’s lantern light. Unlit torches were set in sconces along the wall. Caius grabbed a torch for backup light and lit the other torches in the room.
A low bier stood in front of the altar; another spot sized for resting a coffin. Beside the bier was a font perched on a short stone column carved with scenes of death. Behind the altar was a large, black metal door, decorated with winged death’s heads. Six heavy black drapes hung at intervals along the east and west walls. After reminding themselves (not for the last time) why they were here, the door seemed the obvious destination.
The black door was locked. Hektor was preparing his lockpicks when Zarkon stepped forward and cast a spell to open the lock. The door swung open noiselessly. They saw a long flight of stone steps leading up. There was daylight at the top of the stairs, at least as much daylight as there is during a rainstorm.
Surrounded by its high walls, the Garden of Morr consisted of haphazard rows of modest gravestones, almost overgrown with bushes of black roses. The petals of the roses had begun to wither, which made Hektor uncomfortable. A few granite monuments – small statues or tombs – were scattered around the gravestones.
Scanning around the Garden, there were few places of note. One was the mausoleum on the other side of the yard. It was a squat, stone building with a sloping slate roof and a magnificent oak door. Stone gargoyles mouthed silent screams from the eaves. Adjoining the building was a small wooden shack.
Second, in the center of the Garden, behind a hedge of black rose bushes, was a low tomb of grey stone, carved with aspects of Morr and a dragon crest.
Lastly, a familiar bundle of rags was crouched against the east wall, as if trying to watch everywhere at once while not being seen. Kraft headed over to the wall to figure out what Waltrout was doing there.
Caius went part of the way with her, stopping to look at the tomb in the center of the garden. The tomb was surmounted with a small pedestal with a recessed niche, clearly intended to hold something. The front of the tomb had been split asunder, with shards of stone scattered through the rain-sodden grass. Peering into the tomb, Caius saw nothing but darkness. The bones of the interred were missing. He looked to tracks in the area and saw a strange groove in the soft earth, already full of mud and rainwater, leading toward the mausoleum. Something heavy was dragged that way.
Kraft asked Waltrout how he had got into the Garden. He pointed to a hole under the east wall. It was muddy and half full of water, as was Waltrout. He was happy again to see his friends. He pointed to the mausoleum. “Brother Grabbe’s house! Brother Grabbe’s house!” A hand suddenly shot up from one of the graves nearby. Then another, and another. The dead burst from the earth in a wave of rotting flesh. A shambling horde of decaying men and women, old and young, dragged themselves from their graves, groaning in hunger. Waltrout screeched in utter terror. Nobody wasted any time heading straight to the mausoleum.
The mausoleum door was not locked, and the party managed to get inside before any undead could block their way. Waltrout slammed the heavy oak door shut, gibbering in terror. Everyone could hear scratching at the outside of the door.
Inside, every conceivable space was decorated with human bones. The center of the room was dominated by a pyramid of skulls, eight feet tall, almost reaching the high ceiling beams. In each corner stood elegant candelabra, crafted from hundreds of small bones, creating a beautiful spiral pattern.
An ornate bone chandelier hung from the ceiling. A pattern fashioned from arm and leg bones circled the ceiling, punctuated with grinning skulls. On the south wall was the coat of arms of the Emperor, composed entirely from bones. These grim decorations could be considered both awe-inspiring and unsettling.
To the right of the skull pyramid, stone stairs circled down into darkness. Kraft headed toward the stairs with her lantern. From above, she could hear clattering before a full articulated skeleton dropped from the ceiling between here and the stairway. Waltrout let out another scream, ran, and slid below the skeleton into the stairs. A second skeleton emerged from the wall to the right of the stair. While everyone was looking at the skeleton between them and the stairs, three more came out the walls behind them.
The first skeleton to die was crushed by Caius’ flail. This cleared a path on the right for Nim, who had been lightly wounded, to get to the stairs. There he pulled out his bow to cover everyone’s escape to the stairwell. The other skeletons were more difficult to dispatch, and the intent wasn’t to lay every one to rest before heading down the stairs, but in the end every skeleton had to be stopped before the path was finally clear. Nim was able to patch his wound, as well as Kraft’s wound…though they would later find out that Kraft’s wound was infected.
Zarkon had been the first to the bottom of the stairs. He entered a crypt with a low ceiling and walls constructed of large granite blocks. Around the walls, lit oil-lamps were set into small recesses. On the right-hand side of the chamber was a large elm table, on which was open a large leather-bound book, displaying its beautifully illuminated pages. Also on the table was a complete human skull – delicately carved with spiral patterns etched in lapus lazuli – a loaf of black bread, a plate of green cheese, and a silver fork. Four black curtains hung on the walls, two on the left-hand wall, one on the south wall next to the stairwell, and one on the right-hand wall before the table. Two doors stood ajar, set into the north wall.
Waltrout was cowering under the table. When he saw Zarkon, he scrambled to his feet. He nervously brandished a sharp silver knife. Beads of sweat trailed down his face.
As others followed Zarkon down the stairs, he went back up to cast a spell to reinforce the door. Zombies had battered down the door to the Thunderwater Tavern, but it would take them quite a while to batter down this magically reinforced door.
Zarkon requested that no one touch the illuminated book. He gave it a once-over while the others reminded themselves why they were in this situation in the first place. Find the priest, Brother Grabbe. What would happen if they just left and never came back? Well, there was a horde of zombies outside a reinforced door, for one thing.
Zarkon’s examination showed a wonderfully illuminated prayer book, with a devotion on the open page. He also looked at the skull, without touching it. What he couldn’t help from touching, however, was one of the open doors at the end of the room, for there was a light purple glow shining from the crack. As others were discussing alternate options and Nim was finishing his bandaging, Zarkon peeked into the room.
Inside, Zarkon saw a highly polished, ebony coffin mounted on a low stone plinth. In the black box, lined with red velvet, was an old man, recumbent, pale as death, with his eyes closed. The old man had long white hair spilling over his plain black robes of Morr. His skin stretched taught over his noble skull. Zarkon couldn’t tell if the man was alive or dead. For a second, he feared his was looking at a vampire. Then he saw the person standing behind the body.
Behind the body was a woman’s standing corpse, dressed in a ragged, dirty, purple gown. Her cheeks were sunken, and her eye sockets were empty. Her pale skin was rotten and writing with maggots. Her long black hair hung lankly over her shoulders. Her mouth seemed to leer in a lop-sided grin where her lips had been eaten away. A silver pendant hung around her withered neck, set with a large, black gem. Her hands were set to either side of the priest’s head, and it was here the purple light glowed.
“Don’t look so shocked, you pathetic simpleton. Yes, I am wearing the festering corpse of a feeble and weak-willed woman, but that is only temporary, I assure you. One of your bodies will serve my purposes well, I am sure.” The woman fingered the silver pendant around her neck and croaked a harsh, wet laugh.
“I am Lazarus Mourn, and I will never die. Would that I could say the same of you...” With that, the woman made a dismissive gesture with a rotting hand, and an immense, armored skeleton stepped into the doorway. The white marble stone slab it wore as a shield seemed to flicker with an eerie light.
Nobody moved. Nobody wanted to fight the six-foot-tall, fully armored skeleton in the doorway. It wore the same full plate, dragon motif armor as the statue to Lothar Mauer in the town square. It also carried the same large sword. Caius moved up defensively beside Zarkon, as the wizard backed out of the doorway. Nim grabbed his bow again. Kraft hefted her axe.
Nobody moved. The skeleton stepped out of the doorway, leaving no room for anyone to get behind it as long as it stood skill. Most of the party froze with Fear.
Waltrout suddenly shouted out, “Master! Master! I’m here master! I have brought you my skin…”
Waltrout tore open his tattered rags to reveal a scrawny chest scarred with tiny words. The whole of his chest and his back were inscribed in this way. Waltrout then began drooling and bubbling nonsense, heading back under the table. Some of the party were able to break free of the fear.
A powerful mental force sucked at Caius’ vitality. The ex-Pit Fighter was able to deny the force using all of his will. The skeleton step up to swing.
Undead Lothar’s first hits took quite a bit out of Caius. Caius returned hits, but didn’t seem to damage the skeleton much. A direct hit from Zarkon’s crossbow had similar results. Zarkon busied himself with studying Waltrout’s skin instead. As more of the party broke free of the Fear, Caius came up with a different plan.
Caius disarmed Lothar’s skeleton with a skilled maneuver. The sword went flying over Caius’ left shoulder to land directly at Nim’s feet.
Nim was next to feel the powerful mental force sucking at his vitality, but he too denied it using his will. Instead, he picked up the dropped sword and handed it toward Caius, hilt first. Caius grabbed the sword and attacked with renewed vigor.
Zarkon was able to decipher a spell carved into Waltrout’s skin that would raise an army of undead under the command of a powerful necromancer. Zarkon also knew that he was not skilled enough to cast such a spell, or command such an army if he tried at this point.
Hektor joined Caius’ melee fight against Lothar’s skeleton. Also of interest to Hektor was the entry to the second room, if the skeleton could be moved out of the way.
Kraft remained frozen in fear.
Zarkon, looking for something to use, checked behind the curtain to the right of the table. He found a tall skeleton armed with a scythe and decided Fleeing was the better part of valor.
Nim had dropped his bow to pick up the sword. He now loosed his spear and began to maneuver himself on the skeleton’s flank. If the skeleton moved just right in it’s attacks, he might be able to slip behind it into the room of the necromancer.
Caius slammed the mighty sword extremely hard into the skeletal Lothar, but the undead creature fought on.
Two more blasts of magical energy came out of the room, and were both unable to get through the targets’ willpower.
As fate would have it, Lothar’s skeleton thrust a mighty punch at Caius, which Caius was able to dodge. The skeleton’s momentum left it punching the floor instead of Caius. As it was knelt down, Nim had the chance he was looking for to slip into the necromancer’s room.
Nim could only take a step and thrust, but that was all he needed. His blow was mighty, piercing through Mourn-in-Madriga’s head and pinning her to the wall. Lothar’s skeleton immediately fell into dust. The corpse of Madriga spoke up in a soft voice. “Where’s Phillip? What happened to me? Am I dead?”
A dark cloudy shape was sucked out of the corpse and into the gem around Madriga’s neck. Her putrescent lips moved one final time, and out came the harsh voice first heard when Zarkon initially peered into the room.
“You shall never kill ME!” Despite the declaration, all was quiet. Kraft was freed from the fear that had gripped her through the entire fight. Hektor was able to move into the dark office. Zarkon was able to return to find Waltrout pulling himself from under the table. He gave the wizard a clap on the shoulder and then a simpleton’s kiss on the cheek.
“My friends! I’m free!” He then wandered into the office with Hektor. Nim pulled his spear free of the wall…and the corpse’s head.
[WFRP 1e] The Gathering Storm 5
Many things were collected from the crypt of the Garden of Morr. Zarkon was able to sense the presence of magick from Lothar’s headstone. He didn’t even need to touch the item to see the barely-contained energy in the stone. From there on out, he had no trouble identifying magical items.
Caius placed Lothar’s armor in a pile near the stairway. That’s also where the heavy headstone went once Zarkon had a look at it. Caius slid Lothar’s sword (which Zarkon identified as magical) into his own scabbard.
The various alcoves contained the following: A skeleton with a scythe (of no interest to the party), a number of black robes and a chest of priestly undergarments, a well (of no interest), a couple bottle of fine Brettonian wine, and three small casks of Thunderwater ale. The alcohol went in Caius’ collection.
Zarkon and Nim carefully snagged the pendant from Madriga’s corpse and dropped it into the chest of undergarments. This, too, went in Caius’ pile.
Hektor and Waltrout had no use with the priest’s study, as it was filled with books and neither could read. Instead, Zarkon examined the room thoroughly. In a secret alcove, he found a small vial of pungent green liquid. Hidden in the bookshelves, he also found The Sacred Rite of St. Cyril, a classical Morrite text. This rite, if properly cast in a 5 minute ritual, would be able to put a whole cemetery full of the walking dead to rest. Luckily, the party had not found this earlier and attempted to cast it, else they would likely have not been able to save the life of Brother Theoderic Grabbe.
Nim patched the priest’s superficial wounds, but determined most of the Morrite’s wounds were psychological. Brother Grabbe was helped up the stairs into the ossuary. Others grabbed Caius’ collection of loot and headed up after.
Brother Grabbe and Waltrout both were extremely saddened to see the state of the ossuary. Many years’ work was reduced to piles on the floor. This wasn’t the worst for the priest.
Zarkon was able to open the reinforced door. The Garden of Morr was a horrific sight of hundreds of corpses and open graves. Raven circled overhead, sometimes landing to peck at dead flesh. Waltrout went to the Garden shed for a hand cart. They were able to pile the armor, the chest, and the stone in the cart. It was a somber walk, dragging a cart through the mud, avoiding dead bodies and open graves, thumping the cart down the stairs, and walking everyone through the magically dark tunnel before heading back to Stormdorf.
Every few minutes, lightning would strike where the cart had cut a path through the slick ground.
Back in town, the stone is dropped off with Niklas Schulmann. It fit next to the lightning stone, though some text was missing in the cracks. The elven carvings were fainter on this new piece. Niklas also took the opportunity to relate to Zarkon that he had another dream. He dreamed of a green fiend, with a throne and crown of stone. He also dreamed of a voracious, fanged maw, as well as a chattering horde of devils shrouded by night. Niklas believed the throne and the stone were the last pieces of the stones they are searching for.
Niklas offered to teach Zarkon the Protection from Rain spell. It is the most important spell to know while visiting Stormdorf, you know. He also said he was able to identify the magical properties of the armor and the sword, if the party left them there for a while. The stones were his first priority. The party declined and kept the items. Caius gave the armor to Rolf, who didn’t think he should put the armor of the town’s famous hero on and show it off to everyone.
Captain Kessler was quick to find the party once they were back in town. He suggested taking Brother Grabbe to the physician, and then coming to see the burgomeister.
Dr Hartlieb Schneider had buoyant blonde hair, which cascaded off his shoulders. He sneered down his aquiline nose at the party. He dressed in a long black coat and starched white shirt and carried a leather doctor’s bag. He agreed to work on the prestigious priest, but referred Kraft to the Barber-Surgeon down the hall. Waltrout offered to stay with the physician and help work on Brother Grabbe. He held up the silver fork he took from the crypt as an offer to do whatever necessary to help the priest.
Kraft and company got to meet Rolf Messer, the Barber-Surgeon. He had a bushy moustache, muttonchops, a hearty laugh, and a bloody apron. He asked Kraft to go into the back, so as not to frighten his barber customers. There, Messer had to burn out the infection in Kraft’s abdomen. She was going to be tender for a while, and have a scar for a long, long time. (She lost 1 Wound permanently.)
As an aside, a couple people in the party noticed a lightning rod on the side of the church of Sigmar, which was near the town’s medical building. That information went in the memory banks until after the visit to the burgomeister.
Philip Adler was relieved to hear that Madriga was put to her final rest. He went on a short monologue, “I have been a fool. I have allowed my devotion to my poor, dead…friend cloud my mind. In laying to rest Madriga, you have laid to rest my own guilt over her death. I have let my duties as burgomeister slip. I have been a poor servant to this town, and dishonored my predecessors, in whose footsteps I am not worthy to follow.
“Well my friends, Philip Adler is back from among the dead, and he has you to thank for that. Kessler – inform the elders that I am holding a meeting in the council chambers. Time to show those greybeards I’m back.”
Everyone had other things on their mind, and they paid Adler little heed as they were shown out of the town hall. Their minds were churning… ”every time there’s been lightning, there’s been a stone drawing the lightning, right?” It was time to visit the church of Sigmar to see why it had a lightning rod.
Baroque crenellations, decorated with eagle and warhammer motifs, mark this modestly-sized building as a holy temple of Sigmar. Its stained glass windows depict scenes from Sigmar’s life. An ornate tower juts from the roof, housing a massive golden bell.
A set of heavy double doors stand permanently ajar, allowing worshippers entry into the shadowy, candlelit sanctum within.
Inside, tattered battle-standards hang from the high vaulted ceiling, which magnifies the slightest whisper. A double column of stone pillars, carved with scenes of orcs being slaughtered by human warriors, leads to an altar decorated with symbols of the twin-tailed comet. The altar is flanked by twin granite statues of the muscular hero-god Sigmar gripping his warhammer. Behind the altar are heavy black curtains. It’s also immediately noticeable that there are no seats in the temple.
A young initiate with red robes and a shaved head greeted the party when they came in the door. The initiate, Chlodwig Fromm, explained that the Lector was not available. The party was persistent...and Zarkon tossed the initiate a bag of silver. The initiate fetched the Lector, grumbling about being a secretary instead of a priest in training.
Bull-necked and with muscles of steel, Lector Magnus Gottschalk wears an iron circlet about his hald head, fashioned with sigils of Sigmar. His eyes burn with pious rage beneath his beetled brow, and the great silver ring through his broken nose furthers his semblance to an angry ox. His face is crisscrossed with old battle scars, and the twin tailed comet of Sigmar is branded into his forehead.
The Lector was clad from neck to waist in a heavy steel breastplate, emblazoned with the cross of the Reikland, his crimson robes swishing about his legs. From his belt hung sacred relics - the bones of ancient heroes encased in gold, and a vial with, likely, similarly holy contents. He carries a massive double-headed warhammer, engraved with holy runes of battle.
Lector Magnus welcomed the party as new people in town, wishing to see the grand sanctuary of Sigmar. The party nervously turned the conversation to the lightning rod they noticed on the outside of the church. Magnus stated the rod had been there the whole time he has been Lector, more than twenty years.
Lector Magnus wasn’t willing to give the party more than a few minutes, if they weren’t there specifically for him. He returned to his study, behind a curtain behind the altar. Hektor really wanted to know about the rest of the layout of the church, but everyone was intimidated by Gottschalk. Also, there were a couple Sigmarites in the party. Hektor knew he would have to return later on his own in order to explore any further.
Everyone agreed it was about time to head to the Thunderwater Tavern to relax. Everyone except Zarkon, who grabbed Denise and headed to the Hogshead Inn. And also Hektor who remained outside, scoping out the temple of Sigmar. Waltrout exited the medical building in time to join the party at the Thunderwater. He said the doctor no longer needed his help, and he hinted he may have unnecessarily cut Brother Grabbe in a couple spots where he didn’t really need cuts. Waltrout no longer had the silver knife.
At the Hogshead, Denise accused Zarkon of being a dangerous man, and she wasn’t sure if he was safe to hang around with. She listened, regardless, to his latest tales from the Garden of Morr.
The conversation shifts often and quickly at the Thunderwater Tavern. Here are a number of things heard throughout the night:
-That lightning’s been hitting the Garden of Morr quite a bit lately. The Temple of Sigmar, too, for all that’s worth. Say, it looks like they are hitting the Temple Knap more than usual, too.
-Burgomeister Adler has become reclusive in recent months. Trade with Ubersreik has dropped quite a bit.
-Phillip Adler is a hiding tyrant, puppet of the Jungfreuds here to collect taxes and run our town into the ground!
-We never use the well anymore. Several months ago, the brewer’s wife, Madriga Brenner, committed suicide by drowning in it.
All rumors that may have come a bit late, but were brought up by the conversations of the party when they drank at the Inn. The townsfolk seem a veritable well of rumors.
All the while Hektor was sneaking into the Temple of Sigmar.
Chlodwig was scrubbing the floors and didn’t notice Hektor enter the front door, sneak from column to column, or hide behind the black curtain behind the altar. Hektor heard the Lector behind a door on the left hand side. Magnus seemed to be practicing a sermon. Hektor moved on to the right hand door. This he opened silently and snuck down the stairs to the temple crypt.
The crypt was shadowy, flickering torches in wall sconces provided meagre light. Carefully stored in open cabinets were the temple’s treasures - golden chalices and icon boxes containing saintly relics. A heavy leather-bound sacred text lied open on a lectern.
Hektor looked around, and there was nothing even vaguely lightning stone shaped in the entire basement. If anything was there it was well hidden, and maybe not even known to the current Lector. Hektor swiped some gold on the way out of the crypts. In an unrelated note (???) he had a headache for a few hours afterward.
The next day, the party decided to visit the Temple of Sigmar again, this time for help in destroying the necromantic amulet they found in the crypt of Morr. Again, Chlodwig grumbled about getting the Lector. It seems what Chlodwig really wants is a warhammer and a heretic or two to hit with it.
Magnus Gottschalk seemed a little more aggravated to see the party again. However, the task they asked of him got his undivided attention. After some consideration, Lector Gottschalk too the amulet, set it upon the altar, and hit it as hard as he could with his warhammer. The blast was magnificent.
Energy cascaded over the altar, and flowed east across the floor to the lighting rod. There it was harmlessly grounded. A dark mist erupted out of the amulet and dissipated into the air, with a final scream from the being that was Lazarus Mourn. The Lector turned back to the party with a large grin and severely disheveled eyebrows. He regarded the party more favorably and invited them all back for his sermon at midday.
The party had some time to heal up and work on learning new skills. They heard a couple more rumors over the next couple days:
-The storms have increased. The rivers are flooded. The ferryman (who skillfully ferried the party into town the day they arrived) drowned trying to cross. Now no one else is willing to try.
-Only a priest of Morr can bless the bodies strewn all over the Garden, and Grabbe is too sick. They will send for a priest from another town once the storms are over.
The weather eventually got worse than ever, grey skies, a morale-sapping drizzle of cold rain, and violent storms ravaged the heavens. A raging gale swept through the town, damaging property. Tiles were smashed from roofs, chimneys toppled, and windows were broken. Worse, the storm wrecked the granaries, and the harvest stored there was ruined. The price of bread shot up overnight, and people started muttering worriedly about starvation and famine.
The party heard the mutterings through the Inn and Tavern. Then they were summoned by Captain Kessler to meet burgomeister Adler again.
[WFRP 1e] The Gathering Storm 6
On the morning after the great gale, the party was met by Captain Kessler who summoned them to Burgomeister Adler’s office. Kessler told them that the burgomeister had another proposition for them. What he had to say was of great significance to the well-being of every man, woman, and child in Stormdorf. When the party encountered Adler in his office, he was sitting behind his desk wearing a grave expression, although he had spruced up since their last meeting and evidently taken a much-needed bath.
Sitting opposite Adler was a middle-aged man dressed in the attire of a country gentleman, with a bald pate and a neat, black beard, his face drawn with worry. The burgomeister introduced him as Herr Gubo Ackerland, a farmer from the community in the uplands south of Stromdorf. But before talking about Ackerland, he wanted to slip the party a little warning.
It seemed someone around town had been calling out the Holtz family as chaos worshippers, consorting with beastmen. Adler thought the party might want to get out of town for a little bit while rumors died down. This went a little further in explaining Denise’s initial reluctance to join Zarkon at the Hogshead the other night.
After pointing this out, Ackerland explains his predicament to the party.
For the past ten days, farms bordering the Blitzfelsen Hills have suffered from a serious spate of rustling. “The thieves come,” said Ackerland, “when night falls.” If the thefts continued, the farmers would be ruined within a month. With the produce in the granaries ruined by the recent storm, and the bad weather making road and river travel slow and dangerous, Stormdorf faced a food shortage if the farm produce failed to reach its citizens.
Captain Kessler offered to send some of his militia to investigate, but Adler wanted ‘professionals’ for the job. For this reason, Adler asked the party if they wanted the job. He offered 50 silver coins each, and threw down a leather money bag onto the table – half the reward. They will get the rest when they bring the rustlers to justice.
“I pray to Sigmar that after this I have no further need of your services, or the town coffers will quickly empty.” Adler’s lips cracked into a smile at his joke, perhaps the first time he’d done so for months. “Oh, and I’d like you to bring down the brigands’ leader, so you should follow the rustlers to wherever their lair is hidden. Best cut off the problem at the source, eh? I want that fellow hanging from the gibbet tree by the end of the week.”
As usual, they were ready to go quickly without any questions. They left just after midday, journeying on Ackerland’s horse-drawn cart. The cart crawled along; the incessant rain had turned the country roads to slough. Sometimes they had to help heave a wheel from a deep rut. Everyone was soaked to the skin in the back of the cart in short order. Fields of barley flanked the road, the monotony broken now and then by small farm houses and stables.
Two hours into the journey, a low hill rose about a mile to the east. Clouds seemed to gather dark over the hill, and lighting crashed down upon it with angry intensity. Ackerland made the sign of Sigmar’s hammer when he looked over at the hill. Rolf asked about the place. Ackerland mentioned it was called Tempest Knap, a place of haunted ruins where nobody ventured. He said that over a week ago, maybe two, well after dark, he saw spectres whirling round the top of the hill. They danced for hours, lighting up the summit with a dreadful blue light. He said it was a terrible omen, and the weather in these parts had been getting even worse since then. He didn’t want to say anything else about it, other than “no good will come of it.”
Ackerland did answer some other questions the party started asking. He said the raids had started seven days ago. Each night, rustlers had stolen several animals at a time. Despite bringing the livestock closer to the farm and employing farmhands to guard them, the thefts continued right under their noses. By morning the constant rain had ruined any tracks.
The patrols tried to use dogs, but that first night they simply ran yelping back to the farm, completely useless. After that, the dogs refused to go outside at all after dark. Ackerland and his farmhands patrolled in shifts from dusk to dawn. Everyone on the first shift was always exhausted when they were relieved an hour after midnight.
Before the raids, there was no problem from predators, apart from a sheep taken now and again by a wolf.
The farmhouse was surrounded by barns on the south and west, fields on the north and east, and a watchtower in the middle. The party was welcomed into the warm kitchen. Ackerland’s wife, Meg, offered food and drink. Marien, their attractive 16 year old daughter fancied Caius. Kleb, the 6 foot tall son, gave the party a surly nod. Nine other children clamored for attention. A sheepdog curled by the roaring hearth, whimpering occasionally.
The first idea was to bring the sheep in closer to the farm. Kraft helped a shepherd move the sheep out of the far (east) field. Rolf immediately gave Ackerland a talking-to for the large stack of stones he had dragged into one corner of the field. He said it would be a perfect place for something to hide.
Sure enough, a check around the rock pile turned up a damp husk on the ground. When opened for further investigation, some spores came out of the husk, to no effect on the examiner. One of the farmhands, however, did mention that the smell reminded him of the odd smell around the farm at midnight. Rolf instructed everyone to wear masks on patrol. With this information in mind, the party went to examine the long (north) field.
The long field had a copse of trees on the northern end, where more damp husks were found. A husk was stowed in Rolf’s pack for further examination later.
At that time, Zarkon caught up with the group, completely dry as opposed to their soaking wetness. He remained inside the house. Rolf gave him a husk to try to identify. As it wasn’t quite a plant, Zarkon wasn’t able to identify the strange husk. He was able to set it off, though, and showed by example that the spores inside caused drowsiness and lethargy. He was out while guard preparations were made for the night.
Nim placed himself up in the tower with his bow and two ranch hand guards. Kraft watched from a barn centrally located, where she could see both fields. Caius, Rolf, and Hektor swept the perimeter throughout the night. Around midnight, the goblins struck.
Three goblins lofted spore husks at Caius while he was in the far field, with no effect. Two goblins threw husks up into the watchtower and put Nim and friends to sleep. Three more goblins entered the long field from the copse. Hektor was able to see them and shout a warning to Rolf. The goblins had no interest in fighting and beat-feet to the hills in the south. Hektor was in pursuit.
A few minutes into the hills, Hektor was able to catch up to the slowest goblin and knock it to the ground. The pathetic creature knocked out his front teeth in a hard landing. It tried to claw its way across the ground as Hektor tied it up and slung it over his shoulder. The goblin also tried to bite through Hektor’s arm, but couldn’t get its remaining teeth through his leather jacket.
Back at the farmhouse, Zarkon was coming out of his stupor. Everyone else had made it back inside and were being treated as heroes...except Nim. Nobody could figure out what was keeping Nim.
Hektor showed up with the captured goblin, and Zarkon used Gift of Tongues to talk to the creature...which was still difficult due to its missing teeth. It spoke of boss Gobspite and a troll “Bulge.” The goblin agrees to take them to the big boss if the party lets him free afterward.
Around that time, someone remembered to check the watchtower for Nim and the other farmhands.
The next morning, the party led the goblin outside so he could show them where to go. The goblin ran back inside, complaining about the bright light (in the overcast sky). He was given no quarter, only the option to lead them or die.
The party reached an overrun farmstead in a few hours. In a small valley, enclosed within a high palisade of sturdy stakes, stook a half-timbered farmhouse with a thatched roof, surrounded by several outbuildings. A stone gate house guarded the entrance, and stone tower rose protectively from the south. Because the farm was in a valley, they were able to get a good view from their current position. There were a few goblins on the other side of the gate, and a few more in the tower. Other than that, one group of goblins roamed the farmyard.
Inside the fence, the were able to see a few full stockyards, the watchtower, the farmhouse, a small garden, a large barn, a smithy, and some stables. In the end, the plan was to send the toothless goblin to the front gate to demand to be let in. To that, Zarkon added a fireball on the back side of the front gate (which wasn’t enough to blow it open). Finally, Rolf, Kraft, and Caius charged the palisade beside the gate, chopped through the bindings keeping the stakes in place, and burst into the yard to brawl a dozen goblins. Nim climbed the palisade and shot from his high perch. Hektor followed behind the fighters once he could squeeze through, and Zarkon followed once they had formed a wall of safety.
The goblins tried (sorta) hard but never really stood a chance.
[WFRP 1e] The Gathering Storm 7
The rain continued. As everyone was catching their breath from the fight at the guardhouse, the goblins in the watchtower shouted the alarm, “Humies!” Everyone positioned themselves, made sure they had their preferred weapon, and waited for the fallout from the alarm.
Six round shapes, all mouths and legs, burst out of the barn on the other end of the farmyard. These odd creatures leaped in random directions, dragging goblins bound to their legs by leashes. The goblins uncertainly herded the squibs in the general direction of the gatehouse. None of the party gave up their entrenched positions near the gatehouse.
Behind the squibs, 30 more goblins poured out of the barn. They tentatively followed the squibs across the yard, trying to see where they were going and trying to shield their eyes from the “brightness” of day. They did not hurry across the yard. Nim fired and arrow and missed a jumping squig. Zarkon shot another with his new Shooting Star spell. The rest of the party still did not move.
The first of the squigs hit the party line, three hopping into the livestock pens. Melee ensued. Rolf stepped out of his hiding nook for a surprise attack. Nim kept shooting arrows. In the pens, Kraft faced a squig alone. Cows and sheep were making all kinds of horrible noises. The goblins advanced. Hektor decided to let the livestock loose to create chaos with the timid goblins.
As the goblin mob reached the corner of the stables, a ravenous roar belched from the far end of the farmhouse. The troll had heard the sounds of frightened, screaming, dying livestock, and it couldn’t contain itself any longer. The goblins stopped advancing and turned around. Zarkon dropped a fireball in the middle of the front line. Nim shot the troll in the face with an arrow. Caius and Rolf continued fighting squibs.
The troll hopped out of the house, grabbed a fleeing goblin, and started eating. Zarkon blew up a fireball in the troll’s face. The troll got extremely angry and charged the wizard. Caius finished off the squibs in front of him. Goblins crawled the palisade walls to escape farmyard. Rolfe attacked some of the fleeing goblins. Kraft held off a squib in the livestock pen.
Yet another goblin threw open the shutters to an upstairs farmhouse window. One shutter bounced off the house and back into its face. It shoved the shutter back open, yelling “No, no, NO!” Then it started casting a spell. Whatever the creature was standing on moved unsteady under its feet.
Caius was in between the troll and the wizard. He attacked with Lothar’s magical sword. The sword opened a grisly wound in the troll’s leg, stopping it in its tracks. Nim shot another arrow into the angry troll’s face. Rolf turned from cutting down a goblin to charge the troll from its flank. Zarkon cast a spell just before the goblin shaman finished, blasting a fireball into the room just behind the shaman.
Rolf scored a devastating hit cutting the troll neatly in half. Acid sprayed from where he cut the in the side, through the front and out the other side. It was only by the hand of fate that he kept from getting covered in acid himself.
Caius was also, miraculously, able to dodge the acid spray from the troll’s gut.
The goblin shaman flew out of the window, landing charred and unmoving in a pile of dung in the yard. Its blue, pointy hat landed in the pile a few seconds after the body. There was an odd quiet in the yard as livestock slowly stopped running around in distress. Kraft pulled her axe out of the last squib’s body. Hektor, after having let all the livestock out of the 3 pens, kicked the ladder down from the watchtower, effectively trapping the last known goblins.
It was time to search the farm.
Rolf started in the smithy. It was a small, single-storey stone building with a slate roof and chimney. The forge was cold. Badly burned goblin corpses lied among the ashes. Beside the forge was a bellows and a woodpile. Blacksmith’s tools hung from the walls. A half-made horseshoe rested on the anvil, and a hefty blood-spattered hammer on the floor.
A door at the side of the smithy led to a small room with a narrow bed. There was a lamp on the bedside table and a large chest upturned on the floor with breeches and shirts scattered everywhere. Rolf looked under the bed to see a set of brilliant blue human eyes looking back at him. It was a six-year-old girl, very thin, disheveled golden braids, with a green dress caked in mud. When he got her to talk, he found that she went by the name Flea, and she was the only family member left alive from the farm.
Zarkon headed into the farmhouse. The living room was a large room with a dining room table and chairs, an oak dresser, and a fireplace. Above the fireplace hung a sword inscribed with a single word on its pommel…in a language he didn’t read. He left the sword alone.
Upstairs, Zarkon found a bedroom with children’s clothes and food scraps scattered about. A large toy bear sat in a corner, surrounded by rag dolls. There was an empty birdcage near the open window on the south wall. The stink of burnt goblin filled the room, and there were two charred goblin bodies on the floor. Leaning against the wall under the window was a piece of the mapstone, glowing blue under his magical sight.
Hektor found two drunk goblins in the basement. They were taken care of decisively.
The party sized up the farm, and thought about using it as a base of operations. Then they packed up their stuff and headed back to the Ackerland farm. On the way out, Zarkon grabbed the goblin shaman’s pointy had, and the headband with the small glowy stone the creature had been wearing around its forehead. The larger stone was transported via cart they had found outside the smithy.
At the Ackerland farm, the party was greeted as heroes. Kraft led some of the farmhands back to the farm in the mountains to retrieve lost livestock. Flea started calling the party uncles and aunty.
Back in Stormdorf the party was again greeted as heroes. Before they could bask in their status, Nim recommended getting rid of the stone.
The burgomeister looked much more dignified than when they last saw him. He was clean-shaven, hair neat, and attire pristine. He held himself with pride, and had an authoritative gleam in his eye. His office had been dusted and cleaned, the papers on his desk stacked in organized piles.
Adler shook each party member’s hand and paid them the remainder of their wages. “You have performed a great service to this town. It has been my honor to meet you. I will certainly mention your names to my patron, Lord von Jungfreud.”
Zarkon, meanwhile, had taken the stone to Niklas Schulmann’s room at the Lord Dorian Inn. Schulmann’s bed was unmade, his spare clothes crumpled in an open traveling chest, and sheets of parchment scrawled with esoteric symbols littered the floor and every surface of the wall. The stones the group had previously found were lying on the floor in the center of the room, placed together to form a semicircle. Schulman slotted the new stones in place, but cried out in frustration when he saw there was still another quarter of the circle missing. He flew into a rage, kicking the stones, thumping the walls, spitting and cursing. He looked over at Zarkon, embarrassed when he remembered he had company.
“Ahem, I’m sorry, it’s just that this work is…very important to me. Oh, and to the College of Magic in Altdorf, too, of course. Now, deep breath…yes, that’s better. Well, it seems that, er, we seem to have come to a dead end. Without the last piece, I have no idea what this text means. Something, about something…Sigmar’s eyes, none of it makes sense yet!”
He looked back to Zarkon, a manic gleam in his eyes.
“We’re so close, curse it all! Look, I’ll give you everything if you can find this final piece. I’ll talk to my superiors – they’ll grant you an emperor’s ransom. Gold, knowledge, magical whatnots, anything you desire. After all, erm, the future of the Empire hangs on a thread, and this riddle holds the key. Yes! Now, leave me. I need to study this new stone in peace.”
Zarkon left, to tell the rest of the group that Schulmann had gone mad. He stated he didn’t quite trust him anymore, and they needed someone else to help them figure out where the last stone was. Rolf had also taken the sword from above the farm’s fireplace and needed it translated. The party decided to visit Professor Kopfchen, who they had previously saved from the animated skeleton.
At the professor’s townhouse, the curtains were drawn. They were left staring at his gargoyle knocker. When they knocked, they heard, “Go away! Nobody in!” Until they identified themselves, at which point they were warmly welcomed.
The professor identified the sword, stating the word “Acitus” was written on the pommel in Tilean. The bearer should get a distinct feeling of how the sword should be used when they come across the sort of creature “keen-bladed” was specifically made to fight.
When told about the stones, he grabbed a huge book off his desk. “A little gazetteer I am compiling concerning this quaint little town’s interesting history. These stones of yours remind me of the old seer-stone which used to stand where the temple of Sigmar is now situated. A fascinating tale…
“Of course, there is no sign of the stone now. It would be fascinating to organize an archaeological expedition in the crypts of the temple to discover this ancient relic of our ancestor’s glorious past, but I fear that the firebrand priest Gottschalk will have none of it.”
The party finished the night determined to get back into the temple basement however possible.
[WFRP 1e] The Gathering Storm 8
All clues led back to the crypts under the Temple of Sigmar. The party went in to level with Gottschalk. They needed that stone. The Lector, however, thought the stone best remain under the temple. He trembled with fury. “Desecrating hold ground in search of a heathen idol! That is blasphemy! And from such as you, who seemed to know better!” The group then had to endure a long lecture about the sanctity of Sigmar’s temple.
At the inn Schulmann was insistent they search the temple crypt for the stone. He offered to provide a distraction. “That fool Gottschalk has his mind addled by incense. Let me deal with the old mule.” He also provided paper and charcoal. If nothing else, the party could get a rubbing.
Shortly thereafter, an aurora of shimmering rainbow colors lit up the sky. A crowd of Hobbly residents gathered in the market square, despite the rain, marveling at the wonderous sight. Lector Gottschalk headed out to the market. He saw the rainbow as an omen of doom, and urged the townsfolk to prayer.
The party headed to the crypts. They had to lever up the layer of stone slabs on the floor before they could dig into the soft earth beneath. But they were interrupted.
Chlodwig the initiate heard the noise from the crypts and came down to see what was going on. The party wasted no time dealing with the interruption. Caius threw a net and entangled the initiate. Rolf tackled the standing form to get him onto the floor. Then Nim stood over Chlodwig and hypnotized him into silence. Hektor and Kraft kept digging.
Fifteen minutes later a shovel struck stone. Cleaning around the stone, the party discovered a two foot high rectangular slab of white marble with silver elf runes etched into it. It shimmered and sparked with faint blue electricity. Zarkon described a vivid blue snake of light caressing the stone. He took a rubbing on the stone with charcoal on paper. He also took the stone. Then everything else went back where they found it…at least as much as was possible.
Chlodwig was left in the basement.
Zarkon and Caius took everything up to Schulmann’s room. The rest of the party waited innocently in the common room of the inn. Schulmann stopped his rainbow show.
Schulmann placed the last piece of the stone into the other fragments, then he grabbed a quill and a map of the region. He knelt down to examine the assembled map stone.
Holding an oil lamp close to the marble, Schulmann muttered to himself under his breath as he read the elven script in its entirety. While he examined the text, he jotted down notes on his map, drawing symbols and lines, mumbling to himself the whole time. Zarkon thought he heard something about “the nexus” and “even more powerful than I imagined.”
Finally, Schulmann stood, looked around absentmindedly, and said, “Oh, you’re still here.” Zarkon stated he wanted to stay with the stones in case something bad happened to Schulmann. Schulmann looked at Caius. “Yes. Indeed. Good idea. Well, I seem to have misplaced some of my notes about the translation. I think I left them downstairs in the inn. If you wish to stay with the stones, I’ll be right back.” Zarkon affirmed that he did not want to leave the stones out of his sight. Schulmann grabbed his staff and headed down to the common room.
In the common room, Hektor, Rolf, Kraft, and Nim watched Schulmann walk past them, wave, and walk out the front door. Not knowing what was going on, they sent someone up to check on Zarkon and Caius.
Zarkon felt justified in not fully trusting Schulmann. Nobody knew where the wizard was going, however, so they started searching his notes and maps. One map showed one of the rivers, with a certain bend circled by Schulmann’s pen. The riverbend is a few miles southwest of town.
Outside, a witness saw Schulmann cast a spell, and fly off as a streak of blue light toward the west. That info, plus the map, gave the party an idea of where the wizard was going.
At the west gate, a watch guard was picking himself up off the ground when the party arrived. When asked what happened, the guard said “That damned thieving wizard tried to murder me!” Another guard at the gate said that Schulmann cast a spell at the guard, stole a horse, and rode off like a demon was chasing him!
Chasing Schulmann toward the river, the party saw a flash of blue light on the river bank. They arrived at a rundown wooden hut beside the river. A man with a long grey beard and weathered face and clothes lied face up, dead eyes staring in shock at the grey sky. A hole punctured his chest, still smoking when the party found him. They also found and upturned row boat next to the hut. There were grooves and footprints on the riverbank where another boat had recently been pushed into the water.
The party took some time to bury the dead fisherman. Upriver, they saw flashes and sparks of magical lightning, lighting up the night. After a quick burial in a shallow grave, the party started rowing toward Schulmann.
Schulmann was standing in the stolen boat in the center of the river, blasting the dark waters with lightning that crackled from his outstretched hands and staff. They heard an earthshaking crack, like a mountain being split in two. The water around the boat churned and frothed as beams of pure blue energy broke the surface, illuminating Schulmann in an otherworldly glow. The sky above groaned with thunder, and lightning bolts ripped from the clouds. Rain pelted down in a biting torrent. The front of the party’s boat started to leak from an old, poorly patched hole.
Zarkon feared he had nothing to threaten the powerful wizard with. He also feared the sinking boat, and he jumped into the water so he wouldn’t be a target. Others bailed as water seeped in and the rain fell. Those with bows shot at the wizard, through wind and rain. It looked like Schulmann was raining destruction on the very river itself.
Schulmann took some hits from lucky arrow shots. The light faded from around his body. He screamed in pain and fell into the water with a splash. Everyone started looking around to see if anything had changed.
Schulmann thrashed to the top of the river, his face contorted in fear, his heavy wizard robes dragging him downward. He sunk below again, his staff bobbing in the current. He suddenly broke to the surface again, his features a mask of fury. In his hand he clutched one of the many amulets he wore around his neck, this one a golden comet.
“You have ruined everything! As I have foreseen, you have doomed us all! Now you will die with me!” The amulet glowed scarlet. Schulemann was dragged down into the water again, his glowing amulet sinking with him until it disappeared like a dying ember.
Through the clouds someone noticed a bright light part through, it was an enormous blazing rock, falling toward the earth, getting bigger and bigger with every passing second. Everyone paddled/swam/rushed like mad toward the riverbank.
The comet plummeted into the river, causing a tidal wave that blew out the river’s banks and threatened to dash the party to pieces. In the river, the comet exploded, sending shards of rock flying in all directions. Blue energy lashed out from the explosion, then there was a blinding flash of blue light.
Scarred, scraped, and deafened party members were washed onto various points in the fields surrounding the river. It took a lot of time to gather everyone together, take a headcount, and communicate with those who couldn’t hear.
Those who could hear eventually noticed that the thunder had stopped. Everyone could see that the rain had ceased. The sky began to clear, and the two moons could be seen in the sky. Mannslieb gleamed from behind the disappearing curtain of clouds. Morrslieb seemed to have a decidedly grumpy expression on its pockmarked face.