A Storm Upon The Horizon

The Trial and a Danse Macabre

After taking The Lightning Stone from the Madteeth herd, and marching Otto, Maria, and Reiner Holtz (the children fled into the Oberslecht) back to Stromdorf to be judged for their crimes, the party testified at the trial of the murderous Keila Cobblepot and her associates. A guilty verdict was never in doubt, but the formality had to be observed. After the trial the criminals were marched to the Field of Verena and hung by the neck until dead.

Later that evening a cold wind blew from the west and the Holtzs, Cobblepot, and the two dead sheep wranglers shambled into town, killing a member of the Watch and threatening the party. After putting the undead down, the party slept fitfully until morning when summoned to meet with the Burgomeister, Phillip Adler, for the first time.

Thanking the party for their part in making the town a little safer, Adler offers each member of the party 50 silver shillings to travel to the Garden of Morr to the southwest of town, and escort the Morrite priest, Brother Theoderic Grabbe to consult on this problem with the restless dead.

View
The Sleeping Elf

After awaking and meeting the rest of my traveling companions; we decided to attempt to see the Burgermeister. On our way, we noticed a bright light shining from the rural outstretches of the city. We arrived, and were rebuffed, and the office of the Burgermeister, telling us to speak to the captain of the guard; where we were also rudely dismissed.

We decided to turn our attentions to the bright light; flames engulfing a rural farm as it turns out. We arrived to a smoldering pile of ashes and rubble. We started to inquire at a neighboring farm when we were met by two met arguing angrily. Finally ending the argument, we learned the plight of the family. Al least what they would share with us. We were led by the wife into the forest where she introduced us to a creature of distinctly evil aura. He told us a tale of a great stone held by the beastmen. The Lightning Stone he called it. He asked us to retrieve said stone for reasons undisclosed. Al he said was that the current leader of the beastmen was treacherous and vile.

We were lead by the mysterious creature to a point near the camp of the beastman. We snuck, nearly silently, into close range of the beastmen, dancing and howling around their alter. Hanging off the top was a giant stone which would tremble as it was struck with a magnificent lightening bolt every few minutes.

As we began the attack, Tomke ran out and started the offense. I stayed back and spotted a hole in the side of the leader’s breastplate. After a couple exchanges, I was struck and I collapsed.

I remained unconscious. The first in and outs of life were flashes of arriving back at the in; and being aided by the herbalist.

View
20 July 2011 Session

As the party made its way back to the Thunderwater Inn to retire, they find that the common room has cleared out some as many of the townsfolk and farmers have headed home.

Sitting around a rough-hewn table to discuss what they’ve found thus far, their chat is interrupted by a fairly well appointed dwarf whose keen ears pricked up at the mention of Beastmen. Introducing himself “Rom” Madhammer of Karak Azgaraz, he joins their discussion and shares some of the knowledge of Stromdorf that he has collected over the past few weeks. Before long the party discovers that Rom is one of the “Heroes of Grunvald Lodge” as he shares his tale, and over the next few jacks of ale the party gains a member.

Eventually, the party breaks up and retires for the evening.

Upon waking and breaking their fast, the party begins debating on the best course of action. The young apprentice wants to immediately seek out the reclusive burgomeister Phillip Adler and deliver the evidence found thus far. Tomke wants to go to the Temple of Shallya, but is informed that there isn’t a temple in the town, merely a small shrine on the northwest corner of the market square (a wooden platform several city blocks in size raised out of the mud like most of the public areas in town). So as Tomke pays a small homage to Shallya, Erland and the rest of the party gain directions to the Town Hall.

Upon leaving the Thunderwater Inn, Vauter’s keen senses detect the bite of smoke on the air, and to the south there is a ruddy orange glow reflected in the clouds. Somewhere south of town, something fairly large is burning…

Despite the fire to the south the party continues to the Town Hall. Easy to find, the Town Hall is a large three-storied, half-timbered mansion dominating the south side of the market square. A grand flight of colonnaded marble stairs leads up from the wooden platform of the market square and ends at a heavy oak door decorated with a gold, lion-headed knocker. Hanging above the door is a large blue shield sporting a rearing stag, the crest of the von Jugnfreud family.

A watchman leans on his halberd before the door. His posture is relaxed, but his uniform is neat and tidy.

When the party demands to meet with the burgomeister, the watchman politely but firmly informs the group that that will not be happening. The watchman tells the party that all business is handled by Captain Arno Kessler on behalf of the burgomeister. When asked he provides quick directions to the Captain’s office, but he warns the party that they are wasting their time as “..the Captain is a very busy man now that he is the Burgomeister’s steward.”

Still ignoring the burning hint to the south, the party travels the few blocks to what appears to be the Captain’s House. It’s an imposing, two-story, black and white townhouse with a high-pointed roof decorated with grotesques and gargoyles. What appears to be a door to his office is on the ground floor, and a queue of townsfolk and local farmers stretch from the door and down the block.

Brandishing his Imperial writ like a shield, Erland, in a loud voice, states: “Imperial business! Make way!” With looks of curiosity, reluctance, and outright dislike the townsfolk and farmers comply though not before some anonymous soul pelts the back of Erland’s robes with mud.

As the party enters sparsely furnished reception area, they see a rather large, smug, and officious looking secretary seated behind a desk covered with manuscripts of various sizes. Despite the official seal and strong voice of the apprentice wizard wielding it, the captain’s secretary is not impressed and politely informs the group that: “The captain is too busy at the moment with Stromdorf business to deal with mere travelers and their complaints, but he may be able to schedule a meeting with you in… ah, let’s see… next week is no good… how about next Backertag? The 15th? Does that work for you?”

Thwarted in their efforts to reach anyone in charge of the city, the party leaves captain’s home, and walks back toward the Market Square. Some sentiment is that it’s time to leave the city to its fate, but more adventurous heads prevail, and it is agreed upon that it is time to go against all human motivation and head toward the fire. Stopping briefly at the Thunderwater Inn to rent a mule, the party leaves Stromdorf by the eastern gate and follows the muddy road and their noses to the burned out remains of what looks to be a fairly large farm.

As the party enters the homestead gate, Vauter notices that the sign that once hung on the post beside the gate is torn down, broken, and trampled by what looks to be cloven hooves. The word “Eigel” can be seen carved into the cracked sign.

Every building, the homestead house, the barn, the grain silo, a small toolshed and an outbuilding has been set ablaze, and even the sullen rain has only managed to make the ruins a steaming, smoky mess. The chimney of the homestead house is still standing, and among the soot is an eight-pointed star daubed crudely on the stones in blood and ash.

Throughout the area, cloven-hoofed footprints lead back to the Oberslecht. It is obvious that the Madteeth herd took no steps to conceal themselves.

Aside from the crackle of flame and the sizzle of the rain becoming steam on the charred remains of the farm, there are no other sounds of wildlife. Even more unnerving is that while there is the occasional splash of blood and evidence of a struggle, there are no bodies. With a sinking feeling of despair the party realizes that the entire Eigel family and all their livestock have been taken by the beastherd to be eaten or sacrificed to their Dark Gods.

Occasionally, lightning flashes bright and fast further south and away to the west.

As the party moves through the ruins investigating, Vauter’s keen ears pick up faint yelling from nearby. Looking around, Vauter sees through a parting of the smoke and rain, another homestead farm in the distance several fields away and slightly up the hill from this slaughter.

Preparing themselves for the worst the party moves across the squelching muddy fields and up the grassy slope of the gentle hill to the next farm.

In the barnyard two young men are yelling at each other. One of the young men is tall and gangly, with too-long limp blond hair, and a pug nose. He is wearing tattered, soot-stained clothes and his soot and blood smeared face is twisted with anger, pain, and loss. The other is shorter, darker, and has close-set eyes and a weak chin, much like the rest of the people standing around the barnyard watching the argument.

“It’s all your,” screams the tall, blonde one. “They’re all dead because of you!”

“My fault?” roars the short, dark haired one. “I told you not to stop, Tristan! I warned you! But you never listen!”

As the party watches, the fight slowly begins to escalate. Tristan yells “Why my family and not yours?” as he pulls a knife. Watching from the porch, a middle-aged worried looking woman screams “Fritz! Look out!”

Fritz takes a step back from the now armed Tristan and yells back “What do you think would happen if you just stopped? Did you think that they would just go away?”

Before the fight can get out of hand, the party step forward and with strong arms and soothing words disarms the situation. Tristan drops the knife and falls to his knees, sobbing with his face buried in his hands. The mother and quite possibly the biggest man you’ve ever seen gently lift Tristan up and lead him away to the barn.

The party is approached by a thick-necked, strong-armed man with graying hair and a slight limp. He thanks the party and introduces himself as Otto Holtz. He gestures to the woman and large man and tell the party that’s his wife Marie, and his Cousin Klaus. He points to the young man in the argument and introduces Fritz.

Tomke is suddenly surprised when he feels a cold, wet, and clammy hand slip inside of his tattooed right hand. He looks down and sees a short young girl of no more than ten years with close-set eyes, a squat pig-like nose, and a soft, doughy face. No one is likely to ever call her lovely, or even plain. With a thin, reedy voice she tells Tomke that her name is Imelda, and she likes his tattoo and his scars. There is a dangerous look of infatuation on her homely face.

As the party asks what is going on, Otto explains that the beastmen raid out of the Oberslecht all the time. This time they chose the Eigel farm to attack. Otto confidently tells the party that the beastmen would never think to attack the Holtz farm “because we’re too strong!” It becomes obvious that Otto is lying and hiding something, but the party isn’t sure what.

Marie returns from the barn and places her hand on Otto’s arm. She share that the Eigels have been making sacrifices to the beastmen for years. They know it was wrong, but they had to do it to keep the farms and Stromdorf safe. The sacrifices they unwillingly participated in have been all the kept the Madteeth herd from sweeping out of the Oberslecht and destroying everything from the River Obel to the River Tranig. And since the head of the Eigel family died, things have gotten harder, and the Holtzes want out. Ever since the storm began, the beastherd has been completely out of control.

Marie goes onto tell the party that there is a plan, and she has someone she wants them to meet.

Listening carefully, it’s evident to cunning Vauter and Rom that Marie is trying to paint her family in the best light, while minimizing their involvement, but it’s also evident that she is genuinely worried about the beastherd threat, and that she does have a plan that might work.

Marie then walked to the farmhouse, took a lantern from its hook on the on the porch and gestured for her husband and the party to follow her down a trail into the Oberslecht. Twisted, stunted trees loomed overhead, and the misty rain conspires to sink the haunted marsh into a perpetual twilight. The lantern’s feeble light casts a weak glow through the mist as the party climbed a small hillock, resting above the boggy ground. Further to the south lightning strikes regularly in what looks to be the same place.

A small cart rests on the edge of a small clearing dominated in the north by a leafless tree, its evil-looking branches are festooned with fetishes and charms, the pelts of animals, collections of feathers, and bones. Strewn about the ground surrounding the tree is a golgothan scene of old bones, cow skulls, horse legs, and human remains. The twisted and knotty trunk of the hagtree is stained with blood, and what looks to be mixtures of skin, blood, and bone where sacrifices are dashed against it.

Searching the cart, Vauter draws a finger across the inner surface and is rewarded with a black, sooty residue. Coal dust. This is the cart of Florian Weschler.

Looking south, Erland focuses briefly and opens his magickal sight. A strong blue glow of Azyr streams like a beacon into the sky and as he watches lightning strikes twice right where the glow rests. Turning west, he is nearly blinded by the bright column of Azyr power reaching from the tops of the trees into the clouds themselves.

Shaking the brightness from his magickal sight, he continues to turn toward the north, and finally looking at the hagtree, he again is nearly blinded, only this time it is from the pitch black cloud of Dhar that swirls around the figure emerging from the woods behind the charnel tree. Closing his magickal sight, and about to call a warning to his companions, Marie assuages the party.

“Please. Please stay calm. You’ll frighten him off.” Then turning back to woods, she plaintively calls out, “Are you there? I’ve brought friends. They can help us. Please. We don’t have much time…”

Crackling through the undergrowth a figure takes shape in the dim twilight. It is hunched, and leaning on a wooden staff capped with an animal skull and festooned with feathers, teeth, and semi-precious stones. The figure’s torn robes are similarly decorated with a leather mantle worked with animal bones. His arms are bare and muscular, and his fingers end in grubby, claw-like nails. When the figure finally speaks it’s with a voice that rasps and crackles, as if unused to speaking at all.

The figure implores the party to help him steal what he calls The Lightning Stone. If they do this thing the beastherd will lose its source of power and the herd will believe that they have lost the favor of the Dark Gods. Izka Madteeth plans to destroy all the works of Man this very night, and without the stone, he will lose leadership of the herd.

Erland confronts the figure about its aura of Dhar, and the figure chuckles grimly. The hood hiding its features pulls back a little and the pale fur face of Foaldeath, an ungor shaman, peers from beneath the mantle. In his rusty voice, he says, “You do not trust me. You think I must be leading you into a trap. If I wanted you dead, this would be the trap, here and now.”

“The Cloven Ones are many, and they would need less than a word to descend upon you, tear you apart, and eat your bloody raw flesh.”

“And if they knew I was her, speaking with you, they would do the same to me. So worry less about whether you can trust me and hear what I have to say”

The plan is simple: the party will fight to the herdstone, steal The Lightning Stone, and flee the Oberslecht. If they can get the stone beyond the forest, Foaldeath can turn the herd against Izka Madteeth for his failure to protect the stone, and if they manage to kill the wargor, even better as all the gors will start fighting for dominance and leadership of the herd.

After a quick discussion, the party agrees to Foaldeath’s plan, and follows him deeper into the Oberslecht. Eventually, Foaldeath calls for the party to stop and tells them that he must leave them here. All would be for naught if he were seen with them by any of the patrols, but if they are careful and stealthy, they may be able to avoid the patrols and sneak close to the herdstone without alerting the herd.

“Follow the lightning.” is the last thing he says as he disappears into the swirling mists.

Taking the shaman’s advice and setting the lightning strikes before them, the party slowly makes its way quietly through the swamps following in the cautious footsteps of Vauter as he stealthily leads the party around several ambushes and beastman patrols.

Eventually, the party finds itself hunkered down on the wooded edge of a clearing. Beyond in the open space there are many gors and ungors moving about, and near the man-sized herdstone a massive wargor bellows his rage into the skies as lightning arcs from above to strike the herdstone repeatedly. The sizzling crack of lightning and immediate boom of thunder has acted as distractions for the party.

Now they ready their weapons…

View
Journal of Vaulauyl
A Diary of Adventure Among the Races of the Old World

Arrival in Ubersreik

It is strange. This Dwarvian tale of ancient Elvish ruins; here, in the Empire. Curious.

I arrived in Ubersreik a few hours ago. I have arranged to travel tomorrow, via barge, to the town of Stromdorf, north of Ubersreik on the river Teuffel. From what I hear, “town” is much to quaint a word to describe Stromdorf. Although I will be happy to be traversing water rather than the mountainous terrain of the Grey Lady Pass; I am not looking forward to traveling amongst crates and rabble. But we do what me must.

On the River

Having been on the barge over night, I awake to a meager, if not nutritious, breakfast. The two humans introduce themselves and make small talk. I find out one is a fighter, and one calls himself and “Adventurer.” Funny how I hardly see him, except as a shadow, trying to make himself unseen. It is obvious the humans do not completely trust me. It is queer how humans so frequently portray ignorance as distrust.

The voyage has been otherwise uneventful. The boatman’s fears of smugglers and bandits seemed to be unfounded. I think his sons find him tiring, always expecting the worst in a situation. I suppose if I was forced to traverse the same waters, forwards and reverse for my entire life, I would too expect the worst. (If not pray for it!)

There are signs of torrential rains ahead, judging by the barges passing us on the Teuffel. Their boatmen more resembling a dog, growling at their master after forcing them into a basin of water for far too long. I suggested to the captain that I may want to disembark and travel over land to avoid the downpour. He quickly smashed those hopes telling me there is no way to avoid the rains, as they always fall over Stromdorf. Besides the rain, it would take much longer to get of at the west bridge, because I would have to travel around a great cemetery which seemed to frighten the sons of our captain. So we agree to endure the weather and press onward.

Upon approaching the West Bridge, we are called to attention by one of the hands to see that the bridge is gone, save a few remnants on the shore, and a pillar of wood standing as if to separate the water. As we neared the rubble of the bridge, one of the human passengers, Tomke, leapt to help save the boat from hitting the wooden spire. As we passed, we saw the culprit of the demolished bridge; a barge clearly overtaken with the swift waters brought on by the violent weather.

Stromdorf

Upon safe arrival in Stromdorf; my fellow travelers, Vauter and Tomke, and I seem to have formed a bond. Perhaps they may prove helpful. As I made my way down the dock, Tomke asks me about a man near us. Wearing ornate robes, holding an embellished staff with curious human contraptions attached; I recognize the symbols as being Eltharian in origin and quickly recognize him as a wizard. We introduce ourselves and decide to band together.

The Wizard saves a few copper by making a fuss about a parchment which supposedly grants him passage. However, after the gatekeeper suggests an Inn for the group, I feel pity for his sad existence. Giving the man one silver, i hear him muttering something about reporting an Elf and a Wizard entering the city.

View
29 June 2011 Session

After spending a couple of days traveling downriver via barge, Tomke “Rot Hand” Gleemann, Vauter Krueb, and a new elven traveling companion Vaulauyl of House Rolomin, a poet and minstrel, have reached the rain-soaked burg of Stromdorf.

Standing upon the docks as they arrive is a curious young Reiklander wearing deep blue robes covered in celestial icons and bearing a staff topped with strange brass, steel, and copper components that rotate, realign, and shift with no apparent method of steampower.

Introducing himself as Erland Reikson, they enter the village and begin making their way to the Thunderwater Inn, the lodgings recommended by the dockgate watchman.

As the group makes its way across town, they notice that the largest structure, the Temple of Sigmar, is repeatedly struck by lightning that is dissipated by a strange brass contraption that runs from the very steeple and into the ground. Erland proposes that someone very clever has built this to bind the lightning to the earth and negate its destructive power. Perhaps it’s the other wizard said to be visiting Stromdorf…

Entering the temple, the group is struck by the bombast and fury of a sermon delivered by the Lector of the temple, Lector Magnus Gottschalk. Even though he looks to be past his prime, the Lector appears strong, straight-backed, and completely capable of effectively wielding the large double-headed warhammer worn on a thong at his waist. His voice is stirring and powerful, and it appears that while Vaulauyl is unmoved, Erland, Tomke, and Vauter are all stirred to a near religious fervor and are inspired to crush the enemies of the Empire, no matter where they are!

After the sermon, the travelers catch the eye of the Lector and he strides purposefully from the altar to stand before them.

“You’ve come as I had foreseen it! Praise Sigmar!” the Lector nearly bellows.

He quickly relates that in the past few weeks his dreams have been filled with flashes of insight. He has seen the children of Chaos, men with heads and hooves of wild beasts burning Stromdorf to the ashes, the dead clawing from the ground, and a great, ever-hungry maw surrounded by dancing green devils consuming screaming innocents. He has seen the town sunk beneath a fathomless lake, and he has see the travelers standing before him as well. In his dream the Empire’s greatest allies stood with a Reiklander with a shifting face whose great mind directed his mighty thews and kept them safe with a cloak woven of shadow and cunning. Now before him stands all of his vision save the Son of the Karak.

Upon receiving the Lector’s blessing, the group made its way to the Inn. While shaking off the wet, and enjoying a half-pint of the pungently strong Thunderwater Ale, the party shares the actions that brought them to this rain soaked southern town.

For Erland, it’s his mission to discover the source of a magical pulse of Azyr magic. That swept across the skies several weeks ago. Diviners and celestial magematics have placed the source somewhere in the southern reaches of Reikland. His investigation has led him this far, and he is excited that he may be close to the source of the pulse…

For Vaulauyl, his travels led him to Ubersreik, where a dwarf shared a mug of ale and a tale of ancient elven ruins south of the umgi village of Stromdorf. From the description, it sounds like the ruins of an elven temple from before the Sundering. Perhaps the ruins may hold some fragment of poem or story to share once he returns to the shores of Ulthuan…

For Tomke and Vauter, the motivation is purely financial. Hired by the Merchant’s Guild of Ubersreik, they have been tasked with finding a missing merchant, one Florian Weschler. The guild has confirmed that he arrived in Stromdorf and that his coal was sold on the last market day, but he has yet to return to Ubersreik. Finding the merchant would be ideal, but failing that the two are to recover his guild signet and return it to Ubersreik…

After some discussion and amusement, the group decides that investigating the disappearance of the merchant is the one place to begin, and the investigation begins. Asking around it is determined that while most folks in the Thunderwater Inn know who Florian is, he never stayed there. He usually found lodging at The Stewpot Hostelry, a small bed and breakfast run by Keila Cobblepot, and from a strange, drunk Estalian named Eduardo Castillo Rodrigues they learned that he did stay there for the last market day, but was never seen to leave, though Weschler’s bodyguards were seen leaving early the next day without him. One thing Rodrigo did remember was hearing the clatter of pony’s hooves and cart wheels on the cobblestones, though in truth he did not see anything as he was nearly blind drunk.

The party then traveled to The Stewpot Hostelry to see what further investigation could be found. Unfortunately, quick peek in the stable found it empty of a white pony and cart. Meeting with the proprietress, Keila Cobblepot, she shared that Weschler left much earlier than his bodyguards that day. He even had to wake her to do so, and she normally wakes up around half-four to begin making bread. As for pony and cart, Keila assumed that Weschler took them with him when he left.

Thinking that perhaps the pony may have been killed and rendered to hide the evidence the party left the Stewpot, and made their way under rain-filled evening skies to the Tannery. Leaving the rest of the party behind, Vauter quickly and cunningly crept into the tannery and conducted a cursory, but thorough, search. No white hides were apparent in the reeking vats of curing leather, nor was it to be found on any of the frames stretching the cured hides. It appears that the pony is to be found elsewhere.

The next stop was at the northern gate of Stromdorf. The watchman there was helpful and courteous, but could not tell the party whether or not Weschler had left town by that gate, but the party’s luck changed at the eastern gate of the city. The watchman on duty distinctly remembered that he was on duty at the west gate the day Weschler arrived. He didn’t really think about it, but the questions posed by the party made him recall that the day after the market, he remembers Reiner Holtz leaving the east gate with a particularly bedraggled white pony and a cart laden with tarp covered goods and several kegs of Thunderwater Ale.

Realizing that it’s too late in the evening to pursue Holtz into the wilderness beyond the city walls the party retires to the Thunderwater Inn for a dry bed for the night.

View
22 June 2011 Session
Entering Ubersreik...

The bustling streets of Ubersreik flow with human traffic like the River Teufel that divides the busy trading town. Soft Brettonian vowels and the liquid flow of Elvish contrast the hard consonants of Reikspiel and Khazalid as traders bark and call across streets and squares.

The stench of fish assails the noses of Tomke “Rot Hand” Gleemann and Vauter Krueb who, following local advice, make their way into the common room of The Red Moon Inn. Asking about they meet Kurt Clauszeit another patron who is also seeking employment. He has heard that the Priestesses of Shallya are looking for volunteers to provide a secure escort to one of their hospices in the Grey Mountains. Tomke, Vauter, and Klaus stroll through the city to the Temple of Shallya. Kurt, being a native of Ubersreik points out various landmarks and places of interest.

At the Temple, our heroes discover that the priestesses are expecting volunteers rather than hired hands. Klaus conducts some quiet negotiation with one of the sisters, and Tomke and Vauter consider being at the temple the next morning to volunteer for the caravan.

Later that evening, Tomke is able, through some arm wrestling, intimidation, and general good cheer, to cull some interesting information from a rather drunk merchant who informs Tomke, Vauter, and Klaus that the merchant’s guild might be willing to hire them to seek out a missing member, one Florian Wescheler, a coal merchant who has failed to return from a recent business trip downriver to Stromdorf.

Initial inquiries have indicated that Weschler arrived in Stromdorf and sold the coal he was transporting, but the man, his wagon, and pony have all vanished. The merchants are, of course, concerned with the well-being of the man, but are more interested in the recovery of his guild signet since these rings provide a variety of privileges for the bearers.

The next morning a visit to the Merchant guild is quickly rebuffed as neither Tomke, Vauter, nor Klaus are members, but upon returning to The Red Moon Inn they are soon visited by a representative of the guild who provides information on Weschler and a letter of passage on a barge headed downriver.

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.