Warhammer - The Depths of Corruption

Edge of Night - Chapter 2
Hobnobbing for profit and intrigue-building

Despite having been told by Lord Rickard Aschaffenberg that their purpose at the party was to relax and have a good time, none of Halion, Bissil or Valanduil were prepared to simply abandon their host to the whims of Ubersreiklander politics. After all, the Lord had so far paid and treated them fairly, and stood at Halion and Rigor’s side when a daemon emerged, so clearly they could face down the upper crust of human nobility. They opened by talking to Alfred Karstat of the Merchant’s Guild, and despite lacking in formal etiquette or charm, they did manage to impress on him the connections that Lord Aschaffenberg clearly had among the other races of the World, enough to make him consider furthering business ties with the family.

With one meeting successfully under their belts, they prepared to further mingle and spread the good word, when they – and the party – were rudely interrupted by the arrival of Maximillian Aschaffenberg, and his loud braying mutant costume mocking the vonBrüner family. Specifically he was harassing Rickard’s brother-in-law Heissman vonBrüner, and his son Leopold. Mindful of not needing to cause a scene – or murder Lord Aschaffenberg’s nephew – the group managed to intimidate Maximillian into backing off via threats of carnal attention from Bissil, a frighteningly effective tactic as it turned out.

Flush with success, they split up to further mingle with the people. Halion met and talked with Christoph Engel, a senior wizard of the Ulgu order, and tried to convince him to back Lord Aschaffenberg as Marshal. Bissil remained with Lord Aschaffenberg to help apologise for Maximillian’s actions, when suddenly their Lord began vomitting and keeling over as if sick – or perhaps drunk as loudly declared by Siegfried vonSaponatheim. and Valanduil to Captain Andrea Pfeffer of the Watch, and was asked to help her look for clues regarding an attack on the alecart that had occurred earlier in the evening.

Their meeting was interrupted by Lord Aschaffenberg being ushered out of the hall, followed closely by Hallion who was attempting to tend to the noble’s clear sign of poisoning. Bissil and Valanduil, trusting her to handle the situation, left to investigate this attack – finding signs that the attack came from the sewer, and that the footprints were not of human, but of some tall four-toed creature, possibly a giant squirrel or worse. Meanwhile, Halion did manage to neutralize Lord Aschaffenberg’s poison and lead him back into the party, where yet again Maximillian had returned and had started a fight with Heisman vonBrüner. Lord Rickard had to tend to his own ignoble exit, and she managed to persuade the pair to take their fight outside, away from prying eyes.

This distraction bought enough time for Bissil and Valanduil to complete their investigation and return, and yet again Maximillian proved to lack the courage to stand up to Dwarven intimidation, and left the party cursing the names of the adventurers. Hoping to resume the party, Halion found herself talking to Lorith Silverleaf, an envoy from Ulthuan, and managed to rather impress the ambassador with her depth of classical knowledge, and the High Elf invited her over so that they could continue their association.

Valanduil was socializing with nobles that caught his eye, when he spied several of them screaming as it seemed a fur stole had come to life and was attacking one of the nobleladies. Quickly he sprung to action, cutting its head off, and spied Christoph Engel unconcerned and laughing his head off. Playing up the prank, he convinced the group that this was due to the light of Morrisleib, and he had saved them from a great threat, for which they were appropriately monetarily grateful.

Bissil, following a promise to Captain Pfeffer, spoke with Borgun Foambeard via the traditional Dwarven method of a drinking contest, and after winning went to inspect the casks of ale for signs of tampering. Out in the courtyard, he noticed that the hounds were rather agitated, and keeping his slightly drunken eyes sharp, managed to spy a figure moving with almost elf-like stealth among the casks. Lashing out in a blur, he struck the intruder down before any could react – including the creature, who upon death was not a man, but some sort of walking rat-thing. A long, vile snout, four-toed clawed feet and hands, clutching a vile blade and vial of poison for no doubt a sinister purpose.

Halion and Valanduil were quickly summoned, and as Valanduil confirmed that this creature’s tracks appeared to come from the well on premises, Halion confirmed the fears that this was one of the monstrous Skaven, and that everyone’s lives were in danger from far more than a drunken noble’s taunts…

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Edge of Night - Chapter 1
A brief primer on the intricacies of Ubersreik politics

Although their time in the employ of Lord Rickard Aschaffenberg had been just over a month, already the adventurers had uncovered two dangerous plots against the Aschaffenberg family, and the Empire in general. First they thwarted a sacrifice of himself and most of his staff at Grunewald Lodge, and then they rescued his nieces Sonia and Greta vonBrüner from his treacherous sister-in-law. Though they had been well-paid for their work, Lord Aschaffenberg decided to award the fine work of Bissil, Halion and Valanduil with an invitation to a noble’s costumed ball in the city of Ubersreik.

Arriving in Ubersreik the day before the ball, the trio found themselves promised by Lord Aschaffenberg to be outfitted with the finest noble’s clothing for their own use during the celebration. With time to themselves, the group found themselves wondering if there was an ulterior motive behind their invitation – after all with Rigor still training his Roadwardenship, none of them were particularly well suited to nosing around in high society. Fortunately the ball was the talk of the city, and it seemed many people knew the basics of what was going on: the city of Ubersreik was to have a marshal appointed by the Emperor, and its leading citizens were jockeying to be appointed that position. The three leading candidates was the host of the party Baron Manfred vonHolzenauer, a leading merchant Graf Siegfried vonSaponatheim, and Lord Rickard Aschaffenberg himself.

Feeling that they were being brought to this party as a kind of decoration, the trio decided to split up and learn as much as they could about those involved. Valanduil took to investigating Lord Aschaffenberg, and visited the Temple of Sigmar, as well as the Red Moon Inn where their adventure had begun just a handful of weeks ago. Her investigations revealed that Lord Aschaffenberg had cast himself as a spiritual candidate due to his commitment to hunting out Chaos cults in his own family, and the Empire in general. He had made many, very public, donations to the Sigmarites and was pushing the threat of Chaos for his election. The innkeeper of the Red Moon Inn however had a bowl of fish stew ready for Valanduil, as Lord Aschaffenberg did indeed value the contributions that the group had made, and apparently held them in high esteem.

Bissil was drawn to Baron vonHolzenauer, who had set himself up as the martial, warlike candidate for Marshal of Ubersreik. Bissil investigated the Tower of Magnus and the various Watch Captain stations throughout the town, which Manfred had sponsored and invested a portion of his own money in. The dwarf’s military prowess impressed the guards to some extent, and he learned that many of the city watch did indeed hold the vonHolzenauer’s in high regard. They had committed their private bodyguard to excursions outside of the city to take care of bandits, or marauding Beastmen. He also learned that the townsfolk of Ubersreik saw the City Guard as a bit of a joke, and that vonHolzenauer’s contributions, though essential, were only serving to further embarrass the Guard – no doubt a problem that could be solved with a more charismatic figurehead.

Halion took to investigating vonSaponatheim and his relations. Visiting the Merchants’ Guild and the public face of the Temple of Ranald where vonSaponatheim was rumoured to be a regular visitor. She learned from the Merchants that four families controlled the majority of trading inside of the city, and that officially the vonSaponatheims were not one of them, although presumably at least one of them were already in his employ. She failed to find the publically acknowledged but privately known true temple of Ranald, but found that shortly after Graf Siegfried’s association with the Temple, there were more acts of mysterious, Ranald-linked charity throughout the city, and that people were quite grateful towards the temple.

The day of the party arrived, and the group reconvened at Aschaffenberg’s mansion for a final fitting of their new noble’s outfits, and had a chance to catch up with Sonia vonBrüner, who had been brought along to this event as a chance for her to debut in high society. Supposedly enough of the people had been aware of the vonBrüner connection to Chaos cultists that the family line was under great suspicion, so it was important for her and her family that this night go off smoothly, and she felt much better now that her saviours were present.

Lord Aschaffenberg’s instructions were largely the same, as well as emphasizing that though he had no specific instructions for them, they were to remember that they were associates of his family, and to be have appropriately. Also if they could watch out for his nephew Maximillian, as well as anyone seeking to humiliate his family, he would appreciate it.

Little did any of them know how prescient his words would be…

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A Family Affair - Chapter 3
Valanduil does some legwork, and a plot is exposed

As Bissil and Halion moved through the woods to search for the marauding Greenskins, Valanduil made his way back to the village in order to continue the investigation, and keep an eye on Balthasar Klein as well as the two daughters left behind to ensure there weren’t any more secrets there. Arriving back in the village late, he discussed his finding with Herr Hendrick, and decided to focus tomorrow on investigating the missing body of Heindel vonBrüner, as well as then patrolling the manor for signs of anything that might have been hidden from their initial investigation.

The Garden of Morr yielded no new information as to where the missing body might have gone. Since Bissil had forced the coffin open there weren’t any further signs of intrusion, but apart from one unidentified pair of boot prints, no one else seemed to have been inside the grave. Interviews with the survivors of the attack yielded similarly little information that seemed useful: the Greenskin attack came after the soldiers were well and down in the village so that the manor was unguarded, and most of the staff left behind were not capable of fighting. Those that were either died, or were accounted for in the hospice. Apart from learning that Balthasar Klein was not seen during the attack, there seemed to be little to be gained.

The next day saw him investigating the manor and investigating Sonia vonBrüner and Greta vonBrüner for anything that might be hidden. Though he was curious about the actions of Balthasar Klein, he proved nowhere to be found during this investigation, with Sonia vonBrüner affirming that he had set off to find some men to help rebuild the manor after the attack. Her account of the night saw her mother, once the attack had begun, furiously rush into their room and tell them to barricade themselves, as she would stay outside and hold off any attackers. They heard little, but were unharmed in the aftermath of the attack. Greta vonBrüner seemed curiously silent, and couldn’t be drawn out of her shell by Valanduil. Though the thought of an eight-year-old girl being the mastermind seemed unlikely, he nonetheless got the impression she was hiding something.

He reported his findings to Herr Hendrick that the Steward appeared to have abandoned the two girls at the manor alone, and the retainer promised to go tend to them in his absence. The next day, Hendrick did not return, and Valanduil’s investigation found there was now no one at all in the manor. A search produced no clues, and he resolved to hide and spy on the place in case someone emerged. In time he did detect someone in the trees from his concealed position, and he sprang to give chase. Once he got serious, his natural Elven agility easily overtook the fleeing figure, who was revealed to be the now animate corpse of Heindel vonBrüner. Once it was clear it could not escape, the creature turned and began buffeting Valanduil, apparently without lethal intent but nonetheless insistent on escaping. Not wishing to destroy the creature out of hand, Valanduil found himself overwhelmed by its undead strength and was rapidly subdued – yet awoke several hours later at dusk, apparently unharmed.

The next day’s watching of the manor turned up no clues, but at night he did spy Balthasar Klein appear in the ruins of the house seemingly out of nowhere, and moving towards the courtyard. Stealthily following, he found that upon entering the courtyard, he managed to vanish somehow. Seeing nothing in there but a pool, Valanduil entered it to see if there was some sort of hidden passage, but found himself overwhelmed by the feeling of drowning, and quickly swam to the surface, unwilling to proceed. There was nothing to be done but watch, without clues, when the next morning Bissil, Halion and the rest of the ambush party returned in triumph.

Still secreted away, Valanduil watched as again out of nowhere, Balthasar Klein appeared to greet the party, saying that the vonBrüner daughters had been sent on to the village, and the manor was otherwise undefended. Curtly dismissing the others, Irina vonBrüner informed them that she would meet them in the village once her affairs at the manor were decided. Unwilling to allow these lies, Valanduil stepped forward to inform them that the daughters were not in the village, nor perhaps anywhere, and that answers needed to be brought out. Unable to convince them of her falsehood, Irina vonBrüner instead surprisingly conjured up a dark bolt of energy to strike Valanduil squarely in the chest, while Balthasar Klein leaped at Bissil and Halion exposing razor sharp claws beneath his finely tailored gloves.

The sudden savagery of the Chaotic assault threw the group for a moment, but both Halion and Valanduil rallied to put a ranged attack in the midsection of Irina vonBrüner, grievously wounding her to the point that when she tried to summon up more magic to defend herself, the strain instead ripped her body apart and she died in agony. Balthasar Klein learned the hard way that the predations of Chaos were no match for the righteous anger of a Dwarf, and similarly was beaten back. With the two villains disposed of, the missing members of the household still had yet to be accounted for. Suddenly, from the wading pool the corpse of Heindel vonBrüner emerged, bearing Hendrick, and then the two daughters. Once they were safely accounted for, Lord vonBrüner laid down again on the ground, and passed once more into oblivion.

Halion’s investigations conclude that the wading pool had an illusion spell over it, and diving in found herself in a cave with a clear sacrificial altar inside. Hendrick informed them that Irina vonBrüner planned to sacrifice them to the Dark Gods for more power, and it was now clear that the vonBrüner family had several dark secrets planned. Nonetheless, the group had again thwarted the vile predations of Chaos, saved the life of Lord Aschaffenberg’s nieces, and were viewed as noble folk by the citizenry of Geissbach.

The only offset, was that they seemed unable to move away from the foul forces of Chaos that now seemed to dog their every turn…

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A Family Affair - Chapter 2
The hunt for a Greenskin menace, and intimations of something worse

With a night’s rest having refreshed them, the adventurers made their way to Geissbach manor to look into just what had happened the previous night. According to Herr Hendrick, there was a Greenskin attack and pillaging of the manor, which was aided by most of the soldiers heading down to the village to deal with the rampaging beasts throughout the town. Many of the defenders and staff lay in the nearby hospice burned or otherwise injured, and most of the manor was a write-off. It was decided that Bissil and Halion would make for the main entrance to talk to Irina vonBrüner, while Valanduil would attempt to sneak around the ruins of the manor and see if he could discover anything that was either being discretely tucked away, or was small and valuable enough to be worth taking.

Irina vonBrüner proved herself to be an imperious, angry woman mostly concerned over the looting of her home, and demanded to her few remaining household members that they set off at once in pursuit of the Greenskins. Halion and Bissil, once they made themselves known, were commanded to “investigate” her on this hunt, while they pursued the creatures through the forest. Valanduil’s sneaking through the ruins of the mansion were, surprisingly, detected by Carmella Ostwald, captain of Irina vonBrüner’s household guard. He managed to explain himself, and was also brought before the Lady as a potential enlistment.

Though she wanted to set out immediately, the group manage to persuade her to wait for proper provisions and so that a plan could be formed. Quickly, Bissil and Valanduil made for the town to resupply, while Halion went to the Gardens of Morr to investigate the corpse of Heindel vonBrüner and determine if there seemed to be anything suspicious about his death. Gaining entry to the mausoleum was no problem, as the Priests were busy interring their own fallen brother that night, but she found herself unable to examine the corpse for one distressing reason – the corpse was not there.

With Irina vonBrüner unwilling to brook any more delays, a party was formed to chase down the greenskins consisting of herself, her Bretonnian servant Armande Dufournet, Carmella, and the adventurers. The steward of her manor Balthasar Klein stayed behind to guard Irina vonBrüner’s two daughters Sonia vonBrüner and Greta vonBrüner. Before any more daylight could be lost, they set out following the Orcish trail, which apparently had not taken much care to disguise itself. Valanduil, suspecting there was more to be found back at Geissbach, slipped the group after about an hour and returned to continue investigating, while Bissil and Halion made their way through.

It was two days of tracking before they caught up to the Greenskins, during which two things became apparent. Armande Dufournet was clearly deeply distraught by the attack and longed to return home, making Bissil question if he was a liability, and Halion noticed that Irina vonBrüner had several unusual occurrences of light regularly appear and disappear around her, once quite openly. She opined privately to Bissil that this seemed like evidence of spellcasting nearby, most likely centred around the Lady herself. Though these occurrences were troubling, they did not interfere with the group until they managed to catch up to the invaders. First there was an initial skirmish with some Goblins that was ended quickly, but later they came across the true group, slowed by its treasure. Composed of one massive Orc leader along with a number of smaller Goblins and Squigs, the element of surprise was on the group’s side and they plotted their ambush.

Halion was unwilling to commit to an attack with such fears about their leader – an unknown or untrained mage was as much a liability as anything they would be facing. Irina vonBrüner refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of their actions, but the Elf and Dwarf would not be budged from the feeling that she was concealing something from them. Their squabbles unfortunately drew the attention of a patrolling Goblin, and the fight was on. With a superior position, both Carmella and Halion were able to bring down a number of the lesser creatures before the battle was joined. Bissil hewed his way through the surprisingly durable Squigs, while Irina and Armande defended the ranged combatants from the Goblin. When the Orc arrived though, the creature nearly slew Armande in one blow, and only the fierce defense of him by Halion and Bissil prevented a second killing blow from descending.

As soon as the last Greenskin was saved, Irina rushed forward to the treasure pile to search frantically through it, caring little for the clear injuries suffered by her own people in the attack. Her panicked struggles ceased when she closed her hands around a small locket pulled from one of the bags, and announced that they would be returning to the manor at once now that their quest was completed. Though Bissil and Halion obviously had questions for her, she refused to answer them and haughtily offered them the rest of the loot from the manor if that would still their tongue.

As she was unwilling to answer any more questions, and uncertain of Carmella or the badly injured but still lucid Armande would be willing to support them if this came to a fight, the pair relented and gathered up the treasure, proceeding back to Geissbach. They hoped that Valanduil would have had more luck scouting out the area, but little suspected just how frantic their return to the village would be…

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A Family Affair - Chapter 1
An introduction to the village of Geissbach, and its environs

The horrific events of the daemonic incursion of Grunewald Lodge took weeks to truly settle for Halion Bellefleur and Bissil Dingson, both in the spiritual terms of having to confront the Chaos horrors from beyond and the much more physical threat of the raw amount of physical injury they had suffered during the attack of the Cult of the Unblinking Eye. Rigor Klaus, who had escaped any serious harm during the fight, took Lord Aschaffenberg up on an offer to retrain himself as one of the Roadwardens of the Empire; a prestigious position that meant he would be away for a few months accepting the weight of this responsibility.

As a result he was not there when his friends had healed, and Lord Aschaffenberg presented them with the next mission he had investigating his family. Most of the staff implicated as being part of the cult had some tenuous association with the vonBrüner family, who were his in-laws. He would like them to head to the village of Geissbach and check on his sister-in-law Irina vonBrüner. Her husband had recently passed away, and this would prove an excellent cover to check in on household matters and ensure the estate was up to order. For this mission they would be again posing as servants, though higher position ones. Again Herr Hendrick would be accompanying the, as well as a new ally in the Wood Elf Valanduil, who seemed best suited to this role of espionage.

The village of Geissbach was a day’s travel from the Lodge, and the group arrived in the late afternoon light to begin a preliminary investigation. They decided to explore the village first rather than the manor, in order to gain some preliminary information on how Irina was viewed, and any pertinent gossip that could be found. Bissil gleefully discovered that the town possessed a small but reputable Dwarven brewery, and promptly lost himself in a drunken haze. Halion conducted some inquiries at the Temple of Morr concerning the dead husband Heindel vonBrüner, who had been found drowned in his manor’s reflecting pool some months previously. Valanduil decided to warm up his particular skillset by visiting the local market stalls, and stealing a rather fine healing draught that caught his eye before the group returned to the Inn to discuss their investigations.

Halion had found that she had been unable to secure permission to visit Heindel vonBrüner’s grave, as the Priest of Morr saw no need to risk disturbing the dead. Valanduil naturally decided to simply break in, and left to the Garden of Morr to force open the vonBrüner sarcophagus. Though he was easily able to open the door to the tomb, and detect the simple trap to alert the Priests to any disturbance from the dead, he nonetheless was forced to hide from a random patrol by one of the Priests, who drove him to briefly consider a violent solution if he were found out. Fortunately he was not – at that time. Unfortunately, even though he had escaped detection, all his planning fell apart when he found that he was unable to shift the heavy stone sarcophagus that held the corpse of the Lord of Geissbach, and he was forced to consider returning to the Inn.

Back at said Inn, Halion found herself unable to cure the power of a Dwarven hangover, when sounds of panic and terror began to drift in from the window. Sneaking her way to the edge, she was unable to find the source of the disturbance when a great crash and scream from below interrupted her thoughts. Bissil immediately sprang into action, throwing himself down the stairs to find a wild, half-crazed boar in the common area. It had just savaged the Innkeeper, and was preparing to finish her off when the Dwarf threw himself at the creature, and with ranged support from Halion managed to slay it. Halion remained behind to tend to the Innkeeper, as Bissil rushed off after Valanduil to make sure he was safe.

At the mausoleum, Valanduil found that a heavy stone structure was the perfect place to be at the moment as a large wolf had patrolled the grounds, and despite clearly catching the Elf’s scent, was unable to gain entry to the tomb. Sadly the patrolling Priest of Morr was less lucky, and the creature bounded off to attack and tear at the unlucky man. When Bissil arrived to assist, Valanduil asked him for help shifting the stone sarcophagus… just as the wolf returned having finished one meal, hoping to claim another. Fortunately it had just been proven that a beast was no match for a Dwarf/Elf combo, and despite some more injuries to Bissil was put down easily enough. The Dwarf’s strength was more than sufficient to shift the coffin, but the body of Lord vonBrüner yielded no clues to either of them as to if the cause of his death was more sinister. For that they needed the third member of their group, who was still busy treating wounds back in town.

They headed back to the Inn to retrieve her, and just as they arrived the militia from Geissbach Manor arrived to help put down the rest of the beasts, their natural savagery being no match for the pistols and fine greatswords of the Empire. As the last of the creatures were mopped up, a great cry went up from the townsfolk as up on the hill, Geissbach Manor now burned – and most of its defenders were a good twenty-minute ride away. Frantically the soldiers made their way back to their absent post, when – with the city on high alert and their nerves exhausted – the three adventurers decided to return to the Inn and rest for the night.

They would have enough to deal with the next day…

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Eye for an Eye - Chapter 3
The post-dinner refreshment will be sacrifice and corruption

As Bissil was escorted to the dining hall by Piersson, and both Rigor and Halion arrived separately, there was no chance to converse and share their findings beforehand. More importantly, a whispered conversation proved impossible as there were only a handful of people around the table with servants moving back and forth, and any conversation attempts would be obvious and quickly discovered. The serving of a spicy vegetable soup as a preliminary gave Halion an excellent opportunity to feign an injury to her “delicate” Elven constitution, and the group excused themselves rather obviously, but without it seeming too unusual.

A fevered meeting in the main hall brought for Rigor’s clues about the non-Goose meat, Bissil’s notes of the suspicious behaviour of the cook, and Halion’s realisation that the coaching staff had not shown up for the meal as promised. Halion and Bissil made to check on the coaching staff, while Rigor returned just in time for the main course. Deciding to rely on his innate ability to deceive, Rigor spun a story about how the latest fashion in Ubersreik was to avoid venison for fear that it would compromise male virility. Rather tellingly, Piersson objected to this description, but Rigor was convincing enough that goose was served to all but the guard captain who felt confident his virility could stomach it.

Upon arrival at the stables, the pair discovered that most of the staff were slumped on the floor, and a quick medical examination by Halion revealed that they were drugged, not dead. Bissil, who was standing on guard, caught a glimpse of the blunderbuss that had been found earlier slowly being aimed at them from above, and let out a roar as he charged for the stairs. His cry was terrifying enough to throw off the aim, for the weapon did no significant damage, and as he ascended the stairs Albrecht emerged and attempted to slay the dwarf. The traitor found himself woefully outmatched and, with support from a well-placed crossbow bolt, was handily cut down.

Post dinner the three reported in to Lord Aschaffenberg about Albrecht’s betrayal, and he urged them to uncover the truth of what was going on. At Rigor’s suggestion, they searched the walls of his study and found there was indeed a secret passage that led down into the depths of the manor. Though they thought about exploring it, they decided instead to leave Lord Aschaffenberg on guard at its top, while they searched throughout the manor. Bissil made to check on the guards, while Halion and Rigor went to the chapel to check on the wounded – just in time to see Doctor Scheer drive a scalpel into the chest of Sister Sonja. Though the doctor attempted to convince them that the Sigmarite had attacked him, Halion swiftly dispatched the doctor with a bolt to the throat, and managed – barely – to save the sister’s life.

Bissil’s investigation of the guard tower and gateposts found all but one of them unconscious, and the last guard strangely unaccounted for. Meeting up with the others, they figured out that Sonja was telling them of a dwarven relic she had promised to hide for Korden that she wanted to make sure was not lost should she die. They searched her chapel and found an ancient Dwarven Warhammer secreted there, and not a moment too soon as the hounds of the manor chose this moment to start baying intensely. Running out into the gloom, the keen eyes of the dwarf and elf saw that in the area surrounding the manor, Beastmen could be seen gathering and massing for an attack.

With time running out, Bissil made to attack the Beastman horde with one of the manor’s dogs, while Halion and Rigor ran back to the manor to see if the cult was somehow drawing the Beastmen there. They cornered the Manor’s librarian who was clearly acting suspiciously, but he was in turn rescued by Piersson and the majority of the serving staff who said they would just be more blood for the altar of sacrifice. Unwilling to fight that large a force, the pair shot, and dove out of the window with Piersson hissing that there was no time to pursue them and the ritual was to commence.

Pausing to stop by their quarters for supplies and healing draughts, they then made for Aschaffenberg’s study to head to the depths of the manor and stop this cult. Unfortunately their slight delay may have cost them, as just before they made the bottom an unholy light and cacophony of screams signalled the completion of whatever dark magic was performed. Simultaneously outside, the Beastmen that Bissil had been cleaving through let out a great howl, and their massive chieftain stepped forward to challenge the Dwarf.

Ultimately the battles were decided in series of matched battles. Bissil confronted the Beastman chieftain, and despite taking a grievous wound managed to drive his axe into its skull. Bissil, Halion and Lord Aschaffenberg charged into the ritual room to find a seven-foot daemonic entity and the badly mutated form of Gregor Piersson urging their death. Rigor faced off against the mutated Piersson and finished him off, while Aschaffenberg was incapacitated by the daemon, but bought Halion enough time to drive the Dwarven Warhammer through the chest of the daemon, banishing it.

In the morning, with most of the staff having survived, Lord Aschaffenberg thanked the three adventurers for their help. Though the road to recovery for most of them would be long – apart from Rigor who had managed to emerge mostly unscathed – he offered them continued employment investigating the only member of the staff who had not been found in the aftermath, the guardsman suspected of drugging the other members, and how much further his family had fallen to the predations of Chaos, as well as investigating

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Eye for an Eye - Chapter 2
The arrival at Grunewald, and pretty much everyone acts suspicious.

Spurring the coach past the gate and into the waiting stables, Herr Hendrick endeavoured to answer, in a slightly concerted manner, Halion’s question regarding the state of the Lodge. He reminded them that the staff had seemed lazy and shiftless recently, and that their attitudes allowing the manor to fall into a state of such disrepair was why they were here. As they were surrounded by servants – who made no effort to help unload the carriage until a pointed word brought them around – further explanation would have to wait.

At the entrance to the Lodge the trio were greeted by Lord Rickard Aschaffenberg himself, who warmly and loudly greeted his new staff, and bade them to transport the supplies from the coach inside. Once the trunks had been carried – a task easily accomplished by Bissil and Halion, and less easily by Rigor – the Noble directed them into his private study where he confirmed the purpose of their assignment: Pretend to be new staff getting the lay of the land and investigate the other servants. Both Aschaffenberg and Hendrick had specific personnel in mind, but refrained from commenting lest he colour their opinions.

He had time to answer some questions regarding the nature of the Manor. Lord Aschaffenberg had inherited the estate when his brother, the previous owner, had mysteriously vanished roughly a year ago and that all of the staff who are currently employed were employed by the time apart from Herr Hendrick, who was his personal retainer. As it was late afternoon, they were to be given free run among the estate, though should all return for dinner whereupon they could brief him afterwards on their findings, and then resume in the evening.

With no more productive information forthcoming, the group set out to investigate the various areas of the estate. Halion made for the Hospice to check on the wounded. There she met Dr. Stefan Sieger, a doctor who was rather condescending towards the idea of an Elf helping him, and Sister Sonja with whom she struck up a much better rapport. The sister confirmed that all those in the infirmary were indeed injured, though the two guards still present had caught the worst of it. Sonja was also tasked with keeping the former blacksmith, Kordan Kurgansson, calm as he had succumbed to madness following the initial Beastman raids, and he was prone to shouting fits.

Bissil set off for the guardhouse where he was initially warmly welcomed as a clear fellow soldier, but his attempts at questioning whether or not there had been any sinister motives to the Beastman attack were misinterpreted as mocking the humans’ lack of abilities in combat, and they rather tersely ignored him and proceeded to go out on an unneeded patrol. Rigor meanwhile made for the roof of the manor, reasoning that if there was a secret conspiracy they would almost certainly head to the roof, and in spite of the poor repair of the tiling proceeded to make a search up there.

As the Pedlar searched, Halion and Bissil met up to investigate the Stables where they made the acquaintance of those therein: Albrecht Krug, Hans Kurtz and Franz Lange. The former was the only one seeming capable of doing any work, but took a dislike to the non-humans present and initially attempted to hustle the pair out of there until a show of force from the Dwarf sent him scurrying away. Bissil chose to follow him, while Halion made a friend out of the remaining stable hand who had himself been injured in the attack and was taking a tonic Dr. Sieger made for him in the assault. He confessed that it did sap him of his strength, but he was looking forward to a revitalizing meal this evening, before trying to get back to work. A subsequent search of the barn by Halion discovered a loaded Blunderbuss in apparently good repair in the loft, which she made a note of but ultimately decided to leave there so as not to tip her hand.

Rigor’s search from above noted that the Estate, though damaged, was in good enough repair to repel an assault with some competent guards, and found no signs of a secret conspiracy up here. However, while observing the manor he noted that Lord Aschaffenberg’s room’s dimensions didn’t match up with what he had seen earlier, and he resolved to investigate this discrepancy. Heading back inside, he decided to bring this up after dinner and instead spent his time congenially chatting amongst the servants that he saw, all of whom were polite if not particularly forthcoming. One such conversation led to him finding a note that had been hurriedly tossed aside that worried him: a simple warning that “Goose is Good”.

Bissil pursued Albrecht to the kitchens where he made the acquaintance of the cook Karla Wagner and managed to charm the older woman. She offhandedly directed Albrecht down to the wine cellar to fetch her something to cook with, and when Bissil made to follow him she attempted to delay the Dwarf, a suggestion which he rather blithely ignored. Cornering Albrecht in the wine cellar, he intimidated the servant who spat promises of vengeance and threats that the Dwarf did not know who he was dealing with, but before he could get too greatly into these promises a voice from the top of the stairs told him to cease babbling. Gregor Piersson, the Steward of the Manor, had come in response to a frantic cry from the cook to help deal with the rowdy dwarf in her cellars. Escorted by two other manor servants, he told both man and dwarf to get out of the cellar and to make ready for dinner, which Albrecht quickly obeyed while Bissel turned his intimidation on the Steward, but to little effect.

Now certain that something untoward was happening, any further investigations would have to wait as the dinner bell had sounded, and everyone was to gather in the dining hall…

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Eye for an Eye - Chapter 1

It was as good a day as any in the town of Ubersreik, which is why to avoid the rain and smell down by the docks three unsuspecting souls gathered in the Red Moon Inn to answer an advertisement for helping a local Noble move house. Bissil Dingson, a Dwarvish Mercenary was the first to arrive whereupon he promptly forgot himself and began spending his family money on pint after pint to forget his troubles. Rigor Klaus was next, whereupon he promptly espied a modest tavern filled with modestly intoxicated beings who might be willing to pay for his evening’s libation by purchasing some of his cheap, possibly effective charms. Halion Balfour was the last, whereupon she failed to see anyone remotely approachable and resolved to stick to the shadows until someone found Herr Henderson to inquire about the job.

It was shortly thereafter that Dingson’s prodigious drinking and seemingly endless purse brought the attention of a pair of dockhands, who expertly embodied the drunk and disorderly stereotype. Wishing to avoid a barfight which could depress his sales, Rigor managed to talk down one of the drunks into sharing a drink with him, but the other required Bissil to remind the human of his Dwarfish temperment and strength. Seemingly cowed, the drunk quit the bar, but not before deftly helping himself to some coins from Bissil’s purse, which passed by the Dwarf’s gaze, but not Halion’s lingering by the door. With a warning from the Elf, a standoff ensued between the trio until the man threw a fistful of silver in Bissil’s face and ran out of the bar. Realising that not all of his purse ahd been pursued, the Dwarf and Elf gave pursuit out of righteous fury and amused curiosity, while Rigor persuaded the man’s companion that this really was not either of their issue.

Halion seemed reluctant to be the first one to arrive, and so she tarried until the Dwarf’s muscular legs overpowered the human and bore him down. Demanding the return of his purse and the clothes of the man as recompense, he eventually forced the man to disrobe – and revealed the hideous mutations underneath. With nothing left to lose, he attacked the pair but was handily dispatched by the two. The Ubersreik Watch soon arrived to cremate the man, and take statements from those in the bar. The trio were saved from inconvenient questions by Herr Hendrick who had placed the ad to which they were all nominally answering, who vouched for their honesty in the name of his master the Lord Rickard Aschaffenberg.

Herr Hendrick explained that the ad was not entirely honest as the Lord suspected that his staff were up to unspecified actions that might negatively impact his standing, and he was seeking some unconnected parties to investigate and discover what the remaining staff were up to. They would indeed be granted the pay as indicated, as well as a bonus among completion should the matter be resolved discretely. He paid one day’s wages up front and gave the three directives to meet him at the City Gates the following morning to depart. Halion and Rigor made to buy some more supplies for such an operation, which in an un-Dwarf like move Bissil was happy to lend them money for since they were now comrades in arms.

The journey to the Manor went well, though Halion noticed that Herr Hendrick was trying to hide signs of a recent injury to his arm. The man confessed that the manor had recently seen an increase in Beastman sightings, and that they had earlier attacked the manor resulting in some injuries to the staff on hand. Despite the apparent ferocity of the attack, the Steward noted with disdain that many members of the serving staff seemed almost uncaring to the invasion despite their certain death should the unholy creatures breach the walls. Grumbling that he had waited until halfway through the journey to reveal this information, the group decided not to insist he return to Ubersreik and instead all surreptitiously checked their weapons as Grunewald Lodge came into view, an aging but fine example of an estate befitting a human noble.

Halion immediately, and loudly, wondered why it was such a dump.

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