Warhammer - The Depths of Corruption

The Restless Dead - Chapter 2
Investigations into a murder lead many places

Summary of Events

  • Second appearance of ghost in the morning, indication that body had been moved.
  • Search broadened outside of immediate area. Interview with Kaspar Knapp as to how the body was discovered
  • Name given to possible corpse: Annabella Hutten. Question of why she was killed, then moved
  • Family confirms she was missing for three days before body was discovered. She’d had no complaints so far.
  • Priestess of Morr will not allow exhumation without extenuating circumstances
  • Interview around Annabella’s job indicated several people had gone missing
  • During the night, Esmerelde Claus and Bissil enter the garden. Esmerelde convinces the Priestess through methods unknown to permit exhumation.
  • Annabella revealed to now be a buried zombie.
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The Restless Dead - Chapter 1
A merry day of shopping is interrupted by a grim spectre

With the injuries suffered by Valanduil tended to by time, he was on hand for the return of Bissil Dingson, and Halion Balfour, as well as to meet Rigor Klaus with whom their paths had never crossed despite their mutual association with Lord Rickard Aschaffenberg. The rescue of the town of Schlagenhugel had preceded the trio’s return to Ubersreik, and the group once again found themselves the talk of the town. They celebrated the way that they knew best: shopping in the mercantile quarter of the city.

Their purses were reasonably heavy as Lord Aschaffenberg had been appropriately generous with their success, but Valanduil had his eyes set on a much higher prize: a Hochland Long Rifle. An expensive piece of equipment to be sure, but with Rigor’s silver tongue, and the exceptional successes of Halion and Bissil backing him up, Lord Aschaffenberg was convinced to finance the weapon for the adventurer, and with great ceremony located, purchased and presented it to the Wood Elf – while also making sure to highlight his own profile in doing so of course.

Their escapades were put on hold together as the murmurings of the crowd gave way to screams. Off in the distance, a pale shape moved through the crowds, whining and moaning as it came. A spectre of a dead woman, hair streaming through the wind, came down the concourse and people scattered in nits wake. Naturally, Lord Aschaffenberg moved to calm the people, and his adventurers came with him. Confronted by the horrifying sight, Bissil and Valanduil both staggered and could not confront it, but Halion and Rigor stood their ground. All though drew close enough to the ghost to see a vision of death – a young woman, suddenly and brutally killed in an alley by an unseen assailant. As Halion asked if the spirit was that woman, it let out one last howl, and vanished.

Lord Aschaffenberg wasted no time in calming the populace that by the right of Sigmar he would see this shade cleansed. He, taking the form of his four trusted servants naturally. The group wasted little time in trying to track down the source of their vision, through a mixture of interrogation of where the spirit came from and investigation of the city, they located the alley that matched their vision, and where the ghost was said to have come from. There was no sign of any recent violence there, and as it had last rained two nights ago, it seemed unlikely that the death had occurred any time recently.

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Many Happy Returns - Chapter 3
The true enemy is revealed, and the new battle begins

The trip to the standing stones was laden with a sense of urgency. If the Priestess’s words were true, the disruption of the ancient circle of stones was responsible for the disappearance of the village in the first place, and it may well happen again if left unchecked. A quick glance by Halion into the magical realm confirmed that the Wind of Azyr was still rising, and so with Bissil, Rigor and Carmella at her side the group set off to try to save the village, as well as themselves, from becoming unstuck in time.

Upon reaching the great circle, Halion was able to confirm that they were ancient Ulthuan Waystones, usually built to harness powerful confluences of magic in the world. More disturbingly, Rigor realised that some of the trees that had grown in the centre were moving, and the spirits of the forests seemed to stand ready to defend this area. Though Rigor insisted that he had prevented the villagers from venting their ire on the overgrowth, his companions all insisted that the treemen be dealt with before they proceeded onwards.

Initially, Bissil and Halion were planning on using magic and raw savagery to draw the treemen out from the ruins, buying time for the ritual to be completed. A brief discussion on the relative speed of a walking tree concluded that the best plan was simply to begin the ritual, and then deal with the trees as they approach. Halion suggested a plan of lighting the ground on fire as a warning to the trees, but both Rigor and Bissil pointed out the obvious dangers in such a plan, not the least of which would be further enraging the spirits of the forest.

Priestess Farber moved forward to carve the first rune shown to her in her vision on the stone, and upon completion the treemen did indeed become aware of their presence and moved to charge. Bissil and the Captain stayed with the the Priestess as she moved to draw the next rune, while Halion, Rigor and Carmella began lighting torches with which to frighten or threaten the treemen into charging them. Bissil attempted to block one of the approaching trees from reaching the Priestess as she finished her latest rune, only to be completely bowled over by the strength of the creature.

As they called out for their fallen friend, Rigor realised that the treeman, though merciless in shoving Bissil aside, did not actually show signs of wishing harm onto the dwarf, and was instead proceeding towards the Priestess and Captain Baldrich, seemingly intent on stopping the ritual. Though they themselves had a treeman lumbering towards them, and both Halion and Carmella seemed ready to attack the creature, Rigor insisted that they wait for the tree to take the first murderous action against them before acting. With torches and weapons drawn, they watched as the treeman charged into the midst of them… and ignored them, continuing straight into the forest.

Now convinced there was more going on here than appeared, Bissil recovered his senses and charged the Priestess to make her stop the ritual. The Captain had already engaged the treeman that had charged him and, though not a match for the creature, was able to hold it off for the third stone to be ritually marked. Rigor began roaring at the man to drop his weapons and fall in submission to the treeman, and despite his clear misgivings he did as he was instructed and the treeman stopped attacking. Bissil knocked the Priestess over to disrupt her ritual, only to find that her appearance seemed to melt away with her leaving a cruelly dressed elven witch in her place. Pretense dropped, more elven raiders began emerging from the forest, some engaging the treeman that had charged into their midst and began to surround the group – their foe was chillingly known to Halion as the Druchii, or Dark Elves.

The Witch leader of the Elves drove a dagger deep into Bissil’s breastplate, drawing a savage wound and poisoning the dwarf, which may have muted his return blow – damaging her surely but not dropping the nimble, lightly armoued creature in front of him. As Bissil, Halion and Carmella turned their fury on the Elves that surrounded them, they were saved by the treeman that had previously engaged the Captain charging to aid Bissil, and in one contemptuous blow slaying the Witch where she stood. With their deception revealed and their leader slain, the remaining Dark Elves seemed not to fight the entire forest plus an angry mob of adventurers, and faded into the darkness.

The aftermath saw the rescue of many that the Dark Elves had taken prisoner, as well as a revelation of their plans. With more time to study them, Halion confirmed that the stones were an ancient Ulthuan method of travel, and that the Druchii were attempting to modify them to reactivate and link up to Naggaroth, their blasted homeland. A mistake in their ritual initially caused the surrounding area to move through time, rather than space, but had they succeeded this time a Dark Elf raiding party could have opened up in the heart of the Reikland, and launched an invasion on the unsuspecting populace. Hopefully with their leader dead, the survivors would not know the exact nature of the ritual, but the Captain pledged to keep a closer watch on the stone circle and prevent anything like this from happening again.

With the day most definitely saved, the group set out to return to Ubersreik, with no doubt the most successful Vigil of Schlagenhügel to date accomplished by Rigor in Roadwarden History. Despite their success, all quietly reflected that they could only hope that the Dark Elves that had escaped would have better things to do than seek vengeance on them for thwarting their plans…

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Many Happy Returns - Chapter 2
A Five-Year-Old Murder Mystery begins!

The reappearance of the villagers of Schlagenhügel was a troubling prospect, but Rigor resolved to settle it in a calm, logical manner. First, he attempted to rule out that these were ghosts or apparitions by finding a nearby cow – which had appeared along with its owners – and patting it to confirm that it was indeed solid. Mistaking his intent for interest, he was approached by a woman politely inquiring if the Warden was looking for resupplies for his journey. Engaging the farmer in conversation for a few minutes, Rigor was able to confirm that for this woman, it was as though no time had passed: to her, the forest appears to had suddenly and instantly encroached on her homestead.

Unwilling to put off her growing panic any further, she made her excuses to the Warden, and headed for the Town Centre, where much of the village had already gathered and was haranguing the mayor for an explanation as to what was happening to their town. Initially blaming the events on the perfidious nature of Elves, she promised that their town would not yield, and that Schlagenhügel would begin removing this marauding wildlife without delay. Remembering the warnings of Yarandir, Rigor quickly made an impassioned speech that, as a Roadwarden, he would be investigating this issue but urged everyone restraint and not to act without knowing the true nature of what had occurred. Fortunately he was soon joined by Bissil and Halion from the forest, and together they made a direct appeal to the mayor.

Though the mayor was relentlessly disinclined to believe them, she nonetheless could not refute that something unusual had happened, and as the town guard was needed to keep the village from falling into panic requested the adventurers to consult with a local Priest of Taal and Priestess of Rhya who lived in the forest, as well as to check in on a pair of nearby Dwarven lumberjack sisters who kept a small logging camp a short distance from town. Bissil felt that the task of talking to some isolationist Dwarven sisters who may not have seen another dwarf in years was best handled by him alone, so Rigor, Halion and Carmella went to find the Initiates. Bissil’s journey to the lumber camp was swift by war pony, but upon arrival he found the sawmill was in even poorer repair than the town, but worse one of the Dwarves lay dead in the ground, apparently stabbed from behind. An inspection failed to turn up the other sister, leading to him to race back to town to try and intercept his friends.

The trio who had set off for the small woodland shrine also arrived unmolested, but to find their destination empty. The shrine was in quite good repair, doubtless from the intervention of Yarandir, but there was no sign of either the Priest or Priestess. Faintly, Rigor thought he heard a cry for help in the woods, and beckoning his companions they set off silently in search of it. Though they lost track of the calls for a moment, Halion’s keen hearing eventually picked up a renewed call, and they stumbled upon the bloodied Priestess of Rhya. In shock, she said that she and her husband had set off in the woods sensing a disturbance, but had been ambushed by a mighty troll which had killed her husband and she had only barely escaped from. Urgently heading back to the village, the group filled her in on the events that had happened, and were met with the same disbelief they had found up to this date.

The debrief with the mayor and town guard was a troubling affair. A follow-up inspection by Halion confirmed that the Dwarven sister was dead by a sword point to the back, but any other clues were washed away in the intervening time. The mayor had accumulated enough evidence that she was prepared to believe their story, as not only was their town in disrepair, but it appeared to have been thoroughly looted seemingly in the blink of an eye. As the captain increased the guard, the Mayor and Priestess appealed to the people for calm, and to wait for further developments. The Priestess left for her shrine to pray for guidance, and the group turned in for the evening.

Come the morning, Bissil and Halion set off into the woods in search of more evidence, while Rigor and Carmella interrogated the townsfolk, certain that someone would share something of note. The Elf and Dwarf attempted to find the Priestess, but discovered her shrine showed no evidence that anyone had been at it since Halion’s visit yesterday. A further investigation by the river did reveal the horrible sight of a troll, devouring a freshly dead deer with its bare, bloody hands. Not wishing to tangle with such a beast, nor wish a confrontation, they circumvented the thing and moved deeper into the woods to try and find more evidence, but failed to find Yarandir, the Priestess or any sign of what had happened – though Halion worryingly noticed the Wind of Azyr was picking up again.

Back in the town, Rigor and Carmella were relentless in interrogating the town, and hit upon asking not for anything recently unusual, but anything of note. The villagers dredged up the memory of some odd standing stones that hunters would pray at for guidance sometimes, but those had been there since the founding of the village, and surely they couldn’t be important could they? Managing to resist the urge to kill them, Rigor ran to meet up with his friends to share the intimation that this was the location they sought, just as the Priestess emerged from the woods, saying that she had received a vision of these stones, and was convinced they were the key to this whole affair.

And so, united in the mystery of this standing circle, the group set out to either save, or doom, the townsfolk…

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Many Happy Returns - Chapter 1
A happy reunion is undercut by the whim of destiny.

The village of Schlagenhügel was not the ideal place for reunions: An Empire village abandoned after its people mysteriously vanished from its environs five years ago under unexplained circumstances. As the story was told to Halion Balfour and Bissil Dingson, when the coach arrived that evening it was to a town whose walls were unmanned, whose market stalls were uninhabited, and even the livestock were nowhere to be found – yet the town was pristine and untouched, with no sign of an attack or disaster to explain the disappearances. Investigators, Wizards and Priests all searched the town without effect, and over the years the mystery was replaced with urban legend, and the town remained abandoned. They would have no reason to go at all were it not a requirement for aspiring Road Wardens to spend a night there in reflection on the importance of vigilance outside of the Empire, and thus a perfect opportunity to get meet up with their old friend and ally, Rigor Klaus.

It was the last test for any hopeful Roadwarden to stay overnight in the empty town, and then in the morning wake renewed with purpose for their task. By request, the pair were joined by Lord Aschaffenberg’s retainer Carmella Ostwald to serve as companion and guard, and the trio set off to the village – Valanduil still requiring a lot of hospitalization after his previous adventures. The journey to the town was peaceful, as they were moving deeper into the heart of the Empire, where there were fewer border threats against their security which could harass them on the road.

Rigor was waiting for them in the village, and a pleasant reunion of tales of Imperial education mingled with the life-threatening terror that he had missed were exchanged, before Halion noticed through her magical sight that the Wind of Azyr was slightly stronger in this area. Convinced that this meant there was to be some new calamity that had followed, she insisted that they set out in search of the Wood Elf Waywatcher who was said to guard over these woods. Fortunately in the fading light, the camp was easy to find and the group met with the Elven Yarandir who had taken up residence inside of the forest.

The Wood Elf reacted poorly to Halion’s almost immediate questioning, but was won over by the fantastical charm of Rigor, letting the Warden know that he was there to watch over the woods of the forest to ensure that they grew in properly through the abandoned village, and negotiate with the wild spirits. Bissil believed him to be referring to the ghosts of the villagers, but Halion knew he meant the actual spirits of nature around here, herself being the victim of a rather mischievous one who tormented her when she began to magically peer around the camp. Promising to heed the Waywatcher’s warning not to interfere unduly with the forest, Rigor and Carmella headed back to the village, but Halion and Bissil – strangely unnerved by the events so far, elected to stay the night at the Wood Elf’s camp.

So split up, Rigor and Carmella made their camp in the stables at the run-down inn, while Bissil and Halion bivouacked in the forest. Despite Halion’s insistence that Bissil stay up on watch, once the High Elf was asleep, Bissil too passed into slumber once confirming there was no Elven food secreted away to steal. Thankfully the night passed without incident, and as the humans woke in the village and appreciated its charm in the early morning fog, the forest pair bade farewell to Yarandir and set off to meet up and leave this place.

En route to the village however, a bright flash of light seemed to pass over them, and both Bissil and Halion were shocked to find themselves face-to-face with an equally surprised deer, who definitely had not been standing in their way a moment ago. The deer swiftly fled, despite Bissil’s attempts to chase it down, and Halion again peered into the winds of magic only to find that the strange accretion of Azyr magic appeared to have moved on from the surroundings, leading her to believe that the destined event had now passed.

Their surprise was nothing compared to Rigor’s though, for as he patrolled the empty town, a flash of light again came over him, and both he and Carmella now found themselves surrounded by hundreds of villagers, seemingly going about their day suddenly complaining about the unexpected appearance of vast growths of foliage in their path. As they inspected the area, they saw that people were starting to panic over what was, to them, the immediate transformation and degradation of their town.

Silently, both groups of adventurers resolved not to leave until they could get to the bottom of this mystery…

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Edge of Night - Chapter 3
Wherein a joyous respite from talking and politics is had

The revelation that the monstrous Skaven had been attacking the party of Baron Manfred vonHolzenauer was worrying to say the least. Though Bissil had managed to slay one attacker before it could succeed in its plan to tamper with the ale of the party, it was doubtful that the creature was attacking alone. Valanduil performed a brief reconnaissance on the well of the mansion to confirm that the tracks had come out of there, but it seemed empty for the moment. To Halion’s horrorc, the “poison” that the Skaven sought to introduce to the unknowing nobility of Ubersreik was in fact powdered Warpstone, nothing less than raw Chaos-stuff itself. The effect on the nobility would have been catastrophic, with no doubt dozens in their number succumbing to the effects of mutation.

Clearly the Skaven had to be dealt with, and though guards could be posted around the well, no doubt the creatures would find another way to infiltrate the party. Captain Pfeffer had enough guards to shore up the numbers in the courtyard and the interior of the party, but none she trusted to go plumbing the sewers of the city alone – none except a group of ragtag adventurers with a habit of overcoming the odds. Fortunately there was no need to drop any further hint, as Halion was eager to cleanse the world of this filth, while Valanduil and Bissil were eager to find more artefacts to sell – Bissil having already secreted the Warpstone powder on his own person for later.

The forewarning of the attack gave the group enough time to arm and armour themselves, and they descended into the sewer in search of the Skaven. The close, foul-smelling tunnels were enough to trigger stress and madness among the party, and though their journey following the tracks was short, the minutes seemed to stretch into hours down there. A combination of Halion’s observatory nature and knowledge about the Skaven, as well as Valanduil’s ability to scout ahead and follow spoor led the party to the lair of the beasts in short order.

Inside they saw two ratmen clad similarly to the one that Bissil slew above, as well as a few apparently lesser rats attiring them for another attack. Quickly, Valanduil and Halion took one of the assassins out from range, and then managed to kill the other as it closed in throwing warp-tainted throwing stars and attempting to use smoke bombs to close the distance. Bissil assumed his normal stance of hewing through the lesser combatants with ease, when a great roar shook the underground sewer and a beast as large as an ogre, but in the form of a rat, emerged from the inner chamber and began bearing down on them.

Halion’s magics, effective against the lesser rat creatures, seemed to barely damage the Ogre, and with a mighty swing of its talons it nearly disemboweled Bissil where he stood. Valanduil tried to find a weakness for a counterattack, when another rat stormed into the chambers, this one clad in the garb of a wizard, albeit one fallen to the Chaos powers. Complete with two small horns, he declared himself the Great Grey Seer Rasknitt, under whose machinations the night’s machinations had malevolently materialized. He probably had more to say, except this was when Valanduil shot him.

With an indignant squeak and a puff of magic, the Grey Seer vanished, leaving Bissil to hew another piece out of the Rat Ogre, and as it roared in rage, Halion’s magical dart blew the back of its head out, slaying the creature. Badly wounded, they nonetheless pressed on to find the Grey Seer with a few Skaven thrown between him and the adventurers as a living shield. The Grey Seer’s magic struck down Valanduil, and then by ingesting raw warpstone began to unleash death on everyone in the room – his own men included. Both Bissil and Halion were badly wounded, but as the Dwarf fended off the last remaining Skaven, Halion again unleashed her magic on the Grey Seer, slaying him where he stood.

Valanduil was alive, though barely, and Halion quickly got him out of the Warpstone infested lair – leaving Bissil to sweep up the last Skaven attempting to flee. Nonetheless the day was won, and though future patrols failed to find the bodies of the Skaven, the one corpse that Bissil had slain was still on display, and the trio were lauded if not publicaly than effusively as heroes, and it seemed that Lord Aschaffenberg’s star was truly on the rise, as he was now the candidate to beat for Marshall.

And as Morrisleib’s light faded, its last dying Warpstone fueled rays glinted on the devices Bissil had stolen from the Skaven lair, during those few minutes from which he was not being watched…

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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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