Vaervenshyael Tallaindeloth



Size: 5ft. 9in., 155 lbs.
Age: 69
Eye Color: Grey blue
Hair color: Dark Brown
Birthday: Jahrdrung 18
Astrology: Born under the sign of the Dancer
Dooming: The flashing blade will end thy days.
Religion: Kurnous
Distinguishing Features: Left handed, jeweled earring.


Vaervenshyael's Character Sheet


Vaervenshyael is an elf who has a lot of talent with a sword and a bad outlook on the world. She is tired of evil, injustice, and prejudice...especially against elves. She doesn't wait for established law to stick up for her or what she believe in. She would rather rely on the justice of her blade.

She was born to parents living in the elf quarter of Marienberg. She was raised there for 30 years before her parents began to fear she was not getting enough exposure to true elven culture. They did an uncommon thing in reaching out to the nearest wood elf community to continue Vaervenshyael's education. She would spend the next 30 years living in the forest.

Her parents were pleased with the changes they saw upon her return. She was patient, graceful, and had the personality of a caged animal while in the city.

When her acquaintances Ludovic and Maximillian spoke of heading to the Border Princes, Vaervenshyael asked to go with them. In a relatively lawless land, she figured she could meet out her own brand of justice. She's less than social in the princep, keeping to herself. She can usually be found either in the manor house or out wandering the wilds of the Border Princes.

She has come to deal with humans as an unfortunate necessity but looks for an opportunity when her blade may be of use to her elven kinsman who live in this untamed land.


Two siblings.


Tankred "Silver Bear" Tenneckermann

Mercenary, ex-Tradesman

Wilhelm Hechland

Creator and Purveyor of the Most Fantastic Mechanical Devices (Engineer), ex-Student

Johann Wilhelm Woeller

Barber-Surgeon, ex-Student


1 - Critical Hit to the body from Gaervald's second in session 49/3
2 - Failed Terror test from humans blowing themselves up to try to get through a door.
3 - Failed Terror test from reanimation of Russmann's soul during Morrian ritual.
4 - Failed Terror test from recipes written on a wall for creating foul mutations from captive humans (aka Clan Moulder).
5 - Failed Terror test from Al-Shar's perfect body converting into a daemon before it dissolves


Beastmen: 2
Sigmarite Zealot: 4
Reverend Brother Neidhart Russmann Sigmarite Priest, Order of the Silver Hammer
Pieter Adler, mutated miner
Zombies: 8
Water Ghouls: 2


A group of adventurers/treasure seekers show up in Padua with some goods to sell. The rulers of Padua require that all potentially valuable goods be assessed by them for their personal interests. These rulers send the characters to evaluate the goods.

Vaervenshyael walks in and directly asks to see a supposed "sword" the adventurers reported having. What they pull out is actually an incomplete glass-like blade that they had used as a shovel. The priest touches it and states that he believes it is magical. The companions stare him down like he is mad for saying such a thing out loud. The priest goes on to state that he also believes it to be cursed. The adventurers want no part of it. Vaervenshyael pays them 5 GC (which she makes a mental note to recoup from Ludovic).

The priest asks to borrow 3 brass to buy another item the adventurers have for sale (which she makes a mental note to recoup from him). It is apparently a pottery shard with a strange beetle/bug imprinted. He states he has a collection of these curiosities from around the realm.

The sitting ends with these facts/hooks laid out for us.

The sheik of Ubain has sent his messengers to repeat his claim on our land, Padua-on-Avon.

Maximillian stopped in to Vaervenshyae's dwelling early in the day to alert her than she may hear about a horse rustling later. She is welcome to investigate it prudently, but she should not be able to find the culprits. (It also just so happens that Tankred and his group are hired to steal the visiting Sheik's horses.)

We learn of a place in town called The Old Homestead. It's an area partially burned down by orcs. and now treated as haunted house by the locals. Sounds like a great place to investigate.

The engineer wishes to examine the weapon shard we found last sitting. To test the priest's assessment about it being magical, he invents Wilhelm Hechland's Amazingly Astounding Magicodetecto Device, version 1. Essentially he crushes it between two anvils while simultaneously smashing a toad on the item. The theory is that it is well known that magical items are unbreakable and unable to be dirtied. Vaervenshyael, in possession of the item, doesn't trust the engineer and first asks Ludovic if he is amenable to this testing which will leave the item in pieces if it turns out not to be magical.

Ludovic checks the item over before agreeing to testing. He believes the shard is shaped like cleaver (or skaven spear blade...just my meta theory) without handle. Maybe made out of dwarf gromril? It rings of crystal and metal. He thinks perhaps it is star metal? Vaervenshyael thinks both the humans are rubes.

Wilhelm tested the blade. It didn't break. It also remained clean, in that the toad guts rolled right off afterwards.

The Sheik's men came complaining to Vaervenshyael of stolen horses. She was not sympathetic. "If you can't keep control of your property, maybe you don't deserve to keep it." They are unsatisfied with the elf's lack of concern and leave to complain to Ludovic. He sends them back to their ruler without their property.

Finally, Pieter Adler comes into town, stating he may have found the old Iron Mine of Abdul al-Shadaar. His timing is impeccable, as the town smith (Tankred) was just complaining about a dearth of raw material in town.

As an aside, Vaervenshyael completely forgot to get reimbursed for purchases made in the first sitting.

Vaervenshyael has scouted east some of the distance toward Ubain. When she stops, there are still many miles to Ubain. Frankly, even with the Silver Sleuth the territory became very much the domain of Abdul Al'Shar the Tenth, known now in the streets of Padua as "Ten-Eleven-Twelve" (a dismissive reference of his claim to be the direct blood descendent of Abdul Al'Shar). Evidence of pickets (or bandits) could be found in the forested plains surrounding the road to Ubain.

Tankred, Vaervenshyael, and the woodsmen of the Silver Sleuth stumble on several recent and older camps, firepits, and detritus of hunted, and eaten, game near the Padua-Ubain road at the edge of the forested plains. The evidence of horses also is obvious and tracking back to the recent departure of the Ubain's emissaries makes it easy to draw conclusions about who they are and why they are there.

Campaign Date established: Early Autumn. Session 49 opens nachmittag (after mid-day) of Backertag, Nachgeheim 25, 2531. Mannslieb waxes full tomorrow night. A chill is blowing from the east and the taste of sulphur from the geysers in the shadow of Dragon's Spoor sours the mouth, causing many to spit or get drunk from spirits that "cleanse the palate" of the ill humours in the air.

A couple of men came to town looking for the antiquities hunters that sold Vaervenshyael the blade. Some investigation showed that they worked for the prince to the north, Saltzer (sp?). All antiquities were supposed to be sold into his possession, so these men were not in town on friendly terms.

Looking for someone to add a handle to the new blade, Vaervenshyael headed toward the inn. She found an exasperated Wilhelm indicating that the antiquity hunters were leaving town though the norther roughs were after them. She wanted to ask the men for more precise directions to where they found the artifact, but when she caught up to them Tankred was speaking to them about their safety. They ignored his offer of defense and ran out of town. They party then heard commotion from the inn.

Inside the inn, the group found the men from the north, led by one called Gaervald, harassing the lone remaining antiquity hunter, Heinrich. Gaervald's second was holding the rest of the inn at bay. Tankred challenged Gaervald, who met the challenge with a defiant act of cowardice: he stabbed Heinrich and tried to walk out of the inn. Vaervenshyael lunged toward the second to get his attention with the point of her sword.

The battle was long and rough. Vaervenshyael received a gut-punch from the second's pommel that stunned her for many seconds. Luckily, there were 4 against 2, and Tankred proved to be a bear of a man. After Gaervald's death, Vaervenshyael caught her breath in time to disarm the second. Upon questioning, the man was found to have no tongue.

The dead bodies were taken to the Barber-Surgeon's practice to burial preparations. Vaervenshyael followed for medical attention. The captive was taken to Tankred's lodge for further questioning. Wilhelm left to inform the prince as the Master of the Horse of the events.

Meta: Only the third sitting, and I already have an insanity point. An elf with a mental disability would be very strange, indeed.

Wincing from the blow to her chest, Vaervenshyael is aided across the broad street to Johann's shingle and laid in a chair.

Vaervenshyael grimacing hard, raising her arms to aid the removal of her mail and loosens her jack. Mail rings, blasted from the shirt by the blow, have torn though the jack's leather and shirt below. A dark red stain of blood is evident.

Johann generously applies a stinking propriety blended poultice to wound. (Meta: Heals 5 Wounds.) He tells her it will be about five more days before she back to full health. He may be able to apply another poultice the following day to accelerate healing to two (2) days, but since she does not know what is in the poultice yet and Vaervenshyael may not want another application.

(Meta: There were some questions about modesty with another party member tending a wound on her torso, but I decided that as an elf Vaervenshyael is not constrained by humanity's ideas of modesty [plus, it's a doctor]. She learned a lot from her time with the wood elves. This "elves are not just humans with pointy ears" mindset is something I really want to explore while playing this particular character.)

As the doctor is patching her up, he'll notice some wood elf tribal tattoos on her shoulders [1] and on her side [2], stopping at the iliac crest.

She looked at her damaged shirt and asked, "Doctor, is the mail salvageable? It was slowing me down anyway. I don't know why I ever let that fanatical halfling talk me into wearing it in the first place."

"Is the mail salvageable? Hmm.... Perhaps. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps...."

At this point Johann begins muttering to himself as he examines Vaervenshyael's wounds, becoming more and more frantic in his ramblings, until he shouts:

"Yes! I know! We shall graft the mail into your skin! No need to wait for your body to naturally heal when we can simply use the mail as replacement! Yes... then you shall be naturally resistant to incoming blows and sharp things! What say you?"

Before a reply can be uttered by Vaervenshyael, Johann begins talking excitedly,

"Of course, I know nothing of the process of grafting non-organic items onto organic beings, so we will have to perform some tests to see how the skin will take to the mail. Yes, yes, this could work! Now do lie down, we must begin quickly."

Johann looks at Vaervenshyael's hair and looks as if he wishes to say something, but he simply shakes his head muttering, "One project at a time, pace yourself!"

The elf is appalled. "Absolutely not. The poultice is more than sufficient. What exactly is in this...overly fragrant mixture, anyway?"

When she asked what is in the mixture, Johann pointedly did not answer her question. Strangely the noxious smell of the poultice never lessened and seemed to only intensified with time until it finally seemed to dissipate altogether.

He seemed rather put out by her refusal to allow him to augment her skin as well. That may have had something to do with his refusal to answer, though she couldn't be sure.

Johann did offer a bit of advice however: "Do not take a bath any time soon. The poultice reacts badly to water. Also do not drink milk, as you will most certainly break out in hives! Oh, and should you experience any stomach cramps, severe headaches, or nausea do not eat any raw fish! This only exacerbates the problem and will prolong the process. Otherwise you should be fine! Also, do come in for another application!"

[1] Similar to this: [2] Similar to this ). The overall result would be kind of like this but much less:

The surgeon continued his poultice-aided healing of Vaervenshyael's critical wound. She was almost back to normal after two days. Only a bruise and some sore muscles remained.

The group was summoned by an agitated Maxmillian, asking after "the mute" taken in the party's last encounter. Apparently our encounter crossed some political line of diplomatic immunity, though the people we killed and captured had killed a man in the town bar.

Maximillian and the surgeon went to question the mute...with help from the priest of Morr, if that indicates how they questioned a guy with no tongue. The rest of us when to Tankred's forge so he could look at the blade further. (Maximillian had identified it as gromril, star metal.)

Examination at the forge failed, so we went to the only person left to consult: the Verenan priest. He still insisted the item was magical, but Vaervenshyael wasn't convinced. She spit out a tirade against all the uneducated inhabitants of the backward town. She instead decided to visit a suspected hedge-wizard north of town.

At this time one of Tankred men arrived stating the antiquity hunters had left the town, crossing the river Avon to the north. The party saddled their horses and chased after the men, heading in the direction Vaervenshyael herself wished to go.

The barren scrublands west of Padua

GM: On horseback, the heroes follow the trail of two contract thieves headed north into the lands of the Robber King, Sulzer.

V: "It's good to get away from the prince and his master of the pony. I'm not convinced they really know what they are doing here."

Doc: "You did not see what I saw! They can speak to the dead through their freshly-spilled blood! If only I could find the link, all the Morrian said in response is that it was his 'faith' that gave him the power, but i'm sure there is more to it than that. This would be the work of a lifetime, a chance to prove my hypothesis! There is much work to be done..."

It is at this point that the good Doctor began to fall into self-directed mumbling, and they heard the words "soul," "blood," and "Morr," and they weren't sure but they thought they heard the words "expendable," and "bodies." Possibly in that order.

T: "They pay the bills, and for now that is good enough for me and mine. You'd be surprised how hard is is to find a minor noble that pays his bills."

V: "We will probably have to work extra hard to ensure they remain around to keep paying the bills. Unless we could find an elf willing to run the place."

T: "Never heard of a knife-ear running anything. Though I did see some kind of elf wizard once when I was a kid. Had these crazy body guards with these beautiful 2-handed swords. His guards all died in the war, though."

W: "I don't like the Master of the Pony, but I think the Princeps is doing a fine job! But imagine... A cannon made out of this Gromril metal. With the significant weight reduction I can make them portable! Imagine, a wagon with a canon sticking out the front, rolling towards the enemy and blasting them into pieces!

"Or perhaps... A cannon mounted to a Knight's shoulder!!!!" Wilhelm began sketching out a Bazooka. (It's probably a good thing that he has no idea how to smelt Gromril.)

Johann's excited murmurs began to calm down, though not before the words "Tomes" and "temple" and "library" were uttered. After his episode, he came to once more and latched on to Tankred's words.

Doc: "The Storm of Chaos. I remember that time. It was dark, and it seems that any meaningful scientific pursuit stopped after that war. Brilliance is now madness, curiosity dangerous, knowledge forbid-"

For those who looked, Johann had an uncharacteristically dark expression about him for a fleeting moment before he seemed to catch himself. His face and tone shifted sharply, and with his usual oddly charming smile he lightly asked, "Tell me, Wilhelm, how was your time at Altdorf? I find myself suddenly curious about your impressions of the great University."

The engineer did not respond, caught up as he was in the chase and his own musings.

GM: Van Duster's pace with his horse was erratic in the late afternoon autumn sun. He spent most of his time in the saddle staring down at the scrub-covered ground. His horse hopped and crab skipped as Van sought to follow the trail of the two thieves.

"Thieves" was a convenient label for the two vagrants that wandered into Padua-on-Avon and more recently made a hasty exit, yet leaving the body of a friend on the sawdust floors of an inn.

The last three hours raised the ire that the pursuit was falling far behind. Though the general direction of the "thieves" was known, the trail threatened to grow cold as the shadows lengthened with each hour.

"I have them!" Van exclaimed, reining his horse to a halt and turning to the party and trotting to his position.

"Forgive me, it's tough in this sandy, dry soil to find the trail, but someone was bound to take a piss and try to cover it." Van pointsed to the caked soil near some scrub grass. "It's going to get cold tonight. They'll have to stop. If we're lucky they'll be dumb enough to light a fire and well spot it on the horizon. We should ride toward them though. I've got their trail, but I fear I've also given them another hour or two."

V: "You said we could catch them in a couple hours. Perhaps you humans enjoy larger couples than elves." The elf was hardly impressed at how long the "quick" pursuit was taking.

Van Duster, having lost track of our quarry, rediscovered the trail in time for night to fall. Vaervenshyael attempted to aid Van with her excellent night vision, but his instructions were so inadequate that she had no hope of finding the trail in the dark. On top of all this, the rains to came to wash away any hope the party had of actually finding the fugitives. However, in the distance, we saw the lights of a settlement. It was too far off to reach in the dark, but we had a direction to head toward in the morning.

We sent the doctor ahead to the settlement alone to speak for us, so as to not intimidate the residents. It didn't work. The guards knew of the group and told him to invite his friends in to visit. We were welcomed in and given food for breakfast. The settlement was called Lauterberg, and it was a cattle market in a lush grassland.

We started to again let the doctor speak for us, but he wasn't able to keep his story straight. Tankred and Wilhelm interrupted with conflicting information as well. All this led to the perception that we weren't being honest with our hosts (which was completely true). In the end we caused quite a commotion and riled up the settlement.

The leaders of Lauterberg ended up seeking out the people we were hunting and keeping them for their own frontier justice. We were not able to get what we wanted out of the men. However, on the way to their doom, one of the men told us to "look for Heinrich's stone." This was a particular boon, as we had just lied about these men and got them into deadly trouble with the settlement.

What we were also able to learn was all about the Robber Baron's cruelty, how he tortures those he is displeased with, and get that one clue of what to look for next. Those are good points to keep in mind as we plod ahead.

Lauterberg's fear of the Robber Baron is so great that Vaervenshyael offered them the friendship and possible protection of Padua-upon-Avon on her way out of the gate.

When the party was out of sight of Lauterburg, Vaervenshyael reined her horse to a halt and turned it north east toward the Avon.

The conversation around the campfire satisfies each of you. Hechland spoke of new inventions. Tankred spoke of finding metal to work in defense of the town. The Doctor spoke of seeking dragons. Only Van Duster did not chime in; his grunts from from shadow (just on the edge of the firelight) acknowledged Tankred and let everyone know he was paying attention.

The destination was barely spoken of; most of the party just decided to follow Vaervenshyael because maybe where she was going was more exciting than another night in Padua.

In the quiet lapses of conversation, the flames crackled and, when he was walking the compass of the camp, the footfalls of Van could be heard. Each reflected on the morning past in Lauterburg. What was "Hendrick's Stone?" What were the fates of Sulzer's men? And what will happen when Sulzer learns his thugs died in the "hospitality" of the Princep's Padua-on-Avon?

Doctor Woeller recalled the nervous but compliant Priest's prayers as the Halfling zealot of the Princep slit the mute's throat and summoned his ghost from Morr's embrace. What's this?! talk of gods?!

Tankred considered the knowledge that his reputation proceeded him in Sulzer's territory. It may turn into being a target of Sulzer's men later.

Wilhelm pondered the cannons on the ridge above the Princep's manor. The rust had abated, but the breaches...the breaches. Too thin! Anvils be damned, forges need to be built! Forges fired by dragons breath. That's what we need!

Vaervenshyael could think of only one thing: they were on the wrong side of the damn river from the witch she sought. She didn't want to consider the only ford. It was a half day north of the witch and rumored to be closely watched by Sulzer's men. Or was.

If Sulzer was ceding territory to could be worse

The party could not be dissuaded from the northeast river crossing, not by the threat of Sulzer or the threat of greenskins. Neither did the actuality of wolf tracks on the ground and carrion birds circling up ahead.

The party was met on a rise near the crossing by a captain of Sulzer's army and a tale of recent greenskin attacks. The creatures had come from the north. The men had barely held off the attack, but they feared the greenskins would return soon. Our party was mistaken for reinforcements from Lauterburg. We took to the role for a chance to get across the river.

While waiting for the next attack, the Doctor saw to the wounded. The rest of us gathered information. We found a store of wood near the river and heard tales of Sulzer's plans to build a bridge to invade Padua. We were not able to do much more before we were attacked by a plethora of goblins leading a river troll.

Tankred foolishly led a cavalry charge into the attacking beasts. The rest of the party could do little but follow his lead and try to protect his flank. The attack was swift and bloody. The party stopped the charge of the goblins, and, with the help of Sulzer's men, beat back the attack. There was much rejoicing.

The party used the cover of night and the drunkenness of the revelers to steal the ferry across the river...but not before lighting fire to the bridge supplies. It had been a very busy night indeed.

The party ended the night camping out in the rain again. The Doctor finally asked about our current destination and was told about the mysterious blade Vaervenshyael carried. The quest was to find a nearby hedge wizard who may be able to answer some questions about the item. The party fell asleep to reflections of a large fire across the river, reflected off the passing storm clouds.

We arrived at the quaint house of the hermit hedge wizard. He was less than welcoming. Thorny bushes erupted from the ground, lacerating the horses and Vaervenshyael's legs. Through the chaos, someone noticed the pack horse of Pieter, a miner and well-known contact from Padua. He came to the door, recognized us, and was able to talk the wizard down from his attacks.

Pieter was here consulting with the wizard Lucas on his recent ore find. Lucas had maps to help Pieter orient his prospect, far to the west in Sulzer's territory.

Vaervenshyael eventually gets the opportunity to show Lucas the shovel/shard she is carrying. The wizard believes it is both magical and starmetal...and, through some powerful magic, disguising its true form from those who look up on. He cast a long ritual, but was able to give no further information, other than the fact that it had somehow attached itself to the elf. The party left with no further clues, but memories of being told to "find Heinrick's stone" echoing in their heads.

There was naught to do but return to Padua and speak to the priest, the only one who may have this stone we were warned of in Lauterberg.

The priest, Roderic, was excited to see us. He had been researching the stone he bought from the same prospectors who sold us the shovel/shard. He believed the two to be linked. He explained that his research led him to tales of an artifact owned by the long-dead Arabyan king Al-Shar. He placed his beetle-inscribed stone into an indentation in the shard, and there was a powerful reaction.

The shovel/shard changed into a long, fossilized, yellow tooth with a hole in the top. It was big enough to be the tooth of a dragon, which Roderic, in fact, identified it to be. He also stated there were a total of 8 of these dragon's teeth spread throughout the Badlands...and he believed the stones that activated them were somehow infused with wyrdstone. Vaervenshyael barely heard, as she was retching and having a vision:

There was a room with half a dozen men. They were men of the Empire. There was some heraldry on the wall. One of the men was screaming at the others. She heard no voices. There was another item conspicuously glowing around the screaming man's neck. The vision pulled away. The view showed the seat of Sulzer's power. There was screaming. So much screaming.

Vaervenshyael asked Wilhelm to assist her back to her home. The retching, which had accompanied the magic tooth releasing its connection to her, and the vision had weakened her body. As he left, she made mention the fact that she was looking for a pistol. He had reddened and left, so she wasn't sure how her request was taken.

The next morning Vaervenshyael found her traveling companions rather hung over outside of Katerina's Rest. She, on the other hand, had been quite revitalized by her night's rest. She dragged them to Padua's seat of power and shared her story to this point with the Master of the Horse, Maximillian Morningglorly.

The party was sitting in Katerina's Rest discussing defenses when Azmir Raheem, the owner of the largest warehouse in Padua, walked up to the table and suggested we check out the Degenerate's Temple in the ruins of Khemri to the south. He stated the Khemri had technology unknown in today's world. He then returned to his newly poured drink, dipped a finger in, wasted the first drop, and downed the rest.

Azmir, as mentioned, owns the largest warehouse in Padua. He also runs a crane, unloading supplies from boats and onto the docks. His warehouse is known to have a flowery, spicy scent which wafts into the noses of those who walk by.

When he is out and about in town, he listens more than he talks. He travels with a large bodyguard, a mute rumored to also be a eunuch (and perhaps has some ogre blood?).

Rumor has it Azmir may be into the slave trade. The party has certainly seen no proof of this in their interactions.

The party is interested in taking Azmir up on his suggestion, after they are fully armed and have perhaps found a scout to go with them.

Vaervenshyael sighs an almost rhetorical question, "Where in the Annwyn can one find a working powder weapon?" Bored with the rest of the conversation, Varevenshyael leaves the bar of Katherina's Rest.

A hand arrests her as she exits. The hand belongs to a nameless river fisherman with the breath of a stray cat. "I heard you. Looking for a powder weapon." The man pauses, looks at her feet, then stares into her eyes,"ask the Morrian to visit my drowned son's grave. You can have his pistols if they will kill Sulzer's men."

He turns to leave.

Before he can leave, Vaervenshyael steps close to him, "Pray, generous sir, what is your name?"

The man turns to her, his eyes suddenly alert and piercing blue, "Ask for Downhill."

He turns to leave again.

Dieter Braun, the peasant grave digger, stands up from the table where he was eating with the Watcher Weinrich, the priest of Morr. "Dieter will take you to the Downhill grave Fraulein elf. I ask that not forget Morr on the way out the door. He surely will remember you when you die, Elf, regardless."

Weinrich rubs his fingers together then returns to his stew.

Vaervenshyael went with the grave digger to exhume Downhill's grave. Dieter was kind enough to do all the work, presumably so the elf wouldn't mess anything up. He deferred to her, though, when it came time to crack open the casket.

The casket was much smaller than either of them expected. Vaervenshyael opened the casket to find absolutely no human remains. There was an oil cloth with two pistols wrapped inside, a blunderbuss, 16 gold crowns, and a scattering of other change. Since she was only offered the two pistols, she put those in her pockets and replaced the rest. She made a mental note to ask Downhill where his son was the next time she saw him.

Vaervenshyael spent the remainder of her time wondering where to get powder and shot for the pistols. She had a contact in town, Pieter, who was a miner, but he was away from town for the moment. Wilhelm may be able to provide it, but he was looking for his own supply as well. She met up with the others, who suggested they head out of town toward the Khemri ruins. There, it was suggested, they would find all the supplies, knowledge, whatever they needed.

First was a short detour through the sulfur springs to the west. The sulfur would provide a necessary component Wilhelm needed for gunpowder. Unfortunately, the springs were also populated with beastmen. One long fight later (Vaervenshyael was unable to use her pistols to shorten the fight), Wilhelm was quite injured, the party was exhausted, and the party swelled with the addition of Sigmarite zealot refugees which had been prisoner to the roving beastman band.

The three Sigmarite zealots previously rescued from a pack of wild beastmen proceeded to ignore the female elf as much as possible during their travels. Instead they spoke of one "High Hammer" who will show the party "the works of their faith at the tower." They claim to have purged the Ruinous Powers from the tower. Which leads Vaervenshyael to presume that Chaos has been in the tower at some point.

She does not take kindly to the slurs from the zealots and points out, "Sigmar has no place here. You are far from home." They retaliate with a threat, "You are far from home *and* outnumbered, elf." Vaervenshyael admits to them that she is outnumbered, but not outmanned.

The final useful bit of information the Sigmarites share before the party rests for the night is that their "recent guest" is a learned man from Lauderberg [north of Padua]. The zealots then proceeded to somehow disappear from camp during Vaervenshyael's watch. Howls were heard to the southwest during Tankred's watch, but nothing else of real significance occurred during the night.

The following morning was a chilly one. The party resumed their march as much for warmth as to get to any specific destination. Along the way, the bodies of the Sigmarite zealots were found mauled. The area was covered in the footprints of a large wolf (or two, the Doctor couldn't be precise). Considering their loss negligible, Tankred and Vaervenshyael kept the party moving. Wilhelm and Johann were left to their own ruminations of the value of the zealots' lives...or lives in general.

Finally, in the distance, the party spied a 200-foot tall tower. The tower let forth a continuous column of steam out of the top. Vaervenshyael was initially reminded of dwarf technology. High on a plank there was a lookout. Approaching the tower was a long thoroughfare with what were apparently more zealots.

The party approached the tower through a gathering group of Sigmarite zealots. The zealots were unarmed, but Vaervenshyael remembered the hostility of the others on the road. She did not take her eyes off these uncivilized beasts as she approached. Doctor Johann spoke with the Sigmarites upon the approach, but Vaervenshyael paid little attention, until the Doctor said "What did this one do to deserve his punishment?"

Vaervenshyael turned to see what the Doctor was talking about. She saw the Verenean priest Roderic hanging outside the tower, tied to a post, sunburned, and mostly dead. The elf steeled her gaze, drew her sword, and boldly proclaimed, "this man is a citizen of Padua, and under the protection of the Princeps and his Master of the Horse. He is coming with me!" She then rode for the post to cut the priest down.

The Sigmarite zealots began to surround the party in a manner much more threatening than they previously held. Tankred pulled his sword to defend himself. Wilhelm pulled his Robber-Reducing Hand Cannon, but had no intention of waiting to be attacked. He fired on the nearest Sigmarite.

Battle was joined. Vaervenshyael defended herself from the attacks of two zealots, killing them both. She ignored any others in favor of cutting the priest down. The battle fought on around them, but Vaervenshyael heard the priest say "I know the truth...I know the truth." She saw the magical tooth hanging from around his neck. It was obviously not safe in his possession, so she yanked it from his neck and stuffed it safely into an inner pocked of her clothing.

When the last zealot was dispatched, the Doctor thoroughly examined the Priest. Johann looked at Vaervenshyael and said "he vill live."

The party boldly entered the front entrance of the megalith. Various rooms in the lower levels contained nothing but filth. Upstairs things got more interesting.

(Meta: My character apparently contracted some kind of bed bug in a room full of hay. I don't know when she'll find out.)

Up a short flight of stairs we found a room full of columns and murals. The murals looked like Arabyan armies on the march. There was a Sigmarite zealot in the back corner of the room. Wilhelm shot immediately (thinking he saw a beastman). The zealot got away and led us on a merry chase up many flights of stairs into the top of the tower. Vaervenshyael was able to overtake him before he reached the top. She chopped his legs out from under him.

The room at the top of the stairs had little but fragments of furniture, rubble, broken weapons and the like. There were more zealots using an overturned table for defense. They were all dispatched.

Some rooms further in contained more murals with different armies, according to the uniforms. Then we came to the challenge.

The platform we saw from the ground balance unsafely out of a side wall of the tower. It did not look like it could bear much weight. Our mercenary weighs a lot.

The platform did have a rope tied above it which looked to provide access via a brazen swing over the platform an into a hole in a wall in the nearby wall. Our heaviest party member tried it first. With no safety rope. (Meta: Score one Fate Point for the GM.)

The engineer decided to try next...again without a safety rope. (Meta: Score another Fate Point for the GM.)

The doctor was having none of it. He allowed the elf to try next. She insisted on a safety rope. She swung agilely to the opening in the far wall. Her safety rope was used as a guide rope for the others to swing safely over.

The next sitting will reveal what we find on the other side.

Right ear still ringing (and hair slightly singed) from Wilhelm's gunshot from her shoulder, Vaervenshyael heads down the new passage. The walls on the other side of the megalith show even more murals. What can the party make out? An Arabyan priest? Burial rites? Vaervenshyael has no interest in these nor the niches with bones which line the hallway ahead.

The party evades a rustic warning trap, made with a string and an empty tin bucket. There are individuals up ahead. They are not paying attention. They are taken out by Tankred and, surprisingly, the doctor.

The room contains a crate full of coins. They are old, gold coins. They are not the kind traded around these days, but the metalworker think he can re-mint them. Vaervenshyael has been stymied by lack of human coinage in the past, so she makes sure to stuff and large handful into her personal purse. There is also a 5 pound, clay statuette of a female. Vaervenshyael tucked that into her backpack. She knows how much humans like their antiquities. If nothing else, the priest Roderick may pay a sum for it when they return, if she can get him back to Padua alive.

Further into the megalith, they encounter three men and a chained up dog sitting around a table. As luck would have it, Vaervenshyael is squared off with the largest human adversary. He has a two-handed sword and muscles to spare. Trying to be wise, she disarms the large human. He doesn't seem to mind, and punches her square in the jaw, hard enough for her to see stars. She can do nothing but defend until her vision clears, then she managed to finish him with her sword. The doctor applied a rotten-smelling poultice to her jaw, which, admittedly, did make it start to feel better almost immediately. Still, she's partially deaf in one ear and can barely talk through a swollen, bruised jaw at this point.

There is a door in the north end of the room, but the party hears more dogs on the other side. They decide to leave that door shut to save themselves the aggravation.

The final fresco we encounter this session is in a large shrine. First the party must dispatch a few Sigmarite zealots, then we look at the work of art. It shows an old Arabyan king, Abdul Al-shaar to be precise, with a ranseur (a type of polearm). One of the magical items, the tooth of pride, is on the cross piece of the staff. Another item is red like a jewel. Vaervenshyael is reminded that she has the tooth tucked safely in a pocket.

Vaervenshyael looks at Tankred to brave the threat of powder first. Her ear still rings from Wilhelm's last shot.

Inexplicably, the Verenan priest, Roderick, runs bye the party, with two war dogs hot on his heels. Tankred fills the corridor to battle the creatures. Vaervenshyael attacks from around his flank.

The party still hears explosions from behind a door at the end of a hallway. Wilhelm has snuck a peek through a keyhole (or some such) while the warriors fight the dogs. He then backed himself into a corner and wouldn't say anything coherent.

When the party enters the room, they view a scene of carnage. Sigmarite zealots are attempting to blast open a pair of metal doors via suicide bomb. The party watched one explode as they opened the doors. This led to Insanity points. There were more zealots, with a leader-type, further into the room, out of blast radius. They all held more pipe bombs, waiting for their chance to try the door. Wilhelm stepped into the room and shot one of the bombs with his pistol.

The resulting explosion blasted everyone in the room, including the PCs. The zealot holding the bomb was killed, as was another zealot beside him. Another was knocked back into a wall, and the leader-type was knocked out of sight. Luckily, Vaervenshyael had taken cover behind a column and didn't have to survive a direct blast. It took little for Tankred and Vaervenshyael, once they regained their senses, to take out the remaining zealots.

A nearby room had mosaic tiles with Arabyan letters on them. As luck would have it, the Doctor had learned to read Arabyan from a warehouse owner in town. The party used the tiles to magically open the polished steel doors the zealots were trying to blow open.

Before heading beyond the steel door, the party explored the rest of the megalith level they were on. They found a skeleton of an Estelian who had locked himself in a trapped room. The man had a rapier, very find craftsmanship, which Vaervenshyael decided to lay claim to. He also had an interesting earring, which nobody else wanted, so she claimed.

The rooms on this level had extra gunpowder. All Vaervenshyael needs to change careers is some ammunition.

The hall on the other side of the metal door was lined with pristine murals. They depicted scenes from wars hundreds of years before our time.

Down the stairs an ambient heat rose, humid, especially from the east. An opening to the outside appeared to have been chiseled out of the foundation of the tower. Rock and sand had spilled inward, bearing footprints of one who had walked around the hot basement before the party.

A room nearby held rusted machinery, possibly once powered by the heat and steam rising from a deep pit. There was nothing there that worked now, and little the smiths could possibly use back in Padua.

Our miner friend, Pieter Adler appeared from the hole in the side of the tower. He was apparently recently able to breach the wall and was looking to stake a claim for himself. The party used his appearance and his egress as a means to escape quickly and easily from the megalith. Everyone headed back to Padua together.

The Master of the Horse, Maxmillian, met up with the party shortly after we entered town. He had many questions, which were cut short when he found out we had contracted a bit of a lice problem while in the south.

Doctor Johann gave everyone a powder to treat the lice infestation. He mentioned that it worked best when dissolved in a bath. Tankred and Vaervenshyael immediately set off to bathe. Wilhelm was too shy to join the bath and decided he'd rather try the less effective dry powder treatment.

The doctor (who never contracted the lice himself) had no problems walking into the bathing room and demanding that Tankred lead his mercenary group back to the tower to dispose of the Sigmarite remains before the Witch Hunter Maximillian found out about them. Tankred was not opposed to the idea, as long as his mercenaries were paid.

Johann's expression darkened quickly in the face of Tankred's request for payment. All trace of mirth and mad giddiness disappeared and was rapidly replaced with an uncharacteristic determination and darkness that was...strange...and disturbing to see on the face of the Doctor. Though, for a brief moment, it does seem somewhat familiar.

"Will you truly not see the desperation of our situation? A madman is head of this town, and would gladly slit our throats without so much as a second thought. He is ready and willing to end us for even the smallest edge in his attempt to survive and thrive, and believe me when I say that I have had much experience in recognizing and running from men like him. He is a zealot, not much unlike the men we slaughtered except in his capacity for cleverness and intelligence. A psychopath through and through. I do not plan to tempt this man to murder, and neither should you. Those bodies must be burned, and I need men to do so and keep quiet about the affair. If ever it were to come out that members of his faith were destroyed in so brutal a manner by the very men he trusted to carry out his will we would be subject to a wrath that we have never before beheld, and would likely not have the chance to experience again. I plan to avoid such conflict, quietly and without fanfare. I should hope that you would see the benefit in aiding my endeavor."

Here the Doctor continued to maintain his posture, and did not waver even in the face of the massive Bear of the Princeps. "What do you say?"

Tankred tried restating, "And I am saying that my men are mercenaries. They work for money, and they don't ask a lot of questions, as long as the pay is good. When the pay is bad, they grumble and they talk. Do you understand?" 

Vaervenshyael noted, "It is my personal experience that the halfling is not as devout as he would have people believe." Johann's demeanor softened, but only a little. Mixed in was a slight look of contemplation.

"Would they accept services in payment instead of money? I can, of course, see to any wounds they may incur. I assume that such things may be commonplace in your line of work."

Johann also looked to Vaervenshyael and said, "I'm not sure I'll be risking such a thing. If he ever feels a need to keep up appearances by bringing 'justice' to the murderers of his brothers in faith then who could be the recipients other than us? No, I won't be risking a knife to my neck or the hangman's noose."

Wilhelm, absent from the previous conversation, wandered into the bath, commenting that 'Asking them to risk their lives and offering them healing as payment seems a bit... WHAT IS GOING ON IN HERE?!?!?'. Seeing Vaer in the bath, Wilhelm jumped back behind cover.

Tankred looked at Johann sternly. "Doctor, I don't know much. But what I do know is that life is nasty, brutish, and short. That no matter what you do, we can all be certain that we will die, and nothing will stop that. So while we are alive, it is best to grab what joy and meaning we can, and that costs coin. My men don't work for free, or for favors, they work for gold. Gold they can spend on food, beer, women, and a place to rest their head where they can forget what it means to make your living butchering people for money. If it will ease your conscience, spend the Sultan's gold, and not your own. They won't care, gold is gold.

"Oh, hey, Wilhelm, grab a bath, don't be shy. We're all just a bunch of soldiers here."

Johann hardened once more. He matched the gaze of Tankred and whispered, "Shortsighted...." He stopped again to take a moment and spoke, "It is not a matter of joy. It is not a a matter of some nihilistic and cynical views of 'life' or 'death'. We, in the short run, in service of long term survival, must forget our hedonistic pursuits of pleasure. We cannot look away from the clear and definite presence of danger to our lives just for coin. And if you and yours will not help me, then I will seek others. I will see to our survival, even as you forget to do so."

He paused for a brief moment and looked once more to Vaervenshyael, "It would surprise me greatly to see an elf place any sort of faith in the mercy of humanity. I definitely expected you to take your fate into your own hands." With this he began to leave, but not without a final message to Wilhelm:

"My dear Wilhelm.... You look to be uncomfortable." He visibly softened, and took on once again the normal look of the clearly insane, but certainly benevolent doctor. "Do join in the bath with Vaervenshyael and Tankred. Do not forget to add the formula! There can be no extra 'little friends' in our quests!"

With this final message he shot a last, disappointed glance at Vaervenshyael and Tankred and left the bathroom to seek help from a new source.

Vaervenshyael noted, "The doctor is showing unusual passion, normally reserved only for cutting things. I do not share his worry, but I would be in his good graces the next time I am wounded. I had no particular desire to return to the megalith, but perhaps I will join his quest."

Tankred shook his head "I don't think he understands what he is asking for, V. He wants laborers who will work and keep their lips shut. Neither the work, nor the forgetfulness is ever free. I've been in this business far too long. You pay them to guard the train to the tower, and to toss the corpses in the steam vent, as if it was any other clean up job. A few coins extra not to ask too many questions. Between Bretonia, Estalia, and Tilea, me and mine have disposed of so many corpses that one grave looks like any other and they all blend together. But do something weird that stands out, and the men get to gossiping.

"And, Wilhelm, you look terrible. Get yourself into one of the tubs, and refresh yourself. Take care of those lice so you can get a good night's sleep before we go back out."

Vaervenshyael stopped thinking about the doctor and looked to the engineer. "Wilhelm, while you are right here, I require your assistance. I wish to learn how to use my new pistols, and your aim seems quite keen. Will you teach me?"

Wilhelm jumped at the change of topic. 'Of course! How many barrels do they have?'

Tankred arose out of the bath. "Right, if the shooting is going to start, that is my cue to exit. I have supplies and people to organize."

Vaervenshyael continued, "There are two weapons, each with only one barrel. I have some powder from the megalith, but I will need some ammunition. I am quite uncomfortable with these dwarvish contraptions, but I will do my best to learn. They seem to have been very valuable tools in our recent journeys."

Tankred, drying off, "If you need ammo, swing by my shop. My brother and I have a few die for the rounds. Lead melts easy enough over a camp fire that you can cast your own rounds. It is powder that was always the problem. 

Vaervenshyael looked to the mercenary, "Indeed. I do not want someone to shoot the powder so it explodes in my hands."

Tankred dressed. "For powder, or to maintain your pistol in working order, you need to talk to Wilhelm. I know metal, but not the mechanics or alchemy."

Wilhelm paced the room. 'One barrel? Oh that will make an excellent beginner's pistol. Just need to worry about aiming at one target at a time. As for how to use it, why it is just like a crossbow! Except that you use gunpowder instead of tension, a bullet instead of a bolt, and ...' Wilhelm the proceeded to launch into an hour long lecture about why gunpowder explodes, the metal composition of the pistol, and how the phases of the moon affect the tides. He completely forgot to instruct Vaer on how to load the weapon or which end you point at the bad guy.

Vaervenshyael, confused and fully pruned from being in the tub so long, stood up. "That is a more than adequate background. Maybe next time we can learn how to properly load and shoot." This is like listening to the doctor teach me how to bind wounds, she thought.

--The Next Day--

Each member of the party woke to the thunderous ringing of bells. Each considered the continuous peal of echoing bongs for a moment. Bells in Padua?

There was the bell in the stubby, bat infested tower of the Temple of Sigmar, but that hasn't worked since any of them arrived.

Vaervenshyael shook off the haze of sleep and remembered that Maximillian made a hand-wavy promise to the aging priest of Sigmar to fund fixing the tower and bell. The bells tested the ear drum of Vaervenshyael; healing may yet occur.

No one attended throngs in Padua. Many run to the Border Princes for less church attendance or attention to the gods. What day was it anyway? Wilhelm looked out over Padua. That bell, that seemingly was made of bat guano, was brass or bronze or ... what were bells commonly made of, again? Ugh, the aches and pains had finally caught up with him. And only two days since the constant terror, pain, and near death of the tower. It must get better. Maybe Johann had something for the aches and sharp pains. Tankred rolled over, away from the bells. Bronze. Too much tin. Doesn't hold an edge, too soft. "Who is ringing that infernal bell!? And make them stop!" Johann stood on the porch to his shingle in Padua. Others were opening windows, and a few of the oddest characters from the shacks behind the main thoroughfare were emerging to the sound of the bell. Yes, that's the Temple of Sigmar. Johann considered the day: Festag. Made sense. Wait. No, not in Padua. Is that old priest calling a Morning Throng? The priest clanging a smaller, but more obnoxious, handheld bell was not the old priest. This one looked like a young firebrand. And he seemed to be taking note of the lack of piety in the streets.

What exactly happened in these last four days?

This couldn't be good.

Johann felt a slight panic grip him. "I was right," he whispered. "Right about the danger, but apparently not the source...."

Johann jumped up and began preparing for a journey, packing rations, poultices, and tools of his trade all while murmuring about "Sigmar" and "Witch pyres" and "Infernal bell!"

Johann immediately stopped his preparations. The bell. It was still going, along with the racket outside.

"Should I go to the gathering?" He thought to himself, "Would I be missed? I hope not. That would be strange and inconvenient." Johann paced about his shop and thought

And thought.

And thought.

He stopped again, and came to a conclusion. He sighed and said, "I must go. I must know the news. But first, a disguise!"

Johann grabbed his hooded cloak and donned it. He left his pack behind, though there was a moment of hesitation in the choice. He turned to the door and exited, locking it behind him, and setting off to the throng of people....

The party awoke to a new Sigmar priest calling worship at the temple. We all made our way from our places of residence to the center of town, where the firebrand was calling upon the residents to return to pious worship. Tankred joined those following the priest to the Sigmarite temple.

Vaervenshyael attempted to speak to Wilhelm about her distrust of the new priest, as well as the possibility of commencing shooting practice, but Wilhelm was acting awkwardly. He did show her some basics of loading, aiming, and firing, before suggesting she go practice against a barn somewhere.

Back in Katerina's Rest, there was much talk about the new priest. Terms like "long overdue" and "inspired" were murmured around the barroom. The talk mentioned that the priest came from the north 3 days ago. His name was Russmann.

The new priest had mentioned "winds of magic" building up in the west. The townsfolk believed all elves could sense the winds of magic, and asked Vaervenshyael what her thoughts of the matter were. She had to disappoint them, admitting she knew very little at all on the subject.

The crowd was animated and fervent. Vaervenshyael asked why the townsfolk were so intent on a Sigmarite priest when they were located so far outside the realm of the Empire. There were no concrete answers. Further investigation would have to be made into the subject of the new priest, Russmann.

The crowd at Katerina's Rest lingered. Small groups huddled.

The name Russmann was mentioned and heard at tables, in the latrine, at the bar. The Reverend Brother Neidhart Russmann. Footsore. Lean, broadshouldered, bald, and "called."

But then what was he saying: evil out of the west? All these firebrands said they saw the influence of the ruinous powers on the winds. Possessed, only the possessed "see things." Or he's right: Padua is lost to Chaos influence. The Robber King to the North was actually slaughtering greenskins.

Maybe the Princeps and his Master of the Horse have been too tolerant. Tolerant of that Cunning Man on the river. Tolerant of the heathen in the East. Tolerant of that rich Arabyan always holed up in his warehouse, charging for the use of the only working crane on the cliff! Tolerant of the merchant thieves of Ranald!

Liquid courage was poured more. Baptista and his family tried to keep up with the orders. The bar had become an impromptu after Throng meeting and the talk was becoming alarming to each of the party members.

Cosetta caught Johann's eyes as she poured another rye for three men at the bar. Concern on her face.

Vaervenshyael heard the whispers of the distaste for Ranald and made sure the Ranald talisman was tucked deeper into her pocket. She then caught the eyes of Wilhelm, trying to convey worry that the Princeps may be in danger from a firebrand Sigmarite. Tankred considered for a moment: this priest could raise a mob for fighting any conjured up evil.

The bar suddenly went quiet.

The Reverend Brother Russmann entered and surveyed the room with a stare that seemed to look beyond the faces that looked back at him. They lingered on Vaervenshyael: was it the elf or something else... the talisman? The lingered on the floor and stopped on the bar.

"Good Day all!" a smile seemed to crawl up his cheeks as his eyes brightened. "Good crowd! Perfect for me to make new friends! Please don't stop talking, but let me just ask that all of you make prayers for the Most Reverend Wurfel. He is ill. My arrival is blessed indeed! I'll have the Shallyan's tend to him, but your prayers to Sigmar are asked! I also ask that if any of you have male children of 10 or 12 winters, the temple is sorely in need of acolytes. Long neglected have Throngs been and so too have the quarters available for acolytes. Acolytes can also enter the catechisms for Novitiate training!"

The priest paused.

"But continue in your conversations! I'm off to seek audience with my new host the Princeps. I'll be asking for a proper militia to be mustered. Do come to Throng next Festag! Together with Sigmar's Blessing we will make Padua strong again!"

"Father, allow me to accompany you." Tankred stood and walked towards the priest.

Vaervenshyael whispered aside to Wilhelm: "I do not trust this man."

Johann asked Cosette, "The priest is ill? When did this happen? Perhaps I could examine him myself. I do want to become more familiar with the illnesses of this land anyway. Perhaps this is a good chance to do so..."

Russmann noted Tankred's approach and whispered something to himself.

"Greetings warrior, you are the Silver Bear are you not?" Russman turned to leave the bar. "Your reputation proceeds you. Join me as you desire as it will afford me to talk to a veteran certainly touched by the hand Sigmar." Russman assessed his robes and the light warhammer at his side as he strode to the middle of the main thoroughfare to look north to the manor on the hill.

"Shall we find audience with the Princeps? My understanding is he is served by a Sigmar templar."

Cosetta poured Johann a short glass of rye. "Don't be a fool and seek to heal a dead man. This firebrand is looking to where the winds lead him. He'll see the faint traces of the black winds left by the beastman on you, me, and this tavern. He'll only need a reason then to burn us all at the stake then."

Cosetta took the rye she poured for Johann and drank it in a single gulp, to hoots of several at the bar..

Johann looked worried. "A dead man? Dead already, or dead soon? You seem quite sure that he is gone already, but why?"

Johann looked back at Russman and Tankred, speaking to one another, and whispered, "And do you think he can truly see the winds of magic? That would be... incredible. I should like such a power myself. It would be fascinating to see such things."

Tankred answered Russmann: "I am indeed the Silver Bear, and my men the Silver Sleuth. I serve as weaponsmith, blacksmith, and as needs lead my pack against Padua's foes outside its gates. The town has a small militia, who maintain order within the walls, while we range beyond them. As to the Templar. I believe you mean the Undead Hunter Maximillian. He is the Master if the Horse here abouts."

Something seemed cross Russman's brow as he parsed Tankred's words.

"You bear witness to this "Master of the Horse" as a false claimant as Templar for Sigmar? That is not a light accusation warrior. My journey here from Barak Varr was made a little more enjoyable by tales of the Princeps and his "pious" Halfling grinding greenskin slaves to dust in the task of porting a pink barge to the Avon across these heathen and corrupted lands."

A smile lingered for a moment. Then a chuckle. "I don't think I would believe a single story if I didn't see the pink barge at dock!" Russmann's demeanor turned serious again and away from the halfling.

"Tell me what you know of the heathen in the East. No, wait. Tell me in front of the Princeps and tell him how you will help me muster, train, and equip warriors! Then I can also learn as to why you have yet to lead the militia out burning the heathen's walls and cleanse the heathen's lands."

Russmann steppeda little shorter and gestured for Tankred to lead the way to the Manor.

Tankred clarified, "I bear no witness, father. I am a simple tradesman and warrior. If it is not steel or smiting, who am I to say? As for smiting? Me and mine have slain green skin, beast man, and heathen. But we are few in number and cannot strike out in force. For my part, my brother and I are seeing as best we are able to the arms and armor that they may be clad as men."

Tankred left with Russmann to visit the Princeps.

Johann continued speaking with Cosetta in hushed tones.

Voices in the crowd began speaking disparagingly about elves. Vaervenshyael isolated a voice and challenged the man to a duel. He drunkenly charged her. She slashed his left arm. He charged again, and she clunked him on his head with the hilt of her rapier. When he would not relent, she slashed him across the chest and then knocked him out.

She returned back into the tavern looking for more people speaking lies about elves.

Johann returned to his barber shop just in time for Maximillian to walk in.

"So," Johann began, "What brings you to my humble shop, Oh Venerable Master of the Horse?"

Maximilian looked up at Johann then out to the street. Crossing the street were Johann's "friends" Tankred, Wilhelm, and Vaervenshyael. On entering Johann's shop, Maximilian wasted no time. "The Empire seems to have found our little corner of the world. I'm a pious, but practical sort. Know this, the end truly does justify the means in all things when it comes to change and rooting out the influence of the ruinous powers or to protect Padua." Maximilian looked at Johann and Vaervenshyael knowingly. "It may even mean looking the other way at those curious, while harmless. Always watching for when curiousity invites something more dangerous.

"That little display was our new "reverend brother" testing the waters to be sure. Drunk fool. I suppose I should be happy he's alive. He'll talk and I'll listen. But change is on the winds it would seem. Would any of you care to tell me what you found in the west? And it better be good, because I'm likely going to have to ask you to work for me restoring the balance while explaining to me why I have a Verenan telling me about the parts to an artifact that well secure this little "renegade crown."

Tankred stepped up to explain. "We found the lost iron mine, hidden below a ruin. Enough scrap from rusting tools that my brother and I can forge new weapons for the town, even before we try to delve deeper to secure the actual mine itself. There is plenty of lore there, but the Verenian would have to tell you what it meant. Or the Doctor. There were mad squatters, but we cleaned them out, and seized their store of fun powder they were using for blasting as well.

"As to artifacts and what not. Talk to V. I try not to fiddle with such things.

"Oh, and your engineer ran into his first beastman. He isn't dealing with that well. Hasn't been quite right since. "

Vaervenshyael was hesitant to begin explaining the talisman.

Johann stepped back into the conversation "Er, yes. Madmen. Tell me, Master, what think you of the more...extreme brothers of your faith? I take it you think less than highly of them?"

Gathering from the inn at Johanns shingle. The four of you hear the question. Vaervenshyael uncomfortably cringes. Johann poked a bear.

Maximillian stepped back. "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, barber surgeon. It is the evidence of things not seen. For by it the even Sigmar obtained a good report. Do not doubt that I do things with faith. I have seen the gossamer of the veil between worlds.

"You are even a witness.

"And it is faith that allows me to know that your Princeps and Padua is in danger. Even now the priest is collecting a mob that he will name as militia. But my faith that he will do this will have evidence in his actions. He will drag the Arab to the well and burn him. He will burn the inn because he distrusts the mid wife.

"These thing s will happen and then he will censure the Veneran. Then you for association then string you up because you touched an artifact...yes, I know, know all the priests very well and why they are here...and for not destroying it and destroying the bearers. He will find corruption were it is and where it is benign.

"So. I think the four of you work for the Princeps now. More than you think you currently do.

"And it will start with us talking to a dead man."

The door opened and the Princeps entered. As if on cue.

Johann straightened more as the Master of the Horse finished. Perhaps now was not the time for him to bring up Sigmarites slain by the party's hands at the Arabyan tower...

"But speaking of the Arabyan at the warehouse," thought Johann to himself, "I do hope his friend has responded. That is a mess that is best cleared away as soon as possible." 

The Princeps and the Master of the Horse requested that the party aid an associate, Helmut the Ranaldian by name, acquire the body of the dead Sigmarite priest from the Sigmarite temple so the priest of Morr might ask the body some questions. Vaervenshyael did not pay close attention to the details of speaking with a dead body, but Johann seemed most enthralled.

The plan included Tankred taking his men to the front of the Sigmarite temple for a distraction. Vaervenshyael and Johann were to guard the back door while Helmut and his men went inside to take the body. They were charged with making sure nobody saw which way the body went when it came out the back. Wilhelm was positioned on a nearby roof, providing cover with a crossbow.

After the Ranaldians left with the body, Vaervenshyael moved to shut the back door. As she did, she made eye contact with one of the priests inside the temple. An alarm was raised.

Russmann came around from the front of the temple and started spitting hateful words at Vaervenshyael. She drew her weapons and waited, happy to stall until Helmut and his team got away with the body...until the priest began casting spells.

She could see no discernible effect after his first spell, so she continued to wait. He cast his second spell, with a murderous l look in his eyes. There was no effect against the elf. She sneered and told the priest that his god did not approve of his attacks on the elf. She then ran him straight through the chest with her rapier.

Tankred joined in the fight at that point, though Vaervenshyael had already struck a deadly blow. When Tankred beat the priest to the ground, Johann ran up to try to treat Russmann's wounds. Vaervenshyael would have none of it, and she sliced Russmann's leg open along the femoral artery. The priest died a lowly death, separated from the will of Sigmar.

Johann became furious and called Vaervenshyael an idiot for killing the Sigmarite priest who had recently roused the crowd behind his cause. Vaervenshyael, taking that kind of insult from nobody, punched the physician in the mouth. His following grumblings were all but unintelligible from a fattened lip.

Helmut took the old priest's body to Morr's Garden. The rest of the party followed.

The party slid out the postern gate to the temple of Morr. They were asked to set the bodies out just so. There were circles. There were mirrors. There were insanity points for witnessing the ritual of summoning a soul back into a body to question it.

Wilhelm continued to be tormented by the brutality such magic necessitates. He started to scream and pull his handgun. Vaervenshyael worked to muffle his screams with one hand and disarm him with the other. Too much noise would interrupt the ritual.

The recently deceased priest's corpse spoke of "Nurgle's corruption...pouring out of the west." However, the old priest's corpse saw a tower. It saw dark winds pouring forth from the tower. It saw "the three of them" entering and leaving the tower. That was all. The party felt the need to follow up with Azmir the merchant.

We learned more about the Seven Talismans of Al-alshar. The doctor had heard some of this information before. The Verenan priest believed there was another talisman at the tower. He backed up his beliefs by stating he was right about other things he thought were at the tower. He thought the next talisman would have something to do with "a large toad."

Vaervenshyael's takeaway was that they needed to return to the tower.

The Seven Talismans: Toad Skin Snake Skin Lion's Tooth (in our possession) Snail or Slug...something Pig Skull Goat hoof/Goat horn Peacock feather

We learn from Roderic, the priest of Verena, that the next talisman is the leather skin of a great frog. He states that the blood of a great frog will reveal the third talisman.

While learning these things, the party was attacked by spies. They came through the window of the second story room we were in. Vaervenshyael grabbed the tooth off the table in front of them and drew her rapier.

She was unable to disarm the foe, but pierced him with the sword a couple times. The party was able to defeat the attackers, but not before they set Azmir's warehouse on fire. A search showed they were Arabyan with black turbins.

The party joined in a bucket brigade to save the warehouse. It had the only working crane in town.

Roderic asked more questions about the Tooth of Pride. Vaervenshyael had little to say.

Roderic tried to insinuate he was going to the tower with the party. Vaervenshyael relayed many, convincing arguments why this was not a good idea. It remains to be seen if the priest will listen to reason or not.

Angestag, Erntezeit 20, 2531

Each of you wake late. The events of the night before exhausting. New aches, cuts and bruises to tend to yet already there is talk of action. The talismans may be known, but now they must be recovered.

Back to the tower the halfling and the Princeps demand. Recover the talisman there and find the next before the Abdul Al'shar does something more rash than sending assassins for books.

Oh damn, those bells are ringing again. Time to wake up. Time to learn what surprises 9-10-11 has left Padua for discovery in the morning.

(Meta: I am preparing early for my next career. I don't want the trappings to be unavailable when I'm ready to advance. I bought some at the beginning of this sitting and commissioned the rest.)

The priest, Roderic, insists on coming with us to the tower. He will be bringing his scribe, and acolyte named Otto. I have warned him that I cannot promise his safety. Last time he almost got us all killed. The Verenans are blind to their own safety when it comes to their quest for knowledge.

Tankred brings two of his own troop, Van Duster and Friebald. They, on the other hand, are good people to have nearby when danger presents itself. With them at our back, I have confidence heading forward into danger.

We plotted a trip around the guysers this time. We have plenty of gunpowder supplies and do not need the sulfur the area would provide.

When we arrived at the tower, Pieter Adler's campsite looks abandoned. He remained here while we returned to town. It looks like he hasn't been back up to camp since we left. I headed down into the hole he dug in the back of the tower. The basement smelled like an overripe human midden. I did not see any immediate sign of Pieter, so I returned to the camp.

The next morning, the party reentered the tower via the hole. We left Roderic and Otto in the protection of Van and Friebold in camp. However, it seems the priest is difficult to contain.

To the east, we explored the room with the webs that we had ignored during our last trip. The floor was littered with dry, brittle bones. Something had sucked the marrow free of these small humanoid skeletons. I asked if anyone knew what kind of creature would do such a thing and was met with only silence.

Tankred heard whimpering to the west, where we found a staircase winding down. He said he saw green, glowing eyes and a crest of red hair. This did not match Pieter's description, so I readied my rapier and gauche. I noted human sized boot marks going up and down the stairs.

On a landing below, we found the mutated form of Pieter, dressed in tattered remains, and praying to Shallya, the human goddess of mercy and healing. He had a red, lizard-like crest growing out of his head and scaly skin. Wilhelm freaked out, and Pieter ran further down the stairs.

We followed the mutant Pieter into a large room at the bottom of the stairway. There were old piles of dirt everywhere. The room smelled even more like a city outhouse. The odor reminded us of decay, which reminded us of the warnings of Nurgle we had been told. Roderic found the whole scenario fascinating, dictating at high speed his observations to the frenetic pace of Otto's note-taking. So much for leaving the priest in the capable hands of the mercenaries above.

Wilhelm panicked and shot his new invention, a crude blunderbuss, at the mutated prospector. Pieter cried out as he was hit and tried to run, but he had been crippled by the weapon's shrapnel.

Pieter's cries suddenly turned intelligible when questioned by the doctor. "I have explored too far...touched too much...there is treasure...there is corruption below...Shallya, bring me a merciful, quick death...."

I stepped forward. "I am your goddess of mercy today," and I plunged my rapier into his bulbous green eye. The frazzled Wilhelm, whose mind I fear is no longer quite sane, seemed to be the only human who knew how to properly deal with a body corrupted by chaos. I have no problem stepping up when they cannot do what must be done.

We returned to the surface to regroup. I am to check the resources of the talisman for any hint to how we may proceed. Unfortunately, our path may lead directly into the bowels of this tower which corrupted the miner in such a grotesque manner.

Vaervenshyael used the Tooth of Pride to seek the direction of the next talisman.

The tooth heated. *flash* There was a room with large statues of frogs, full of riches, gold, gems, wealth. The elf wanted them. Wanted to hold them. *flash* Another room. There were rotting daemons, fighting, laughing. *flash* Another room. A statue. A man with a ranseur. A rotting carpet of maggots. *flash* The elf was rising, up a current of warm air, up through the center of the tower.

"I know which direction we need to go. Down the central shaft."

The remainder of the party, afraid of heights after the previous trip to the tower, talked the elf into trying the stairway and searching the passages beyond the room full of dirt.

The floor of the next room of note was covered in a writhing mass of maggots. In the midst of the maggots slithered a putrescent beast of Nurgle.

Tankred used Molotov cocktails to clear the floor. Vaervenshyael and Wilhelm shot their gunpowder weapons at the beast. It was killed without anyone needing to approach it.

There were halls, stairs, more halls. Behind one door, creatures stirred. The party closed the door to see if the creatures would come after them. Sure enough, two Nurglings opened the door and attacked. Vaervenshyael shot one completely through the head.

Beyond was a small room overlooking a staircase to the south.

The party entered a large room. There was a statue of the old sheikh, Abdul Al'Shar. The statue opposes a large mural of the Emperor on the wall opposite. There were runes carved below the statue, describing a curse to the Emperor. There was a also a cryptic message "Does the power lie within?"

Further on. Another room. There were two tall Nurglings at the bottom of a stair. Vaervenshyael charged, knowing Tankred and the others had her back. She shot her pistols. She missed twice. She drew her rapier and main gauche, hitting a daemon twice in quick succession. The creature died to her blades.

On a balcony above the room, a pink bubo and a green bubo cheered and jeered the fight. One escaped, to run away through a door behind the stairs. The party followed.

They came to a room with three doors. There was a fountain on the north side of the room. The fountain was in a filthy, daemon-infested hole in the ground, yet there were no stains anywhere around.

The light of Tankred's lantern and Otto's triple-wicked candle illuminated the dead end.

There were new noises coming from behind the northern door, against which a pile of foul-smelling detritus lay. The noises accompanied a scratching, muted by the thick wood of the door and waste pile. Roderick jumped back from the pile, knocking into Johann, who was pushing what looked like a rotted fruit skin—maybe?—off the surface.

"Something—don't ask me what it was—was just pulled under the door...," spat Roderick, his eyes wide, and the light shifted as Otto tilted his head to get a better look. The light jumped, the shadows danced, and Otto cursed as wax poured onto his hand.

Each of he party had pondered out loud mystery of the clear liquid of the fountain on the north wall. The wall, fountain, and sparkling water in the fountain seemed untouched by the filth of the room, seemingly fastidiously kept or magical. Roderick pondered this for a moment, whispering a prayer or catechism to Verena.

"This fountain is pure. Hysh radiates from the spigot. It may be that it anathema to the Filth Lord and his servants. Otto please be sure to sketch this with care." Roderick turned to Tankred and Wilhelm, carefully listening at the southern-most door.

"I think that whoever, or whatever, is behind this door is trying to hide their presence by speaking when we speak." Tankred announced, as Roderick had before. The voices started and stopped with a fool-like timing that ended shortly after Tankred finished. Wilhelm nodded, still listening.

"Whatever they are saying, it is a foul language," Wilhelm added, "can't understand any of it." He smiled as the speakers behind the door started and stopped. It drew a smile from Tankred and Wilhelm. As quickly as the smile appeared, Wilhelm shuddered.

"I think that little shit demon--" Wilhelm started.

"Imp. Probably a Bubo,' Otto and Roderick interrupted, almost at the same time.

"is in there." Wilhelm finished. He countenance soured just a little in the light of candle and lantern as he stepped back from the door.

Varvenshyael pushed the ramrod back into the guide beneath the barrel of her pistol, checking and satisfied by the load. Her ears were adorned with pieces of cloth stuffed into them. Wilhelm saw this and remembered that he had an idea for ear cups stuffed with goose down on a wire spring...

"Well, what's behind middle door everyone?" Varvenshyael's question snapped everyone back to the present.

Not wanting to leave an enemy behind them, the party elected to open the southern-most door. Inside was one large, winged imp, with two smaller daemons. The imp raised its hands as if to ask the party to halt. "Which faction workest thou for?" The creature's question was cut short as Tankred charged. Vaervenshyael stepped into the room and fired one of her pistols. Johann charged the third daemon.

As Tankred handily dispatched of the large, winged creature, Vaervenshyael shot her second pistol again at the smaller daemon. This shot went straight through the daemon's head, dispelling it instantly. She tucked her pistols away, quickly drew her steel, and charged in to assist the doctor. The result of her charge was a second daemon dispelled, run through with her masterwork rapier. Otherworldly ectoplasm splashed her garments as she followed through her charge.

There were no other doors in this room, though the party did find a silver chest filled with ancient gold. There were now two doors to choose from in the main hallway. Vaervenshyael used the supernaturally clean fountain to wash daemon plasm off her garments as the party chose its next portal.

The middle door was opened and a lantern shined down to find a portcullis at the end of a hallway. On the other side of the portcullis was a room that Tankred recognized from their previous twists and turns underground. There was no need to pass that way, though Tankred could faintly hear the voice of one of his mercenaries calling for the heroes in the distance. It was time to quickly check the third door.

The elf nimbly stepped around the trash pile and threw the door open, causing the creature behind it to squeal in surprise. The party attacked a Hutt-ish monstrosity.

The daemon was surprisingly easy to kill. Tankred used the fountain to cleanse his sword while the party packed up to return to the surface.

Friebald met the party in the room with the statues. He reported zombies amassing from the north. Van was trying to distract the creatures away from camp until Friebald could retrieve the heroes.

The party returned above-ground in time for Friebald to complain that his feet hurt. His boots were covered in rot, and his feet were breaking out in a rash from walking through the slush of dead maggots the party had left behind. The doctor diagnosed it as Nurglish Rot.

Vaervenshyael and Tankred left the others behind, heading with weapons drawn to the spot Van Duster had led the zombies.

Vaervenshyael charged the zombie mass while they were distracted by Van Duster. She pierced and dodged her way through five of the undead, with Tankred and Van taking out the others. With the above ground threat out of the way, she returned underground with Wilhelm and Tankred to find the Slaan skin. All others headed back to Padua with Friebald's quick-spreading Nurglish Rot.

The party followed unexplored corridors to the circular center of the megalith. The journey was dangerous but to the mind rather than the body. Vaervenshyael saw carvings and depictions of mutating processes that raged against her stalwart elvish mind.

The center of the megalith was a maze, with walls covered in plates of steel...metal that Tankred had been searching for to re-equip Padua. In the center of the maze was a Slaan statue. Hanging off the statue was the skin for which the party searched.

Wilhelm, in his tall walking boots, grabbed the skin. The central maze of the tower began to rise. The party raced out of the maze before they were cut off from the exits. The metal Tankred coveted was left behind.

The party made haste to catch up with the others on the way back to Padua. Wilhelm selfishly keeping the "toad" skin away from the others and oddly close to his own body.

In Padua, many go unnamed. Florey knows almost everyone, or everyone that sends someone to his store. The Baptisa's too, and there are few that don't visit the Rest at least daily; sometimes twice or more. To a person though, many just associate by trade or need.

When people leave and return, they may first get nods. When someone is seen walking to the manor, the nod becomes a smile. When someone is paid a visit by the Master of the Horse, whispers for a name become common. Smiles become greetings and beer at the Rest. When this happens with in an observable pattern, people start counting and notice when the favored of the Princeps do not return.

Padua feeds on news anywhere else would call just gossip. Each of you are plied with drinks. Roderic has even said donations of the collect box have been up, especially those that conspicuously seem to drop a half-Max as he opens the doors each morning. Your whispers about town are noted and escalated beyond any reality by a fragment you recall becomes something untrue, even if all too common: a zombie army of Abdul Al'Shar marches to the Avon!

You learn that Freibald was simply burned as the mutation became apparent. Van slit Freibald's throat as he whispered a battle prayer, tossed the disgusting knife into the cart with his body and set it alight. The cart had leeched some of the corruption from Friebald. Van simply wanted it all burned. They walked and rode the horses, just hours ahead of you, back to Padua.

Morrslieb rose the night of the party's return. Strange things were afoot. Domestic dogs rose against their owners, many slain the in the end by Tankred's blade. Fish rotted immediately all over town, for no other reason than the chaos moon's presence. Vaervenshyael missed it all due to a visit to the Master of the Horse.

"We have retrieved the second artifact. Wilhelm is quite overprotective of it and keeps it guarded in his possession. I'm not confident how much longer this particular party can remain cohesive and continue your quests. Wilhelm's mind sinks with each new challenge faced, and Tankred sinks into further depression and aloofness as one of his sleuth has met his end this trip. The doctor...well, he was quite crazed, even for a human, before we ever began."

The following morning as the rain clears for a moment doors and windows open, locked and shuttered against the barks and howls of dogs or the brief screams of someone with the thunder and lightening.

Varvenshyael sees the normal runners of Padua on the way to the manor. It's no secret they keep the Princeps and his Master of Horse informed of the gossip in the corners of Padua. Sloshing through the mud in the street is Schultz, one of the Princeps personal guard.

"Guten Morgen. The Princeps wants to see you again. Looks like they were up all night. Morrslieb will do that to you. You have any fish?" Schlutz doesn't wait. "Throw it away. All spoiled. Morrslieb will do that."

You ponder that for a moment. Padua is going to stink.

At the manor the urchins are saying Katerina's Rest was beset by dogs. Several dead. Fish spoiled all over Padua. Maximillian issues his first order looking at you as you walk in:

"Make sure carts are available and the fish go into the river. Tell everyone you pass not to just throw the fish into the gutters and street."

And with that he dismisses Schultz and the boy and invites you to a side room with a wave.

"We've contemplated you're candid observations. I think it's time to get stop getting drunk and time for action."

"While everyone was hiding from manifest superstitions, we watched the clouds glow from a fire in the north. Our guess is Lauterberg burned. And that means the road is open to all the way to Sulzerbe.. berg? ville? dorf? all the way to Sulzer. If there's an artifact under his nose, we want it."

"But first we'll have that frogskin from Wilhelm. Find him and bring him back. I've already sent for Otto Roderick. If that piece of leather has a hold on him, we'll get it to let go. And bring the "tooth." I want to see them both. Hmmm... we think we'll need Azmir too."

"Indeed. At once. All I need to do is fetch Wilhelm. Where he goes, the skin follows."

Vaervenshyael found the rest of the party still in Katerina's Rest. Wilhelm had quite a collection of tavern glasses on his lap, and Tankred looked about to leave. The elf summoned them all to the manor immediately. Tankred insisted on returning to his forge first. Wilhelm looked about to leave with half the tavern's glassware in his possession. Vaervenshyael wasn't sure what was going on, but a summons was a summons, so she paid Cosetta for the glasses and ushered Wilhelm and Johann out of the tavern.

The party arrived at the manor, preceded by the priest Roderic and followed by the warehouse owner Azmir. Roderic had prepared a casting circle, but Azmir was the one to cast a spell (much to the surprise of the party). The spell revealed the true nature of the Slaan skin: it was a casting stone of the Gold College of Magic.

The casting stone was used to augur the location of the next item in the party's search: a cow part located somewhere in a plinth, central in the city of Sulzer. Ludovic, the Princeps of Padua, and Maximillian, the Master of the Horse, instructed the party to head north to where glowing skies suggested Lauterberg had burned. From there, the party was to head to the heart of enemy territory: the City of Sulzer.

Brauzeit 1st. Weather: "Indian" Summer

Smoke still rose above the gates of Lauterberg. The only thing heard beyond the gates was the occasional shifting of timber. The gates were closed, and nobody manned the gatehouse. The party split to walk the walls, looking for a way in.

At a particularly low spot, Tankred lifted Vaervenshyael up over his head. She could peer over the wall to the destruction on the other side. She lifted herself up and over, heading for the gate.

The bar to the gate was hefty, but she eventually dislodged it and let the party in. The town was burnt. There was no movement.

A dog barked toward the center of town. At the same time, Johann saw a small shape out of the corner of his eye, darting in the shadows. The party split again.

Vaervenshyael went with the doctor and Wilhelm to try to find the child. The trail led to a lone standing house in the middle of town. A little girl slipped in through a door. In the doorway, an old lady beckoned the party inside.

The older lady introduced herself as Zaria Modica. He accents betrayed a Kislev heritage. She spoke of greenskins (and blackskins) descending on the town as Morrslieb last rose. She spoke of a delusional fog, making people see things in skewed ways. She also, amazingly, spoke of women in armor who disposed the northern ruler. "Sulzer is dead. His guard killed him."

The little girl, Althea, headed toward the front door. "Doggy!" Zaria warned her off, fearful of remaining greenskins. Vaervenshyael opened a shutter to look for the other half of the party. They were directly outside the house, unexpectedly tense and alert. She called them inside.

Zaria spoke further of a brutish woman, Rosehilda, who had recently visited the town, asking about heifers or bulls. She was looking into a pillar decorated with cows dancing around a pole. She apparently had the same lead on a magical item as the party had. She also, reportedly, was interested in awakening the long-dead Abdul Al'Shar.

Zaria mysteriously spoke of a waterfall north of Sulzerberg (now renamed Rosehildenberg). Near to the waterfall was a lake. In the lake was an island. It was possible the statue came from the island.

The party talked Zaria into leaving her ruined home. They led the woman and the girl back toward Padua. The woman packed her many books and alchemal brewings. On the way, she crudely added to the party's map of the area, pointing out the location of Rosehildenberg for the party.

The days had been filled with light, yet incessant, rain.

The road to Sulzerberg was lined with gibbets. Tens of gibbets. Probably 100 gibbets, in all. Beggars and Bone Pickers crowded about the "freshest" ones, scavenging what they could and discarding the rest.

If this was all meant to intimidate, it did the job. Vaervenshyael pulled the cap covering her ears, ears which marked her as a foreigner in this land, even further down her head. She was confident in her one-on-one fighting ability, but she had no desire to take on an entire town.

From the outside, the town looked well fortified. She was glad the gates were open, though the two armored figures inspecting those entering did not look too inviting.

Tankred managed to talk the party's way through the gates, relying on his blacksmithing background to provide cover. Vaervenshyael kept her face deep in the shadows of her hooded cloak. It hid her features, as well as her scowl.

The object of their trip, the tower with the dancing cows, was visible from everywhere in the city. Still, the party chose an inn near the tower, an inn by the name of the Drunken Donkey. Interestingly enough, the script on the sign contained a fair amount of Eltharin flourish.

After Tankred checked the party in, Vaervenshyael asked the innkeeper if there were any elves about town. He offhandedly mentioned a couple, the most notable one keeping to the temple of Verena. Vaervenshyael made a mental note to visit the temple, after inspecting the tower.

The tower/pillar/whathaveyou had seen better days. It had apparently toppled at some point and had been righted by use of large metal nails. It also had a high, iron fence around it's perimeter. From what she could see, the tower would be easy enough to scale, if the goal was access to the line of dancing cows at the top.

While she scouted the tower, Wilhelm and Johann spoke with two female knight. The two knights seemed very favorably inclined toward the men. They were open with information about recent events in the city, including an allegiance Rothilda had made with greenskins to the north.

GM: Each of you feel a chill from the west blow though the common. Tankred groans slightly as his muscles ache; Willhelm blinks as his eyes blur; Vaervanshyael grows nauseous; Johann presses his temples as a headache rises.

As quick as the feelings came, they disappear with on the chill breeze.

Then there's a loud snap and pop.

Johann looks in the direction of the sound.

Tankred's hand moves deliberately towards his sword and he begins to worry about his brother back at the Drunken Donkey. This talk of chaos moons and raising dead kings is putting him on edge. 

GM: Johann looks up and for that instant, Johann sees the iron runners that hold the pillar, where it had once split, buckle and the rivet pop, but then grit falls into his eyes. Johann's eyes water and the grit is scratching.

The two "cavaliers" of Rosehilda react differently. One screams, "I can't see!" and starts coughing and spitting. The other grabs Wilhelm by his collar and starts a move away from the bill wall.

Tankred shouts "Move!" and goes to pull Johann and the other cavalier away from the pillar.

Wilhelm locks up, unsure of which way to run.

GM: There is a loud crash as the fence is crushed by the falling pillar. Then a reverberation in your feet. A shout cut short and a deep groan.

Then quiet for a long moment. Then a horse neighing somewhere on the common and a woman screams.

Tankred looks down and sees a large wooden splinter protruding mid torso. Right through the mail and leather. Blood. It's going to hurt.

Tankred grits his teeth and steels himself. Did the others make it? Did the doctor get clear? "Leech, I need you."

Vaervenshyael draws her weapons (only a dagger and main gauche on her), preparing in case this is the start of an attack. As (if) the dust settles and nobody attacks, she is prepared to lend first aid or assist the doctor in doing so.

Then a new idea flashes through Vaervenshyael's mind[1]. She turns to see the Doktor rushing to Tankred's aid. She turns in the other direction to see that the tower is now laying on its side, having crashed through the gate. In the mayhem, she rushes to the top of the tower[2] where the cow motif is carved, searching for the next talisman[3].

Relevant Skills/Talents: [1] Coolheaded (trying to make the most of this opportunity) [2] Concealment, Silent Move, Alley Cat (getting to the top of the tower without attracting undue notice) [3] Perception, Excellent Vision, Night Vision, Search, Trapfinder (searching for the likely location of the next item in this light, event)

Johann: "Oh my, Tankred. That looks painful!" The doctor goes to Tankred's side and begins helping him up and over to a place that he can work on the wound. He asks the knights, "Is there a place where I can rest my friend and tend to his wound?"

GM: Varvenshayael kneels in front of the fallen pillar.

On the ground, the size and weight of the pillar is punctuated by the splinter in Tankred's ribs.

Imerltrud, a "knight" with twice the muscle mass as Johann, immediately comes to Johann's side. Gertie, Imerltrud's "wing girl," looks to Wilhelm and points to a building: two stories and clearly a tavern and hostel. "The common room there in the Prince's White Moon. We can treat him there."

Wilhelm: "He's a giant! I'm not strong enough to carry him. Although... there may be something in there I could use..."

Tankred: "I'm not dying, and I don't need to be carried," gasps Tankred, gritting his teeth through the pain. "I just need this thing out, and a drink, I need a drink."

Johann: "No no no my stout friend, that rather large splinter must stay in your side for the time being. Removing it just this moment will exacerbate the wound." Johann does not remove his support, and continues in the direction of the tavern.

Vervenshyael kneels at the top of the massive pillar. The shattered menagerie of cattle litters the ground. The top of the pillar has cracked open revealing a deep hollow space.

Varvenshyael reaches in and pulls out a square-ish object that is wrapped in a thick cloth that at first might be oil cloth but with age has lost whatever finish it once had. A longer object is also in the space.

She tucks the cloth with its contents deep within her leathers. Then she explores the longer object, breaking pieces off to get inside, if need be. She finds a map case.

They have led Tankred into the Prince's White Moon for a bit of field surgery. Vaervenshyael sneaks in while they are distracted, closes herself in a privacy cubby, and sets her finds out before her.

The smaller rectangular object is covered by multiple layers of old oil cloth. The oil treatments have long faded, and she has to peel the cloths away gently. Inside are a number of journals banded together.

Flipping through the journals, she finds notes written in an older form of Reikspiel. She also notices a crude drawing of the pillar, before it broke and was repaired with the metal poles. The journals apparently belonged to one Ludwig Stolzer, probably an earlier form of the name Sulzer. There were notes about him training under an Estelian wizard named Toccio Zaretti.

Zaretti and Stolzer mentioned using a ritual to move large armies of men many miles unnoticed. They would enter castles to steal items to finance their explorations.

After a while, the journals described Stolzer calling Zaretti a "greedy Estelian" and then having to kill Toccio "for the love of Abdul and his reign."

The map case held a set of maps detailing some underground caverns or fortifications. There are notes on the maps in the same aged dialect as the journals. These maps show underground rivers, underground lakes, and islands. They may correspond with the stories the party had heard about where the pillar originated.

Vaervenshyael wrapped up her find and ducked out the back door of the Moon. She secured the items in her room at the Drunken Donkey, hoping one of the mercenaries would soon arrive to guard it. She returned to the Moon to see if her assistance was needed with Tankred.

The entire party returned to the Donkey and secured themselves in their room. Wilhelm slept off a prodigious night's drinking. The rest of the party examined the journals and maps more closely for further clues.

All signs pointed to the island in the middle of a lake to the north. The only things that might be standing in the way were an army of greenskins, orcs, and Rosehilda's own personal expedition.

Vaervenshyael mentioned assassinating the female knights before leaving, so they don't get in the way. If she is able to convince the group not to leave Sulzerberg the next day, she is going to start tracking the knights' patterns during the day, and especially sleeping patterns.

"Other than Rosehilda's headstart, I do not see any reason for us to rush out of this town. Tankred is wounded and nursing stitches. Wilhelm needs time to...feel better after his recent intoxication. I suggest we wait a few days, maybe a week, until after Tankred's stitches are removed. What think you all?"

Tankred: "We won't need a week. 3 days at most for me to be fit."

Johann: "I should like to do this. It will be lovely to spend some time here in this town. The local authority seems to be quite welcoming of us! Yes, some extra time is not at all unwelcome or inappropriate."

Vaervenshyael: "We could collect a lot of info about our destination in three days."

Vaervenshyael asked around town about procuring some poison. The last shopkeeper she asked drove her out of his establishment and threatened to report her to the authorities if he ever saw her around town. She went back to wearing her hood up after that.

Tankred healed, and the party headed north. They arrived at the lake, approximately 3-4 days behind Rosehilda's crew, according to a campsite they found. There was an island in the middle of the lake, as advertised, but no way for the party to reach it.

Tankred swam to the island and found some rowboats hidden offshore. He absconded with one and rowed back to the party.

On the island, the party followed an overgrown stone path to an old rock foundation covered in vines. There was an opening in the foundation.

Vaervenshyael led the way into the opening. She entered a chamber with columns around the edge and a shaft in the middle. Two heavy ropes were tied from columns and trailed down the shaft. She took Tankred's lantern and slid down a rope.

At the bottom of the shaft was a large room with an alcove straight ahead. In the alcove was a sarcophagus. When Johann arrived, he translated the script to identify the sarcophagus as the resting place of Abdul Al-Shar.

Columns lined the room, arcing around the southern wall and trailing north into corridors on both sides of the alcove. The party chose the eastern corridor and followed it to large wooden double doors. The metal parts of the door had rusted with the ambient dampness underground.

Inside the door was a faultlessly carved room with painted scenes on polished stone depicting events of a great leader's life. The paint was intact. While Vaervenshyael carefully checked the painting of a pillar, Wilhelm found a carved relief hiding a secret door.

The secret door led to a beautiful domed cave. One side of the cave was open to beach abutting a river. The river flowed west to east. Toward the west, the party could hear the hiss of a waterfall. On the beach were two rowboats, tied to stone moorings. Johann could tell the moorings had magical writing, but nobody could make out quite what the symbols meant.

Wilhelm fearlessly entered a boat to see where the current would take him. Unwilling to let the pistoleer die alone, the rest of the party jumped in.

The current carried the party down the underground river to a sizable underground lake. In the middle of the lake was an island. The island had three stone statues of naked women with bird wings. Vaervenshyael hopped out of the boat to moor it to the island. She then turned toward the center of the island to inspect the statues.

Johann's warning came too late. Vaervenshyael had crossed a magical circle surrounding the inside of the island. Dust fell off the statues, and three harpies came to life to attack the party.

Vaervenshyael made quick work of one of the harpies with her rapier. Wilhelm blasted another with his firearms. Tankred eventually took down the third, and the party had more time to check the island out properly.

If there had been anything of value on the island, it had already been taken by the group that arrived before the party. There was human blood dried onto the island, and not a little of it. The party searched the sides of the large cavern and found another beach to the southwest. They hopped in the rowboat, fought the current, and arrived to hook up to more moorings on the beach.

They found two large mounds, covered in cloaks looking to belong to knights from Sulzerberg. They also found a door, leading west into the cavern.

From the graves on the beach, covered in capes of the knights of Sulzerberg, Vaervenshyael found day-old tracks to the only door on the beach. The door was finely carved with bas-relief and bound with iron banding, still not rusty in the underground humidity.

The door opened into a room, painted with pristine murals. Tankred warned the rest of the party not to look at the walls, which encouraged the doctor to immediately enter and look at the walls. Vaervenshyael kept her eye down after some of the previous walls she had seen while tracking Abdul Al-Shar. The doctor described a bearded man painted in multitudinous scenes of debauchery.

South out of the room was a hallway. The painting started down the hallway and abruptly ended where a bucket of paint was spilled on the floor. This was ignored to continue the search.

The hallway ended in a set of jail bars that spanned the floor to ceiling. There was a lock, which looked like it could be easily knocked off the doorway. A skeletal figure appeared from the other side of the bars and asked if we were friend or foe. We had no good answer. The figure asked if we knew the passphrase to be allowed into the room. Again, we had no good answer, and the creature floated out of our sight.

Vaervenshyael picked the lock to the door. She entered the multi-pillared room and drew her pistol. She positioned herself with a pillar on her left and a clear shot straight ahead. The creature floated into the party's vision.

"Ludwig Sulzer, apprentice to Toccio Zarretti, please allow us to pass." Vaervenshyael had been taking etiquette lessons from the doctor. The creature charged. She shot it in the arm, leaving barely a mark. The creature swung, and Vaervenshyael dodged a blow that looked like it would have sliced her in two. Tankred charged and hacked at the creature, with little effect.

Wilhelm shot the creature with his pistol from just to the right of Tankred. A gaping hole appeared in the creature's chest, and it slumped against the pillar before sliding to the floor. [Ulric's Fury!]

A hallway beyond the sentry room held four pillars of the bearded Abdul. The second statue was missing its head. The third was completely unclothed. The fourth had the sheikh with some kind of winged woman, different from the harpies the party had seen earlier on the island outside.

Beyond the statues, the hallway turned, and opened up. Tankred and Wilhelm walked onto a section of the floor which rotated and dropped them into a spiked pit trap.

Past the pit trap, the party entered another larger room with statues and a rusty smell, the first rust the party had smelled underground so far. There were more debauched murals. Also, to Tankred's surprise when he entered the room, the floor seemed to be covered in blood.

From the southern end of the room, two forms began...flirting with the party. They approached Tankred in a haughty manner. Tankred suggested foul magic, and he attacked the forms. Vaervenshyael waited around a corner with her guns loaded and ready to fire.

Her first shot missed, and the sensual beings were upon them. Vaervenshyael drew her rapier and lunged at the form on the right. She was distracted by the lusts emanating from the creature, but she managed to slay one, with Wilhelm's assistance, while Tankred killed the other.

The party entered through two doors beyond the dead...demons. Inside, a large room held an 8 sided dais. In the middle was a pedestal with a grey flame flickering above. Harpies erupted out of the flame and attacked the party.

After the harpies were killed. Wilhelm opened a secret door on the east side of the room. At the end of a hallway was another carving of Abdul. Johann set to examine the statue and the way it was shaped as to indicate one should kiss its carved feet. Vaervenshyael was distracted by the closing of the secret door behind the party, and when she turned back around the doctor was missing.

Vaervenshyael: Johann knelt in front of the statue. Vaervenshyael heard the sound of stone scraping against stone behind her and turned to see the slab returning to its place across the doorway. When she turned back, Johan was gone.

Tankred was not happy. Very not happy. He didn't like magic, didn't trust magic, and frankly it scared him. And now he is covered in demon viscera. Ulric and Sigmar know if he was going to catch some weird chaos plague now. Damn wizards should leave well enough alone. 

Wilhelm didn't think Tankred had anything to fear from him. He was just achieving a better understanding of the natural world in hopes to understand how to help people heal. He was sure this all could be explained through rigorous testing and the 'scientific method'*.

(*The Scientific Method taught at the Academy was to hit things together until they explode. If they didn't explode, try setting them on fire. If that didn't work, add excessive amounts of gunpowder and start again.)

Tankred: "I tell you what, V. First an iron mine filled with the taint of Grandfather Nurgle, now this depraved tomb filled with winged women trying to eat us, the walking dead, and those demonic things just now. Next it will be the blood god or the changer of ways. I left the Empire to escape Archaon and his war, and here, on the ass-end of the world I find yet another pretender whose corpse is seeking to end the world. By Ulric and Sigmar, is there no place a warrior can rest?"

Vaervenshyael: "I think not. Ulthuan is an island far out to sea, but there is no rest for my race from the clutches of chaos, either."

Tankred: "Curse magic, and all who dabble with the thrice damnable warp!" 

GM: The lantern's light played randomly across walls of the wide hallway. Something moving just on the edge of your view snapped you to attention, then to only again be your own shadows. 

Tankred: "So what do we do? I don't think we have the powder or tools to blow that door back open, and we don't know where the doctor is. Do we try to follow him, or try to escape?"

GM: Johann could barely hear himself think at the side of the waterfall. His hair was already starting to shed water from the mist, and it dripped in cool rivulets down his forehead and neck.

The phosphorescence of the cavern walls seemed to make the water dripping from your hands glow, as if ethereally. Johann turned to see a black disk hovering behind him. The light seemed to disappear into the disk. As Johann stepped back from the disk, he got a view of a leering bearded bust carved into the cavern wall behind the void. Standing almost at the edge of the platform, where the mist perceptibly ends, the bust was complemented by two half arms terminating in open hands that seemed to hold the disk.

Carved or written above the bust was a single word in Azmir's tongue, Arabyic. Johann thought the word is wadaeaan like Tchuss in Reikspiel. Or simply Goodbye.

The disk though troubled Johann. It was the pitchest black and always facing him. Despite the growing chill and the mist, Johann approached it from the left and right.

It could only be described more accurately as Johnann considered it: it was a ball or globe of the pitchest black.

(Back to the rest of the group)

In the long and wide hallway, Tankred, Vaervenshayel, and Wilhelm recounted the closing of the door and the disappearance of Johann.

Tankred, inspected the now securely closed slab of stone, noted no hinges or leverage, Magicks clearly at work. There was only an indistinct circular and grimy stain in the center of the slab, almost chest high.

Wilhelm saw an ethereal hand outstretched, palm open in the center of the slab. It moved almost as in life, as if waiting for the touch or embrace of another hand. Whether "science" or Magicks, this new sight was troubling and fascinating. After all, Wilhelm thought, "I'm not running from a priest talking to spirits. And I've seen that!"

Johann noted that there were three (3) row boats tied to stone pillars at the edge of the platform. The mist had made the stone platform Johann walked slick like a river stone. Johann was getting quite wet and chilly in the waterfall. Running his hands through his hair, Johann realized that he might as well have dived into the water. A shiver ran down his spine.

How to get back or wait for the rest? Maybe they to will soon be ejected from the orb.

Tankred: "I don't like this. We're trapped. with no way to go but forward."

Vaervenshyael: "What was the doctor doing when he disappeared? There doesn't seem to be any blood, so it may be safe to follow? What do you think, engineer?"

Tankred: "He knelt and was fiddling with that obscene statue. Gods know what he was doing."

Wilhelm: "He kissed that things feet and then descended in to the mist. Thankfully, now that the feet have been kissed, this gentleman just wants a hearty handshake."

Wilhelm wondered internally if the statue was saying hello, or wants to come to an agreement.

Johann threw a rock at the disk, and hid behind any nearby obstructions (stalagmite, simple rock formation, whatever is nearby) and peered around at the disk to see its reaction. Who knows, maybe a gout of flame will shoot out and warm this damnable room.

GM: It disappeared into the inky blackness of the orb.

Tankred grew impatient. "I won't die in this dingy hole, not of boredom anyway. Let's see what that lunatic was doing." Tankred examined the statue where the doctor vanished. 

Wilhelm: "Just shake his hand already!"

Tankred: "What hand are you talking about? Did you dip into the turpentine again?" (Not: This is not just a sarcastic question, as Wilhelm had a bit of a drinking problem at this point.)

Wilhelm: "Kiss that man's feet, or shake the other one's hand. just make up your mind dammit. Do you want to go forward or back?" He started reloading his pistol.

Tankred: "I want out of this damn room. Kiss the feet of this thing you said?" 

Vaervenshyael: "I think the engineer should watch closely as you kiss the thing's feet. I'll watch our backs."

Tankred: "This is drunken lunacy, but very well." He knelt and kissed the feet. 

Vaervenshyael: "Leave your pistol free, Wilhelm. You're supposed to be paying close attention to what happens."

Johann started collecting samples of the glowing fungus in the cave. It could prove useful in future tinctures!

Wilhelm watched Tankred disappear through a hole in the floor. Wilhelm went next. Left in the dark, Vaervenshyael followed their motions as best as she was able.

She fell on top of Wilhelm. They were all on a landing jutting out into another lake area. Attached to the landing were rowboats. To the north and south were beaches. To the east was a waterfall. On the landing was a statue with a black orb in its hands. Above was a text in an unknown language. The doctor translated it to "farewell."

The party rowed to the north beach. It was narrow, with nothing remarkable around but cave wall. Johann spotted light from around doors on the southern beach. The party headed that way in the boats.

Partway across the underground lake, ghouls sprang up from the water and attacked. Vaervenshyael drew her weapons and swashbuckled while Tankred kept the boat from tipping over. She was scratched quite viciously down the back of the scalp. The doctor wanted to shave her hair off in order to treat the wound. She decided to braid her hair around the laceration instead to keep the wound closed.

The doctor treated everyone's wound when they reached the platform outside the backlit doors. The party heard a rough voice coming from the other side of the door, along with heavy footsteps.

Opening the door, they were able to see a line of columns splitting a long hallway in two. Pacing around the columns was a naked, scarred, female giant. The party's senses were assaulted with body odor and offal. The giant was talking to herself in corrupted Arabic. At the far end of the room was a large throne on a dais. There were some large chests on the east side of the room. The party could see no other exits.

"Well," Johann begins, "I think I may be able to speak to her. She speaks a somewhat rough Arabic, perhaps communication may not be out of the question." Johann thinks a moment then continues, "While she is distracted perhaps the rest or even just one of you can find what it is that she guards."

Vaervenshyael: "I'm the one most likely able to sneak in quietly." Vaervenshyael even took the cotton out of her ears so as to hear what is going on better.

Vaervenshyael sneaked into the lair using her Concealment and Silent Move skills. The giant turned to notice. Johann stepped out and started talking to it, distracting it from the elf. Distractions did not work, and Tankred had to enter with his sword swinging. Wilhelm freaked out and filled a boot with all the party's remaining gunpowder. It was set to explode and sent toward the giant's gaping maw.

The dead giant landed atop Tankred.

The party helped free Tankred from under the giant's girth. Then they set about seeing to each other's injuries. In the chests were bones and hanks of half eaten food. There were also some gems the party stashed in their belongings (or did one of the party tuck them away secretly? I forget.)

There was a plaque behind the throne. "Presented as tribute from the dwarves of Barak Varr," which was quite confusing to all present.

Patched up, the party entered the rowboats again. To be safe, they checked the waterfall to the east. Fresh, clean water flowed seemingly out of nowhere, pouring from solid rock. The only way for the party to travel was west out of the lake.

The river curled to the north and ended on a beach with two rowboats. There were some bloody tracks running south and north to a door. The party followed the tracks south to find a crazy woman marching a captive around a small island. She took the party to be gifts from Al Shar and came after them. She was dispatched with extreme prejudice. The prisoner was rescued and clothed. Her name was Matilda, and she was one of Rosehilda's knights.

Behind the door to the north was an entry room, complete with a fire and natural chimney. To the east sat 4 of the missing female knights of Sulzerberg, completely in the thrall of someone they called Abdul Al Shar, the missing prince. There was another battle.

Tankred was looting bodies. A door opened to the east. In flowed a smell of heavy incense. Out walked a chiseled, naked man, taller than the large Champion. The party stared in awe at the perfection of form, be it man or elf. The form was the exact image of Abdul Al Shar. The man's eyes were pitch black, without pupils. Vaervenshyael felt goosebumps run up her spine. Al Shar laid a claim on all those present. Tankred responded with his sword.

Vaervenshyael was hesitant to strike at the perfection of Al Shar, but she knew her mind was being manipulated. She slid under the large dining room table beside Abdul and thrust her rapier into the man's leg.

The man turned from his battle with Tankred and threw the dining room table into the wall to the north. Vaervenshyael yelled "We work for Prince Ludovic!" and trust her rapier up into the man's head. Tankred struck a blow to the beast as well.

The perfect human skin of Abdul Al Shar peeled off the creature like melting wax. A demon, hideously formed underneath screamed in frustration before disappearing back into the realm of chaos. From what anyone could tell, the horror was finally over.

Wilhelm was the one to find the talisman that had been hanging off Demon Al Shar's neck. It took the form of a necklace, though the party was familiar enough with the talismans to know that was probably not its true form.

A party, weakened from days of fighting and waning adrenaline, climbed up the chimney in the previous room to find themselves back on the surface. They had survived, found the talisman, and rescued a prisoner.

The lust clinging to the talisman soon made itself evident, as Wilhelm and Johann began making advances toward Matilda. They were able to make it back to Sulzerberg without incident.

The party returned to Sulzerberg. Vaervenshyael decided to lay low due to her last botched attempt to find poison in the town. Neither her nor Wilhelm were able to find gunpowder. She did, however, get a lead when buying some throwing knives. Vaervenshyael was directed to an alleyway where a crazy old lady with rabid dogs sold poison. (My elf now carries fantasy rabies.)

Mathilda became the default leader of the town, officially sword in while the party recuperated. Gurdy became an adviser and was made a diplomat to Padua. Vaervenshyael suggested a formal accord be signed, and then she sent a pigeon to Padua with the news. "Achieved objective. Alliance with Sulzerberg. Will return ASAP."

The party made an uneventful 5 day trek back to Padua. There, Maximillian, the Master of the Horse, greeted the party and bid them quick respite before convening at the town manor with the prize.

At the manor, Azmir performed a ritual to disassociate Wilhelm from the latest talisman, the one of lust. Azmir's spellcasting made everyone's pants fall down. Belts unbuckled or just plain rotted off. Maximillian also made the stunning announcement that they knew where all the talismans were. Next the party would have to travel to Barak Varr.

The party was tasked with traveling from Padua-on-Avon to Barak Varr to retrieve a power stone disguised as a talisman once hanging from a sheik's staff of office.

Before leaving, Vaervenshyael commissioned Wilhelm to make her a pin ring, which would allow her to discreetly deliver the poison she had acquired in the previous sitting. Since Wilhelm lacks in simplicity and not imagination, the ring turned out to be a little more than she had asked for*. However, when unattached from it's accessories, the ring will work as she desired.

Also before leaving, there were reports from woodsmen who work in the east that Ubain may be mobilizing for potential battle. There was no time to waste if Padua wanted to be able to defend itself. The party left for Karak Varr.

They were able to camp outside the wall of Lauderberg. In the night, zombie forms shuffled into the party's vicinity. Vaervenshyael added three zombies to her extensive kill history.

  • Wilhelm decided to attach a hose to the ring. It was a tiny hose that would thread up Vaervenshyael's arm to a reservoir kept in her armpit. In this reservoir could be kept more poison than she would ever use...or lamp oil if she wanted a mini flamethrower...because who doesn't?

The party arrived in Sulzerberg. The plinth was still toppled, never having been righted after the events that had caused it to fall. The many billboards from the plinth area had been collected to make what looked like fuel for a bonfire...or a burning.

The news from town is that they had found a witch, and they were going to burn her. She reportedly controlled dogs which foamed at the mouth. Imaltrude herself had hauled the woman out of an alley.

We stabled our horses in the very building where the witch was being held. All of us, excepting Tankred, stopped to look down the rustic oubliette holding the witch. Johann began questioning her intently, as he is wont to do.

The witch looked up, stated she recognized the elf, and spat a nasty wad of phlem out of the pit. Johann and Wilhelm were interested in how Vaervenshyael knew a witch. In a momentary air of companionship, she broke down her secretive facade and relayed the message of buying her poison from this very woman the last time the party was in town. The locals were very intolerant when Vaervenshyael had been asking about poison, and she didn't want word to spread that she knew the woman. This kind of trouble could delay the party's progress by days.

The humans wanted to argue about how to handle the witch, when the stableboy returned to see them standing over the hole. He made it known they were not supposed to be anywhere near the witch. Vaervenshyael made a snap decision, and cried out "she's casting a spell on us!" She then flipped open the grate, and jumped down into the hole. She asked the old woman "do you want this done quickly, or drawn out?" The old woman spit at the elf again, and Vaervenshyael ran her through the heart with a dagger.

The stableboy started an uproar that attracted the innkeeper. He ran outside, furious at the party for being anywhere near the witch. Vaervenshyael threw back her hood, stepped into the innkeeper's face, and told the man the witch had been casting a spell. Her very body language dared the man to argue with her.

The innkeeper and the rabble backing him up were sufficiently cowed. Vaervenshyael left them her story and the dead body, and she turned her mind to other things.

Vaervenshyael noticed Wilhelm asking around town about where the witch had lived. He was not having any luck, so she offered to show him where she had purchased the poison from the witch. It was a hovel set into an alleyway. Behind the hovel was an old, burnt building with barely discernible owl reliefs. Word on the street was a temple to Verena had burned down a few months ago.

The witch burning was a success. Each member of the party was off doing their own thing. Vaervenshyael was mingling when she heard Tankred yelling from the dock area. She caught something about the water rising and rats in the streets.

At the same time, the burning witch on the pyre looked up and gasped. She looked directly at Vaervenshyael and mouthed something. The rats entered the common area. Up overhead, a grey, fiery ring surrounded Morrslieb.

Vaervenshyael drew her secreted daggers and leaped upon the fallen pillar to view the chaos. She saw Tankred in a chase after...Wilhelm? Vaervenshyael ran after the champion.

The two found Wilhelm burning the witch's home. They talked him into returning to the inn to fetch their belongings, including the horses tied up in a stable with the waters rising.

With their belongings and horses, but without being able to find their retainers, the party headed toward the burning pyre, which was slowly being snuffed out by the waters. They were ambushed by a ghoulish beast. Vaervenshyael was surprised and barely able to rake it across the head with her rapier. Tankred was better prepared and sliced the beast from groin to clavicle. Wilhelm shot the beast through its gut and out its back, felling the monstrous form of the burned witch.

Mathilda had promised to resupply the party if they helped the town clean up after the Morrslieb rat attack. Vaervenshyael had no desire to sully herself with the dead of the town, so she used a long (long) handled broom to sweep up debris...both organic and inorganic.

Resupplying included a trip to an old Myrmidian temple and finding a supply of gunpowder for both Vaervenshyael and Wilhelm to take advantage of.

The next day there was excessive consideration of trade between Mathildaburg and Padua. The Doctor seemed to think that Padua could supply its excess alcohol and Mathildaburn could supply its excess armaments, many of which were seen in the bowels of the temple.

Considering the time of year and the temperature thus far, Vaervenshyael bought a scarf and overcoat before leaving the town.

On the trail to Barak Varr, the party noticed a large encampment of orcs (well over 100 of the nasty creatures) to the east. The party had no trouble avoiding them and continuing on to the dwarven hold.

Once inside the gates of Barak Varr, Tankred was immediately recognized. The party was summoned to the Temple of Verena where messages from Padua awaited. Before finishing the sitting, Vaervenshyael noticed a man with a full black beard, in the style of Abdul Al Shar, pulling his cloak up over his head and disappearing into the crowd. It seemed the Sheik's followers were everywhere.

The party followed the Verenean apprentice, Acolyte Jervais Duchez, through the clogged streets of Barak Varr and into the temple quarter. The party was concerned with lodgings, so they were shown to The Stonecutter's Thumb (Den Daumen des Steinbrechers). The proprieter was a short, old halfling woman.

Those interested enjoyed a warm bath. The party then met downstairs, where the boys started drinking all the Bugman's they could get their hands on...and for quite a hefty price.

GM: Aubentag, Kaldezeit 13, 2531

The party settles near the hearth of The Stonecutter's Thumb. The weeks of trail riding and constant alertness takes a physical toll. Having bathed, eaten, and relaxed with pints of Bugman's Best, the tension seems to be dropping quickly, aided by a promise of a round of beers to shortly be delivered.

The "Thumb" as it's called by the denizen's of the Barak Varr Hold, is lightly populated and the common room is being enjoyed by locals, all humans.

Van, standing near the table, listens to the conversation, but is caught eyeing the bartender on more than a single occasion. Imeltrud and Gertie have departed for the Temple to Myrmidia to pay respects as they are wont to do.

The Verenan temple, often called a Bibliothek, or library, is a few blocks away, but easily walked to.

But there are several immediate matters that need to be attended too that are being discussed:

The matter of waiting messages from Paduda with the Verenans. The large coop and perch can been seen atop the Bibliothek when approaching from the right street. It not uncommon to believe a bird overhead is coming or going from the Verenan perch.

The matter of informing the Dwarven watch of your lodging. The mention of greenskins gets Van into the conversation, "Not a bad idea for us to send some pigeons south I think.

Lastly the matters of the next talisman, the not so subtle interest of the Verenans, and the bearded fellow in the crowd. Van has a thought on that too: "Too many beards in this place to be sure..."

Vaervenshyael, tired of the party's foolish beer guzzling, spits out, "We can address two of these matters by returning to the temple, if you are just about finished with your Dwarven ale bravado."

Before they finish up, a trio of hardened dwarves walked in and started questioning Tankred about the WAAAGH! the party witnessed on the way up. The Trio was led by Sergeant Orthradin Skalldinson of the watch. He seemed to like Vaervenshyael's grit, and actually laughed when she reported she was originally from the Wasteland. The dwarf gave her a script from the watch in case we are ever in trouble.

Vaervenshyael finally headed to the temple of Verena to retrieve the party's messages. She asked Wilhelm to come along, in case the streets of Barak Varr at night were not too friendly to a solitary elf.

Letter 1: Twelve men left from Padua to head to the tower in the west in hopes of mining iron. Letter 2: Increased activity noted in Ubain and their leader 9-10-11. Does the leader have renewed interest in annexing Padua? Letter 3: Please reply ASAP Letter 4: There has been no word from the twelve men who headed west for several days.

Vaervenshyael was asked to have her party visit the high priest of Verena the next day after 10 AM.

The high priest, Heinke Holstein, and his initiate Gervais, explained to the party that they knew the reason they were in Barak Varr. The priests knew of the talismans of Abdul Al Shar. They were also aware of a local cult associated with Orismond, a god worshipped by Arabyans. The priest noted that this cult may be in possession of a talisman. The initiates they sent to investigate the cult have not been heard from. The priest would like the party to investigate. The cult worships beneath the hold, accessed through the sewers.

Kaldezeit 13th: Chilly. Fires lit around Barak Varr. Less than 1 week until the 1st day of winter.

Vaervenshyael engages in a conversation with the head of the Cult of the Practicing Owl (Verena). The conversation is in regards to her party accepting the mission from the priest. The priest states the mission is of utmost secrecy. Vaervenshyael tells him in no uncertain terms that half of the party can not be depended on for secrecy. His wish is for her to bring the rest of the party to the temple so he can impart the dire need for secrecy.

Kaldezeit 14th.

The entire party heads to the temple. After a talk with Doctor Woeller, Vaervenshyael is not so sure she should blindly trust the Priest. She discreetly scouts out the meeting area and finds that all is secure.

The priest led the party to the rear of the temple, down a spiral staircase, and into a cavernous room. He reported that members of the Cult of Ormazd crashed through one of the walls in this room looking to escape from something. He sent 3 Verenans, at various times, through this new corridor, and none of them have returned. The party decided they needed to equip before heading into the tunnels.

In the tunnels, Doctor Woeller and Vaervenshyael initiate a conversation about the Verenan's loyalties. To whom does the cult answer? To Empire Verenans? To Emporer Karl Franz? To the dwarves of Barak Varr?

Van Duster finds a secret door at the end of the tunnel. He pulls it open to reveal a room in a basement with a black sphere spinning in the middle of the room. In Eltharin, the disc speaks, "Please state your query." A number of queries are spoken in Reikspiel to no avail. In Eltharin, Vaervenshyael asks the disc, "Where is the item we seek?" Amazingly the disc answers.

"Beyond this door, across the bridge, down, down, down, beyond the pool, in the castle, guarded by the horseman and his love."

Beyond the door the party found a hallway which continued beyond the line of sight. There were doors on the right and left, within view. On the left was a room with a severed, but still moving, large cat head hanging from a rope and hook. (It was about as strange as it sounds). Finding nothing worth entering the room for, the party shut the door.

Beyond the door on the right came the sound of clanking chains and female voices speaking quietly. The door was opened to find 3 women sitting around a stone slab, drinking. One woman had very white teeth when she smiled, and seemed very happy to see the party.

Vaervenshyael stared into the room. There were three pale female dressed in antiquated clothing, sitting around two long tables drinking dark wine out of goblets. In the back of the room was a seductive tapestry. Under the tapestry was a 2 inch slit in the floor. The room slanted slightly toward the slit.

The females looked up from their cups and smiled invitingly. Vaervenshyael got straight to business. “What is this place?” The women answered with an invitation into the room.

From behind, Imultrude warned the party of nefarious emanations coming from the room. Tankred charged. Before she could react further, one of the ladies cast a spell. A large, fleshy, muscular pseudopod erupted from the ceiling, wrapped itself around Vaervenshyael, and shocked her with a jolt of writhing pain.

Vaervenshyael followed up with a missed gunshot toward one of the ladies. The room echoed with a BOOM! Smoke filled the air. The shot went wide. One of the ladies started casting again. Cockroaches filled the room, skittering away from the light and into the slit in the floor. Vaervenshyael charged, slashing one of the ladies in the arm.

Another spell was cast, and Vaervenshyael felt a mind invade her own. “Kill the tall one.” Then she remembered nothing.

  • Vaervenshyael’s eyes turned from blue to brown. She turned around and attacked Tankred with everything she had in her. She was able to slash his face before he knocked the wind out of her with his greataxe.*

Vaervenshyael come to sitting on the floor and short of breath. The doctor tended to her wounds and then gave her a healing draught. Once she caught her breath, she was ready to carry on.

The corridor continued to double doors in the south. The corridor continued past the doors and ended in a thin fissure. Something had been through the fissure recently, but it was too small for an elf or a human. Imultrude sensed multiple colors of magic being drawn from the hallway and through the double doors. There was no place to go but through.

Beyond the double doors was a circular room, with a circular pit, and a runed orb floating above the pit. There was nothing the party could do about the floating orb or the magic in the room, so Tankred continued on while the rest of the party discussed the situation.

Tankred shouted from the next room. Vaervenshyael followed to find Tankred chasing someone down another hallway. She followed him to another circular room with a large crack running through it. There were 7 robed, bearded cultist in the room. Tankred started attacking the men, and the rest of the party joined in. Shortly, all the cultists were dispatched. The party then saw that the was a man hanging from manacles in the room. Was he, perhaps, one of the missing Verenans?