Enemy Within - Death on the Reik

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Grom's swansong in a brewery explosion, a Dwarvish cure for depression (smacking Gobbos with axes), Johann rugby-tackling Kuftos off the jetty, Dwarven shanties, arson (again!), sacrificing stable-boys, cross-dressing goblin "magicians", smouldering red silk nighties, bare pills, and there's gold in that thar coal mine (allegedly, but we ain't talking about it).

We also had a new PC - a puzzle-solving, dancing, Druidic Priest has joined the group!

The group dealt with Kuftos in their own fashion, with Johann hurtling into him and plunging them both into the Reik. Kuftos was last seen floating down uttering curses that went unheard in the watery gloom, dragged down by is armour. Grom faced down his attackers in a nearby brewery, while Ilsa set fire to the local tobacco warehouse to cover the groups escape. The unfortunate druid happened to be in the wrong place at the right time, and leapt aboard.

Arriving in Grissenwald the group decided to get the boat repaired after Captain Priscilla's innovative docking procedures ran afoul of a stone jetty. They made inquiries as to Etelka Herzen's whereabouts, learning that she was well liked in the town, but hadn't been seen for some time. A bunch of the nearby Dwarves of Khazid Slumbol were being blamed for attacks on farms and for being general troublemakers - this turned out to be the Goblin tribe of the Twisted Maw, using the old Dwarven mine as a base. Etelka herself has set out to the Barren Hills on a quest of her own into the Barren Hills and is part of The Red Crown Chaos Cult, joined by a scrawny human fellow whose description sounds awfully like Ernest Heidelmann...

-- 10 years later, in Delberz

"Right listen up you maggots! Flieshschild, go sit down and get out the damn way or I'll shoot you myself. Are you all sittin' comfortably? Armour not chafing? No? Tough" Schmidt looked around the assembled spotty- and fresh-faced recruits of the latest intake for The Merry Bande. Bloody kids really. His eyes narrowed.

"Nasen-Pflücker, I saw that. Do that again, and I'll cut off your girlfriend. Mind you, there's not many in The Bande that fight left-handed"

Sniggers greeted this witty sally in comedy.

"What I'm about to tell you is what lead up to the siege of Castle Wittgenstein- "

A hand shot up. Schmidt groaned.

"Verloren, I'll show you on the map later. You planning on going there on your holidays later? No? Well, sit down and shut up."

Another hand nervously raised itself.

"Captain, is this one with the Skaven?" a voice creaked from somewhere in a sea of faces, awash with acne and youthful bravado.

"Yes, it is. The Skaven."

"So anyway, the seven of us (the usual suspects) were recruited in Delberz for this trip into the Barren Hills, to place called the Devils Bowl. These adventurers were chasing after some bunch of Chaos loonies looking for a honking great chunk of warpstone that fell from the sky. We arrived at these big pillars that were some sort of druid jiggery-pokery and headed upstream. Apparently we were following some expedition by a Dagmar von Wittgenstein. Yeah, you've heard the stories about them - more on that some other time."

"So, anyways we arrived at the village of Unterbaum, where we picked up a local boy, a Druid named Corrobeth, who led us into the freaky Barren hills. Tell you something lads, that place was not right. Corrupted and even the Norsican was freaked out a bit. We camped in a standing stone circle, while those mad bastards searched for the site where the stone fell."

We were lucky. We were freezing our arses off, but they had a ghostly visitation from one of Dagmars's previous comrades - well.. - victim, I suppose really."

"So the group basically laid this ghost to rest, by burying the bones when this bunch of crazy ratmen - Skaven - turn up. They're even less happy than the party to discover that Wittgenstein had legged it home with his big rock. Both groups sort of made their displeasure felt in a number of nasty pointed ways, but our lot won. Course, what happened next wasn't all that much fun either for us..."

Messing About in Boats

From the memoirs of Giacomo Girolamo Verona

It was long, long ago that I first got to the Empire. Back then I was but a kid who hired his sword arm.

Through a shady character came quite a strange job. Look after a bunch of people working for him, sort of. Once I met them at an inn, I remember my first impression of them was that of a quite capable group, so mentally I prepared myself for an easy babysitting job. Did I mention how naïve I was back then?

It didn’t took long till we got into serious travel as a band of mercenaries commanded by a witch ambushed us as we were crossing some river locks. I’ve been through some crazy experiences throughout my life, but to this day, that remains one of the craziest. In a mad attempt to get us to safety, the elven captain of the boat commanded it to gather speed and ram the lock gates. Which worked, and as we accelerated towards the other remaining gates, Johann fell overboard. I was a mercenary, but never willing to leave anyone behind, so I tied myself to a length of rope and run to his help before he sank in the river. But luck, that figlia di putana, wasn’t set to smile upon us and the rope was too short for me to get to him.

While still hanging, the mad dash of the Queen of the Reik was cut short as she stumbled against one of the locks, stopping her dead, and throwing her to the air like the death throes of some leviathan, catapulting Ludo from the crow’s nest. A giant wave of water followed the ship and crashed upon the remaining locks, freeing the floating wreckage that was becoming the Queen of the Reik.

Thanksfully, after some repairs we were able to continue unto Nuln to research some information about our next objective, castle Wittgenstein. There we tried different approaches in the university to get as much information as possible about what we might found there and how to use that information against our targets.

Hobnobbing in Nuln

From the memoirs of Giacomo Girolamo Verona

Back in Nuln, we still had quite a bunch of time to fill till the Queen of the Reik would be fully sailing again. After our research about Castle Wittgenstein seemed to struck a dead end without producing any more information, we struck on different paths to fulfill personal goals. Johann start meeting with a retired admiral and helping him in order to be adopted into a dying lineage. Stefan devoted most of the time away of the city propoer, communing with nature. Ilsa found an unlikely mentor in a local gameskeeper, getting back always late and sometimes severely bruised. Priscilla looked for engineers to upgrade the ship's armament. Ludo disappeared into one of the famous, maybe I should say infamous, reveries by the Duke of Nuln. Myself, I entered the underground fighting scene in order to learn some new tricks and make some money the way I know best, by using violence.

One of the days, Priscilla came to us with a business proposition. The inventor that was helping in the rigging of the ship needed some help with extortion. While we were in his mansion, been shown his inventions (most of them, pile of crap that didn't work), somebody entered and tried to steal some blueprints. After a brief chase, luck was on our side and the burglar was struck down by lightning. I kept the blueprints as, amazingly, were of military inventions that actually worked. While still trying to figure it out what have been going on, the extortion band appeared. By a craft maneuver, Johann managed to snatch the band leader taking him inside and separating him from the rest of the band, that melted swiftly. We were still discussing what to do and how to proceed when the band returned, now dressed in watch uniform. We tried to make an escape from the house to the canal, just in time as the whole mansion blow up from one of the inventions. I'm still not sure it was it's purpose.

Laying low, we spent the rest of our days getting back to our original purposes. Johann, now converted into the heir of the admiral, gift me a couple of dueling pistols from the admiral considerable collection. They will be nice when duelling some of those damned snobs that seem to appear everywhere.

Just before leaving I had my big fight in a competition. Of course, I bet all of my money on myself. After quick exchange of missing blows, I hit him hard at the temple, knocking him cold, winning and getting quite a bunch of money not only for myself but also for the rest who were wise enough to bet on me.

Finally, the Queen of the reik is ready to sail again and we're to leave Nuln behind to face Castle Wittgenstein with some new weapons and the help of the admiral, Johann's new surrogate dad.

Wittgendorf, Village of the Damned

From the memoirs of Giacomo Girolamo Verona

Finally came the time that the Queen of the Reik got to that god-forsaken damned piece of hell that went but the name of Wittgendorf.

There we were witnesses to the full deprivations of the Wittgenstein family as they exploited their innocent inhabitants, forcing them to feast on the corpses of their deceased to fend off starvation, kidnapping and slaving them, experimenting on them. As we progress deeper and deeper into the horrors that were commonplace there, the feeling that the only mercy we could offer them was burn everything to ashes and salt the earth, was more and more clear. To this day, the memory of that poor mutated baby still haunts some of us.

But there is always a ray of light, and we were able to find a Sigmarite holy sword under the derelict temple, with the sincere hope that Johann could put it to good use.

With our cover blown and the ship confiscated we took action and after a fight where we discovered the existence of some outlaw group we took to the woods as we fled from the Wittgenstein forces that were after us. Even there, the corruption of Chaos found us as a group of Beastmen ambushed us. Even though we manage to deal with them without major consequences it was there and then that I relegated the use of weaponry to a secondary place, putting my trust, instead, in the weapons I was born with.

Going Underground

From the memoirs of Giacomo Girolamo Verona

In the middle of those strange forest we managed to find the group of resistance fighters against those forsaken Wittgenstein. Their leader was a priestess of one wilderness god or another, still today never been too fond of gods or spirits. Never too keen of anything you can kill, I guess. After talking we came with a plan to storm the castle while they provided a diversion. Johann and Ludo stayed at the camp to get them ready while we went to explore an ancient cave system that supposedly contained an old entrance to the castle.

I'm gonna let Priscilla's words describe them in his most used phrase: 'I hate this cave!'.

Inside we find all sorts of strange and unnatural creatures, fungal growths that made Stefan glow in the dark (we all hoped that's all they did) and another sort that put Ilsa in a neurotic state, forcing us to put her to sleep. Bat as big as small dogs that tried to eat us, an amphibious, skin-shedding, hopping mutant who apparently only attacked us when we're in its territory and a rock door that supposedly would lead us into the castle. We also followed a stream an managed to found the hiding place of the Queen of the Reik. It took some convincing to dissuade Priscilla of attacking right there and claiming back the vessel, leaving it as our way out of the castle.

Back in the camp we learned that a contingent of guards leaded by their captain were after our tracks, so Priscilla created an ambush putting herself as bait. With the help of the resistance fighters a significant numbers of guards fell dead. Including their captain, killed by one of Ilsa's shots while I was fighting him... or it. Back then I was just a hot-blooded teenager and didn't take that particularly. You know teenagers, they believe they are immortal and able to do anything.