Via Imperial Post
ex Nuln ad Wolfenburg
Greeting from Nuln Master Silverforge
Let me start by saying: I will never get used to fearing for my life on a regular basis! We made our way out of the main sewer passage into a large room filled with of some sort of steam-powered Dwarven machinery. We came upon what appeared to a smuggling operation: crates of Bretonnian brandy without customs marks, a large hole in the floor leading to rushing water below and cables dangling from several winches and cranes. Needless to say, Rudi quickly began stuffing bottles of brandy into sacks, pausing only to drink deeply and remark that it was good quality.
Just about then, we heard the first sounds above us and we spotted the catwalks overhead. Pulling out his crossbow Rudi looked around while continuing to fill his sack. I had already been searching for an ambush or a patrol with my crossbow out. We turned around as we heard a sound from behind us. An object was tossed and rolled towards us… the head of Karl Warburg! Instead of horror I scooped it up and added it to the bounty sack of heads.
A man stepped out from behind some machinery. He was dressed in colorful clothes and bore no weapons or armor. He smiled at us but I could tell he wasn’t happy or pleased to see us. His skin looked unnaturally pale.
“Well now that we’re all here I’d like to know where ‘it’ is?” He explained flatly.
Rudi was the first to speak, “Well we’d like ta know ‘o you ar’ first, followed by wha ‘it’ you be referrin’ to. Cus ‘it’… could be a numba o things really. Existentially…” We all looked quizzically at Rudi while the introduced himself to be Bruno Hoffman, the owner of the Empire’s End Coaching Inn. We explained that we we had heard rumors that he had faked his own death to escape creditors. He said it was mostly true except that it was more accurate to say that he was actually faking being alive.
The man explained that the “it” was a blue gem. We told him that we didn’t have any such gem. He was irritated and said that we couldn’t be that stupid, to which Rudi responded that we were in fact quite so and could really be that dim or even dimmer. The discussion stalled and he implied that we were free to go.
Rudi took another bottle of brandy in front of Bruno and bid him goodbye. A squeaking voice asked Bruno, their master it seemed, to tell the Halfling to put the brandy back. Bruno sighed at this and seemed to want to gain our empathy considering what was working for him and asked for the brandy back. Bruno looked at Rudi knowingly and asked for the brandy. Rudi asked if Bruno was really going to kill him over ‘one’ bottle of brandy. To this Bruno admitted it wasn’t the one bottle but the rest he had stolen as well, and he wasn’t going to kill us now but eventually he would, of course, kill us.
“Oh well I see now.” Rudi said.
I’ve been around Rudi long enough to know when he’s about to try something, so I wasn’t surprised to see one of his crossbow bolts embed itself into Bruno’s chest. Haleon’s arrow found its place in Bruno’s chest next to the bolt. Bruno, enraged now, transformed: his eyes turned blood-red, fangs extended and his features cruelly warped, his hands now become claws ….In short, he was definitely a vampire. Rudi, Haleon, and I peppered the man with more projectiles as Gottri and the vampire squared off. Actually, Gottri stood transfixed as the vampire slashed him and drew him closer towards his extended fangs. As Bruno took advantage of the pause he pushed Gottri’s helm-covered head to the side and pulled his chain mail shirt the opposite way to expose his neck and bite down. Rudi snapped into action
“My drinkin’ game cash cow…. NOOOOO!!” he yelled before opening fire with his crossbow. His bolt transfixed the vampire’s chest. He released Gottri and stumbled back into the block of machinery.
“Shouldn’t have been so polite…” Bruno muttered as he fell to the floor.
“Off with his head.” Rudi ordered, maddened now with bloodlust. Gottri happily obliged the request. That’s when I heard the cry behind us. Wertha had been hit with two bolts, but still stood. I finally noticed that Haleon hadn’t been firing next to me and I could see why. She lay unconscious with a bolt embedded deep into her side. The Vampire might be down but the men working for him were still alive.
“The Vampire is dead and the Dwarf is turning into a vampire… Run!” I bluffed. I snatched up the elf and dove into the open waterway next to us. Although we had killed their boss if they had all fired at us we would have been cut down. I didn’t think I’d make it to the doorway, especially with Haleon’s body across my shoulders. The water rushed around me in the pipe which took us both. I heard Wertha calling for us to wait as she dove in behind us.
Gottri told me later what they had seen before fleeing the room. The vampire’s thugs were locked in deadly battle with a group of Beastmen who had entered from another passage. A man in a hooded robe stood behind the beastmen, purple energy crackling around him, the man’s face partly melted with ropy tentacles protruding from it. As Gottri and Rudi turned to leave the chamber, a woman bolted from around the corner, holding a bloody sword in each hand, and wearing chainmail
“Thirty-eight Marienstrasse, 11 tonight,” she said before running out.
Rudi peeked around the machinery and whistled at several dead men that had just danced with that ‘Sheila’. Rudi saw an iron box and a coffin. Rudi immediately ran to the box and tried to open it, then shook it and deemed it full of good surprises, hopefully. Popping open the coffin he found straw and dirt which concealed a pearl-handed, curved dagger. Palming it and trying to lift the box he looked at the Dwarf.
“’ere carry this is might ‘ave gold in it.” Gottri hefted it with one arm. As they made their way back into the larger area where we fought the goblins a pipe gurgled a bit before Wertha, Haleon (still unconscious), and myself were spewed forth.
“Ya know you could ‘ave just walked ya know.” Rudi chided us. Gottri grabbed me and just grunted “Karl’s Head Manling”. Shifting the elf on my shoulder I pulled the battered wet head out, the look of fear and horror was gone the mouth hanging agape. Gottri grunted approvingly and made for the tunnel up and out of the sewers. It might have been since we were in the water but Haleon felt like she was getting colder… or I just was getting tired of carrying her. I couldn’t tell.
Wertha and Haleon needed intensive healing and even with 60 karls from Haleon’s purse it was still going to take a full day for healing magic at the temple. We agreed to leave Wertha and Haleon at the temple and go to the meeting with the mysterious swordswoman, since Rudi wanted to see exactly what his new ‘girlfriend’ wanted. He might be having to meet her parents, he said, so he made sure his hair was slicked back and he had a few ‘extra’ sausages in case he needed to share.
We made our way to the address, which we saw was in a nice, rich, neighborhood. Rudi found an upscale tavern which was clean and even had paint that wasn’t peeling. Rudi started chatting up the nobs and soon had another 50 gold bet on the table — but this time it was drinking followed by a duel to first blood! .
“Fifteen Hundred right?” the one who was going to be fighting said through mostly closed eyes standing on very shaky legs. Rudi looking from the dwarf to the man started nodding furiously.
“No just fifty!” the other corrected. Rudi frowned a bit. Gottri called for another round since he’d be done by the time the bartender brought it to him. The man charged off at other patrons looking for Gottri who was right next to him, his rapier out of its sheath and flashing around. The man giggled suddenly and spun around his rapier flying out of his hand and embedded in the wall.
“Right’” Gottri said slashing at the man with his two handed ax. Although he missed the swing staggered the man away a few steps and over onto his backside. His friend went to his friend trying to help him up. “We the game’s a draw.”
“’old on ‘ere gov, dis ain’t ova,” Rudi said, quite happy that the first blood wasn’t the dwarf cleaving the nobleman in two.
“Well they both missed” the man shot back “And you’ve insulted the honor of Sir Wilmar, how will you make amends?”
“Insulted ‘is ‘onor? ‘ez da one that got drunk and flailed a thin sword around and fell over. ‘e’s insulted imself mate,” Rudi spat back.
“I won’t have you sullying the name of Sir Vilmir any further the bet is off” the more sober of the two said helping his friend to a table and unclipping the leather latch over his pistol on his hip. Rudi had been sitting down casually the whole time his feet up, at this threat Rudi cocked an eyebrow a crossbow flying up them landing on the table next to his legs aimed straight at the man.
“Oh really… I see.” At this point the tavern got quite all eyes on our trio and the two nobles.
“Now let me tell you two nancy-boys somefing. If you get into a drinking contest and you can’t ‘ack it don’t get into a drinking contest, it’s a drinking contest not an ‘elven wine tasting contest’.” Rudi began, “Ooo I think this one had a lovely bouquet of apricots and lemons.” He teased before getting more serious.
“’nd don’t talk about your ‘onor, ya twit, if you’re going to fight to first blood with a wee thin sword. Someone’s compensating a bit some something else isn’t ‘e”? Rudi wiggled his pinky finger to emphasize the insult. This made the man turn bright red since everyone was pointing and laughing at this point.
“And fightin’ ta first blood is what cha do if you’ve never been in real combat and don’t want ta get ‘urt. In real combat lobbing ya weapon means you’re surrendering cus you know you won’t win cus you’re a buncha little nancy boys. Since this isn’t combat you can’t surrender but ‘e did forfeit the contest unless he was going to draw first blood from ‘is finga nails and scratch this dwarf her like a little alley cat. Now unless you want ever to know you’re not only cowards but filchers on bets, PAY UP!” Rudi said his final comment sounded menacing enough even if he hadn’t jumped up on the table and pointed his crossbow at the two. The tavern was silent. The sipping of a beer was heard and everyone looked in the direction, the dwarf had finally gotten his next beer and he was sitting at a table and was enjoying it.
“I’d pay the Halfing unless you want to just fight until you two have drawn first blood one me… You might need a cannon though since you fight like blind goblins.” He laughed scornfully between gulps and turned away, dismissing them as a threat even with his back turned. The two nobs had been bested and paid up. Rudi noticed Gottri had finished his beer and looked at the crowd.
“To show they’re no hard feelings a full round for everyone… from the Nancy Boys!” Rudi explained hopping down. We made our way out now since it was almost time for our appointment.
“Did we just rob them?” I asked a fair way away from the tavern.
“Well you might think so but since they filched on the bet I say no… I mean I could see if you didn’t have the money… In that case you run…” Rudi explained. He had experience in these things on both sides of the bet. We walked up to the house and Gottri went to knock but Rudi stopped him and so he could slick his hair and eyebrows back. Gottri shook and knocked when Rudi was finally done primping. A gentleman with glasses answered and Rudi elbowed me, smirking
“Knew it, meeting the parents. We’re… Well I’m here to see a lady friend of mine.” Rudi explained smiling cordially.Looking back over his shoulder he replied“No ‘ladies’ in here.”
“Hey!” came a gruff yell from inside; although rough it was definitely female. He asked us to come in and closed the door behind him, leading us through the house to the dining room with a large round table in the middle and a fire in a large fireplace. Rudi recognized the woman from earlier today since he moved most of the food on the table next to her and sat down at her side. Dirk was there to our surprise as well.
“Please take a seat there is area for your weapons over here” the bespectacled gentlemen explained. We looked at Dirk who nodded to imply that it was ok. Rudi was focused on the lady next to him and the food but heard enough to unbuckle his sword belt and shake it and his crossbow for someone to get and put on the racks. With everyone seated the man introduced himself to be Mr. Rutger Feuerbach and the woman was Kirsten Stumpfnase. They explained that they were not from Nuln originally and if we gave our oath to keep this meeting secret they would tell us more.
Rudi explained Dirk could vouch for us in being discrete since we had not always proven to be law abiding citizens of the empire. They were a sect of the Andanti, a covert guild of vampire hunters, and because they worked in grey areas of the law and owned some “heretical” texts, they could be killed if the witch hunters got wind of them.
“So you want me to be your Vampire Hunter then? You know I already killed one single handedly today.” Rudi inquired.
“There is only one full Vampire Hunter per generation, per region and that is” Rutger explained finishing with a gesture towards Kirsten. “However, there are a number of sects that fight vampires and we are always looking for allies wherever they can be found….”
“I knew there was another reason I liked her beside looking strong and pretty.” Rudi admitted looking at the lady.
“You have heard the reports of the Lady in White no doubt from your adventures with Dirk? This Fair Lady is known as well as Maria D’averaux, one of Nagash’s children, a vampire who hails from one of the major families or bloodlines of vampires.” He continued.
“Oh there’s families? Could you tell us a bit about the Genelogy.” Rudi interrupted.
Feuerbach began speaking feverishly with excitement at this bit of interest.
“Well there are the Von Carsteins they’re more of the Aristocratic type of vampires.”
“Right right, aristocrat types.” Rudi repeated
“The Strigoi the more animalistic and canine of the families. Fighting more with claw and teeth with immense strength and seem insane and barely intelligent” He continued.
“Right Bad Doggie Vampires.” Rudi paraphrased.
“The Necrarch, are more adept to magic then the other families” Feuerbach added.
“Vampire Wizards.” Rudi said
“The Blood Dragons are more of like a knighthood, we believe D’averaux is from this lineage which hails from Bretonnia. Our theory is she was supposed to be transported to the Empire’s End Inn but since the transport went wrong she went to the inn herself and decided to make Bruno her vampire slave — a Thrall.”
“Well that’s why she was in the box marked Bretonnian Brandy Special Vintage… but yes Vampire Knights.”
“And the Lahmains, which are all female”
“Right Shiela Vampires” Rudi finished.
“The blue gem which Maria was seeking here in Nuln is, we believe, important in the Vampire Prophecies. You may read more about the history of the prophecies in these papers” he pushed a sheef of notes across the table towards Wertha.
“The Andanti need your help with related events in Marienburg. A new cult has sprung up almost overnight, a cult that venerates a child named Karl as the second coming of Sigmar himself. We would like you to investigate this cult for us. We will assist you in any way we can, and can outfit your river barge with supplies and pay for three sailors to get you to Marienburg.”
Feuerbach gave us each a leather satchel that contained several wooden stakes, a small decanter of clear liquid, some perfume bottles filled with something and a small silver hammer. As Rudi started sniffing everything in one satchel before he could sip the clear liquid, Kirstein explained it was in fact a vampire slayer’s kit, wooden stakes, holy water, garlic and hawthorne, and a religious symbol.
“Right,” Rudi began folding his hands in front of him and furrowing his brow,
“We can investigate this cult and the boy Sigmar, we might even kill this Maria D’averaux for you. We can work something out for compensation for that later.” Rudi continued a wink towards Kirstein who finally seemed shocked by something the Halfling said,
“But I have only one serious question.”
“We can provide a crew for you and if you’re actually able to kill her my hat is off and I’d bow to you Master Halfling. What is your question?” Rutger said curious of what the Halfing would ask.
Tapping the fingertips of his hands together Rudi finally pointed and said, “You going to eat that? It’s been sitting on your plate for a good 10 minutes. Shame….really don’t want to waste a perfectly good sausage and all.”
The group even the stalwart Rutger burst into laughter and the plate was pushed down to the Halfling who ate the last bit of food with gusto.