Ex Nuln ad Wolfenburg
Greetings to you Master Silverforge,
Do you remember the time we lodged at an inn called The Harp ‘n Fiddle? Remember that drinking contest where you bet that you could drink four humans under the table? Remember that feeling you had the next morning, as if someone had been using your head to forge rune weapons? That’s how it felt the day after our battle with the Beastmen. At least your head-splitting pain was soothed by winning that 100 karls! We had no such comfort. Exhausted, we awoke, ate breakfast at the inn, detached the cart from the half-eaten mule and began the trek back to Nuln. We won the battle — the most vicious in my life! — but we were covered in blood and reeked terribly. The rain had stopped and the sun had come out as we traveled. Since Wertha could barely walk with her broken ribs, she rode in our spoils cart lest we accidentally leave her behind. The sunny day made the travel somewhat pleasant, but it also dried and caked the filth on us and compounded the stench.I spotted something up around a bend in the road and we stopped. I scouted ahead and found a man dying. I called for aid and we listened to the man’s tale. He was an adventurer of sorts by the name of Greg von Royter. He said that he had been attacked by Beastmen. His sword was broken, his body was broken and we knew there was little to do for him. He gave us his family seal asking us to find his family and tell them of what had befallen him. The man’s family was two days travel east from where he lay. Looking east I sighed.
We had had a rough day, so breaking the bad news to his family would have to wait. We turned and headed to Nuln with our cart. We sat in the toll line to enter Nuln. People stared at us, but I cared not, a bath and good food awaited us and a few hours later we came to the watchmen at the gate. Even the watchmen on the parapets overhead were eyeing our group. The watchmen pinched their noses as we approached. Haleon explained we had been going to the Empire’s End East of Nuln to deliver a shipment of goods. We wanted entry back into Nuln simply for a bath, fresh clothes, and good food at the very least. We paid the fee for entry and made our way to the Green Knight. We then took Wertha, now cleaner, to the Temple of Shallya for healing (she insisted on the bath least they think she had be diseased by Nurgle). For the next two days she rested. The rest of us made our way to the Watch Tower to cash in on our bounty. It didn’t take long to notice the absence of Rudi and we figured he had stayed with Wertha at the temple to cheer her up.
We skirted around the complaints line and headed to the stairs to the second floor of the tower. The guards outside the stairs up asked for our reason for entry. I did take a thrill though out of hoisting the sack of heads and asking, “Need to find out if there is a reward for killing and bringing in the heads of Beastmen.” The smell was enough to prompt him to usher us out of the range of his nose and towards Herr Heinrich. We were directed to a small room by a guard at the top of the stairs to a doorway next to him and when we entered we saw two more guards. One straightened upright, his hand resting on the hilt of his sword. The other folded his arms across his chest, the links of his chainmail squeaking slightly from the movement. Between them sat a man with a small table in front of him with a book scribbling furiously.
“Yes?” he demanded condescendingly over his glasses when he finally stopped writing.
“We’re here to see if we can get a reward for killing these…” I pulled the top head out of the sack by a horn I had already wrapped in rags. The dead eyes stared at the ceiling and the tongue hung limp out of the gaping mouth. This had the desired effect and I finished, “Beastmen.” I held the head aloft prominently as one would a large river trout. The sight shook the scribe and he covered his nose and mouth. Flailing his hand he exclaimed, “Shallya bless my eyes and preserve them from this horrific sight, put it away NOW! Tell me in detail everything that happened so it can be recorded in this book.” When he was sure the head was hidden he went back to his book and began to write the record. I related our tale to the man. I then asked him if he’d like to count them, to which he silent assented and then muttered that he was glad he only had three months left on this assignment. After he was down he turned and said after swallowing hard. “Thomas take these, these, these things out of here…” Herr Heinrich produced a small chest and unlocked it and started counting. “70 Gold Crowns. Now leave please.” He stated. With a large smile I pulled the pile off the desk into a purse and we left.
We visited Dirk and told him what had happened. He took the cart back to Jacques and we paid for a new pack animal. We visited Wertha at the Temple and she looked much better. We sold the loot and, discovering nothing new about our quarry Karl Warburg, we took our leave of Nuln and headed East, to tell the dying man’s family of his ultimate fate. The trip was uneventful and in two days’ time we arrived at a large and ancient manor house. Which was clearly in poor repair. As we came to the front doors, an older woman emerged: “Have you come with news of my son?” She said this as if she knew what had befallen him and it seemed to pain her. As we confirmed her fears, an older gentlemen came out of the house. She ran to him and buried her face in his chest and sobbed. “I am Andorien von Royter the master of all you see here. This is my wife Sanne. Come in and break bread with us.” As we got closer to the house we saw several more people, “This is my second oldest, Sotherin. This young lady is Annya Greg’s younger sister. And this is Wilhemina and my granddaughter Erena.” We came in and ate the food was simple but hearty. The inside like the exterior was lavish it seemed when first put in place. Now the decorations seemed a bit more dingy to impart them being old.
The girls seemed interested in hearing tales of life outside the estate. Recalling stories of our adventures ended with a scoff from Andorien: “I mean no insult but an adventurers life leads only to the eventual path of his death. Look at my son. He wanted to adventure and look where it got him. Adventures want money and to amass land and fortune. Well he had all those things already, he could have just stayed home by my side but no bent on a fool’s errand he tried to become an adventurer and died.”
“Wow… Why are you such a bitter man?” Wertha asked shocked.
“Because my son is DEAD!” he retorted back.
We all fell silent. It may have just been his way to mourn, but the man’s mannerisms were a bit odd. Andorien dismissed further questions and had his manservant Lothar show us to two rooms for the night. He suggested that we’d be better off leaving in the morning. We heard the door to our room click locked behind us. We tested the door and it was indeed locked. We decided to turn in, having no other choice it seemed, but we were awoken several hours later by a flash of blue light outside our door. Readying our weapons, we saw a bright, shimmering light that began to take form. Standing before us was a pale blue, phantasmal vision of the very man we had found dead on the road! His skin was scarred and stitched up. His mouth opened, silently at first, and he then said: “Father means ill of you. You must face him if you want to leave.” As we tried to question him, we saw that he was already fading and was soon gone. Grabbing his two handed axe with one hand the dwarf sighed, “I was getting tired of sitting around and waiting all day. Now, down to business.” With that, he stepped swiftly towards the door, now moving with full stride, and the sundered the door open with one mighty blow. Looking at the metal frame left he lifted a bar with the back of his ax up and kicked the door open. With a chuckle he stepped out muttering something to the effect that he, too, knew how to pick a lock, the Dwarven way.
It was nearly impossible to find our way around the house. Some passages led to nowhere while others led to areas where furniture was nailed to the wall instead of standing on the ground normally. If this was some eccentric style or if it was just meant to confuse people we knew not—at first. Our wandering eventually paid off when Wertha clapped her hands and said she ‘had it’. An hour later we finally found the dining room and exit. Shuffling around the first floor we eventually found Lothar, the aging manservant of the estate. In the pale light, as he came towards us, we could finally see that his clothes were moth eaten. The man was not much of a conversationalist, to say the least. We wondered if he had the brain of a dead man and we eventually surmised that he was deeply damaged or disturbed. He did agree to lead us to Anya and her sisters’ rooms since they might to talk to us, and we continually dismissed offers to send us back to our rooms.
At first Anya was shocked and then scared. After discoursing with the girl for some time, we learned that her father was a sorcerer of sorts. She told us that and he makes ‘things’ from people, from his guests, and that he would turn us into his slaves if given the chance. She offered to help us escape if we took her with us and protected her from her father. We agreed that we would. She led us to towards her father’s bedroom and en route, we heard a strange noise, a plaintive wail from behind a locked door. Anya explained that this was her brother Jonas. We freed him and soon saw that he was deranged as he suddenly grabbed lanterns from the walls and began smashing them, starting small fires everywhere. The dwarf stopped him by jabbing the butt of his ax into the back of his head. Anya gasped suddenly as we turned the corner: her older sister and the granddaughter were standing there hand-in-hand. “Can we come too?” the small girl Erena asked excitedly. The dwarf grumbled as we made our way to the front door the estate slowly catching fire. As we opened the front doors the small girl shot past us and pointed. “Look there’s one!” she exclaimed pointing at a set of red eyes. We soon saw that we could not escape through the forest. As we turned back, Lothar looked at us and said: “Master will not like this…” I pointed at Jonas, “He escaped and caught fire to the house… We’re just trying to make sure everyone gets out safely. Go tell the master so he can escape too.” I shot a crossbow bolt out into the pack of wolves and fell one, only to watch another step in from the tree line with. Between a large pack of dire wolves and a burning manor house… we opted for the manor house. To be honest I was fearful of the confrontation. He was a sorcerer who made people into things. Even the small girl Erena standing before us. She, too, had been “made” from spare parts….
We decided to find the tunnel that Jonas had spoke of, but Wilhemina retorted that there was no tunnel out, and that Anya didn’t know what she was talking about. She offered to help us for a price: cutting off her sister’s head. She smiled sweetly and morbidly as she said this. The gruesome necromantic experiments of her insane father had turned the girl into a ghoul. No wealthy was worth this madness. Sighing, I looked right at Anya: “Anya take us to your father now.” We had no choice: if we were going to get out of this alive, we would need to confront the father, just as the ghost of Gustav had said. We noticed the fire started by Jonas had spread to other wings of the house.
As we were finally lead to a door the dwarf of our party smashed down the door— which, at this point, I have to admit he’s getting quite good at. Inside we saw the father, sitting at a desk, flanked by two large wolves. He stood up and began to mutter and gesture, but Haleon’s knife imbedded itself sharply into his chest, followed shortly by Wertha charging him and jumping up on his desk. The height or the depth of the desk must have put her off her game as she missed hitting him. I placed a bolt into one of the wolves as the dwarf of our group charged the other wolf. I was a bit worried about firing my crossbow around Wertha as she flailed her legs at the man yelling at him not to touch her moments before she fell silent and slumped to her side on the desk and began to snore. The sorcerer had enspelled Wertha. Rudi clipped the wolf closest to the dwarf before Gottri cleaved its head off. The last thing the father saw was the Halfling staring at him before another knife sank into his chest along with a crossbow bolt. Gottri’s ax sank into his chest and the dwarf kicked him and his chair back to free his ax.
“You think he’s dead?” I asked, to which the dwarf replied by swiftly bringing down his ax across the man’s neck severing his head from body.
“Probably is now…” he commented.
The doors to the side burst open which got us all turned in its direction. The man’s wife ran to his dead body and draped over him starting to weep mournfully.
“That way!” Anya exclaimed running into the now opened room. While Gottri roused Wertha and chided her for ‘sleepin’ in the middle of a good fight I procured a set of ornate writing utensils and a large black book the man had been looking in that had purple writing. As we stumbled into the bedroom Anya pointed to stairs going downwards. As we mashed down the stairs we saw a menagerie of oddities. Animals with extra heads or extra eyes, some with double jaws and men in odd forms as well. It looked like a cross between a jail and a workshop. The small child dashed past us and jumped and down next to a slab in the middle, it was rough and covered in dried blood. “This was where Erena was made. Look look!” she exclaimed while pulling a lever next to her. She looked around expectedly but nothing really happened.
Suddenly two men, two “things” really, dragged themselves out of a cell and two more hounds shambled up to us. They sidestepped the girl and snapped and drooled at us. With little time to prepare we rushed our attackers, man and beast or shadows of their former selves. Rudi slung a bullet at them but it whizzed by one of their heads. Haleon loosed a knife into the larger zombies chest before Wertha charged it. I sidestepped the group and peppered the side of the larger zombie with crossbow fire as if I was nailing it back into its coffin. The zombie lashed at Wertha but missed. The other zombie clawed at Gottri’s chainmail, but Gottri deftly slung his axe upwards burying it deep in the neck of his target and kicked the body back freeing his axe and turned to send the other two back to hell. Rudi zinged another bullet over the heads of the monsters and Haleon sunk another throwing blade into the last zombie, which groaned. Wertha yelled an odd war cry to ‘die, again’ before coming down with her mace on long dead flesh that squished under the pressure of the blow.
I pulled my net from belt as I raced into position. Gottri finished off another zombie, and our attackers’ numbers were now halved. Haleon’s throwing knife sank now into a tattered, zombified dire wolf and Wertha smashed at the beast with her mace. Tossing my net onto the other, tangled it up and inspired Rudi, who pulled his dagger from its sheath and while exclaiming that he’d teach the ‘dog the taste of a bone picker’s fury’ and stabbed several times into the confused and helpless beast. Gottri felled the other wolf and they soon made short work of the final entrapped beast while I reloaded my crossbow. I picked up my net and we made our way into the next and final room. This room had two tables in it and a large hole in the middle of the room, drainage for the ‘waste runoff’. This area was littered with various body parts. Haleon decided to climb down the hole to scout ahead.
As the rest of us prepared to climb through the hole, we saw another monstrosity begin to assemble itself out of heretofore scattered limbs. Its head had ‘hair or a mane’ of sorts made of human hands. Empty sockets looked at our general direction and the thing wailed in defiance, pain, or aggression, we knew not which. Rudi opted to jump down the hole to let Haleon know what was going on. Wertha sidestepped a blow, let the creature know how ugly it was and plowed her mace into the side of one of its legs causing some pain but not enough to cripple it severely. Using one of the tables as a stand I aimed and shot the beast straight through. Maybe it was poorly designed or I had hit something vital because it paused, rocked forward and it collapsed. I reloaded while everyone else looked at me in surprise. “Lucky shot, let’s go,” I explained, before jumping down the hole getting face to face with Haleon. “It’s already dead but let’s run just in case.” I explained as we clambered our way down the tunnel around dead body parts. It had been a long night and the sight of morning from the end of the tunnel was a welcome sight. The thought of sleeping between dead bodies until the afternoon as a cover to deter bandits did cross my mind. But we could not bear that horror. It had been a long night and we were weary. The next morning we made our way back to Nuln once more.