Of Daemons and Doof-Doof…

Leaderless, luckless and unfortunately currently not even legless, the party regroups to assess its lack of progress and abundance of dead ends. A re-re-re-review of the letter from the notorious “F” adds nothing to the picture other than the possible future usefulness of the “prying Sigmarite priest” and the ambiguity of drafting in the reference to setting up “our stage”—literal or metaphorical? But syntax never slayed a dragon (as the old and slightly peculiar Empire saying goes), so in time honoured fashion (and having learnt nothing from previous experience) the adventurers split up.

Torus and Immolatus run a ‘sting’ operation from Doktor Verfullen’s office on the basis that if they couldn’t work out who was the leader of the entertainers from the entertainers themselves, then surely the leader would need to make contact with Doktor Verfullen. All they need to do is wait—Immolatus posing as the good doctor, Torus to act as the significantly more unattractive than usual receptionist.

Meanwhile, Grudge will set up an aerial viewing of the entertainers from the town walls and Yuri will mingle with the crowd at the entertainers’ site.

As Torus and Immolatus arrive at the surgery of Doktor Verfullen, they find the door locked with a notice to the effect that the premises have been closed by order of Lady Agnetha. With their usual respect for authority, our paragons rip down the sign and (using Torus’ skulduggery skills) pick the lock. Unfortunately, even though the lock is successfully picked, Torus manages to jam his lock picking apparatus in the lock. Fortunately, he is able to remove it without leaving obvious signs of “we have just broken into this surgery”.

Once inside, it transpired that paranoia or bureaucratic efficiency has resulted in the inner door also being locked. Again, Torus tries his skulduggery skills, but fails dramatically. What now? Break the door down? Sit outside as prospective customers and hope to surprise the Unknown Enemy that way? Or look in the top drawer of the receptionist’s desk and use the key you find there? A difficult decision…

And so they open the inner door, adopt their roles and wait. And wait. A minute passed. Another minute… passed. And then… a minute passed. A coughing plague victim pokes his head in to ask what is happening and whether the doctor is in, and is lied to by Torus with customary ease. A minute passed. And so on. By sundown, it is apparent to all that no one of interest is coming. Off to the show! On the way they drop in to the Bucket of Blood Inn, where they have discovered the Doktor stays.

Yuri wanders around the site of the upcoming show. There seem to be four entertainers, dressed in the Old World’s version of garish red and yellow lycra and busily engaged in setting up the stage for the night’s entertainment. It may be Yuri’s imagination, but do they move with a certain unnatural vigour? And when he speaks with them, does he detect an unpleasant odour? Or is it just the smell of sweat from their exertions? The other two members of the entertainers’ party are a butch hairy male and a butch hairy female. The latter is helping to set up, while the former is engaging in feats of strength to the “oohs” and “aahs” of the gawking onlookers. Both of them also seem to be keeping an eye open for possible trouble. Yuri identifies them as tribal types, probably from the North. Perhaps they explain the smell…

There are also three caravans—one silent, one from which grunting and rattling sounds emerge, and the third the source of the music. When Yuri asks en entertainer about the grunting, he is met with a generic response about the exciting and interesting events of the evening. All in all, another blank is drawn.

Up on the parapet, Grudge is interrupted by a city guard, inquiring as to his purpose on the wall. Knowing full well that city guards are rarely well paid, Grudge inquires what the usual ‘viewing fee’ is. Once he pays his 2 silver, he settles down to wait and watch.

Back at the Bucket of Blood, the innkeeper confirms that the Doktor has a room at the inn, and unsurprisingly allows Immolatus and Torus to ransack it mercilessly. Torus emerges 20 shillings richer, but none the wiser as to the identity of ‘F’ or his pupil. So the evening’s entertainment beckons!

As the daylight dims and the crowds wend their way to the front of the stage, Torus joins Grudge on the walls and Immolatus joins Yuri in the mingling throng, each of them placed at opposite ends of the stage (Yuri with the closest view of the musical caravan). The music swells as one of the entertainers completes his welcoming spiel and the acrobats begin their rather average routine. Still, the hicks from this back-end of nowhere town seem to be enjoying the show.

The change in the music is so gradual that the screams from the crowd are the first indication that this show may not actually be as tedious and normal as first expected.

As the music grows in volume and becomes a nauseating, drumming, pounding rave beat, a number of the crowd are seen to develop the symptoms of the Green Pox at an astounding rate—pustules swelling and exploding, flesh sloughing off in sickening strips, liquids exploding from all orifices. When the four acrobats leap into the crowd and commence dancing with the crowd and slaughtering the helpless, the party realise with relief that they no longer need to strain their brains trying to puzzle out clues—at last they can plunge into the red frenzy of battle!

Unfortunately, the music of chaos has triggered a response in the pox festering in Immolatus and Torus, and their symptoms grow quickly worse—Grudge and Yuri thank again their lucky stars once again that they shook off their pox. Torus, shaking with ague, also suffers the ignominy of falling from the wall, wounding himself in the process. But this does not prevent him, and the others of the party, from plunging into combat—Grudge leaping from the wall to save time and hitting the ground running.

The tribal strongman attacks Immolatus, hitting and wounding him before falling to magic darts. The woman throws herself at Yuri (not in a good way), and they exchange blows before Yuri overcomes her (definitely not in a good way). The acrobats—cackling with glee, feasting upon buboes and diseased flesh—turn their attention upon Grudge and Torus. Torus kills his first adversary, but is wounded in the act by an infected blade, and is set upon by another. Grudge cuts the arm off his target, but it takes more than that to kill a crazed servant of chaos, and the final acrobat appears before him.

All the while, the mind-numbing musical beats continue, distracting our valiant adventures (indeed, twice driving Torus to drop his bow). Whirling, dying, pox-ridden bodies and body parts fly around the combatants.

Suddenly a figure bursts from the third caravan, holding out a parchment list a crying “Who is interfering with my quota?” Unbelievably, the town of Hugeldal has been visited by a Plaguebearer of Nurgle, accompanied by three music playing nurglings! With equal degrees of bravery and sheer stupidity (actually, more stupidity probably), Yuri throws himself upon the demon and they exchange blows. The nurglings bound off into the diminishing crowd, ganwing on wounds, tunnelling into burst pustules, and generally doing all those truly disgusting things that nurglings like to do.

As the combat continues, Immolatus, Yuri and Torus are progressively worn down until their wounds are at critical levels. Grudge largely avoids combat as he dashes back and forth between other people’s engagements. However, at last he manages to kill and break free of his acrobat adversaries, and as the city guard arrives to aid Torus, Grudge and Yuri finish off the Plaguebearer. The guards and Torus dispatch the nurglings, and a weird and eerie silence falls upon the field as the music of the damned finally ceases.

The adventurers peek into each caravan. The first is a disgusting mess. The second is also, with the added bounty of a caged mutant (quickly dispatched by Torus). The third is worst of all, but they see some papers written in ugly and indecipherable characters; though they do recognise the town crest of Ubersreik. Some strange coins are also sitting in a wooden box on the desk. Immolatus torches all three caravans.

Suddenly a piercingscream rings out—Lady Agnetha is standing at the town gates, cradling and mourning her dead son. Each of them has obvious effects of the pox. Back at the inn, the Doktor is dead—a putrefying mess in the dark. The innkeeper is surprisingly unharmed, but is seriously contemplating a change of career.

So what now? The party was sent to conduct a circumspect investigation, and has unravelled plague, death and demons.

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Is That a Buboe on Your Hand Or Are You Just Pleased to See Me?

or “Say, didn’t you kill my brovver?”
or “101 Uses for a Festering Pustule”

We rejoin our merry band of valiant psychopaths as they cough and splutter through the gaseous contraction of the Green Pox. As they fall victim to the deadly plague, their quarry flees. Immolatus (the only one who can read) remains in the surgery to find any evidence against the doctor and, more importantly, any cure. The rest of the party dash outside to inquire of innocent passers-by of the doctor’s residence, only to be told (with slightly odd looks) that they had just emerged from it.

Fortunately, Immolatus’ eagle eye spots a clue—a piece of paper on which is written:

Dear Wilhelm,
This preparation is to be mixed with ten parts water. It proved most efficacious in curing an outbreak of Green Pox in the Cursed Marshes near Marienburg some years back. Prescribe this is to the lady and her son and any other afflicted members of the town, but I suggest you administer a placebo to her husband in its place. The bereaved often heed the council of their comforters—and a noted side effect of this potion is a suggestible frame of thought.

You are right to be concerned about the attentions of a prying Sigmarite. Perhaps suggesting that he look to threats near Hugeldal to his god’s great Empire might provide you with the opportunity you require?

Once this happens you must convince the lady to move quickly to ensure the mountebanks are prevented from further retarding the growth of our healing arts. Then I will send a pupil of mine to instruct you on what to do next. Due to our need for secrecy, he shall arrive as the leader of a travelling show once our stage has been set. Consult him for further instructions.

Your good friend, F.

At last, a lead—a pity it seems complete gibberish. Reading between the lines, our heroes (cough, cough) race off to the city gates to see whether the Strigany might be able to give them some information. Passing through the gates they check with the friendly arsehole guards whether the Docktor has left town. There has been no sign of him, so must still be inside the town. Hiding, shaking with fear, the perfect prey…

Wandering through the Strigany caravans it becomes clear the gypsies are in the process of packing up to leave. A saucy (i.e. annoying) wench (i.e. complete bitch) by name Nayda, who had previously spoken to the party when they arrived, leads them to the most decorated caravan. Their leader turns out to be a wizened old crone sitting in a curtained alcove called Lyubitshka, who takes Torus’s money and gives him no useful information whatsoever apart from some vague fortune-telling (little realising how close she somes to being slaughtered and her caravan burnt to the ground). Perhaps our protagonists are learning a degree of subtlety and restraint. As Torus leaves the caravan in disgust however, she does reveal that she sees the name ‘F’ in his future…

Passing back through the gates and into town, at a loss as to how next to progress (short of burning the town to the ground and seeing whether the doctor tried to escape, which seemed a bit extreme even for our noble adventurers), the band is approached by guards from the household of Lady Agnetha von Jungfreud, bidding them to her presence. As that was an option already in their thoughts, they unusually agree to comply with the requests of authority and follow the guards to an audience with the Lady.

At the manor they present Lady Agnetha—somewhat afflicted by a cough herself—with their evidence, which although not convincing her of the doctor’s evil plans and the innocence of the Shallyan priests certainly starts doubts festering in her bosom (appropriately enough, given the pox festering in theirs). They leave her calling for her men to find the doctor.

Recent exertions have stressed their diseased bodies to the extent that Torus begins to break out in festering pustules, most notably on his hands. Fortunately, the suspicions of Lady Agnetha had not been aroused by hacking coughs and croaky throats, and pustules remained well hidden in pockets.

Once again our band is on the streets and at a loss. They decide to break into two; Torus and Yuri head back to The Bucket of Blood inn and Immolatus and Grudge go to find the Imperial Engineer mentioned by the innkeeper. Dividing is, of course, a poor idea. While Torus and Yuri stroll without upset to their destination, Immolatus and Grudge find themselves in a dark alley beset by crossbow wielding brigands whose leader’s physiognomy leaves their intended victims in no doubt that he is the brother of one Tarwin Fleischer—the bandit that the adventurers had killed on their approach to the town—and that he and his ill-visaged companions are not there to make small talk.

A close-fought battle ensures, with long range crossbow attacks doing significant damage to Immolatus and some pretty average axe-work from Grudge leaving him exposed to damaging blows from both his opponents. Ultimately, though, the terrifying effects of supernatural fire attacks (an exploding bandit head is the highlight) and the gruesome effects of a large mass of iron cleaving through heads leave two of the assailants dead, one running and the other on his knees spewing his guts up (repeatedly and forcefully). At which time Torus and Yuri arrive, with classic good timing.

The remaining thug is more than happy to spill his proverbial guts as well, disclosing with little prompting that the mastermind behind the attack was none other than Gudrun Ensslin, the innkeeper at The Bucket of Blood. The next destination of the band should come as no surprise…

At the inn, the vomit-ridden form of the defeated bandit quickly convinces Ensslin to usher the adventurers into a private room. Surprisingly, the group lets the bandit go. Are our adventurers slowly developing a sense of moral values? Or was it just the pox affecting their normal bloodthirsty view of the world? Whatever the reason, it seems that some definite socialisation change is occurring.

Ensslin reveals to them that Doktor Verfullen is hiding in the cellar below the inn, and that, in an attempt to maintain his monopoly of trade in Ubersreik, Ensslin had entered into a conspiracy with the Doktor. The latter provided him with blankets infected with Green Pox which Ensslin then sold to Strigany pedlars. The Strigany seem to have been unafflicted however, and Ensslin found himself vulnerable to blackmail when events escalated to the bandit attack on the Shallyans. Ensslin is happy to do whatever the adventurers want, who seem to be prepared to accept this, and show no immediate intention to disembowel or otherwise eviscerate the poor man.

Of course, subsequent events are to show that there is no such moral rectification and that the adventurers are just as sick as ever…

Downstairs, the Doktor realises that his refuge can just as readily be a prison. In desperation he stands, with the ‘antidote’ for the Pox held high, threatening to smash it to the ground. Calling his bluff, the heroes attack and grab the vial before it can be thrown.

The doctor refuses to respond to questions or to co-operate at all, so in keeping with the bitter doctrine of ‘an eye for an eye’, Torus bursts a pustule into the Doktor’s mouth, forcing his jaws closed and making the terrified man swallow the liquid, poxy death. In the background of this horrific scene, the innkeeper is heard swallowing deeply and no doubt mentally reminding himself not to get any further on the wrong side of these extremely anti-social individuals.

However, such acts are not without their consequences. Somewhere, the Plague Lord stirs and casts a diseased and baleful eye upon the world—each of the adventurers feels his skin crawl … but it is only Torus who suffers the corrupting influence of Nurgle—this time.

Obviously today is the day for gut-spilling, as the doctor quickly discloses that:

  • this is the last batche of the ‘antidote’ in his possession, and he has realised to his horror that it isn’t actually an antidote but merely suspends the disease (the adventurers blithely mix and consume all the remaining powder, leaving the good doctor to succumb to the Pox without the aid of medical science);
  • the Doktor does not know how to make the ‘antidote’—he was sent the doses from a Dr. F in Ubersreik;
  • he does not know who Dr. F is, but has merely been taking instruction from him;
  • his rationale for causing and then curing the Pox is to discredit the Cult of Shallya and prove the superior efficacy of medical science.

That night the innkeeper gives the adventurers his best room, where Yuri and Grudge miraculously throw off the effects of the Pox entirely (Yuri quite violently, at the cost of some damage). Doktor Verfullen is left in the cellar, with a number of barrels over the entrance, to cogitate on the errors of his ways and the terrible consequences of malpractice in the Old World.

The next day the group emerge from the inn to find the town in a quite a turmoil—three brightly coloured wagons, from one of which emerges a festival tune, have arrived outside the gates of of Ubersreik, just as the Strigany caravans pull away. Could these be the possible lead that the adventurers have been seeking? Pushing through the crowds, they come to the cavalcade. One of the entertainers gives his spiel and then he and the other entertainers start setting up for their impending performance. However, when our Heroes ask the entertainer who their leader, he tells them they have no leaders. Helpful…

Frustrated once again, the party returns to the inn to plan another method of attack. And to drink a lot.

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Going Down to Plaguetown

When you’re alone and life is making you lonely
You can always go – to Plaguetown

The buboes are bursting and the ichor is dripping
When you go on down – to Plaguetown

You’re coughing like a madman and your phlegm is pretty icky
Your lungs are on the way out and your eyes are red and sticky…


Still in Stromdorf, Yuri visits the herbalist Hildette Krass, bearing a bunch of herbs and flowers, in an attempt to charm the spinster. Unfortunately he meets with little success or enthusiasm on her part. He does manage to broker a business deal of sorts, buying a selection of herbs and ingredients along with a written description of their uses, and the name of a herbalist in Ubersreik to whom he can sell these items—hopefully at a profit. He also buys writing materials, and on the trip to Ubersreik and at other times of leisure, he takes to sketching these herbs, and with Immolatus’s help, studying the notes, thus learning as much as he can of the herbalist and apothecary ways.

Torus has a drink with a noticeably more relaxed Arno Kessler, and enquires if he has ever heard any stories about one Lucidius Lavarar (Torus’s itinerant father). Kessler has heard rumours of the exploits of this character, and tells Torus that a relative in Marienburg once mentioned him as being in that area.

Visiting Klaus von Rothstein, they discover that since being informed of Lord Ascheffenberg’s desire to re-employ the adventurers, he has decided to travel to Ubersreik the next day to ingratiate himself further with the Aschaffenberg family. The adventurers learn that there is a rumour that Ubersreik is going to have its friestadt (free town) status revoked, and that there are a number of noble families currently jockeying for what could be the available position of new liege lord of the town.

Accordingly, the adventurers are engaged for the sum of 50 shillings (Torus haggles von Rothstein up from 40, requiring some slight intimidation by Grudge to make his point) to protect von Rothstein on the carriage journey to Ubersreik. The next morning—a bright and sunny day with a clear sky, as it happens—they leave Stromdorf with a small crowd cheering them as they leave the gates. The journey to Ubersreik is uneventful, and early the next morning the adventurers are dropped at the Red Moon Inn on the riverfront in Ubersreik.

As they walk in they are immediately hailed by the innkeeper, who informs them that have a message. It is from Lord Rickard Aschaffenberg’s manservant, one Leonhard Zauberlich, who informs them that he will be visiting the Red Moon over several nights in expectation of their arrival.

The spend the rest of the day buying arrows, flasks of oil and other such items. Yuri unsuccessfully tries to find the herbalist he was told about, and Torus fails to find any black powder.

That night Leonhard arrives at the inn and they all take their drinks into a booth, hidden from casual observation by a tattered curtain. Leonhard is a somewhat prim and proper character who nonetheless seems to be a regular of the Red Moon. He tells them, in slow and precise tones, that their services are required to pursue some extremely delicate enquiries in the mining town of Hugeldal, ten miles to the south. Aschaffenberg’s sister-in law (younger sister of his wife Ludmilla, a von Bruner) is the noblewoman of the town, and recently rumours have begun to trickle into Ubersreik that she has committed the unimaginable blasphemy of banning the priests of Shallya from her town. Aschaffenberg naturally wants this looked into with as much circumspection as possible, lest his good name be besmirched even further and his chances of possibly becoming liege lord of Ubersreik are ruined. Grudge suggests that perhaps his political rivals could be held responsible if such an accounting was necessary, but Zauberlich reiterates von Rothstein’s comments that Aschaffenberg is known for his geniality, sense of justice and nobility, and would not wish to besmirch the names of his rivals. Those names happen to be von Saponatheim and von Holzenauer, as Zauberlich reveals after some prompting by Grudge.

The adventurers are offered a gold piece each for this service, which they accept, receiving half upfront on the spot. The next morning they hire a wagon and driver, and head south out of Ubersreik towards Hugeldal.

About a mile from the gates of Hugeldal the wagon rounds a steep hill, cries are heard from up ahead, and suddenly they come upon a distressing scene of carnage and confusion. Five bandits have waylaid a wagon, and several Shallyan priests already lie in the dirt. An armoured warrior has been wounded and a bandit is stepping forward to finish him off; another bandit moves towards a gesticulating priest. On a wagon, a woman abuses another man for his cowardice. Three bandits stand in the treeline with crossbows ready.

Grudge and Yuri immediately charge towards the two bandits on the road, but are not fast enough to stop one of them from delivering the coup de grace to the wounded mercenary, and the other—a bald and psychotic-looking fellow dressed in black leathers—from grabbing the Shallyan priest and using him as a human shield.

Torus gets off the first shot, planting two arrows in one of the bandits at the tree line, but fumbling and dropping his short bow in his haste. One of the bandits fires and hits Grudge; another wounds Yuri. Immolatus fires off a magic dart and hits one of the bandits at the treeline.

Grudge chooses to ignore completely the fact that his opponent is holding a struggling priest in front of him, and aims a reckless cleave at the bandit with all his strength behind it, and miraculously manages virtually to shear the bandit in two without harming the priest.

Torus kills his first target with a third shot and the two surviving bandits at the treeline turn and flee into the forest. One surviving bandit remains, and he is quickly disarmed, tied up and—to add insult to injury—his trousers removed (according to Torus: “remove a man’s pants and you remove his dignity, rendering him impotent and highly visible”). He seems to know very little—even after being repeatedly prodded in the buttocks by Torus—only that he was hired by Tarwin Fleischer (the bandit killed by Grudge) and his twin brother Max (nowhere to be seen) to kill the Shallyans and make it look like a goblin ambush. He leads the adventurers to a nearby ditch where they find two goblin bodies, their ears cut off, wrapped in a tarpaulin. He then leads them down a trail (pointing out a tripwire-and-caltrop trap on the way) and to the bandit camp, now deserted. It appears that Max has taken their only horse and ridden back to Hugeldal.

Father Bram, the Shallyan priest, tends to the wounds of Grudge and Yuri and tells the adventurers that they were on their way to Ubersreik to complain to the authorities about their treatment. Grudge convinces him that he should let their group try to deal with the matter first.

The couple on the wagon are Strigany folk (Immolatus recognises their accent) accompanying the Shallyans to Ubersreik.

After loading the bodies (including the goblins) on their wagon, the adventurers continue to Hugeldal.

Hugeldal is a small mining town built against the rocky hills of the Grey Mountains, defended by a tall wooden palisade. To the left of the entrance gate is a small stone-walled Garden of Morr; to the right, a motley collection of brightly painted wagons arranged around several firepits, where Strigany folk are gathered.

At the gate are two guards, one of which—in between coughing, snorting, sniffing and spitting—points out a proclamation against the Shallyans posted by Lady Agnetha on the town gate:

Public Proclamation

By order of Lady Agnetha von Jungfreud, the Dowager Lady of the Manor of Hugeldal

Within the town of Hugeldal and its immediate environs the performance of Shallyan miracles is proscribed on pain of a fine up to 10 gold crowns, the threat of gentler tortures, and banishment.

Should you require medical attention whilst in Hugeldal please visit the former Shallyan temple hospice on Stossenstrasse where members of the most worshipful Guild of Physicks will minister to any and all afflictions for a competitive fee and to high professional standards.

The guard suggests the adventurers drop the bodies of the priests off at the Garden of Morr, which they do (keeping the goblin corpses with them, bundled up in the tarpaulin). As Strigany children gather around the adventurers pestering them for coin, the guard abuses them—and a passing Strigany woman—as ‘scum’, in no uncertain language.

The adventurers enter the town and their driver drops them off at the impressive half-timbered Bucket of Blood inn, on the town’s main square. Leaving the goblin bodies around the back for the moment, they go inside and are greeted by the innkeeper, one Gudrun Ensslin, who offers them a good room at a cut price.

Leaving the inn (and dragging the goblin bodies), they hear someone declaiming by the nearby town well. A young fellow is standing on a box and stridently abusing the Strigany folk, blaming them for the town’s woes and offering the public his inflammatory pamphlet for “only three pence”. Grudge stands in front of him, leaning on his axe, and makes a disparaging comment, and Torus demands one of his pamphlets and hands it to Immolatus, who makes it burst into flame in his palm. The agitator is somewhat intimidated and brings his harangue to an end, rapidly heading for the Bucket of Blood taproom.

Walking further into the town the adventurers come upon the Temple of Sigmar which is closed and has several groups of refugees camped on its front steps. A farmer grabs Yuri’s sleeve and offers to tell him a tale for a few brass. Yuri obliges, and the farmer tells him of pulling down some standing stones that were part of a stone circle on his land; of encountering a daemon, and of the pestilence spreading across the land and claiming his family.

The adventurers continue to the so-called Dwarf quarter—a street of stone houses—at the end of which is a man standing by a monument hawking his wares. It turns out he is a bounty hunter selling goblin ears as souvenirs and a cure for the Blacklegge. The adventurers confront him with the goblin corpses and then threaten him to reveal to whom he sold the bodies. He admits it was to Doktor Verfullen, for the purposes of dissection.

Continuing to the Docktor’s office, they find several people waiting for treatment. When the pretty young receptionist goes into the Docktor’s surgery, Yuri looks into his office and finds a dissected goblin. Yuri then goes into the surgery and his wounds are tended by Docktor Verfullen. When he is finished, the other adventurers barge in and confront the Dokctor with the goblin corpses (and their matching ears), and their knowledge of the Shallyan massacre. He tries to deny all, but the jig is up, and Torus can tell that he is obviously lying. At that moment he suddenly reaches for a glass jar on a nearby shelf and sweeps it into the room, where it shatters; a cloud of billowing green vapour fills the room and there is the sound of the window shutters opening and the Docktor escaping.

The cloud is a pestilential vapour which affects all four of the adventurers—they have all contracted the dreaded Green Pox!

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You Really Should Get Someone To Have A Look At That …

At the Ackerland farm, the adventurers rest and recuperate for a day and a night. Yuri tries to learn some basic herbal medicine from Meg the farmer’s wife, but his attempts to find healing herbs in the local vicinity are unsuccessful. Meg attempts to help heal Yuri of the hideous wound and horrible gash he received in the fight against the goblins, but they just seem to get worse—softly closing the bandage back over the wound and wrinkling her nose at the smell she says “you really should get someone to have a look at that …”

Eventually the adventurers return to Stromdorf, and a hero’s welcome (one of the Ackerland children had run on ahead to tell everyone the news). They visit the Temple of Sigmar, where they hear Gottschalk’s concerns about the ‘heathen idol’ being constructed in his crypt, but Schulmann is overjoyed at receiving another piece of the puzzle and immediately gets back to work on his translation. The crypt is a cluttered mess; notes everywhere, books, half-eaten meals, and strange mechanical contrivances, even a small telescope set up to peer at the heavens through one of the small street-level grates. Immolatus stays with him and tells him about the final piece at the Holtz farm to see if he will sneak away on his own to get it. Meanwhile the Guard Captain Kessler asks the adventurers to see Burgomeister Adler and report on their success, which Grudge and Torus do—receiving congratulations, the remaining 25 silver for each member of their party, and a promise of a recommendation to Adler’s patrons the Jungfreuds—while Yuri seeks out a physician to cure his wounds. With Torus, he visits Dr Schneider, but the price is too high for Torus; Yuri manages to haggle him down from 20 silver to 19 for treatment, however. Schneider stitches and binds Yuri’s horrible gash. Torus visits the barber surgeon Messr and his wounds are roughly stitched up for the considerably cheaper price of 20 brass.

Torus goes to sleep in their room at the Thunderwater Inn while Yuri rogers some starry-eyed wench in an alley behind the pot room (though the experience is—ahem—short-lived). Meanwhile Immolatus sits by the fire and entertains townspeople with some amusing flame-based cantrips.

On his own and particularly grumpy—and harbouring severe doubts about the trustworthiness of Schulmann—Grudge trudges through the rain and mud back to the Holtz farm, grumbling all the way. As he reaches the derelict farm he spies a silhouette cross an upstairs window of the main farmhouse. He also notices that the lightning stone has been dug up and propped against the tree under which it was buried, and the tree itself is festooned with trinkets and totem objects.

Grudge sneaks carefully to the farmhouse door and peers within. The house is half ruined; rain is pouring in through holes in the roof, and the ground is mud and muck. He hears the sounds of movement upstairs, and creeps up the staircase with his axe ready. Charging into the main bedroom he surprises the beast man shaman Foaldeath and strikes him with a thunderous blow before it can react. The creature begins to draw a dark energy from the shadows to his hands, but Grudge is too fast, and before it can cast a spell, he has split its head open with his axe.

Grudge notices that it is holding something in its claw; prizing open the fingers, he discovers a crudely made rag doll with bestial features. Up close Grudge recognises the half-human look of the shaman, and the twisted similarities to the Holtz family.

Leaving the farmhouse, Grudge heaves the lightning stone on his back and slowly trudges back to Stromdorf—grumbling all the way.

When the last piece of the stone is taken to the crypt, Schulmann is beside himself with excitement. Everyone expects something dramatic as it is fitted into place … but nothing happens. Schulmann feverishly continues with his notes and studies, saying that results will still take some time. The adventurers, suspecting Schulmann strongly of foul play, decide to wait to make sure he does nothing untoward.

As they wait, Schulmann looks out of his telescope, there is a ‘whoosh’ sound and a blue flash, and suddenly he has disappeared.

The adventurers are confused for a moment, but Grudge thinks to look through Schulmann’s telescope and sees that it is trained on the Wissenland Gate, and a cyan blur is speeding over the rooftops towards it. They look through Schulmann’s jumbled papers and discover a strange map, with lines that seem to converge on a bend in the River Tranig, a few miles southwest of Stomdorf. There is also a document in a strange cipher that Immolatus manages to translate, that refers to a nexus of power at that spot.

Rushing from the temple and to the Thunderwater Inn, the adventurers quickly hire horses and set off in pursuit. At the gate a guard is recovering from being attacked by spellcraft, and another refers to a man in a blue cloak “riding like a daemon was chasing him” along the south road. As the storm rages around them, the adventurers gallop down the road. Grudge and Torus attempt to push their horses to greater speed, but both only succeed in making them stumble in the mud and getting pitched off. Yuri and Immolatus continue on, turning off the road and reaching a fisherman’s hut by the river, where they find a dead old man with a smoking hole in his chest, around which Immolatus sees motes of dissipating blue energy.

They are pushing an old and patched boat into the river when Grudge and Torus run up and join them, and the group pile in, heading for the centre of the river downstream where the figure of Schulmann can be seen, standing in a boat casting bolts of magical energy at the water and being enveloped in a blue haze of magical force.

Yuri and Grudge take the oars and Immolatus attempts to bail as water comes rushing in through the patched hole, but progress is slow and the boat almost founders. There is an earthshaking crack and they see Schulmann rising up into the air, surrounded by bolts of blue energy shooting up into the sky. Finally the adventurers come within bowshot range and Torus stands up in the boat, Immolatus steadying him, and lets off an arrow which hits the floating figure. Yuri shoots a crossbow bolt which also finds its mark.

In a rage, Schulmann turns his attention to the meddling adventurers and lets fly with a crackling lightning bolt at Yuri, which hits him and sends him flying backwards into the river, hitting his head as he does so. Somehow he manages to cling onto his crossbow as Immolatus drags him from the water. Another bolt hits Torus. Grudge desperately tries to row closer, but he labours unsuccessfully against the churning waters of the Tranig erupting from the nexus.

Dripping wet and angry, Yuri fires off another crossbow bolt which plunges into the wizard’s writhing form. With a scream of rage, despair and frustration, Schulmann cries “You have ruined everything! You have doomed us all!” and with an almighty roar the magical blue energy from the nexus reverses, pulling his form down into the deep waters of the Tranig. Chunks of earth and rock are ripped away from the banks of the river and plunge after him. Suddenly, the clouds part, and the adventurers see plummeting down from the heavens and towards the nexus a huge rock. Grudge begins to frantically reverse his direction of rowing, this time dragged towards the nexus, not away from it; but he manages to pull the boat away to a relatively safe distance.

The comet hits, causing a tidal wave that throws their little boat up onto the river bank and them all out into the mud. A deep cracking sound issues from the depths of the river, a final deluge of rain, and then—silence.

Schulmann is dead, Stromdorf is saved, and best of all—the rain has finally stopped.

After taking a moment to recover, the adventurers stagger back to Stromdorf, to be received by cheering crowds, some of whom think that Sigmar has returned until people realise that the comet had one ‘tail’, not two. However there is already the occasional dissenting voice in the crowd asking “the rain has stopped—what will Stromdorf be famous for now?”

The next morning, the adventurers receive a note from von Rothstein requesting their prescence; and upon visiting his house they learn that Aschaffenberg requires their aid in Ubersreik …

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Goblins n’ Vomit

After the goblin ambush is over, Torus moves among the stinky greenskin bodies, slicing off ears and performing various other atrocities so any other goblins finding them will know that their attackers meant business.

Then the adventurers return to the Ackerland farm. Immolatus, especially, is in a greatly weakened and wounded state, and recovers all the day and much of the following night. All have their wounds bandaged by Meg and her daughter. In the evening, Yuri aids the farmer and his men keeping watch, but there is no raid on the farm that night.

Before dawn, the somewhat refreshed adventurers return to the Baumer farm, noting that the goblin corpses have remained undisturbed during the night—which hopefully means that the farm has not been alerted. At dawn, the farm is quiet and the goblins have retreated out of the gray light that passes for day. The only sounds are the horrible snoring noises from the outhouse. After a final reiteration of their plan of attack, they carefully and quickly move down to the palisade near the farmhouse wall. Grudge shimmies up the rain-slick stakes with a knotted rope—they clatter as he does so and he pauses at the top to see if any creature has heard—but all is well and he fixes the rope and the others follow him up and over. The farmyard is quiet and still, save for the endless rain; then the adventurers see a window shutter move in the opposite outbuilding. Immolatus begins channelling the energy for his spells.

Taking the movement as caused by the young human figure they saw the day before last, they ignore it and continue with their plan. They wedge shut the large barn doors, open the small door in one of the them, and Torus throws in several of the goblin puffballs. Immolatus then unleashes a flameblast spell into the barn and they hurriedly shut the door and wedge goblin spears against it. There are crashes and goblin screaming from within!

Without a moment’s pause, they all run back into the yard, and Grudge runs full tilt at the farmhouse door, reducing it to splinters and continuing into the kitchen beyond. Apart from smashed plates and scattered cutlery and jars, they see an empty cupboard (presumably blocking entry to a room beyond where the large creature lairs), a trap door in a corner of the floor, and another door opposite. Grudge hardly pauses to charges through this—thankfully unlocked—door and into a main hallway beyond, the other adventurers following.

On a staircase landing above them stand three goblins armed with swords and scimitars. Grudge charges up the stairs and into them, leaping into the air to smash his axe through a hastily-raised shield and cleaving a goblin’s skull. Yuri follows, but his newly-learned skill of duellist’s strike avails him nought, and his blade bends as it hits the other goblin’s shield. Which causes Grudge to cry out in irritated frustration: “Yoo fuckin’ idiot!”

Behind them, Torus checks another door and finds a living room with an old sword hanging above a fireplace. Immolatus, in the kitchen, opens the trapdoor and hears the sounds of drunken goblin mumbling below—he shuts the trapdoor and drags an upturned table over it.

Meanwhile, one of the goblins has bolted through an oak door, and the sounds of a hasty barricade being constructed, along with the high-pitched screaming of another goblin barking orders and shouting gobbledigook, can be heard within. The last goblin on the landing is finished, then Yuri opens a last door to be confronted with two more goblin guards, and he and Grudge set to work dispatching them.

Downstairs, Torus and Immolatus bolt through the front door, out into the farmyard and up the ladder of the outhouse to look through the roof and see what is within. They are horrified to see a mighty troll, roaring in confusion, adding to the cacophony of goblin cries all around them from the barn, watchtower and gatehouse as the goblins wake up to the fact that intruders are among them. In fact, the sight and stink of the troll’s charnel-house lair is enough to make them both begin throwing up violently and simultaneously.

They decide to return into the farmhouse and as goblins—both charred and aflame—burst from the broken-down barn door and pour into the farmyard, they jump from the roof. Torus executes a perfect roll, but Immolatus twists his ankle—they both manage to make it back into the house and slam the door as goblins slam into the outer side of it.

While this is happening, Grudge and Torus have killed the last two goblins and smashed down the oak door. Within, two more goblin guards meet their attack, and behind them, balanced on an upturned chamber pot on a pile of broken furniture in the centre of the room, the black-robed goblin shaman rants and raves and screeches incantations, the chunk of stone strapped to his head spluttering with blue energy.

As Yuri fights one goblin, Grudge quickly kills the other and charges at the shaman, narrowly avoiding beams of destructive green light that shoot from the shaman’s eyes. Grudge gets in one blow with his axe, then with a screech of “GERROFF ME!”, the shaman explodes with a burst of power, knocking Grudge back. The shaman scampers for the room’s fireplace and begins wriggling up it, Grudge close on his heels.

At this point the Torus and Immolatus have run up the stairs, pursued by goblins—but some goblins detour into the kitchen and soon is heard the sound of a pantry being shifted, closely followed by roars, screams and unpleasant chomping and chewing noises. The troll lumbers into the hallway, cheered on by the surviving goblins, like a fat wrestling celebrity surrounded by his long-term fans. Only far more dangerous.

Up above them, Grudge wriggles out of the chimney stack to find the goblin shaman ranting and raving and throwing insults and hopping about the peaked roof of the farmhouse, while rain pelts down and the occasional thunderbolt strikes near him. He has no time to loose another spell before Grudge lops his head off; but unfortunately the eager dwarf also loses his balance and falls back off the roof, down onto the outhouse and through the hole in its roof, to land—fortunately—on a squishy cow carcass that breaks his fall. It takes him a moment to recover before he heads through the kitchen to join his companions.

Torus and Immolatus throw a bed down the stairs and set alight to it, but it’s a temporary respite from the horror trudging up towards them. There is no possible escape save through a tiny window through which they cannot fit. At this point Immolatus casts a Shimmering Winds of Aqshy spell and he is wreathed in flickering orange flames that increase his resistance to blows. Torus turns to him and says “I see you’re sorted then.”

The vile troll smashes through the remains of the bed and then belches a sizzling stream of potent stomach acid at a surprised Torus, wounding him and almost inflicting him with a temporary insanity. Torus fires arrows and Immolatus flameblasts, but when they realise the troll’s fleshy hide is absorbing much of the damage, they switch to more effective attacks—Immolatus to a Magic Dart spell and Torus to a more precise ranged attack. Yuri’s first attack is to lob a discarded goblin scimitar at the monster, which scratches it slightly; he then rushes up to the troll, but has little success with his duellist’s strike—which seems to be the order of the day, unfortunately.

Smelling smoke, the adventurers realise at this point that the farmhouse has been set on fire by the lightning strikes.

The troll lashes out with a devastating swing, damaging Yuri and sending a few goblins to splat against the hallway walls, but finally the creature is taken down with darts, arrows and sword blows, and topples back down the stairs, crushing yet more goblins with its death throes. The adventurers run down the stairs after it and, joined by Grudge, administer the coup-de-grace to as many greenskins as possible.

Once the way is clear they all run back out the kitchen door and are about to scale the palisade and escape when they hear the screams of a young girl from the outbuildings on the other side of the farmyard. Torus raises his eyes to the heavens, but they turn back and battle their way through several groups of goblins before rushing into a smithy and dispatching a lone goblin who is threatening a young girl—no doubt the only survivor of the Baumer family. In the farmyard, Yuri actually uses his duellist’s strike effectively against some goblins, to everyone’s surprise.

Meanwhile Immolatus searches outside the palisade and finds the head of the goblin shaman with the glowing stone tied to it.

Torus bundles the girl’s struggling form under his arm and the adventurers run back to their rope, scale it, and the group runs off northwards into the night. Behind them, the farmhouse and barn collapse, and screaming goblins scatter in all directions into the hills.

The adventurers return to the Ackerland farmhouse, where the girl—her name is ‘Flea’—is tended to by the family. After a night’s rest, they return to the blackened remains of the Baumer farmstead, and search among the house ruins until they find the other large piece of the marble stone, which they put on a cart and take back to the Ackerland house. Exhausted, wounded, bleeding, wet, tired, and in two cases spattered with vomit, the adventurers finally take a well-earned rest.

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