*GM Note*: A new player joins us today who is playing Dwarf Slayer Durgin Mendrisson, along with another new character played by long-term player Darren who has previously played Liliana and Johann (Sister & Brother) and is now playing a cheeky halfling rogue. But the adventures of Liliana and Johann are not finished yet… And will be continued in a mini-campaign series called ‘Marienburg Episodes,’ which I hope to start soon, as Liliana’s absence from the party may only be a temporarily one. Or if her time in Marienburg goes astray, perhaps a permanent one!
Continued on from previous blog…
It is a new day in Altdorf. As the sun slowly rises up on the great imperial capital of the Empire, so too are the party of 4, who will soon become a party of 6 again, after the mysterious and strange departure of Finja Dietrich. Will she ever be seen again? Who knows…
After having their breakfast, Eckhardt, Ulrico, Borri and Kall make plans. Johann is nowhere to be seen. It was mentioned by Dahlia Blackheart that a unnamed barge will be made available to them, and that they should start their journey down to Kemperbad as soon as possible. So the party decide that the barge should be given a good look over, to see if it comes stocked with any supplies. They make their way to the docks.
Dahlia told them to keep an eye out for some specific ‘markings’ on the barge, and indeed, they come across a shoddy looking half-painted Reikeel barge. And as they approach, a small figure pokes his head up and groggily stands up. A halfling.
– Tafwick Bramwood-Redd, ‘at your service’
The little guy introduces himself as Tafwick Bramwood-Redd. The party are not impressed.
“So, where’s the help we were promised?” Eckhardt asks.
“I’m it guv.”
“No, seriously. Where’s the help…”
Seemingly well mannered and well dressed, the halfling still fails to impress them, but the party concede that he’ll have to do.
“So what’s all this business about then? I literally just woke up on the barge a few moments ago. Seems my employer really wanted to make sure I wasn’t late… I was told to help you lot in entering Castle Wittgenstein, but not to the particulars as to why?”
The party do not share their mission in full with Tafwick at the moment, but do tell him that they are making their way down to Kemperbad first to observe a meeting between a cult called the Purple Hand, and another apparent cult called the Red Crown.
As the party check the boat over for supplies (and indeed they find some rations as well as a box of commercial ready linen to make their trip at least seem legit) an old friend shows up once again, Ernst Steurmann, and with Liliana in tow.
Liliana is still somewhat dazed and shaken from her experience, having only just woken up. The party share their sympathy for her pain and Liliana is grateful for all that they did for her. She tells them that she will be off to Marienburg with her brother, heading back home on the Berebelli with Ernst coming along to seek full payment from her father. Seems Liliana’s recent troubles has caused her to reconsider her time with the party, and indeed resting back up at home and keeping out of trouble seems like a very good idea.
Liliana makes her way to the Berebelli, while Ernst stays behind to show the party how to operate the barge. Specifically Borri volunteers to do it, and the others watch also.
Eckhardt decides however that he best make his way over to the Temple of Morr and fetch Gutz Ironside, their ogre bodyguard. As he makes his way onto the pier, this… shows up.
– Durgin Mendrisson, Dwarf Slayer
An orange mohawk, tattoos and a furious look of craze in his eyes, a sturdy muscular dwarf approaches Eckhardt. Eckhardt freezes.
“Are you Eckhardt Konrad?”
Eckhardt takes a moment to ponder… “No,” he says after much consideration.
“Then where is!” Durgin shouts.
The party stop what they are doing and observe cautiously.
“What you want with him?” Eckhardt says.
“Its urgent. I need to speak with him at once. You don’t know where he is? You match the description…”
Eckhardt finally gives in.
Durgin speaks plainly and bluntly to him, as the others are also in earshot.
“I was told you had a vampire problem…”
“I may,” Eckhardt replied.
“Well, then your problem is my problem.”
“What’s this about vampires? I didn’t sign up for anything like this?” says Tafwick.
Durgin continues speaking to Eckhardt, “Not long ago I encountered a powerful one, just in the hills south of the city. The bastard killed my Rememberer (a dwarf chronicler) and I’ve been hunting it ever since. I came here to report my sighting to the Temple of Morr, perhaps hoping for a lead on where this bastard might be hiding at. They told me to seek you out, and where I might find you. Apparently your being hunted by this thing. And if that is the case, then I’m staying right next to you manling, so I can greet it with my axe next time it shows its ugly face!”
Eckhardt is somewhat relieved, although the others are apprehensive. Borri in particular is cold and distant in his feelings towards Durgin, and tension in the air quickly rises later on between the two.
For now, Durgin and Eckhardt make their way to the temple to speak with Brother Valdric, while the rest of the party prepare the barge.
The two are shown to Brother Valdric. “Tell him manling about the vampire,” Durgin states.
Valdric makes a heavy sigh, “Yes… This dwarf came to me this morning with some dire news. Seems he had fought a powerful vampire south of the city, and his… chronicler was slain in the process. Yet he told me that his chronicler, who was a budding vampire hunter according to him, knew what kind of vampire he was dealing with before he was slain. A Necrarch. An ancient and powerful yet incredibly rare breed of vampire. Valdric goes on to say that the last recorded encounter in writing was over a hundred years ago, according to their own records. Valdric expresses doubt that Gutz would suffice, but Eckhardt says that he is now in the company of a dwarf slayer and an ogre, and is pretty confident.
“There is some information I wish to depart with you however, before you go. I can’t attest as to the accuracy of this information, but it might be helpful. I believe your traveling by barge, is that correct? Well, that may be fortunate… You see, according to one particular entry in our records concerning this particular breed of vampire, it seems they are most vulnerable to a particular weakness. Although this weakness is evident in less powerful breeds, I was quite surprised to see it present in a being as powerful as this. It appears that they are unable to cross a running stream, or a river with a current. Again, I cannot confirm the validity of this claim, but if true, then you may be wise to stay on the barge.”
Thump Thump Thump Thump Thump
Gutz Ironside squeezes through the door, and looks down upon them.
“Gutz ready! Gutz Go! Gutz… *sniff sniff*”
Gutz peers down at the dwarf slayer. He looks angry.
“Little gobi with orange hair! Gutz hate orange hair! Orange distracting! Chop hair now!”
Gutz raises his axe, and is only stopped as Valdric tells him to calm himself. Eckhardt explains to Gutz that the dwarf is also a new bodyguard.
“No! Gutz bodyguard! Gutz is enough! Gutz smash pointy teeth!”
The dwarf challenges the ogre, and again hostilities are nearly about to break out but Eckhardt manages to convince Gutz.
“Keep orange hair out of sight!” Gutz shouts as he makes his way out of the temple.
Eckhardt sighs and follows. Just outside, they see a wagon full of fresh meat, along with some livestock tossed in. A pig. A sheep and what looks like bits of a cow, half of which is already chewed.
Sighing again, they make their way to the barge.
But trouble is already brewing when Gutz proclaims that he hates water, and that he won’t be traveling on it. Eckhardt is the only one trying to convince him, while the others are content with not having to share a barge that may sink with an ogre onboard.
Gutz shouts that he can keep up with the barge, which is good enough for Eckhardt.
The party leave Altdorf, and make their way south of the river, heading towards Kemperbad. It’s a long journey. Approximately just under a month’s worth of travel.
(Red Line shows the route they’ll take on the river)
Three uneventful days pass by. The traffic is light, with only less than a dozen barges been seen during their three days of travel. The weather has been mostly kind, although on the 2nd day they experienced some heavy rainfall, and on the 3rd day, the heavens look they’ll pour. Gutz has also been able to keep up, and doesn’t seem fatigued from his constant walking at all.
Night approaches on the 3rd day, and the party decide to shore up again. There was some debate earlier as to whether to moor up on the west bank where Gutz is, or to remain in the middle of the river, as Valdric had told Eckhardt about the particular weakness of this vampire. But Kall says that they may get into trouble with the river wardens who may not take kindly to a barge anchored in the river. The party seem to fear wardens more, and decide to moor up on the bank.
They setup watch. Borri and Durgin begin the first watch, as Durgin eyes Borri with jealously as he watches him down a few gulps of Josef Bugman’s Triple X. Their watch goes along peacefully, and the 2nd watch is now due. Eckhardt and Ulrico. Borri tries to wake up the resisting Eckhardt, and decides to pour some of Josef Bugman’s ale down his throat…
Eckhardt immediately jolts up and starts slurring his words. He groggily and clumsily makes his way up the barge. Seems dwarven ale didn’t agree with him…
He and Ulrico begin their watch.
Mannslieb is on full display…
– Mannslieb, 1 of 2 moons of The Old World
Yet the radiant light that was being provided by the moon soon fades, the night grows darker, and shapes streak across the moon in the sky. Dark clouds start to form, and it rains. Heavily.
Gutz squirms uncomfortably in the rain, and Eckhardt decides to toss him a piece of linen cloth, as it drapes over his head. Yet as he does, Gutz bolts upright. Eckhardt and Ulrico watch as Gutz slowly turns his head towards the forest.
He slowly stands up as the linen falls off him. Gutz takes out his big axe, Mr Grindy.
“Something stinks…” he says, sniffing his armpits, “and it ain’t me…”
Eckhardt tells Ulrico to wake the others. Ulrico heads down to the cabin. Eckhardt looks out groggily into the darkness, still reeling from that dwarven ale. He spots something…
There, in the darkness… to the right, he spots two glowing red orbs staring back at him. And then, a voice, a sinister gravelly voice speaks out, “I… See… You…”
“I… Bring… A… Gift….”
Eckhardt is frozen in place with utter fear. Gutz snorts, staring into the darkness and growling.
The rest of the party come up onto the barge. wondering what’s going on and why Eckhardt looks like he suddenly saw a ghost.
Then, something shambles towards them. A shape in the dark. It.. moans. Gutz points towards it.
“Death approaches…” he simply says.
Then it comes into view.
Finja! Despite the rotting appearance, they recognize her. The last known sighting of Finja was from Ernst Steurmann who said she was heading for the town of Reicthlick, yet it appears she may never have gotten to the town at all. Gutz doesn’t hesitate as he steps forward to the shambling lone figure. It’s no contest as Gutz cuts her in half from the mid-section, and delivers a derisive snort.
“Ha! Is that it! Is that all you can throw at us!” shouts Durgin into the dark.
“Quiet dwarf, have some respect… that was a friend of ours…” says Ulrico.
Yet something still stirs in the darkness, and something moves. Eyes dart to it, and the party get a fleeting look of it for just a moment.
Durgin immediately shouts out, “COME BACK YOU BASTARD! COME BACK! ILL HAVE YOU! YOU COWARD! YOU PONCE!”
It disappears, but not before departing with this, “Your next… fresh meat… I’m coming for you…”
Durgin shouts obscenities at it as the rest remain stiff at what they just witnessed.
The party wait for daylight to come, but are not getting anymore sleep as a result of what happened.
As the morning sun rises, Ulrico is the first off the boat.
“What you doing?”
“Burning her body,” Ulrico replies, “It’s the best thing to do. Trust me. I’m from Stirland and I’ve heard the rumors and tales. Not taking chances.”
After the burning, the party continue on.
The party have journeyed for 6 days now, and made a brief stop at a small river village called Autler to stock up on much needed supplies.
It’s on the 6th day that the party fall foul of a great a horror…
Night comes on its usual schedule, never late. The party get ready for another tiresome but necessary and cautious watch. Yet as they are just pulling towards the west bank, they see Gutz, dropping his meat wagon and charging into the forest while roaring out at some invisible foe. He swings his axe but it cracks against a tree, and swings again, but whatever it is, the party are unable to see it as the tree’s are full of shadows as night takes over.
They quickly decide to pull in faster and Borri masterfully guides the barge onto the bank. Eckhardt, Durgin and Tafwick step off and run into the forest after Gutz, while Borri, Ulrico and Kall stay behind fearing that the barge might come under attack.
They follow the sounds of the rampaging ogre, only getting fleeting glimpses of him as he continues to battle it out with this invisible foe.
Then… silence. The forest goes silent. The party slow down, and cautiously approach the last spot they heard Gutz.
Tafwick splits up and stays on the flank as Durgin and Eckhardt make their way.
Eckhardt spots a pool of blood further up near a tree. He approaches, halberd ready. As he does, he see’s Gutz, but Gutz has his back to him.
Gutz slowly turns around. All the fury, all the rage that Gutz i known for, is no longer there… but a blank look. His eyes seem to glaze over. Blood pours down his face from a piercing and ugly festering wound upon his face. Gutz doesn’t look good… He slowly approaches Eckhardt.
Eckhardt knows what that means, having been a victim of mental hijacking himself. Gutz is being controlled… He runs.
Gutz swings his axe at the spot that Eckhardt was a moment ago, but it was ill-timed and a sluggish blow. Durgin, however, remains still, looking at Gutz…
He charges Gutz, letting out a cry as he swings his axe. Gutz flinches back and lands a sluggish blow on the dwarf, a solid hit that severely injures Durgin. Durgin strikes back though with two sift blows. Gutz is in no condition to fight back as Durgin hops onto the ogre and delivers the killing blow, ready to send his axe down upon the head of the ogre. But Gutz suddenly snaps out of it and regains his freedom, but the last look is utter confusion as Durgin drives the axe into the forehead of Gutz Ironside. Gutz Ironside falters and falls.
During that mighty fight, there was a scream, a plea of help. It came from Tafwick. Eckhardt was about to assist Durgin with Gutz when he turned around… and saw it, standing near Tafwick. Tafwick was frozen in place, “I can’t move!”
The vampire fiend had cast some dark spell upon him, restricting his movement. Eckhardt bravely charges at the vampire.
Shadow and concealment seems to surround this vampire as Eckhardt delivers a strike, but is unsure if he landed a hit on its skeletal figure. Great bony hands stretch out and slice towards Eckhardt, infused with rot and dark magic. Eckhardt’s arm is nearly shredded along with his armor as he takes a severe blow, and drops his halberd, but not before taking another swipe at the fiend, this time certain he landed a blow.
Tafwick lands a shot from his sling, again uncertain if it did anything at all. The creature simply goads them on.
Then, a great orange fury starts charging. Durgin the dwarf slayer charges with all his fury at the fiend, demanding revenge for the death of his trusted companion, his Rememberer.
Durgin lands a true strike and its a powerful one as the vampire taken back by this sudden change.
“I’m not finished with you mortals. You killed my pet project, and I shall return…”
The vampire forms into a mist that escapes on the wind, as Durgin shouts after it “COME BACK YOU COWARD! ILL HAVE YOU!”
Borri and Ulrico, who decided to leave the boat, make their way over. They witness a dead ogre, a missing halfling, a severely wounded Eckhardt along with Durgin who also looks like he might keel over at any minute… Wait, a missing halfling?
They call out… nothing.
They look around, there is no sign of him.
They call out again… Then they hear something. Something barfing. They turn and see, well… vomit, but, it looks like its coming out of mid-air, a couple of feet off the ground.
It stops, and then a voice that sounds like Tafwick, “Err… guys, I may have a problem. I think I’m invisible…”
It turns out that Tafwick just drank an incredibly rare and potent magical potion that was likely given to him in secret by the Palisades, with a note attached that read “Drink me when thou at Wittgenstien, and thy shall be granted entry.” But in his moment of cowardice, Tafwick drank the potion. O well…
Ulrico tends to their wounds as Borri heads over to Gutz Ironside, who lays motionless on the ground. “We should burn the body, but not before we give it a good search..”
Borri roots around Gutz’s body for anything that might be of value, and then picks up a few crowns.
Yet the greedy goldlust dwarf does not notice that something is not right with Gutz. His skin is cracked, like cracked mud under a heavy sun, and it appears to be… rotting? But by the time he realizes it, he notices it now on his own hand!
Borri witnesses it coil up his hand, just past his wrist. “Cut it off! Cut it off! Slayer! Now! Cut it!”
Borri is frantic as the magical rot works its way up his arm. The slayer comes over and takes a look, without hesitation he CHOPS IT! Borri’s hand lob’s off… the rot seems to be gone. Blood is gushing out of Borri’s stump, and he quickly gets Ulrico’s assitance in cauterising it.
The pain is agonizing and brutal. Yet the sturdy dwarf strides on despite the pain, contemplating his future as a smith, and not only that… but his ability to dual wield hisfine hammers.
As the party lick their wounds, a pack of vicious wolves, no doubt attracted by the scent of fresh blood approach in the dark. Yet Durgin the slayer is in no mood for them and simply roars and shouts at them… they make a quick hasty escape darting away from them.
A beaten badly injured group of Old World adventurers take as many quick strides as they can towards their barge and begin to shore up on the other side of the bank.