To Blow, Or Not To Blow, That Is The Question…

 

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Durgin, Eckhardt, Borri and Tafwick are at the signal tower. Kall and Ulrico remain on the barge.

Much deliberation is had at the signal tower between the four party members as to what to do concerning the gunpowder. After what must pass as 20/30 minutes of discussion, they set about setting the explosives. The signal tower has four floors to it, and only one way in, although one can get through the windows that are placed on the first and second floor, and the roof has a clear open top. They decide to place the gunpowder on the first floor (ground floor), and set the fuses. Borri and Tafwick are given the task of actually lighting it when trouble starts, and are to wait just outside the signal tower. The fuse itself extends from the first floor, through the first floor’s window, and outside, where Borri and Tafwick will be waiting for the signal. The signal itself is Eckhardt’s whistle (he actually has a whistle blower).

1 Whistle to run to the tower as Eckhardt needs help. Or was that to light it? 2 Whistles to light it, or was that to run? Confusion is had as to what whistle means what, and further deliberation is had! Regardless, their plan is to try and lure the vampire into the tower, and once then, blow it. Eckhardt has even taken the precaution of putting a cart at the bottom of the tower and filling it with lots of grass and stuffed sacks to soften any landing that might need to be done in a hurry.

Once they got their whistles sorted, Eckhardt and Durgin begin their watch an hour before sundown at the topmost floor; the open roof. Kall and Ulrico will remain on the barge, and Borri and Tafwick will wait below.

Grott Isembeard, the dwarf foreman, makes his way to the barge to check that everything is ok with them. He asks them if they know what their friends are planning at the tower, and Ulrico replies that he does not. He’s informed by Grott that they plan to blow up the tower, and he himself is having doubts about it. Ulrico isn’t happy, and says that blowing up the tower is pointless, it’s likely not to kill the monster that they are trying to bait. Grott, clearly not happy now that he’s being told that blowing up his precious signal tower is going to be utterly pointless, marches towards the tower itself. Ulrico follows.

When he gets to the roof, Grott calls out “Slayer!” and the two have a very tense conversation.

Grott questions the Slayer’s bravery and basically says, “I’ve heard much tales of a Slayer’s bravery and prowess in combat… Yet I face one now who wishes to avoid a fight, and instead resorts to resolving it through cowardice.”

“Are you calling me a coward!?!” Durgin shouts as he marches up towards Grott, and gets into his face…

Grott backs down almost immediately. Durgin tells him that this is the only way.

Grott Isembeard sighs, “Perhaps you are right. I will take your word for it…”

Grott departs, and Durgin looks at Ulrico, “Ulrico?”

“Yes?”

“FUCK OFF!”

Ulrico promptly fucks off.

Much fucking off is had as he makes his way back to the barge to join Kall.

A few hours pass. Other than a rat that Eckhardt finds chewing on the tower’s pulley (which he squishes) the descent into the night is rather uneventful. The weather is also proving to be kind. No rain is had and little wind is to be felt. It is quite warm.

But the air grows colder as the night presses on, and a chill is felt as it hits past midnight. It is around 1am when Tafwick hears something; something moves within the tower. But he only heard it for a couple of seconds. He tells Borri, who investigates, but returns with a frown and tells Tafwick that he’s hearing things.

Up top, after a good few minutes is spent staring out into the night, Durgin feels something grip around his ankle.

A hand…

Looking down, he see’s the decayed body of one of the dwarfs from the basement level of the signal tower. It has crawled its way up the tower silently, and now seeks to latch its teeth around Durgin’s ankle. But Durgin reacts quickly enough, and strikes down at the deceased dwarf with his axe, killing it instantly and sending it tumbling down the towers steps.

“Eckhardt! It’s here!” he shouts.

Eckhardt is ready to blow on the whistle, “No don’t blow! But I bet its here!” Durgin shouts.

He proceeds to start shouting into the night, loudly challenging it.

Nothing comes…

Frustration is had. Eckhardt then follows suit, well… kinda.

“O weary me, what will I do? Me, Eckhardt Konrad, waiting here… I said Eckhardt Konrad!” he shouts.

Durgin gives him a very sour look…

His obvious bait doesn’t seem to work as there is no sign of the vampire.

Another hour passes. It is around 2am when the watch down below, Taf and Borri, hear something scrambling up the steps.

“Lets get ready…” Taf whispers.

Up top, Eckhardt hears something as well… a low growl. He see’s a hideous shriveled pale creature at the top of the steps, staring at him.

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Eckhardt’s resolve is tested, but he remains firm as he reacts to it pouncing upon him.

Durgin joins in as blows are exchanged, and Durgin gets in front of Eckhardt, to deliver a blow to the creature.

Eckhardt, unable to strike at the creature with Durgin in the way, hops around to the other side and gets behind it.

Flanked on both sides, and stuck between a slayer and a tough former soldier, the creature has little to no chance as its picked apart by their expert blows.

The creature falls to Eckhardt’s last blow. Durgin knows what this creature is, due to his now long dead Rememberer’s knowledgeable ways in the undead; a Ghoul.

Durgin says its not an undead thing, but rather a twisted creature that was perhaps once a man, now with twisted features. Although he recalls that vampires do take a liking to them as minions… There may be more.

Before the fight had fully transpired, Eckhardt had blown his whistle. Twice. The signal for them to come running to the tower, but not to light the fuses.

Tafwick lights the fuse…

Actually no he doesn’t, but that would have been great…

He does however cut the fuse on his way up to the roof, only to replace it later.

The party now arrive at the tower. Durgin and Kall make their way down to the dwarf camp to fetch Grott Isembeard, and to also check that they are actually still alive. Last they heard of the dwarfs was a few hours ago when they were happily drinking away, and their banter was heard in the distance. Obviously Grott hadn’t informed them of the party’s plans to blow up the tower, cause if he did, there would certainly be less banter.

Having established that Grott and his lads are soundly asleep, they wake Grott up and get him to the tower to show him the creature. Grott is startled by the hideous features of this thing.

“It certainly matches the description of what one of my boys told me. White skin, pointy ears and yellow eyes. Aye… So is that it then? Is that all there was too it?”

Grott seems relieved, but that is soon replaced by despair when shouts are heard below. Making their way down to the basement, the party see Tafwick and Borri peering down into this…

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A stone trapdoor leading down into an underground passage. It had blended in with the stonework nearly flawlessly. (Everyone failed their perception tests in the basement). Tafwick chucks down a fire arrow and establishes that it goes at least as far as 20 to 25 feet down. That’s a long way down…

Grott is asked if he knew about this or if he recognizes the stonework. “Course I didn’t know! This is not my doing or my lads… but we did build on top of a mound, which had a flat stone base which we simply built over. That’s why we didn’t need to do any demolition work, it was a perfect spot for the tower.”

Grott’s told to wake his boys and keep watch above, as the party begin their cautious descent down into the crypt below.

After what seems like forever, they reach the bottom. A foul smell of rot, decay permeates the air. Cobwebs are everywhere, but visibility is pretty good as they are using their lanterns in a confined space, which lights up the whole narrow passage. At the end of it, they come to a set of double-doors on each side; left and right. A wall simply blocks their passage ahead. They take a closer look at the doors and notice that they all have runes on them. Borri peers at them, wondering if they are dwarf runes. He doesn’t recognise as dwarf runes, and is unable to determine their purpose, but it certainly makes the party cautious. Too bad Liliana isn’t here with her fancy book on runes!

Durgin however throws caution to the wind, and kicks the right-side door in. It opens up into what looks like a dust-filled study. And two current occupants, who turn, and moan at the rude interruption.

walking-dead.jpg – Zombies!

Durgin charges in right away and goes at it. The party can only watch as Durgin quickly dispatches the two squishy corpses. They are no match for the slayer’s axe. But more distant moans is heard. And then more. And more.

Soon the party is split facing zombies on both sides, left and right. 9 zombies in total try to chomp the party into pieces. But the zombies are slow and certainly pitiful, and are only a threat in vast numbers. They are quickly dispatched, but not before one takes a nibble on Durgin’s nipple!

The party are now certain that the vampire must be nearby, as Durgin points out that the last time he fought the Necrach out in the hills, it had raised a dozen or so zombies with relative ease.

Once the undead threat of rotting flesh has been dealt with, the party begin searching the joint. The crypt is quite large. To the right is a study. Old maps, books lay scattered about. Tafwick has a good gander at them, and a few maps show promise, particularly in value. He’s slightly worried however coming across one map that looks particularly ancient and nefarious in purpose.

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The map is certainly curious, and tells of a place called The Dark Lands, not a place he’s ever heard of. He pockets the map as well as a few others of the Empire.

He also finds a book written in a text that is alien to him. He snuffs out a small chest, a somewhat ordinary looking rusted container with a strangely out of place lock on it, as if the lock is brand new compared to the chest. He puts the chest in his pack.

The halfling’s fidgety fingers also lay claim to a book, this one he can read however.

 

Dagmar Cover.png– Dagmar von Liddleston?

 

Further on on the right side, beyond the study and through another door, Eckhardt comes to a section that seems to be devoted to a library. Dusty tomes lay in their resting place upon shelves. Lots of shelves. With lots of books…

Eckhardt slowly backs out, not wanting to investigate further just yet. On the far left side, the party find a laboratory of sorts. Ulrico finds an apothecary kit along with some herbs that go into his collection. He does find around 15 dubious looking poultices that he decides its probably for the best that they stay where they are. Borri finds 4 potions with no labels on them. He pockets them for now.

They also notice two sets of doors that remain closed and unexplored. One in the laboratory that looks like it leads further inwards into the crypt, and the other in the study area, again, leading further inward. Before any consideration is put forward to explore further, Kall Horst shouts out for Eckhardt to come over, who is nearest to him. Kall is currently in the narrow corridor passage that contains the stairway up into the signal tower.

Eckhardt replies, “What is it?”

“Something odd here…”

Eckhardt comes over, and Kall motions for him to look at the dust covered stairs of the crypt.

Eckhardt doesn’t have to look for long when he spots invisible footprints appearing on the stairs, and only visible due to the dust.

“Tafwick!” he shouts as Eckhardt grabs him.

“Let me go you swine!”

The voice was not of the halfling, but rather a man. Eckhardt tightens his grip and Kall aids him with his net, tossing it over the invisible form that Eckhardt seems to be struggling with.

The net floats over, and remains in the air. As it nestles down, the net starts forming the shapely figure of a man. Eckhardt shouts for some water or something. Ulrico comes over with a bucket, puzzled and confused when he spots Eckhardt struggling with something that isn’t there.

He throws the bucket of water over the net; as the water takes effect, they start to notice something taking form. Bits of fabric starts appearing out of nowhere, and then slowly the full gradual reveal of a man in grey robes.

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The man is pale, his skin milky white. His features are gaunt, his eyes sunken. He looks remarkably frail for someone who appears relatively young, and leans heavily on his staff, which he is quickly relieved of when its knocked away from him.

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The staff is crooked, is topped by a solid black gem that appears to glow with an inner light.

Eckhardt does not loosen his grip around the mans throat, but instead tightens it. “Who are you! Speak!”

The man croaks out his name, “Dagmar von Liddleston. Fools! Let me go or I will destroy all of you!”

His defiance is met with the party’s tenacity, and they attempt to glean more information from him, but Eckhardt’s grip is too tight and the frail man faints on the steps.

They bring him into the study and Kall binds him to the chair, making sure that he’s tied up tightly. He searches him and finds a key…

Tafwick produces the journal he found, and lays it on the table. The key fits the book latch, and it opens. There is quite a few entries, and the party snuggle up together to read…

 

It seems Dagmar von Liddleston has lived a very interesting life. Through reading his journal, they discover that he is in fact a rogue grey wizard, turned necromancer. He genuinely believes that he is doing good with his powers. Worse still… they find out it is he that is responsible for releasing the Necrach, which, if his journal is to be believed, now remains concealed down in the crypt after becoming too rebellious and discontent.

The party try and wake him up. During this, Eckhardt and Tafwick peruse the library. Tafwick finds lots of books, too many in fact! But he looks for a spot on the shelves where the dust has cleared, signifying recent use. Indeed he does. He approaches it and finds a book with the label, ‘Journal of Heinrich Kemmler; Abridged version’. Tafwick takes it and puts it in his pack. Better hope the witch hunters (or anyone for that matter) do not find that book… Heinrich Kemmler’s reputation is known to many, even the peasantry have heard of the infamous exploits of Kemmler. Anyone caught carrying his works might as well hang themselves if caught. Anyone traveling in the vicinity of the one carrying that book might as well also hang themselves!

Dagmar von Liddleston finally comes around, albeit groggily.

They try to glean information out of him as to how to stop the Necrach.

“Fools! Why would you want to release it! Leave it be and let me go, you’ll not hear from me ever again.”

“That’s not going to happen… One way or another, your going to die. If you cooperate, we can make it a quick painless death. If not…”

Another party member says, “Tell us how to defeat it. You say its concealed down below, but is it really? How long till it breaks free? And what then?”

“I care nothing if it breaks free, my life is forfeit!” the necromancer replies.

A hard slap comes in from Durgin, who proceeds to also push the frail man against a table.

“You’ll tell us what we need to know now!” he shouts at him.

That has seemed to slap the defiance out of him as the man relents and sighs. “I have lived all my life to do good. That was only my intention… To lead the way in a new era of magical science. Yet I have made certain choices that I am not proud of. Perhaps the only thing I can look forward to now, is… as you promised, a quick death. But, before I aid you, I need you to help me.”

“Help you with what?”

“A dear friend of mine. Gelfrid.”

“Your apprentice?” asks Eckhardt.

“No, someone who I consider an equal. He is at Drachenfel… surrounded by vampires. I wish you to kill him, to end his torment. For he is one of them himself.”

The party scoff at that. Drachenfel is far far to the south-east amidst the Grey Mountains, and the castle has a fearsome terrible reputation, as it used to be the fortress of Constant Drachenfel, the Great Enchanter. A rightly feared necromancer who is, hopefully… long dead.

The notion of helping him with this task is put aside as they want to know how to stop it.

“You can’t! It’s too powerful! If you wish to truly stop it, then leave it here and alert the authorities if you wish.”

Suddenly, the necromancer leans forward, clutching his head, “Argh! Get out of my head!”

He stops squirming, and he bolts upright in the chair. His eyes are glazed over as they slowly ascend towards Eckhardt.

A voice, not that of Dagmar, but of a more sinister darkly tone comes out, “Now you reap what you sow… You can stop this slaughter. All you have to do… is give me the one known as Eckhardt. Do this, and I will spare you from a fate worse than death. Abandon him to his fate, mortals… for you cannot contend with my wrath.”

Tafwick says “What do you think guys? Sounds like a good deal to me…” Durgin tells him to shut it, as an axe comes swinging, not towards Tafwick (as much as everyone would love that) but towards the head of Dagmar von Liddleston. The frail wizard turned necromancer is killed instantly.

“Right, to the stairs! Chokepoint!” Shouts Eckhardt as there is a mad rush for the stairs, fearing that the fiend may be released.

Borri tags behind however, picking up the staff that was dropped in the corridor. Not wanting to leave a magical staff just lying around, and fearing it might be used against them, he picks it up and smashes it against his knee. Crack! Fizzle! And Pop! The staff explodes, quite literally, in a puff of magical energy. Borri feels a tremendous force of energy pushing against him, and braces himself. The dwarf’s stubborn hide saves his ass as the force dissipates around him. (He passed a Very Hard Toughness test)

He climbs the stairs to join his party as shouts are made up towards Grott Isembeard that they may have to blow the tower up after all.

Grott is not happy, and even more so now that his lads (who were with him) are now aware of the plan to blow up the tower. The dwarfs are not one bit pleased, and argue amidst themselves as Tafwick slides past looking for the barrel of gunpowder.

And deep down in the crypt, something terrible stirs.

An ancient evil…

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