When we last left our dim-adventurers; Eckhardt was busy having his thumb removed, Borri was having a good ould swim in his own vomit, Durgin was having harsh words with a box named fred, Tafwick was spewing his guts over the side of the Strumpet barge after a disagreement with some rotgut, and Kall along with Ulrico were perhaps the only ones doing anything remotely useful.
If you can call plotting to break into someones house useful, well then yeah.
Kall and Ulrico make their way back when a middle-aged woman approaches them dressed in peasant garbs and generally looking worse for wear.
“Ex..excuse me, but… would, would you be, would you be friends of Eckhardt?”
Ulrico cautiously answers yes. She urges for them to follow, and only after she mentions that she doesn’t feel safe discussing it out in the open, do they move.
They head over to a simple abode nestled on the corner of the nearby street, opposite the inn. They are ushered in by the woman who closes the door after them. They find that she’s living in very poor conditions. While not unusual for peasant folk, she appears to be worse off than most. A pot boiling with some broth hangs over a low fire, along with a large loaf of moldy bread.
She asks them to sit and then explains to them who she is.
Her name is Brinda Hargate and she says she’s a friend of Eckhardt. She explains to them that sometime late last year, approximately 7 or 8 months ago, she can’t rightly recall, her and her husband found Eckhardt on the bank of the river. They fished him out and nursed him back to help. Ulrico knows this is true as Eckhardt had told him the story of how he came to be.
Her husband has since passed away from illness, so she lives alone. She remarks that she saw Eckhardt at the castle earlier. She works there, from time to time, helping with day to day chores. Although only when she’s summoned, as she’s not one of the regular staff. She goes on to say that she was summoned earlier today on account of some visitors to the castle, and she was needed to assist in getting the rooms ready. While she was working, she saw Eckhardt come in with the local priest of Morr, Rufus. She saw him go upstairs, then after a few moments he was brought down unconscious and accompanied by guards. They brought him to the lower levels of the castle, to which she does not have permission to go to.
She explains that she remembers Eckhardt fondly and that he seemed like a nice lad. Ulrico asks if there’s any way into the castle and Brinda explains that there is, the local well, which is now long dried up.
Brinda tells Ulrico and Kall that the well has been dried up for as long as she can remember. It was an old escape tunnel built by the former residents of Wittgenstein, back when the castle was called something else and under the banner of a different family. She doesn’t believe the Wittgensteins know about it, as the well is easily accessible.
But… she says that they would need her help. The local well in the village leads into the castle courtyard, and for them to be able to get out, she would need to be there waiting for them. The problem is that despite the fact that she works at the castle from time to time, she only works there when summoned. She says she might be able to fool the guards as they are not particularly clever, but the risk is great regardless.
Ulrico understands what she’s getting at… a reward. A financial reward. He offers her a ration pack, but says they’ll have to think about it.
She bids them a farewell.
As they leave, Ulrico notices a ‘snoop’ across the street. A man he recognizes as Thomas, the one he met in the temple of Morr earlier. He was watching them, and when Ulrico spotted him, he quickly departs. Ulrico makes a note of it.
Heading back to the barge, Ulrico lets them know what he was told and what they learned. Durgin is also paying attention now after snapping out of his drunken state at the mention of a 7-9 foot beast of some kind located at the castle, knowledge that was parted by the woman. Durgin thinks this might be some kind of troll, and if so… worthy of a good fight!
But the party are unsure how to proceed.
They have two avenues to approach this, at least the ones known to them. They consider at one point in checking the cliffs but the thought passes them by. In the end they decide to take their chances with the sewers. It would mean having a ‘word’ with the local physician, Jean, a Bretonnian. Before they leave, Borri who is passed out and in no condition to be wandering about, is propped up by the party on the deck of the barge. He’s made to look like he is keeping watch, when in reality he’s completely asleep.
Kall and Tafwick make their way to the physicians house, while Durgin and Ulrico look around for that ‘snoop’ they saw earlier.
Kall and Taf sketch out the house first. They see candlelight coming from the top-right window.
As they are formulating a plan, Durgin and Ulrico show up who inform them that they had no such luck in finding that snoop, so they join in with Kall and Tafwick.
They decide to scrap most of the plan and just go ahead and introduce themselves.
The door opens, “What’s the meaning of this disturb…” Jean, the physician, notices that Kall Horst is waving a pistol in front of his face.
“Now now, hush herr doctor. We just want to have a friendly chat.”
The man slams the door shut in their face. Tafwick and Kall dart around the corner to the side window and catch Jean as he attempts to climb out. They force him back in and now all of them are in his main study for that ‘quiet chat’.
Interrogation is had and questions put to him such as the sewers and the passageway leading into the castle. At first he denies any such knowledge, but Durgin strongarms him into coughing up what he knows. The man also spurts out some interesting information concerning his activities. It seems the good doctor has been poisoning the towns food and water supply on orders from the Wittgensteins. They even find a scrap of parchment with precise instructions and dosage, although there is no indication or mention of what it is he’s using to poison the town with, and the party do not inquire further.
In the end, they ended up carrying him out of the house in a unconscious state on account of Durgin roughing him up too much. He eventually wakes up in a quiet corner of the town and is forced to lead them into the sewers. He warns them though that there are ghouls… former residents of the town driven mad by starvation living down below. He wears a protective amulet that he says protects him from such ill-creatures. Kall promptly takes that amulet for himself, and waves his pistol to shut up any protest.
They get to a manhole cover, and begin the descent into the dark sewers…
Elsewhere, Eckhardt is having a fun time. Well, not so much.
Waddle has thankfully finished tormenting him and gone to sleep with his favorite face mask; the fleshy remains of…
– Isolde, Purple Hand cult member but actually an agent of the Palisades.
It seems Eckhardt’s confession that the Purple Hand were making a power grab and were planning to backstab the Red Crown was took to heart, as someone peeled off her face, likely the good doctor Alric Eisenhaurer, and had given it to Waddle as a gift.
Alric arrives, and to sum up a long conversation, Alric wishes to ‘experiment’ and test his latest new formula on Eckhardt. Alric it seems has been working on a formula using refined warpstone in its liquid state. Eckhardt hasn’t got a clue what warpstone is, but he knows it doesn’t sound good. Alric tells him that he believes warpstone contains healing properties, and could heal ones wounds. Thus, he pours a vial of the liquid form into an open wound of Eckhardts. At first, it seems to work, healing his wounds. But, the good doctor gets frustrated and angry when only after a few moments later, the process reverses. Eckhardt also feels somewhat… tainted, after it. Alric leaves in a fury.
Waddle remains behind however, and soon sleeps.
Eckhardt attempts to remove his restraints. Unfortunately he is well and truly tied down as multiple layers of ropes ensure that he remains a guest of the Wittgensteins.
Sometime passes, and Eckhardt starts to hear something odd…
From the walls it seems…
Just out of sight, Eckhardt can hear something moving and what sounds like scratching coming from within the walls. He calls out, although not enough to wake up Waddle, but enough that he hopes he can be heard.
“Whoever is there, help me and I’ll help you. I know where there is some gold. I know where the valuables are. I know where there’s some warpstone.”
As he mentions the warpstone, the scratching intensifies and gets louder. Then, he notices on the nearby wall some mortar beginning to come loose. A large brick in the wall comes out, yet not a sound is made as it’s carefully removed.
Two figures step out.
Eckhardt screams, and lets out about a seconds worth of screaming when a hairy dirty hand covers his mouth. Waddle doesn’t hear a thing. (He also gains an insanity point after failing his terror test. After all – tall tales and nursery rhymes are told of things that lurk in the underground passages and the sewers of the empire, but nobody ever believes that giant rats lurk beneath.)
“Speak man-thing man-thing, speak. Where is it. Stone. Warp.”
It speaks in a gutterish manner, often repeating its own words.
It grabs his mouth so that his lips are pursed and Eckhardt speaks in a whisper that he doesn’t know where the warpstone is, but if they release them he’ll help them find it.
The rat’s companion goes to search some shelves behind Eckhardt, as the other continues, “Speak now. Man-thing tells. Tell where warp is. Speak.”
Eckhardt repeats that if he is let free he’ll tell them.
The rat’s companion comes back with a box… Eckhardt recognises the box as the one Alric had used for the warpstone.
The two rats begin to squeak and hiss at one another. An intense discussion it seems. One of them then turns to Eckhardt, “Man-thing come with us, yes yes. You tell where more stone is, yes yes. Come come.”
One of them cuts his ropes while the other knocks him out.
Eckhardt goes unconscious.
(At this point, the player uses a fate point to NOT get kidnapped by the Skaven, which for all intents and purposes, could very likely result in his character’s death.)
Unbeknownst to Eckhardt, the skaven get into an arguement and decide that bringing him back would slow them down. They leave him there, but don’t bother tying him back up.
The skaven retreat, making sure to close the gap behind them. (Unknown to the players, the skaven that was carrying the box with the warpstone gets stabbed in the back by the other skaven, who promptly takes the box. Words that were exchanged at the time of the betrayal, in Queekish,”Glory mine mine! Reward for Nathak! Make Clan Skeever proud!” as he scampered off into the darkness leaving behind his dead companion. Typical skaven.)
Eckhardt soon finds himself awake, with a sore head. Still completely bewildered by the fact that giant rats are indeed a very real thing, he gets his senses together. He goes over to the sleeping Waddle, takes Waddle’s dagger, and stabs him to death. Job done, he sits down at the corner after trying the only door leading out and finding it locked. He bides his time.
After 30 minutes, two voices are heard. Rufus, the priest of Morr, and Alric. Rufus and Alric come into the room unaware that Eckhardt is waiting for them. Rufus is first around the corner and closest, to which Eckhardt grabs him, holding a knife up to his throat.
Alric is surprised at first, but then he smiles. “Impressive. Most impressive.”
Eckhardt makes no qualms slitting Rufus’s throat and then goes for Alric, but Alric throws something on the ground in front of Eckhardt. Acidic fumes reach up to his face, stinging his eyes and causing incredible pain. Eckhardt charges with the dagger but Alric scampers out of there, closes the door and locks it, then runs off, presumably to get the guards.
Eckhardt quickly recovers, and realizes how truly screwed he is now… He searches Rufus, only to find the book, Heinrich Kemmler’s abridged diary.
Frustrated, angry, Eckhardt begins to stab at the book, stabbing into its pages. He drops the book as smoke trails begin to form over the pages. Smokey hands coming out of the book hover of the pages that Eckhardt stabbed, and begin repairing them. Then, the hands start turning pages. It stops on a certain page, and it appears that the smoke in the shape of a hand begins to read from the page.
Eckhardt notices movement to his right. Waddle. Waddle who should be dead, is now very much alive and giggling. But something much fouler is happening here. Not only has Waddle come back, but he’s starting to grow, and grow, his muscles starting to expand.
Eckhardt charges at him with his only weapon, Waddles dagger, and deals a deadly blow but Waddle laughs it off.
It’s looking grim for Eckhardt.
Can the party save him? What will they find in the sewers? Ghouls?
Or something far far worse…