Truth can hurt as much as any sharpened blade and in some cases, it can even kill a man…
Eckhardt is alone in a cell in Castle Wittgenstein, after volunteering himself to walk in accompanied by Brother Rufus, a corrupt priest of Morr serving darker powers. He succeeded in killing the Baroness in a rather abrupt manner fulfilling the shaky ‘pledge’ that they given to the Palisade agent Dahlia Blackheart. But it was a foolish decision, and Eckhardt is no stranger to those.
He was imprisoned and briefly tortured that resulted in the loss of a thumb and a fingernail. That was the easy part. The worse came when liquefied warpstone was poured into an open wound… Eckhardt’s sanity is put into question when an evil entity takes a hold of his mental capacity. Something from the dark void of the other realm has latched onto him in secret, and is now fighting for control over his mind with other evil entities. Lesser Daemons… (Eckhardt’s insanity has reached a point in which he now faces a daily struggle to maintain his resolve.)
khorne is one such aspect that now enjoys limited control over Eckhardt, influencing him in decisions. Which is certainly the case as Eckhardt fights furiously with Waddle, who has now risen from death. Waddle grows and grows, propelled by the dark magic of Dhar from Kemmler’s book. But Eckhardt wastes no time to start stabbing Waddle with his dagger, and manages to finish him off before he gets any stronger, although he does get a cheeky swipe in at Eckhardt before the dark magic leaves his body.
Now, there’s just Eckhardt and the book… The book that is currently spewing out magic into the air. Dark necromancy magic. Eckhardt attempts to close the book, and succeeds despite an overwhelming force trying to push him back. The book shuts, and with it, the magic in the air starts to seep back into the book.
Eckhardt, again, foolishly, decides to take the book, although perhaps with good intentions as he plans to hope to destroy the book one way or another.
It’s then that he see’s Alric at the door, on the otherside. Alric calls out to him and the two converse.
“I’ll not let you die like some rat in a cage, and despite what others think, I’m not a murderer. You deserve to know the truth. Here, take this with you.”
Alric throws him a book through the bars, “There’s a secret passageway in that room your in, just on the south wall you’ll notice a brown patch of paint. Check there. And Eckhardt my boy, don’t try to follow me… My work here is done. The Red Crown is finished, and I do not intend to stick around for the outcome. Take care… Kaster.”
Alric sprints away from the door. Eckhardt goes to pick up the book and goes to look for this secret passageway.
He finds it without too much trouble and cautiously proceeds forwards into a dark cold tunnel. The floor kicks up entrails of dust as each step is taken.
He gets to the end and finds a small tunnel that he could crawl through. Taking a candle, he proceeds on all fours into the dark tunnel. Half way in however, a cold snap of chilled air kills his flame, and darkness flanks him. Eckhardt continues on, crawling until he see’s light at the end, faint light, but light all the same. He steps into a ruined building that looks like it used to be a small tower construction. A very flimsy looking ladder leads up.
Eckhardt proceeds up and finds himself in the back courtyard of the castle. He doesn’t step out however, rather he waits and listens…
A guard walks by, crunching on something…
Then after waiting for another few minutes, he heads out, following the footsteps of the guard to the north. What he finds is some weapons. He takes out a sword, a rusty looking thing that hasn’t seen much fighting, and then looks for a way out. As he does, he notices something very odd… A cat, a dead one at that, suddenly perks up with life. Although it struggles to move, its ribcage clearly visible along with some guts hanging out of it.
Then, he hears a door opening from behind. Eckhardt sprints to the corner out of sight waiting for whoever may come around.
A guard appears around the corner, not noticing Eckhardt but certainly noticing the cat. His reaction is one of surprise and shock at the appearance of this dead cat, which Eckhardt takes advantage of as he grabs him from behind and slits his throat. The guard’s lifeless body slumps to the ground. Eckhardt takes his armour and heads back to see what the room contained that the guard came from.
Just as well he did take a peek, as he finds a large armory containing all sorts of weapons and shields. Eckhardt spots out a halberd, not his, but one that will suffice despite the poor quality craftsmanship.
He continues looking for a way out or a way that may lead to the front courtyard. During his search he finds two servants, a man and a woman, almost bare and lying on some hay in a storage room, asleep. The poor souls have no chance as Eckhardt kills them, beheading the man and slicing the woman up. Something in his ‘mind’ seems to take delight, although Eckhardt can also feel ‘mockery’ from a hidden presence. It seems it did not approve of his method in killing them.
Eckhardt searches the place and at one point finds a chest full of copper coins. He contemplates taking the whole chest with him, which is not only cumbersome but quite noisy as well. Yet common sense wins a rare victory with Eckhardt and he decides to leave it less he informs the whole castle of his whereabouts.
Eckhardt finds a circular staircase leading upwards, but he hears fighting going on above, and one of the guards shouts, “The undead are rising!”
Eckhardt decides to try his hand at finding another way out. He heads south into the back courtyard and discovers a chickencoop and some pigs. One of the servants is nearby, feeding pigs at a peculiarly late hour and she casts suspicion upon Eckhardt when she spots him. But Eckhardt is in Wittgenstein armour, so the suspicion does not last for long as he pretends he’s on a nightly patrol.
Unfortunately, Eckhardt’s escape plan isn’t going well. He finds a rather unsafe looking rowboat down below, but the south side of this castle only leads over the cliff and into the river below. He would need to reach the eastern courtyard to escape. But he figures he might chance the rowboat when a guard from above the battlements see’s a shadow, and hears movement, shouts, “Who goes there!?”
Eckhardt replies, “Just patrolling…”
“There’s no patrols at the south side at this hour! Who is that!”
Eckhardt fumbles and further suspicion is only cast upon him. Then the guard shouts for him to stay put and Eckhardt knows he’s now in trouble. He heads straight for the armory in hopes to find a safe spot, all the while followed by his trusty dead cat which seems to have latched onto him as a potential companion.
Or is it the book its following…
Eckhardt manages to find a secret passage in the armory. It seems this castle is full of them. Just in time too as three guards come racing down looking for him. Eckhardt stays put and tries to stifle the occasional ‘meow’ coming from Mr Dead Paws.
After what seems like an eternity, Eckhardt hears the guards outside on the outer wall. He feels unsafe all of a sudden in his little hidey hole and suspects the guards know about the passage. He moves into the armory and his suspicion was right. The guards move into the passageway just as Eckhardt steps out of it. Realizing he has little time, Eckhardt runs straight towards the door leading out of the armory when the sound of a slab of stone shifts and move behind him. He tries for the door but in his rush to get out, he bounces off the door after banging his head and flinches back against the table, knocking over a mail glove onto the floor. (He crit failed his agility to rush out, rolling 100…)
Shit… Eckhardt remarks to himself. He turns to see three guards stepping out of the tunnel.
“Hello fella’s, how’s it going?” he tries to salvage the situation as best as he can.
It doesn’t work.
The guards attack immediately after one of them, Sergeant Kratz, shouts, “That’s the bugger! That’s him! He’s in league with Alric! Kill him!” Apparently the guards suspect Alric is now working for the Purple Hand as they attack Eckhardt.
Eckhardt puts up a heroic defense as he’s assailed by the three guards. He’s flanked now as he makes a desperate attempt, parrying an incoming blow that would have spelled certain death. But Kratz gets a swipe on the side of him that Eckhardt most certainly feels, and can sense a wet patch on that side. Blood.
He turns to deal with Kratz who seems to be the most skilled out of the bunch. Eckhardt gives all he can muster and manages to kill Kratz. But he uses all his strength in doing so, as the other two guards jump on Eckhardt, knocking him out. (He would have died if it wasn’t for his last and only fate point being used, although the guards ‘believe’ they have killed him as his wounds are quite serious.)
The guards contemplate what to do with him… and sure enough, the answer is easy. Picking up his body and the mangy dead cat, they head outside towards the cliff.
“On the count of three… One. Two. Three! Heave!” They toss his unconscious body down into the river below along with his dead cat. Meow!
One of the guards however soon accompanies him as his companion steps his comrade. Apparently some internal Wittgenstein politics going on…
So is that the end of Eckhardt? Not quite…
Eckhardt opens his eyes to find himself on a rowboat. He hears a startled fright, and something poking him in the ribs. He sees a grizzled old man rowing a boat, staring at him in shock.
“I thought you were dead! Near shit myself!”
Eckhardt’s wounds are incredibly serious, and he can barely move as he coughs out the remains of the river from his lungs. He hears a faint ‘meow’ and notices that Mr Dead Paws is on-board.
“By Sigmar’s balls! The cat’s back as well! I thought you were a gonna, I had plucked you from the river hoping to loot ya, and now look at ya, ruining my day ya are…”
Eckhardt sarcastically apologizes and asks the old man if he could take him to Wittgendorf’s docks, where his friends will be awaiting and will reward him.
The man scoffs at that, but obliges.
“Are you sure your aright?” he remarks. He pokes him again.
“Stop poking me!” Eckhardt cries out in pain.
“Ya look dead that’s for certain…”
The old man however gets aggressive when he realizes the armour Eckhardt is wearing, “Wait a minute… That’s Wittgenstein armor. Your one of the Baroness’s men…” The old man picks up his oar and is ready to strike, but Eckhardt reacts first, mustering his last ounce of strength he picks up the other oar and wacks the old man with it. The man goes over the side in the river.”
“Curse you! Curse your name!” the old man shouts.
“Which way is Wittgendorf!” Eckhardt ‘politely’ asks…
“I’ll have you for this! Go get shagged!”
Eckhardt drifts onward in the direction the old man was rowing, hoping it leads to Wittgendorf.
Sure enough it does as he see’s the faint lights of the docks up ahead and the Strumpet barge.
Eckhardt is greeted with surprise by the party as he pulls up aside them. Durgin in particular is full of questions. Eckhardt simply says “It’s been a long night. I’ve been stabbed. I’ve been poked at. I’ve lost a thumb, a fingernail and I feel like shit. I’m going to lye down.”
Eckhardt heads down into the barge and Ulrico does his best to tend to his wounds. All the while, the party are acutely aware of the ever growing moans from the town. Borri makes the wise decision to pull out of the docks and moor on the other side of the river.
As Eckhardt is being treated, he realizes he still has the book that Alric gave him, although is incapable of reading it. He offers the book to Ulrico to read to him.
Ulrico is handed the book. He looks at the cover, and then looks up at Eckhardt, “Where did you get this?”
“A doctor gave it to me. Alric Eisenhaurer was his name.”
“I know… my father,” Ulrico responds.
“What! He was your father? That sick bastard!”
“Yes… And I would certainly liked to have run into him.”
“He’s gone, don’t know where but he’s likely have left now.”
Ulrico props open the book and flicks through it. It’s Alric’s personal diary, and an account of his travels. Ulrico goes to the most recent entries, and comes across something very interesting…
It indeed contains some harsh revelations for Eckhardt… or rather, Kaster!
It turns out that Eckhardt Konrad, is in fact Kaster Lieberung. And the real Eckhardt Konrad used Kaster’s identity after being offered a position to spy on the Purple Hand for the Red Crown, that or face death… The real Eckhardt took up the offer, and was surgically altered by Alric to look like Kaster and used ‘darker’ techniques to adopt his accent and other traits that cannot be accomplished through surgery. All this was done in secret and not with the Baroness’s approval.
Kaster was then cast aside as he was an ongoing liability and Alric was told to get rid of the body. But Alric, in secret, refused to kill Kaster. Instead, he wanted to give Kaster another chance at a different life. Or perhaps Alric just saw this as another challenge to his skills. He hypnotized Kaster Lieberung in thinking that he was man from Ostermark called Eckhardt Konrad. After several intense sessions, progress was being made. And Kaster Lieberung shed his old identity and became Eckhardt Konrad…
GM Note* When Eckhardt (Kaster) first arrived in Wittgendorf and met with Brother Rufus, Rufus recognized him. But Rufus was only ever made aware of certain details, not the whole story. He was aware however that this man was apparently an agent of the Red Crown. Rufus then led him into the castle while keeping up the charade of secrecy and led him up to the Baroness’s room. However, the Baroness has never been made aware that her daughter, Lady Margarrite, has been scheming against the Purple Hand, so she’s blissfully unaware about Eckhardt’s true nature. Alric isn’t so blind however, and ‘thinks’ that the real Eckhardt Konrad has come back for a debriefing. This is why he walks up to him and says “Ah, yes… Excellent. Excellent!” and proceeds to tell the guards outside to accompany Eckhardt down below. Eckhardt, the player, thinks this is a ‘threat’ but in actuality its not. He was merely going to be debriefed out of sight from the Baroness about what he learned in his time with the Purple Hand.
That all changed when Eckhardt charged at the Baroness unexpectedly. This made Lady Margarrite suspicious that Eckhardt had been turned into an agent for the Purple Hand. As such, when Alric started to question him, Alric knew that this wasn’t the ‘real’ Eckhardt, but Kaster Lieberung. Of course, he knew it be his head on the plate if Lady Margarrite ever found out her order to dispense with Lieberung was not carried out, so he played along, keeping the truth to himself. (Her guards were present when he was torturing him so Alric had to ‘lie’ in front of them as well.) Soon as Alric realized that Eckhardt was in fact Kaster, he had already made up his mind to leave. End Note*
Eckhardt, or rather, Kaster as his real identity is now revealed, walks up to the deck without saying a word. He leans on the edge of the barge, staring out across the river towards Wittgenstein.
Ulrico comes up on deck shortly after, “What will you do?” he asks.
“I don’t know…”
Next blog will detail Durgin and Tafwick’s interlude into the town of Wittgendorf. The party wish to move on come the morning and head for Altdorf to inform the Palisades, and none of them are keen on staying around. But Durgin is adamant that he can’t leave knowing that the undead are rising in the town, and that there is ‘something’ more about Castle Wittgenstein, after hearing a tale about a ‘monster’ that lives there. Their adventure will be detailed from their perspective in the next upcoming blog.