NULN, TWO MONTHS AGO:
“Who were those guys? And who was this Carlott?”
“Ok, Lets not worry about Carlott right now. I’m intrigued with this clue about Roland. Find him where the Executioner once gave Crellion a closer view. I have no idea what that means. Maybe the theater where I threw Crellion off the balcony and exposed him as a fence to help us escape? Was that even in this city? I must have taken one too many blows to the skull, because my memory is not what it used to be. Beyond that, Carlott was a nasty crime boss that got on my bad side. Why the Order of Sigmar wanted her, I haven’t a clue. She was definitely involved with Chaos, but my dealings with her were solely out of spite and revenge. Zurg what about you and the witch hunters? Hey, Pedro! Why were you looking for me again?”
“I am called Enrico De La Mancha son of Marquis de Barboza. I am also an ambassador of sorts for Galvanos. He’s a prettty powerful guy in Estalia and would like to make some arrangements between our two lands that may benifit you both. I’m in no hurry to return to my home though. A missunderstanding with the Duke about his daughter awaits me there. Maybe I could’a be of service to you and learn more about the Empire and your operations. Then I may return with a deal for Galvanos and he will help’a me with the Duke. No?”
Zurg retorts . . .
“Regarding my association with the witch hunters . . . . Deeeuuurrrrrrrrr ! How else was I supposed to get to the adventure? The witch hunters were seeking X and Roland . . . alleging that Roland had the “taint” of chaos . . . sounds pretty gross to me. I guess we should stop Roland and his “taint”.
Enrico: “Well X if you don’t know why you’ve become the prey of Sigmar’s hunters maybe your friend Roland does. Where is he?”
“From what I’ve heard, Roland’s taint has always been a bit chaotic. Zoro, I mean Pedro, I mean Chico, since you’re the new guy, why don’t you thoroughly inspect this “taint” of Roland when we find him. Wow, taints and theater! We’re off to Broadway Boys!!!"
“How foolish were my actions in Averland, Crellion? You should think of your own. On the battlefield. Countless slaughter, and for what goal are you setting in motion? Wouldn’t you rather end the War? My actions in Averland had little to do with justice or destruction. They were a cover to expose the enemy. And it worked very well. I’m out to expose Chaos, and it hides deep. Those that died would have died anyway once the Ruinous Powers had seized them. And there was enough tainted wine to do so.”
You both round the corner, approaching old pathways where Crellion once plied his trade as a smuggler.
“There as those who will soon say that I am Chaos Agent. There is much they do not know, yet I cannot dismiss their fears. I need someone to know the truth, no matter what happens. That will be you. Of all us, I trust your heart the most.”
Roland stops in front of a boarded up and closed down theatre. Crellion remembers it well. This was where group first met and decided to thwart the forces of Chaos. Twenty some years ago…
Roland steps to the back, pushes aside a few crates, stares down as a large lock enclosing an entrance to the basement. He waves his hand over the lock. It opens. He flips a door aside.
“You favor prediction over certainty.”
“There was no prediction about it, Crellion,” Roland replies as you walk into the basement of the Theatre. “War is a prediction. You step out into the field, predicting that you’ll win until you find yourself standing with the corpses around you. I’m sure the Emperor predicted his victory. But where is he now? There was no doubt ever in any of my actions. In fact, their certainty is what troubles me the most.”
You step into a massive space framed by the stone walls of the Theatre’s foundation, filled with dozens of torture devices, racks, chains, whips, Iron Maidens, steel boots, the lot.
“Roland, how do you know that those you endangered would have perished from the wine? If there be certainty in that, please enlighten me. At least when you step on the field, your choice is only about forfeiting your own life, and it’s a decision made to protect those in your land. I’ve lost every family member I had. Would that they were Averland citizens, they might have died as a result of your calculated decision to make them a decoy in order to expose Chaos agents. My greatest lament is ‘collateral damage’, in war-time or otherwise. Might there not have been alternatives? After all, your decision to use them made you a greater threat to their lives than the wine ever was. I have conviction in my reasoning and perhaps this isn’t the place for this discussion. If this be an impass, let us continue the conversation elsewhere. Regardless, you had grave news to share and in this chamber of pain, I am uneasy. Why are we here? And why will you stand accused of Chaos?”
Crellion glances around the room.
“That’s just it, Crellion. There is no threat to their lives because their lives were worth nothing if they only are shells for mutation. But it isn’t just about Chaos. It’s about Law. See, when I began to worship the Earth and wander paths that no other would take I was initiated into the religion of the Old World. When Law ruled. And their aim is the destruction of Chaos and the establishment of the Old Ways at the expense of everything.”
Roland moves to the room’s center.
“I have… tortured and … even killed, countless in this room. At first it was for revenge. My family was slain by members of the Cult of the Purple Hand. That is why we pursued them all those years ago. My personal vendetta. Then, I took it to another extreme until I set aside these foul implements and choose the path of nature. Well, it changed me. They offer gifts, too. Gifts that would make others question. Gifts that would seem, like Chaos.”
Roland pulls back his cloak, reveals his plate covered arm, pulls at the metal, revealing it is fused the leathery layer coating his skin.
“No, it’s not Chaos armour. Consider it Law armour. I sold my soul in a way to the Old Gods and I am sure I will pay some price for it. This is why the Witch Hunters hunt me now. Ironic, huh? They fear the very Gods who made this world when Ulric was but an atom in the flow. The Demon Xanthodox Incardidine is the greatest force still existing in this world. He is beyond chaos and the greatest threat to life. I have sworn my own life to destroy the essence of this force. But it must be done with no mercy or all life will perish.”
He throws his cloak back around him.
“I have other powers I have not yet revealed. But I trust you and respect you above all others. And should I fail or be destroyed before the task at hand, you will know the truth. Now do you want to destroy this demon or not?”
“Such certainty in your words, Roland. How can you know these citizens were shells for mutation? There has always been a stubbornness to you, I must say. It frustrates me. I know your burdens are great. You have carried much pain. I know you hid much from us that people like ‘X’ flaunted with pride. And I likewise had a whole different life before I joined this group. Since then I’ve had many lives and seen much pain. Perhaps I shouldn’t give a damn about those people. In the past, I’ve followed orders to the letter, sacrificing others to take a small piece of land or make a futile stand when escape was possible. Men I knew. I perhaps wished only not to repeat those grave decisions. I always think there is a chance things could turn out different rather than fore-closing on those innocents’ fates. I often wonder if those orders were the will of Ulric or the will of my superiors. This old faith you speak of, the laws of nature; how do you know that you haven’t been tricked? As is always my wont, I do not judge you. You are no abomination, just a friend who has cast his die. So different from X are you, almost his alter-ego. And yet, you suffer similar maladies. Well, now you have made me aware of the dangers you face, and I will face by implication. I do seek the same resolution as you, to end this demon Xanthodox Incardidine and remove the threat. And in doing so, perhaps a balance can be struck again and the world will realign in harmony. What is our next step?”
“And that is why I picked you for the one to know this. You who care so much for the masses underneath the cloak and the hammer. The Old Religion moniker is a bit misleading. Older than religion is a better conception. It is a path to a higher enlightenment. But either way it ends in my destruction in one form or another. You can call that payback for any of my actions that may have been severe. As for X, his struggles are human. All too human. And we will need his services.”
Roland looks up. “Well… we have guests…”
“Are you aware of the identity of these guests? In other words, should we prepare for a fight?”
“I know of no one who would venture into this place save Burglars or… Assassins.”
Roland loads two crossbow pistols. “We should stick together no matter if we wait or investigate. If the Witch Hunters have found me, we’ll be in the thick of it.”
“This could be a death trap. Why did we come here in the first place? Unless there’s a reason to stay, I say we leave now and not risk the investigation. Otherwise, if we need to be here, we wedge that door behind us shut and move forward toward our soon-to-be acquaintances.”
Roland hurries across the torture chamber. “A death trap? We have faced the minor form of Xanthrodox the Red Flayer. It’s their death trap.” Roland opens the iron maiden. Inside, a narrow set of stairs going up. He steps in.
The theatre is dark. Roland whispers to halt. “I can hear some talk. They are arguing about lighting a lantern. Not very stealthy are they? Let’s help them out.” Both of you step forward into the darkness…
OUTSIDE THE THEATRE:
It doesn’t take the Executioner long to navigate the streets of Nuln, leading you two to a dilapidated and boarded-up theatre. X hasn’t seen this place in over twenty years. Why not enter like old times? It’s night, but no patrols in sight. X hacks down the double doors, and the three of you walk in. Now, it’s very dark in there…. Anyone have a light?
Enrico: “I don’t. Is there a torchiere for the street or near a front door?”
“Let me help you,” echoes a voice in the dark.
As you clutch for your weapons, a lantern comes to life, dangling from the fist of cloaked figure, behind whom shines the metallic armour of another.
Enrico beholds two threatening individuals, enough to make him pause. X and Zurg see Roland and Crellion. Time has passed a solid year since you have seen these two. As customary in that absence, Roland has changed, wearing the garb of the classic Witch-Hunter with a slight exotic tailoring, not the current Plate Armored warriors of Sigmar, and Crellion stands the same as he was in Middenheim : Full plate armor, wrapped with a cloak of a White Wolf, two-handed hammer in hand, his ugly mug exposed and looking just as surprised as the rest of you.
“Follow us. There are too many entrances to this theater from up here. If others are trailing you, they may have difficulty locating the chamber we ascended from. We can speak in safety there,” Crellion states in a low voice, looking to Roland for a nod of agreement.
Roland: “Is there someone following you, X?”
X to Crellion: “Hey Hellion, this place sure does bring back some fond memories. Maybe we can see how fast you would drop from the balcony with all that shiny armor weighing you down. Or maybe we can see if Enrico can fly?” X smiles and looks at Enrico, “How, bout it Enrico? Care to see if you can fly past Crellion’s mark? I think he made it close to the stage.”
X to Roland, “Oh, I’m assuming you mean my boy Enrico here. He seems like he’ll make perfectly good cannon fodder, so I’ve allowed him to tag along. He reminds me of a young Crellion, just not as useful but twice as annoying. I can only assume the stories of you are trumped up, although, sometimes I wonder if we’re fighting on the wrong side. Maybe the witches and demons have it right. Anyway, what light can you shed on this current state of affairs we once again find ourselves in? And by the way, it is good to see the both of you alive and well.”
Roland: “No, I didn’t mean the Estallian. I mean was your group followed here? I’m assuming not, least you are setting a trap. There are few who could follow you and get away with it. The Gods must be working in our favor to meet at random like this. Crellion and I are pursuing a lead on the third artifact. But I can’t reveal more until I know more about your tag-a longs. I recall Zurg defecting to the Temple of Sigmar if I am correct. I did not know that I was already sought after. The Cult of Sigmar is on the war path, and is looking to place The Grand Patriarch on the throne. All Witch-Hunters are now under their command. Those who refuse to obey, like me, will be treated as heretics. So how did you learn I am on the list?”
“I am’a Enrico de la Mancha! Son of’a Marquis de Barboza! And he (X) may not be here if I had not warned him that he was about’a to be attacked back there at the Rack. And’a we have just ended the pursuers that were’a pursuing juo! Now where are we going?”
X to Roland: “On one of the witch hunters I found this writ with your name and a clue to where you might be. I also took this coin (hands it to Roland) off of Carlott. It confirms that Carlott was in league with Chaos, and might be why the witch hunters were after her. Unfortunately, they came across our steel before we could find out any more. My reasons for hunting down Carlott had less to do with effecting chaos, and more with exacting some serious pain on her for the trouble she has caused me. Any news of Andar or Cap’n Jack?”
Crellion to X: “On our way to Nuln, KC informed us that Captain Jack, his half-pint friend and crew were all heading downriver to sell their wine. Apparently some of their cargo is of a rather robust vintage, purchased by the sailors for their own use. Unfortunate; he’ll be short-handed when they explode. As for Andar, I sorely miss his condescending remarks nearly as much as your obnoxious banter. Likely he’s snared up in some college of magic politics or among his folk.” And to the group: “If Estallion is in the clear, then Zurg, perhaps you can share your intentions with Roland so he can rest assured you don’t wish to do him harm. I’d also like to know why Roland has dragged me here, of all places.”
Roland: I am not aware of Carlott, nor what pain she caused you. Regrettably I missed your retrieval and destruction of the Dagger of Kul’Chulam. This coin is actually a “crown.” It raises your effectiveness when dealing with Chaos – and of, course, corrupting your soul. She’s better off dead. Crellion is accurate on Captain Jack. As for Andar, I know that he has left for Karak Azgal with KC to find the hammer of Sigmar and unite the empire. As I’ve mentioned to Crellion, and why I brought him here, the hammer will do no good if Xanthrodox is released. We need to find the third and final artifact containing his essence. The Chalice. I can destroy this Chaos Coin here, then test Enrico and Zurg for the taint of Chaos and we can be on our way. If you care to join me that is…
Roland to X: “You wounds still bleed. Here, let the touch of Taal and Rhya aid you.” Roland heals 7 wounds on X, putting him back at full health.
X to Roland; “Ah, it will be like old times. Yes destroy the coin, I have no room for any more corruption to my soul.”
X to Crellion: “What? Does this place bring back bad memories? And I always thought of my banter as quite clever!”
Crellion to X: “There were times when your banter was more dangerous than being thrown from a balcony by my friends…like being ratted out to the authorities on every occasion possible that I was a fence. But perhaps even that was a service in disguise; profiteering off of robbery was the wrong path. So, for helping me open my eyes, I thank you. Just be careful near ledges and overhangs. After all, I owe you one.”
Crellion to Roland: “If we’ve already destroyed two artifacts, what good is the third?”
X to Crellion: “I always did find you amusing. But believe me, my banter is nothing compared the the sharp edge of my axe, so you would be wise not to make threats, no matter how idle they may be!”
Roland: “Because the Chalice must be destroyed! There are those who seek it, and wish to bring about the end. And they will set out against us as well.”
X to the group: “We destroy the Chalice! I will not be party to bringing any type of artifact to anyone ever again. And be damned anyone that gets in our way. Whether it be chaos beastman, so called priests, or any of the orders that wage war in the name of a faceless god. So, Roland if you say the chalice needs to be destroyed, well by then lets destroy it. It will be fun to spit in the face of chaos again.”
X to Crellion: “Honestly Crellion, what would your White Wolf brothers say if they heard that a Crime Lord was more willing to destroy a chaotic artifact, than one who has sworn his life for that sole purpose. Or is that symbol you wear on your armor only for show?”
Crellion to X: “Oh, it’s not just for show, crimelord. I had already pledged to bring about an end to Xanthodox. But Roland has been cryptic about the details even with my commitment to join him. With the King of Middenheim dead, the Cult of Sigmar up in arms, and SOME of us having an oath of uniting the two factions of Sigmar and Ulric, there are many heavy priorities to weigh. I leaned in the direction of destroying the Chalice because I know Roland walks forth into danger. He’ll not do that alone. But I do seek better understanding of the situation… and as for threats, the first thing you said was that you wanted to throw me off a balcony. Go and throw yourself off, you sot. My death awaits me at the appropriate time, be it by your axe or at the hands of a demon lord. But I’ll abide the tyranny of no one, least of all those of my own group.”
X to Crellion: “I see you still harbor much resentment towards me. You have that right. But understand, I am not here to repair a severed empire. The greed and corruption of those in power make me look almost saintly. Nor am I here to stroke the egos of those who carry baggage of past misdeeds by my hands. Your death will not be by my Axe, I will promise you that. It may however, be by its absence!”
Roland turns from the stage. “Crellion has said as much to Captain Jack and that little halfing… Viktor was it? Hopefully we have no more of those brigands among us. The battlefield has soured Crellion’s spirits it seems. But death will come quickly enough. Need I remind you, in Middenheim we discovered that Xanthrodox was imprisoned in three relics of old. The first, and weakest, was the Brass Skull. You know what it had done to the inner order of the White Wolf, corrupting the second in command, Leibnitz, now dead. The second relic was the Dagger of Kul-Chulam, destroyed in Altdorf by Andar, X and KC. Corrupting certain Wizards of the Bright Order with it. And the now the final and most powerful relic, The Chalice, must be found to end the threat of Xanthrodox taking form in the Empire. Does that give you enough understanding?”
“Holly Shit! The stories about you guys are true. You’ve actually fought chaos to the highest ranks. Well you don’t all seem to have the same outlook on everything you must be effective as a group and I’d like to join you misfits on this adventure. We will fight to the end of all Chaos! No?”
X to the Group: “Enough chatter! What information do we have of the Chalices’ location? Lets put our steel to use and destroy this vessel of evil, and anyone or anything that gets in our way!”
Roland: “I have one lead on the Chalice. And will take us North to Talabheim. Crellion and I have horses. I see you are without any. It will be a long journey on foot.”
“Well it looks like we’re all in agreement. Zurg, anything to add?”
Zurg (GM stepping in for Bruce): “I know where there are four horses. One is mine. The other’s belong to the Witch Hunters.”
Roland: “Witch-Hunters? And with what company do you keep, Zurg?”
X to Zurg: “Answer Roland’s question, or we’ll be needing only three horses.” X will step towards Zurg with his axe in a semi-attack position, just to let him know that he is serious.
Crellion to X: “Then, well-met once more. I mean that truly. May your axe win the day and finish an ignored enemy while others are diverted on their search for the Hammer of Sigmar, if Magister Rone is correct.” To the group: “And with new faces and talents as well. From my estimates, we have roughly nine days from here to Altdorf, following a good road that goes North-West up along the banks of the river complex. From there, we can book passage on a ferry East to Talabheim. It will be another 15 days. That’s more than three weeks travel…unless, Roland, you have the wherewithall to guide us through the wilds of Stirland and Talabecland. From memory, the main roads are well-traveled but not always safe, especially with a bounty on your life. No doubt Rone knows of your predicament. What is it you think he’ll do with this knowledge?”
X to the Group: “I say we stay off the main roads if at all possible. Plus, Enrico wants adventure and I think we can satisfy his thirst for adventure better off the beaten path.”
Roland: “We will certainly stay off the main roads. Zurg and Enrico step forward to the stage and let us make sure you are free from the taint of Chaos.”
Zurg: “I have no taint, ’cept the one under my ball-sack!”
X: “So, you’re saying you have a little taint?”
“Come on and check big boy.”
“Word around the empire is that it’s a pretty popular place with orcs and halflings, so I’ll pass thank you.”
Roland: “Actually, if you could assist me, X, while I absolve Enrico, bring Zurg up to the stage. I find it strange that he left our company to report to the temple of Sigmar. Then, the trouble between Sigmar and Ulric seemingly escalated while we searched for a way to distorted Brass Skull. Then he resurfaces with a group of Sigmar Witch-Hunters looking for me. Since he hasn’t explained this, force is in action.”
X moves quickly, and strikes Zurg with the flat of his axe, drags him to the stage.
Roland: “We’re at war. Such measures are needed. Now put this on. There is value in it, if you live for money. The jade is worth ten gold crown’s, but first, you must withstand its touch.”
Crellion walks to the stage. “Place a medallion on me next, Roland. Then you and X should follow suit and prove to the group that you are likewise free of the taint of Chaos. That is only fair and just. And it salvages some of the dignity that the two of you have stripped from Zurg.”
X: “Zurg lost his dignity when he chose to align himself with the Order of Sigmar. And as for the taint of chaos. Would I turn over a medallion of chaos if I was in league with the filthy swine?”
“Roland, place your trinket around my neck, prove to this sot that I am who I say I am. Or if you have any lingering doubts, maybe you should take matters into your own hands.”
Roland: Dignity..? Dignity is earned, not assumed. Zurg can prove his dignity by explaining how he came to fall in with the Ordo Fidelis. The medallion came off my own neck, you know I am free. And a being with Chaos taint would not have surrendered the Crown of Peshtilar for destruction. X is clear. You have known X and myself for over twenty years. You and I picked up Zurg and took him to Middenheim just over a year ago. Why would you hold him or this Estallion in equal regard? There’s plenty of chances for them to prove otherwise on the path we’re taking. Perhaps you remember the days when X, Captain Jack, and even KC took your dignity from you. And just as well, Captain Jack, and even Andar suffered the same punishment as often. But that was not about rooting out Chaos. Those were actions of the young and foolhardy. Which you yourself are proof that we have long passed those days. Captain Jack and Viktor may have wronged you also. But that has nothing to do with this moment.
X smiles and laughs as Roland admonishes Crellion.
Crellion to Roland: “It’s not for me, you dummy, it’s for them. Then again, I suppose you could just send them packing and the three of us could go. I don’t disagree that Zurg should prove himself.”
Roland relinquishes the holy symbol, turns from Zurg. “Then he shall prove himself at the needed time. But, you know the price, for anyone, who proves to be an Agent of Chaos in disguise.”
Zurg stands. He wasn’t tested, the stunning blow from X faintly still rings in his ears. The Witch Hunter moves to the apron of the stage.
Roland: “Let me dispense with this Chaos token and then we will ride to Talabheim.”
“Now how do you think Enrico feels about that? Enrico, how do you feel about it; you being tested and Zurg, X and me not being tested? If you’re satisfied, then let’s leave this bastion of fence-tossing woe.”
“I don’t know what your little amulet is supposed to tell us but I can tell you right now I am sincere with my intentions and I expect the same of all my comrades. Now I have stepped up and participated in your ceremony to show solidarity and you lame asses aren’t. If this is going where I think it is, the only path to success is with a strong fellowship. Now if everyone is done tussling about, can we commit to each other be for marching to our destinies?”
Zurg; “Unless EVERYBODY gets their taint tested, I won’t be going along.”
Roland: “Ah, Ulric, here we go…” Roland raises the Crown of Pestilar. “I summon all servants of Chaos to come before me.” Pause. Nobody moves. “Well, I guess that settles it. No taint.”
Then you hear it. The boards beneath the stage begin to creak….
Roland leaps back (swashbuckling talent) just as the floor beneath him splinters into the air and a hideous malformed loathing mass of corpulent mortifying horror pulls itself from the open hole in the stage, reeking of repugnant flesh.
What you discern in the lantern light is a black pulpy spider the size of an ox, the pulsing red chaos symbol of Khorne on the surface, five of it’s chitinous hairy spider legs and mutated… two cadaverous human arms… two long slimy wormy tendrils… and last… a menacing claw… where head would be are two… the foaming fang bared maw of vile beastman dog… and a salivating human head… Carlott….
X: “Well, Carlott I must say it’s definitely an improvement.” X will attack! With his axe of course.
X scores two hits for 14 Wounds (4 successful WS rolls (of 4) with a parry and a dodge by the Carlott abomination). Carlott grapples Roland with one of her tentacles (2 successful WS rolls of 3 (she sacrificed her fourth attack as a lightning parry) and Roland parried one. Roland cannot attack.
Crellion moves to attack (1/2 action) then strikes with the White Wolf Hammer (1/2 action) and strikes the tentacle holding Roland, delivering 6 more wounds to the Chaos beast, but it still clings to him, squeezing evermore.
Zurg moves to attack (1/2 action) and attacks with T.H. Sword (1/2 action), misses. (Rolled a 95 on WS, way over). Next round he can take both attacks.
Enrico moves, and misses with that sword he picked up. New round, X swift attacks (all 4, no other actions unless “free”). Two successful WS attacks, one lightning parried and the second dodged. A tentacle hits X for 4 wounds, tries to entwine him, but he breaks free. It cranes Roland to it’s other tentacle near the dog beast head which tries to bite through Roland’s armour to no effect. Roland breaks out of the grip. Crellion follows up with a swift attack (all 3). Two hits. The first for 6 wounds, dropping the hammer deep into the bulbous mass of the body, sending Carlott the Spider to the ground, breaking the spine and paralyzing the hideous creature. The second hit delivers 6 more wounds, splattering the human head of Carlott into a flattened meat pie. The dog head barks and dies out. For Good measure Zurg slices it from the body. Enrico hacks at the corpse twice – a fine blade. The Carlott Chaos Spawn is a lifeless lump.
X: “Ah, thank the gods that the mighty Enrico was here to save the day!”
“HA HA! Take that jou chaos beasty spider thing!”
X: “Ewwwwww, there’s goo dripping off my hammer. Hey Roland, what’s the big idea summoning a Chaos monster? And why use that ‘crown’ thing to check us when you were going to use the Amulet on Zurg? This doesn’t make sense.”
Zurg: "That fight gave me some goo dripping from my “hammer” as well!"
Enrico: “Yeah Roland, what gives? Maybe you’re the agent of chaos we need to worry about! Or maybe we’re all agents of chaos and we don’t even realize it.”
Crellion: “Good point, X. Perhaps we just killed one of the good guys. I can’t stand it. Goo dripping from my hammer. So confused about who I really am. And all this talk about taints. My goodness. Okay, enough of that nonsense. Regardless, I want it proven that I’m not an agent of Chaos. Put that medallion on me. X was up for the challenge before. And the more I think of it, I would feel more secure if Zurg got checked out too.”
X: “Okay, everyone get tested and be done with it! Also, destroy the coin we pulled off of Carlott’s corpse. I don’t think we need any more surprises like the one we just had.”
Enrico: “It looks to me that we are all on the right side of order. Let us prepare for our trip north.”
“Sorry Enrico, I’m not going anywhere near you big fellas’ until we all get tested…and you’re still going to have to wrap it. Once the testing is done, we can bust out of town.”
Crellion walks over to X and starts talking to him in a low voice. “I don’t know if it was the Crown of Peshtilar that did it or what, but Roland has done an about-face in terms of the importance of testing Zurg. It’s strange since he has the most to lose if Zurg is a plant or a betrayer. And Enrico clearly doesn’t ‘get it’. The three of us have solid ties but blind trust is going to get us into trouble. I don’t know whether Carlott was lurking to ambush or not but it is uncanny how ‘it’ appeared on Roland’s command. What do you think?”
X to Crellion: “I agree, these events seem far from coincidence. I trust Roland as much as I trust myself, but we have all felt the strong pull of chaos at one time, and if chaos does have a hold of him, then we must do whatever we can to free him from its grasp.” “I will ask him for the Crown of Peshtilar, and lets see how he reacts.” “Oh by the way, nice job with the hammer, your hammer and my axe make a quite formidable match.”
Roland: Actually I’ve perceived something strange long before this. Firstly, that you would question my actions against Chaos is enough to make me wonder, Hellion. Then this whole set up with Zurg and the Witch-Hunters, Carlott and the Crown of Peshtilar, began to stink. My magical senses began to go berserk right before this foul mutation desecrated my stage. So, I used the crown to bring it out. It would have also brought out any of you if you were serving the Ruinous Powers. Reckless, but it worked. And Chaos wants us to continue this debate, wasting time, and sowing seeds of mistrust. Enrico has been proven to be free of Taint, Crellion, you and I still bear the mark of unity. It would burn our flesh if we were in league with Chaos. I’m content that the Crown having no effect on Zurg or X establishes their purity. I can’t destroy it now, for this beast has spoiled my alter to Solkan …
Roland tosses the coin (crown) back to X.
“Until we find the means to destroy it, it will be safer in your hands than anyone else.”
“Roland, while your methods may be hard to follow, you’re heart is gold. Given the way that halfling took advantage of every opportunity and Captain Jack gave into his own whiles, your offer comes at a much-needed time. I accept and thankfully at that.”
Roland jumps off the stage.
“Now, Zurg, you mentioned you knew where to find some horses. I believe you three are in need. Crellion and I have our steeds stabled down the street.”
Enrico: “To the horses!”
Roland (to Crellion as party exits the Theater): “My actions may have caused you some alarm, and I wouldn’t fault you for thinking ill of me. But it has been a good deal of time since I have seen X or Zurg and Zurg was never one of us. And Enrico, I know nothing. Chaos already begun to tear us apart. So, I felt the need to go for broke. Plus, I figured, you would’ve preferred to die in battle if it came down to it. Zurg also concerns me a little as I’d still like to know how it was he came to ride with the Ordo Fidelis. But X I trust. Did you hear he gave Andar the Elven Death Rune dagger? That is quite a change for him. But should Zurg or Enrico prove to be rotten fruit, the three of us should be able to handle them. When I followed that Vampire, I forgot to share the story. I subdued the fiend and bound him to a tree. As the morning rose he confessed his name was Baron Aposal Piron and I would rot in hell. He had a sack of 200 gold crowns. I would’ve shared with the group, but since there is only you and I, would you like a hundred?”
Crellion waves off the share of gold.
“He also had a rapier and a main gauche, fencing and parrying weapons that I have no use for. If you ever learn the talent’s they are use.”
Crellion: If the Ordo Fidelis is seen as noble… I imagine Zurg was doing what he felt to be right by accompanying the Ordo Fidelis. The Cult of Sigmar can be strong medicine for those in need of guidance. But perhaps there was some attempt at seeking understanding or truth also. After all, none of your actions he’d witnessed in the past could have seemed all that bad to him. It is possible he suspected something was quite wrong with the orders. I agree; let’s watch him closely. But he could be crucial in establishing the first link of unity between Sigmar and Ulric’s followers. As for the rapier and main gauche, if Enrico can use it, you may win a share of his allegiance outright.
A female voice sounds behind you. Crellion turns around, hammer in hand to address the voice behind us.
“If the White Wolf Warrior refuses them, I will gladly wield them for the cause of Ulric.” You all turn and find Alette Ulricsdottir on horseback.
Roland: “Well, this will certainly prove interesting. Perhaps she’ll balance out Zurg, the radical Sigmarite. That would be in accord with the Mark of Unity, would it not?”
Alette: “I’m good at fighting. And I have good child-bearing hips.. I’ll take the rapier and main gauche if you teach me how to be a knight, Crellion. If you use the hammer, then I’ll have no need for them.”
Roland, looking at her supple, figure. “Indeed, she does.”
Crellion: Alette, you are treading a dark path. I’ve had three different wives and all are dead. My children are dead. My brothers are dead and my parents are dead. If you want to travel with us, it may be your folly to do so. But if you wish to become a Knight of the White Wolf, I’ll do what I can to aid you. As far as the rapier and main gauche go, there is another in our party who may also find it useful, but the decision is Roland’s rather than mine. Perhaps we should introduce you and do so soon. We ride northeast in an hour’s time.
Roland: “We’ll high-tail it tonight. Enrico, what weapon are you looking for? The basement of the theatre is well stocked.”