Empire Apocalypse

Apocalypse S3 - Session 2
Into The Ruins...

THE MINER’S BOUNTY

The companions of miners followed the glowing light flickering from Gustav’s hand axe. It was easy to tell one walked the secondary tunnels of dwarven construction; narrow with ceilings almost capping Gustav’s head. The company wormed their way to a main passage marked by sturdy beams and columns of stone, plenty of head room and dwarven artistic embellishments untouched by earthquakes that have crippled the mines.

Thrunbor: “We make for the third level. Some time ago we cleaned out an old mine infested with Yellow-Eye goblins and left a company of miners there to keep it. It may take more than a day, but we’ll restock and head to the forge. Save your strength if we have to spend the night in these halls.”

The path continues along a rusted railway eventually passing another secondary passage Thrunbor indicates is the path to the second level. And he’s right. A quick wind through the passage reveals a working elevator that moves everyone down easily, and the trek continues several hours until you chance upon a circular stair to the third level. Many of the steps are broken or worn.

The moment is shaken as a ROAR fills the halls from the darkness opposite the stairwell… something with heavy steps is headed right for you…

“I’ll stand with you stout fellows if you choose,” says Gustav to the knot of miners. “But trust me when I tell you my best work is done from a distance.” Gustav maneuvers through the dwarves, their barrier of hammers forcefully disuade him. With a sigh, Gustav turns to face the charging foe. He readies a spell in his mind and gets into the fighting stance taught to him by the camp fighters. He feels rusty, but he hopes to shake it off. “Let it never be said that Gustav Kohler did not do his duty.”

Into the lantern’s light radius hops a menacing foe the miner’s know very well…

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“A Squig!” the miners shout as they scatter to face the bouncing goblin-serving mutated beast…

At the sight of the creature four miners turn and flee in terror as Gustavus points his finger and blasts the Squig with an arrow of energy. The monstrous foe leaps over one of the remaining miners and swallows him whole. Thrunbor slashes at the beast with his axe as Gustavus makes ready for another spell but the spark of magic piddles out as the Squig turns upon the poor wizard’s apprentice and jabs him with its rhino-like horn. Gustavus crawls for safety as Thrunbor and the remaining miner bring the beast down. The mighty dwarven sergeant offers Gustavus a hand and asks for his aid cutting the goblin-breed monster open.

Gustav accepts the Thrunbor’s hand gratefully. “Thanks,” he says with a grimace as he gingerly gets to his feet. “A pity about the other fellows. It’s a good thing they insisted I stay in front. I fear I may have been trampled elsewise.”

Gustav rips the rest of a torn sleeve from his shirt and wraps it around it lacerated left arm. Finishing the makeshift bandage with a teeth-tightened knot, he steps to Thrunbor.

“You have my thanks, Herr Grimrigson. I would have been keeping the other miner company before long.” Gustav draws his hunting knife, it seems a ridiculously small affair next to Thrunbor’s. “Can’t he cut himself out? You dwarves are doing that stuff all the time.” He answers Thrunbor’s impassive gaze with upraised eyebrows. “What? I hear the stories. You know, we have ones like this in the forests back home. A trifle smaller perhaps.” Gustav sidles up to the cooling squig corpse and starts to carve.

The open bowels of the Squig fills you three with a stench that forces you to plug your noses, but alas, the miner inside has not survived. Time for morning is not at hand.

“We best be off, and find the rest of the miners. We’ll offer a prayer to Grungni thereafter,” advises Thrunbor.

The remaining miners are soon found and honor is paid to Grungni as suggested. The party treks down to the third level of the miners stepping carefully on the stone steps of the spiral stair without incident and rests at a small empty guardroom.

“The door is slightly off the hinges but it’ll do,” remarks one of the miners. “We should rest, and we’ll make for the mine hold tomorrow.”

“Good,” agrees Thrunber, “and we’ll tend to Gustavus’ wounds.”

Gustav enters the still air of the unused guardroom and makes his way to the far wall. He gingerly sits on a small bunk and leans back agains the wall. Setting the axe aside, the phantomlight fades, plunging the room into darkness.

“Does someone have needle and thread? More than my cloak is going to need repairing it seems.”

KWARJIEH AND COMPANY

Kwarjieh: “There now we have some light to see by. Be on your toes for any with ill will that may have closed upon our position…”

Kwarjieh, Taro and Grunril stop for a rest, having walked eight hours through the empty halls of of the fifth mine level, stopping in a central chamber that might have been as busy as a seaport in days gone by. In the center, a massive switchback stair rising to the fourth level – the level claimed by the dead, but beyond this, continuing on level five is their first goal: the barracks they liberated from the Blacktooth Orcs!

In the odd light of the skull, neither choice seems comforting…

Kwarjieh: We are now at the first fork in our road; do we approach the Mansion of the Skorrun Clan or ascend to level four and the catacombs of the Kamirson Clan? I for one would like to take our rest, and I am hoping that members of the Skorrun Clan have taken possession of this fine holdfast once again. If not then we can recoup and then continue afterward; I would at the very least like to cleanse Valaya’s Shrine of the orc shaman’s blasphemous stain, and sanctify the place once more!

Taro: “I missed that valiant battle, yet have an urge to see the hold in its former glory. I must add that I’m not a religious soul, but your touch adds much light to this grim place, Kwarjieh.”

Kwarjieh: “Thank you for your kind words Taro, I have no wish to keep the sun in my pocket. I believe that Grimnir is pleased to hear you speak so favorably, and though you missed the battle, you will find your calling; on that day the ancestors will welcome you with the honor due Grimnir’s Select! Though I would not dissuade you from your path, I pray that you are allowed to see this place restored to Valaya’s keeping.”

Kwarjieh and company proceed to the holdfist of the Skorrun clan and reach the great stone stairs that climb over the chasm. The platform at the top of the stairs appears empty and quiet, still flanked by two dwarven statues.

Kwarjieh whispers to Taro and Grunril: “Can either of you sense anything unusual at the top of the stairs? My first time here the Black Tooth Orcs rolled barrels down the stairs to knock us into the chasm below; I would like to avoid that situation this time around. Though I am positive we dispatched the every orc; discretion is assuredly called for!”

None of sense anything is the stillness of the empty chasm.

Kwarjieh quietly confers with Taro and Grunril: “Very well then I will cast a spell upon my dwarfson and charge up the stairs; if any with hostile intent move against me, the two of you may very well see them in the light of the rune skull. Draw and fire upon them before they can act against me; when I have closed and occupy their interest you too may ascend the stairs in my support. Do either of you have an objection to this plan of attack?”

Taro: “I do not object as long as I lead the charge!”

With that Taro, Kwarjieh and Grunril move up the stairs. Grunril points out two oil slicks on the right and left side of the stage, most likely, poured some time ago. At the top of the stairs, the open fortress of the Skorrun clan beckons in the dark. Cautiously you three step in, the light of the skull crawling along the old stonework, revealing the many passages of the inner keep. If memory serves Kwarjieh well, straight ahead was the inner hall. However, at this juncture, you may turn left, right or proceed forward. In the passageway straight ahead, an open door in the middle of the right and left wall before the passage continues on. All is quiet, seemingly, nothing has reclaimed the old hall…

THE FORGE

Mourendar: “The lantern is now lit, and we can be on our way Imrak.”

Mounrendar and Imrak have nearly completed surveying the immediate boundries of the forge, walking along thin paths that follow the course of the lave flow. They’ve made it to the chasm passage above the Liche’s lair and have not encountered so much as a drop of water.

Imrak: “Shall we go further?”

Mourendar’s response is cut short – groans echo from a side passage near the chasm… groans that almost bear a resemblance to Reikspiel. Four figures lumber out of the shadows. You knew them well. El Gatto – skaven hunter uniform in tatters, with his three rat hunter cohorts, Nicholas, Heinz and Volpone – all are quite dead, but the bodies walk and move toward you at a faster pace, as if they smell your fear…

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Imrak rushes forward and strikes the El Gatto zombie twice, second time in the skull, felling him, and hacks the Nicolas zombie once, axe going clear through the body, cleaving Nicolas in half. The upper half of the torso continues to claw its way at Imrak…

The Volpone zombie slashes Mourendar in the arm for 1 wound…

Imrak takes three mighty chops at th zombies, second hi striking the Nicloas zombie in the head, dropping him. A third hit on the Heinz zombie…

Mouredar strikes Volpone twice, damaging him, but it seems to shrug of the damage without much effect. Volpone scores a hit on Mourendar, can’t get through the mighty armor…

Imrak takes a called shot on Heinz’ head, splits the skull with one might downward chop…

Mounrendar lands a hit to head, the Volpone zombies helmeted head softens the blow of the hammer and it strikes Mourendar but fails to get through armor again…

Imrak takes a called shot on Volpone’s head, cuts off the top of the skull clean through the helm, destroying the zombie…

Imrak lets out a breath, “I hacked Nicolas in half, but the thing was still moving at me. Figured the head must be the only vital strike. Guess I was right. You hurt..?”

Moundar’s perception check confirms the thought. He also checks his wound — not deep enough for the venom from the Volpone zombie’s claws to get into his blood stream.

Mourendar: “The beast was clawing at me, and seemed as if it wanted to chew my face off! Blasted fools, had they only listened to us they may still be breathing today, and they call dwarves headstrong. Imrak thank you for your aid and concern, I believe I am fine. It managed to scratch me, but it didn’t draw blood; let’s have a look at the bodies, I wish to know what we were up against. I hope there’ll be no more like them, but if there are…” Mourendar pauses and looks toward the passage from where the undead arose. Mourendar then cautiously wraps the rope about bodies and parts saying: “Imrak would you help me drag this foul meat to the lava for incineration.”

Mourendar and Imrak find nothing of value on the bodies and easily toss them into the lava. The passage the dead emerged from is empty as well.

Imrak: “We left a lot of dead down there if memory serves. What if they’re all coming back? Of that Liche?”

Mourendar: “Imrak we should stick with the original plan, and secure this level first. You may be correct that horrors still lurk in Koros’ lair, but our time is limited. I don’t wish to ascend from his lair, only to find undead at the end of our rope. When we’ve journeyed for a half a day, then we will return to the forge. Tomorrow we should search this level in another direction, as we have today. In the mean time might I have the flask, so that I too can wet my whistle?”

Imrak passes his flask to Mourendar. “I agree. My thought was if we could prevent anything from rising up. We’d have to come back with some help I’m sure. Engineer a trap or something. If we can control all entrances to this level we’d be a bit safer. We’ll clear the east then. Tomorrow we’ll clear the West side of the forge.” Imrak takes a drink.

Mourendar: “Engineer a trap you say, an iron grate for a trapdoor too would be a boon; your suggestion is exceptional my stalwart friend. Alas if I only had the means at our disposal, but I’m afraid we must return to the forge, for such a feat to be accomplished.”

Mourendar and Imrak move down the passage, make their way towards the entrance of Koros, the Liche in little time.

At the entrance to Koros’ lair Mourendar removes his backpack and withdraws his ball of twine therein; “Imrak hold this end, we’ll take rough measurements of the opening to Koros’ lair. When we return to the forge we may hope to see my fellow smiths, and they could fashion such a gate. What would I do without you Imrak?” Thereafter Mourendar returns the twine to his backpack, along with lengths to match the lair’s opening; donning his satchel once more he says, “Very well Imrak let’s be on our way. We will surely let everything know this is our home now! I suggest that we head back for the forge.”

Imrak: “Hell, all we need to find is a source of water and we’ll never need to leave. Let’s go check on that Norseman…”

Mourendar and Imrak return to the forge without incident, Sigurd meeting them near the lava rocks. He rolls out the bridge, but the expression of his face contricts the normally jolly Norseman.

Sigurd: “You’d best hurry. We have a little problem…”

Mourendar cuts ahead, and rushes into the forge, as Sigurd tries to keep up, leading Mourendar the far reaches of the forge, approaching the porticullus gate.

Sigurd: “I don’t know how they got in here…”

Mourendar reaches the edge of the gate, the glowing lava flow behind him casting illumination into the mining cavern, now filled with a dozen black orc zombies…

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Apocalypse S1 - Session 2 - The Eel
Where's the Magistrate?

The Eel’s doors are open but business is scant this early, yet the smell of cheap ale, fried potatoes and strong vinegar fume up the atmosphere.

Inside a horde of clerks assemble around a bellicose giant of a man seated on a dais next to the bar, who is admonishing a group of people before him – “No good, bastards, out of my sight before I’m done with you” are the only words you hear. Between them and you a dozen members of the local militia, their halberds bar the way.

Elu: Yes, that is Magistrate Sorland Hohenlohe.

The eel

Not surpsrisingly, Enrico opens his mouth first: “I hear that the magistrate needs help relocating all of these refugees. Perhaps that would get us into Talabheim.”

X: “If we have to herd a few refugees like cattle to get into the city, so be it.”

Crellion to Enrico: “Hey Fabuloso, I know you considered that elf guardsman an easy target and not yet on our side, but as you’ve probably guessed, we’re all a bit jumpy right now. Let not one of your comrades’ pockets be picked or their purses cut by your hand. Beyond that, I suggest you look out for such activity while we’re about. You would be the first who I would suspect. And others here might be inclined to kill you on the spot rather than listen to some ‘magnifico’ excuse.”

Enrico to Crelion: “Suspect all you like but I am no thief. It’s called tactical advantage. Not being a master swordsman like myself you may not be familiar with it. If I need any more Motherly advice I know where to ask. Gracias Senor.”

Crellion: “Well then, consider it a disclaimer and pardon my ignorance, but I didn’t know sneaking around behind someone was the mark of a master swordsman. A master assassin maybe. The realm is thick with those too, some of whom may have an eye out for one of us. As requested, I won’t bother warning you as I think you already are starting to understand. Perhaps you were looking out for us in case the elf was planning to take on the party single-handedly.”

Enrico eyes up the find collection of wine and ale behind the bar and sighs: “Now, the first round of drinks are on me.”

X places the tip of his axe to Enrico’s neck, remarks in a mocking tone: “Pipe down swordsman or you’ll be entering the city about a foot shorter.”

Crellion spots the bartender, decides a conversation is in order. He turns to Elu before moving: “Can you fill us in more about this plague before we march up to Hohenlohe?”

As Crellion steps forward, plated boot creaking on wood, the pointy-end of a halberd drops inches from his nose. The watchman brandishing the devastating pole arm speaks:

“The bar’s closed — even to knights in wolves’ clothing, unless you have an appointment.”

Roland whispers to Elu: “Now what would Andar do…”

Alette reaches for her flail, ready to swat any who would dare dishonor a chosen of Ulric when Crellion blocks her move with his arm, coping a feel. She winks and relents.

Crellion to Watchman: “We seek an audience with the Magistrate. I was told by a fellow watchman to come here now and discus some employment options. As you can see, we are a capable group who might be of aid to the City in removing refugees who are causing trouble. We would like to discuss terms, as I am sure the Magistrate will be interested after he learns more about our capabilities.”

The Watchman snorts, “That’s better.” He glances to the magistrate, who raises his fist, uncurls three digits. “There you have it. Three of your group may approach the magistrate.”

Crellion: “You seem like one with an eye for talent and I am sure you have the Magistrate’s best interest at heart. His honor would likely look upon you with favor for brokering an appointment with a group such as ours to deal with your refugee problem. I could put in a good word for you if this appeals.”

The watchman lowers his halberd. “You are very right, my friend. I apologize for offending your honor. The magistrate just… well, I’ve been at the job too long it seems. I will pay for a round of drinks for you and your company after your meeting. I wish you luck.”

Elu to Crellion and X: “Let’s go talk to the magistrate before he changes his mind.”

X puts his axe over his shoulder and follows Crellion and Elu to Hohenlohe’s dais.

Woodsman The Magistrate studies your approach and hacks a clump of bile into a spittoon at his feet. “Well, a watchman of taalagad, off duty I presume? A knight of the White Wolf… Times must indeed be lean if you are seeking meager pay from my pouch.” He turns to X. “You are an enigma, warrior. Seems you should be on a battlefield throwing down with the mutants and wizards.” He gazes on all of you, even your companions at the door. “You know I’m offering employment, but let’s start with this… you are not the usual lot… what do you really want from me?”

X: “True enough, the battlefield is where I feel most comfortable, but these are strange times, my axe and skills are needed to rid this place of vermin and these dogs of chaos who for some reason continue to give my axe a target to impale. You also seem to be much more comfortable away from all of this bureaucracy, what is the true reason for all of this security and annoying chit chat?”

Hohenlohe: “Your lot are not mere mercenaries, so your eyes must be on Talabheim herself. And you must know we’ve sealed off the entrance to all but the few to this damn plague. Today we’ve seen the first deaths. What a suffering it is to catch the malady. It can take a week to kill ya’. We do not know what it is or where it comes from and the city is taking no chances. I write the tickets, my friends. You want into the city, I have to clear the paperwork. I do not do this for anyone. I am buried in refugees and need strong veterans of the field to help me in re-locating them. You just might be the ones to do it. Then, I can see to the paperwork you need. The job also pays, if you’re interested…”

X to Crellion and Elu: What do you think Crellion, shall we escort these poor refugees to safety? You might get another merit badge from your little club, what is it again, the order of the whimpering puppies? This gets us in the city, and I always enjoy taking the empire’s gold, whether legally or otherwise!”

Crellion to X: “I seek no merit; only justice in the eyes of the White Wolf. I’m for it. Let’s obtain our documents, mission and, yes, coin…that is, unless others have objections.”

X to Crellion: “Ahh, besides Roland, I truly don’t care what the other’s feelings are! You seek justice, I seek blood, and Roland, well who really knows what he searches for anymore. I also agree that we should “use” Elu and any other worthy soul who wish to venture with us…”

Crellion looks down to Elu, shrugs his shoulders.

Crellion To Hohenlhoe: “This elf watchmen, Elu, seems wise about the locale and could aid us greatly. Do you have authority to grant him leave from his general patrols in order to serve as our guide and advisor? He could also be your eyes and ears. Speaking of which, we could use the aid of that guardsman there as well (points to the guard who initially stopped him). He seems interested in improving his lot in life. And we need cannon-fodder, I mean, locals familiar with the city.”

Hohenlohe: “Your elf friend is under command of the Taalagad watch, not mine. As for my lads, I can’t spare a man, unless you have someone to replace him. The job is to escort some refugees to a new home village in Breitblatt just outside the Great Forest off the Old Dwarf Road past the south eastern rim of the crater. It pays 2 gold crowns on acceptance and an 8 gold crown purse to each person who survives and returns. I’ll throw in the paper work for the gates with the purse. Be here at first light tomorrow.”

The magistrate snaps his fingers and an assistant hobbles over with a few bags of coin, sets the on the table.

Hohenlohe: “If you deceive me in anyway, I’ll have you hunted down and flayed. Still want the job?”

X to the magistrate as he’s collecting the gold: “Do they have to come back in one piece or if we bring back parts do we get that percentage of of gold crowns, I mean, that only seems fair! Oh, and be very careful with threats that could cause you serious pain and dismembership!”

Hohenlohe smiles a bit at X’s audacity, replies, “I agree with most fervently.”

X grabs the sack, checks it, 12 gold crowns as promised, moves back to the party with Crellion and Elu.

Roland: “Your interviewing skills are to be reckoned with, X." Roland steps to the door. "If we’re to part in the morning we’ll need decent rest. We’ll pair up. X and I, Elu and Enrico, Crellion and… Alette, unless you have objections…” Roland puts his hand on the shoulder plate of Crellion’s armor. “What do you say to boarding in the Kislevite quarter? You’re in good with them if memory serves…”

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Apocalypse S3 - Session One
The forges of Karak-Azgal fellowship

BELOW IN THE FORGES OF KARAK AZGAL

In the bellowing heat of the lava chamber Grunril, Taro, and Kwarjieh Headstone give their farewells to Mourendar Boulderdash and company. Ahead of them, half a dozen rope bridges over the boiling sea of molten fire. The last gap before them, secured with a retractable iron bridge Mourendar hammered together a few weeks back. Sigurd (Gene son of Eric) pushes the walkway into position. The three companions step across – and make their way into the ruins of Karak Azgal. The mission – return to the surface and determine the cause of the weeks of silence they’ve experienced.

As they cross the last threshold, looking back, Imrak Grosz and Sigurd pull back the bridge then walk into the forge. The three companions are now on their own. What is next?

Kwarjieh to Taro and Grunril: “I shall hold Mourendar’s light skull in place of my shield, and keep that on my back. Upon our ascent we should probably make stops at the Merchant Halls and the Mines in particular. If dwarves are taking possession of the upper levels we’ll likely find them there first. It will be in our interest then to exit the ruins through Balakina’s passage beneath the Temple of the Ancestors, the same way we gained entrance.”

Grunril: “Quiet and quick. Let’s move.”

Kwarjieh: “The Hall of the Merchants is where we defeated the orcs, while the mines are where the goblins were dealt with. Each of these places is near our route up, for it was these creatures that we dealt with to proceed on our way down. The entrance to the ruins under the Temple of the Ancestors is the best place to exit, and we’ll sidestep the Lawbringers too. With this in mind I hadn’t planned on tarrying long as we make our way out, but if the merchants and the miners are occupying those levels we may find small comfort that things are moving forward accordingly. Your thoughts to mark our passage, and proceed with caution though are very good. I am comforted to have an experienced hand to rely upon, and the sheer ferocity of Taro to call upon if need be."

ELSEWHERE, IN THE CITY ABOVE

Dwarfbar

Gustavus Kohler sits at a table downing a warm ale in the Miner’s Bounty. All his attempts at gaining employment from the dwarves having failed, he looks at his last coin. A follower of Gorlaz the Golden had given him the coin saying, “In these times, Gorlaz is the only God you can trust.” Gustavus is unsure of his next step. Then, a dwarf approaches his table and introduces himself as Thrunbor Gimrigson. The gruff mercenary shares a quick story: He knows Gustavus has been seeking employment where his fire lore may help in the dwarven forges. Thrunbor knows of a forge where such services might be helpful. Below, in the ruins.

Gustavus has heard of Mourendar Boulderdash and his revolt against the Lawbringers, planing to invigorate the mines below and restore Karak Azgal’s former glory. Thrunbor offers he is escorting rebel miners to the forge to aid him. However, they must move quick. A recent outbreak of plague from Deadgate has the city under curfew. And the Thane has ordered the ruins off limits and all entrances sealed until the situation above and below can be dealt with. Gustavus will have to risk imprisonment in the dungeons if they are caught.

“We leave… now,” blurts Thrunbor. “Are you in..?”

What a welcome, although surprising, relief to be approached for once rather than the constant hustling that has had to do since arriving at Karak Azgal, thought Gustav. He had been hoping that the charcoal method he had stumbled upon years ago may help pay for further tuition in the arcane arts. Times are hard for struggling apprentices with no patron or means and he had thought that the forges of Karak Azgal were going to be a promising market. Gustav knew it was going to be a hard sell to the tradition bound dwarves, but hoped that the kerfluffle in the stronghold might bring out enterprising individuals willing to invigorate their practice with a new technique. Until now, tradition and adherence to convention was winning. An opportunity with these rebels may be exactly what Gustav is looking for. Besides, with the city under curfew, he wasn’t going to be leaving anytime soon and he must pay back that follower of Gorlaz the Golden — If he can find him. Why do all these beardies look the same? He was right about coin being the only thing you can trust…

“Herr Grimrigson, your offer does me much honour,” Gustav replies as he unfolds himself from the somewhat undersized tavern bench. “I admit, that your…ehh..exploits do stir the blood.” Gustavus shortens his step to walk slightly behind Grimrigson. “Forges like yours deserve a good fuel and I have just the thing for you. Is there wood already stockpiled? How many forges are to be put in operation?” Silence and a bobbing metal helmet greet Gustav’s queries as the Shieldbreaker puts his skills to use parting the sea of beards.

Why would he cast his lot, hand-to-mouth as it is, with dwarven rebels in a stronghold that has cut itself off from the outside? Gustav did not believe all the stories of a plague being visited upon the land. It all seemed rather fanciful, like Marienburg rat-men or a smooth Kislevite kvas. In truth, he hated selling and pushing goods to make money. Gustav would much rather be studying his magic texts at University or in the woods with the thick smell of charcoal. A goblin patrol to fight always made for a pleasant interlude. Verena only knows how these stunties can tolerate this cave living…

Thrunbor puts a fat finger to his lips, shakes his head. He turns and walks to the barkeep. In the corner, a soot-stained dwarven smith stands, spits out a mouthful of milk. “Sour, you fowl bastard.”

The barkeep, a grey-haired and balding old Dwarf replies, “What talk is this? Sour? In your mother’s eye.”

Gustavus barely contains his smirk as Thrunbor escorts past the barkeep, him down a hall and off to left through a door, down a set of stairs, into the dark…

“Hold on to my shoulder, Gustav, very soon you’ll see the light.”

“Herr Grimgrigson, it’s not that I don’t trust your sense of direction,” Gustav says hesitantly as he stumbles down the unfriendly stairs. “Mightn’t I make some light for me t’see by? I fear I am rather an impediment to you right now. It’s no trouble really.”

“Save it for ruins. These miners are testy folk – trust me.”

A heavy creak of a thick wooden door cracks a low emitting beam of light as it opens into a musty stone room lit by a single dim lantern. Gustav is caught by two striking images: a wide metal bound stout trap door in the middle of the floor and eight dark-cloaked dwarves, beards protruding from the hoods, standing in semi-circle formation like the Sanhedrin on the other side of the door in the floor.

“Here’s the charcoal burner you sent me after. His name is Gustav,” relays Thrunbor. He turns to Gustavus: These are what’s left of Mourendar’s miners. They’ve had their eye on you for a time. With the plague I’ve been delayed in my mission, but I’m to escort the miners down to the forge. The thieves’ den Deadgate is done for by now. Death is starting to take its toll in the hold. I doubt we’re coming back any time soon.

The eight miners exchange some words in Khazalid then open the trap door, revealing aged stone steps fading into darkness and the smell of ancient dust. The closest miner speaks directly to Gustavus: “You first, until you earn your keep.”

Gustavus lets loose a loud sneeze as he steps towards the dark stairwell. “This dust will be the death of me,” Gustav mutters. He looks back towards the head of the small group of miners, “let it never be said that Gustav Kohler shrinks from the unknown.” Casting aside the staff into the corner of the room, “I won’t be needing that, but I do need a light if I’m in the fore. I don’t suppose you have a light? Didn’t think so.”

With an apologetic shrug to Thrunbor, Gustavus grabs the axe from his belt and turns back to the stairwell. As he takes his first step on the worn stone, Gustavus quietly chants a single word, “beleuchten.” Gustavus calls over his shoulder, “let’s go make me earn my keep, shall we?” Not waiting for an answer, Gustavus continues down the stairs.

THE GREAT FORGECONTINUOUS

Ironforge the great forge1

Mourendar to Imrak: “Have things grown stale enough for you? Once I’ve secured the bridges over the chasm, I was thinking we could close the portcullis to cover our rear and begin making short forays beyond. If we’re to hold the forges until the others return, we could do so through sorties to secure our perimeter on this level. I don’t wish to travel to far a field, but it may help in our planning if we have some idea of who, or what, else may be out there.”

Mourendar to Sigurd: “I was thinking that since your weapons are your hands you should probably carry the storm lantern; you can more easily dispose of it before entering combat. That and you will need much more light than Imrak or I do; it may be best to keep the flame as low as you feel comfortable Sigurd, it won’t make sense to announce our presence any earlier than necessary.”

Imrak: “I’ve been waiting for you to ask. Where do we strike first?”

Sigurd: “I can always hold the fort if you two go explorin’. However, the place might get on my nerves without someone to speak to. I’ll carry the lantern if you wish.”

Mourendar says to Sigurd, “I simply didn’t expect that anyone would wish to remain on their own, but if you feel secure enough in the forge as a fortified position; then by all means you may remain here if you like, and I would be at ease knowing you were here guarding the forges. I can carry the lantern myself, and I’m not expecting to travel beyond what our return trip would require for the day. Going to far would leave you and forges exposed, and allow those with hostile intentions time to break in and fortify their position. We’ll return in due course, and speak with you of our trials.

In answer to Imrak, Mourendar replies, “Beyond the chasm we’ll search for any entrances to the area we’ve overlooked, and of course slay those we deem to be enemies…Once we’re satisfied that our route to the forges is secure, we may wish to ascend to the great hall through which we first came to the forges. If you remember when we traveled in the wrong direction before reaching the forges, there were many creatures of chaos in hiding! Again, I must stress that we shouldn’t travel further than what the return trip to the forges would require within the day.”

To both Imrak and Sigurd, Mourendar says, “If you’ll be staying in the forges Sigurd, then Imrak and I will strike out after we’re all well rested. This should allow Sigurd the best chance to remain alert while we’re gone, wouldn’t you think Imrak?”

Imrak: “Would the Gods have seen a human from Norsca guarding this ancient forge. Times have changed. A quick nap then, and let’s be off.”

CONTINUED IN S3 SESSION 2

View
Apocalypse S2 - Session One
The Walking Dead

And so the company that parted ways with Mourendar Boulderdash and the forge of Karak Azgal has reached the “Y” in their path — which road will they now travel? The current company boasts the following heroes and villains: Andar Revelstone, Kurt Conrad, Aranel Ringeril, Viktor Greenthistle, Captain Jack and Baelik Rorganson. They have shared the labor of carting the near lifeless Brady Hawkes (deceased) who fell victim to disease from a mutant foe.

Now they must decide. For one week they have trekked through the dark and forgotten underground passages of Karak Azgal, following familiar roads they had descended months ago until this moment. Some of the members have a concern the Brady be taken to a temple of Shalla to be cured. The decision they have long delayed is now. Take the known path to the city where Lawbringers surely wait or use the secret entrance to the city of Deadgate which puts further from their goal but under the radar — if the thieves’ guild of deadgate can be trusted…

Streams of silver1

Kurt Conrad is the first to speak. “I’m heading directly to the temple with Brady. I will deal with the Longbeards. I’m not suggesting that we all go directly to the hold either. If it doesn’t go well, it would be nice to have some assistance from the outside and some of you may not have the courage of the wolf for the direct path.”

Viktor smirks, “I can handle the thieves guild, that’s my vote.”

Baelik adds, “I’d like to know about the thieves’ guild entrance. We could avoid the Lawbringers if Viktor is right.”

“Neither option is very appealing. Deadgate does have a stench that I can do without. What do you say Andar?” asks Aranel.

Andar answers, “The Liche is dead, my work is done. There are no leads on Ghal Maraz but if it’s here, I’m confident Moureandar will find out. I am for the quickest way out. Can the thieves heal Brady? Isn’t he one of them?”

Captain Jack interrupts, “I’m out of this fucking place. I’ll go the thieves guild way, then I’m going back to the Empire.”

“We may need your services later, Jack.”

“I lost a lot of money on the last two adventures with you guys. I’m not gonna lose again. My decision is final.”

Andar turns, “Aluthra?”

She whispers, “If you all are lookin’ for the hammer of sigmar, why are you going up?”

Captain Jack: “I’ve had my fill of Dwarves. Their odor is beginning to stink. I’m going back to the Empire. Any who wish to travel with me, so be it. I vote for the thieves’ guild passage.”

Andar: I will travel with you, Jack. My goal is to make for Talabheim.

Baelik: “My fate is here, but I choose the thieves guild passage.”

Aluthra: “My gratitude for taking me thus far, but I plan on going back down. I’ll will take whatever passage you all decide.”

Aranel to Andar: “Do you need my company Andar? Or shall I…”

There’s a quick hiss from Brady as he lunges out at Kurt Conrad, reaching for him with stiffened hardened hands, fingernails like talons, black viscous liquid draining from the tips. Feral eyes stare back. It is not the charlatan you once knew.

Ghoul 01 132915771459

The undead Brady Hawkes slices at Kurt with a its talons yet Kurt narrowly moves out of the strike radius. The full monstrous and horrifying nature of this mutated form frightens Jack, Viktor and Aranel into stillness.

Kurt, Bealik and Andar strike at the creature but it seems to shrug off the blows reaching for Kurt’s throat. Viktor is the first to shake off the fear and sinks each of his blades into the creature, yet it does not yield. Andar pulls back attempting to perceive any flaws in the beast as Kurt hacks into the creature.

Andar shouts, “Aim for the head!”

Jack, snaps out of the shock, lowers a pistol to Brady’s head and blows the skull into fragments. It collapses to a lifeless lump.

Jack to KC: “Still goin’ up to the hold or are you coming with us?”

Kurt: “We might as well stick together. I’ll go to deadgate.”

Baelik: “What in Sigmar’s name happened to him?”

Viktor: “We might as well stick together, go to Deadgate and refit/regroup and head back down to the hammer. If Jack and I go back down the dwarfs are likely going to attack us… I’ll risk it… how about you Jack?”

Jack reloads the pistol, “Let’s do it.”

Andar: “A change of heart already, Jack? I was hoping you’d return with me. So be it. Even if you stay in the mines, you’ll need some rest. As for Brady, it seems he’s metamorphosed into some mutant/undead hybrid. I can’t say for sure. Those talons drip some infection. Your strikes did nothing but slow the creature, until we took off its head. It’s pestilence we don’t need.”

Andar points two fingers at the corpse of Brady and flames incinerate the remains.

“Viktor, take us to the deadgate passage, we all need rest regardless of what we do. I shall return to the Empire. If the hammer of Sigmar is here, then I can rest knowing that Mourendar, like him or not, will deal with whatever the fate of Ghal-Maraz shall be. Aranel, you may travel with me or stay. Your choice.”

THIS WILL CONTINUE IN APOCALYPSE S2 SESSION2…

View
Apocalypse S1 - Session One
Terror In Talabheim Redux!

You all feel quite a shock when the river bed is reached and behold the first glimpse of Talabheim, meaning “Taal’s Victory.” The city itself rests at the bottom of a thirty mile diameter crater, formed legends say, when Taal threw a dragon down to the ground, his impact smiting the countryside. Around the crater, and encircling the city stands an impenetrable wall of natural rock is the Taalbaston . Before the city, on the other side of the Talabec river is the boat-town, Taalagad.

Divinity wall 600x381

“We should go to the docks and present ourselves as needy swords for hire,” advises Roland. “I have no clues to lead us to the chalice, carrying on as normal folk will be our best bet. Talabhiem has some very strict laws. Keep your egos in check least we fail to find what we’re looking for.”

Your party moves to the docks, seeking employment. Outside the entrance to the degenerate pirate infested town is an old hag, looking up at you as you pass with her one good eye…

Drag me to hell witch

“A storm! Such a storm! A storm of change, wild winds from the north… a deluge of hatred and despair. A God shall fall in place of his nation. The restless shall prove the Quick’s salvation… Fear not the storm but what comes after. Prostrate, the Empire sees not the beasts that walk upright. A plague on the house of Taal… The Great Forest’s Eye shall close forever, and the children of the horn’ed rat shall take the kingdoms of men as theirs and laugh from the shadows til the world ends.” She croons and lowers her head.

Crellion “The Hellion” muses that the God might be Sigmar, who founded the Empire. The “restless” must refer to the undead, as they’ve been called “the restless dead.” The storm of course was the Chaos attack just over a year ago.

“I like Roland’s idea. What about the rest of you?”

The Executioner is the first with an answer: “I have no problem with keeping a low profile. Crellion, tell your girlfriend to pipe down, she’s giving me a headache.”

“Well, let her know what’s eating you and maybe she’ll stop. But her master is the White Wolf, not me.”

Alette Ulricsdottir smirks, “That’s not what you said when you were eating me last night, Crellion.”

“Verry Niice,” quips Enrico de la Mancha.

All of you lumber on, into the throng of this humid, sun-blasted dock town, looking for a beacon towards your goal.

“Quite, hag!” echoes a voice behind you. Turning, you note a tall male elf in the garb of the Talabheim watch. He offers a gesture of peace: May I present myself to you. I am Elu Lúinwë a member of the city watch. Off-duty I am an avid adventurer and servant of Andar Revelstone and you’ve revealed the names of his allies among you. I’ve been instructed to seek you out and offer my services in his absence.

Crellion: “Maybe we should start with a local tavern. Bartenders ought to know where we could find some work.”

Elu: “Perhaps the first stop should be a barber. After such a long journey surely at least some of you would enjoy a bath and a little grooming, especially if you’d like to pass for normal folk looking for work.”

X: “I don’t plan on grooming or working! I’m not worrying about fitting in, the scum of this town should be more concerned with conforming to me than the other way around!”

Enrico to Roland: “I’ve not spent much time with elves… Who is this Andar again?”

Roland: “Estallian, you ask too many questions. Before we entertain any grooming, Elu, show some evidence that you are a servant of Andar.”

Crellion: “Roland, Elu’s suggestion smacks of Andar and his ilk. Andar was always fidgeting with his precious baubles in the dungeons and wilds, trying to stay clean and showing his disdain for the dirty human masses. Yet, you’re right; we need more to go on. Elu, have you nothing with Andar’s seal on it? Correspondence between the two of you? A familiar possession he passed on to you? Or maybe knowledge of his past deeds that he shared? X, my inner feelings are more in line with yours. I chafe under the idea of hiding my allegiance to the White Wolf. Yet, because infiltration is a specialty of yours, I am surprised you aren’t more interested in some form of cover to move us toward our quarry and the destruction of Xanthrodox (sp?). Is there a middle ground here? We look like an obvious enough group of adventurers, seeking fortune and, if we hide our insignias and things of value, ought to blend in with the rest of outlanders and brigands who flood the docks and the Jakes. As for barbers, I’ll take a wash basin or a stream over some stranger with a blade to my neck any day. Cleaning up may bring more suspicion of our motivations rather than less.”

“You make a good point Crellion. I have no issue following Elu for the time being. Lets move forward and see what this little sprite can do for us.”

Elu: Surely you’ve heard the rumor of the plague. Talabheim is taking no chances. I can help you get past Taalbaston and into the city. The only way to enter Talabheim now is to be cleared by a magistrate. Sorland Hohenlohe holds court daily at the Eel. I believe he can help us.If you must have proof, look at this token. It’s from the school of fire magic to which Andar once belonged.

Enrico sneaks behind Elu, but the attempt does not fool the elf’s keen vision. “I see you.”

Enrico: “Well, I’m already Fabuloso. I wouldn’t mind checking out the local talent though.”

“The local talent is much nicer on the other side of the wall.”

Roland reaches out for the coin, looks it over. “I’m not certain the token proves much, but I’m for meeting the Magistrate and then we’ll find a place where we can talk shop with Elu. To the Eel, then?” Roland turns, faces Zurg, who hasn’t spoken a word since entering Taalagrad. “I’ll take that as a yes.”

View
Prologue - Apocalypse S3
Forges of Karak-Azgal - Mourendar's Will
View
Prologue - Apocalypse S1
Terror In Talabheim - And then some...

NULN, TWO MONTHS AGO:

Nuln “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!!!"

ELSEWHERE:

Roland and Crellion “The Hellion” advance down the cobblestone streets of Nuln.

“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.”

Globe2 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.

“Follow me.”

“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.

Pg7 swan audit

“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.

Fang backed chaos spider by grendel demon

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.”

With that – you each take a horse, stock pile equipment and ride to Talabheim. This adventure continues in Apocalypse S1 – Session One.

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Prequel - The Executioner's Song
Carlott must die!

[previously in the Warhammer reunion: After destroying the Dagger of Yul K’chaum, the party has scattered to the four winds again… Crellion left to return to Kislev, and KC has all but disappeared, leaving X alone to track down Carlott Selzburg. The others, the RuneSmith Mourendar, Giant Slayer Taro and Halfling Viktor, X gives not a thought…]

Through diligent work on his own, X has tracked Carlott all the way to Nuln, the old city, where your comrades all first met. With a few gossip rolls, Carlott is determined to be in The Rack, the den thieves and thugs.

“Torches flared murkily on the revels of the Rack, where the thieves of Nuln held carnival by night. In the Rack they could carouse and roar as they liked, for honest people shunned the quarters, and watchmen, well paid with stained coins, did not interfere with their sport. Along the crooked, unpaved streets with their heaps of refuse and sloppy puddles, drunken roisters staggered, roaring. Steel glinted in the shadows where rose the shrill laughter of women, and the sounds of scufflings and strugglings. Torchlight licked luridly from broken windows and wide-thrown doors, and out of those doors, stale smells of wine and rank sweaty bodies, clamor of drinking jacks and fists hammered on rough tables, snatches of obscene songs, rushed like a low blow in the face.

Mignola lankhmar street

In one of those dens merriment thundered to the low smoke-stained roof. where rascals gathered in every stage of rags and tatters-furtive cutpurses, leering kidnappers, quick-fingered thieves, swaggering bravoes with their wenches, strident-voiced women clad in tawdry finery.

There was a giant Kislevian renegade, taciturn, dangerous, with a broadsword strapped to his great gaunt frame – for men wore steel openly in the Maul. While the rest of the gathered swine gave pause at X’s entrance into the cramped brothel, the Kislevian thrust his muzzle into a huge tankard of frothing ale. Then blowing the foam from his fat lips he said, “Well, by Ranald the god of thieves what have we here? An outcast from the masquerade in Carroburg?” He chuckled and set down the tankard and as deformed smiles and laughter echoed densely in the hovel."

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Prequel - Crellion and Roland
On the trail of Xathrodox
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