Empire Apocalypse

APOCALYPSE S1 Session 11
Is That A Smuggler I Smell?

You exit the Wizard’s Way back into the streets of Taalagad. The place is in utter turmoil. Citizens have either fled, are massing on the docks to escape, have boarded themselves up or have been killed along with the zombies. Whatever’s left of the watch soldiers remains mostly unseen except those that have gathered in small groups to protect themselves. There sporadic fires, few walkers and plenty of pandemonium.

Crellion stops abruptly and bends over, tossing his cookies, and from the looks of it, emptying everything in his gullet. Crellion’s in full fever now, stomach a bloated mess, head aches, this thing’s getting worse.

OCC: Crellion’s -5% penalty is now -10%

Crellion cleans himself up as best he can, moves on.

Roland: “You were a smuggler, Crellion, correct? I hope you remember that vocation well. We’ll probably need it in your condition.”

Crellion: “I know one thing. I never smuggled in Talabheim, but the trade was ripe from all the tax laws in this city. I should be able to gain some sympathy.”

Elu: “Best beware. The watch has a special force to deal with smugglers… Terriers they call ‘em though I’m sure they have their hands full with other matters…”

X: “And if that fails, it’ll be the haft of my axe.”

Roland: “So, Crellion, is it bribery we’ll need? How do we find this Eladio?”

Crellion: “We start asking around the docks.” He coughs, moves ahead.

With some quick gossip inquiries you are pointed to a fishmonger’s shack, now boarded up.

“There’s the dunghole of the only Estalian on the docks — if he hasn’t cut and run,” says a haggard dockworker after you tip him a few gold crowns. “This’ll fix me out of this rat’s nest for sure. Thanks.”

As he turns, X haymakers the poor sap, knocking him out, and takes back the crowners.

Crellion bangs on the shack door, a voice sounds out, asking what the racket’s all about.

Crellion: “We must ride the Dragon’s Tongue.”

The door opens. In the the shadow of the torchlight you see the bright and winning smile of Eladio Solorzano. His shaggy black hair and dark skin mark him out as foreigner. A pistol and rapier are at his belt.

Crellion: “Nierhaus sent us.”

Eladio: “Ah, Signore, I know just the thing then. How many dragon riders are you?”

Crellion (clering his now sore-throat) “Four.”

Eladio: “Well signore, maybe three from the looks of you. No matter. I’ve been holed-up in here long enough. Meet me at the Crooked Shoe Tavern in an hour, south edge of town. They seem to be holding up there.”

Roland: “Our business is urgent.”

Eladio: “No more you fool ruffians, get away from my shop.”

Eladio slams the door. As you take in his action, screams echo behind you on the docks from the remaining refugees as they leap off into the water for their lives. “Rats, rats, rats!!!”

In their wake, six giants rats snarl and run at you. And they’re not just normal rats. These rodents are giant-size. And not just giant-size… they seem to have caught the plague..! Rat zombie

(After the party dispatches the rats…)

Navigating your way to the Crooked Shoe is fairly easily. Though in the dead of night, one cannot miss this section of the the Talagaad docks. A barricade of burning ships separates the living and the dead. Outside the perimeter bodies are left to rot in the street, packs of giant rats eye you hungrily before moving on to easier prey, and openings in the barricade are guarded by anyone brave enough to stand against the dead – or have the guts to turn away sick men, women or children. Before the thought of how to get Crellion through is uttered by any of you, the latest bunch of barricade guards make their presence known to you.

The biggest of the bunch, who could dwarf the average ox, stands close to seven feet tall; bright blond hair and piercing blue eyes betray a Norscan origin. He’s clad in amail shirt, leather jack, and balances a two-handed sword over his shoulder.

“Well, the gods have shown their mercy upon me. Look what the dead have dragged in boyos. The Executioner. In sad shape I’d say. But I thank you for it as I intend to collect the bounty the Crimson Skull has on your head and offer your soul to Khaine.”

X has no recollection who this oaf is, but the word Khaine sends a jolt along Elu’s spine… The elven god of death!

Four motley looking thugs move around him, the closest one, bears a strong resemblance to an upright weasel, mail shirt, leather jack, cudgel and knuckle-dusters. The other three have dark cloaks and brandish seasoned swords.

“Ewald, why don’t you take care of the sick looking fool in the puppy cloak. The rest of you ruff up the elf and the witch-hunter wannabe. Leave X to me.”

Seiglief hartmut Ewald, the weasel looking bastard smiles and moves towards Crellion.

Crellion’s eyes are watery, blurring his sight as fever grips him. He could faint or vomit at any second but it’s a fight he can’t avoid. None of you can…

Two hours later, Eladio leads you to a dense copse of trees, right up against the mighty Taalbaston itself. He pauses at a strange large oak and produces a pair of Storm Lanterns from his packs. He lights both, hands one to X.

“To the rear with that one.”

He winks and steps into the tree. On closer inspection you find a crack in the roots with a carved spiral staircase heading down underneath.

You proceed in this order after Eladio: Roland, Elu helping Crellion, and X. The tunnels are smooth from use over the years. As you walk on you pass numerous branches of the tunnel system itself, wondering where in the name of Tzeentch they could possible go. After an hour of this toil, Eladio stops for a rest. He passes out some water.

Roland: “There’s a scrabbling sound, do you hear it? Like claws on stone.”

X: “Not only do I hear it, I feel it. We’re under attack!”

X turns and holds the lantern up illuminating five wretched figures, cloaked in torn rags. The first one blinks, its eyes flicker red in the darkness. The second has milky orbs that must be sightless, and the third has no eyes at all, just ragged strips of leather bound over its face. The last two are obfuscated in shadow. All five sniff the stale air and hiss in union. Their rat-like muzzles pull back revealing yellowed teeth as they brandish rusty weapons towards you.

Eladio gasps, “By the Gods,” as he draws pistol and rapier forth with lightning speed.

Then the Skaven are upon you.

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APOCALYPSE S1 Session 10
Streets Of Fire

Everyone slips out of Widenhoft’s house, approaching the alley as the fiery rays of dusk cast the docks of Tallagad in cruel awe, adding to the smoke and flames from riots that seem to have taken the town while you searched the apothecary’s manse. A group of berserk zealots step out of the havok and charge right for you.

“Perish them! Perish them all!”

Taalagrad streets

The stalwart members of the Six-Bladed-Doom-Cult take down the advancing zealots with little difficulty: X splits one at the pelvis, and two more at the skull, Roland severs a zealot in half, decapitates another, Crellion beheads a zealot with a swing of the White Wolf hammer and breaks the neck of another mortally wounded by Elu’s hefty halberd and Alette takes down the last, thought she is severely wounded.

The streets at night are a mess — rioters, refuges, zealots, the scattered Talabheim watch, and the first sightings of more walking dead. You stray out of sight and keep to your mission — to return to the temple a Shallya.

At the temple, a cadre of priests have assembled a makeshift barricade near the docks and you see a group of them set three zombies on flame with torches and flasks of oil. They see you approach, uncertain, until Elu shouts out a Watchman’s call. Gladdened, they escort you inside.

It seems death has made a visit to the rudimentary hospital, and a few priests of Moor hold vigil over several bodies thrown upon a hulking pyre. The priestess in charge offers to heal Alette after checking her for the plague and agrees to have a look at the items you brought from Widenhoft’s residence.

She studies them for several minutes then reports:

“Seems to be notations of a alchemical sort… The bowl is labeled Talabec – 1 Bell after Dawn. The silvery powder is labeled: River Extract. The blue fluid – Not an inoculant – an antidote. Well, if it is, there isn’t much here to do anything. But it does tell us there could be a cure. This leads me to inquire, where is Mr. Widenhoft?”

Crellion, addresses the priestess at the temple of Shallya: “If the blue fluid is an antidote, how do we use it? We’ve evidence that the plague itself does not cause one to become a walking dead. What causes it, we do not yet know, but if this be an antidote, is it drank? Placed on a wound? Injected? Please review these other texts and notes. So many need help, me not the least of them.” Crellion coughs. “I have not cause any of my group to become ill. And I am of more use to you alive than dead.”

Elu adds, “And if it is indeed an antidote we should attempt to produce more as soon as possible.”

The priestess responds: “I am afraid there is not enough here to manufacture anything, nor do we know the full ingredients. The surrounding townships of Talabheim are no place to pursue this knowledge. You’ll need to get beyond the wall. Take these instruments with you as they’ll be no use here. You are likely to be refused but let it be known we are caring for the daughter of the commander of the watch. She is safer here than out in the streets. If you were to take her and if she were to be killed you’ll never get in.”

“Knight of the White Wolf you are infected. What we know is that some can withstand the infection period and live, others die. Some that die become undead. You need to be cured. Soon you will be so ill that you won’t be able to move. You will have to pull your resources to get your White Wolf friend beyond the wall. Daughter or not, I’m certain no one will risk allowing an infected body into the city.”

Roland: “One thing that you priests should add to your theories, we’ve seen a decapitated head animate into a writhing zombie belonging to someone who wasn’t infected. This plague may be Chaos after all. I motion we go into the city and seek out a cure. At least we can save the Eye of the Forest, if nothing else.”

Crellion: “Then let’s try to get into the city. The guard seem to know me by name. If nothing else, we can ask for Nierhaus to meet us by the entrance at Wizard’s Way. We can tell the guard we need to reach Nierhaus and that we have news from Widenhoft. Priestess, would you be willing to write us a letter? This is dire work. I know you believe my sickness is not a part of the undead curse. If a letter were penned from your hand, it may give us leverage to enter.”

Priestess: “Tell them you might have a cure and our blessing.” She hands Crellion a token with the image of Shallya on it.

Roland: “Crellion, I’ve a plan. Follow me, gents.”

Alette: “My wolf, with your leave I’ll stay and protect the child.”

Crellion: “Do so Alette. Roland, lead on.”

X: “I agree with going to the city. Lets find a cure, so I don’t have to deal with an undead fence. They never know how to haggle.”

Roland, laughs. “Rightly so. Hold the heroics also as I’d have to have an undead X even more.”

The four of you move quickly out into the darkened streets and head straight for the Wizard’s Way. You don’t trek too far when the roar of a great crowd echoes up ahead. Four-hundred Hochlanders charge into the city, headed for the Wizard’s way, demanding entrance to Talabheim. At no closer than one-hundred paces, Talabheim opens fire on the lot of them. Dozens of cannons roar into the night sending cannon balls exploding into the disoriented mass, ripping them and the streets behind them into pieces.

Pic1013336 md Everything thing within fifty yards of you is leveled or reduced to a pulp. Cannons boom on the far side of the walls as the city defends itself from who knows what. The path between you and the Wizard’s Way is clear.

You run for it, and seven half-mutilated zombies leap at you, very hungry…

After dispensing the zombies you make a dash for the garrison blocking the wizard’s way and are met at sword and crossbow point by thirty city watchmen. Through a series of blather, charm, (lies), disguise, intimidations (X), displaying the outdated documents from Hohenlohe, and Elu’s own membership in the watch, they grant you passage to the high watch tower halfway up the wizard’s way. There, the commander, Nierhaus, will decide what is to be done with you. Four members of the watch accompany the long walk.

Passing through the garrison you can see the nearly two-hundred foot high wall of the Taalbaston outlined in torches. The road becomes a series of switchbacks just wide enough for two wagons crawling upwards until you reach the very top — the high watch. The stone structure encases a two-hundred foot tunnel that leads to the other side of the Taalbaston, blocked by four portcullises and numerous murder holes where enemies can be shot with crossbows or covered in boiling oil, or worse. The tunnel is lined with torches on the walls and candelabras dangling from the ceiling. Each gate raises one at a time as the watch escorts you into a chamber midway through the tunnel, where two huge guards stand outside a door made of heavily reinforced and iron-banded oak.

The guards give you menacing looks, then one pounds the door with a series of varied beats. Shortly after, the sounds of sliding bolts precede the door opening and you step in. The room is made with slabs of dark slate and resembles a jail cell or dungeon – places you’ve all been in before in your adventuring careers. One lone occupant emerges from an alcove off to the side of the door, a pair of finely engraved pistols aimed at two of you.

Presumably Nierhaus, he’s an average sized-man with a penetrating blue-gaze that even X can’t deny is a stronger will than he’s ever faced. His blonde hair is close-cropped, thinning on top, but little else betrays his age. The captain is also decked in full mail armor, sword and sword-breaker at his side and shield slung over his shoulder. He jesters the pistols to the other side of the room waiting for all of you to enter…

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APOCALYPSE S1 SESSION 9
The Search For A Cure

Crellion, Elu, X, Roland and Alette find the herbalist’s home down an alley just off the main road adjacent the Wizard’s Way. The door to the place has been reinforced, and a sign swings above with an ivy plant etched into the wood. At this time Taalagad has fallen into complete lawlessness, with most of the watch M.I.A. So far, none have dared molest your party.

Crellion gives the door several stout knocks but no one answers the call. Even the repeated thumps of X’s fist against the wood fail to draw an answer. The door itself would require a strong assault to break open, but it is possible one could pick the lock. Elu notes that there is a small walled garden in back.

Roland removes a set of picks from his cloak and turns the latch. “Why wait?”

He pushes the door ajar and steps in…

The residence seems simple enough, for a two story dwelling. You pass through a kitchen, then a dinning room, and lastly a large, book-filled study, where the body of an middle-aged bearded gentlemen in slumped over a desk, a simple throwing blade buried in the base of his neck…

Gotthard

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APOCALYPSE S1 SESSION 8
Out Of The Cellar

The streets of taalagad have always been dangerous, but now they’re downright nasty; townsfolk are being denied egress to the ports, rats are infesting the docks, and groups of citizens are taking disease control into their own hands, looking to burn anything that suggests a symptom of the plague. You manage your way to the Municipal Office and find the doors and windows completely sealed and barred. X pounds on the door with the heft of his axe until, overhead, a dozen crossbow-bearing figures appear on the roof.

One of them steps forward. “Just exactly what is your business with all the banging, clod?”

X: “We want Hohenlohe and our reward money. And I’ll take your head if you’re not careful with your tongue.”

“Ah, so you’re a malapert rogue, too.” He counts each of you – five – and tosses over five leather pouches.

“There’s your money, cretins – eight crowners in each purse. Hohenlohe has fled to the city so whatever other deal you had is forfeit. A bit of advice… spend it elsewhere.”

X looks at coins and pours them out onto the street. “Keep your gold and plague! You’ll all soon be feeling the sharp end of my axe, either as the living or undead. It makes no difference to me.” To the party: “Looks like we’ll need another way in. Anyone up for a trip through the sewers to secure entry to the city?”

Crellion speaks first. “Ummm…that’s…40 Gold Crowns! I hate to say it but we may need it. You can throw your eight away, but I’m taking mine. ’Tis a pittance for catching the plague.” Crellion picks up one bag of coins. “I’ll try my luck in the sewers with you. Probably a local thieves guild can get us in. Has anyone seen evidence of a thieves guild or an open tavern in town yet?"

Roland: “Crellion, the last thing we need is to mix with anyone in the town in close quarters from fear of the plague either way. We’ll follow your first bet and try the sewers by tracking those rat men. Yet, it might be worth a toss to try the temple of Shallya and consult the priests for any leads on cures. We can use this gold to persuade them.”

“Crellion, did you say? Hold on a minute you worthless curs.” The guard steps away from the roof of the building, then returns and tosses down rolled up piece of parchment. “You should have revealed your names earlier. I upgraded your approval letters for a two-week stay based on Hohenlohe’s recommendation. He must be out of his gord. Either way, if you can prove you are not sick in any way you’ll get in. But if you can’t, you’ll be turned away like a flea-ridden mutt. Best of luck, lads.”

Alette: “Temple of Shallya anyone?”

Elu: “I agree. Let’s go. The priests often have unique and powerful cures. And unique diseases of their own which we can hopefully avoid.”

Talagradd2

You move quickly to the temple of Shallya where the priests have set up a makeshift hospital of sorts in a warehouse on one of the docks. They are completely overrun with sick townsfolk. Shivering bodies cover the floor of the place. A few priests of Morr give last rites to those who have died. The smell of burning flesh permeates the air, as the dead are dragged off and burned on a huge pyre.

Near you is a young priestess of Shallya sitting on a cobbled-together chair formed from an old barrel. She’s in hysterics.

“Hopeless, hopeless. Not a disease. A curse. It’s a curse. I’m lost. Lost.”

Several of her fellows swiftly move in and start dragging her away…

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APOCALYPSE S1 SESSION 7
A plague! A plague on all your houses!

The two day ride back to Talabheim is fraught with little trouble. On the morning of the second day only a nagging cough from Crellion that seems to have developed over the travel stirs the calm. That evening, within sight of the walls of Talabheim, X notices some hunched figures while on watch. They run off the road to the north and race off at great speed towards the dark wall of the Taalbaston in the distance, illuminated by the pale light of Mannslieb. A quick perception test and X is certain the figures ran faster than any human can. Though they are long gone, X makes a quick follow trail test on the prints – rodent prints – man-sized – gotta be Skaven.

X alerts the party and they follow the trail which ends at the bank of a river and the tracks are no more. The party returns to camp, Crellion coughs all night.

ENTER TALABHEIM

Dawn breaks and the party heads to the docks. You can already hear the cries of anguish before first sight of the buildings of Taalagad. Shouts of plague echo everywhere as does violent reaction to the closing of the Wizard’s Way effectively closing the citizens AND YOU out of Talabheim.

Tala plague

A quick gossip roll by the party and a few things are learned – the plague starts as a cough – then develops in shivers then death. And then some come back – as flesh eating zombies!

A group of flagellants is also lose as rumor has it, roaming the streets at night, setting ablaze any who seem to be sick. Lastly, the docks seems to be infested with unusually big rats!

“Let’s collect our pay at any rate,” issues Elu. The party agrees and moves quickly to see the Magistrate.

Not surprisingly, the Eel is shutdown, the magistrate nowhere to be found. Tacked on the door is a poster that reads:

CLOSED BY ORDER OF THE MUNICIPAL ENTRY OFFICE.

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Apocalypse S1 Session 6
Mission Accomplished?

Crellion, Elu and Alette re-group and ride back towards the refugee camp, Arvid’s body slung over Elu’s horse and Regimius’ head dangling from Alette’s saddle bag. The trip is cut short as they near the clearing. The grassy expanse is empty – not a single refugee in site. Only Enrico, holding two horses at bay occupies the flattened field. Strangely enough, he wears a torn piece of cloth over his mouth and nostrils.

The Fabluso points out the caravan on the far horizon and quickly reports the news to Crellion and the others of the sickness and their choice to move on to Breitblatt, leaving Enrico behind. The most important detail saved for last: the wagon lagging behind — full of sick Hochlanders. He adds in a muffled voice:

“Masters Roland and X thought it best to keep them isolated. We can still catch them if we hurry. How did you fare? Did you find the ambushing bastards?”

Alette lifts up the severed head of Regimius Janicke. “There was only one bastard.”

“And the bow?” add Enrico.

Elu grips the bow string across his chest. “Safe.”

“Not without a loss,” says Crellion pointing out Arvid’s body.

Enrico shakes his head, hands a piece of cloth to everyone. “Sad. Put these on. You don’t want to catch you death.” Enrico mounts his horse, leaves the other behind and rides ahead.

With little choice left, Crellion and the others ride forward, Elu mounting the spare house and join the group mid afternoon – on this the 4th day of the journey. It is only a few hours later that the forested town of Brietblatt enters the view and the job of releasing the refugees begins…

Mission accomplised

The peasants are happy to arrive at their new home. Flutes are produced songs are sung, and a general sense of festivity blooms amongst them. The few villagers left in Breitblatt turn out to meet the mass of new arrivals and start inspecting the incoming goods as does the small militia of six men that are posted to the village, all of whom are eager for the news from the city.

Roland glances to X and nods, prompting X to look over his shoulder. The wagon of sick peasants is parked about a 100 yards beyond the village limits and as he stares intently, the swarm of flies around it becomes very discernible. The rest of the party takes notice then remembers Arvid’s body turning ripe on Elu’s horse. Alette quickly draws her cloak over Regimus’ head.

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Apocalypse S1 Session 5
The Hunt is on!

Elu treks off into the wooded area south of camp, following the false trail with, Crellion, Allete and Arvid. The group moves a hundred yards off, nearing a hillock still soggy from morning dew embanking a small clearing.

While pausing in the calm to think over the next move, two arrows fly overhead and find their mark – buried a foot deep in Arvid’s chest! His moan seems muffled as the Talabhiem watchman collapses to the patchy earth. Ever so quickly, Elu is the first to point out the assassin on the cusp of the hillock…

The woodsman, Regimius Janicke…

Creation robin hood aim The wiry, weathered-skinned, man stares down at the lot of you, arrow knocked in the fine great bow within his grasp.

“You Hochlander lovers will find a quick death if you step any further!”

BACK AT THE CAMP

Roland, X and Enrico fan out through the startled refugees, drawing weapons, and intimidating the lot of them. Roland goes to work with his crowd-pleasing Oratory skills.

Roland: “Listen to me for your very lives. We will find the thief even if it means leaving you here to face the hordes of chaos. Each of you will pass through the checkpoint one by one where you will be searched for the missing bow…”

Roland mounts his horse and withdraws the repeating crossbow.

Roland: “The checkpoint is the great axe of my associate, the Executioner…” Roland glances to his old friend, who cuts a deep line in the soil with one sweep of the great axe then rests the haft over his shoulder, beckoning the first of the refugees to pass. “If any of you decline or attempt to flee… I will have no choice but to shoot… Enrico, if you would, please.”

Enrico sighs in compliance and bids the first refugee forward, the eldest maiden in the throng, and she passes the Executioner — no bow in her possession.

The shakedown continues one by one as the sun climbs the eastern horizon until half the refugees have been cleared. Enrico wipes the sweat from his brow, ready to call another when a young boy tugs his shirt, pulling him to the side.

It’s the eldest of the Keller children.

“There’s a thing you need to see, Sir.”

He leads the Estallion Destro to one of the small camp fires where Susi Keller, her eyes red from crying, sits near her youngest boy.

Matthias Keller prods her, “Susi please..”

He pulls the blanket back from her son – grey blotches mark the boy’s arm, face and chest. He coughs once, feebly, then shudders violently, his body shaking as his mother’s tears begin to flow again.

Enrico gasps, unsure of the sight. Roland rides close, dismounts.

Roland: “What’s this?”

“Plague! Plague!” shout a few of the closest refugees, attracting the attention of the Executioner who sprints over.

X: “What in Taal’s name is this? Chaos mutation?” Roland cuts him off, pulls X back, tears a a strip from his cloak.

“Do the same, quickly.” Roland wraps the torn fabric around his neck, covering his mouth and nose.

Roland: “Keller, put your family in the wagon and follow the camp at a bow shot’s distance – or we’ll be forced to take deadly precautions.”

Keller: “What are you saying, kind sirs?”

Roland: “You’ve brought whatever malady was in Talagraad with you. Now get in the wagon.” Keller nods and helps his family into the wagon.

Blackdeath 1655129c

Enrico crosses himself, tears a piece of his shirt and covers his mouth. Roland turns to X.

Roland: “Well, shall we keep searching for the bow or break for Breitblatt before half these peasants are infected?”

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Apocalypse S1 Session 4
The Morning After

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Dawn of the third day brings a keening wail throughout the small refugee camp that awakens each of you: X jumps out of his tent, casting off two young ladies… Crellion throws aside Alette and their blanket, reaching for his armor… The Fabulouso gathers the rest of the party as you all run to the source of the scream. In route, Roland springs forth from the tree line, joins your march.

Ahead a crowd of refugees has gathered, blocking the view. “Protect us good sirs!” “Taal save us!” Elu is quick to act, charming a few to make a path to what lies ahead.

At the south edge of the camp, a grisly sight awaits… A small group of peasants stand around a blood-spattered tent. Slashes in the canvas reveal a family of three: man, woman, and girl child, brutally slain, their bodies mauled as if by a wild beast…

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Apocalypse S3 Session 4
Keep The Forge Fires Burning

IN THE FORGE

Mourendar and his cohorts stare at the iron gate and the dozen or so rabid orc zombies trying to squeeze through.

Mourendar: “Imrak, you and I shall crush the heads of the pinned zombies with your axe and my hammer. Sigurd, will you raise the portcullis slightly, and I’ll shout for you to drop it when the zombies begin crawling beneath it. Let’s hope this works well, I don’t wish to loose the planks to our bridge.”

It was a fair idea. Sigurd lifted the gate, the zombies that could sure enough tried to crawl under, reaching out for human flesh to eat and the hammers fell, flattening skull and brains. However in a frenzied state the mass of zombies kept pushing under the gate and began to raise is up with sheer force, knocking Sigurd back off the chains. Mourendar and Imrak slew a few more zombies easily before the remaining foes where through and were upon them. The harrowing fight was short with only four zombies walking, the last one tossed into the boiling lava by the tall Norseman.

377x504 11555 last battle 2d fantasy magic monster zombie elf battle dwarf undead lich sorcerer dungeon fighter Mourendar thought to himself – An army of the dead. That’s what Koros wanted. An army to take the hold. But what of these things? An army that can grow with every fallen soldier rising up to join the zombie ranks? In mass there would be no wall they couldn’t knock down. No front line they couldn’t trample. No siege they couldn’t outlive. But is this Koros’ work or something else…

Immediately the company moved into the mine room, looked down upon the one entrance and thought of how it might be secured when the sound of a horn , barely audible, caught their ears.

“The Horn of Valaya,” exclaimed Sigurd.

“Then we have guests,” added Imrak, turning in direction of the sound…

ELSEWHERE IN THE RUINS

Kwarjieh studied her two adversaries then spoke:

“I’m grateful for your assistance sir, and I truly hope we haven’t caused you undue concern! My name is Kwarjieh and my companions are Taro and Grunril (gesturing in their respective directions.) Assuming that you are sharing your quarters with us, may I ask your name?”

The bronze armored warrior replies, with an accent unlike Kwarjieh’s heard in the voice of an Old Worlder, “You assume much. I’m not satisfied.”

Kwarjieh turns to the dark-skinned brute: “I would like to apologize; I didn’t remember to pick up your throwing club, but I doubt the undead will find a use for it – and we may recover it later as time allows. Pray tell though, how is it you find yourself in the ruins and worse yet, by yourself?”

The dark-skinned warrior responds in a language unfamiliar to the party. Kwarjieh moves to Grunril, examines his wound and begins to heal the dwarf.

Valaya show mercy to your child Grunril; these wounds he received in your service and the fault was entirely mine! Alleviate his discomfort; bless the water I use to cleanse these wounds – may your tears wash away his ills.

The armored warrior lowers his spear, removes his helm. “Pardon my friend, he speaks only his native tongue, which I happen to understand. We’ll go first if that’s what you need, but make no mistake, I require full answers from you if you’re thinking of staying here. We’re mercenaries. We were hired by El Gatto. Do you know him..?”

INSIDE THE FORGE

No matter your upbringing, character, race, or world view, it’s a sight to behold. After crossing the lava chamber chasm you are led through a corridor of worked stone and walk into “the forge…”

The space is easily two-hundred feet on all sides with a barrel-vaulted ceiling of near fifty feet. In the center flows a tributary of lava that also breaks into a horseshoe shaped canal creating an island of carved stone in the center before flowing out into an exit cavern. This gives ample light and warmth. There are four bridges that connect the island to the entrance, two furnaces, and a sealed chamber. There is a guard wall some 15 feet high splitting the island in half, and obstructing a view of any work therein. Most remarkable are the orange glowing ruins carved onto wall, floor and ceiling…

There are also two large statues of Grungni in the southwest and east corners of the chamber and a set of closed double-doors in the east wall.

Mouredarforge Moving towards you from the doors is a very tall human who introduces himself as Sigurd (Gene son of Eric).

Imrak: “Let’s hang here until we hear from Mourendar.”

Sigurd: “Good. I haven’t had time to set the table.”

IN THE HALLS OF SKORRUN CLAN

Kwarjieh, Grunril and Taro readied themselves after a night’s rest with Gilmann and K’Tush determined to make the journey with them. Kwarjieh had offered to lead them to a secret entrance under the hold but she did not specify the details to the two mercenaries.

The stalwart troupe prepared to carry out their plan of escape, ready for a fight as it was assumed the orc zombies were at the door. Kwarjieh gave Valaya’s blessing to the group and reached for the door. As the massive wood portal was inched back, only the empty and silent halls of the Skorrun Clan lay beyond. They stepped forward on the cold stone floor, waiting for the hissing sounds of the flesh eaters yet heard nothing but the low audible clank of Tilmann’s armor, echoing in his step. To the Exit!

They made for the far end of the hall and as the threshold advanced closer, they perceived a strong white light blasting the entire volume of the hall to right – from the desecrated the temple of Valaya!

In the light the skeletal remains of the orc zombies were piled along the floor in neat mounds. Kwarjieh looked back at her allies – they were awed, K’tush fell to his knees, covered his teary eyes. The bright light invited the dwarf priest inside…

Light in the darkness by xxbellcatxx d35hvtj

Inside the small chapel of her patron deity, Kwarjieh is filled with a light that hasn’t touched the ruins in decades… The inner temple is no longer the bastion of orc filth and disdain, but blanketed in the purity of Valaya herself. Whatever evil had festered in the Skorrun hold has been extinguished and the shrine restored.

The carvings in Khazalid adorning the walls have returned to full artistic grace, the crude Gork and Mork statues of orc dung have been blasted out of existence, and on the spot where the statue of her holiness once stood, is an angelic image of the goddess herself.

Kwarjieh bows at the sight and hears a distinct soft voice vibrate in the air of the shrine:

No more shall the foulness stain these halls. The pestilence of these ancient ruins has awakened the ire of your gods and now the cleansing light shall shine forth. You must retrieve my staff and give it to highest priestess of your order. It can dispel the dead that have returned and remove the torment of those who have yet to die. When you have done this you shall reclaim this keep and guide its future. A gift for you to ensure your new friends choose the right path.

With the last word, the light dims, but does not fade. On the place where the image spoke, are two small gemstones. Enough for any soldier of fortune…

IN THE FORGE

Gus looked at his set of cards and then at the grimace of the tired Norscan. The apprentice wasn’t surprised he’d already taken Sigurd (Gene son of Eric) for most of what he was worth, but the dogged persistence of the brute impressed him. After all, it was the Norscan’s invitation to share quarters in the forge and he had quickly confessed a taste for gambling. Three pair. Gus was sure he had this play. Then, the horn of Valaya shook the walls.

Sigurd, stood up, dropped the cards on the table. “At last. At long last.”

“I’ll join you,” replied Gustavus as he slid his winnings into his belt pouch.

In the great entrance the two of them found Kwarjieh Headstone and her party waiting for the bridge. She had new company with her, but there was little reason to doubt her choice of friends. They welcomed her back and made haste to alert the forge.

Kwarjieh wasted little time calling the fellowship together in council. They met together, all assembled for the first time amid the lava flows and glowing runes of the central forge, twelve dwarves and five humans. The news was heartening. She revealed that the Staff of Valaya has the power to cure the vile plague and must be retrieved from the Halls of The Dead and placed in the hands of Balikina Furlisdotr to cleanse Karak Azgal of the foul disease of walking dead.

Gustavus withheld his excitement, though this was what he had been seeking these last few weeks. A dungeon crawl into the unknown…

“A toast to the fellowship then,” blurted Sigurd, raising a goblet. Kwarjieh stood and shook her head.

Kwarjieh: No… It’s time we take the mantle of honor of our true calling, if you wish to remain here and honor the task before us…

She glanced to Mourendar, certain he knew the charge, and continued: The fellowship was a brief beginning. Its task has been accomplished. From this day forward begins The Order of the Sceaf and Scyldingas of Valaya!

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Apocalypse S3 Session 3
Something To Fear

Ph dwarvensteel copy

Through the mazy tunnels and passages of the Yellow-Eye Goblin mine, spurious Dwarf activity echoes through deep cuts in the earth, but not enough to wipe away the feeling that this place was befouled by Greenskins as a faint remaining smell of their filth still prickles one’s nostrils.

Thirty miners in all have taken over this cavern; some with pick and hammer working on shards of rock, others moving carts along new railings, some tend the fires roasting up a hearty meal while the remaining few on guard duty, having escorted Gustavus and his party into the center of this lone outpost.

At a makeshift table, Gustavus dines with Thrunbor and they discuss the events above. With them, a human that Gustavus had met once before, Bertold Frank, the fellow who loaned him a bit of coin as a gift from Gorlaz the Golden, and Molatok Norkinson, master of the mining guild. The conversation was stark and long. Thrunbor relayed that a plague above has broken out in the city – dead coming back to life. The hold is under a state of martial law, the entrances to the mines closed and no answer to where this infestation originated, be it Deadgate, the ruins, of some foreign land. Dwarves seem to be somewhat resistant to the plague, though nothing can be said for certain. Humans seem to succumb easily. Thrunbor is going to inform Mourendar Boulderdash and deliver his seven miners to him. Anyone wishing to go may travel along. At this time he introduces Gustavus, favoring his skills, and lays out two roads: assist the miners here or travel with the blacksmiths to the forge.

Molatok takes the news with unease, and wonders if they should aid the city or search the ruins for a cause. Many of the miners have family above and keeping them here may prove difficult. He introduces Bertold to Gustavus and the party, explaining that two weeks ago the merchant offered to pay for all the needs of the miners and their goal of taking back the ruins. His funds have been very helpful.

“I would love to meet this Mourander," proffers Bertold. “He is a light to us all, and our deep pockets may be able to funnel him the needed funds. I am regretful of what is happening above, but perhaps a plan from the forge might required. If I may, sir Thrunbor, I would like to accompany you to the forge. Gustavus, I hope you will journey with us…”

Leaning back from the table, Gustav considers his options while working the stale crust of bread around his mouth.

“Herr Grimgrigson, I owe you my life after the dustup with the squig. I would like to continue on to the forge and offer what help I can. Never let it be said that Gustav Kohler doesn’t pay his debts.” With a sheepish grin at Bertold, “I’m still working on yours, Herr Frank.”

With that, a short nightcap, the company is off. Seven smiths, two miners, a soldier and two humans – out of place as they tower over the group of Dwarfs. Keep your heads low is a common remark as the company twists through the fresh mines.

The mines of moria by nortenyo

A long nine hour journey yet without incident… Gustavus is able to absorb the doom-ridden caverns of old. Dwarven constructions made of tightly finished stones with barely a crack between them… Dwarven mines with rails still intact… Natural caverns of limestone formations, stalagmites, stalactites, flowstone formations and the occasionally drip of running water… Burrowed caverns that are nothing more than crawlspaces of darkness, who knows what lurks within?

The heat of a nearby lava flow assails the company as they near the forge. Thrunbor, leads them around a twisting stair and into level six, where part of the lava flow has formed a small lake of fire. Also in the chasm a random array of stepping rocks several yards across connected by tight rope bridges… except the last step… near ten yards to jump. A failed leap is certain death.

Mopping the sweat from his brow, Gustav gazes into the slowly swirling miasma. “If I was covered in soot and soil, this would be like back home.”

Thrunbor moves aside a few small boulders, removes a Dwarven horn. “Time to let our hosts know we’ve arrived.” He winds the horn and the sound bounces across the chasm…

ELSEWHERE IN THE RUINS

Kwarjieh: “I am certain the shrine is this way, if the two of you would follow me, we may find our rest therein. Our rest may be delayed though, as I cleanse and consecrate the shrine; one of you should stand watch, and the other may assist me or rest. I hope that I’m not eroding your patience though, with my request; I only wish to serve our ancestors, but if either of you have another suggestion I will honor your appeals. I implore you to keep this in mind though, inside these corridors is a stairwell leading to the only supply of water we have yet found within the ruins. If our fellowship is to remain below, it is vital that we secure the source for our continued survival! What say you?”

“Lead the way,” responds Grunril.

Down the first passage to the right some fifty feet is a large oak door that has been barred from the outside. No one can remember if that was set by the party before or not, but it’s the entrance to the shrine of Valaya without question.

Standing perplexed before the barred oak door, Kwarjieh speaks to herself as much as to the others, “Strange, I don’t remember barring the door, but I can’t recall not doing so either. This is the place in any case; would the two of you stand ready while I open the door?”

Both her comrades nod acknowledgement.

Kwarjieh removes the bar and opens the doors, picks up the skull lantern and peers in. It’s the temple of Valaya just as you remember it. Including the corpses of the Orc Shaman and his four followers that are now moving toward you…

Kwarjieh casts Blessing of courage on herself – she has no fear. It seems Grunril and Taro are fearless as well and charge… A rough battle in the Shrine as the dwarves learn to bash the brains out of each zombie. Grunril is wounded while Kwarjieh struggles with the last zombie, the former Orc shaman when a flying club from behind the party strikes zombie shaman in head, cracking skull and oozing brain.

Behind the party, a dimly lit tall human with dark brown skin wearing some skins and leather armor, with a strange headdress beckons you to follow his as he turns and runs into the dark…

Kwarjieh to the stranger: “Dear friend I beg of you, don’t be so hasty — we are but ambling dwarves unable to move as quickly as you! I hope the course you would lead us on, isn’t a long one; I can plainly see one of my companions is wounded, and I would very much like to attend to his injuries.”

The stranger has long fled, and does not answer.

Kwarjieh to the party: “Taro would you follow him quickly as you may; Grunril and I will follow if he is able, and at his best speed. Grunril do you feel well enough to move, or do you require rest and aid first? I will remain with you, and I’m sure Taro will come back for us once he arrives at his destination.”

Grunril: “Aye, I’ll be fine. Let’s see what this character is up to then we can tend to these scratches.”

Following behind Taro, turning the corner, you see the figure standing at the now open door to the inner keep, light flickers behind him. He’s waving at you, urging all of you to run for it.

Off down the many dark passages of either side, the hissing sound of more zombies…

Kwarjieh and Grunril move as quickly as their dwarven feet will carry them, into the inner keep to join Taro and the human.

Once inside the iron rimmed wooden door slams shut, a bar falls in place. Behind the door, a bronze armored human in a defensive stance behind a shield and a sharp spear pointed within striking distance of the group.

“Friend or foe? Speak now or its your lives!”

CONTINUED IN S3 Session 4

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