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..!
(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.”
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.