Death Knows No Honor

Chapter5:Session7
Storyline A conclusion

Here’s the outline…may fill in details later.

Herre Stormur flew away on the wind after suffering the shot of the Heartstring Arrow from last session.

Shape stealers were in the boat with Konrad. One becomes a river troll and destroys the boat and consumes the provisions. Rest of party help rescue Konrad and the horses.

Tuetlars and Van Gool show up. A deal is made with Cedric, and the vial containing Dandrich’s soul is handed over to Mr. Tuetlars. A path “through the shade” is created to allow the heroes to fast travel to the keep and be invisible to the undead army that surround it. Cedric must serve in Mr. Tuetlars employment for a year and a day.

At the base of the keep, an epic battle against seven Bandersnatches and two willpower-enhanced chaos knights. Good guys win. Some serious trauma, though…but no one snaps completely.

Margeaux found impaled on an iron fence, having been thrown from the keep tower window. With his dying breaths he asks forgiveness, warns that he brought back something definitely not Landuin, and gives over the Heartstring arrow, which perhaps he had tried to shoot at whatever he’d conjured before being defenestrated (chucked out the window). He claims that “the thing” ate the warp stone.

Dellin’s knowledge of the occult combined with some things told to them by Teutlars leads him to believe a Grimerlauch, a demonic servant of Tzeentch, and an eater of magic, has been brought into the realm. Stormur arrives in time to hear this exchange. Although seemingly recovered from his wound physically, the tug of the Heartstring calls to him. He’s foreseen his doom, and he sacrifices his life to add his power to the arrow. His lifeless body collapses to the ground after he muttered a few words and grasped the arrow.

The heroes ascend the tower of the ruined keep and find the Emperor Ezekial alone in the top room, on his knees in front of a large boulder inscribed with runic symbols. There is a dead man in the room as well, apparently a victim of sacrificial murder. Ezekial turns and addresses the group. He claims to have killed Margeaux, his captor, and thus they can now return to the Empire post haste. Bismarck bows in acquiescence, but Cedric and others have the creeps about the way Ezekial moves…like a marionette, almost.

Cedric uses his command skills to snap Bismark out of the Emperor’s charm, and Archibald attempts to channel the light as the eclipse occurs. An illusion is broken and the terrifying demon servant of tzeench is revealed. The demon is a hulking monstrosity with a long proboscis that holds the boy-emperor’s body dangling by the head. It discards the emperor and attacks.

The heroes fight valiantly. Dellin fires the Heartstring Arrow, which crackles with energy as it hits the monster. The power of the arrow saps life from both Dellin and Konrad, but it deals the demon a serious blow. Archibald struggles to get to the seer stone behind the demon, and he is able to invoke a spell which deactivates the stone and weakens the Demon further. After a few more rounds of valiant effort, the beast is slain, and the eclipse passes.

In their heads, the heroes hear a demonic voice speak. It says the raven host has successfully prepared the way, and the time of Khorne has arrived. The storm of chaos has begun.

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Chapter5:Session6
Death From Above and the Walking Dead

Cast: Archibald, Cedric, Dellin, Jacq (new character played by Jenna).
NPCs: Lord Bismark, Lord Roenker, Josef Krunk, Herre Stormur, Guy Margeaux (in a surprise return)

With the silhouettes of the giant flying creatures growing ever-larger in the sky, the crew order the boatmen to pull hard for the nearest shoreline. Unfortunately, many of the crew have come down with swamp fever and remain huddled below-decks while the able-bodied jump ashore and secure the boat. With the flying beasts nearly upon them, most of the oarsmen run away in fear into the forested hills. The more courageous lot, including Jacq, a down-on-his-luck ex-bodyguard, move in a more coordinated fashion to draw danger away from the boat and the defenseless sick members of the party.

Only a few minutes after distancing themselves from the boat, the Jabberwocky descends upon them from above, crashing through the trees like a bull charging through a cornfield. The Jabberwocky is enormous and terrifying. Josef Krunk flees in terror, screaming all the while that the dead are rising and darkness will eat the sun. Several of the others are taken aback for a short while as well, but eventually manage to gather their courage to face the dread Jabberwocky.

The beast is not entirely as depicted in Dellin’s pilfered drawing, torn out of an ancient book found in the Altdorff Library. It is larger and more solid than depicted, with a fringe of webbed spines around its neck. From the spines, a noxious vapor is emitted that shrouds the monster in an acidic haze. As expected, the Jabberwock possesses a scorpion-like tail with a three-foot-long poisonous barb at the end.

Bismark rushes in, shield held high, in an attempt to smite the beast’s head. The beast swats Bismark, crushing in part of his shield, and sending him flying several yards, where he lands gasping with a few cracked ribs. A short, desperate fight between the over-matched heroes and the Jabberwocky ensues. At one point, Karl Roenker lands a solid blow to its neck. Dellin manages to score a gash against the beast’s flank as well. However, both Dellin and Karl suffer acid burns from the noxious cloud. Cedric attempts to get lucky by shooting arrows at the beast from a distance. As the heroes stagger against powerful blows and barely evade its deadly-poisonous tail, the Jabberwocky’s meager wounds stitch themselves back together.

From the outskirts of the battle, Jacq looks into the air and tracks the other flying monster through a break in the dense forest canopy. It is not a Jabberwocky. Rather, it is a giant hawk-like creature with a small girl riding on its back. As it circles through the air currents, out of arrow range, it sounds a strange screetching call that sounds something like “kheeeeaaaa…jubjubjub…” Cedric’s magic sense sees a densely woven tapestry of Dhar connecting the rider of the Jub Jub Bird with the Jabberwocky.

Archibald is surprised by a flash of light and then a hand grasping his shoulder from behind. Herre Stormur has landed next to him and, in the classical language, tells Archibald that he must distract the Jabberwocky. Stormur, currently an ally to the heroes, plans to invoke a great spell, but he needs protection during the casting time. He indicates his plan to “snic snac, cut the tapestry of Dhar woven between Die Jung Hexen and the Jabberwocky.”

While Stormur summons a great magic, Archibald brilliantly charges the Jabberwocky, shouting orders to the other heroes to attack. He runs UNDERNEATH the enormous beast and tries to stab it from below. The Jabberwocky, in bewildered confusion, doesn’t think to simply sit on Archibald and crush him like an insect. Instead it tries to grab him in its maw, reaching under its own body and off-balancing itself and stumbling onto its side. A few moments later, Archibald uses Dazzling Brightness to temporarily blind the beast. With additional distraction from the other heroes lasting a few combat rounds, Stormur manages to summon a cloud formation and a great column of lightening that races into the sky towards the Jub Jub Bird. The lightening column blasts the bird and rider, and additional forks of lightening cascade out of the clouds. The bird and rider fall from a great height into the center of the lake. The Jabberwocky screetches in anger and confusion, leaps into the air and flies away.

After a brief respite, they realize that a new threat has approached. A hooded man accompanied by a force of undead soldiers and two Bandersnatches has arrived. The hooded figure reveals himself to be Guy Margeaux, an erstwhile priest of the light whom at one point was Archibald’s prisoner because Margeaux had dabbled in necromancy. Archibald let him go in thanks for Margeaux’s timely assistance in fighting off Augustus Grimm. “Oops” might be an understatement. Banter ensues and Margeaux states that the players are free to leave and not interfere with the coming events. An eclipse is coming, Archi knows, and Margeaux seems to believe the power of the light is fading.

One of the undead soldiers was one of LAnduin’s heroic banner men, and an expert marksman. He draws his bow to fire an arrow at Herre Stormur. Some recognize the arrow as the Heartstring Arrow. Stormur has time to conjure a protective wind blast, and while it manages to protect many in the party from the other undead archers, the Heartstring arrow flies true.

Perhaps miraculously, or perhaps because there wasn’t any life force in the shooter of the arrow, Stormur survives the shot to his chest, although he is seriously wounded. In the heat of the ensuing skirmish, a Bandersnatch snatches back the arrow from Stormur’s chest and steals his warp stone staff as well. With these treasures in hand, an the eclipse anon, Margeaux and his forces withdraw.

Thus ended the session.

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Chapter5:Session5
The Source

Having escaped their “welcome” in the town of Cracheux, Lord Byron Bismark, Court Champion of the Magistrate of Nuln, and Lord Karl Roenker of Middenheim, are all that remains of the planned reinforcements to help the heroes rescue the emperor from the foul clutches of the Jaberwocky.

Having recovered the boat and the supplies that were aboard it, the characters now have untainted food that should last several weeks. They hire oarsmen from the most desparate of the townies in Puanteur. A new companion, Otto Reiss, joins the group. He is a Kislevian who’s found himself in Mousillon, and now believes the heroes represent his best chance of ever leaving. He’s just arrived in Puanteur, and is more than happy to be an oarsman on a boat going away from the swampland.

The characters journey upstream by boat to find the source of the Feuvert river, where they expect to find the Jaborwocky’s lair…assuming the tales of an eight year old swamp girl and her pet bog monster can be trusted.

They encounter a pack of river trolls, which they eventually overcome in battle, only losing (I believe) one of the hired oarsman. It is during this fight that the heroes learn about Otto’s serious anger issues, but they also learn he can handle himself in a battle.

After some more time journeying upstream, they pass from swamplands into deeply forested hills and cliffs. They arrive at a lake, across which they see a castle on a hilltop. They also spot two VERY large birds in the sky heading towards them. The raven, Ladies Man, caws “run and hide!”

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Chapter5:Session3-4
Welcome to Mousillon, Part I & II

Session 3:
After some time, the characters arrive at a small grubby trading port of Puanteur in Mousillon, the Barony of the Damned. There they await the arrival of Lord Byron Bismark and his men to assist in the rescue of the Emperor from a Jaberwocky. The port town is a shambles and the inhabitants less than friendly.

They are housed in the “stables”, i.e. the place where the snails and frogs (“the livestock”) are kept. The livestock is the property of the local Baron, a sadistic brute who happens to be the last living heir of Duke Merovich, a past Duke of Mousillon that started a war with the rest of Brettonia by killing the king during a duel at a victory “feast.” (The feast involved cannibalism, to which the King and good Brettonians strongly objected. Merovich took insult, issued the challenge, killed the King and started a war…one of many very bad decisions made over the ages by the cursed duchy.)

Josef Krunk has snail-phobia, of course, and when he sees the snails he freaks out and stamps on a bunch of them. This doesn’t go over well at all with the townies, and they demand that the heroes must pay restitution and the “skivvy tax”, which seems to involve cutting off a finger joint or other small part of the body.

The characters have great objection to this, and they march on the local Baron’s estate, where they kill him, but not easily. He seems to have been “ghoulish”, and it is only the silver stake possessed by Dellin that seems to do any permanent harm.

I’m skipping many details, including two important NPC’s: Jacques (Jack) Thrifty, and the odd little girl with the webbed feat. I’m also leaving out information about what was found at the Baron’s keep, and the loot obtained, and the cellar doors decidedly not opened. And finally, I’m leaving out the part about the follower who ate something he shouldn’t have, and a day or so later exploded into a puddle of pus.

Session 4:
After returning from slaying the Baron, the characters learn from Jack Thrifty that Lord Bismark must have accidentally landed in the town of Cracheux, which Jack indicates is a very bad thing. In fact, they should just assume their friends are all dead because the town is populated with shape-stealers. The shape-stealers look like people but are not…they are monsters that can take the form of any living thing…in the most violent way imaginable. They tend to keep to themselves, but if you go into their town, they will assimilate you and you will be done for. End of story. Jack tries to further convince them by recounting the story of a shape stealer that was once grabbed and pinned down by someone. In response, the center of the shape stealer ruptured into an alligator’s maw and ripped the guy’s arms off…no, you don’t screw with a town full of shape stealers.

Of course, the heroes will have none of that, and they row downstream to the rescue. They arrive just in time to find Lord Bismark and another knight, Karl Roenker, fighting a desperate battle trying to escape from the clutches of the townsfolk who are swarming them. With a valiant effort and a bit of tactical know-how, Bismark and Roenker are rescued and they escape back to Puanteur. Unfortunately all the other reinforcements are dead and the river boat with all the supplies is harbored on the dock at Cracheux.

Dellin makes a deal with the strange girl with the webbed feat, who claims that she and her friend(s) can bring the boat upstream. In response, Dellin gives the girl the “magic sword” they took off the local Baron, which was inscribed “Peasant Killer” in Brettonian.

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Chapter5:Session1-2
Dandrich's End

Session 1 involved regrouping of the characters, battles with the remnants of the Ogre and Beastmen armies, and negotiating with the Ogre Chieftan on a truce which involved providing the Ogre significant meat and encouragement for him to return to Norsca. It was also noticed that the ashen runes previously observed on the Ogre foreheads was much fainter, smudged, or worn off the Chieftan and the others they encountered. Mix Riggins was awoken with the small shock administered to him by Herre Stormur before he flew off, but the characters have to deal with Mix’s odd post-traumatic behaviors and issues.

Session 2:
The characters journey towards Mousillon having rescued Mix Riggins, although Mix is not-entirely-right-in-the-head. They fall into a trap set by Ichabod Dandrich and Lt. Rockhurst, who have bribed the Harimault and convinced Remy Le Dernier that Archibald is an evil warlock.

Ichabod leaves the direct engagement of the party to Rockhurst, while he remains hidden in the forest. Cedric uses his charm and command to convince Le Dernier of his mistake, and to prevent most of the Harimault from attacking. Rockhurst and his loyalists have none-of-it, and Rockhurst presents Rufus’ severed head as a grisly trophy of his determination to have revenge on the heroes.

During the ensuing fight, Rockhurst slips on Rufus’ decapitated head, leaving him vulnerable for a critical hit. So ends the life of another of Augustus Grimm’s men.

Dandrich meanwhile, encounters Ranthin alone in the woods. Ranthin had gotten delayed when he ran crazy-like after Die Jung Hexen, who stole the Heartstring Arrow. Eventually he regained his sanity and decides that the best way to recover the arrow is to complete the original mission and journey to Mousillon. So he tracks the rest of the party, realizes the ambush, and starts to hatch a plan when he encounters Dandrich.

Dandrich makes himself invisible somehow and taunts Ranthin. Ranthin uses his expert archery to shoot in the general direction of Dandrich and actually scores a hit. About that time, the Lanky Man mysteriously shows up, and seems disgusted at Dandrich’s presence (and perhaps Dandrich’s ultimate hypocrisy of being a Witch Hunter who is himself a bit of a hedge wizard). So, in a few short moments, the Lanky Man, muttering something about not having time for delays, pulls out a small glass vial, uncorks it, incants something, and then with a heinous shriek, Dandrich’s body falls limp. Replacing the cork, and handing the vial to Ranthin, the Lanky Man says that Dandrich’s soul has been imprisoned in the vial, and it would be a good idea to keep it safe.

Ranthin joins the rest of the party with the Lanky Man, and banter ensues. Mix Riggins is hypnotized by Cedric in an attempt to cure him of short term amnesia…it works and Riggins storms off back to the de Torqueville estates with full intent on murdering Borchard the torturer.

It is agreed that the Lanky Man will handle Mix Riggins and try to bring him back to the Empire without further complication. Since Mix Riggins is actually Rictor Von Kruger, lost heir of the Von Kruger line and a rightful member of the elector counts, the Lanky Man needs him for political reasons. Meanwhile the heroes are to make haste to Mousillon to rescue the Emperor. They are to meet with Lord Bismark and his supporting forces in the town of Puanteur in Mousillon.

It was also decided that Remy Le Dernier and the last of Von Kroft’s special forces will take Dandrich’s body (which is still alive, but comatose) to Nuln where there is a reward. The agreement involves depositing part of the reward for the characters in trust with Captain Tanner.

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Chapter4:Session5-7
The Dark Heart of the Forest, Part 2 / Mix Riggins Rescue / Chapter 4 Conclusion

Sorry guys, I haven’t had the time to keep up with the session summaries. (Of course, any of you are welcome to write down your own summaries…share the load, so to speak…) Anyway, here is a highly condensed summary of the final three sessions (5, 6, and 7) in Chapter 4.

Session 5: Following the stand-off at the seer stone, the characters decide not to press the attack (and have a hard time getting Mortimer under control), and wander through the woods trying to find their way to deTorqueville’s estates while avoiding dangerous areas etc. To keep Mortimer from acting out his rage, they promise him revenge and a bell maker (a forge where large church bells are cast in iron…it’s apparent Mortimer intends to make a giant cannon.) They also drug him and Durdles to keep them sedated and tractible. After getting lost in the forest for a while, they find a small hamlet. Cedric and Bronan, with Krunk’s help, decide to act the part of a Noble (Cedric) and his lackeys and scope out the town. What they failed to realize is that the town is filled with the local Harimaults (Robin-hood like troupe) and they hate nobles. A fight ensues, and the heroes with the help of their allies who were hanging back, come out on top. Unfortunately Bronan took a grievous wound and took a little hop over the crazy-fence…yes, the Berzerker Axe Man is now somewhat insane, with an extreme fear of foppish aristocrats wielding thin swords. On the bright side, once Cedric explained the situation, albeit only roughly due to a language barrier, the characters and the Harimaults recognize they have a common enemy in Borchard, the vile tax collector/torturer that is currently in charge at the deTorqueville estates. (deTorqueville is currently away at the Bretonnian capital where he overseas the treasury…)

Session 6: Mix was being held at the deTorqueville’s estates, where he was under the ministrations of the sadistic Monsieur Borchard. The characters planned a surprise attack/rescue which involved the local Harimault gang, their leader Remmy Le Dernier, the heroes, and their allies (Josef Krunk, Von Kroft’s special forces unit, and Mortimer Schaefer’s team) — and several kegs of fine brandy and black powder. While planning the attack, in conversation with Remmy Le Dernier, the characters found out that deTorqueville was receiving secret shipments of silver from some source in the Empire over the Beaufort pass…although the first shipment since the spring thaw never arrived. It was also learned that Borchard is a master fencer and may have studied at the same Estallian school as Murdoch Einhorn. During the rescue, the characters actually encountered Spike, not Mix Riggins. Silver was used to create a tortuous cage around Spike, anchored via bone screws into the mammoth wolf’s skeleton. Silver stakes were nailed into his ears so that he was enraged, in pain, and deafened. Spike was leashed via a chain, the other end of which was controlled by a couple of Ubersoldaten (Black Knights). The rescue involved some fine planning, swift thinking, and a heroic move by Krunk to jump on Spike’s back (not advised), successfully grapple the monstrous wolf long enough (extremely improbable) to pull out the stakes in the ears. After a few rounds of Spike’s innate regeneration, hearing was recovered well enough that it could respond to shouts of “Rictor Von Kruger.” Of course, the characters also had to deal with Ubersoldaten and Borchard…but with the help of Durdles and his hand-held cannon, and Mortimer’s acid bombs, the Black Knights were defeated and Borchard ran away. In a moment when no one was looking, in place of Spike was an unconscious Mix Riggens. The screws were removed from his bones so that the cage could be removed.

Session 7: So the characters fled with Mix Riggens back to the Harimault village to regroup and plan the exit from Bretonnia. Unfortunately, they encountered not only the celestial mage, Herra Stormur, with a vezerenstein (warp stone) in hand, but also the young witch girl. Massive chaos ensued, tendrils of Dhar snaked through the forest, and a bone shrike was summoned by accident by Stormur, in the body of the Captain of Von Kroft’s special forces. Stormur’s beastmen clashed with the witch’s Ogre mercenaries, while some of the characters attempted to deal with the Shrike and others fled. Surprisingly, Stormur seemed to be wanting to help the characters, but a language barrier made it less than clear what was going on. The young witch managed to steal the magic arrow from Ranthin (who was charmed and bewildered to meet this vulnerable little girl on the edge of town during all this danger). After getting the arrow, the witch girl turned invisible and ran away. Meanwhile, Stormur found Mix Riggins where the characters had left him unconscious in a village house, and with a small spark of electricity, zapped him back to consciousness. Almost immediately afterward, Stormur flew away on the storm clouds, apparently heading south-west and shouting something about Die Jung Hexen. The Bone Shrike was not defeated, and it wandered off in the forest somewhere.

So begins Chapter 5. The heroes have suffered losses and some party members have called it quits or gone over the deep end. The locations of Mortimer Schaefer, Durdles, and Handy are unknown. Most of Von Kroft’s special forces are dead. One can only assume Borchard and his well-armed garrison have regrouped and are on the march to hunt down the characters and reclaim Mix Riggins. The heroes must move quickly, perhaps recruit new allies, and make hard decisions about what to do next..

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Chapter4:Session4
The Dark Heart of the Forest, Part 1

Chapter 4: Session 4: The Dark Heart of the Forest, Part 1
Cast: Archibald, Dellin, Cedric, Bronan, Ranthin
Followers: Josef Krunk, Hans Bauman

The characters have been making slow progress journeying in the depths of the forest, in Brettonia, trying to sneak their way towards Reginauld Loret de Torqueville’s estates, where they believe Mix Riggins is being held prisoner. A week into their march, two notable things happen.

First, they realize they’re being followed! By none other than Mortimer Schaefer, the mad-as-a-hatter alchemist’s apprentice, with his retinue of Handy (the bodyguard), Durdles (the huge, but mentally challenged assistant to the assistant), and Oscar, the peasant and lifetime buddy of Mortimer that seems to be the only one that can understand his babbling on a regular basis. A happy reunion (sort of) follows.

Secondly, they get attacked by a group of beastmen brutes after Archibald decides to unearth an ancient relic (much to the consternation of Sergeant Hoffstadter of Col. Von Kroft’s elite forces, and pretty much everyone else with an ounce of wisdom), and then Mortimer explodes something in a failed experiment. They fend off the beastmen, taking down the leader with effective tactics and a helpful dose of Verena’s Shackles, courtesy of a nose-bleeding, creepy-cold-wind-summoning, priest of the light, Archibald! Unfortunately, Bronan takes a critical blow in the melee, and was only mildly recovered by Archibald’s healing hand.

Unfortunately, the beastmen may have been a diversion so that the two bandersnatches and their two Bronze Chaos Knight friends could get the upper slope and surround the aforementioned ancient relic. Oscar and Hans Bauman (Ranthin’s new Woodsman follower) were in between the knights and the object of their desire. In a single round, both were “Ulric’s Furied” by the Bronze Knights. Oscar was severed in two, from collarbone to hip…not unlike a knife slicing through warm butter. Hans, who had wisely retreated from combat after taking a nasty shot from one of the Beastmen, was the other victim of “The Fury.” (Seriously…I like rolled four 10’s on the damage die in a row between the two attacks). Hans, only employed by Ranthin for a short time, abruptly “got the axe.” (Sorry…)

Realizing the situation, the characters pause for a moment to decide what to do, as once the bandersnatches and chaos knights surrounded the recently unearthed Seer Stone, they didn’t press the attack. Mortimer, however, is enraged like you’ve never seen him at the loss of his best friend, and Durdles has picked up the cannon barrel…

So ended Part 1. Characters earned 100xp.

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Chapter4:Session3
The Carroburg Conundrum

Chapter 4: Session 3: The Carroburg Conundrum
Cast: Archibald, Dellin, Cedric, Bronan
Followers: Josef Krunk

Archibald leads the charge to the watch towers, where his vision (and Ranthin’s) indicated doom was approaching. Ranthin, his follower Hans Bauman, and his friend Johann Schmidt, decide on the better part of valor. They elect not to follow Archibald, but to instead head straight to a river boat and “scout out the path downstream.”

At the towers, a clan of ogres and a very angry little girl march on Carroburg out of the surrounding forest. They stop just inside the treeline of the clearing around the town, about 50 yards away from the meager fortifications. The ogres are about 8’ tall and 600 lbs, they wear light armor, and wield giant cleaver-like swords. The clan numbers around 50 male and female ogres, all equally intimidating and repulsive. The ogre clan leader speaks Reikspiel, and accuses the townies of “being da midgets wot done stole our liquor.” Dellin has many insights into this clan of ogres (rolled 01 on monster lore), including knowing their specific clan (“Obdron”), that they typically live on the northern reaches of Norsca, kill polar bears and walruses for food and hides, have a liking for gold and booze, create their own fermented-whale-and-seal-blubber alcohol, and while barbaric, they are not stupid, and they follow a code of conduct when making war. Archibald notices with his keen vision that the ogres appear to have runic marks on their foreheads drawn in ashes, perhaps.

As the girl yells at her ogre companions to attack immediately (which seems to be in violation of some strange ogre code of conduct), Dellin’s acute hearing picks up that this girl blames Archibald (the evil priest) and the rest for abandoning her “behind the doors” of the evil doktor’s lair — of leaving her and other children to be tortured, while they rode off to attend other business, even though she was screaming and pleading for help. If it weren’t for “lady Renee,” she would never have been freed. Cedric tries to yell across the clearing to the strange girl, to convince her out of attacking. Instead he gets possessed by the girl’s magic until Bronan slaps him around a bit.

The townsfolk and the party members decide to flee after an uncanny earthquake hits the town, the towers and rampart defenses are destroyed by magical force, and the ogres start charging in. A bronze knight is spotted on a far hilltop to the South, watching the events unfold. Victor Von Hume and a couple dozen remaining guardsmen, lead by Captain Schiller, are spotted retreating through the forest, near the shoreline, to the north of town. Most of the townies get out alive on river barges and fishing vessels. Cedric tries to rally their spirits by visiting each refugee-packed barge over the next two days of river travel, and recounting heroic deeds. On one occasion, he manages to horrify all the refugees with an unintended message of the deepest despair (crit failure, 00), and they all jump off the boat to get as far away from the cursed story-teller as possible…so Cedric stops trying to make people feel better.

The characters take their barge downstream to Marionburg. They are stopped short of Marionburg by a river blockade enforced by the imperial army. They talk with Col. Seigfried von Kroft, who is in charge of special forces and covert operations. They are sent on a mission with seven of von Kroft’s men, and a “pigeon-guy,” to rescue Mix Riggins from de Rochelle, and use him in turn to figure out how to rescue the Emperor.

The characters take a ferry in the dark of night to sneak across to the Brettonian side of the river. They run into a rear guard of archers. They win the battle, but one of von Kroft’s scouts is slain in the combat. They unload their pack horses and supplies from the river ferry, and sneak off into the woods to begin their journey behind enemy lines.

===
Characters receive 100xp each.

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Chapter4:Session2
As the Crow Flies

Chapter 4, Session 2: As the crow flies.
Cast: Archibald, Dellin, Ranthin, Bronan, Cedric, Johann Schmidt (Allen)

Archibald and Ranthin catch up with rest of the party in the clearing just near the completion of the battle against the Bandersnatches (last session), having run into the fleeing Hans Bauman in the woods. Ranthin uses his leadership skills to instill courage in Hans, and succeeds well enough that Hans becomes a follower.

Three knights are found to be still alive: Sir Victor Von Hume, Sir Thomas Dietz, and Sir Avery Cuthbert. Archibald uses healing of Hysh to restore Von Hume. Mimicking Archi, Johann uses his healing skill to stabilize Dietz, who took a serious blow to the head and appears amnesic. Cuthbert is healed a wound, and is still wobbly.

Dellin was also injured, but when Archi attempts magical healing, he is rebuked by the light and suffers 7 wounds. While Archi was channeling, Cedric noticed in his magic sense inky black tendrils of Dhar creeping from the forest and into Archi’s spell. Wondering on this, Archi and Cedric decide to try an experiment to see if they can trace the source. Archi channels the light again, hoping to help Sir Dietz, but then catastrophe strikes! For the second time in a row, the Light is angered…and Archi crit fails (00) on the effect table…something answered his call for divine help, only it was most certainly NOT the light! Archi lays his hands to Sir Dietz’s head, and the black tendrils of Dhar coalesce into a raging torrent of malevolence…and a demon erupts from the knight.

What was once Sit Thoma Dietz is now a horror of bloody bone spikes rupturing through flesh and armor…Cedric screams and runs in terror as the Shrike grasps Archi, demolishing his arm and ripping through his torso, killing him instantly…or so it appeared. (Archi uses a fate point). Von Hume orders Cuthbert to attack, and then proceeds to tackle Cedric to stop his cowardly desertion. Johann, Bronan, Dellin also engage in melee, while Ranthin shoots arrows at the emergent demon, who seems to grow in power as the round elapse.

Eventually, Archi is able to snap out of it and best the demon in a contest of wills, thus Banishing it. The other characters fought valiantly, but Avery Cuthbert was lost in the battle. Cedric feels more evil from the treeline, Ranthin get mysteriously burned by the magic arrow in his backpack, and the crow called Lady’s Man appears to further warn the heroes. So they regroup and return to Carroburg, leaving Von Hume to command the now arriving reinforcements and gather the dead.

In Carroburg, they happen upon Master Minstrel Manfred Matterly and the Merry Maids of Marionburg. Info is exchanged, Mix Riggins is thought held at a country estate of de Rochelles. Manfred recounts some local folklore that may be related to Mix. Manfred is shocked by the kidnapping of the Emperor and the Death of Toddbringer…he figures it will only be a short time before Rupricht Pohlmann is named Emperor.

With Manfred’s help, a note is written to report the news to Frederick, who is still struggling to work behind the scenes to counter Stormur’s power in Ostermark. The note is attached to Lady’s Man, and the command given to send the crow off to find The Lanky Man. Meanwhile, dark visions continue to plague the characters, and the magic arrow seems to be warning Ranthin of an impending doom to Carroburg. Do the characters stay and help the townies, or do the hurry North to get Mix Riggins free ASAP?

PC’s earned 250 xps each.

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Chapter4:Session1
Two Bandersnatches and a Jabberwocky done stole the Emperor!

Chapter 4, Session 1: “On the Road Again”
Cast: Dellin, Cedric, Bronan, and Johann Schmidt
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Summing it up in one sentence, said by Hans Baumer the Woodsman, “Two Bandersnatches and a Jabberwocky done stole the Emperor!”

Along the river route between Altdorff and Marionberg lies the trading town of Carroberg. Baron Tottlemeier owns a manor house a few miles outside of town, and the boy emperor Ezekial is known to occasionally retreat there and do some hunting. On this hunt day, Baron Tottlemeier was not in attendance, having been ordered to command his regiment and join the forces building up around Marionberg. However, Ezekial was accompanied by the Elector Count of the Middenlands, Count Boris Toddbringer, graf of Middenheim, and one of the ruling council not aligned with the Chancellor. (Players note: Boris Toddbringer is a well-known figure in the stock Warhammer world…and it was pointed out that ‘Todd’ may be a variant of an old German word for death.)

During the wee hours of the hunt, a few hours before dawn, the Emperor’s outriders came upon a band of beastmen. Surprised to find Beastmen so far in the west, half the guard chased after the beastmen in order to find their encampment and ensure the safety of the Emperor. Alas, the beastmen were but a diversion intended to lower the number of guards around the royals. It was then that the enormous Jabberwock, guided by two Bandersnatches, stepped out from the shadows of giant old trees and snatched up Ezekial from his ornate saddle.

The royal body guard, Toddbringer, and a few knights fought back as best they could, but to no avail. Those men not frozen in terror were ineffectual against the Jabberwock and Bandersnatches, and could do nothing to prevent the kidnapping. So was the story told in the town square an hour later after the alert had reached the Captain of the Watch in Carroburg. Captain Gerhardt roused all able-bodied men (including the PC’s snoozing away in the inn), and assigned them to search parties, paired up with the remains of the garrison soldiers. (Remember, many of Carroburg’s armed forces were sent north to Marionberg.) When the “Heroes of Nuln” where recognized by some that had listened too deeply to Cedric’s stories, they were immediately promoted to head the prime search party that would start with the Jabberwocky’s tracks at the sight of the abduction.

Johann Schmidt and Hans Baumer, a low-ranking imperial guardsman and a woodsman who was helping arrange the hunt, witnessed the abduction and were able to provide some details to Dellin and crew. Dellin recalls some lore and an old nonsense rhyme about Jabberwockys and Bandersnatches. Josef Krunk adds that “Nana always said never to leave a baby outdoors or the Bandersnatches would grab it!” Hans also added something about Ezekial’s pet raven that acted quite strangely prior to the attack and may have squaked a warning — if you can believe that ravens talk!

The characters with Johann, Hans, Krunk, and a small platoon (5 men) race to the site of the abduction, follow the tracks that lead towards a clearing, and hear the final sounds of a battle before arriving at tree line. They see carnage, as the last of the imperial knights and Boris Toddbringer lay dead or dying amidst a like number of beastmen. Toddbringer looks as if he’s fallen from a great height, and his horse and shattered lance lay on the battlefield many yards away. On the opposite side of the clearing are four of the remaining beastmen and the two Bandersnatches — female “wood demons” with skin of blood-red wood and bone white thorns who seem to constantly shift in appearance, becoming stouter or more willowy, with shifting branches, spikes, and thorns all over their bodies. They take delight in trophies, one carries a human torso impaled on a branch that grows from its back, the other is finishing affixing the severed head of a knight to spikes on her shoulder.

The monsters charge. The characters and NPCs, in general, scream in fear and flee (except Josef Krunk, of course). Eventually most of them regroup and fight the beasts using flaming oil (which backfired on Dellin and killed his horse), big axes, and whatever courage they could muster. The platoon sergeant is rent asunder, but otherwise they manage to damage one of the Bandersnatches enough that both, apparently, decide to flee back into the woods. Prior to fleeing, one of the Bandersnatches picked up a seriously wounded guard and took him with her, screaming all the way. All four beastmen were killed. Dellin, with his monster lore, deduces that the Bandersnatches must be more powerful in the forest than in a clearing, and they conclude that to give chase would be suicide.

Just as they take a quiet moment to decide what to do next, Dellin hears the distinctive cry of a big raven in the distance. Using his acute hearing, he recognizes the cry as sounding like Lady’s Man!

Thus ended the adventure. 150xp per character.

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