From the Journal of Jerath Adler, Jr.
The morning came quickly, though there was no sun to greet us. Only rain. More rain. Which seemed at its most intense, if that’s even possible.
We gathered for breakfast before returning to Schulman’s room to see what progress he had made on determining where the final stone may lie. When we reached his room, he looked as if he had not slept, and spoke very quickly. In his estimation, the final stone must be somewhere WITHIN Stromdorf. Each of the other stones were found in the West, the East, and the South, and considering the shape of the region, it made sense that Stromdorf would be the Northern most point.
Schulman again assured us that the Blue Wizard’s College would be more than willing to give us whatever we wanted if we would take it upon ourselves to find this final stone. With this relic fully realized, great advances could be made, and we would be an important part of history. I look back now and realize what ambitious fools we were, but we had no reason not to trust him, so we accepted his terms.
Oppenheimer then recalled seeing the Church of Sygmar struck many times by lightning during our stay in the city, and thought that it might be possible the stone is there. The group concurred, but the fact remained that we simply couldn’t go to the Church of Sygmar and demand to see their Lightning Stone without some proof first. What we needed was a Professor who knew the history of the city.
And it just so happened that there was one Professor in town who owed us a small favor.
The group traveled briskly to the home of the man we had helped a few nights ago with his “dancing” skeleton. He seemed busy when we arrived, but agreed to see us, giving us some of his herbal tea, and got very excited when we mentioned the Lightning Stones. He went on and on about the “Seer Stone,” a stone that allowed people to have visions, some 2500 years ago. The stone was toppled soon afterwards for whatever reason by the people of the town and the Church of Sygmar was built on top of it, never to be heard from again.
It was at this time that Oppenheimer and the Professor had a small spat about the Professor’s ability to speak Elvish (which he could), and we were rushed quickly from his home. There’s no doubt that Oppenheimer has become, in my estimation, a little more unstable during our stay here, though, the storms seem to have that effect on almost everybody.
With our beliefs verified, we walked to the Church of Sygmar, where the head Priest Gottschalk was finishing up a sermon. We waited two hours before getting a chance to speak to him, and when we did, he was not happy to hear our request. In fact, it seemed that wanting to unearth the crypt of the Church to uncover what he viewed as a sacrilegious object was about as bad a request as one could make.
Luckily for us, Elenore seemed to know exactly what to say to calm the Priest’s nerves, and he relented in letting us travel down into the Crypts with him. We couldn’t touch anything in the chamber, but Oppenheimer was somehow able to detect the stone 10-15 feet under the floor of the room. Realizing there was only one chance for his plea to work, Oppenheimer dropped to his knees at the feet of the Priest, and began rapping his head violently against the floor. The rest of us looked at each other, and decided to follow along by also kneeling, hoping to make Oppenheimer’s conviction seem that much more real.
Somehow, it worked, and Gottschalk said that we could dig; however, he could NOT change the fact that this was indeed a truly blasphemous act, and we would ALL be forced to give penance for such actions. We agreed (given no other choice, honestly), and went about gathering the tools necessary to make this as task-less a task as we could. We also made sure to keep our actions as covert as possible from the townspeople, as they wouldn’t take too kindly to us digging in the Church either.
With Furgil’s Dwarven experience, we made quick work of retrieving the stone from the hollowed grounds, and put everything back into place as best we could. We then shuttled the stone back to Inn, where Schulman awaited our entrance. He watched as we joined the final stone to its brethren, the last puzzle piece to a most intriguing puzzle. As we did, I began to notice Schulman’s incredible anxiety and excitement build – perhaps we were making history…
Finally, a fully realized circular stone was created, made up of all of the Lightning Stones. Schulman studied it momentarily, muttering carefully to himself, and then suddenly excused himself from the room to retrieve some “notes.” We all looked to one another, unsure of exactly what to do, when Furgil (making sure that Schulman was outside of ear shot) told us that he overheard what he had been muttering. He had mentioned a “nexus,” and it “being more powerful than ever expected.”
It suddenly dawned on us that Schulman may not simply be gathering “notes,” and we may have just played part in something more sinister than any of us had ever imagined.
Immediately, Elenore, Loreli, and Furgil gave chase to Schulman, while Oppenheimer and I stayed behind to study Schulman’s notes. Oppenheimer couldn’t quite make heads or tails of it, so I ran out to get the Professor with the hopes that he might be kind enough to decipher Schulman’s rantings.
Having learned of their adventures later, I know that Furgil, Elenore, and Loreli had commandeered some horses to chase after Schulman, who was using his abilities as a Blue Wizard to stay far ahead of them. He had already escaped Stromdorf (almost killing a Guard at the gate) and seemed to be heading south. They followed, pushing their horses, until they reached the river. They noticed that Schulman had already been here, killing the boatman and taking one boat downstream. There was a second boat there, in much worse shape, but without another option, it would be there only way to continue after him.
In the meantime, just as I was reaching the Professor’s home, Oppenheimer had discovered the key to Schulman’s plans – he going to open this “Nexus” and use its powers for ungodly things. The Lightning Stones, once assembled, had revealed how and where to do this. Oppenheimer then also discovered a map of where Schulman was going to perform this act and decided to head after him as quickly as the Azure energies could carry him.
Once the Professor had gotten his servant Humphries to retrieve a carriage to take us to the Inn, I showed him the stone, and he began searching through Schulman’s notes for some sign of what this was all about. I noticed Oppenheimer was no longer there, which only raised my level of concern. Turns out that by this time, he was already making his way across the swamps, pursuing our friends and the malicious Wizard.
Paddling their way down river, Furgil, Elenore, and Loreli had to keep bailing the boat of water at the same time (thanks to a number of holes in the rotted wood.) They could see Schulman in the distance, conjuring some spell in the middle of the river. They knew they didn’t have long to stop him, and pushed the boat as hard as they could to get within short bow range.
Suddenly, before their eyes, Oppenheimer flashed aboard Schulman’s boat, looking weary from pushing his body to get him there in time. Schulman took this opportunity to fire a lightning bolt at him, but Oppenheimer was somehow able to diffuse the magic before it hit him.
Then, with perfect aim, Furgil took this opportunity to fire a bolt from their quickly sinking boat, burying it deep within Schulman’s side. Oppenheimer’s distraction had given him the moment he needed, and he had taken it, even if it meant that their boat would sink.
Which it promptly did.
Back in the city, the Professor finally learned of Schulman’s true plan and location. It seemed that the only way to forever close this nexus would be to get the stones to it before it fully opened. I knew not how much time I had left, but quickly ordered Humphries to begin moving the stones out to the carriage with me. And as fate would have it, that’s when Eduardo Rodrigo appeared, and lent us his strength as well. Time was of the essence, because it was around this time that Schulman was attempting to convince Oppenheimer to join him.
Whilst our friends were swimming for their lives, Schulman spoke of the incredible power he was about to realize, and how he and Oppenheimer could share it. I don’t know if this thought was ever truly considered by Oppenheimer, because just as Schulman raised some sort of magic shield, Oppenheimer capsized their boat, and both of them fell into the water!
As they fell in, Furgil had finally made it out, pulling his crossbow out to hopefully get another shot at Schulman, but both he and Oppenheimer were nowhere to be seen. While Furgil waited, Humphries, Rodrigo, and I had finished placing all of the Lightning Stones into the carriage and we took off towards the river!
Suddenly, Schulman’s form burst forth from the river, and he began chanting even more quickly than he had before. However, his words were silenced when Furgil’s shot found its target – deep within Schulman’s skull. The mad Wizard gurgled, and with quick precision, Loreli made her way over to his body, slit his throat, and grabbed his quickly sinking staff. She also tried to grab for an amulet he had been wearing shaped like a “comet,” but it had slipped through her fingers into the darkened waters below…
While it looked like Schulman’s planned opening of the Nexus had been belayed, another catastrophic event was about to occur when a Comet suddenly appeared in the sky, crashing towards their very position.
Riding as hard as we could, we watched as the Comet fell in the distance. We now knew our exact destination, and pushed the horses to go as fast as they would carry us, and then some. Upon seeing the comet, Furgil helped Loreli and Elenore from the waters, while Oppenheimer made his own way from the cold river. Together, they ran, knowing somehow that no distance would be safe from such an object.
From the carriage, I could make them out, four forms, running for their lives.
Contrary to what some may say, the moments before you die don’t slow, but rather, they speed along, with not a moment to say your final prayers.
The comet struck the river with such ferocity that the ground shook, knocking everyone over. The horses buckled, and we quickly removed ourselves from the carriage. Then, the waters from the river rose to such heights that even the walls of Stromdorf itself could not have defended them, and we were swept over, our bodies like straw in the wind. We were thrown about, our bodies pushed, pulled, bruised, and finally, left to die…
But we did not die that day. I remember opening my eyes to see something I had not seen in what felt like years – the sun. The clouds were beginning to part, and behind them was this most welcome sight indeed. We took a quick inventory of everyone, and it looked as if everyone had survived the tidal wave (including Oppenheimer, who seemed to be hurt the most.) I tended to him as best I could (considering the circumstances) and we made our way back to town. On our way, we were sure to gather the dead boatman for burial in the Garden.
Our uplifted spirits did not last long, however, for upon arriving at the Gates, we were not met like heroes like we once were. Rather, it seemed that our story was rather absurd to the people of Stromdorf. Kessler all but wrote us off, and the Priest could not forgive our blasphemy. In fact, according to him, our penance was to go to Ubersreik and “stop the evil behind the masks.” If we did not choose to do this, then we would be forever damned.
After having gone through so much to rid this city of evil, it was now simply seeming like we had overstayed our welcome. Dinner that night at the Inn wasn’t much better either, as we listened to city dwellers lament at the end of the rain, for this would cause all sorts of farming and fishing problems, not to mention the Ale! We were even informed that there was a Witch Hunter in town, who was out for someone matching Oppenheimer’s description. We quickly decided that leaving this town is in our best interests, especially upon hearing the news that the bridges had been repaired.
As I finish up this entry, I find myself with a heavy heart. Though I know we have done much good and I, myself, have found a new path in life, I worry that there are darker forces at work, leading us to our inevitable ends. I will resist them with as much force as I can muster, but what can one man do against Fate?
~ Adler, Jr.