It has been nearly a year since the death of my mother, and I, Jerath Adler Jr, find myself spending more and more time as far away from my homelands as possible. I can’t bear to think of the pain and suffering she had to go through since the day of my birth, and knowing that Shallya did nothing to help her during her years of torment angers me throughout. And so I find myself in the city of Ubersreik, wasting away the days at the Red Moon Inn instead of trying to find a way to keep the sicknesses that took her from me do the same to others. My will is rotting from the inside and my soul is following…
But it just so happens on this day that Henri le Noir is once again looking for the services of one barber-surgeon, in addition to those of a party I’ve traveled with a number of times now. The familiar faces include Tarth Steelheart, Heir von Oppenheimer, and the elusive Elenore Frost. We meet in the morning at the Red Moon Inn, where both Oppenheimer and myself are finishing our cold fish stew. Across the way, we see our contact: Vern Hendrick. After a quick introduction, Vern informs us that he works for Lord Rickard Aschaffenberg, and is looking for a group to help him with a number of tasks at the Lord’s new estate, Grunewald Lodge. The tasks? While posing as new help, spy on the existing staff in an attempt to ascertain if there’s something strange going on in the Lodge. Oh, and fight off pesky beastmen at the same time. Good thing we have Tarth.
I’m not so sure we’re the most stealthy group for this job, but it’s a trip out of Ubersreik which might help clear my mind amidst this very contemplative time. Vern informs us that we leave the next morning, and we meet him back at the Inn at daybreak. Oppenheimer shows up looking a little worse for wear, and there’s no doubt he’s been tampering with the magics this morning. He’ll need to be patched up on our way to the Lodge.
The wagon journey is quiet for the most part. The weather is warm and the sun shines down on us. Elenore continues to lure Vern on with her female wiles while Tarth remains sullen as always. Oppenheimer is looking a little better now, but has this look about him that makes me feel like he knows more about our futures than even we do.
As we travel, we learn from Vern that the former Lodge owner disappeared mysteriously one night not too long ago, and after that, it came into the hands of Aschaffenberg, who acquired it with the current staff. As we inquire more, sounds and movement in the forest begin to alert us that we may not be alone. The wagon speeds up, and as we’re nearing the gates of Grunwald Lodge, we find ourselves under attack from 12 beastmen! I’m a little surprised we couldn’t smell them coming – my gods what an odor! They’re bigger and more viscous than anything I’ve ever seen before, but as I mentioned above, good thing we have Tarth. He jumps from the wagon and boldly throws himself into the oncoming rampage of the gor and his 5 ungor companions while 6 more are running at us from farther up the road. With a block and dodge, he’s unfazed as all six attempt to take him down, and with one fell swoop of his great axe, the gor falls, its bloody head cleaved clean from its torso.
Elenore then makes a run for the gate and starts pushing on it as the guards on the inside of the Lodge are opening it from the other side. I realize that with 11 beastmen still out there, what we need more than anything right now is a good defense, and I hold my post in the wagon, directing Tarth and Oppenheimer’s attacks. Vern draws a dagger, but I’d rather him not have to use that if we can help it.
Suddenly, a thunder bolt fires from Oppenheimer zapping one of the ungor, and just as suddenly, the bolt bounces back and hits him square in the chest. He looks a little winded after that, but I dare say that ungor took the worse from that hit. Tarth sees an opportunity, and strikes at the group, taking out the wounded ungor in addition to another of the baddies, leaving only 3 while 6 more are making their way to us. With some quick calculating, I realize we need to get the gates open faster or we’ll be sitting ducks out here. I dash from the cart and help Elenore make progress with the gates.
With my back against the heavy doors, I watch as Oppenheimer begins to channel for another spell, and something strange happens as he does. I couldn’t tell you what exactly, and before I can process it, I see him chant at the remaining three beastmen and they seem rather unhappy about whatever he’s done to them. So much so that they go after him! While he has them distracted, Tarth cleaves them all to bits, knowing that whatever Oppenheimer did made her job all the easier.
By now, the gates should have been open, but both Elenore and I slipped in the mud. Seeing this, Tarth dashed from the backside of the wagon to cut off the rampaging gor and group of ungor. Suddenly, the gates burst open, compelled by a mighty wind. When I regained my breath, it was no surprise to see Oppenheimer on the wagon, his arms outstretched towards the gates. I’ll never understand wizards, but thank Sigmar he’s having a good day.
Vern and the wagon driver get the horses moving towards the open gates just as we realize that Tarth is now taking on six beastmen on his own. He badly injures the gor, and knowing that sometimes the best way to keep someone alive is preventative medicine, I raised my crossbow, and fired a bolt into the heart of the beast. The adrenaline that passed through my body when the gor’s fell to the ground was electrifying, and for a brief second, it seemed like we were unstoppable. Tarth cleaved away at the remaining ungor, his axe guided by fate, taking down all five (even following the last into the forest to bury his blade into its skull.) The hair on my body rose as the high-pitched gutteral yell from Tarth pierced the countryside. I don’t think I was the only one surprised by this based on the looks from Elenore and Oppenheimer.
Within moments, everyone was safely within the gates, and they were closed behind us. Everyone dusted quickly off as the Lord himself made his way into the courtyard. My first impression was that if Sigmar had crossed a man with a bear that Aschaffenberg would be that creation. His size and amount of facial hair captivated me, and he beckoned we follow him into the Lodge with his packages. As we removed his items from the wagon, I caught sight of a man watching me from the first story window. I remember his visage clearly as he had one eye completely bandaged. He seemed pleased by what I was doing, and disappeared just as quickly behind the curtain. (Turns out this was the butler, Gregor Pierson.)
Aschaffenberg then led us to his personal room, and the curtain of his rouge dropped as he began to talk to us about our task at hand. We are to pose as new help and find out what’s going on around here. There are no specifics to speak of – simply of air of discomfort and foreboding. He tells us to begin our investigation immediately, but to be sure to meet him in the evening for a dinner of either goose or venison.
To not garner too much attention and to cover as much ground as possible, we decide to split up. Elenore will go to the kitchen to talk with Carla the cook, Tarth will speak with the Captain of the Guard Anders, Oppenheimer will head to the library to speak with Otto the librarian, and I would talk to physician on premises. I don’t know too much of what happened to either Elenore or Oppenheimer, but I do know that I learned a great deal in the hospice. Dr. Stefan Sieger and Sister Sonja were doing all they could for a number of patients, including both the blacksmith Korden Kurgansson, and a familiar dwarf – Furgil Grogansson! I didn’t let on that I knew the dwarf at first, and soon found out that he was Korden’s cousin, attacked by beastmen on his way to visit the Lodge. Korden, on the other hand, didn’t seem bloodied in anyway, and when I asked about it, Sister Sonja informed me that Korden was ill and that a darkness had fallen over him. He kept muttering strange things to himself, including, “… stones for bones… stones for bones… bones under the stones…” and something about a “pretty flower” and hating barbers (yeesh.) I also noticed a weird aroma around the doctor – possibly the odor of some sort of natural medicinal practice he uses on the patients.
Just as I’m about to wait on Furgil (who’s been unconscious the entire time), Tarth returns from his journey and informs me quietly that he discovered that a special warhammer is missing from the blacksmith’s. He mentions that the case holding the item had been smashed open, and it occurred to me that Korden’s current state and the disappearance of this warhammer may be connected. I also noticed that at the mention of the weapon, both the doctor and Sister Sonja reacted. In fact, the Sister had to brace herself as if the very mention of the item were some sort of omen. Once Tarth left to get ready for dinner, Sonja approached me and mentioned that she knew something about the hammer but couldn’t talk at that moment.
Something is certainly not right here, and I believe we have only started on the way down this rabbit hole.
Now, as I get ready for dinner, I find that Tarth has been sent by the sister to the shrine and Elenore is now telling me to not eat the venison? And why does she look so spooked? And where the hell is Oppenheimer? Hopefully a hardy meal will quiet my tense stomach and we can get to the bottom of this before we find ourselves in over our heads.