Beyond the Storm

South of Middenheim, 2523
Middenland 2523

Setting: In a grassy field outside the damaged town of Holzbeck, south-east of Middenheim, 2523. Location: Amongst the wounded after the siege of Middenheim, tended by the priestesses of Shallya.

A local peasant in another bed suddenly starts up a hacking and bloody cough, scrabbling at his neck which suddenly bulges grotesquely as a healer goes over to him. He writhes on the bed, his body inflating and skin translucent before his jaws literally split open in a horrible scream as a large maggotty thing with circular jaws like a Lamprey literally splits this human cocoon apart and rolls off the bed onto the floor.

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A refugee camp outside Holzbeck
Refugee camp, Holzbeck

The sprawling refugee camp outside the military staging post that used to be called Holzbeck comes under attack from two Chaos Wyrms drawn by the smell of blood, offal or unwashed bodies. A young and wounded Kislevite Kossar Igor Belarov grabs his weapons and with the aid of a Dwarf Gunner Goran Varnisson from the 3rd Nuln Cannoneers takes up the fight as local militia run to engage the monstrous annelids. Reuben Hurst, an Initiate of Morr tending to the refugees deceased during the previous night narrowly avoids getting flattened as one of the creatures explodes from the ground below him and the Dwarf saves one of the army Surgeons Reiner Weiss from sliding into the hole and getting crushed. With a mixture of gunshots, spears and the timely appearance of an Apprentice Mage called Konrad the creatures are killed and the surgeon offers to patch up the badly raked Kossar while militia captain Adie Schultz offers to feed the group and introduce them to Commander Aelric Fasselbach next day who might well offer them employment.

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A Chance of Employment

Reuben, the Priest of Morr receives a sealed letter and joins an Elven Merchant Envoy Elsevir Devlin heading north to the garrison town of Immelscheld. Once there Reuben discovers the disappearance of Morr’s Chosen – an Augur, Freidrich Boucher. Elsevir makes a deal with the garrison commander Reiker Geel to supply the medical requirements of the army hospital camp in Immelscheld.

Morr’s Priest and the Elven Envoy meet with the Dwarf and Kossar after the latter agree to escort 56 refugees from Holzbeck to Grubentreich. The main road to Schonninghagen is still dangerous with surprise attacks by roving bandits of Orcs or Beastmen and the refugees are slow so its no great surprise when they get ambushed by mutant Beastmen along the Altdorf-Middenheim road. Among the refugees are another Dwarf Hagar Skallhelm and a secretive Elf woodsman Mellion Fallander. A protracted fight eventually sees the characters win and drive the remaining beastmen off but only after losing eight refugees. With no chance to reach safety before night falls the group opt to stay at the little hamlet of Hunxe for the night.

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Refugees to Schoninghagen

In Hunxe, the group find the hamlet destroyed and all remaining citizens are hold up in the quickly repaired local Inn. After some negotiation, Reuben secures some bandages and a cauldron of watered down soup for the refugees. They are allowed to sleep in the barn but warned of dark shapes snooping around at night. Guards are set, with the Elf staying outside – bow drawn, and the Dwarf Ironbreaker Hagar Skallhelm on the collapsed wall in the SE corner. The refugees huddle around the weak fire and an abandoned cart. Sure enough, the badly protected building is attacked by a mutant goblin band from the woods. Its a long fight, with Reuben nearly dying to an Orc with a lashing tongue and quicker blade, but the Dwarf manages to kill the Orc Boss (marked as a favorite of Khorne the Chaos God by a symbol on his forehead). This becomes Hagar’s 1st skull trophy.

The dawn finds the group nursing their wounds and suffering from the Galloping trots – obviously the soup was badly made! They need to find a healer for Reuben quick so move off back to the road towards Schonninghagen. On the way, they find a crate lying in the road with “WH” stenciled on the side. Breaking it open they find a drugged child of about 8years inside. The child is unable to be woken so put him onto the makeshift cart with the comatose Reuben and reach town by mid afternoon.

The large trading town of Schonninghagen is a mustering point for troops from elsewhere in the Empire to move to the front lines and is thus bursting with soldiery. Refugees fleeing the war have also spread into outlying fields such that the town has doubled in size. There is no food or shelter available anywhere except out in the open.

Hagar nearly starts a fight with some drunk soldiers outside a pub while Reuben is taken by cart to the Garden of Morr where he is tended. Almost a 3rd of the refugees dissapear during the night to make their own future even though Elsevir finds them all food and the group has spent the evening fishing. During the night, Reuben has his first prophetic dreams and requests to perform the rituals to become an ordained Priest.

After a crazy shopping spree the next day, the group leave for Grubentreich with the remaining refugees still suffering from wounds and gut rot. They find a broken coach that was run off the road apparently by a flaming skull which Hagar fixes into a dragster by dismantling his own cart for spare wheels and the group trundle into the village to offload the refugees.

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Onward to Pritzstock

After a good nosh and well needed cash injection from the local mayor for bringing the refugees to their new home, Reuben Hurst and Elsevir Devlin convinces the group to head on to Pritzstock to investigate the ‘obviously’ necromantic flaming skulls. On the way they discuss the amazing probability that the young rescued boy has the same initials as the ‘WH’ on the crate. The group convinces themselves that someone is smuggling children and marking the boxes with the child’s name.

Asking the folk of Pritzstock about the flaming skulls gets so many conflicting responses that they are totally confused. Mellion Fallander ignores the rest and starts chatting up the local ‘Goth’ chick while Reuben and Hagar Skallhelm totally believe a snotty 8yr old boy who claims to have seen ghosts and charge off into the forest on a wild chase.

That evening the group retires to the home of the local mayor convinced that the cause is either chaos cultists or a Necromancer. Reuben gives a great oratory to the local people about their duties to protect the dead and thus they must all pull together to defeat these horror skulls. The populace are not at all convinced and only the local Militia Captain and two farmers offer to help with patrols.

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The Flaming Skulls

Next morning the group splits up in all directions to investigate local sightings of these flaming skulls. No one plans any coherent method of defense eg. Patrols and Mellion Fallander makes cake and sandwiches for all the villagers then scares the village idiot almost catatonic – although does discover he has found a piece of warpstone, which the Elf steals.

The group rush about with various sightings until Elsevir Devlin shoots a skull out of a tree. Rueben convinced the cause is an ancient battlefield somewhere north of the village so they march off into the forest without telling the rest of the group. Realising their error, the group light signal fires, effectively smoking out a few miles of forest as they leave them out of control. In the murk, they stumble upon a group of mercenaries also looking for the cause of the flaming skulls and after some tense negotiation decide to link up as they have discovered a cave hideout that needs investigating.

This group has a Dwarf Trollslayer who agrees to initiate Hagar Skallhelm.

The larger group head, coughing badly, to the cave hideout which turns out to be a partly filled in sinkhole leading to an underground stream. The bed of which is obviously an old burial site as it is covered in submerged bones. Once there they charge down the slippery steps and attack the occupants – a crazed Bright Mage and his bodyguard as many skulls take flight and sweep to the attack. The two Dwarves burst into the cave through a hastily conjured wall of fire, ignoring the scorching flames and put an axe through the crazy mage’s skull. The bodyguard swiftly surrenders. The Dwarves have a poke around while the others smash the remaining skulls and Mellion digs up 14 shards of warpstone in total – which he swiftly hides as bones start pulling free of the ground and coming together in a quivering mass not unlike a giant Golem. Hagar spots something shiny in the silt and finds an ancient Dwarven hammer shaped with a ram’s horns buried there. The team start whacking the bone golem to little or no effect as it takes massive swipes, knocking them aside as it climbs out of the sinkhole and heads off for the village smashing trees aside.

Reuben and Mellion fail to climb a rope out of the hole instead of using the stairs and waste time as the others give chase carrying the wizard’s bloodied head as proof that he was responsible. Following the trail of devestation the group descend to the village to find the massive Golem is trying to smash the mayor’s house. The Mayor’s wife screams seeing the wizard’s severed head and faints. Hagar charges the creature with his new hammer but gets knocked backwards fourteeen feet to lay crushed on the ground. Continuing to bash the creature’s legs, the Golum finally collapses into a pile of bones again which then flow into the basement. The group charges after, kicking down the front door, arresting the mayor and heading to the basement where they find it 4’ deep in bones and a skeleton boarded up behind a new section of wall.

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Ticket to Middenheim

Elsevir the Envoy chooses to stay in Pritzstock after the business with the flaming skulls while Melion the Elven Mage heads out of town carrying the fourteen chunks of glowing warpstone to safety. Jacques’ a Knight Errant from distant Bretonnia (and friend of the local Militia captain) joins the remaining group claiming he must return a religious icon given to him on the battlefield as the group is offered a lift from a Castle Rock Postal Coach from Middenheim and its driver Gunther.

Passing by Grubentreich once more on the way to the Middenheim road they discover a corpse and a distressed horse by the side of the road. The body is one Kastor Lieberung (a well off looking fellow) and looks uncannily like Reuben. It appears his horse slipped into the ditch and threw its rider onto the broken branches of a fallen tree. He is quite succinctly dead! After discovering papers on the body that indicate he is heir to a fortune in Ubersreik, and with very little debate on the issue, Reuben is ‘persuaded’ to impersonate the deceased (for the good of the party) and summarily rolls the body into the undergrowth muttering a vague prayer to Morr.

The party arrives with waves of refugees to the City of the White Wolf, having to pay to get into the city and return the ‘crate boy’ Wilhelm to his parents before finding room at the Templars Arms. Jacques gives the Icon of Sigmar to father Morten at the Temple of Sigmar only to hear the next morning that he has been murdered as the entire group are arrested.

Ulric Schutzmann, Commander of the City Watch interviews the group as they are the obvious suspects but demands they hand over their weapons. Both the Trollslayer and the Knight Errant prepare to die foolishly instead even as they have multiple crossbows trained upon them. Some swift talking levels the situation as Schutzmann makes them a deal since he doesn’t honestly believe they would murder a priest of Sigmar after being seen with him, then retire to the pub as if nothing had happened.

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On a murderer's trail
a whiff of Skaven

A couple of ‘hooray Henrys’ cause trouble in the Templars Arms that evening causing a knife fight with their bodyguard Max Ernst. Enraged by racist comments, the Trollslayer wades in but finds Max a worthy opponent as he gets scored with a blade. The Henry’s continue to bait the group so the Knight tackles the other bodyguards while Gunther balances the odds by smacking Ernst over the head with a chair causing a full scale brawl to erupt and Reuben wastes a good bottle of brandy by smashing it over the protagonist and setting Max on fire!

The watch arrives and the barkeep puts out Max while the hooray henry’s stagger off miffed, bruised and swearing revenge.

As the group investigates the death of Father Morten, they discover a number of similar blowgun murders and a trail of blood into the sewers. Reuben notices some men watching him closely from a doorway but they move off as he approaches. Thinking Skaven, the group gear up to get filthy and after dodging a threatening local gang of thugs descend into the tubes beneath the city.

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Snikkit's Lair

The trail of a crossbow wound leads the group to the sewers beneath the Altquartier and possible Skaven activity. Reuben (being a Priest) chickens out of getting filthy and meets with the Priests at the Shrine of Morr instead. Hagar, Gunthar and Jacques head down the slime covered tunnels, stinking not of human waste but of cheap Bretonnian cologne which they liberally splash on themselves nearly causes Gunther to retch and faint.

Soon the group spot moving shadows thrown upon a distant wall up ahead and thinking they are Skaven rush forward only to discover a pair of Mutant cultists carrying a litter with the body of a dead man, his leg partly chewed away by something. Any excuse for a fight, they pile in, the mutants dropping their meal? and running for their lives. Slipping and sliding in stinking muck, the Trollslayer brains one with an axe to the back of the head while the other is skewered by the Knight who slips off the brick companionway and slides through the muck to crunch him against the wall.

Planning to come back later for the corpses, the trio discover a recently dug hole nearby, breaking into the sewer from beneath and with some deft rope use they descend into an old Dwarven tunnel route and find the Skaven hideout. After setting off all alarms, The Clanrats attack but are swiftly wiped out with judicious use of Gunther’s blunderbus but Snikkit (the leader), escapes straight down an access well and in anger the Trollslayer smashes all the barrels in the room. One contains warpstone dust that engulfs both him and Jacques in a dangerous poison cloud.

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Off the Hook?
where the group satisfy the watch but plunge into a more dangerous mission

Jacques Quasson deftly manages to dodge the expanding deadly cloud of dust but Hagar Skallhelm is covered from head to foot. Coughing badly, the group take him back to ground level and return to Watch Commander Schutzmann to report. A band of tunnel runners are immediately dispatched to the Skaven lair to follow Snikkit and Schutzmann agrees to let the group off the hook as he has further need of them and Skaven have been indeed spotted in the ruined areas of the city. Father Ranulf from the Temple of Ulric is introduced. The Temple is in need of a group of mercenaries to take a blind Seer ‘Father Odo’ (A Doomsayer from the Shrine of Morr) into the deep Drakwald Forest to retrieve something of great significance before the ‘dark tide’ retrieves it for themselves. Reuben Hurst has also been having foreboding dreams about an artifact that must be quickly recovered. Gunther meets Anya Luger, a sexy Bounty Hunter from Salzenmund, while Jacques annoys the Ulrician temple by begging for some decent plate armour.

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