Dead Ends

Session the Last: "The Gathering Storm"

In which our heroes offend a priest

Feather pen small 01By this point, we’re pretty sure that the last chunk of the stone is somewhere in the Temple of Sigmar — probably under the floor in the basement — and there’s nothing left to do but go find it. So we rest up for a couple of nights, because we’re all awfully battered and bruised after facing down an army of Beastmen. I’m less wounded than the others, so I use my free time to talk that drunken Estalian into showing me a couple of tricky sword maneuvers. I’d never held a sword in my life before last month, but it seems like learning to use one properly just might be an important thing to do these days.

Anyway, once we’ve recovered, we go sneaking into the Temple that night and find Brother Fromm, who we figure is probably not going to be particularly helpful if he gets wind of what we’re planning and why, so I tell him that the priest has okayed the digging and thus manage to enlist his labor to our ends.

We carefully pull up the flagstones and dig a bit, and before long we find it. After shoveling dirt back into the hole and replacing the flagstones, I confess to Brother Fromm that I lied, and that the good Father would be really mad to find out that he’d helped us… so it’d probably be in Brother Fromm’s best interest to make sure to sweep the floor really thoroughly and never breathe a word of this to anyone. He was thoroughly flustered, and we made a graceful exit.

Then I went to talk to Schulmann alone. We didn’t fully trust this guy, so I didn’t take the stone with me. He was very anxious to get his hands on the thing, and I told him we’d found it and that the others would be bringing it along shortly, but that we needed to discuss payment, what with my friends not being quite so civic-minded as me.

He promised all manner of reward from the Colleges of Magic, but that all sounded pretty fishy, since he promised way too much for a simple digging job. Well, not simple, exactly, but the price he claimed would have bought an army for him. So I pushed him to scrape up a down payment, just to make my comrades feel better. He said he’d only come out to Stromdorf with fifty gold crowns, and I said that’d be a good start. He protested that he needed money to live on between now and when the College would come through, so I acted all sympathetic and generous and said, “Well, forty-eight crowns would probably be sufficient, if I kind of ease them into it.” And he agreed to get me the money, which surprised me, since I thought he’d haggle or something.

So we brought him the stone, and after I reminded him, he paid us the money. Forty-eight crowns, just like we’d agreed. Heinz and the Elf take him to see the Professor about the translation of the elf text, but I hang back, and I swipe the smallest bit of stone from his house just in case he’s planning something nefarious.

After not too long, Heinz comes pelting back up the street, and says the Elf is chasing Schulmann out toward the city gates. So the two of us run to the gatehouse, and we meet a horribly burned watchman who says Schulmann attacked him with magic and rode out of town, followed by the Elf. We commandeer horses and gallop off after them.

Before long, Heinz’ horse pulls up lame. Since Schulmann is a warlock or wizard of some stripe, and Heinz is a hell of a shot with his bow, we swap horses and he continues on. I take the lame horse and walk back into town.

I’m still not entirely sure what went on out there, but apparently Schulmann murdered a fisherman with more magic and stole his boat, rowing out toward the middle of the river near the , under the spot where we’d seen those unnatural-looking storm clouds. Heinz catches up as the Elf is dragging another boat to the water in order to continue pursuit.

One way or another, the two of them manage to put Schulmann down, but not before he summons down a massive comet that strikes the river and nearly kills the both of them.

Suddenly, the storm slackens and then dies, and the clouds start breaking up. Heinz and the Elf make their sodden, aching way back to Stromdorf and then we’re paraded about the town as conquering heroes, right?

Not a chance. Actually, that damned priest comes out demanding that we be burned as heretics for “defiling” the Temple of Sigmar. Apparently Brother Fromm wasn’t as bright as we’d given him credit for.

Then all the people turn on us, apparently blaming us for ruining the year’s crop of… mildew and foot-rot, I guess. Captain Kessler has us run out of town — which was a kindness, considering the alternatives — and we’re cordially invited to never return on pain of death. Some gratitude for the people who saved them from Beastmen, Goblins, and a necromancer.

Luckily, Waltraut wasn’t banished with us, so we’re able to get him back into town to collect our possessions.

Overall, I guess we made out pretty well. We’re leaving town with two carts and two horses more than we entered with, along with a few casks of Thunderwater Ale, and a pouch full of more gold coins than I’ve ever before seen.

And we still have an authentic warrant, signed by the captain of the Stromdorf watch, authorizing the bearer to enter and search any structure in the city. I know I could easily think of a dozen profitable ways to use it, so I’m sure we’ll be able to find some enterprising fellow in Ubersreik who’d be willing to hand over a few coins in exchange for such a thing. I think I’d be happy to sell.

- Excerpted from “The Grave Robber’s Narrative” from Professor Adolphus Gleichner’s An Illuminated Treasury of Instructive Conversations with the Destitute and Wretched.

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Jake

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