Lord Aschaffenburg seemed like a nice enough fellow, but maybe not too bright. Since it was late, and we’d had a harrowing time of it on the road, he told us we could get some sleep and start our investigation in the morning. He declared we’d be sharing Hendrick‘s room, which didn’t appear to sit to well with him. He also said I could use some of Hendrick’s best clothes for the upcoming feast, which definitely didn’t sit too well with Hendrick.
So the three of us go with Hendrick to the bedchamber, but the Elf tells me he thinks we should take a quick look around before sleep, while nobody’s about. Seems like a good idea, especially since we hadn’t had any dinner yet, so the two of us leave and go sneaking about the manor house while Heinz rests.
Well, we first visited the hospice. ‘Bunch of hurt folk in there, mostly from the beastman attack a couple of days earlier. There’s a Dwarf ranting and raving about all sorts of things, like “the pretty flowers” and “hide the hammer” and “books and wine and sleep”.
After leaving the hospice, we snuck down the back stairs, and ended up in the kitchen, which suited me fine. I pilfered a fresh loaf of bread, and then we found the wine cellar. No harm checking out a wine cellar, right? We grabbed a couple of brands from the fireplace for light, and descend the dark stairway. The sharp-eyed Elf spotted some scratches on the floor, “just like in the master bedroom,” he tells me. So after I sample the cellar’s wares, we find a fake bottle that’s actually a latch, and a wine rack swings away from the wall, revealing a dark corridor.
About this time, we hear some voices from the kitchen, and we get all still and quiet. We can’t make out what they’re saying, but they get closer, and then we hear the door to the cellar close and lock. So now we have no choice but to explore the passageway behind the wine rack… which leads to an unmistakeable temple of Chaos.
There’s a big black rock and an eight-pointed star carved into the ground, and a lot of dried blood everywhere. There’s also a bookshelf with some creepy old tomes. One of ’em is titled something about flowers, which reminds me of the crazy Dwarf, so I steal it. The Elf picks out a book too, something demon-related.
We find that there are two other ways out of this horrible place; one leading up a ladder to the back of the bookcase in Aschaffenburg’s room, and one leading up to a trap-door under the rug in the library. Since our point of entry was locked, we climbed up into the library.
The Elf throws his book into the fireplace, since he figures books like that shouldn’t be left lying around. We leave the library and enter a room with a big curtain across one wall. The Elf peeks behind it and sees the edge of a picture frame. We were both getting really uncomfortable in the room. I mean, I’ve been in a lot of unpleasant places, but that room was creepier than any grave I’ve ever stood in. We hastily leave that room and head back upstairs to get some sleep, figuring we’ll come investigate it further after sunup.
Well, the next morning, we wake up to find that the book I’d swiped was now missing; someone had been in the room and taken it. Maybe it was Hendrick. We wander around the manor looking to figure out who’s using the temple in the basement. The painting in the scary room is gone as well. Long story short, it turns out almost everybody is, and those who aren’t are drugged into near-unconsciousness. We find out that the venison for the evening’s feast has been laced with that sleep-drug as well, so it’s pretty clear that something particularly nasty is going to take place that night. We interrogate the librarian, and he verifies our suspicion that Gregor Piersson, the manor’s steward is behind it all. We also get a confession that the librarian is one of the cultists, and that the painting (“The Eye”) is really important. So we slice his neck and leave him in the basement, since leaving him to creep around would just make everything worse.
Really, the only good thing that happens is that we find the dwarf’s hammer, which had been hidden in the chapel of Sigmar off to one side of the courtyard. We hide it in a crate so it isn’t obvious, and then head to the manor house again. We’re desperately looking for that painting, but can’t find it anywhere.
Just after we get there, we hear the dinner bell sound, so we sprint downstairs to the dining hall… only to discover that everyone’s already stuffing their faces with the drugged venison. I don’t know what happened to all that upper-crust dinner manners stuff, but I charge in and jump to the top of the long table, yelling for everyone to stop eating, ’cause the venison is poisoned.
Albrecht the coachman makes a run for it, and Heinz and the Elf go after him. For my trouble, I get treated like an idiot by Aschaffenburg, who, you’ll remember, is the one who hired us to find out what was going on. He doesn’t even spit out the mouthful of venison he’s chewing on, and then starts defending his beloved doctor, who at the moment had my dagger at his neck. Finally the damned noble falls asleep from the drug, so I take the opportunity to put the doctor away all permanent-like. I’ve never killed anyone before, and now two in one day…
So by now everyone who’s not sleeping is scampering off to various parts of the manor. I head downstairs, and find that they’re all attending a nasty ritual in the Chaos temple. I get there just in time to see Piersson the steward slit the throat of one of the other servants, and the blood pours all over this horrible-looking painting… ah. There it is.
Well, I’m all alone, and I’m pretty sure that whatever this ritual is supposed to do, I don’t want done. But there’s a bunch of them between me and Piersson, so I fling one of my daggers and it sinks into his chest, but clearly not deeply enough, as he just keeps on reading from this burned, water-damaged looking book he’s holding (apparently somebody came by the fireplace in the library last night shortly after we did).
Well, that’s when they noticed me. I made a run through the darkness to the ladder leading up to Aschaffenburg’s bedroom, pursued by a bunch of the cultists. I figure I’ll loop around and come in the other way, maybe after dumping a couple of my pursuers down the ladder, and, if I’m lucky, distributing a couple of artistically-broken necks amongst the Chaos-loving bastards…
- Excerpted from “The Grave Robber’s Narrative” from Professor Adolphus Gleichner’s An Illuminated Treasury of Instructive Conversations with the Destitute and Wretched.