Warhammer: The Rise of Chaos

The Dread Below
Episode II of the Rise of Chaos

Transcript of the game played on February 18th, 2012 at Giga-Bytes Cafe

RumpholtThe Chamberlain slumped into a chair, leaned forward with his elbows on the table, rubbing at his tired eyes. It was late into the night, and the old man was exhausted. He’d risen before dawn to oversee the Baron’s procession to the parade grounds with his troop of cavalry. And after the Baron had joined the Emperor’s crusade to liberate Talabheim, he’d return to the Estate only to discover the Baron’s heir missing. That crisis had been resolved by the only men he felt he could trust. But now, in the dark of a night when Morrslieb had made its unexpected and unwanted return to the rainy skies, there were new troubles.

Rumpolt raised his head, and once again looked at the stranger, Hans. The painfully thin alchemist had survived the fall of Wurzen and a harried journey to Altdorf, only to be given shelter by the priests of the dead god. And had been rescued by Rumpolt’s band.

“Tell me again.” Rumpolt said to the younger man.

Hans nodded. “The Purifiers and I had been surprised by the mercenaries. They questioned us over and over about Freddie, who we hadn’t seen, and the catacombs. We didn’t have the answers they wanted, so they tied us up and gagged us. They argued for a while, then the sergeant had four of us men take the Purifier’s robes and masks and sent them for help. Then the six others hurried down the stairs and into the catacombs where we couldn’t see them. And after a few minutes, couldn’t hear them either.”

“They didn’t come back?” Rumpolt asked.

Hans shook his head no. “Never saw the other four again either, until after everything was done and I saw their bodies in the passageway out.”

“It was the same men?”

“Yes, the same.”

“No idea who they were?”

“None. Never saw them before and they didn’t say anything to reveal their identities.”

“I’d never seen them before, either,” ventured Taltos, the Baron’s shadowy bodyguard, who sat to the left of Hans. “Later, they claimed to be Grey Company and seemed to know details and passwords.”

“Bella is a Whore!” the young wizard Balthazar said gleefully, which earned him a reproachful look from the stern Witch Hunter.

“Yes, that’s one of the passwords I know they’ve used,” Taltos agreed. “I’m not convinced they were Grey Company, but that’s easy enough to figure out with a few questions and some coin.”
Rumpolt nodded. “What of this altar you say you found?”

“I lit the braziers hung from the ceiling with a quick dart of fire,” Balthazar spoke up, “and it was right there in the center of the room.” The wizard had conjured a tiny ball of flames which danced along his fingertips.

“This room, as he calls it, was quite a chamber.” This was the dwarven Thane, Grum, the troll hunter who had somehow redeemed himself in the eyes of his people, and was a guest of the Baron’s.

“It was huge and decorated in a style I’ve never seen before,” Edwin the Witch Hunter said.

“Old work, long neglected,” Grum continued, obviously irritated at being interrupted. “Not very sturdy. Parts of the ceiling collapsed. Floor littered with stone and fallen earth, bits of rotting furniture.”

“There was a long trench in the floor, cutting the room in half,” said Taltos. “Three bridges crossed over this pit which was maybe twenty feet across and forty deep.”

“And the altar was next to the middle bridge, a bloody stone slab,“ Hans said. “There were knives, bowls with blood and urns with naptha.”

“Those would have burned so nicely,” the wizard said to no one in particular.

“Obviously, the work of an insidious cult of chaos,” said Edwin, his lip curling into a snarl.

“That, and the pile of bodies.”

“Thrice as tall as a dwarf,” said Grum.

“The bodies had been thrown into the pit. Stripped to the skin and punctured on both sides, presumably while still alive.”

“Something was moving in the pile,” Balthazar said, waving out the fire on his fingers.

“He set the whole thing on fire,” said Taltos.

“Singed my eyebrows off”, the wizard replied, “but it sure was a big fire!”

“Damned fool,” the dwarf grumbled. “Couldn’t see properly until it was almost too late.”

Rumpolt interrupted: “That’s when you were attacked?”

“They were husks,” said Edwin. “The bodies of the dead animated by dread necromantic energies.”

“They climbed up either side of the pit while we were focused on the middle.”

“One of them was on fire,” Balthazar remembered.

There was a pause as the five fighters remembered the battle.

Rumpolt shuddered. He had never seen a husk, but had heard stories of the unpurified bodies of villagers rising to attack a noble lord or merchant caravan. “But, you were able to put them down?” he asked.

They all nodded.

“We climbed down to investigate the bodies,” Taltos told the old man. “The body on top was a boy roughly Freddie’s size.”

“It wasn’t him,” Balthazar interjected quickly.

“The pile has taken some time to grow,” Hans said. “I’ve seen more than my share of the dead with the Priests of Morr. The ones on the bottom of the pile were badly decomposed. The smell was horrific. But, the ones higher up were still, um, fresh.”

The other four witnesses nodded.

“Inside of it, this trench was designed to look like a city street, carved into the sandstone block walls. There were passages into the dark to the north and south. We went north.”

“Bad idea,” said the Dwarf with a grunt. “Green monkeys. Stole my light rock.”

“I set him on fire as he ran away, but then another one jumped me and knocked me down,” said the wizard.

“Knocked me down, too, boy,” Edwin growled. “Nearly bit my face off,” he said pointing to the bloody linen wrappings covering his wound.

“Yeah, yeah,” the wizard responded. “I didn’t see that. The monkey jumped on my chest and would have gotten me good, but I got away. And set it on fire.”

Rumpolt looked first to Taltos, then Edwin. “Any idea what they were?”

Taltos shook his head. “Big as a man, gangly, green skin, wild grey fur on their heads,” he began.

“A mouth full of bloody sharp teeth and a mad laugh born of evil itself,” finished the Witch Hunter.

Rumpolt held his head in his hands and sighed. Husks. Green monkeys. Somewhere beneath this keep that he once thought secure.

“We turned around and went back the other way,” Taltos said after a moment. “That’s where we found the mercenaries.”

“They were cowering in the darkness,” said Grum. “The lot of them. Taltos here talked them out of hiding.”

“They were cut and bruised pretty badly,” Hans said.

“And had already lost two or three men to the husks and the monkeys,” continued Taltos.

“There will be a reckoning for them,” said Edwin sourly.

“Soon enough, friend Witch Hunter,” said Taltos. “They confirmed they’d been sent to kidnap Freddie. Hired by an anonymous woman, old they thought, who told them how to sneak into the Estate.”

“I have guards posted at the base of that shaft,” Rumpolt said, sitting up. He stifled a yawn before continuing. “Tomorrow, we’ll have the Engineering guild begin filling it with stone rubble. But, the end of your story, please, before I fall dead asleep where I sit.”

“Yes, of course. We could all use some sleep,” said Taltos. “To keep it short, we escorted the mercenaries out of the temple complex and then went to check something that we’d seen when we rescued the priests and Hans in the first place.”

“There was an archway, on the stage, that someone had blocked with a large, stone slab. Room enough for a small boy to squeeze through, “ the Witch Hunter said.

“We pushed it over onto its side,” said the Dwarf.

“It fell, and the noise was amazing,” said the Wizard.

Everyone look at the wizard for a moment.

“Well, it did,” he said defensively. “Anyway, there were a lot of hallways and little rooms inside and the floor was covered with all of these tendrils, like from a plant. It made me sneezy.”

“All of us were affected by something in the air, except the Lord Grum here,” Hans said.

“Men are not made of the stuff we are,” Grum said with a smile. “Regardless, we turned the corner and there was some great wheezy beast of a man dressed in dark robes and carrying a scythe like some bloody grim reaper.”

“It wasn’t completely corporeal, “ Taltos said, "but it did suffer our blows and we were able to disperse it.”

“And I set the black dog on fire,” Balthazar concluded happily. He’d conjured another wee bit of fire to play with.

Rumpolt asked: “And that’s where you found Freddie.”

Taltos nodded. “He’d climbed down a hole in the floor into some sort of cavern to hide from his kidnappers and the undead.”

“We pulled him out and brought him to you as requested,” said the dwarf. “Now, how about another round of ale, lads?”

Rumpolt nodded and signaled to one of the kitchen servants. “You’ve earned it my friends. But I’m afraid tomorrow will bring us only new troubles.

And the old Chamberlain wasn’t wrong.

The Rise of Chaos
Wherein Our Story is Recounted

Episode 1 (January 21, 2012 at Gigabytes Cafe)

Altdorf skyline
There were no good signs that morning in October when the Emperor Karl-Franz I, the Grand Prince of Altdorf and Count of Reikland, led his great army through the gates of the Capital to march on the enemy. Heavy grey clouds rolled westward, threatening to add another downpour to the cold wind and gloom. For nearly an hour, trumpeters had sounded assembly, but the great parade of the Empire’s finest regiments got off to a late start anyway. The mass of the army, wet and muddy, awaited outside the gates of the city, along the road to Talabheim.

“The Baron’s son, Freddie, is missing,” said Rumpolt, the Sigmarssohn chamberlain told the assembly in the Baron’s study. They included, in no particular order: Kadrin, a dwarven Runesmith and exile from Karak Azul. Thane Grum, a dwarven emissary from Karak Azgaraz. Taltos, the Baron’s shadowy personal bodyguard. Balthazar, the young Bright Wizard hired to tutor the Baron’s wife Isla in the ways of magic. And the witch hunter Edwin Luther, a representative of the Holy Order of the Templars of Sigmar.

Rumpolt explained that the Baron had, just the night before, refused to allow the boy to travel with him to war. And further ordered the boy be confined to the mansion and watched at all times. Rumpolt charged the Baron’s men with the task of quickly, and quietly, finding the Sigmarssohn heir before any harm came to him.

The guards, still on watch outside the boy’s room, were trying to decide which of them should take the blame for his disappearance when Taltos and Kadrin arrived to investigate. Detlof and Seel nervously explained that nothing unusual had occurred. The boy had returned to his room from lunch. His tutor came at the expected one o’clock hour, and left an hour later. They saw nothing unusual and heard nothing unusual. Rumpolt discovered the boy was missing when he arrived at four o’clock to alert the boy that dinner would be served in an hour’s time.

Taltos and Kadrin searched the boy’s room and found nothing apparently missing. Someone had chipped away at part of one of the window frames, but the window, locked on the outside, was not open. It took the keen senses of the dwarf to discover the small, arched secret door in the wall next to the wardrobe.

Edwin Luther and Grum interrogated the boy’s tutor, an old man named Rickart, the last person to see the boy. Rickart explained that he had arrived after lunch, as he did every day, trying to teach the boy his rhetoric, arithmetic and reading his letters. After the regular hour of lessons, Rickart, left the boy’s room and made his way downstairs to the kitchen where he shared in the left-overs from lunch. He was on his way out of the mansion when he was detained by Olas, the chief of the House Guard. Intimidated by the powerful dwarf and terrified of the witch hunter, Rickart confessed that he had, on two occasions over the last four months, smelled the odd scent of sulferous brimstone. A sure sign of choas, as Edwin Luther well knew.

On the way to the boy’s room, Edwin Luther intercepted Initiate Berta, a Sigmar Warrior-Priestess in training, and Freddie’s religious instructor and confessor. Berta explained that the boy was obsessed with the war and had stated his attention to ride at his father’s side at the head of the Sigmarssohn regiment when the Emperor marched to Talabheim.

Balthazar nervously knocked on the door to the Baroness’s chambers. He had spent many long hours trying to teach the noblewoman, which was exceedingly difficult because Isla had absolutely no affinity for the winds of magic. Unfortunately, she believed otherwise, and “cast” many spells from an alleged grimoire her husband had acquired for her. Her magic only seemed to work when her tutor was present, a situation that irritated the woman to no end. This was because, when Balthazar was present, he would conjure a cantrip to give off a quick show of light and noise to create the illusion of a spell.

When Balthazar told her the news of her son, Isla screamed and bolted past the wizard, dashing to her son’s room. She confronted the bodyguard and runesmith, unleashing her anguish and fear upon them before she suddenly remembered her magical abilities. Dashing back to her own room, she dragged the poor young wizard inside and locked her chamber door behind them.

“I shall cast a Tracking Spell!” she declared and proceeded to place three drops of her own blood and a lock of her child’s hair into a censor of red-hot coals. The stench of the burning hair and blood filled the room as expected, but it was the booming voice and hazy apparition that startled her. The voice declared that she had invoked chaos and that her “spell shall fail!”

The Baroness, terrified she had awoken some great evil, sought assurances from her tutor. And then insisted that he be the one to cast a tracking spell. Improvising quickly, Balthazar cast a cantrip and the booming voice returned. “Your son is dead!” the voice announced, and with a scream, the Baroness fainted and fell to the floor. Balthazar wisely fled the room to avoid any suspicion.

When the wizard got to the boy’s room, his other four compatriots were already preparing to descend the rungs in the vertical shaft revealed behind the secret door. After a quick word with the Witch Hunter, Balthazar and others began the climb downward.

The shaft was only wide enough to allow a person to climb the iron rungs. Overhead, it was clear there was another secret door of similar design and some sort of hatch to the roof. Below, they passed secret doors to the third and second floor of the mansion, and then continued down another thirty feet into a cellar chamber.

The rungs of the ladder and the shaft overhead were concealed by old, empty kegs. The smallish cellar had many empty crates and containers, including one that smelled of Rosemary and was marked with sigil of a herbalist Balthazar knew supplied the College of Wizards with reagents and ingredients for potions.

A door opened into a hundred foot long, narrow stone passageway, lit only at the end by two torches where the passage turned sharply to the left and right. The murmur of voices could be faintly heard echoing about.

Taltos slunk along the dark walls, leading the group to the intersection. To the left, the passageway curved around out of sight and slightly upward. To the right, the passage opened into wider, fifty foot long chamber that ended with a set of double doors. Above the doors, the Sigmarssohn family crest had been vandalized into a sign Edwin Luther recognized as a mark of chaos.

But before they could investigate further, four robed men rounded the curving hallway and confronted Kadrin, who had gone to investigate that direction. Two of these intruders immediately set upon the dwarf with maces, while the other two appeared to be casting magic. All were wearing light brown robes with hoods and black lacquer

With a shout, Edwin Luther led the group to charge to Kadrin’s defense. For his part, the dwarf took a minor blow before ducking away from his opponents. The bright wizard unleashed a bolt of flame that unfortunately fizzled before impacting the enemy. But Edwin Luther’s pistol found its target, sinking a ball into the chest of one of the men. Grum, the former troll slayer swung his mighty hammer, striking the second attacker’s left shoulder, sundering bone and meat and literally tearing the man’s arm from his dying body.

Taltos used his dagger to decapitate the man who had been stricken by Edwin Luther’s shot, as Kadrin reversed course and charged past to smash one of the enchanter’s hooded heads like a pumpkin. Spinning around after the strike, Kadrin then body-slammed the fourth intruder into the wall.

On his knees, the last enemy quickly begged the group for mercy. Which Edwin Luther delivered with a shot through the head.

Thus endeth the lesson.


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