Episode 1 (January 21, 2012 at Gigabytes Cafe)
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.