((Don't forget to vote in your favourite character poll for this series. You can vote at fanfiction's website via this URL - .net/topic/86768/37888424/1/

Via warseer forum's stories section of the site

Or through the following warhammer fantasy forums in their offtopic sections:

Da Warpath

The Herdstone

Bugman's Brewery

Chamber of the Everchosen

The Daemonic Legion

Thanks for the support. Poll entry results amassed together will be listed here at the end of this story series. ))

Their Fated Travels…

RPG Party events as told By Robert James Freemantle

Chapter 24

To Nuln By Barge – Part One

On their way back to Altdorf, the group had several questions to ask.

From the diary of Maestro:

Day 88:

I'm wondering now why we didn't see a peep of that Anastasia girl during the skaven battle…I wonder where she was? Not that the authorities that be will even admit that there was a skaven battle, regardless of how much we tell them. The officials of the Empire have decided to keep the underfolk as mere myth and mystery. Something to scare the children into behaving themselves. From what I could understand of the officials I have conversed with and the study I have made, the greatest threat to mankind is the race of skaven. Though they are apparently too taken up with in-fighting and backbiting politics to properly unify enough to set upon mankind in a jointed effort. Were they to do so, it is considered highly likely that they would overcome us. If we knew for a fact that the underfolk truly did exist then we would fear them. Fear them for the bogey-men they are! We would attack and drive into their rat holds in great numbers. We would bring the fighting to them, for the first time in history and they would react by doing something that hasn't be done in history – unify out of self preservation. That would be very bad for us…

Oh well, we'll have to just let them carry on believing the myth and the lies. We'll say it was merely beastmen that attacked us. It saves time and paperwork that way!

From the diary of Tobias:

Day 88:
Maestro was quite disturbed. He's quite disturbed generally, but on this occasion it was Anastasia. Somehow she and our driver Samuel had gone missing. He brought this concern to me and I was able to explain what was going on. I am experienced enough at seeing other casters to understand what magic is in play here. Anastasia uses the ice magic lore that can be found in the Kislev people. Their raw magical power is channelled not from the eight winds like Empire wizards, but from the ley lines that permeate the lands. I observed that though she doesn't understand how to weave magical words or willingly cast a spell, the girl can cast spells with her auto-reflexes. Just by wanting to protect herself from the skaven attack, she unknowingly weaved a shield of ice around both herself and Samuel. What made this all the more complex of course was the further genius behind it! The bending of the ice refracted light in such a way as to create a mirror of nothingness there to the air about it. For all purposes, the girl disappeared before us. I was the only one to have witnessed it.

It's lucky for the group that they have me along with them. A scholar of such masterful understanding. The buffoon Maestro wouldn't be where he was today without me.

Extract from the diary of Tordrad:

Day 88:

I have no idea what happened in the big fight. One moment I am fighting with three black cowled rat men – the next I am being pulled backwards by some force, through a hazy place that made no sense. It makes my stomach want to heave again just from remembering it.

From the diary of Tobias:

Day 88:

Ah and of course there is then the matter of Dieter! Oh dear. I saw it…I saw something that again no one else saw. I wonder why I am the only perceptive one amongst this group? Something changed in the man. Something was wrong with him. We need to be careful, to keep an eye on him. I am starting to think that he is not being honest with us about his past. If no one else will, I at least will try to observe him.

Extract from the diary of Rissandrea:

Day 94:

We arrived back in Altdorf safe enough.

It turns out that we have a second reason for going to Nuln now anyway. We have received new intelligence suggesting that the location of the final shard will be Nuln. I don't have to feel so guilty about pressing the party in that direction now.

From the diary of Tobias:
Day 96:

We have used our contact in the Amethyst College, the lady wizard Gabrielle to aid us in the next leg of the journey. She has granted us access to a barge she was travelling on – 'The Emperor Wilheim'. As long as we go to the Countess of Nuln's masquerade ball as her entourage once we get there. Maestro wasn't very keen at the thought of potentially meeting Countess Emmanuelle of Nuln herself. He has heard of her rather…hot blooded reputation for males that visit within her hospitality.

Extract from the diary of Tordrad:

Day 98:

Oh wonderful. We travel by barge once more. They serve us lobster. It just had to be lobster didn't it? I wonder how long this time before wizard make himself sick? The bloated nincompoop, like all men of this Empire.

Extract from the diary of Maestro:

Day 100:

Of all the places I had to meet that woman, it just had to be while I was trapped on a barge unable to escape. I have to admit though, I was and am rather tempted to jump overboard and risk my chances swimming the rest of the way…

Maestro was stood upon the deck, taking one of his quick lung-fulls of air before he'd disappear back down below, like always. He couldn't put his finger on it, but something had felt wrong about being up on deck. Something that his future warning senses had nudged in on. He looked around warily and still couldn't figure out what it could be.

Meanwhile, on an upper part of the barge, high atop on the roof of the driver's cabin, sat a rounded large figure of a woman, knelt on her knees in keen observation of a certain ragged and worried looking wizard below her. Her overzealous eye looked massive in the unrealistic lens of the telescope she looked through – however, when she opened her other eye, it too was just as large! Now she watched the man, as if he were her prey and she a huntress in the wild.

Maestro had adjusted his monocular, the implement he wore upon one of his spectacle lenses. He had felt something awry, as if he was being watched. Again he adjusted the monocular in the direction his mystical senses drew him to and he saw nothing – nothing but a blur of brown. He then realised that he was zoomed too far in – on some wooden decking. With a quick sharp little twist the viewfinder snapped back to reveal the entire lens filled up with a face! An image of a burly round faced woman who was looking back at him! She had a sadistic looking lustful smile on her face. Her smile was wide and revealed her mix of real and wooden teeth. The large wart under her eye had blue veins going through it, the same colour of blue as her own eyes, almost giving the impression that she was growing a third eye too. This was of course just Maestro's way of seeing things and in no way an indicator of mutation – especially given the fact that the woman who glared longingly at him, who jumped and clinged onto a rope then swung down towards him crying out in a shrill cry of adventurous glee was a Sister of Sigmar – a Sigmarite Nun! Worse still he knew her. This woman, he knew from Altdorf. This woman was besotted with him. He had lost count of how many times she had tried to win him over…an admirer wasn't such a bad thing as he saw it, even though he wasn't interested – it was just how forceful she was about it.

Sister Angelique Rosemead had landed on the deck as a creaking strain poured out of the floorboards below her. She started speaking, "Oh my Maesty-ro, I have not stopped thinking about you. I waited with baited breath for when I would next see you my wuffy puffy."

It was all the wizard could do to not let a panic attack come on. He steadied himself against some rigging and concentrated on the sensation of the rope and the way it hurt his hand the harder he clenched it.

Maestro looked around him with a shudder and said, "I'm just glad the others didn't hear that."

"Yes you are right" answered the overly enthusiastic brawny nun, "we should be alone together, to catch up on the past…and the future…"

Maestro spluttered and almost choked on just spittle alone before replying, "Oh no, I'm fine being up here thankyou sister."

"Oh come now" came the nun's reply, "you don't have to be so formal with me! Call me Angelique. I like it when you say my name."

Maestro replied, "Oh well in that case then, I would hate to disrespect your order and faith to Sigmar, sister."

Angelique frowned at this. Then her jovial smile returned to her plump features as she enquired, "So what brings you aboard the Wilheim my sweet?"

Maestro sighed and answered, "We're being roped into more service for others. All in the name of progressing, of getting better. You'd think I would have a control over where I'm going but fate or whatever it is just keeps pushing me in a particular direction."

Angelique took Maestro's hand in hers and seemed oblivious to the fact that it made the wizard squirm as she replied, "You cannot fight destiny, Maestro. What is meant to be…is meant to be…"

Maestro tried freeing his hand but it was no good – her grip was too tight. He simply considered that he was lucky to at least be a celestial wizard, in the most prime of positions to question and change fate if anyone ever was! It hadn't saved him from this though, he considered…

Quickly changing the subject, Maestro asked Angelique, "And sister, what brings you toward Nuln?"

"Sigmar guides us in his own way my fluffy bunny. I am to attend Lady Emmanuelle's fancy dress ball on a secret mission to uproot a possible chaos cultist amongst her bodyguard detail. So you can see, it was Sigmar who guided me to you."

Maestro almost stupidly made the mistake of saying that he too would be in attendance at the ball and then stopped himself, realising what a mistake that would have been. It would have also further given Angelique ammunition towards her crazy theories of divine match-making between them. Suddenly a panicked feeling arose in him, that she would see him at the ball anyway. Then he realised that they would be wearing masks. All would be well then, he considered.

"Maestro's hand was starting to throb now, in the grip of the nun. He asked, "Erm, could I have my hand back please?" and gave it a futile tug, before adding, "It's starting to hurt, you see."

"Oh poor little man." Came the woman's reply, "of course. Let me kiss it better for you." And she began to do just that, even though the wizard strained in her profoundly powerful grip.

Maestro was scared of this woman, he hated to admit it, but it was the truth. Come to that, he was scared of most women. Angelique then oddly made a point of this in her next question, "My darling. Why do you play so hard to get? Why can we not just be together like we are supposed to? Why keep up this lie? This façade?"

Maestro winced at her forwardness. He had gotten used to living a life free of this woman and he didn't much like the reminder of being back in it. He realised that if he told the woman that she wasn't attractive to him, it might anger her in some way. He wouldn't be able to defend himself either, because no spells or weapons were allowed to be used on the barge…Even with her bare hands, Maestro fancied the woman could kill him in seconds. He devised a new strategy – one that was not a lie – and with it he replied, "Look, I've told you before about my dooming? The warning curse. I had my stones read by an expert in this and I carry with me a dooming. Women. Women shall be my downfall it said. The further I am from women, the better it is for me, you see? If you believe so much in fate, and in my well-being, you will understand surely that this is for my best interests."

The nun considered this for a few moments, a serious look across her features. To Maestro's sorrow her confident smile suddenly returned again and she replied, "And it may be true, with any other woman. You were right to steer away from those other harlots and strumpets, my love. I think you are right. You are cursed by women. But let me ask you a question my wizzly wizardy woo-woo…"

The nun was oblivious to Maestro's eye spasm as it twitched violently in protest to her wording. She simply continued, "The first place we met was when I was on a mission to your College? Do you remember that day?" Maestro solemnly nodded his head as she continued, "then we met after that, at the church of Sigmar, going to and fro and sometimes on official business? For blessed Sigmar's church is only across the road from your College. Each and every time we meet, including now I am on official business for the church or am in the vicinity of the church building itself. Therefore, our meeting is guided by Sigmar – and in that regard it must be safe. Therefore, were you to fight against it Maestro, do you know what that would be?"

Maestro gulped and blinked his eyes once before quickly shaking his head, fearfully at what the crazed woman was about to say.

Angelique continued, "It would be blasphemy against HIM. You do not wish to blaspheme against Sigmar do you?"

Maestro could see nothing he could say that would get him out of this pickle. His heart beat anxiously in his chest. His head throbbed terribly with stress and then suddenly, he fainted. He would not wake for a very long time indeed. Dreams of doom and women, women and doom and blue veined warts garlanded his nightmarish slumber. He felt trapped within it, as if he might be sleeping for a thousand years. With Angelique waiting for him outside of that reality, he preferred it that way…