Their Fated Travels…
RPG Party events as told By Robert James Freemantle
In a dark far corner of the Reaver's Return Inn of Nuln, the party sat around a table with heads hung low. There was a definite feeling of deflation amongst the group. They had hardly spoke or made eye contact. Each just nursed their own drinks, deep in their own thoughts.
Ulger too picked up on this and made a debilitated sulking sound as he rested his large head on his front paws. His injuries were still clear to see, but the banadages were holding well. He had not tried to lick the wounds, after Dieter had scolded him once. Once had been enough.
Finally the one person who couldn't understand them and who they couldn't understand was the one to break the silence, as Tordrad said, "Yes I was bear again. I would know of you now if you hold this power...this curse in my blood against me."
Rissandrea had gleaned somewhat of an understanding from the look in the man's eyes, plus she had also seen the transformation. Furthermore, what else could he be possibly speaking about? She considered. She spoke and laid a comforting hand on the large man's shoulder, "Do not worry of this Tordrad, though I see by your face that it pains you so – do not worry. Some of us are granted divine guidance from time to time so that we may do what is right. It is not like you used it for ill, after all."
Maestro spoke up next, "But it makes you think though, how long he's known he could do that. I wonder if he can do it on demand!"
Though the corner was dark, the halfling Tobias sat nearest the lantern on the wall. He shook his head dismissively and closed the book he was pretending to read then spoke, "I highly doubt that. Humans who transform into animals are a known quality within this world but were he simply of the blood cursed ones he would transform at regular intervals. We have been with him for a long time now. We would have seen it previously, before now at least. No, I believe it came on from stress, the great threat that creature posed."
Rissandrea nodded, "I concur on this. I do not think we should consider this a bad thing by any account. The will of the Kislevian Gods are in his veins perhaps. I don't think he can control it, but at least the beast that emerged wasn't out of control. It didn't attack us or innocents."
Tordrad stared, his head turning from speaker to speaker. He knew each was talking about him but he didn't know what they were saying. Anastasia was out visiting the market so she would be no help translating. Plus he knew that she would never be truly honest about what they were saying anyway.
Rissandrea spotted Tordrad looking at them and quickly said, "Come look everyone, Tordrad is becoming dismayed at being spoken about. Nod your heads and smile approvingly. All he needs is a little security that we don't judge him badly."
The others except Dieter complied in doing this. Dieter simply raised a hand and waved it in a couple of circles to indicate – yeah yeah, blah blah whatever. To Tordrad, the trainee doctor's actions were most welcoming. For Dieter to not be bothered was a good sign. It was like nothing had changed, for the man was mostly always unmoved by the events of the group.
Tobias was next to speak, "Recent events have had a sharp impact upon all of us. I still have the matter of my ongoing mental health, or the attempts towards it contined security anyway. I still have no knowledge of becoming an alter ego as you say I do. Though I am starting to remember being this person when I was younger. The things I did wrong then...perhaps the best thing for me to do is to face up to it. If I can revisit some link of the past then maybe I can re-connect my psyche to my existence."
Tobias looked at him sharply, "What is it Death?"
Dieter growled his response, "De'ath, how hard is it to say De'ath? You're doing it to annoy me. Not advisable. I will remember every time you've said it and when I punish you for it, it will just be all the worse.
Tobias shrugged with his usual disdain and Dieter, knowing that he'd do that simply continued, "You have a piece of warpstone in your brain. Nothing will change that, idiot. Now, I suggest you simply let me attempt to operate on it, like I asked before."
Rissandrea spoke up, "And I already told you Dieter, the chances of success for such a procedure are slight at the very least. The dangers to his life would be innumerable. Full contingency would be impossible."
Dieter raised a hand to silence the woman who was getting on his nerves now, "Well, it would all be positive really, I have had a distinct lack of corpses to practice on since arriving at the city."
Rissandrea turned away sickened.
Tobias used this point as a boarding plank for the next point, "And what of you, Death? The secrets you have kept from us all this time."
Dieter stared at Tobias long and silently. There was a sudden intensity at the table, as if the halfling's life was suddenly in peril, as if Dieter might suddenly act upon some dark desire. His eyes certainly burned with hate for his smaller party companion. Eventually the strained silence was ended as the man spoke abruptly, taking them all by surprise, "That is...complicated...I do not know how to start."
Tobias looked up his nose at the human and said, "From the beginning."
Dieter scowled at him again and then sighed, "All right, it seems as good a place as any to start. I do not know much of who I am. That is the truth. My father was never known and my mother died in childbirth...so I am told. I have no idea who my extended family are. I was somehow raised on the streets. I heard tale that the homeless would take care of me, like one of their own. I suppose I did become one of them. I have some early memory of being a begging stealing urchin in the streets."
Rissandrea nodded with genuine interest, her spectacles reflected a light which drew attention to her kind eyes, "the streets of where?"
Dieter answered, "Stirland...well, Sylvania really, but yes, Stirland..."
"Ah replied Tobias, "near to my home then, the Moot."
Dieter stared at the halfling disrespectfully, "Yes, don't remind me please."
Rissandrea smiled reassuringly at Dieter, this made him shudder inside but he tried his best to hide it as she asked, "Sylvania is a place in much need of the good lady's aid. The soldiers of that county are braver than most. I respect their desire to end the darkness. What part of Sylvania do you hail from?"
"Drakenhof" replied Dieter casually.
Tordrad almost spat his vodka out...almost. He swallowed it quickly and almost choked and said while pointing, "Vampire place?"
Dieter narrowed his eyes menacingly at the larger man. This didn't bother Tordrad at all as Dieter replied, "It's rude to point. No, not the castle...why does everyone always think of the castle? The nearby town of Drakenhof."
"I don't know" began Maestro, "As soon as you say that, it's pretty hard not to think of that castle. It's probably just fear. The human condition of survival."
"You would know all about that" started Tobias menacingly towards Maestro. The wizard went a little red and buried his face in his tall glass of milk.
Dieter continued, "There is a great deal of my younger life that too is sketchy. I'm sure you don't really want to know about my upbringing though do you?"
Tobias answered bluntly, "Not really, I think the thing we are all concerned about Death, is the black tentacles that came from your mouth as you appeared to be consuming Gabrielle – that and the madness that overcame you in the skaven battle."
Dieter sighed and breathed deeply and then he began, " I suppose I do indeed owe you some explanation of what is going on then. So be it. I will tell you what I understand of it. I have a dark presence inside of me. That is what you saw. It has been there for as long as I can remember. A dark evil spirit that haunts me. It will not let me be truly free. Sometimes if my life is threatened, it will take over. This has only been happening so regularly lately. It's like...it is becoming harder to hold it in check. I am...truly frightened of this thing. I don't know what it is or how it came to be inside of me."
The man's words came across even and calm. It sounded like he was telling the truth and they did not believe he was lying to them – even though Dieter was witholding certain other bits of information...
Tobias's face switched to an expression of questioning doubt, "But why did you...did it do what it did to Gabrielle's body? Did you want her dead? Did it know this?"
The man continued, "Of course I didn't wish her any harm! I needed her! While we were on the barge, I consulted with her, confided in her about my problem. I told her that something of the realms of the dead haunted me. She was an amethyst wizard, closer to the aspect of death than many, yet skilled in the arts of magic too. It was my hope that she would work with me in uncovering and removing this...entity."
Maestro asked, "Are we in any danger do you think? From this thing? Even right now?"
Dieter sighed again, "Look," he started and closed his eyes as the muscles in his eyebrows pinched closer together - he continued, "Magister Gabrielle agreed to help me. She said that study of my condition would require me to be observed for at least two weeks solid. I told her that I could not spare the time until this group's investigation into the final artifact was complete. This of course piqued her interest in the case and led her to investigate the trails of the artifact as well – which of course led her to being present at the final battle with the daemon..."
Rissandrea made the sign of the holy order at the memory of this event.
Dieter continued, "So you see, I even forsook my own wellbeing for the furtherment of this group's cause. So no, you are not in any danger as far as I am aware. Even when it took control of me in a combatitive state against the skaven, did I turn on you? No it did not. It fought them. I have that to be thankful for at least."
"Not as much as us" stated Maestro.
Tobias chimed in, "True enough, I can support Death here in saying that when he was fully posessed by this entity of undeath as he calls it, I witnessed elements of his strange actions before unconsciousness took me. He actually managed to save Tordrad from the rat men, erm I mean beast men assassins."
Dieter spoke firmly but with a sense of sadness that was unlike him, "I do not want this thing inside of me. I am am unwilling host. But it doesn't define me! You've seen who I am. I am all of that despite it. It is what it is aside from me. We are not the same. I am sure, if you feel it would be safer to not journey with me then by all means stop. And if you feel you would want to turn me in to the city guard or the witch hunters, for only trying my best to protect this party, to protect all of you then I will not try to force your hand otherwise. But please, do me the kindness of at least considering my plight before you over-react."
Dieter waited. As the moments passed and no one spoke out against him he smiled internally, hoping that none of it could be seen on the outside. His powers of suggestion were working strongly. The entire table was at least in some part minorly still under his influence.
Maestro challenged this somewhat as he asked, "But what of the magical spells you've been casting? You did not tell us you were a wizard, albeit a hedge wizard."
Tordrad's ears pricked up at this and he leaned forward intently, gripping his axe under the table.
Dieter became nervous at this and tried his best to hide it as he responded, "I suppose you could call me a hedge wizard yes, but not by choice. I don't know I am casting these spells. In fact, I do not believe I am casting them at all. I think the creature inside of me is doing it. He is the caster! Everything I have ever witnessed him do though has been to the benefit of the group. I assure you, were he to do anything that I felt went against any of you, threatened any of you in any way I would remove myself from you at once, permanently if need be."
Tobias rubbed his chin in thought, "Well, there is some support for this, as I have never seen Dieter's lips move to incant the winds of magic as one might. Nor have I seen any gestures or weavings on his part."
Maestro made a face of realisation at this and bowed his head in agreeance then spoke, "And my empathic channel never picked up on a lick of it either. I've never once had some spooky bizzare shadow or ghastly black tendrils come out instead of my own spell. That is the reason I do not travel with a wizard after all, for I would be influence by him after long enough. I am not with you."
Rissandrea nodded inteligently to all of what was being said and finally spoke to the rest of the party, "I truly do not believe Dieter is the enemy of this group. In fact, when I see him in battle, fighting side by side with all of you, I see how eager he is to protect his team. I truly believe what he says." She then turned gratiously towards Dieter so as to not be rude and not leave him out as she spoke, "It is clear that you are the victim. We must be sympathetic to your ordeal. Were the witch hunters to get involved, you would probably be put to death. A victim of a crime, in this case a spiritual crime should not be the one punished. The victim should be supported. The best place to gain that support is the church. We must let the divine powers attempt to heal him before we discard him to the wolves. How does that proposition sit with you all?"
Tordrad looked at the others of the group, starting to get the gist of the topic.
Maestro spoke first, "No problem here. Like we figured, this thing is inside of Dieter, it isn't who he is. We owe it to him to help him get rid of it. Though I do think you should have said something before."
Dieter lowered his head and replied, "And for that I apologise. I did not have faith in all of you enough to know for certain that you would try to help me rather than turn me in."
Maestro piped up cheerily in response, "Plus If there's any sign of chaos that Tordrad doesn't like, he will probably kill you himself or turn into a big bear and bite your head off."
"Thankyou for the comforting words" came Dieter's reply. Everyone axcept Maestro couldn't tell if the man was being sarcastic or not, as was usual with Dieter. But Maestro simply didn't pick up on it in the first place, as was usual with Maestro.
Tobias answered next, "Your dog is not scared of you. An animal has senses far keener than any halfling, so I will judge by Ulger's example thus far and simply continue to watch your actions carefully."
At the mention of his name, Ulger looked up with a thoughtful look, instinctively knowing they were talking about him.
Tobias continued, "Though I will add, if I see something I do not like, I will report it to the authorities at the first chance I get. Are we clear, Death?"
Dieter paused long enough to stop himself making an angry remark at his name's wrong pronunciation then finally said, "crystal clear Tobias..."
Rissandrea smiled and added, "I will lead the investigation to root out what is wrong with you Dieter. As soon as I have the resources and position to instigate an appropriate investigatory procedure within the church establishment. I say appropriate because this particular case would require a number of resources that I would not be able to gain access to without alerting suspicion. Even the church of Shallya if it feared your actions may alert the city watch to stand on guard to protect themselves. That though is not the way of the Vhor sub-sect. And it is to that end that I have news for you all." The others looked at Rissandrea intently as she continued, "I will be leaving this party."
This created a number of shocked faces. Even Dieter's mouth dropped open.
The shallyan devotee continued, "I have returned to the place of my birth, having followed the will of my lady here. I have re-united myself with friends that I knew years ago. They are now members of the church here. But the vhor sub-sect holds no sway over this place. I believe that when Shallya gave me her insight, that she was giving blessing to the Vhor principle of thinking. I feel she has tasked me to create a vhor sect church here in Nuln, just as there is one in Altdorf. To do this, will take time, money and a lot of hard work. Therefore I must remain here to achieve this goal. While doing this, I can continue to persue my learning too and discover what power might lay within these hands, so that I may one day gift upon another, life and hope in the darkest of encounters where previously I would have been able to offer neither. I do not want to lose another living person again, knowing that Shallya willed his life essence to continue but that I am not up to the task."
Maestro spoke quickly, "But who will heal us on the road? In all of the bloody dangerous scrapes we get into?"
Dieter replied, "I am a doctor in training too you know...and I will even throw in a nice shave at no extra cost."
This did not convince the wizard at all. Firstly because he was starting to become rather attached to his beard, or rather it was becoming attached to him at the very least, like beards usually would. That and the thought of Dieter with a cuthroat razor in his hand hovering over him...it just didn't sit well with him somehow. It seemed these new revelations would be hard for him to completely swallow. But he would go along with Rissandrea's wishes, for now at least, or at least until it looked like Dieter might actually become a danger to him.
Tobias's face fell, "We will miss you, m'lady."
Rissandrea put a hand on the halfling's face, "Oh Tobias, I hate to leave you too. I implore you to stay with me and let me heal the scars you have endured. I am sure the others can go on without you. My assessment is that you need therapy. If we are staying put, I will be in a strong position to give just that."
Tobias answered, "I go where I am sent ma'am. The Emperor willed me here...because of Maestro. There is still a great matter I must preside over and it will affect the world. That is the will of the Emperor and the highest magisters of the Celestial College Seers. My wellbeing comes second to the needs of the world."
"Oh poor brave Tobias", I will not be able to convince you, I see that now. But as soon as you are free of your shackles, come to me. Do you promise me that? Even your wife can stay in Nuln while I treat you here".
Tobias smiled at the thought of a future far removed from the neccasities of duty, "Of course. I will oblige you gratefully when that day comes."
Extract from the diary of Maestro:
I am uncomfortable with this. As a full magister of the order, it is my duty to tell the College of any hedge wizards I encounter, so that the correct enforcers might be summoned to apprehend them.
Hedge wizards are dangerous, they tell us. Being one is a dangerous offence indeed. The counter argument is that Dieter is not a magical caster at all. The point they are making is that the thing inside of him has the power. Tonight I saw an example of this, to verify it.
I saw Dieter exhibiting aura essences of the amethyst order. I know for a fact that a hedge wizard would not be able to summon that energy about his person. Then I remembered where he had encountered the lore of death...Gabrielle. Yes, the creature inside has feasted on her in some way, I truly believe that, and now it has absorbed some of that power. This goes some way to making me believe him now...
I will follow the advice of Tobias. If that meddlesome halfling isn't going to turn Dieter in, I'm sure as heck not going to be considered more uptight than him!
Extract from the diary of Rissandrea:
The others have stumbled upon an illegal gambling and fighting arena. One of the city watch showed them it and now it seems they want to attend. It also seems they want to take part...If I go with them, it will be to heal those who are wounded...what a foolish idea. I can understand that they want to let off some steam, but this surely cannot be a good idea, at any time!
Extract from the diary of Maestro:
Now, I wouldn't normally go along with this sort of thing, but the guards are even in on this so there's no winning. In fact, running away now might cause suspician...oh my. It looks like I will have to put a few bets on then...to not stand out of course...Of course I'm not going to take part myself. I wouldn't stand inside a fighting arena letting someone beat my face in.
Exctract from the diary of Tordrad:
This is good! I want to fight in this. I have signed up for fighting tournament. I want to see how strong men of this Empire are.
Extract from the diary of Tobias:
We discovered the fighting pit inside a warehouse on the docks district. When you go into the warehouse, you lift a section of the floor up to reveal stairs that lead down. There is no chance of anyone finding it down here.
I will be taking notes of all of this of course, then I will tell the authorities about it...
Extract from the diary of Dieter:
I have surprised everyone by saying that I am signing up for the tournement. I don't see a reason why this is unusual, although I suppose based on what they know of me I can see why they would be. They don't really know what I'm about, this group.
I went to test myself against the others of this city. I want to feel the good honest taste of blood in my mouth, be it my own from being struck or my opponent's if I bite him.
The others do not know what is going to hit them. Even if I don't win, I will make them remember me...
Extract from the diary of Tobias:
The night of round one is finally here...Yes, at first I thought I could pick their pockets while they watch, but no. They have given most of their money up as bets. Damn. There's only one thing left for it. I'm pretty handy with my fists. I'll just have to compete in this fighting arena too!
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