Averland Adventures: The Blue Reach Delta
“The time of ascension grows closer. The avatar’s unshackling is imminent. My destiny will not be denied.”
The Blue Reach Delta
Located between a fork of the River Aver east of Pfungzig in Averland is a small delta where a few isolated and quiet villages raise horses, grow food and grapes for wine, and otherwise lead a relaxed existence in a little nook of the Empire. Growing up or making a home in the area, our future heroes can hardly imagine that the adventures they’ve dreamed about for years will land on their doorstep or that their actions will decide the fate of their home.
Our story thus far:
After escorting their patron, Wilhelm Neiderlitz, to Pfungzig, our heroes uncovered the machinations of the Cult of Handrich, who had continued to spread their influence south into Averland. The Kraemer Twins, Valdred and Valdric, ran the operations in Pfungzig, but those were hampered by the involvement of the heroes. Getting revenge on an old member of their cult and on the heroes, the Twins toss a helpless Wilhelm from a second story window. The heroes transport the comatose Wilhelm to a temple of Shallya in Averheim and while they wait for him to recover , they get involved in an investigation regarding self-immolating and exploding people during the famous Averheim Wine Festival. After interactions with the head of the Lietdorf family, Kastor, and other important figures in the Averland hierarchy (both criminal and otherwise), the group discovered that a special wine was made using warpstone-tainted grapes which would cause people that drank it to burst into flames or explode. Crashing an auction of some bottles of the “fire wine”, the party stopped the creators of the wine, but not before some of it disappeared into circulation.
More than a month passed after the Festival ended. The group escorted Kastor back to Streissen and then they took Wilhelm home. But a lot had changed in the Blue Reach Delta from when they left two months earlier.
After their departure, a mercenary band known as the Iron Circle moved into the region and took over the towns, with their leader Redthorn taking control of Southern Sun Keep and capturing Eckhardt’s father, Viggo Cavindel. Further, their Chaos Beastmen allies, old enemies of Dolwen, razed the village of Sigmaringen, killing many of the inhabitants. The few refugees from the village hid at Wilhelm’s ranch.
With the return of our heroes, rebellion may have a chance, but first, allies were needed. After being driven out of the Delta by pursuing Iron Circle soldiers (including the pyschotic Helmut, an old enemy of Axel), they discovered the source of undead plaguing the southern parts of Averland and destroyed his necromantic evil, freeing up some Bergjaeger soliders to assist in the inevitable uprising. Following that, our heroes picked up two new members for their party and entered Black Fire Pass on a quest to earn favour with the Dwarves and possibly additional allies. Successfully returning the legendary hammer of an ancient Dwarven Thane, they barely managed to escape an awakened Dragon Ogre as they escaped the tomb. However, that wasn’t the only surprise awaiting them.
Prior to heading back to Averland, they were interrupted by a Giant on the run from both an advancing army of Ogres moving west and advance scouts of a Chaos Dwarf legion that are moving south. Time grows short and the number of those with evil in their hearts in the area is increasing daily.
Heading back to Grenzstadt, they met with both the Dwarven King and the reigning noble of the city. However, before they could finish their report, the machinations of their old enemies, the Kraemer Twins, hearkens back to their investigation in Averheim. A surprise bottle of “fire wine” leads to the explosion of the noble and a close escape for the group and the King. Old grudges have returned to plague our heroes at this crucial time in the history of Averland.
The Kraemer Twins finally make their move to take over the area’s branch of the Cult of Handrich, striking out against Matthias Lietdorf, now revealed to be the Cult’s leader in the area. First, they seek to get their hands on the niece of Lady von Alptraum, who has been involved in a secret relationship with Matthias. While our heroes rescue her from Matthias’ country estate, the Kraemers target many of Matthias’ businesses in Averheim. Upon return, our heroes investigate multiple businesses that are targeted but it becomes clear that this is as much a message that they can get to Matthias as it is a way to lure out the heroes for a final confrontation. An invitation back to the first location where our heroes disrupted the Kraemer’s activities leads to an explosive climactic battle with the Kraemers finally meeting their end.
With the Kraemers out of the way and the Lietdorfs and von Alptraums working together for the first time in decades, the time is right to return to the Blue Reach Delta and reclaim it from the Iron Circle. A three-pronged attack is made, with our heroes destroying the Doombull-led Beastmen herd at Sigmaringen that Dolwen had followed across the Empire.
After the successful initial attack, the armies of Averland moved west toward Southern Sun Keep. But the Iron Circle wasn’t going to go quietly. They had surprises in store with a counterattack on the town of Schramleben. It was there that Axel finally had his reckoning with the Khorne-worshipping Halfling-murdering serial killer, Helmut. However, that reckoning was abruptly put to a stop thanks to a miracle shot with a sling rock from his fellow Halfling, Adam, who took the monster through the eye, killing him instantly.
With their second-in-command soundly defeated, the Iron Circle retreated to Southern Sun Keep and the Averland armies counted their losses. It was then that our heroes took matters into their own hands and while the armies provided a distraction by marching, they infiltrated Southern Sun Keep through a secret entrance known to Eckhardt.
Stealth got them a fair ways into the captured Keep, but eventually the ruse was up, and the heroes had to fight a good portion of the Iron Circle to free Eckhardt’s father, Viggo, and make their way to the Iron Circle leader, Nazin Redthorn.
The battle was epic, as Redthorn’s connection to Khorne ensured that his allies took damage intended for him while he inflicted crushing blows on the heroes. Slowly, however, the tide turned, and as Redthorn’s allies fell one by one, it became clear that liberation was at hand. As the final blow struck down Redthorn, the Blue Reach Delta was freed from its invaders.
A month after the end of the threat of the Iron Circle, things slowly returned to normal in the Blue Reach Delta, despite outside threats still to worry about. Two different armies marched through the World’s Edge Mountains and there was still an ancient evil awake in those mountains. Averland knew stability for the first time since the death of Marcus Lietdorf with the joining of the Lietdorf and von Alptraum families through Matthias’ marriage, but there were parties that thrived on the instability that wanted to see it return.
With the elevation of Matthias, missives needed to be delivered to the leaders of the Empire to get the wheels in motion for him to officially take over as Elector Count as well as gain support against the armies at the door by Averland. Our group was tasked with joining him when he visited the Countess Emmauelle in Nuln. This suited Axel perfectly, since he had some unfinished business with his original boss in Nuln and had dearly loved to pay him a visit one last time…
Nuln proved to be quite the experience, as the party found that Axel was unwittingly famous in the city for a series of murders he had apparently committed in the city while escaping. “Axel the Slayer” was a well-known tale in Nuln and, not surprisingly, Axel looked a lot like the famous murderer. Axel’s woes became even more pronounced when he was introduced to his former employer and suspected cultist, Lord Rothjaeger, now a more important Noble amongst the Countess’ court. With those two things working against him, Axel was going to have a tougher time proving any Rothjaeger wrongdoing.
The party also found itself embroiled in an ongoing gang war between multiple Chaos cults. Khorne Cultists of the Crimson Ring battled Slaaneshi cultists of the Cult of Ecstasy, while the Tzeentchians of the Purple Hand and Skaven of the Horned Rat also found themselves drawn in.
The Purple Hand staged an attack on a dinner party hosted by the Countess, blowing up some form of incendiary device in the ballroom in the process, killing nobles and underlings in the process. Investigation discovered a former prodigy student of the College of Engineering to be a cultist that built the bomb and former palace staff led the attack.
Further investigation led from Tzeentch to Slaanesh, as a secret location beneath a raven rookery turned out to be a hub of the Purple Hand’s investigations into other cults and players in Nuln. While the group investigated the massive collection of evidence and theory, including theories about which nobles were aligned to which dark gods, Slaaneshis of the Cult of Ecstasy staged an assault on the hideout, with the group caught in the middle. Chaos ensued, but the group was able to defeat the attackers and get away with lots of leads.
A few days of investigation of the many names on the walls of the Rookery revealed a disturbing pattern of activity in Nuln. Investigation led to the house of Otwin Hertzog, where the group discovered a massacre scene. All the people in the house were likely killed, with only one of the sons not accounted for. However, from the bloody footprints and large quantities of blood pooled on the floor, it appeared that most of the corpses were animated and walked out of the building.
This evidence of necromancy reminded Axel of disappearing bodies that were going missing in Shantytown, so the group headed there to investigate the disappearances more thoroughly. Dragging an old witness out of a drunken stupor, the group went back to the scenes of some disappearances and eventually realized that while Skaven were involved in transporting dead bodies out of the area, but that they weren’t actually the ones doing the killing, despite their usual habits.
A stakeout of the area seemed called for, so the group set up shop in Shantytown. It wasn’t long before they witnessed some Skaven skulking around and moving a body, but some managed to get away. However, before the group could investigate further, a shambling zombie horde made its way out of the sewers and into Shantytown, looking to expand their army. While some innocents were killed before the group could wade into the zombies, they managed to stop the horde from adding any more to their ranks, despite the massive abomination that anchored the assault.
It was during this furious battle that Adam happened upon a feisty Halfling baker woman and was lovestruck instantly. After the two of them worked together to fend off some zombies, they took their leave of Nuln, with Adam bidding the group farewell with celebratory pies.
With the zombies stopped, the group backtracked their path to find the lair of the Necromancer that animated them. Working uneasily with the Skaven that had worked with him for a while, the group bided their time to deal with them but did use their help to locate the lair. Finding a bunch of Skaven corpses in the lair (and providing a reason for the unusual alliance), the group found Cole Hertzog and ended his evil, but found the Skaven gone once the battle was complete.
Returning from the sewers, the group finds the Countess insistent that a demonstration of a new cannon goes ahead to boost the morale of the citizens. The stage is set and many of Nuln’s citizens brave the early morning chill, save the notable absence of Lord Rothjaeger. They witness a catastrophic explosion of the new cannon and the summoning of a massive demon from the resulting blood and carnage. Panic ensues and the group picks itself up to try and save the city from its rampage. Thanks to the magical work of Eckhardt, they are able to disrupt it enough to deliver a finishing blow and send it back to whatever hell it came from.
Making their way to Rothjaeger’s residence to determine why he was absent from the ceremony, they find his house unguarded. Inside, they see the first signs of carnage with a half dozen bodies strewn around the courtyard. Inside, its more of the same, with blood everywhere. There are no survivors, except for one berserker bodyguard and Rothjaeger himself waiting for them in his study. He welcomes the party, indicating he is unarmed, and smiles when threatened by them.
“You’ve caught me. I won’t resist. You might as well sit. Vhennyk is long gone. This is my final part to play. I know I won’t leave this room alive.”
After a short interrogation, where they only get confirmation that Vhennyk has gone north to Altdorf to try and locate the Blood of the Binder, Axel runs Rothjaeger through, only to discover that the body is of a doppleganger impersonating him. The real Rothjaeger has already escaped the city to go find the Blood and he is in fact Vhennyk, the mastermind of everything that has happened thus far.
With that the party is leaving Nuln to head north to Altdorf. Vhennyk has a head start in the hunt for the Blood of the Binder and time is of the essence. Of course, the capital of the Empire has its own mysteries that may reveal themselves and the legend of The Hunt is on the lips of everyone in the city and surrounding area. The party should be arriving at Altdorf at an interesting time…
Altdorf was definitely an interesting place to visit, as was its surrounding area.
En route to the city, the party came upon a broken down coach with Beastmen attacking it. Chasing them off into the forest, the party noticed a tower in the distance and a glint of light shining from a window, as if to signal them. Making their way to the tower, they were met by a group of religious zealots of Verena, the Defenders of Truth, that had claimed the abandoned tower. Trying to talk their way in, the party was rebuffed at every turn by the Verenans and their leader, Juliana. Camping for the night, the party tried to figure out a way to convince the Defenders to let them in, but their steadfast refusal was unyielding. In the end, it took an attack by The Blue Scribes, demons of Tzeentch that were seeking a book of magic that was being stored inside, to finally get the party in the door, as the Scribes wiped out most of the Verenans before they were destroyed by the party. Going in against the weak cries of defiance of Juliana, they found a Shadow Mage being held prisoner and the Liber Mephiticus, the book of chaos magic, being held in a chest. Taking the book to be destroyed and leaving the prisoner and the remaining Verenans to their own devices, the party took their leave.
Making their way north, they came to a coaching inn, the Dashing Dachshund, where were delighted to find their old companion, Adam, and his fiance. They had taken refuge in the inn due to Beastmen attacks nearby and were earning their keep by cooking in the kitchen. This wasn’t the only reunion that the party had at the inn, as they were joined by the Headmistress of the University of Nuln, Agnete Krebs, who was also heading north with two bodyguards. The party asked her about any knowledge she might have about the Liber Mephiticus and if she’d found anything else out about the Blood of the Binder, but she knew little. Later that night, they were also joined by a bedraggled Juliana and another Verenan, who had tracked the party to the inn. However, with all those combustible elements, it was Chaos Beastmen that caused things to explode, Attacking the inn to look for more subjects for The Hunt, they were surprised to find some actual opposition. The party waded into the fray, although not before the initial wave massacred many in the common room. Driving back the main force, part of the group were surprised and more than a little unnerved by the appearance of a massive Beastman with steel skin. It sounded the retreat, stared down some cowering party members, and then took its warband into the woods again with the victims it had gathered. As this was happening, the other half of the party was dealing with a screaming Agnete Krebs. Her room had been attacked by Beastmen as well, and one of her guards had been killed in the attack and the other appeared to have been carried off. Finally, when the dust settled, the party also discovered that the Liber Mephiticus had been stolen and Juliana and her companion were also missing!
In the morning after the attack, the party headed north again, with Agnete, Adam and his fiance in tow as well as some others heading to Altdorf. At midday, they came upon another village, this one nearly razed to the ground by a similar Beastmen attack. Finding a lone surviving Halfling, the party encouraged the other hangers-on to make for Altdorf with haste while they tracked the raiders into the woods to try and rescue any able-bodied men that were taken by the Beastmen. The party was able to track one warband and rescue a lone hostage, but had to give up the others for lost when the trail split in three directions.
Finally getting to Altdorf, the party set about trying to locate their missing book and Juliana as well as locate the means to identify the Blood of the Binder. Heading to the Temple of Verena in the capital, they were met by Juliana herself, who categorically denied any hand in taking the book and accused Agnete Krebs of the theft. Given their past dealings with Juliana, they were skeptical, but the woman’s zealotry included an inability to tell a lie, so they were forced to consider her claims. It was the intervention of Justus Veltins that finally convinced them of the truth of her claim, after a trial hearing to determine her innocence or guilt.
With the newfound knowledge that they were betrayed by their ally, they set out to locate Agnete in the city. As a visiting dignitary, she was given a room at the University of Altdorf but investigation showed she wasn’t staying in it. While that hunt continued, they also continued their investigation into the Blood of the Binder. Magic shops revealed little other than the fact that in addition to Vhennyk looking for it, Agnete was also asking about it. Eckhardt checked in at the College of Light to look for information and he and the rest of the party were met by Magister Patriarch Verspasian Kant, who’d had a vision about their quest. Taking them to the Ancient Library in Carroburg, they discovered some information about who the Binders were, the legend of the Avatar and its path of destruction in ancient times, and how the Blood of the Binder might both summon and defeat it. Most importantly, they were able to discover the Blood was not a magic item per se, but the actual blood of a descendant of the original Binders.
The Magister pointed the party towards a prominent genealogist in the city who tracked famous families and bloodlines. If anyone would have information on descendants, it would be him. Tracking him down, he set about to research the issue and get back to the party as soon as possible.
In the meantime, the party finally tracked down Agnete and in an final showdown, they defeated her and the Slaaneshi cult that she was secretly a member of this whole time. They took the Liber Mephiticus to the Temple of Light for destruction, and let a rather annoyed Juliana know that they’d defeated Agnete, retrieved the book and sent it to be destroyed.
Returning to the genealogist, they discovered that he’d been kidnapped after being forced to reveal what he knew about the Blood of the Binder and where a descendant might be. The genealogist’s assistant was able to escape and told the party that his master had been tortured by a man fitting Vhennyk’s description and then given to Beastmen for The Hunt, and to keep the party busy while he got a head start looking for the descendant.
The Hunt started that night and the party ventured into the forest north of Altdorf looking for their needle in a haystack. Meeting up with Wood Elves that knew Dolwen, they made their way in. Initially, they were hunted by a large herd of Beastmen, which they whittled down before a final stand in a box canyon against their pursuers. Finishing them off, they party became the Hunters, as they tracked other Beastmen who were tasked with finding the geneologist as rivals to the party. Arriving at a clearing that the main Beastmen force were staying in, they found the Beastmen party making their way to their prize ahead of the party. A explosive distraction by Axel stalled them on their quest and he and Erik held them off until the rest of the party was able to engage them. The fight went well for the group before the leader of the Beastmen, the steel goliath that they’d seen a few days earlier, joined in for a final reckoning. He and his allies beat down the party, but they were able to hold on long enough to finish off the Beastmen and save the genealogist.
Fleeing the forest, the party was finally able to interrogate the man for whatever information he’d found. It was at that point that he told them that he’d discovered that the lone surviving descendant in the Empire was someone living in Averland. It was someone that had married a farmer many years ago. Her maiden name had been Albrectson, but her married name had been Vogel.
The Blood of the Binder was the widow, Adelle Vogel, Peter’s fiance!!