The panicked cries of the innocent surrounded me as they attempted to flee from the advancing undead. My companions were doing what they could to help. I, however, had another goal. Someone would be coordinating this attack, so I moved unseen through the enemy ranks to try and find the wizard responsible. Creeping past another hovel, a scream within froze me in my tracks. My mission would have to wait. Slipping in a window, I walked in on a woman cowering in the corner from an advancing zombie. Needing to attract its attention, I took some inspiration from Pieter and bounced a half eaten chicken leg off its head. It lunged towards me leaving the woman for a tastier morsel. I would have preferred to end this quickly and be on my way, but the woman was too scared to move. I was also having difficulty hitting my target. I suspect the unnatural jerky movements were throwing my timing off. Fortunately, it was having similar difficulties taking a bite out of me. It took several moments, and broken pieces of furniture before the woman finally realized she should flee. Just in time to, as a second monster had just shambled in to check out the commotion. Time to go. Diving back through the open window, I continued down the alley. Lucky for me that zombies aren’t very good with windows.
….Thooom! The ground shook with another tremor. Whatever it was, it was getting closer. The shanty was well behind me now, but the two armoured skeletons I currently faced were causing new problems. The strikes that were not evaded were being harmlessly deflected by their armour. I needed to get moving, I still hadn’t located their creator…Thooom!…but I had an idea of where to look. THOOOM!! Whatever monstrosity was coming, it sounded awesome…I had to see it. Disengaging from my malnourished opponents, I ran down the street and around the corner in time to witness a massive four armed…ogre??, erupting from the sewers. Resembling some kind of grotesque humanoid insect, it lunged towards the melee and my friends. The horde was already threatening to overwhelm them with shear numbers. This would definitely tip the scales. This beast needed to be delayed, but how? I’d better think of something quickly, since my feet seemed to already be racing towards it. Rounding the corner, It hadn’t noticed me yet, so I closed on the beast and landed a vicious slash across its calf. Its hideous face swung towards me…okay, that did it. I hope it’s as clumsy as it looks. Ducking under its massive arm, I intercepted another with my shield, the force driving me to my knees and into the mud…”Guess not” I grunted as its other arms swung in…“Okay…getting less awesome“. The sensation of spinning uncontrollably through the air might have been fun if not for the successive bone crushing impacts that came with it. Rolling with the landing, I slid to a halt and struggled to my feet, ready to face my oversized opponent. Clutching my shield tightly to my aching torso, and wiping the mud from my eyes, I hoped Ranalds Luck would save me one more time. A rattle behind warned me a split second before intense agony ripped through my shoulder. “Ranald, you miserable bastard!” I cursed under my breath. The skellies had followed me.
.…I hope the others are ready. I can’t keep this up much longer. I’d led the Uber-zombie on a merry chase, but was rapidly running out of alleys and buildings to hide in. The beast took another swing narrowly missing me before smashing through the wall beside me. Debris rained down on my back and shoulder, now sticky with blood. I bolted for the street before my foe dropped a roof on me. Bursting out of the alley, I located Dolwen and Pieter. They were currently busy with two large and armoured baddies. I wonder if they’re the same two from earlier? An explosion overhead reminded me of the greater threat as the giant smashed through another wall to get me. Making sure I still had his attention, I led him down yet another alley. As I continued to evade, I couldn’t help wondering where Pieter was going in such a hurry, and why did he leave poor Dolwen to fight their two opponents alone? If I live through this, I’ll have to ask him.
….Now that the horde was defeated, we regrouped to bind wounds and discuss our impending inspection of the local sewers. “Ow!”…”Sorry guys. I tried…Ow!” ”Tried to keep him away as long…Ngh…long as possible. OUCH! Hey!” turning to Eckhardt “How am I supposed to keep talking when you keep jabbing me with that thing?” “You know” Eckhardt responded with a hint of amusement “I was just wondering the same thing.” again stabbing the needle into the torn flesh of my shoulder. “Tell me again, the difference between reckless and stupid?” pulling the thread “What were you thinking?” “I was thinking that he was too big and clumsy to lay a finger on me.” “And?” he asked. Shrugging painfully “I forgot about all the extra fingers.” “It seemed like a good idea at the time.” Eckhardt muttered "Stupid” as he continued. “Yes” I winced “but also necessary” “How’s Dolwen doing?” “About as good as anyone could be after being thrown through a building.” “He’ll be sore for awhile, but he’ll live.” “Now hold still, I’m almost done.”
We said our farewells to Adam, wished him well (hope he doesn‘t eat the poor pie lady out of business), then headed for the sewers. The path was remarkably easy to follow, but given the immense size of bug boy, that wasn’t really surprising. A quiet splash alerted me that we weren’t alone. Cautioning the others, I crept forward to check it out. A couple of skaven where quietly arguing, so I went back to get the others. “What were they saying?” Erik asked. I responded with a straight face “Chitter, chirp, squeaker, squeaker.” Herod looking confused asked “What’s that mean?” Incredulously I replied “How the f*%# should I know?” A voice interrupted from the tunnel ahead “Humans…Know you there” “No fight, we help.” We negotiated for a bit before reluctantly deciding their offer could work. The skaven had until now, been working for the necromancer, but it appears their alliance has run its course. No more bodies meant no more warpstone, or whatever else they were receiving in payment. Now they wanted us to fight their battle for them. “Since we’re here anyway, okay. Take us to the dead thing maker.”
The skaven led the way deeper into the maze of tunnels staying well ahead of bow range. They were smarter than they looked. Given the chance, my companions would definitely turn on our furry allies. The tunnels started getting older as we neared the asylum. The old criminal warrens were long since abandoned…by the living anyway. Hearing a disturbing sound ahead, I took a peek around the corner to witness a zombie gnawing on the corpse of a skaven. The others quickly dispatched the creature and we continued through the tunnels. After a series of rooms and skirmishes, we finally reached the laboratory. Urging us on, the skaven pointed to a large door “Dead thing maker..you kill.” before vanishing into the darkness. The lab was littered with body parts, two zombies who were rapidly converted into more body parts, and one completed corpse strapped to the table. I poked it to be sure, but nothing happened…sigh. Barring the door to prevent our “allies” from following, we moved to the inner chamber to confront the Dead thing maker. We immediately noticed several wanted posters decorating the walls, including one for “Axel the Slayer”…awesome. I’ll save this for later, carefully rolling the parchment.
Moving to the next chamber we were greeted by a menacing voice “I wondered when you were going to get hear.” I wasn’t really interested in the rest of his monologue and immediately charged. The arrows whizzing past me seeking our foe indicated the others shared the sentiment. Recovering from our sudden attack, he countered with a dark spell of his own, sending an icy bolt arcing from his hands, striking each of us. Pieter and Dolwen appeared off-balance as two large behemoths leapt off the walls to aid their master. Since these beasts only had two arms, I focussed instead, on their master. Evading one of their clumsy swings, I continued to press the attack. A snap..hiss was the only warning I had that Pieter was back in action. This was followed shortly by an explosion and the whiz of a lead ball as it narrowly missed me, embedding itself in the desk beyond. The arrow which followed, however didn’t miss, grazing my shoulder. From the fletching, I was pretty sure it belonged to Dolwen. I really wish they’d learn to aim higher. I mean, seriously, the beast is easily four times my size. At least Eckhardt knows how to hit his target, as evidenced by the fiery ball striking the necromancer in the chest. Launching a flurry of blows at the mages outstretched arm, I was rewarded with a satisfying crunch as it now hung useless at his side. Collapsing before me while cradling his ruined arm, he pleaded “Kill me please…I have nothing left to live for.” figuring he was no longer the immediate threat, I replied “I have to deal with your pet first…but I’ll be happy to kill you later.” In hindsight, I probably should have done as he asked. Turning to face the Uber-zombie as Pieter moved in to flank it, a blood curdling scream erupted from my throat as my entire body was wracked with pain. Dropping to one knee, it felt as if my soul were being ripped from my body, which Eckhardt later revealed was kinda what happened. The pain stopped as suddenly as it had began, but I remained noticeably weakened. Breathing heavily as I struggled to regain my feet, I noticed the necromancers arm was no longer hanging uselessly by his side. Backhanding him across the face before he could hit me with another spell, I followed up by stabbing him in the gut. His eyes suddenly widened in shock, most likely because of the two arrows which suddenly sprouted from his throat and chest. As the spark of life left his eyes, he collapsed into oblivion taking his two fleshy constructs with him. His body flashed briefly with light as he perished. Eckhardt was sure it was some sort of magical signal triggered by his death. Probably notifying Venek that he’s lost another henchman.
The journals identified the necromancer as Cole Herzog. He’d killed his family and raised them so he could be with them forever, and receive all the hugs he didn’t get as a child. I heard Pieter mutter under his breath “Bat $#!% crazy.” Kinda hard to argue, especially after reading the rest of his journals. Once the healing, looting and reading was completed we did indeed confirm that he was in fact “Bat $#!% crazy” and that this was part of whatever scheme Venek was working on. Dolwen suggested torching the lab which I thought was an excellent idea…“Why is everyone looking at me?’ Noticing the torch in my hand “How did that get there?” Pieter arched an eyebrow and nodded at my hand “Okay, but only because you guys asked.”
The smoke was starting to seep under the door from the inner chambers as we unbarred the door leading back to the tunnels. Opening the door, we were confronted by a large group of skaven including one very large rat-ogre. The pack leader stepped forward threatening “Good. One dead, now you turn.” It made one serious mistake trapping us in the laboratory. With the rooms behind engulfed in flames, we had nowhere to go and nothing to lose. Plus, we had just defeated the guy they couldn’t…I guess that’s two mistakes. We stormed out as one…except for Dolwen who was having a negative reaction to the rat-ogre. Somehow I ended up pairing off against both a night-runner and the rat-ogre. Awesome. The night runner and I traded blows and we each easily evaded both. This could take awhile. Eckhardt shouted “Now!” which was our queue to shut our eyes. Once the following flash of light subsided, I engaged my now partially blinded opponents. Focussing on the larger and slower rat-ogre, I started to chip away at his thickened hide. The back and forth continued with our side dealing more than receiving, but as the effects of Eckhardt’s spell gradually faded, the tide started to shift. The night runner bounced a strike off my shield before following with a rapid slice across my ribs. The rat-ogre was also proving to be more nimble than I first thought as the bastard started to dodge my incoming blows. A sharp pain in my thigh revealed another of the elf’s arrows. That’s twice…I think he’s trying to kill me…I started to wonder who was gonna succeed first…the rat-ogre, the night-runner, or Dolwen. Thanks to Herod, I’ll not have to find out, as he rushed in and nutted the ogre. The beast howled before doubling over in agony. Now that Herod had its undivided attention, I turned to his stealthy friend. The ogre eventually recovered, catching Herod by the arm, crushing it in retribution for his earlier low blow…Seemed fair. Casting him aside like a rag doll, he again tried to get a hold of me. The prolonged triple team of ogre, runner, and elf was starting to take its toll, making my blows clumsy and slow. Fortunately Erik stepped in to help with the rat-ogre. I guess he’s forgiven me for pushing him out of that shanty. With the odds now evened, we quickly dispatched my two opponents, then went to aid Pieter with the lone remaining brute. Outnumbered and outflanked, it couldn’t avoid my slash which severed its spine, leaving it twitching on the floor until Pieter put it out of its misery. The fight now over, I limped over to Dolwen, yanked the arrow from my leg and handed it to him “Look familiar?” Sheepishly accepting the proffered arrow, he mumbled “Sorry” before turning to help Eckhardt tend the wounded.
We returned to the palace for medical attention and more importantly…baths. Emmanuelle summoned us during dinner to thank us, and to tell us of a big celebration to launch the big gun with its inaugural firing. I dunno, but that seems like a really bad idea to me. I mean it’s not like Venek has any unaccounted for explosive devices out there somewhere or anything. I could tell the others were having similar thoughts. Pieter and Eckhardt tried to share their concerns with Emmanuelle, but she dismissed them, claiming that they would have increased security. Since Adam was currently enjoying retirement…and pie, I offered in his place “What could possibly go wrong?”