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The Enemy Within: Death on the Reik (S2E13)

Captain's Log, 25th of Summerzeit, 2512.

Wittgendorf is a miserable place. The first step off our vessel brought us into a ferocious wave of wretched and needy beggars, tugging and pawing for whatever food and coin you might have. I handed one a silver shilling and the pack turned their hungry eyes towards him. I didn't get any useful information from that beggar but the mob giving chase to that one lucky(?) soul was quite a sight. Our plan was to make our way to the Shooting Star Inn and ask about Castle Wittgenstein. On the way there we could see a young lady, dressed like nobility and riding a pale horse, surrounded by imposing guards in plate armour. A farm lad screamed for help but was pulled back and beaten. I wasn't having any of this nonsense so I strode up to the bastards and... felt ill. The smell off of them was worse than a skunk stuffed with a rat man's vomit.

"What are you fellows doing beating up this poor farm lad?" I choked. The rest of my crew looked distraught with my choice of words. Thinking back on it, they were pretty well equipped and six in number... my eyes became waterfalls due to the stink. I started to feel an itching all over my body. They warned me once and I had to swallow my pride and back off. Their lady stared at me coldly as they carried that young man away. I itched and scratched all the way to the tavern. We bought weak ale and had some chicken. I asked the sullen looking owner what the deal with the lady was but he looked visibly disturbed and talked about the weather instead. Nobody else seemed too talkative after that. Wanda bought us a room for the night. To lift our spirits, we walked north towards the temple of Sigmar.

It was still beautiful. Ruined but regardless the stories of our god were celebrated magnificently. Upon the walls were pictures of the stories I loved so well as a child... Blacktusk, Sigmar receiving Ghal-Maraz, all of it. In the church hall there were two large torches, still burning brightly after all this decay, and an altar in front of a statue of our lord. Upon the arched ceiling, Wanda read a dedication to a heroic templar named Sir Siegfried. He wielded a mighty blade and his holy crypt could be found below. On the altar was an old leather tome that Wanda snagged eagerly. She also read a scripture underneath that gave us chills. The good kind, not the pants-ruined-at-the-sight-of-the-unliving kind. A prophecy, of the foul forces of darkness and the dwarf and man alliance that would stand against them. The lights dimmed and Wanda stared at the statue, her eyes wide. The lights returned soon after and she claimed she was the chosen one. This was no witchery, I can assure you. I asked her if she wanted to be called "The Chosen Navigator" but she insisted upon "The One". The One also took an old key.

We explored the entirety of the west wing of the church. Nothing too unusual, a room for preparing bodies for funerals, the priest's quarters, and so on. On the east wing, however, we found a locked door at the end of a hallway. Sure enough, we had the very key for the job. It was a room of records containing books upon books of whoever lived here, what happened and, crucially, we could get dirt on those damned Wittgensteins. The investigation took hours. There were illustrations in those tomes so I was thoroughly entertained. Werner, on the other hand, grew bored and went for a walk. We discovered that the town suffered the moment that rock was brought here. The once prosperous crops were diseased and their famous wine had grown sour. Two years ago, a storm of black rain billowed from the castle and haunted Wittgendorf. I need not tell you any further of how horrific things are now. Werner rushed back into the room and told us that he met a physician with a funny accent. Russo I think the name was? It's Bretonnian. He invited us all for lunch at his home tomorrow. I felt something was wrong with all this and it wasn't just my damned itch.

Oh yes, the lice! I was infested with the buggering things. Truth be told, I briefly thought I had suffered some sort of mutation from being in the same land as that ungodly Chaos rock. So there was a silver lining, I suppose. It also explained why nobody seemed too happy to see me. Thankfully, our doctor Harbull had just the powdered remedy for it. We retired to the inn for the night but not without a few questions since we could now speak privately to the owner. He told us three very important things. Firstly, collecting people and bodies was a frequent event. There were a bunch of "weirdos" from the temple who spoke with Lady Magritte Wittgenstein (the horse lady) and would supply her with corpses. Secondly, the only people who would know a secret way into the castle would be the bandits in the forest. Unfortunately, they are as bloodthirsty as they are knowledgeable. Finally, those shite-smelling soldiers have never been seen without a helmet and nobody could recognize their voices. Wanda has a terrifying theory about that. I hope its untrue.

We ran to the temple during the night. We had to catch those weirdos and ask them a few questions. We descended into the crypts below and found a huge tunnel in the south wall. To the north, third door from the left, was the crypt of Sir Siegfried. I was worried about upsetting our guiding hammer by disturbing the tomb, but The One revealed that her vision illuminates this door in a holy glow. We opened it up and found the templar, clutching his sacred sword and adorned in a mighty suit of armour. I could have sworn that there was a serene smile on that face. Or maybe it was just because all skulls grin... I tried to unsheathe the blade but to no avail. Then Werner, then Harbull. Finally, The One pulled the sword from the crypt and everything she said was true. SHE IS THE ONE AND ONLY!

On a lesser note, we met a few of those ragged weirdos. There was bit of confusion. I wanted to tell the truth but the rest of my crew wanted to lie and claim that they worked for the Wittgensteins. The lies prevailed. The weirdos indeed worked with Magritte and had desecrated the graveyards. They were now running out of bodies. We said we'd give them a week to get more and then we ventured into the tunnel. It was a complex underneath the entire town. More of those grave robbers were found in various chambers. They lived there and we guessed that they did their foul deeds through these tunnels. Disgusted, we returned to the inn.

The next morning Werner brought us to the doctor's home. Before we could even knock on the door a mother, carrying a completely wrapped child, approached us and begged for help. Russo had been no help to her as his medication proved useless. Her child would not eat and its skin was tainted. I handed the child to Harbull and he unwrapped a thing which I refuse to detail in this journal. The child was returned and the best we could do for the mother was to tell her to give the child lots of love and pray to Sigmar. The house was very well furnished, like that nobles club in Bogenhafen. A small, old servant approached us. Her hearing was dreadful and I had to explain several times the reason for our visit. Each attempt at an explanation became twisted:

"Luncheon?"

"No thank you, we're fine."

That sort of thing. Eventually I mimed the entire thing to her and, with a shrill cackle, she understood and brought us to the waiting room. After several minutes, a corpulent man with a powdered wig emerged from the west door. I think it was a powdered wig? It was more a powdered everything, to be frank. With that much powder on him, he must have been like an Altdorf for lice! Russo brought us into a dining room and blathered at our marine for an almost unbearably long time. I kept my mouth shut, these fancy types usually have some sort of dark secret so I was on my guard. He spoke about having arrived from Breton about five years ago, being Magritte's friend and fellow physician, Wittgendorf being an arena for dogs and beggars, that sort of thing. Actually, I saw an entire battle between a group of beggars and dogs the day before. If that wasn't some kind of tragic reminder of man dealing with encroaching nature, I don't know what is...

Russo finally stopped talking and brought us into a living room. It was pleasant but the most important thing in the room was the locked cabinet. Locked things usually contain the best confession notes. He gave us several glasses of wine. Then he conveniently forgot one and said he would go prepare it in the other room, for a toast. Wanda noted that the Bretonnian wine bottle he held was from a year ago. He said he hadn't been there for five years. I used mine to water a plant while Harbull undid the lock. We found a letter claiming that the powder Magritte gave Russo for his cures was excellent for the "advances" in patients. That did not bode well. The other was an incomplete letter. It was, erm, romantically charged and addressed to Magritte. Harbull also took a ruby ring which was well deserved after that... infant.

Russo returned and was shocked by my empty glass. I claimed it was too good and couldn't resist drinking it. Thankfully, he thought nothing of it. In the end, he was so chuffed by Werner's company that he offered to arrange a meal with himself, our crew and the lady in that foul castle! We agreed. Saves us having to deal with those barbaric bandits anyway. Werner said we would wear our finest.

I hope a full suit of plate counts...

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