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The Enemy Within: Death on the Reik (S2E15)

Captain's Log, 27th of Summerzeit I think, 2512.

The time for the arranged dinner with the Wittgensteins drew near. Preparations had to be made. Suits of plate armour? On the ship. Perfume? On the ship. Fancy clothes? Never even touched a fine pair of socks, let alone a whole suit. The best we could do was hope that mud, blood and rain were currently in fashion. We stood around and tried not to make eye contact with the beggars for what felt like an hour. Our salvation from the three headed chickens and gravedigging weirdos was in the form of a carriage protected by different, smelly weirdos in armour. The door was wide open for us. To be honest, the sense of ceremony was lost the moment I realized that the driver was hunched over and refused to show his face. He was very insistent we get away from "these wretches". Kind of reminded me of an executioner's little brother with the black hood and the attitude. Despite the familiar feeling of general dread... by the Hammer have I grown THAT used to it? Never mind, we stepped on board and departed for the castle.

Castle Wittgenstein was past the woods and high up on a cliff, overlooking the beautiful Reik rivers I know so well. It had an outer fort connected to the main castle. We were hailed by the guards on the outer fort and let through to the courtyard of the main castle. There were various guard towers and other such things but it was the shanty town that grabbed our attention, by the throat. Those small wooden huts, kind of like a close-knit wooden warren of rooms, housed all manner of mutants. Multiple eyes, heads, animal features. If you think a mutant would have it, one or more of them had it. I saw one with three eyes and a green and blighted potato, clutching it like a mother would hold their dearest child. I feel that describing these things with a straight face is going to earn me a trepanning some day. They began to swarm us, begging for anything. The coachman revealed a cudgel from inside his cloak and, indulging in oath edged talk too vulgar for even a sailor like myself, warded off the sorry horde.

We were brought to a guardhouse to the east and forced to give up our weaponry. Werner was smart enough to keep a knife in his boot. Sadly, there was in the Empire no boot or hat large enough to conceal a bow. Past the guardhouse, we found ourselves facing the main keep to the south. To the north was a large pit, covered by a trap door. I didn't even have the courage to ask what was down there. Next thing you know, I was sitting down in the dining room at a long table. There was a set of stairs nearby and this dinner was hosted by a limping, slimy figure nominated the servant. Slod, Sloog, Slosh? One of those has to be his name. I glanced at the paintings. Actually very pleasant looking fellows... until the recent years. Those men were either concealing something, made you feel watched, or both. I turned back to my plate. Do I have to tell you how the plates and food looked? For the sake of brevity just assume everything in Castle Wittgenstein was decayed and rotten. Russo was there of course. He was displaying for us how to talk shite at a master's level. A new guest was heralded by Slop. It was the overbearing scent of a fancy perfume, and following it was Lady Etelka Herzen.

The Chaos witch! How could have she have gotten past the dwarfs? She kept her cool well enough and asked us about our names and jobs. Our marine handled it well by just claiming we were river merchants. It's not really a lie, after all. We were quickly assigned fake names. I apparently look like a Hans Bodenmann. All plans of killing her on the spot were dashed when the next guest arrived. A giant of man, clad entirely in plate armour with a helmet decorated with a wolf's head. The wine was making me dizzy at this point. More so than the usual bottle. I didn't catch his name. We'll call him The Wolf Knight until I remember it. This knight claimed to have been back from a crusade against the forces of Chaos in the north. He covered his face with a handkerchief and the Wolf savaged the lamb that we were served. He apologized and claimed it was part of his holy vow to never show his flesh to the world. Sure. I bit into the lamb and sprung a question on him. The drowsiness suddenly got worse and I felt like everything became fluid and slow. The sensation reminded me of when you focus on a ripple in a pond. I think he said something? Killing a Jabberwock snicker snack? The One had fallen completely unconscious beside me. I tried to rouse her awake but she was being pulled away by two or four guards. It was hard to tell.

"Ha waidaminnut if she's feelin' sick may- maybe I could take her outs-" I'm pretty sure there was two. I'd be willing to kill many more than that to protect one of my crew. Let alone someone ordained by Sigmar.

One laughed and assured me we'd go outside. I looked out into the rain and thunder, blinked and snatched a knife. Werner grabbed my arm and shook his head. He was right, we'd lose the entire crew if I struck one of these soldiers. I lost consciousness after that. We woke up a cell and had nothing but our clothes. There was no time to wallow in our misery, we had to move. As soon as I had filled my sock with stones to arm myself, The One had found a secret passageway through manipulating the southern wall. Creeping down the passage, sock raised to strike, we found a set of stairs leading downward near the cell, a passage to the west, rooms to the north east, and a stairway going upward towards the north. I reckoned that the stairs down lead to a cave full of vicious mutants, so that wasn't an option. It was found that the north eastern rooms contained the sounds of merry jailers and laughing guards. We let them enjoy themselves and went west. We found a torture room that way and a curious man in a cage named Fritz. He was delighted to talk to us and claimed that he was being treated with utmost hospitality by the lady of the house. I asked him where he's from. He got to about "I come from Wittgendorf and-" before Werner insisted that "he's a loony!" and we quickly departed.

The One stood still and looked to the ceiling, unblinking and in awe of something. She said that Sigmar had told her to ascend the stairs to the north.
I'm glad to be a Sigmarite. This brought us back up to the dining room. How had I not noticed these stairs to the dungeon before? I blame the vintage. We couldn't see or hear anyone and so we scurried up the stairs desperate for a way to properly arm ourselves. A voice hissed as we reached the first floor: "SHH, SHH, THEY'RE GETTING CLOSE NOW". We stopped. No one sprung forth from the shadows or from the stairs. Good. The stairs continued upward, but there were three rooms to the south and by Sigmar we're damned by curiosity! There were four statues adorned in plate armour, each wielding an old but hefty blade. We gingerly borrowed these swords and checked the eastmost room. Ah, the shitting room. Excellent. The next room was full of rusted musical instruments and apparatuses, with music sheets discarded everywhere like, ah, eh, if you made Werner fight a man made of books. Look I'm very tired and stressed right now. Harbull is literally writing on music sheets as I speak! What, Harbull? What do we do when we get the journal back? Just stuff them into it, it'll be fine.

We opened the door to the last room and looked inside. That was enough. Animals stitched together, various mutants in different poses and other things I dare not speak of, all stuffed but still haunting. In the middle of this room sat a man, staring at us? Or maybe he was one of the "art pieces". As soon as we closed the door we heard a thump and several scratches behind it. The silence after that, as well as this seed planted in our fertile imaginations, was unbearable. We overcame our curiosity and stepped away.

We're going up to the next floor soon. I'm going to give these Wittgensteins a piece of my mind about the main course...

  • Johann Dasbuut.

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