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The Enemy Within: Death on the Reik (S2E16)

Testimony of Captain Gertrude Grolsch regarding the Incident that occurred at Wittgendorf in Sommerzeit 2512.

Yes, I was on deck at the time we passed the Castle von Wittgenstein.  It was the middle of the night, a little after midnight. So the early hours of the 28th. We were sailing after dark because we had been delayed at Kemperbad and were anxious to make up the time.

As we passed under the castle, my deckhand Wim was rendered unconscious by a falling object, which turned out to be a message in a bottle someone had thrown out of a window.

It contained two items, both written on the back of musical score sheets. One was a simple note saying SEND HELP. The other was a rambling narrative that appeared to be part of an ongoing adventure, signed by someone called Johann something, although I got the feeling someone else did the writing.

How many words? I don't know. I suppose if you were to relay the story by having a small group of people tell it and slow down for the fights, it would probably last about two hours.

Yes, of course. This is from memory, because we threw the paper away quite soon afterwards, as we needed to use the bottle for something.

This Johann was part of a group of three people and one halfling. They were in the castle, climbing the stairs above the Great Hall and heard whispers in a hallway they entered, all around them, mocking their appearance. They opened several doors, each of which led to a different guest bedroom. One contained a sleeping beastman with the head of a bull and a loud snore. They closed this door quickly.

The next was the sleeping place of a woman called 'Herzen'. The halfling, Harbull, crept in and stole from her a box of magical materials, intended to help the witch in their group cast her spells.

The final room had in it an armoured warrior. Again the halfling crept in, and stole the warrior's battle-axe to give to a man called Werner in the group.

Next they entered a room full of hundreds of cacophonous clocks. The hobbit barely evaded a giant cuckoo that sprang out of one clock. Johann was badly hurt by being caught between two mechanical knights that rushed out towards each other from another oversized novelty clock.

No, your honour, I am not making fun of the inquiry. That is what the letter said.

On the far side of this room was a door that opened into a large bed chamber. The party was confronted by many mutant cats. Werner closed the door immediately and the group picked their way back through the clocks to the hurtfully whispering gallery.

Another room was.hastily abandoned when Werner was struck on the head by a vase thrown by a poltergeist.

The next room was that of Lady Margritte. Several decomposing mutant corpses were in here, along with a casket of jewellery and the usual furnishings. Beyond it lay the round tower.
On the first floor was a robing room, with wardrobes of fine clothing, as well as some old equipment for grinding lenses, and a telescope.
Upstairs they found an eldritch library. It contained scores of books, all about Necromancy. They found a letter to Lady Margritte from her brother Gotthard, describing degenerate, Chaotic behaviour in his new home in Middenheim. There was also the diary of Dagmar von Wittgenstein, describing his trip to find a meteorite, some evil plans, and the magic words needed to find his secret hiding place beneath the castle.

At the top of the round tower was Lady Margritte's laboratory. She was using the power of lightning to create an unliving monster created from human body parts. The witch Wanda called down demonic fire on the Lady and the monster, then the group fled, through the servants' quarters and across the courtyard to another round tower, which turned out to be full of thousands of cockroaches. Someone upstairs was playing the harpsichord. They left quickly without exploring further.

They went to the next building, a square, two-storey chapel of Sigmar. Formerly of Sigmar. It was now full of writhing, ecstatic worshippers of some Chaos entity. Maddening organ music filled the chapel and Johann and Harbull found themselves, for a time, unable to stop dancing weirdly.

Investigating the altar, behind was a huge statue of a half-man-half-woman being, the group was attacked by a demon with the body of a human woman, huge green saucer-like eyes, and vicious crab-like claws instead of hands. The fight was brutal, and several of the group came within inches of being cloven in twain, but at last they prevailed.

Beneath the altar, there was a set of steps leading downwards.

The writing ended there. It's possible we had sailed on before any further messages in bottles were hurled down into the Reik.

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