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The Enemy Within: Death on the Reik (S2E9&10)

(originally posted 12 Jan 2019)

Captain's Log: 26th Sigmarzeit, Mannslieb can be seen in all its glory, 2512.

This whole rooting out Chaos cultists and frequently seeing horrors thing has been getting to me. I'm starting to feel better suited to killing gruesome abominations than sailing my own damned vessel. I'm getting ahead of myself. I need to calm down and recall what happened before I get consumed by my desire to ramble. I guess my rambling is just a result of my new path in life and I for one fee- no, I've got to stop doing that! Anyway...

The goblins were dead, we took the spoils of that massacre and had no intention to meet their wolf steeds back in the mine. It was a good haul: silver cutlery, gold crowns (always useful), a dozen half used perfume bottles and a very nice pair of salt and pepper shakers. I almost don't want to sell those, they're really quite charming. We had earned a brief bit of respect from the dwarfs after saving their hero's life, so we hastily made our way to the ship before the tide turned. There was an incident involving travelling entertainers and an accused con artist. We implored an angry mob to consider a fair trial, instead of outright lynching the man, so they hauled him off. We already challenged the local laws enough so we let them be.

Renate, yes I have been getting her name wrong this entire time. Harbull, I don't know why you wrote it the way I said it... did you know I was getting it wrong and made a fool of me? Ah, it doesn't matter. We've been all very busy and stressed so mistakes were bound to happen. Point is, Werner gifted her a full bottle of that fancy perfume. I don't know if she had any real affection for him but the marine didn't notice and he was ecstatic. To speak again of mistakes, by Sigmar many were made on our journey to the River Narn. We sailed north from Grissenwold and had very little hassle for the first day or two. We were going downstream too so I was feeling very optimistic. First mistake.

Everyone back in Grissenwold warned us about Castle Wittgenstein and its nearby village. We avoided it like it was a monument to Nurgle. During the night we hailed a fellow ship. The Wastelander captain warned us of the place, as if we hadn't been told enough, and ripped the sheet off of something. We looked directly at it. Second mistake. It was disgusting. Fish, man, pink growths, an absolute mess of a being. I couldn't tell where one part ended and one part began. I barely held my breakfast in my stomach. To understand how my head felt, let me try to explain. So in very fancy temples you have mosaics. They are loads of little pieces that make one huge picture. Every foul mutant we encountered thus far was a piece and this made the blighted picture. I managed to keep my mind intact. I could see the other crew members discharge their meals over the starboard. Their minds would never be the same.

We made it to Kemperbad. The once wondrous pulleys and lifts seemed so normal now. Funny what experience with the world can do to you. We bought supplies, reagents for Wanda's witchery, the usual sort of thing. Sailing from Kemperbad to the Narn was easier said than done. The currents were treacherous, the cliffs narrow, the river littered with jutting rocks and that accursed THING was still on my mind! The third mistake I made was when I was at the helm. I could hear a loud noise from starboard, like some sort of screeching wooden cat being dragged by the tail. The damage wasn't too bad. Wanda gave me that look I had grown familiar with, while other crew members questioned how fit I was to command the ship. I stonewalled them and stared intensely at the river.

After some delays caused by the fourth, fifth and sixth mistakes at the helm we made it. A dead horse with saddlebags was found drifting down the river so we snatched its supplies with our boat hooks. The most important thing we found was a sealed package. The seal was the same as the letter addressed to Herzen. Fantastic, some good fortune! It had a map of the Empire, with that signal tower we explored conspicuously marked as an observatory. We believed that if we found Herzen and her company, we would find the final key needed to access it. We reached calmer waters and there was a lock leading to an inn. Two young women, fixing a canoe in a nearby cave, waved at us. Initially Harbull thought they were hiding some sinister intent, but we decided to talk to them nonetheless. They were very friendly and willing to take us to their village. Werner helped fix their canoe and was instantly very popular. We needed food badly at this point, the village seemed the best bet and I was damn sure I wasn't paying the lock toll of ten crowns. That's riverway robbery!

We were lead up the stone steps and went through the cavern. My body tensed and my eyes were sparked for any signs of an ambush. Thankfully, it was a false alarm. The village itself was a small farming community. Most notably all of their houses faced towards a great tree right in the centre. Oh, druids. I was fearful, we have a terrible track record with non-Sigmarites. Again, this thankfully proved false. For now. The elder was a humble and kind host and was accompanied by a stoic, older fellow who was the local druid. I told the elder of our plans to head north, in search of that noblewoman and her companions. He told us of a tale of a Chaos moon spewing forth monsters and falling to pieces, each fallen fragment corrupting the earth. Our destination, the Barren Hills, was the most poisoned part of all. All this talk of the evils of Chaos made me feel strangely comfortable. Like we could share the experiences of what we've witnessed and be understood. I almost told him of our intent to go cult-killing but Wanda's sharp elbow and mutterings of "idiot" put a stop to it.

It was at this point the druid spoke up. He offered to be a guide and make sure of our safety on our journey. I was skeptical, to say the least. What if this older man, who looked like he'd make a feeble warrior, got ambushed and the killing was blamed on us adventurer-types? So I asked him what exactly he could bring to the crew. Last mistake. He spoke to a raven, sent it forth, and raised his staff. Clouds appeared and the resulting hailstones gave me a fair lesson in humility. Through the sound of hail bouncing off my raised shield, I welcomed him to the group.

I hope demons hate hail as much as I do.

- Johann Dasbuut.

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