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(Being a series of quick game notes trying to account for the events of many sessions of playing through The Enemy Within using the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 1e rules.)

Session 22

Death on the Reik

  • Martin [Scout]
  • Wilfried [Fence]
  • Larry [Bodyguard]
  • Talbberry Grumble [Scribe]
  • Othmar [Charlatan]
  • Wilhelm [Wizard]
  • Gottlieb [Bounty Hunter]
  • Oscar Jager [Bodyguard]

The trip by canoe up the Narn to the Devil’s Bowl takes four days. The lands north of Unterbaum are a strange desolate wilderness with few signs of life other than evil-looking crows. As they travel further into the hills, the oaks begin to appear warped and twisted. The air becomes still and musty. Huge cobwebs span gnarled branches and whole groves of dead and dying trees dot the landscape – from their stricken limbs sprout obscene growths of red and purple fungi.

In the hills proper bare rocky outcrops thrust skywards between sparse clumps of trees, and the river becomes shallower and faster – at some points they need to portage their canoes past rough shallow rapids.

In the Barren Hills there are hardly any trees at all – just stretches of badlands and meadows of moorland grass, thick and coarse, a luminous green in colour that seems to ripple as they pass.

They travel on foot into the hills, leaving their canoes by the river until they find the Devil’s Bowl – a meteoric lake nearly a mile across surrounded by massive druidic standing stones.

Following Corrobreth’s advice, they make camp in the lee of one of the stones, prepared to explore the area for Etelka’s band in the morning.

The chaos moon rises, looking full once again. Around midnight an eerie blue glow plays over the water and a ghost approaches the group limned in blue light with gaping wounds in her side. She begs the group to help her, to lay her bones to rest… follow and see… follow and see…

She leads them to a small box valley cave next to a smaller cave where a stream comes trickling out of the rocks to feed the waters of the Devil’s Bowl. Not trusting her, most of the group enter the cave, leaving Martin and Gottlieb behind. Within the low cave they find a shallow grave with bones poking out of it. As they begin to bury the bones properly, she begs Gottlieb and Martin to enter the cave also. Martin steps in to see how the interment is going – but it takes her suggesting that “what they seek” is deeper into the cave and she can guide Gottlieb to it to convince him to consider entering. As he grills her for information on it, her bones are finally buried, and she disappears without further exposition.

Gottlieb wanders in to the cave to figure out why she disappeared, and is followed in by Crot Scaback, a foul chaos creature that seems to be a walking sword-wielding rat!

“Stand Stand! Not move, not move! Stone, stone. Where, where?”

And Larry leaps forward to attack.

The first time the group had ever engaged in combat was against a small group of goblins (see session 3) and it turned into a horrifying melee where the party won, but only after a very ugly battle of attrition. Since then they have fought smartly and/or with overwhelming force, ending fights in a few rounds with little damage to their own hides.

But it turns out that skaven are much better warriors than the toughs, bodyguards, and scum the group has been engaging of late… and Crot Scaback is a champion among his kin for a reason.

Escape routes were cut off by rear-guard skaven moving up from side passages. Another skaven came up from the back of the cave. Crot single-handedly killed Corrobreth and took two other members of the party out of the fight. Few in the group were not at least lightly injured, and some escaped only by the fates aligning with them that night.

When the grim and nearly silent battle was over they had to dig their own friends out of the mess of bodies and body parts (as a footnote, both Martin and Wilfried failed disease checks, and are probably in for even more pain as the adventure continues).

Following Gottlieb’s insistence (and thus the ghost’s instructions), they proceeded deeper into the caves. At the back they found a cave-in and could hear an insistent scratching sound from the other side. After ascertaining that it definitely wasn’t a final wave of skaven trying to outflank them, they began the hard work of clearing the rockfall.

As soon as a man-sized hole was cleared, a skeleton dressed in tattered chainmail dragged its way through and attacked – as it fought it begged desperately to be killed.

Dispatching four of these poor undead as they came through the hole, they finally cleared the way into the next cave. Within they found the supplies of an expedition (although the members of that expedition appeared to be the skeletons that they dispatched). Their supplies included money, a silver flask containing a potion of healing, a tattered old map that marks the Devil’s Bowl and the black observatory (almost identical to the one recovered from the dead horse in the river the previous session), and a sixth key identical to the five they had recovered from the zombies in the black observatory – likely the final key needed to open or activate whatever it is in the central room of the structure.

But no sign of the stone that Crot was asking for, nor of Etelka’s party.

A new day dawns in the eerily silent Barren Hills…