(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.)
The Empire in Flames
- Larry [Templar] – I 68
- Nate [Cleric 3] – I 64
- Gottlieb [Templar] – I 63
- Wilfried [Templar] – I 63
- Scargetter [Assassin] – I 60
As winter finally breaks, the rivers begin to open up, allowing the Two Bawdy Countesses to finally return to the Empire – the Knights Panther finally having discharged all their duties but one.
Bogdanov summons them one last time to discharge them back to the Empire and to return to their liege, Graf Boris Todbringer. But their last duty to the Tsar will be the safe escorting of a young noblewoman, Anastasia Schelepin, to Talabheim where she is to be betrothed to a young Baronet, Rolf Kriglitz-Untermensch where a subsequent (and politically-advantageous) wedding is a foregone conclusion.
Accompanying the young woman will be her chaperon, Katarina Bukharin. Prior to their departure they don’t get a chance to meet the young lady as she is completing the last of her studies in Elven poetry and folklore at the University of Kislev.
As they load up the Two Bawdy Countesses, Katarina makes sure that there is pleasant enough accommodations for her charge. Their cabin is then loaded with case after case of fine clothing and fanciful books about elves. Katarina herself has less ridiculous clothing and a selection of “appropriate” readings for a chaste young lady. She definitely looks down on the templars as a necessary inconvenience for the voyage and evidently a danger to her charge’s purity.
While waiting for the young noble to finish her studies, they impatiently acquire some luxury trade goods from Kislev that had been trapped there over the winter to sell either in Talabheim or Middenheim.
Finally hitting the Urskoy southwest towards the Empire they find themselves once again in ugly, rainy weather, much like last autumn.
A day south of Zavstra, still on Kislevite land (although just barely), they spot smoke coming from just beside the Urskoy up ahead. Coming around the bend, they see that someone has just been burned at the stake – a charred body is still chained in the middle of a guttering fire while one man sits by and watches it burn smoking his pipe, apparently satisfied with his handiwork.
He introduces himself as Theophilus Habermas, Witch Hunter. He has travelled into these hinterlands following the rumours of a solitary witch – Birgit Bruckner – whom he explains was communing with Daemons. It takes him several minutes to list all the sins that he claims she committed, all blamed on Chaos and its servants. As the crew began to roll their eyes at yet another overly-fervent and obsessed with-hunter (possibly another rogue randomly killing women for whatever reason), the body finally collapses from her chains and vomits forth a thin stream of white, evil-smelling liquid which then coalesces into a particularly lewd and offensive Daemonette of Slaanesh.
“I am Gropefondel’ssssss and you will do quite nicely” it screamed while gesturing lewdly at the templars and witch hunter. Being skilled and potent destroyers of Chaos and its minions, Gropefondel’ss is less of a threat to them than it is to poor Anastasia Schelepin who faints at the sight of the deamon, and then again as it makes lewd gestures at her chaperon. The Daemonette is quickly dispatched and they go on their ways – albeit with a slightly different view of the various wandering witch hunters now. Until this encounter, the majority of them seemed to be wild out-of-control zealots. But it seems some of them actually know what they are doing.
Along the trip, they are forced to break their long-standing “no inns” oath, as young miss Schelepin cannot be expected to sleep on a merchant vessel – bad enough that she has to travel on one even if it is manned by a crew of Knights Panther. In the various inns along their route throughout this session they pick up a number of rumours:
• Emperor Karl-Franz is still sick, but he is not expected to die. Indeed, he seems to have rallied slightly. This is not a Good Thing – the paralysis of power in Altdorf is prolonged.
• Emperor Karl-Franz’s edict against the out-ofhand slaying of mutants is still in force, although many oppose it. It is said that the Middenland militia allow mutant-killers to go free, with the implicit approval of Grand Duke Leopold von Bilthofen. In Nordland Baron Werner Nikse is also said to be furious about the new law, and his men are in no hurry to enforce it.
• Talabecland and Ostland are in serious conflict. Many speak of a major skirmish in which scores died on both sides. A diplomatic mission from Talabecland to Grand Prince von Tasseninck was rudely treated, and Grand Duke Gustav von Krieglitz has been heard talking of old Talabecland claims to outlying areas of southern Ostland.
• Witch Hunters and Priests of Ulric have inflamed many Middenlanders against Sigmar’s followers, and are now also stirring up trouble within Talabecland. Gustav von Krieglitz is supposedly allowing this to happen, possibly paving the way for an alliance between Middenland and Talabecland; Leopold von Bilthofen is known as a strongly pro-Ulric ruler.
• Relations between Middenland and Stirland are uneasy. Stirland is a centre of Sigmarite belief, and has made strong representations to Middenland over the persecution of Sigmarite priests there. Grand Duke Leopold von Bilthofen treats these complaints with barely disguised contempt. His public pronouncements are that he knows nothing of attacks on Sigmarites.
• There is a strong Slaaneshi cult among the upper echelons of Stirland! A butler at the Ducal Court has seen it all! There were several courtesans and they were wearing nothing but body paint and then they all …
• The Crown Prince is a mutant, you know, with a tail and wings! That’s why he hasn’t been seen outside Castle Reikguard for ages, and it’s why the Emperor has banned the killing of mutants.
• Clerics of Sigmar have been denounced as heretics by petty rulers in Middenland and Nordland. There are bounties on their heads!
• Bad times are coming. When cows start lowing at the moon for no reason, and madmen run around the streets and folks talk of bad dreams … Them’sall signs. Last time it happened, well, it was in my Da’s time …
• The witch hunter had the shadow of a wolf – a mark of Ulric!
Even a fortune telling by Brother Nathander picks up on these troubled times – seeing perhaps a light in the darkness.
• No-one present is going to meet a tall, dark stranger! Instead, someone, perhaps more than one, is marked as a person of true destiny, and will shortly be revealed as such. He or they will be marked by the heavens.
It is not a warm welcome to the heroes of Middenheim returning to the Empire. As they travel along the Ostland-Talabecland border they are hailed by an Ostlander infantry patrol of the 3rd Wolfenburg Battalion (‘the Dire Wolves’). They are led by a rash young Templar who describes having come across a Sigmarite priest hung and burned by Ulrican fanatics a short distance upriver from this encounter.
Initially Herr Blumentopf believed this was done by Ulrican fanatics who crossed over from Talabecland, but the open displays of Ulrican uniforms and icons among this group of Templars of the Panther and White Wolf is enough to make him reconsider who was at fault. Tensions build up, despite attempts to avoid a full battle with a few dozen crossbowmen and infantry, the heroes are also unwilling to be insulted and denigrated…