After having faced death in the giant Oberslecht marshlands our heroes are in possession of a magical stone that attracts lightning. They need to figure out what to do with it, but first they have a friend to bury...
The rain beat down heavily and the wind ripped at loose clothing. Hans Fleischman pulled his cloak tighter around him, but it didn't make much of a difference. Between the constant rain and the mad dash through the marsh he was soaked through. Just like his companions. The only one who didn't seem to care that much was the dwarf, Snorri. He simply huffed and pulled some twigs from his beard.
Standing by the Hag Tree on the outskirts of the Oberslecht the party had started to discuss what to do next. Some wanted to consult again with the Holtz family while others thought it'd be a better idea to return to Stromdorf and then send out the militia to arrest them instead! During the argument Mannfred noticed something glimmering in a pile of bones near the tree... a ring... attached to a hand!
Investigating the macabre find more closely they discovered that the ring in question was the official signet ring of the Merchants Guild, seemingly belonging to one Florian Wechsel. "Florian who?" Snorri blurted, leaving Dieter to remind him that the original reason that they'd come out here was to find the missing merchant. With this new development the party unanimously decided to head back towards Stromdorf and talk to the watch captain.
The rain was worse than ever as they trudged back northwards. After a couple of hours a lone figure in billowing robes could be seen approaching. Coming closer it was obvious that he was some kind of wizard as his sky blye robes was adorned with various arcane symbols, and for some strange reason the rain didn't seem to make him wet! He introduced himself as Niklas Schulmann, Celestial Wizard, and said that he had seen a series of lightning strikes that were slowly making their way towards Stromdorf. He suspected they had some kind of unnatural origin and went out to investigate. At first the party seemed hesitant about revealing the Lightning Stone, but Schulman simply waved away any protests and made his way to the cart.
At first he was distressed when he saw a fellow collegue lying dead in the cart, but he was also excited when he saw the Lightning Stone. "I knew it was something like this!" Schulmann exclaimed and kept prattling on about his research in the region as the group made their way back to Stromdorf. Back in town Schulmann managed to pesuade the group to part with the stone for a while so he could study it. He would also start construction on a device that would render the occiasional lightning that the stone attracted harmless.
After this Dieter wasn't slow to try and exploit the locals by taking money for showing them the head of the feared beastman chieftan! Which actually worked for a while until two watchmen showed up and started asking questions about the corpse in the nearby cart. "You need to take him to the Garden of Morr you know. If you can't or won't pay for a decent service Waltrout will have to guide you there." Suddenly remembering their dead friend the Glory Hounds decided to give him a proper burial. After a couple of hours rest that was.
After a steady meal the rain didn't seem so bad and when they got back outside they found a tall lanky man with dull eyes and a strange grin on his face waiting for them. This was Waltrout Glöckinger, the village idiot, and he was going to be their pallbearer. You get what you pay for in the Empire and so far no one had paid anything. Waltrout told them that they wouldn't be able to bring the cart over the river anyway so he might as well carry the corpse of Heinrich on his back. The wizard didn't weigh much, and Waltrout seemed to possess strength beyond his looks, so the burial company left for the Garden of Morr.
Outside the gates they were joined again by Franz Bieber, the local hunter. He told them that the beastman tribe was still in disarray and should be less of a threat from now on. However it was only thanks to the heroic sacrifice of Heinrich the Grey Wizard that the attack succeded and Franz said that the least he could do was to honour him at his funeral.
After less than an hours walk they reached the river Tranig which they had to cross to reach the Garden. To their surprise two other persons were already there; some sort of soldier and a gentlemen with rather fine looking clothes but with a haggard look on his face. They introduced themselves as Sergeant Balthus and Burgmeister Adler(!) and said that they were waiting for the ferry. Normally you'd ring the bell and Father Grabbe would take the ferry from the other side to collect you. However, the Burgmeister and his bodyguard had been waiting for a while now without a sign of the old priest.
Adler was preoccupied with a locket that he seemed to be talking to, all the while Balthus was looking concerned. After waiting a bit longer, and ringing the bell a few more times Adler was loosing his patience "I have to speak to Father Grabbe today! Five shiny silver coins to whoever dares to cross the stream and bring back the ferry." Fortunately for him our glory hounds are just as hungry for wealth as they are for fame so Mannfred threw himself in the cold water and within a few minutes he'd brought the ferry back from the other side.
After a couple of minutes that felt like hours they could see light ahead and suddenly the lamp and the torches burst back into flames again. They had entered the temple of Morr where the dead would be left to be attended by the priest. Waltrout simply laid the body of Heinrich on the altar in the middle of the room and stood back, looking slightly nervous. Adler again insisted that he needed to see Grabbe as soon as possible and commanded the large black door at the other end of the room opened. Unfortunately it was locked and when Adler started speaking of breaking it down Dieter and Hans looked shocked; desecrate a temple of Morr?! But when reminded that it was with the safety of Father Grabbe in mind that this should be done they relented, however Dieter volunteered to try and pick the lock so they at least wouldn't have to destroy the door!
The lock was old, and although it was of good quality Dieter had come across several like it during his travels and had it open within minutes. Beyond was stairs that led up into the actual Garden of Morr, a place normally only allowed to priest of Morr. The storm had grown worse since they entered the Liche Gate and the sharp cracks of thunder almost came as a shock after the quiet stillness of the temple. Reaching the top of the stairs Snorri noticed that lightning strikes seemed to be attracted to some kind of metal rod attached to the southern corner of the garden.
Slowly making their way forward among the graves they were approaching the tomb of Olaus Stichelm, great saviour of Stromdorf. However, as they got closer they could see that something was awry; the front of the tomb had been smashed asunder and sharts of marble was strewn about the place. Peeking inside revealed only a growing puddle of rainwater! Where had its former resident gone?
Yepp, ended with a bit of a cliffhanger there! As I was typing it out it kind of grew and grew so I decided to split it into two parts. I'll post the next one tomorrow.