Once Upon A Time In The Empire

The Rising Tide

Where our heroes jump ship

From Kvothe’s quill pen:

I thought we’d bought it when Commander Rupert Julbach caught us in that Skaven-infested mansion that was burning to the ground around us. Sure, the fire was technically my doing, but what kind of moron walks into a house with a scores of dead rat-men and assumes the surviving humans are the bad guys?

Still, a bit of fast talking got him to escort us to Witch Hunter Lucas Hazelman. From what I’d heard of the guy – having never actually been introduced to him, on account of having been hiding in a backroom with the Dwarf at the time – he seemed pretty trustworthy. At least, as trustworthy as a Witchhunter can be, in theory. I figured the odds of there being two corrupt Witchhunters in one city was as likely as, well…one corrupt Witchhunter in a city. But it’s not like we had much choice. It was Hazelman, or gaol.

I thought we’d bought it a second time when the Commander took the Dwarf aside for a bit of one-on-one. To my – and everyone else’s – surprise, Rupert didn’t have us all executed on the spot on account of the Dwarf’s manners. It must have been our lucky day.

I was thanking my lucky stars right up until the point were we got jumped by another group of Skaven at the supposed meeting place with Hazelman. My companions readied themselves for a fight – and I readied myself for us getting blamed for luring the City Watch into a Skaven trap – when Hazelman showed up and slaughtered most of the vermin in one fell swoop. After having seen Amir completely roast Hazelman’s corrupt partner, I had sort of mentally relegated the Witchhunters – along with most everything else – into the category of ‘Something A Bright Order Wizard Can Easily Deal With’. I’m beginning to see why they are the objects of such intense fear and respect throughout the Empire. I wonder – are they all like Hazelman?

Having just been saved from another Skaven assault, my luck once again flipped and Hazelman had me arrested. How many times has it been, now? Still, I let the Priest do the talking, and the Witchhunter soon saw sense. A good move on his part – the last Witchhunter who tried to arrest me is now lying well-done in a gutter somewhere.

We were about to start making plans with the Commander and the Witchhunter vis-à-vis the massive Chaos ritual going down tonight when I noticed the Dwarf was greedily picking something off the ground. Julbach noticed too, and immediately yelled for everyone to hit the ground, which is a military term for ‘don’t be where you currently are’. A skaven wielding a torch leapt up from the docks and set fire to the massive trail of warp-stone infused gunpowder we were all standing on.

I briefly contemplated trying to snuff out the flames but I had not reckoned on the warp-stone; it burnt like the very blazes and within mere seconds most of the street was on fire and the warehouse we’d been held in by the Chemist detonated with an almighty bang.

Having survived the explosion mostly intact, we were joined by the Captain of the Greedy Bitch, and we made our plans quickly and efficiently, with minimum squabbling. Using my magical sights on the river revealed that there was a whole lot of Amethyst Wind flying about – Death magic – as well as a lot of Celestial stuff as well. I deduced that the ritual was powered by death, and that a multitude of ships on the harbor – the Captain of the Greedy Bitch mentioned that they were all ships that had gone missing over the last few weeks – held prisoners who would be executed en masse at midnight, which would release a whole lot of death energy in the giant magical circle they had constructed, which they would use for some unholy ritual of unimaginable power. In another interesting side-note, it turns out that the Sigmar Priest, Father Whathisname is an old friend and ally of the Witchhunter Lucas Hazelman. The plot thickens! Someone who is shown such levels of respect by a Witchhunter is someone to look out for indeed. After a quick discussion, we decided to split up – Franz, myself, and the rest of my comrades would attempt to board a nearby ship and use it to break the Skaven-blockade that had been set up around the central vessel on which the ritual was going to happen. The Witchhunter, Julbach and the Captain of the Greedy Bitch would all do their best to liberate and evacuate as many ships on the river whilst simultaneously doing their best to distract the Skaven patrolling the waters and protecting the ritual-ship.

Without further ado, we started leaping from ship to ship – some of us with more success than others (I don’t mean to brag, but I seem to have discovered a way of blasting myself through the air using magical fire; I am keen to see if I can replicate my feat!). Without hesitation, we began our assault on one of the prisoner ships, and found our enemies were these Kislev mercenaries we’d heard so much about. After a brisk battle, in which the Elf fell into the drink a bunch of times, the Dwarf almost lost his hand (and a prized pistol) due to some interesting use of warp-stone as gunpowder (note to self: keep an eye on the Dwarf), and I blasted a few nicely satisfying chunks off the ship.

We boarded, got rid of the last Kislev dog, liberated the prisoners, and were jumped by an eye-patched cultist who had apparently been directing the merceneries for his Chaotic masters and had previously been seen kidnapping the people of Franz’s village. We interrogated him, discovered little we didn’t know, and then squabbled about whether or not to kill him while the prisoners were evacuated. Too late, we realized that our squabbling had distracted us from the real threat – a Skaven ship was heading straight for us. While Franz, the Guard, the Priest and the Elf secured us a get-away rowboat, the Dwarf and I hatched a plan to burn the entire (now empty) boat down to the water while the incoming Skaven boarded it. To our surprise we found the hold to be full of gunpowder and warpstone. We quickly took this information in our stride and incorporated it in our plan. A few minutes and a gunpowder trail later, we lowered ourselves into the rowboat and desperately put as much distance between ourselves, the recently liberated prison boat, and the rapidly approaching Skaven mauraders as possible before the ship detonated in a huge fireball I doubt even the Wizard-Lords of the Bright Order could have managed.

The Skaven died, that much is certain – but their deaths only served to power up the approaching ritual. Even worse, as our one-eyed captive informed us after we’d lit the fuse, was that all the ships were full of gunpowder as well, and were supposed to detonate all together. Sure enough, across the harbor, the dim-witted Skaven took our explosion as the signal to blow, and blew another prisoner-laden ship to Kingdom Come. We’ve kicked off the detonation chain early, and a lot of people have died as a result. We’re all a bit rattled, the Priest especially. There will be time for mourning and guilt later; all this means is that we have to stop the ritual at all cost, lest this sacrifice be in vain!"

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TheMarchoMan

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