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Monday, September 12, 2005

My little Old World: In the Sewers of Middenheim #1

Fury, fear, and flying fur
Somewhere deep within the Fauschlag under the war-torn city of Middenheim lurks a creature, nursing a nasty burn on its back that'll keep him awake nights and won't let him sit comfortably. He broods.

Humans, dwarfs, and an elf, working together against him?! How could this be? By what dark conspiracies has the fragile alliance against the Lord of The End Times survived their brief moment's illusory respite? Why wasn't he warned? Who was responsible for sending him out against this unholy alliance? Enemies, enemies- everywhere.

Shifting to ease the pain, the creature thinks of revenge. The hairless ones might have had the best of him today, but next time he will be ready. Oh yes, he will be ready. Soon they, and all their kind will know what it means to suffer a Skaven's wrath.

**********

It all began with a brief pause for the catching of breath and a moment's reflection. Then our brave adventurers set off in the opposite direction to that which they had first taken. This time they didn't pause or deviate for anything. Well, except when they retraced their steps and went up a side-branch to avoid another explosive cloud of gas.

Soon enough the PC's reached the sewer exit debouching to the west of Middenheim, just beside the western viaduct. Grundi tested the grate to discover that it was sound. Stood around waiting Alane noticed a small tunnel entrance by the light of the lantern she carried. Located in the wall across the effluent channel, its crude construction contrasted markedly with that of the Middenheim sewer system.

Sure enough, it was skaven sized.

Blunderbuss in hand, Grundi led the way, climbing with remarkable stealth through the tunnel entrance. Inside, finding himself in the confines of a 5' wide/high rough-hewn tunnel, he began to advance. Mordrin was next. His clambering into the tunnel entrance was marked by the harsh sound of his axehead scraping across his chainmail.

Thus it was that Grundi and the skaven sentry a few yards down the tunnel caught sight of each other simultaneously. Grundi reacted instinctively: BOOM! The earlier bitter dregs of Ulric's Fury notwithstanding, Ulric blessed Grundi's blast for the first of what was to be 4 times that afternoon. All that was left of the skaven was a head, 4 limbs, and a pile of bloody pulp that had once been a body.

Mordrin, then Alane and the rest of the party hurried to advance now that the benefit of surprise had been lost. Meanwhile Grundi calmly knelt down and began to reload his mighty weapon of destruction, unmoved even when 2 skaven clanrats appeared from around the corner ahead. Cursing the aged dwarf he'd fallen in with, Mordrin was forced to squeeze past to get at the advancing skaven, one of which was already preparing to rain a hail of slingshot at those who would dare attack Clan Eshin skaven in their very lair. A brief exchange of blows later, the 2 canny skaven fell back around the corner out of sight.

Alane, Seigfried and Berthold were following up as fast as the narrow and congested corridor allowed, Seigfreid coming to 'stand' at Mordrin's shoulder. Alane tried a couple of spells to little or no effect before the press of bodies in the narrow tunnel blocked her view.

Mordrin crept forward to stick his head round the corner, where he spied 5 skaven in a cavern beyond, and was the target of 2 slingshots for his trouble. One ricocheted off the stone wall right by the dwarf's head. He promptly ducked back out of sight.

Suddenly- blunderbuss ready once more- Grundi darted forward, threw himself back against the elbow of the corner, and BOOM! Fortune was with the dwarf: his barrage of shrapnel caught the entire group of skaven as they formed up into their defensive line. The 2 slingers were lucky- their native agility and the bodies of their kin in front of them saved them from the maelstrom of rusty nails and other scraps of metal Grundi was again turning to deadly effect.

Heedless of danger, Alane joined the 2 dwarfs to hold the line at the corner just before 3 skaven swordsmen- hurt but still on their feet- charged forward, and the action exploded into the full confusion of a swirling melee. Caught like rats in a trap, the already desperate skaven clearly held a special hatred for the elvish witch: not for the last time, when faced with a choice she was the designated target- 2 went for her while the other attacked Mordrin, who promptly broke its arm.

Meanwhile, Alane noticed a 6th skaven lurking almost out of sight behind a rocky outcrop some yards behind the vile ratmen's lines. This ratman too charged the elf.

The next thing the party knew, another skaven was down and the remaining 4 pulled back yet again, this time to form a line across the cavern, with the lurker again leading from behind. The party charged forward for the kill with malicious satisfaction.

Seigfried charged the centre, leaving his target reeling, then knocking it down, finally to chop its ratty snout off in a frenzy of blows as it lay at his feet. Berthold was soon at his side, involved in a darting exchange of blows with another ratman. Grundi swept in with his axe, which seemed to commit bloody murder with every blow he struck. And Mordrin rapidly despatched the beast whose arm already hung useless at its side, only to find himself wrestling with the lurker, who got the better of the young dwarf and nimbly nipped past him.

Guessing the skaven's intentions, Alane hit it square in the back with a firey dart to little immediate effect. Spinning round, Mordrin struck out at and missed the creature before it scurried off and out of sight round the corner. Seeing her fellows still engaged, Alane set off in hot pursuit, catching up with the by now self-evident leader of the pack beside the remains of his hapless sentry.

Back in the cavern, the skaven fighting Berthold found himself alone against 2 dwarfs and 2 humans who had, in the space of a mere minute, put paid to all his clanrat companions. He did the sensible thing, and took to his heels towards the only exit from the scene of carnage. Caught off-balance by this sudden flight, Berthold flailed wildly at the fleeing creature before pursuing as fast as his mincing legs could carry him. Mordrin soon followed up.

Alane heard the shouted warning, but was too intent on her quarry to pause. She arrived at the tunnel mouth to see the skaven wading through the stinking mire to gain a foothold on the walkway opposite. One last flaming dart launched at the fleeing creature proved futile, and he was last seen disappearing into the darkness back the way the party had come. By this time the last skaven was upon her, but this was quickly despatched when she blew its foot off with a well-aimed bolt of fire.

Mordrin, Berthold and Alane returned to the cavern to find Grundi busy reloading his blunderbuss, while Seigfreid was looting the corpses, and cutting off their ears to present to Captain Schutzmann as proof of their endeavours.

None of the party went too close to the human arm they found roasting over an open fire. Siegfried and Mordrin on the other hand went too close for comfort to the skavens' rough beds, but only Mordrin was unlucky enough to find himself suffering a plague of flea and tick bites that were to trouble him for some time to come. Berthold went to investigate the far passage exiting the cave, only to trip a crossbow trap, which luckily missed him.

More cautious now despite Grundi's constant urgings just to get on with it so that they could pursue the escaped skaven to deal with him and any more of his vile kin they could find, Seigfried led the party into the final chamber while Alane hung back to keep a wary eye open up the entry tunnel. There they found another skaven bed, which Seigfried pronounced safe, and in which they eventually found just the frame of the icon of Sigmar which Berthold had carried all the way to Middenheim from the scene of Father Dietrich's grisly death back in the Drakwald what- to the PC's- now seemed like an age ago.

They also found a statue of the dwarf god Grungni, which was instantly recognised by Mordrin, a loyal follower of this god who- along with Grundi- had prayed to Grungni for aid in their hunt for the skaven only that morning. It seemed that Grungni had not only answered their prayers, but that he had chosen them to be the instruments of the rediscovery of one of his ancient temples.

Mordrin's first instinct was to chase the humans out of this sacred place, but he eventually realised that it was too late for that. In any case, it would need to be reconsecrated after being defiled by the vile ratmen. At least, he thought, the elf hadn't come in. The enormity of this find quickly impressed itself upon Grundi, and his constant calls for haste in pursuit of the skaven fell silent. Soon discovering that the statue was carved into a natural feature of the cave itself, Mordrin decided that he had a message of great import to carry to the 'fresh' air of the blasted city above.

The party retraced their steps back to their entry point without incident.

Related@RD/KA!
In the Sewers of Middenheim
- We strike a bum note
- #2 Reports, retorts, and last resorts
- Index:- My little Old World: Ashes of Middenheim
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