Friday, July 16, 2010

The Curse of the Dertflinghans: Chapter Six


24 April. The Town of Dertflinghan - My heart is uneasy. My bodyguard, Hugo, has joined Sir Mannleigh and his companions as they head south to the Graveyard of Old Dertflinghan. In daylight, this seemed the wisest course but, as evening approaches, I feel as if I am in danger. I have decided to barricade myself inside the church where I intend to keep an all-night prayer vigil until morning. However, before I proceed further I should explain the chain of circumstances which has placed me in this precarious position. Perhaps the act of writing will in itself clear my heart and mind.

As per my previous entries, I took a coach to the small village of Vechi, where, after being rescued from a band of roughs, I hired the German gentlemen Hugo Forst to accompany me eastward. Yesterday morning, the wagon track we were following joined a larger road and the sign at the intersection indicated that my destination was less than a day's march away. We had hardly made this discovery when we were startled by a man's voice from the trees behind us. We soon learned that the gentlemen was Dr. Richard Alcock, a well-known scholar from Oxford. He led us on a small trek through the trees to a small camp where he introduced us to the rest of his travelling companions.

It seems that the leader of their party is the gentlemen adventurer Sir Thrustam Mannleigh. After some discussion, I learned that these good people were, like me, headed for the village of Dertflinghan to inquire after a missing, or at least, unaccounted-for person. However, whereas I am searching for our missionary representative Sister Anthia (who has not answered my correspondence for over a month), Sir Mannleigh and his companions are answering a request from a Kastor Von Dertflinghan. I must admit, I found it hard to avoid becoming suspicious when I learned that two people had gone missing from the same small settlement within days of one another.

In any event, as they were in the process of breaking-down their camp, Sir Mannleigh insisted that Hugo and I should accompany him to the town. With my growing doubts, I was only too happy to oblige. By evening, I was to learn that this chance meeting was no chance at all, but instead a legitimate example of divine intervention. But again, I move ahead of myself.

We made our way onward and just before dusk we saw the small cluster of dwellings appearing before us. As we drew near, some townsfolk came forth and met us in the town square. Their disposition could best be described as amicable yet reserved.

We were in the process of making arrangements for food and lodgings when a couple of rustic fellows came running through the fields yelling warnings in our direction.

Everything else happened rapidly, and no doubt, my observations will seem scant and inaccurate. As the villagers ran to their homes, barring doors and windows behind them, I saw a dark figure moving around behind the church.

Sir Mannleigh's hound also drew our attention to a pair of great wolves moving towards us in the gathering twilight.

With devilish speed, the young lady Ms. Poundwood was beset by one of the lupine killers. I was most impressed (and surprised) by the skillful way in which she handled herself. It was at this point I realized that I was not in the company of commonplace travellers.

And then, with supernatural speed and savagery, the dark figure flew into Sir Thrustam with murderous intent. Even my untrained eye could see that Sir Mannleigh was no slouch with a blade, but his skillful efficiency wasn't enough to stop the creature from throwing him violently to the ground.

At the same time, a smaller dark figure, this one in the shape and dress of a human child, came rushing into straight in my direction. The good Hugo fired his pistol with great accuracy, but in spite of the many bullet wounds, the hell-spawned creature kept advancing, taunting us with yellow claws.

The largest and most bestial of our attackers jumped over the stunned form of Sir Mannleigh and continued to hack and bite its way through the party. Although the entire encounter only lasted for mere moments, the beasts threatened to rout the entire party.

It was then that I heard a loud flapping sound, like a wet leather sack being beaten with a broomstick. I could see what seemed to be a bat, and if it wasn't so large, I would identify it as such with confidence. Whatever it was, one of Sir Mannleigh's resourceful Austrian companions made an impressive shot with his rifle and the flying menace disappeared from my sight.

During the initial clash with the monsters, Prof. Alcock ran around the town, beating on doors and shutters, encouraging those within to combine their strength and to come forth to the defense of their town. He is a skilled orator (and would have made a fine preacher I should think) and before long the townsfolk rushed out with farm tools and household implements held threateningly before them.

From here, the melee became a confused mess of bodies and shouts, and truthfully, I found it difficult to tell who was attacking who. Of one thing, however, I am sure. At the height of the altercation, the greatest of the beasts seemed to evaporate into a thin mist and to dissipate on the wind.

Abandoned by their master, the others seemed confused and suddenly lost the original impetus of their attack. The professor and I rallied those who were still standing, and as quickly as possible, we dragged the injured men and women into nearby buildings and locked the doors behind us. I leaned on a rickety table in a small cottage, and when I peered out into the night, I could see the devilish children scouring the town square before leaping and flying into the dark woods beyond.

When we awoke this morning, the townsfolk were about their business in the village and the surrounding fields. I can only accredit their persistence to necessity, as most men and women, after suffering such an ordeal, would have surely been paralyzed with fear. Mannleigh, his companions, and Hugo and myself went to the church where we searched for some clue as to the whereabouts of our missing persons. The townsfolk seem confident that Kastor is away to the south on business and that Sister Anthia disappeared in the middle of the night without explanation.

It was during this search that, in the fire grate of the church cellar, we found a promising clue. Ms. Poundwood produced a scrap of burnt paper caught in the gap of a grate stone. I immediately recognized the writing as being in Anthia's hand, and it ran thusly;
"...told me that the most likely source of the problem would be the mausoleum. I expect to take his advice in hand and to depart sooner rather than later. This place has eyes. I must leave it one way or another. Either way, if..."
Knowing that the remnants of the Old Graveyard of Dertflinghan lies to the south of the village, Mannleigh has decided to head in that direction as it offers him the only explanation of skulduggery in this cursed valley. I have sent the good Mr. Forst along with Mannleigh to be my eyes and ears while I stay behind and try to further investigate the strange happenings that surround this place.

It may only be the paranoid fancy that comes with age, but I feel the villagers intently watching me as I walk around the village. Now that I am here alone, I am afraid, as if there is hidden danger present. I have decided to stay in the church from now on. I have barricaded the doors and made good count of the provisions that Anthia has left behind. I have made excuses to satisfy the curiosity of the villagers, but I shall wait here for Mannleigh's return nonetheless. Afraid or not, I am a bride of the church, a servant of the Lord, and by His grace and protection, I will hold this place against all foes, man or devil.

Game Talk:

It was long overdue, but Chris and I finally managed to align the dates and make it happen. We were playing against the clock a little, but my new baby is a good sleeper and we managed to proceed without interruption. Here was the table laid out as Dertflinghan. I finally had the opportunity to use my new evergreen bases, and I have to say, it was a fun table to play on.

We played the "Terror in a Tiny Town" scenario. Essentially, a group of five townsfolk represents a mob that each opponent fights to control, humans through reason and monsters through fear and coercion. The Grudge Match special event was in play so my vampires were even more savage in melee than usual.

Although, for the purposes of the story, the Mannleigh expedition came from the west, Chris deployed on the south entrance to the town, directly across from the vampires, in the woods on the other side of the palisade.

Here's a shot of the mob deployed at the beginning of the game. the monster hunters had a far better run of controlling the mob during the scenario. However, Lucretia (my vampire in the blue dress) wiped out the entire mob in close combat (in one turn, no less) so the 2 VP were left unclaimed.

Since Lyleth has two uses of Shape of the Bat, I advanced her down the flank. She flew over the buildings with the intention of kidnapping the female victim (Sister Basilla in this case), but as you read above, she was shot down by the very accomplished Johann Von Dertflinghan. I should also mention that Chris did KO Count Adolphus, I just included the mist photo for atmosphere.

As I mentioned in a recent post, we've decided to switch entirely over the Tom Weiss's campaign system. This means no more advances for characters (we weren't really getting any anyway, and they aren't necessary), no income, and no characters dying. Instead, we are keeping track of minor and major victories, with major victories allowing the winning player to add a new character or henchmen group to his roster. This game shook down as follows:

Controlling Mob at Game End (2 VP) - neither player
Most KO'd enemy characters (1 VP) - 4 each, neither player
Capture Female Victim (1 VP) - vampires achieved

Kill Master of Evil (1 VP) - monster hunters achieved

Result - 1 VP each; Draw

Can't wait to play the next one. Hope you enjoy the photos, and as always...

Thanks for Reading,


Christopher(aka Axebreaker) said...

I always look forward to these updates and yet again I wasn't let down.Wonderful writing and great pics!


Tony said...

Interesting game report with some very good photos to illustrate it. Well done.

I particularly liked the black and white photo as a 'header'.


CWT said...

Another excellent report in what is becoming an excellent little series!

Anonymous said...

Very Interesting!
Thank You!