Daith Sharpeye and Mortelis Bloodbough dragged Adele Ketzenblum’s body into the room and closed the door.
They set about searching her room for clues to her odd behaviour. No letters, notes, or other documents are to be found anywhere. However, Daith Sharpeye looked at the equipment chest and discovered that it had a false bottom. In a secret compartment the elves find a set of robes in purple and green silk and three books. The robes are the ritual garb of a cult priest of Slaanesh. The books consist of two texts, De Magister Voluptatis and Liber Ecstatica, which deal with the worship of Slaanesh, and a handwritten journal detailing the deeds of the Jade Sceptre Cult.
Realising the significance of the find, Daith Sharpeye snuck out of the window to get the rest of the group and alert Witchunter Gregor Helstrum while Mortelis Bloodbough stayed behind to guard Adele Ketzenblum’s corpse.
Daith Sharpeye picked his way through the shadows of Middenheim streets, making haste towards The Scholar’s to fetch the others when he felt a hard stinging blow to his lower back. Spinning on his heels, he saw 3 cloaked figures, with clawed hands, closing in on him. His back felt wet with warm blood as he raised his bow at the nearest assailant.
Aided by cover from a wall, the Skaven stepped back and Daith’s shot stuck into the wooden beams of the building. Daith cursed the Horned Rat as a throwing star whistled at his face, opening up a deep gash across his forehead. Daith’s vision swam red as he fought off unconsciousness. He had to get out of there and quick! Fighting through the pain, he steamed down the street towards the safety of The Scholar’s. Like a gazelle he swerved through boxes and crates and ducked under a washing line but he Skaven were still close behind. Up ahead, a horse broke free from its owner and reared up, hooves flailing in front of Daith. The elf saw his chance to escape his pursuers and he dropped to the floor, rolling under the kicking horse before rising on the other side to sprint free.
Breathless, Daith reached the safety of the Inn and summoned help from Barlin “Grimbane” Duraksson,
the Grey Cowl Lambeth, and Robert Schalmer.
In a group they headed back from where Daith had just came to find Gregor Helstrum.
The Skaven, smelling blood, were emboldened and attacked the larger group. This time, the party was ready for them. Daith struck a shot at a nearby Skaven, pinning him to the wall. Lambeth moved to a flanking position as Barlin “Grimbane” Duraksson leveled his modified Hochland Rifle at the furthest Skaven. The smell of black powder filled the air as the rifle thundered to life, its deadly shot striking the Skaven, who reeled back under the force of the impact. Robert Schalmer dealt the third Skaven a mortal blow, sending the ratman scurrying for cover. In no mood to take prisoners, Daith Sharpeye responded quickly, firing a arrow that struck the Skaven squarely in the back, killing him instantly.
The party regrouped and fetched Helstrum, taking him back to the The Brown Owl inn. Upon seeing Adele Ketzenblum’s body ravaged by violence and the ruinous powers, Helstrum wept openly. He accepted the undeniable evidence before him and mourned the loss of his protege.
Gregor Helstrum vowed to bring the full force of the Inquisition to bear, and said that he would ensure that justice is served in the trial of Graf Wolfgang von Aschenbeck. Helstrum, not one to believe in coincidence, offered to help the PC’s complete the ritual on the Corrupted Bell Clapper.
Locking Adele’s body in the room, the group headed to the Temple of Ulrich and sent for Robertus von Oppenheim to begin the ritual.
The Sacred Flame casts an eerie, shifting light over the darkened interior of the temple. Priest Frost stands by the Flame, talking to a junior priest while three in initiates draw strange symbols on the floor with chalk. Everyone looks up as party makes their way towards the Flame, holding the box with the strange object inside.
Robertus von Oppenheim asked each member of the party for assistance in the ritual. He asked Daith Sharpeye to hold aloft the stone chalice filled with wine. Barlin “Grimbane” Duraksson was given wolf skins to dress in and was asked to guard the temple doors and howl like a wolf throughout the ritual. Robert Schalmer was given the honour of sanctifying the perimiter by carrying a torch taken from the holy flame on a course of the temple. Lambeth had to keep the sacred flame from going out while Mortelis Bloodbough was to take the clapper from the lead-lined box and hand it to Robertus von Oppenheim at the appropriate time.
Three initiates stand to one side of the Sacred Flame and begin a chant in the ancient Teutogen language. After a few minutes of chanting, von Oppenheim steps inside the
circle of chalk symbols and approaches the Flame, also chanting. His voice is too low to hear over the chant of the junior priests, but anyone present could see that his lips are moving.
Barlin “Grimbane” Duraksson stepped outside and folded his arms. ‘I am not howling for anyone’ he grumbled.
Lambeth moved nervously around the sacred flame, trying to protect it as Daith did a good job holding the chalice aloft, but his arms started to ache. Mortelis Bloodbough was struggling to get the box holding the corrupted bell clapped open.
Robert Schalmer made his way around the temple with the flame, easily kicking down a locked door that blocked his path.
Meanwhile, Robertus von Oppenheim raises his arms and approaches the Sacred Flame, tracing mystical patterns in the air as he slowly walks once around it. As he reaches each cardinal point, he pauses long enough to take out a handful of sand-coloured powder from a jar tied to his belt and throw it into the flame. As he completes his circuit, the Flame flares brightly once, and then subsides to its former level – but instead of bright orange, it is now a purplish blue in colour.
Mortelis Bloodbough begins to strike the box but barely dents it. Just then, Daith’s arms give way and he lowers the chalice.
Barlin “Grimbane” Duraksson grumbles, ‘This is going well..’
Returning from his patrol, Robert Schalmer takes the box from Mortelis and effortlessly opens it as Oppenheim holds out his hand for the clapper. Mortelis Bloodbough takes the chalice from Daith and excellently follows Oppenheim’s instructions to give each of the initiates a taste.
When Robertus von Oppenheim has the clapper, he holds it in both hands and reaches into the Sacred Flame.
At first, the Flame seems to draw back from the Chaos-tainted object. Von Oppenheim steps back, still chanting, and advances to try again. The flames lap around his arms and hands, but despite a wince of pain that crosses his face his skin and clothing is not burned.
The clapper remains in the Sacred Flame for what seems like an eternity. Slowly it begins to glow with the same purple-blue light. After a few minutes, it starts to emit a high-pitched ringing sound, like the echoes of a bell that has been struck but at the very limits of human hearing. The sound grows in volume and intensity until it fills the Temple, echoing off the walls and ceiling.
As the sound grows, von Oppenheim’s body begins to shake. His face contorts in pain, his jaw clenches, and his lips draw back from his teeth. His eyes widen with fear and he seems to be trying to move away from the Flame – but some power is holding him in place. He is lifted slowly off his feet and drawn into the midst of the Sacred Flame, turning slowly as the whine of power and the glow of the clapper both increase to an almost unbearable level.
Suddenly, there is a blinding flash of light. It takes a few moments for the heroes’ vision to return, but when it does they see the crumpled form of von Oppenheim lying just outside the Sacred Flame, his hair and clothing on fire. Near him lies the clapper, its warpstone-tainted metal transformed into something that shines more brightly than polished silver. The Flame has resumed its normal colour, and burns as if nothing has happened.
Von Oppenheim is dead. Although the Sacred Flame did not seem to touch him during the ritual, now his body is blackened almost beyond recognition and the air is filled with the stench of burned flesh.
Frost looks down at the burned corpse and mutters a prayer of benediction. Reverently, Frost picks up the clapper and places it back in the box.
“Ulric grant that his ritual worked,” he says, softly, “for he paid a high price for it – higher than I think he knew. “But if this man has truly done what he claims, then he dies a hero. If we have discovered how to remove the taint of Chaos, it will be invaluable for the Empire. it could even mean that mutations could be cured..
You people must take this safely to Altdorf, or dishonor his memory.” Go now – we will see him safely into the arms of Morr.”