The Path of Kane

His Past Catches Up with Him...
As I begin this entry, it is four weeks into the year of our Lord 1603. Once again…..N’Longa appeared in my dream…all of our dreams. We are directed to the dark continent of Africa. We make haste and begin our long journey westward. This westerly direction appears to be the safest as many pirates roam the Mediterranean Sea. I estimated that the trip would take us a better part of four weeks! Our arduous journey led us throughout the countryside and mountains of Austria, Northern Italy, France and Spain with some two thousand three hundred miles travelled. Our troop arrives late March in the bustling port city of Lisbon with so many sights to see with being a port city the activity business and otherwise is truly amazing. This crowded city is just swarming with activity. We sell our horses and I must bid farewell to Peppermint as they cannot make the seaward voyage to Africa. We do however retain all the equestrian equipment for possible future use once we dock in the dark continent. We weave our way through crowded streets of the likes of all types of people. We reach our city destination that being nearby the docks of this active city. Franz, Fernando and Esteban work the streets searching for viable passage to Africa. They learn the best place to book passage on a ship bound for Africa is The Lone Knuckle Ale House located along the waterfront. I tag along with the remaining Crusaders not feeling very useful in the current endeavor. Our group stands out among the bar patrons with half the Crusaders heavily armored. No sooner to step foot into the Ale House when someone in the corner in a raised voice shouts at Fernando with most of us are uncertain what he said to our companion. We hear the voice say something ending with…“Fernando!” An entire table filled with rowdy men stand and move in Fernando’s direction and ours for that matter. I throw 5 pounds on the counter betting Esteban that Fernando would lose. Esteban ignores the bid as he seems to have spied something that concerns him. I look to the thugs and they armed with daggers every one of them. This does not look like a good time to place a bet! Fernando hurls a bar stool and clocks one in the forehead briefly dazing him. I prepare to intervene but just continue to observe for the time being. Esteban slashes one of the thugs casting blood onto a nearby table. I am able to deflect numerous dagger attacks on Fernando although his blood soaks much of his upper torso. Skillfully Franz soon eliminates his opposing rowdy thug and places himself in harms way against the three enemy battling Fernando. A battle weary Fernando continues his attack while trying to reason with his opponent(I can only guess). I step up and touch the leader cursing him with my talents. Their beef seems to be with Fernando only because these thugs are ignoring me and dealing Fernando much punishment. Determined Carlos jabs in the arm penetrating through Fernando’s defenses. I turn my focus on the weakened Fernando and heal his wounds so that he can continue his battle. Now looking nervous Carlos looks around to find his henchmen dying on the bar room floor. He points and then yells something at Fernando quickly retreating out the door to make his escape along with the sole surviving henchman. I show mercy on Carlos’ followers and heal most of their wounds. They were most likely only following his orders in his quest to seek revenge on Fernando. Perhaps they will now see the light since gaining a second chance in this earthly life. The patrons look nervous and ask the Spaniard, “aren’t you an inquisitor?…..take him in!” Some of the bar patrons decide to leave the establishment after seeing much bloodshed, gore and toping it off with a witch healing the pirates wounds. The crusaders shrug off the people’s concerns to focus on Fernando. Esteban soon questions Fernando about the reason for the assault. Fernando responds vaguely and only details Carlos’ anger stems from issues while they were both crew members aboard the pirate ship know as “Sea Bass”. The bar keep relents and suggests we locate a captain Gustavo or Bernardo that they may allow us to book passage on their ship. The bartender looks and says, “Oh wait there is Gustavo over in the far corner.” Almost immediately Fernando engages him in conversation hoping to get us passage on his ship for a minimal fee. The Fernando orders a whole bottle of Kashia while over his shoulder he explains that this is a Portuguese “moonshine”. Fernando slams money onto the table and waits for the bottle of strong spirits. Franz and Esteban join the men at the table and the negotiating begins. I boost their skills in the hope the negotiations go well, but the trio fail to positively influence Gustavo but enough to allow a conversation with his brother. We search the many dockside slips and locate Bernardo. Straight away a hesitant Bernardo says, “I don’t know…you guys just had that bar fight and some of those fellows are my friends.” he continues, “Come with me we will talk with captain Raphael Gamma.” The negotiating resumes with Fernando taking the lead and introducing himself. Even with Franz and Esteban collaborating with the former sea dog the captain demands work along with a 10 pound passage fee. We concede and pay our costly fee for our trip to the dark continent. Fernando insists, “But we are not sleeping on the slave deck.” The captain then says, “I had four sailors, but they were in a bad bar fight and unable to complete their duties aboard ship.” Fernando hesitates, “We don’t know anything about that.” I just return with, “Sorry to hear about that.” Franz opens his purse and hands over his fee with a perplexed look. “I must have been robbed by street urchins during our time near the docks.” Esteban begins to gather supplies and rations for our long sea voyage. The remaining Crusaders converse on a plan to get Fernando safely to the dark continent without any harm or injury.
Blankets for Sale!!!!!

Just outside the village of Detva in a small thatched roof cottage, we discuss our next move against the Devil’s Mistress. After a hearty breakfast we will set out to reconnoiter the castle nearby. We bid farewell to our hosts and mount our trusty steeds. I gently stroke Peppermint’s mane as the sun glistens like the amber of a mature campfire. She seems tense as if she senses the danger that waits in the castle of the Mistress. We trot along two by two as I take in sweet smell of morning pines that linger along our path. A short time later we spot the castle in the shadow of the rugged mountains. We move off the path staying in the wood line, but close enough to observe the activity around the castle. Upon my suggestion an invisible Boris strides across the open field in search of any other less obvious ways to enter the fortress. While Boris is sneaking around in search of concealed doors the remainder of us notice typical comings and goings at the front entrance. After only about 10 minutes Boris returns with a look of frustration and explains that he is convinced of the lack of alternate entrances. He offers details about how heavily fortified and well guarded the castle is. The guards seem to be completing a typical search of each wagon or cart that arrives. We hatch a plan to smuggle ourselves inside a wagon that is delivering goods. The group makes our way to a place where we can observe the business travelers as they approach the castle. Fernando makes a suggestion to put a horse to sleep in the roadway, but I point out that that would consume too much of my talents.
We wait roadside for a wagon that offers an area to hide all of us as part of its cargo. 45 minutes later Franz spies a wagon approaching that fits our criteria. Franz hails the driver as “friend”. The driver halts the horse team with a confused response of “friend??” Franz explains our request to become stowaways among his cargo. The driver looks his way with a nervous stare. After some debate among the Crusaders, Franz decides that a fee of 10 pounds should be enough to smuggle us into the castle. This proprietor explains his willingness to accept the money, but points out that he is not keen on being caught crossing the Mistress. He suggests that we take the wagon along with his goods and make our way to the front gate of the castle. He suggests his withdraw to a safe distance from the castle and us. Franz completes the transaction with the driver and his assistant departs with a great swiftness. Fernando removes his armor to help give the appearance of being a linen salesman and takes note of his point of contact. Fernando keeps his dagger just in case he is in dire straits. He is to deliver his wagon load of blankets to Velma.
We move out aimed at our objective not far in the distance. Fernando driving the wagon and team of horses while the remaining Crusaders hid beneath the tarp that protects the blankets from the occasional thunderstorm. We arrive in front of the large gatehouse safeguarded by four soldiers loyal to the Devil’s Mistress. I use my talent to make those of us covered by the tarp invisible. One of the soldiers declares in a repetitive tone, “State your business”. Fernando quickly returns, “Delivery.” “Delivery of?” responses the soldier. “Blankets.” states Fernando. “For!?” quips the guard. The newly ordained salesman declares, “Velma.” The remaining three circle the wagon glancing under the tarp as the inquiring soldier barks, “Be quick about it!” Fernando says, “I will.” The soldier ends the conversation with, “You had better not delay or you will find yourself in the dungeon!” Fernando enters a sizable courtyard asking random people, “Where’s Velma?!” A citizen responses, “Velma is the Mistress’ stewardess.” Fernando says, “I need to make this delivery!” Two soldiers move to a location near the wagon ordering, “So make your delivery!” Nearly at once both soldiers point to the main entrance and proclaim “You will find her in the main hallway.” I wipe some sweat from my brow and consider our options. If we can’t be part of a delivery inside the main hall then we will have to make our way inside in a rapid movement. Fernando’s footsteps begin to fade away and with that I make a suggestion. In a whisper I say, “Since Fernando has headed in the direction of the great hall why don’t we try to move into the hallway?” Esteban attempts to roll out of the wagon while still invisible. Boris and I roll out with some sense of success and shortly afterward we hear a clang near the wagon. It must have been Franz since he lacks the ability to move about very quietly. Not knowing the positions of the remaining Crusaders I take advantage of my invisibility striding in the direction of the great hall. A pair of guards stop their march and glance over in the direction of the wagon. Both look at each other with a confused and puzzled expression, deciding to walk toward the wagon. The pair arrives at the wagons location and one states, “Maybe the horse kicked…or some…thing?” Then they see Fernando and the other soldiers demands, “Hey…you!” “Me??” Fernando responds. “Yeah you!..What it up with your cart?” the soldier retorts. Fernando: "What do you mean what is up with my cart? The guard answers, “I don’t know..its making weird noises.” Fernando returns to his cart and in a raised voice says, “What the f*ck did you do to my cart?” “Those blankets are for the mistress!” Fernando blurts, “Don’t just stand there….pick them up!” One soldier just looks wearily at him and says, “How come you’re not done with what you are supposed to be done with?” Fernando answers, “I am looking for Velma….sirs.” “I am tryin to delivery these blankets and was told not to dilly or dally.” Somewhat irritated the shorter soldier says, “Alright, just hurry up…your presence is annoying me…brown man!” They continue, “Just stay here I will get Velma.” The portly guard walks to a door just inside the great hall showing Fernando the way inside. Fernando walking in saying, “Velma? Velma?” Her office being small looks up from a desk blurting, “What is the problem?” Fernando responds, “I was told to delivery these blankets to you.” She shoots back, “Not TO me!” Fernando claims, “I have the blankets in the wagon just outside your office.” I am close enough to their conversation to hear the breathing of Fernando. Velma in a frustrated tone replies, “Just delivery them to the usual place.” Fernando continues his insistence, “I was told to bring them to you so just tell me where to put them.” Velma instructs Fernando to stack the blankets. Esteban and I devise a plan to start a fire in Velma’s office as a diversion of sorts. We move inside her office and begin to use the flint and steel on some documents that lie on Velma’s desk. Fernando barks(referring to the portly guard), “You heard her….start stackin those blankets!” “She wasn’t talkin to me sh*thead!” guard responds. Fernando insists, “Yes she was!” Guard returns, “She said you!” Sheepishly Fernando says, “No she didn’t.” Walking in the direction of her office and at a distance of only 15 feet from the door Velma asks, “What’s that smell?” Just then I notice we are now visible! Velma yells, “Fire!!” Fernando quickly grabs the double doors and they creak to a close. Velma starts running deeper inside the castle to the hallway to the left yelling, “Fire brigade!!!” I notice two guards with weapons drawn next to Franz so I try and put them into a deep slumber, but only one of the guards falls onto his back asleep. Fernando retreats to one of the statues removing a long sword along with a medium shield and readies himself for combat. Esteban leaps into the fray and slits the sleeping guard’s throat. I enhance the fighting abilities of all my allies in preparation for a prolonged battle. Franz steps backward from the force of a second attack from the guard. Fernando springs at the soldier and strikes him in the gut causing him to collapse into the fetal position. The group hastily moves into the right hallway noticing numerous doors. We continue moving swiftly all the while observing all doors with the hopes of finding a significant entrance to the castles throne room. I can hear soldiers nearby conducting a cautious search. Half way down the hall Fernando abruptly halts and points saying, “There is a door over here and it is different than the rest.” Fernando exclaims, “We gotta take this door!” Fernando opens the concealed door and I notice only darkness from my vantage point. The crusaders begin to descend the stairs while I fire up the hooded lantern. Fernando leads us into a dark and dank dungeon. I train the glow of the lantern along the far wall to reveal two iron maidens. The left most maiden having dark red liquid oozing from a hole in its base into a metal bowl. A stunningly beautiful woman with long black hair that contrasts her porcelain skin is positioned next to the oozing maiden lovingly stroking it. The mistress in an amused voice states, “Visitors how nice.” I become aware of a dozen cells lining each side of the large dungeon some seem to contain half naked young maidens. She follows up her statement saying, “What brings you gentlemen here?” In a serious voice Fernando remarks, “I am delivering blankets.” He continues, “I heard it’s kind of chilly down here.” Esteban quips, “Have you seen Velma?” “Yeah…we have a delivery for her…they are finely woven.” Esteban includes, “We come on quest from Kane.” The mistress looks in my direction and says, “Ummm…a man will make a nice change to my master’s diet.” “Let him taste the maiden’s kiss!” She gestures to the iron maiden, “Put him in the maiden.” as two guards step out of the shadows. Franz yells, “Not my Cadamus!” Fernando responds, “Today is not my day to meet the devil.” Fernando immediately runs full speed charging, leaping and then planting his sword into the mistress’ shoulder. She glares back at Fernando and swings a mace nearly hitting Fernando in the face. Boris steps into the fray striking a guard in the forearm. Franz raises his large shield and parries the great sword of a guard. Esteban fires wide sending a ball glancing off the right iron maiden. The Mistress tries to bring her mace down on Fernando’s head but his quick reflexes allow him to deflect the blow with his newly acquired shield. Boris connects again striking the guard a second time. A well placed strike hits Franz in the upper thigh causing blood to drip down his leg. I cause myself to disappear planning to protect my teammates. In succession Boris and Esteban strike the Mistress drawing her blackish blood onto the floor. Franz angered by the blood on his leg slices into the guard killing him. The Devil’s Mistress yells, “Master we are in need of thee!” She swings and hits Fernando with her mace ripping a chunk of his armor off. Esteban connects with his scimitar drawing more of her blood and casting off some onto the wall. Ganging up on her Fernando, Boris and Franz all attack causing her demise and she stumbles and falls to the cold stone floor. We then hear a rumbling wall to our right as I notice a large pool of blood. Boris saws the Mistress’ head off with his silver dagger. Appearing from behind the shifting wall is the Master….a huge sack of puss and pulsating jelly of mixed colors. At closer inspection the Master has a mass of long putrid tentacles flailing about. Fernando engages the master and finds it easy to hit because the thing is so large. Boris stabs the massive thing plunging deep into it’s flesh. Esteban swings his scimitar and cuts into the mass of blubber. Extended tentacles swing wildly striking Franz and he loses coloring in his face may be from a poison. Franz strikes back hitting the massive creature in the neck causing a pulsating gush of blood. The hellish beast slowly halts the thrash tentacles and ceases breathing. Franz emerges from the battle only mildly sickened by the tentacle. I rush over to the iron maiden only to find that the young maiden had expired. We manage to free the remaining maidens from their captivity many half-naked we clothe them with our wagon of blankets. We load our wagon and head to the cottage of Klaus. In our travels to the cottage we observe numerous lynchings, beatings and killings of the Mitress’ soldiers. The local people once learning of their freedom from the Mistress begin the vengeance the soldiers so richly deserve. A weary bunch we sit by the fire eating a hearty meal offering Klaus details on todays events. I stoke the dwindling fire and turn in for the evening with the others bedding down shortly after. I am violently shaken awake early in the dawn hour by concerned looking Fernando. My friend or so I thought had run out on us in the overnight. Not only had Boris escaped with our wagon along with some of the looted Msitress’ treasure, but our collection of two torn pages of manuscript. I had failing to recognize his deceit before hand as he must have caused us to go into a very deep sleep. I must remain fully aligned with Kane and trust only those who follow him.

A (devil's)mistress with a fetish....young women!

Kane’s Crusaders finally arrive in the village of Detva. Entering the village we receive closing doors, cowering mothers, glaring and panicked eyes. A gang of men approach with an array of farmers’ weapons such as pitch forks, shovels, scythes, mallets and even a baling hook. The group claims that we are the underlings of the Devil’s Mistress and we are unwelcome here. We explained our encounter with the trolls and witch. I detail our rescue of the baby and the loss of her parents because of these foul creatures. Occasionally I am assisted in my translation by a mysterious Spanish gentleman. He seems a well dressed and tidy inquisitor, but I could be mistaken. I felt obligated to express the witches’ motives for her attempted capture of the infant. Everyone must be extra cautious with small children until we can bring this evil witch to justice. The villagers show signs of relief and become very friendly. Felix Cretue introduces himself as the mayor and his wife and agrees that their deaths are very unfortunate. Felix consents and accepts the baby with the understanding that she will be transported to the safety of her aunt in a village just a short distance from here. Franz, feeling over protective, departs our company to scout the nearby village for the baby’s aunt. Fernando explains to the mayor that our primary mission is to defeat the Devil’s Mistress. Esteban the neat Spaniard overhears our discussion with Felix and approaches to join the conversation. The Spaniard says not to bother with the villagers because they are ignorant of the Devil’s Mistress. He explains, “I am here for the same reason and that we both walk the path of Kane.” Fernando offers some of his fine red wine that he has recovered from the inn of the female vampire spawn. The inquisitor is happy to oblige and readily partakes of the alcoholic drink. The mayor does offer an approximate location of the castle of this mistress and mentions the journey is about one and a half days travel by horseback. It is decided that we will remain with the mayor to rest up before setting out tomorrow.
We are traveling in the direction of the castle with Fernando leading the way when our band spots a woman sprawled out in the roadway. Her dress is torn at the shoulder and she has a visible purplish welt on her cheek. Four soldiers are standing over her in a hostile posture. They display a coat of arms with a black eagle dripping blood from each talon. One states plainly, “You will make a fine gift for our lady.” Fernando and I quickly confer based on the situation. A split second later, Fernando says “this is what we do” and breaks out from the group in a full charge on horseback. Esteban hesitates briefly but prepares for battle after recognizing their emblems as belonging to the guard of the Devils Mistress. I use my talents to boost the fighting ability of the remaining party members. Fernando reaches the gathering of soldiers and leaps from his horse and thrusts down planting both daggers into his right shoulder. The impact of the attack causes the soldier to drop to one knee. I lose sight of Boris as he dismounts and sneaks off into the wood line. The soldiers respond in kind and swing their great swords. All four of the marauders skillfully strike us with me absorbing two of their mighty swords. I am concerned because two of the evil knights are in my proximity so I use my talent to cause them to fall asleep. I look at my allies and they appear in reasonably good health so I boost the damage of their weapons. Fernando swings his long sword but is parried with the soldier using his great sword to defend. Both he and Esteban endure another blow from these expert swordsmen. I notice that Esteban displays some signs of a frenzied behavior. Because of the heat of combat?… that seems strange. I lift the damsel by her arm pits and began to move her to safety. I have just become aware of Fernando’s grave situation with his blood oozing from multiple wounds. Both his stomach and upper thighs are drenched in blood. I act quickly using my God given talent to heal the wounds of all my brothers-in-arms. The inquisitor takes aim and puff of dark smoke surrounds him but the shot of his pistol only tore a hole in the soldier’s shirt grazing his arm. I return to my removal of the maiden from danger and place her in the bushes. Just then I notice that both of the sleeping knights begin to rouse. Fernando spies them as well and hits one with a thrown hand axe. The two drowsy evil doers attack Fernando and manage to both draw his blood onto the roadway. Esteban, with a well placed slash to the neck, finishes the enemy soldier he was engaged with. Fernando is able to out maneuver both of his foes causing them to be unable to combat him for the time being. Esteban drops his pistol and draws his main gauche moving into melee with the two remaining marauders. Fernando sidesteps them and sliced one giving one a serious wound to the hamstring. I use my talent once again to protect Fernando and deflect a sword just before it hits him. I follow that action with a surge of the Almighty and heal Fernando’s grievous wounds. Esteban shows his prowess and deflects the marauder’s great sword with his scimitar. He then returns the favor and gouges the evil mistress’ minion in the forearm. The inquisitor attempts to intimidate the remaining marauder but the zealot resists and spits in his direction. Fernando strikes him with a final blow to the cheek and the zealot staggers and falls backward onto the ground motionless. Fernando whips out his medical supplies and bandages his wounds. He then gives the inquisitor a potion of healing to restore his full health. Esteban renders first aid and brings one of the marauders back from near death. The young lady yells, “What are you doing!?” Fernando replies, “That is what I said!” Esteban calmly states, “We need to ask him questions.” Esteban further explains, “Do you know what the emblem on their armor is?” An ignorant Fernando says, “It’s bloody that what it is!” “Do you not know the emblem of Devil’s Mistress when you see it?” responds Esteban. We manacle this marauders’ hands behind his back and bring him to his feet.
The young woman introduces herself saying, “Thank you for saving me!” Fernando asks her, “Are you thirsty?” “I have this nice fine wine.” Esteban stumbles over his words after noticing her beauty. The lady suggests we follow her to her father’s house because there may be more guards about. Esteban reads her body language and agrees to follow along. Fernando asks her, “Why were they beating you?” She says, “The take young women from around here.” We journey a short distance arriving at the young ladies father’s thatched roof cottage with our prisoner in tow. The smoke coming out of the chimney shows me that someone is present inside. The inquisitor refuses to enter the dwelling and offers to remain outside with the prisoner. I can assume he will use his skill to extract information from the marauder while we greet those that dwell inside the home. Her father must have caught sight of us approaching and ran out to greet the young lady. He embraced her saying, “Child I told you never to go out in the day!” “I had heard the soldiers nearby and feared the worst!” “Praise to God for delivering you safe to me!” Helga gestures in our direction and says, “were it not for these brave travelers I would have been on my way…well…they saved me and in doing so killed the soldiers.” Almost as one Fernando and myself correct her with Fernando saying, “One of them.” I claiming, “All of them well…most of them.” Helga’s father, Klaus, gestures toward the house with an invitation to stay and enjoy our family’s hospitality. Fernando without any pause enters the cottage. I remain outside and assist Esteban with his interrogation. Esteban asks him, “Tell me about this mistress.” The zealot says, “I could do this all day buddy.” After only a brief interrogation Esteban halts the process and whispers, “I think his guy is either very fanatical or afraid of retaliation.” The session ends with us gathering little other than, she is scary, powerful, in the castle and that we should be very afraid of her. I departed there company not wanting to know what transpired between he and our prisoner. I enter the domicile just as Klaus is explaining the dire situation in the surrounding area. The area has been terrorized by the Mistress and her minions. They demand young women for payment, but after a few years these henchmen just began taking them in ever increasing numbers without any form of payment. The surrounding homesteads began to send their young girls away to keep them safe. After some time Esteban enters after knocking looking a little disheveled and displaying a look of frustration. Klaus suggests we remain and gather our strength. After a few more morsels we bed down for the evening.

The green of the forest is not always so lovely!

Anna has set out to continue her research on vampires but we hope to see her soon. Riding eastward our movement was purposeful. We have discovered in one of the vampire spawns’ journals and written rants that mention of the devil’s mistress. Within the journal she described the mistress as woman that lives outside the village of Detva. Maybe this evil mistress is the guardian of a Gem of Power. That was the total of our information at this point in time. After 3 days of travel, based on our surrounding mountainous terrain and townsfolk we have arrived in the country of Romania. The amber sun has sunk to our backs as we see smoke rising from ahead possibly in the roadway. Our horses respond the kicks increasing their pace to a full gallop. Approximately one-third of a mile into our hastened travel we spy an overturned and burning carriage. The violent flames have engulfed most of the twisted wreckage. The next thing to capture my attention is a pair of greenish trolls wielding large great clubs with a collection spikes that protrude from the head. Fernando springs into action and continues his movement leaping from his horse burying two daggers into the larger troll’s back. Boris dismounts from his horse and readies his short sword and silver dagger. Franz dismounts as well with his long sword and shield at the ready. I boost damage upon Fernando, Franz and Boris’ main weapons to help bring down these foul unearthly monsters. Fernando was struck off balance by a powerful hit by the wounded troll. Boris lunges and stabs the injured troll causing him to collapse into a lifeless heap. Boris then moves to assist Franz in his battle with the other monster. The troll swings and drives into Franz’s flesh the spikes of his great club casting off blood onto the roadway. We move in and further inspect the carriage with its strewn contents when Franz notices a black cat that moves just out of reach. I keep a watch upon this black and strange feline especially since it appears out of place being a domesticated animal. Just off the road we discover a baby wrapped in a pink blanket. The cat is carefully watching our interactions with the infant. I use my talent to check the cat for any magical properties. It does indeed show properties associated with witchcraft and tells me that this is no ordinary cat. The cat glares and retreats into the forest as Franz begins to cradle the baby. The carriage and people appear to be a typical young couple travelling the road but unfortunately deceased.
Franz and Fernando locate footprints in the direction of the fleeing obsidian colored cat. I create a makeshift baby carrier and strap our infant to my back. Fernando bandages and tends his own wounds but in a haphazard way. As twilight approaches we continue following these rather large tracks when Boris notices more trolls but not in time to warn Franz of the impending danger. Franz is hit on the shoulder with the wood and metal of another troll club luckily not causing him serious harm save his armor. I lose view of Boris and assume he is hiding and trying to better position himself for a sneak attack. Fernando’s sword pierces the flesh of another green beast. The baby and I wink out of sight so as to avoid any direct contact with the trolls. Franz returns the favor and cuts into the flesh of the one he is toe to toe with. Franz parries a mighty troll’s attack causing a vibration in his shield because of the furiousness of the blow. Fernando is dancing around two of them trying mostly unsuccessfully to avoid the swings of the large sized clubs wielded by these greenish monsters. Fernando’s blood is oozing from multiple wounds and I use my healing power to restore his health. Next I pull a scroll of dominate out and attempt to use it but the demons of hell intercede with backlash causing me some fatigue. The backlash even causes the scroll to burst into flames never to be used again. Franz maneuvers around the troll dropping him with a well placed cut to the abdomen and spilling out what looks like the creature’s intestines. The trolls manage to resist my putting them into a slumber. A softly glowing shield appears and deflects a troll attack against Fernando. Soon after I assist Fernando, he skillfully eliminates a troll with his fancy sword play. The troll that just ceased living begins to stand up! Someone must be using the powers that originate in hell! Franz finally kills the last living troll with a slash to the head. The newly created zombie troll cleaves at Fernando’s head, but another opaque shield appears and deflects the creatures attack. A one-two combination from the Fernando and Franz duo destroys the undead creation therefore giving me a sense of relief. We advance into a nearby clearing to see a female change into a raven and take flight. I weave my hands and enchant Franz’s body to alter his form into that of an eagle. Franz the eagle flies after the raven but to no avail because the witch has had too much of a head start. The group investigates the shed where the witch appeared to have used as a base of operations. We discover a vast assortment of magical components including some specimens in jars and even a few chicken feet, a few potions, incense, an open book, a witch’s caldron and small stash of money totaling 250 pounds. Franz and I review the book’s contents to learn that she had been scheming to use a baby in a ritual that would allow her to regain some of her youthful appearance

Beauty is only skin deep.....

We return to the surface and describe the bloody scene to Michael. His expression appears to be one of indifference and seems strange that he is not moved by our discovery of not a single living soul within those dank tunnels. Fernando offers him much detail about the battles that were waged below the ground in the tunnels belonging to those hellions. We mount our steeds and bid Michael a fond farewell. Our heading is that of the Sun using its radiance to guide us to our destiny. A short distance outside of town, a cloaked figure armed with an English longbow leapt from a rather enormous Linden tree. He stood in the roadway and explained that dreams helped guide him to our location. He further explained that evil of this world must not be allowed to get the upper hand. Even went so far as to state plainly, “I am here to serve the common man”. His name is Sherwood and from my best guess he is sincere in his goodness. I quickly learn that he does not hold back his thoughts. Sherwood explains he scouted out the former village of his uncle and describes a discovery that the rest of us overlooked. Michael Droon had been helping the goblins capture some of the townsfolk and even sacrificing some of them. Sherwood further explains that he had to eliminate Mr. Droon with an arrow directly into his eye socket. I enlighten Sherwood with the basic premise that our group tends to focus on eliminating the obvious evil and that is why we were blind to his shady schemes. After traveling for a number of hours we begin to move through a more densely forested landscape somewhere along the border of the Ottoman Empire. Around noon as I appreciate our scenic surroundings, when a huge spider drops upon me. I am able to deflect his jaws with my shield just as he begins his assault on me. Quick to action, Sherwood fires an arrow into the flesh of one of the six that have dropped upon us. I evoke my ability to enhance the damage upon the remaining party members’ weapons. Fernando, in one motion, draws a dagger and flicks his wrist piercing another near its eyes. I bash another away with my shield as it leaps to try and accost me. Franz thrust his sword directly through another hairy beast stopping it in its tracks. I cause the two accosting me to fall into a deep sleep. Fernando quick draws his sword and perforates another causing it to cease living. Franz attempts a charge while mounted and fails miserably. Sherwood lets another arrow loose and drops another spider. Boris finishes the two that I put into a slumber with his dagger and sword. Being curious, Fernando climbs the largest of the nearby trees and locates some 34 marks among the spider webs and carcasses of some unfortunate travelers.
Hearing the rush of a stream, we take a detour to water the horses as well as quench our thirsts. A few hours pass with only the sound of natures’ creatures going about their daily business. Nature is such a pleasant and wonderful thing! The sun begins its descent and dusk draws near as the sky appears to transform into an artist’s palette of blue, orange, rose and purple. Sherwood locates a suitable resting spot just 10 meters off the path. Franz tells tales of his adventures on the high seas as Sherwood ignites the kindling he has gathered. We organize our night time watches and bed down for the evening. Fernando and Sherwood begin the evening and remain awake with Fernando sharing stories of Kanes’ Crusaders before Sherwood entered our ranks. After what seemed minutes, I am rudely awakened by a chilling darkness that is swirling around me. I instantly yell for help while trying to fend off this ghost like being. Sherwood and Fernando advance to render me some assistance. I light my hooded lantern with the hope that more light will aid us in our battle against this evil entity. Boris continues to sleep even as the battle wages. Franz staggers to his feet to prepare to encounter this evil. Sherwood fires what appears to be a direct hit but it passed through harmlessly. I disengage and move away from its chilly touch. Franz rouses Boris and asks him what to do against the creature made of darkness. Attacking this shadow seems useless so Sherwood uses a flaming log from the fire pit to distract the devil created thing. I transform into an owl so as to escape among the tree tops. Franz grabs his equipment and runs for the horses. Boris produces a silver dagger from his boot and stabs into the shadow a few times causing him to retreat back into the night. Fernando questions Boris about his silver dagger. Boris quickly dismisses him stating that he has recently acquired it. Boris and I discuss the encounter and conclude that it was a shadow, a type of undead. Franz went to sleep praying for a miracle from above in his efforts to battle these types of foes. When we awoke the Almighty had indeed blessed Franz with the talent to power weapons against supernatural beings. Late in the afternoon we happen upon a tavern alongside the beaten path. Franz rode in full gallop ahead dismounted and ran inside. He began yelling in German, but the bar tender is not well versed in such a language. He continues to yell asking the man tending bar what his name was. Apparently he knew enough to respond, “My name is Lucca.” “What would you like to drink?” Franz says in a more peaceful but spirited tone, “Bock!” He serves him beer as Franz notices his drone type of responses. Fernando sits down orders a beer and starts a tirade of questions directed at this new acquaintance. We remind him that this is just like many of the roadside taverns we have frequented over our time in Europe. I agree with Franz that this workers expressions are monotone in nature. After inquiring about accommodations, Fernando and I inspect the rooms and they appear to be adequate. I pay him for this evenings accommodations and Fernando covers the drinking expenses. Fernando asks for a cheese platter to go with his wine and Lucca offers a small platter of goat cheese. I go outside to make sure the horses are safe and groom mine using my horse brush from my saddlebag. After a few hours, I feel even more strongly that Lucca is behaving drone like. I speak at length with Lucca using my talent of Insight but to no avail. He does not offer any response that would lead me to believe that he is hiding something and remains emotionless. While I am conversing with Lucca, two attractive females enter from the back office using their sexuality to influence us. Both beauties gravitate to Sherwood mostly because he appears suave and handsome. The blonde tries to distract me and asks why aren’t you talking to us? Franz calls her a whore and the other a homo as he stumbles off of his stool pointing his finger at them. Franz looks closely at Lucca’s neck for any signs of bite marks, but no wounds are noticeable. Fernando cuts himself to see the reaction from these sultry women. Emilia and Tress look at the wound with disinterest and tell Lucca to get him a rag. Around 2 am both Franz and Boris have passed out and Sherwood and I help them to their beds. We return bar side and remain with Fernando until after 4 am when he decides to turn in for the night after finishing two bottles of wine. That big mouthed pirate really can really hold his liquor. I check on Franz and Boris then I transform into a bat and hang in the wooden rafters staying alert for any possible intruders. The remaining minutes of darkness tick by slowly and I soon hear a commotion in my companions’ room. I return to human form and call 2 spirit servants arming them with Franz and Boris(silver) weapons. I dash from my room into theirs to find a horrid scene. Both Sherwood and Fernando were grappling with the female vampire spawn and being drained of their blood! Straight away I have my spirit servants attack the evil spawns and the one wielding the long sword he connected for what I believe to be full damage. This damage causes her to alter her form into that of mist. I direct the servants to focus their attacks on the remaining vampire. Fernando swings and strikes her casting off blood onto the headboard of the bed. I follow the mist into the hallway where she sinks into the worn ash floor boards of the inn. Both spirit servants assault and gravely damage the other causing her to change into mist like her sister spawn. Her misty form begins to descend into the ash wood of the floor boards just as the other had. As I remain standing into hallway I hear a crash from the bar room below. Lucca is being held by his throat(lifeless) by a powerfully built man demanding to know, “Where are my brides?!” Behind him are the splintered front doors of the tavern laying on the floor. I have a wave of fear course through my body just being in this monsters presence. Sherwood reasons with him and explains our predicament. While an uneasy Sherwood chats with this vampire lord, I heal the fatigue and wounds of my fellow crusaders. He notices the wounds and recognizes that we have indeed tangled with his mistresses. He appears angry at his brides and no longer at us. He states plainly, “I suggest you leave now!” But before you depart you will do me one favor! We defer to the vampire lord and assist him in loading his mistresses’ coffins onto his wagon. After a search we do manage to find two silver long swords which just may be of use. We depart the tavern using the full speed our horses can offer. I am uneasy and feel cross because I have not removed the evil from our world. This unworldly creature should not be allowed to continue on as before our introduction. We must consider using our God given talents to eradicate him from this earth. I know that is what Kane would expect of us.

History of Transylvania

Transylvania became a semi-independent state under the Ottoman Empire (the Principality of Transylvania), where Hungarian princes who paid the Turks tribute enjoyed relative autonomy and Austrian and Turkish influences vied for supremacy for nearly two centuries. It was now beyond the reach of Catholic religious authority, allowing Lutheran and Calvinist preaching to flourish. In 1563 Giorgio Blandrata was appointed court physician; his radical religious ideas influenced young King John II and Calvinist bishop Francis David, eventually converting both to Unitarianism. Francis David prevailed over Calvinist Peter Melius in a 1568 in public debate, resulting in individual freedom of religious expression under the Edict of Turda (the first such legal guarantee of religious freedom in Christian Europe). Lutherans, Calvinists, Unitarians and Roman Catholics received protection, while the majority Eastern Orthodox Church was tolerated.
Transylvania was governed by princes and its Diet (parliament). The Transylvanian Diet consisted of three estates: the Hungarian elite (largely ethnic Hungarian nobility and clergy), Saxon leaders (German burghers) and the free Székely Hungarians.
The Báthory family, which assumed power at the death of John II in 1571, ruled Transylvania as princes under the Ottomans (and briefly under Habsburg suzerainty) until 1602. The younger Stephen Báthory, a Hungarian Catholic who later became King Stephen Bathory of Poland, tried to maintain the religious liberty granted by the Edict of Turda but interpreted this obligation in an increasingly restricted sense. The late Báthory rule saw Transylvania (under Sigismund Bathory) enter the Long War, which began as a Christian alliance against the Turks and became a four-sided conflict in Transylvania involving the Transylvanians, Austrians, Ottomans and the Romanian voivod of Wallachia led by Michael the Brave.
Michael gained control of Transylvania (supported by the Szeklers) in October 1599 after the Battle of Şelimbăr, in which he defeated Andrew Báthory’s army. Báthory was killed by Szeklers who hoped to regain their old privileges with Michael’s help. In May 1600 Michael gained control of Moldavia, uniting the three principalities of Wallachia, Moldavia and Transylvania (the three major regions of Romania). Michael installed Wallachian boyars in certain offices, but did not interfere with the estates and sought support from the Hungarian nobility. In 1600 he was defeated by Giorgio Basta (Captain of Upper Hungary), and lost his Moldavian holdings to the Poles. After presenting his case to Rudolf II in Prague (capital of Germany), Michael was rewarded for his service. He returned, assisting Giorgio Basta in the Battle of Guruslău in 1601. Michael’s rule did not last long, however; he was assassinated by Walloon mercenaries under the command of Habsburg general Basta in August 1601. Michael’s rule was marred by the pillaging of Wallachian and Serbian mercenaries and Székelys avenging the Szárhegy Bloody Carnival of 1596. When he entered Transylvania he did not grant rights to the Romanian inhabitants (who were primarily peasants, comprising more than 60 percent of the population). Instead, Michael supported the Hungarian, Szekler, and Saxon nobles by reaffirming their rights and privileges.
After his defeat at Miriszló, the Transylvanian estates swore allegiance to the Habsburg emperor Rudolph. Basta subdued Transylvania in 1604, initiating a reign of terror in which he was authorised to appropriate land belonging to noblemen, Germanize the population and reclaim the principality for Catholicism in the Counter-Reformation. The period between 1601 (the assassination of Michael the Brave) and 1604 (the fall of Basta) was the most difficult for Transylvania since the Mongol invasion. “Misericordia dei quod non-consumti sumus” (“only God’s mercy saves us from annihilation”) characterised this period, according to an anonymous Saxon writer. From 1604 to 1606, the Calvinist Bihar magnate István Bocskay led a successful rebellion against Austrian rule. Bocskay was elected Prince of Transylvania April 5, 1603, and Prince of Hungary two months later. The two major achievements of Bocskay’s brief reign (he died December 29, 1606) were the Peace of Vienna (June 23, 1606) and the Peace of Žitava (November 1606). With the Peace of Vienna Bocskay obtained religious liberty, the restoration of all confiscated estates, repeal of all “unrighteous” judgments, full retroactive amnesty for all Hungarians in Royal Hungary and recognition as independent sovereign prince of an enlarged Transylvania. Almost-equally important was the twenty-year Peace of Žitava, negotiated by Bocskay between Sultan Ahmed I and Rudolf II.

A Ghost of a Town......

We depart the village feeling content having eliminated the fear that the goat men instilled among all the villagers. Boris offers the group detailed formation of these beasts. A sizeable mass of clay is transformed into a spirit from hell through a summoning ritual often using magical scripts. After the transformation these hellions walk the earth with a life force that encourages evil and twists good into wickedness.
In a most recent dream that Ju-Ju man keeps beckoning us to follow him to the east and we must now shift our focus to another direction. I do feel better that we have had another dream to help guide us because Boris has not given our cause any sincere assistance. He, in fact, has fought half heartedly in numerous battles. I have grown weary of my companion and his true intentions.
I tend the horses giving them oats and mine a special mix of barley and oats to keep her coat a brilliant black. I have always love animals, but do not readily share that fact with my acquaintances. I saddle up our steeds and we mount up to continue our journey into the mostly unknown. The mighty sun guides us to the east and we happen upon a village in the region of Bavaria not far from my hometown of Augsburg. We are perhaps 250 kilometers to the southeast at this point. Straight away Franz points out the empty wheat fields during a time when farmers should be tending their crops. Fernando gestures to a field to our immediate south that has a plow and oxen positioned ready to work the field. Just one big problem….the oxen appears long deceased! Moreover all the dwellings look to be abandoned!!!! They are in disrepair and some appear have damaged doors. We investigate a number of houses and discover some owners have left in a hurry where as others show signs of a struggle. We approach the village tavern showing signs of disrepair(because that is always the first thing Franz thinks about) and tether our steeds. I kiss my faithful steed on the nose as we turn to face the entrance. Cadamus and Franz immediately notice a figure dash past one of the upper floor windows. Franz soon discovers footprints of a recent resident within the building upon our entry. Boris then hears a creaking of floor boards in the ceiling above his head. We cautiously ascend the stairs to discover a middle aged man tinkering with a door knob from one of the guest rooms. He happily greets and welcomes us to the Inn of the White Stallion. He then tells us his name: Michael Droon. Michael begins to explain that everyone in town has been taken away by bandits. Not all of the villagers have been taken away but some have died of the plague. He has remained to maintain the inn as that is his duty as the inn keeper. We walk downstairs to have some grub and drinks; I give him a mark to pay for our drinks, food and lodging for the evening. This is his first business in months probably! Fernando has not been taking the inn keeper very seriously and I sense Michaels frustration. I think he is not convinced that we are all on board to the notion that people are missing and could be held prisoner or enslaved. Michael finally revealed the complete truth: there are goblins attacking the town from the depths of the underground. Fernando begins to explain that we are good at killing things although sometimes some innocent people get killed. I try to put Michael at ease and tell him the story about how I rescued a choir of people from some lethal iron maidens. Michael further explains that they enter the village from tunnels and the well that is in the center of town.
After much discussion we decide to repel down with Boris stealthily leading the way. Upon is descent hears many noises and asks us to come to his location. The Fernando marks our path so we do not get lost using marks at first, but I explain that he should use his shillings since they are nearly worthless in Bavaria. After only 15 minutes of probing we hear sounds than are getting closer, but from both sides of us! We ready ourselves for an onslaught with myself using my talent to boost the damage of Fernando and Franz’s weapons while Boris decides to use the shadow and my body to hide. These little devils are skilled fighters. Fernando absorbs a number of gouges from these hideous critters’ claws. I decide to use my talent to put 3 of them to sleep. As Fernando sees three fall asleep his bravery emerges and he yells, “What now bitches!” Franz drops another and the remaining flee the area. I realize that we have made more noise than a herd of alpine elk during mating season. We must assume the remaining foul creatures know of our presence.
We travel deeper into the network and enter a rather large and dank cavern. Unlike the rest of the tunnel network this appears natural with a wide variety of limestone and possibly gypsum stalagmites and stalactites with some as long as 6 or 7 feet. I am too busy admiring the natural geologic formations when Franz yells…“Ahhh!” He abruptly swings his sword at a goblin that seems to materialize out of nowhere. His hasty swing yields little result. The group now gets a better look around as I shine the lantern upon a large band of goblins! The melee begins and a rather large one swings a rusty long sword at Franz. The initial attacks leave the party badly wounded and Franz staggering because of multiple blows from the goblin leader and his henchemen. I boost damage on all the weapons in the hands of the remaining party. Franz manifests a talent that I was not familiar with that gave all of us a layer of misty armor. The goblins continue the assault using their razor sharp claws to inflict terrible wounds. At this point Franz has not been fairing so well against the goblin king and three of his minions. Under everyone’s nose, three of the goblins collapse next to Boris. I can only assume that Boris has other abilities that he has never shared with me. To keep the battle in our favor, I call upon the power of the all mighty to close the wounds of Kanes’ Crusaders. Meanwhile Boris shows his skill with a sword killing two that were fighting me. I parry a number of their deadly claws, making use of my extra large shield. I cease their attack upon me by causing the two remaining hellions engaged with me to fall into a deep slumber. Fernando finally eliminated the last two that he was occupied with. Boris moves over to a bloody Franz to assist in his plight. Without delay Boris thrusts his short sword into the leathery flesh of one these foul monsters allowing him to breath no more. Franz fends off another beast dropping him with a mighty cut to the head. Fernando sidesteps the final goblin’s attack and runs him through with a powerful laceration to the neck, drawing his blood forth and spilling it all over the cavern floor. The Crusaders are finally victorious after much blood was spattered about the damp and gloomy tunnels of the goblin lair. Once again we have triumphed over another worldly evil with the power invested in us by the Almighty.

Attacks by Goat men.....Strange!!!
We looted the baron’s dwelling and were able to collect 700 marks worth of valuables. Returning to the village, we explain to the bar keep and a few patrons that the once haunted castle is now fully cleansed of evil. We meet up with Anna and after a few more bocks along with a goats milk for me. The group is off to the next town that could possibly require or request our assistance. In the distance we survey a rather ominous mountain range which I believe to be the Schwarzwald. We elect to travel around the mountain range to avoid the most dangerous heights. Initially Boris hears a swarm of bats fast approaching us. We disperse the swarm with attacks from our shields and Anna’s blunt side of her long sword. Although Boris thought it is best to hide among the shrubbery. While our journey takes us through some of the mountain ranges’ foothills, Franz spies a village where we may find shelter for the evening as we approach. Upon our arrival in the village of Evandwarf, I locate a doctor that he may continue to treat Fernando for his condition that plagues him while he pees. We reassemble at the tavern called the somber sip for drinks and a place to procure sleep. As we enter, the bar owner rushes to the doors and guides us in with high anxiety in his expression and step. I ask the owner why he has that look of nervousness upon his face. In detail he explains that these goat people have been attacking and plundering some of the farms in the surrounding area just outside the village as well as a homestead not far from the tavern. We follow up the initial conversation with some investigation and hatch a plan to search the foothills near the ruins of a keep. A few miles from the village, we cross a dry creek bed. We notice a band of goat men attempting to ambush us. Anna attempts to speak to these strange beasts, but to no avail. Anna charges the small herd and swings her sword with precision causing a severe wound to one of the foul beasts. Boris dismounts and readies his short sword for any one that may attack him. I summoned the power of nature and transform into a brown bear. Two goat men engage Anna, one attack Boris and one on Franz. Anna follows the charge with a formidable swing that drops the wounded goat man. While Franz, Anna, Boris are effective combatants against the goat men after a few rounds kills them all, I fail to show any type of fighting skill during our encounter. After only a short distance we locate the ruins with a plume of greenish black smoke rising from it. The group creeps upon the ruins and discovers a cauldron of bubbling slime surrounded by a group of goat men and two small children. The goat men are engaged in a conversation with the children, asking them if they want to kill anyone who has bullied them. Anna realizes that the goat men have been charmed but are able to twist the commands into evil acts. I make myself invisible straight away while Boris hides among the scrub as the remainder of the group prepare for combat. I call upon the might of God to empower the weapons of Anna and Franz. A loud boom rings out as Anna levels her pistol and strikes one of them in the leg. One of the goat men moves to the cauldron and speaks words that summons another one of these evil beasts. Two others cast a talent upon the ground and a flame springs up around the children so as to protect them from harm. Two more glare at Franz and me in an attempt create madness in us. Their attempts fail to cause us lunacy. One of the goat men cause a critical wound to Anna and I quickly heal her of her wounds using the talent God has given to me. I summon an angel to knock over the cauldron with the hope of eliminating the fast appearing goat men! The spirit is successful in tipping over the cauldron spilling the contents all over the ground. Anna had succeeded in killing all that surrounded her. She moves to assist Franz who had only marginal success against these monsters from hell. Two of the monsters glare at Franz and cause him to be dominated and he begins to do their bidding. I increase Franz’s fighting ability, not knowing that he is charmed. Franz turns and much to our surprise cuts a wound deep into Anna’s flesh. I cause Anna to become invisible because she has grievous wounds. Anna reloads her firearm with the hope that the monsters will not perceive her. The remaining two goat men could not locate Anna. I cannot heal Anna so I cause the remaining hellions to fall into a deep slumber. We kill the sleeping beasts which allows Franz’s mind to be free once more. The spirit returns to my location bringing the children. We now return to the village to explain the events that lead up to the present situation. It will most likely sound bizarre to these common folk.
A Haunted Keep

After a short discussion on the fate of our prisoner we hand over Baron Von Mulehoffer to the village constable. We then returned to his keep with a hung-over Franz to search for any other odd or dangerous schemes. After a thorough search that uncovered no other suspicious activities, we depart on newly procured horses(thanks to the baron). After traveling a minuscule distance, we happen upon our next village for the evening or so we thought. We order up a round of Bock beer that which Franz has an unhealthy desire for. The group sat and socialized with a few of the villagers for a spell. Many of the conversing was mundane save one. The bartender and owner spoke about an abandoned and haunted castle positioned an arrow shot away from the village upon a winding mountain path. A discussion among the group arises about investigating this dangerous location. Dangerous based on our dialogue with the bartenders description of many traveling there and never returning. Fernando implores the group to travel there immediately. We depart with the sound of galloping steeds toward the unknown of this mysterious castle. We halted our mares(or so I think mine is of that sex) just inside the crumbling gatehouse of the castle. I dismount first and look about the place with a curious and cursory inspection. We entered the rather moldy and rank entrance to find no much of interest initially. Fernando felt that searching the upper rooms would yield the best outcome. Our search had just commenced when we were accosted by a group of undead without flesh. We eliminated the threat quickly and continued our exploration within the chambers of a once lush residence. We, in fact, discovered a ghost of the once lovely bride of the Baron haunting his chambers. We had to cut the chains that bound her to the bed to release her tormented spirit. We found no other evil contained within those walls and so we again removed the presence of evil dwelling upon our Savior’s domain. Onto our next mission to rid the world of evil in any form…..

Another Country…Another Madman

As we departed Wyndham’s Keep, many of us had concerns about our future. I cannot speak for the others, but as I unshackled Boris my mind raced through some of the possibilities. Could I return to the days of total trust in Boris? Could we once again have each other’s back? Could he turn again me or my companions? The remainder of the group doesn’t know Boris like I do. That being the case could they trust in him? I have no choice to trust in his knowledge of the gems of power. He suggested that we travel to the Black Forest within the Holy Roman Empire. We were able to secure passage on a vessel traveling to the Coast of Flanders. We had a minor problem that was readily dealt with my ability to cause Fernando to fall fast asleep. I discovered his fear of the ocean and even water is at times overwhelming. Our sea voyage was nearly uneventful, but for some moments of high anxiety for Fernando. I spoke with him of his fears, but to no avail. Those fears are a part of him just as his left arm. We made our travel quickly through Flanders and into the forest of renowned after numerous wine and cheese tasting sessions. The feeling conveyed was just as I remember, gloomy and foreboding. This forest has acquired its name due to a large concentration of pine trees which causes it to look quite dark from a distance. Additionally, the nearby mountains can cast their shadows over the valleys and further serve to darken it. These forests are highly valued for their timber. The forest itself is an area of heavily wooded mountains and verdant valleys. In addition, the Germany Black Forest possesses a rich mythological tradition, where werewolves and witches haunt the darkness, so watch out. Fortunately, there are dwarves that live within the woods who like to help people. These are not facts, but rumors that have been passed down for many generations. I can attest that these pines can frequently project an eerie and gloomy atmosphere while traveling through their many miles. I am familiar with much of the Black Forest because I have lived most of my life just east of here in a city called Augsburg. I grew up the son of a clock maker and as a result we traveled to the forest for the precious wood that made his clocks desirable far and wide. The night time brought a deep chill and leaping shadows that can be known only to those who have experienced this forest. Our first night found us sleeping by moonlight partially obscured by fog. Watches are set and Boris and Fernando being on the first. Only two hours into their watch they observe sets of red eyes in blackness of the night. The first watch reacts quickly and awakens the remainder of our group. The red eyes of eight wolves emerge from the darkness and prance upon Kane’s Crusaders. Anna is bitten and a gash opens in her thigh. Fernando is overwhelmed by four of them including a larger and blacker coated one. Two of them sink their teeth into his body. He stands firm and hacks the larger wolf drawing a generous amount of blood. The battle rages on and after what seems an eternity, the band of wolves are defeated. Fernando wants to collect pelts, but none of us have any skill to skin them. Fernando considered cooking some of their meat but reassess based on the foul smell of the meat. Finally the crusaders arrive in the Black Forest village of Bennenberg within the province of Wurzberg. Colored flags on streamers are strung across the streets. Signs were posted on many of the dwelling doors describing an upcoming musical festival of the full moon sponsored by the Baron Von Mulehoffer. We realize that the full moon will be this evening. In the early evening, we follow the crowd to the Baron’s Keep. The barons’ servants guide everyone into open air auditorium with a stage located at the opposite end. The choir at first, appeared as misshapen figures, but upon closer inspection we realize that the singers are trapped inside iron maidens. The barons commands his choir to sing this ghastly song louder the crowd begins to panic. Everyone but us and a small group of the baron’s servants start to flee. Anna draws and fires a well placed shot at the baron but it just grazes the baron’s beard. Von Mulehoffer draws his rapier but continues his orchestral guidance. Fernando works over three of the baron’s henchmen sustaining several wounds in the process. Anna and Boris make quick work of the other group of henchmen. I summon spirit servants to assist in opening the iron maidens to free the choir members from certain death. The Anna and Boris team engage the baron as he screams, “How dare you interrupt my symphony!” Fernando, catching the baron off guard, charges and tackles him. The baron wrestles him off and squares off against Boris, Anna and Fernando. Fernando uses his skill with a sword and disarms the baron. Immediately after Boris steps to the baron’s side and hits him in the head with the flat part of his short sword. The baron takes a step dazed and drops face first upon the stage floor. Despite our(mostly mine) effort six of the singers died because of the maidens and one was slain by a furious Baron. Once again Kanes’ Crusaders have triumphed over evil.


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