The Path of Kane

Another strange dream..........

His thick left eyebrow arched as he peered into the steel mirror mounted on the lamb’s[inn’s] wall displaying a puzzled look with the recollection of the evenings dream. N’Longa appeared in my dream…our dreams. All included, Franz, Fernando and I had visions of gems possessing great power. N’Longa urged us to seek out an old friend of mine…Boris last known living in the town of Esgrove. Kane’s friend N’Longa seems to guide us without actually being in our company. All present agreed that we must in earnest depart for Esgrove. We set out on foot for reasons of poverty and being in the company of a Paladin. That would be Franz, the man that believes God can heal all…including the blisters upon the feet of those without steeds. Besides his aching feet, Fernando was still grumbling about having his dream involving the reminiscing of the battle lust of cannons dismembering his enemy followed by a brief encounter with a blonde haired beauty named Agnetha rudely interrupted by N’Longa’s vision. The travel was mostly uneventful for the first 4 miles. I did observe a number of species of birds that including a rarely seen red-headed woodpecker. We also saw a white deer and her mate, but both were scared off by screams coming from a nearby location. Without hesitation, we rushing to investigate the ruckus. Shortly thereafter we gazed upon a horrifying site of 6 men hanged from, what I believe to be a rather large European Hornbeam tree. Not far beyond that sight, we observed and heard a commotion that involved a number of men. Four bound men were being held captive by 3 or more armed soldiers and not far off a man struggling against 3 men that were attempting to hang him from a tree limb. we swiftly eliminated 4 of them and captured one. I used insight as we questioned the prisoner, finding out that the overlord of the area had sentenced them to death for grave robbing and desecrating a corpse. I had no reason to believe that someone would execute half a village for committing such crimes.

An Insane Nobleman?
Cadamus Nussbaum

We journeyed to further investigate these alleged accusations about the not so noble nobleman, Lord Wyndham. In the midst of our trek to the keep, we crossed paths with a well-proportioned, blonde in warrior garb. We began to parlay with her and discovered that she had the same exact dream as the three of us! Her dream was followed by an additional one that guided her to us. Now our group consisted of four strong willed and driven people with the desire to eliminate evil and seek out these gems of power.

We approached the keep with caution and stated our purpose. Immediately after explaining our reasons, a crazed man stormed into the courtyard and began a charge in our direction. Our group prepared straight away and responded in-turn. Our blonde warrior, Anna, swiftly drew a finely crafted longbow and fired at the crossbowmen positioned on the battlements.

I waved my hand and spoke some words to invoke invisibility upon myself and the fragile sea dog know as Fernando. The recollection of our last battle, where he was severely wounded more than once, guided my decision. I take pride in knowing I kept him in the fight by healing his wounds, an ability gifted to me by our Lord above.

Our heavily armored friend, Franz charged one of the enemy fighters and struck a ghastly wound to his shoulder. Then the crazed Lord Wyndham charged Franz and caused a rather messy wound. Another enemy hidden behind the battlements, crafted an incantation causing Franz to move with great hindrance. Fearing the worst, I readied an invocation to block attacks on my companions.

The enemy invoker produced some magics upon his crossbowmen or their weapons, I am unsure, but the harm inflicted by their quarrels increased greatly. Our female warrior was quickly surrounded and bore the brunt of the enemy attacks. Franz was engaged with Wyndham and a few of his guards. Observing his situation, I invoked the power of God upon his body allowing him to fight more skillfully. My eyes widened at the sight of Anna staggering from the impact of numerous long swords. I called on the power of Heaven to heal her of all injuries. Her stance steadied, and she returned the favor with her swords casting onto the ground the blood of our enemy.

Franz appeared to have called upon the Almighty to empower his weapon as his weapon began to glow with a soft maroon shade. The mad nobleman wielded his long sword with skill, but Franz successfully deflected his attack. Franz responded with a well-placed strike that caused a significant wound upon his midsection. This weakened Lord Wyndham, but his warlock cast healing to remove most of his wounds. Hoping to turn the tide, I managed to put the crossbowmen into a deep slumber.

Our blonde beauty showed her skill with the elimination of a few soldiers, but was in need of assistance. Fernando shifted his focus from the smaller group battling Franz to assist Anna. My attention shifted to the warlock as he ducked behind the wall, possibly to rouse his sleeping companions, but Anna faltered again, and I had to use my gift to heal her wounds. In the back of my mind I thought, “She owes me!”

The raging battle continued and the tide turned wholly in our favor. Fernando and Anna took out the group they were engaged with. The insane Wyndham wavered and collapsed as if dead weight! Franz stood over his beaten body, having thoughts of running him through. However his oath of goodness removed this notation from is racing mind. The warlock shouted words of surrender as Fernando and Anna stormed through the front gates that were left ajar. A lengthy discussion ensued with each side explaining their motivations. As we had surmised, the noble was indeed going insane. The warlock, Ismael was not completely aware of the situation. Although he believed his Lord to be going insane, he did not think him capable of slaying innocent villagers. I asked that they release the prisoner, Boris, my acquaintance. Ismael refused, but allowed us to interview him. Boris claimed to have done nothing truly wrong, however we were not convinced. I promised to investigate the reasons for his imprisonment. I hope that our actions will help stabilize the village for the time being.

Bring out your dead....the doctor could use them!

We spoke with Ismael at great length about the rumors of necromancy and Boris’ possible involvement. I wanted to clear my old friend of these allegations so he may gain his freedom. Perhaps we could bring the grave robbers to justice or as Franz may desire…for them to meet their maker. Of course I am making the assumption that the intrusion was the result of multiple perpetrators. Franz believes that Boris maybe the one digging up the graves. Off we go to the lambs inn and bar to investigate the use of tomes of necromancy to raise the dead to walk again. Franz, using his English as a second language, orders his second morning ale of the day. His first being consumed at Lord Wyndam’s keep. Anna also accepts a pint of the inn’s fine ale. I abstain; the only alcohol that I partake in is served during the celebration of the last supper at mass. Franz begins to question Max the bar owner. As far as he knows the bodies began disappearing about a week or week and half ago, but the last being about two days ago. Max suggests that clues could be discovered in the graveyard. Before leaving Franz asked when the graves were robbed, Max responded with a confused look and said, “during the evening…when else?” As we begin our searching of the graveyard, Franz discovers numerous graves dug up, just enough to pull the body from the ground. All the bodies were of young women who had recently died. None of those bodies have been retrieved wholly or in-part. Our group(Kane’s Crusaders) decides to stake-out the graveyard at night, splitting into 2 teams of 2. One group observers the south while the other the north. Fernando wants to picnic, decides that not being able to see the food at night, it will have to wait. The group discusses the idea of using Anna as bait, but realizes that is not needed. I readily volunteered to team up with the blonde beauty. My loins stir when I am within close proximity of her! Our stake-out starts just after sundown and yields a result rather quickly. The southern team of Anna and I hear the sounds of digging within the cemetery nearby. I invoked invisibility upon the two of us and we advance in the direction of the noise. We observed four men digging in the earth of a recently buried person. I, being reserved, ask Anna if we should allow the others to join us before we confront them. She agreed to remain on the scene while I was to seek out Franz and Fernando. After a brief search I located them both. I directed them to the southeastern corner of the graveyard and indicated that there were four grave robbers digging up the plot of a recently buried corpse. The group observed the thieves for about 30 seconds and contemplated our response to such an intrusion of holy ground. Fernando wanted to pretend he was lost, but decided to approach with Franz and Anna telling them they were digging the grave wrong. The man holding the lantern suggested that we move along or there could be trouble. Franz studies the tombstone and discovers that this grave is of a young female recently deceased. The group of robbers gets into an aggressive posture. “You guys should move on!” the man with the lantern demanded. The man places the lantern on the ground and places his hand on a short sword on his hip. Franz stated, “We are not looking for trouble.” I have my doubts about his intentions knowing his violent past. The man draws his sword and the battle begins. Anna sneaks (invisibly) up the robber armed with the sword and swings her sword missing him. The one man armed with a shovel and another with the sword attack Fernando the other two (one with a shovel and one with a pickaxe) engage Franz. The robber with the axe declares, “I am going to put this through your armor punk!” Three of them miss wildly, but the man with the sword brings down the weight of his sword on Fernando just as it is going to strike him, I summon assistance from the hand of the Almighty and it is deflected. Fernando successfully disarms one of them knocking the shovel to the ground nearby. Franz swings with all his might causing a severe wound to the man armed with the axe. Anna attacks and damages the robber with the short sword. Again the man’s blow against Fernando is deflected through my intervention. Franz attempts to block an attack; however the villain’s shovel connects with his upper leg causing a significant wound. Fernando successfully disarms the man holding the sword. Franz again attacks and decapitates the robber who threatened him. Anna attempt to knock out the leader, but a glancing blow does little damage. The robbers choose to disengage and move away in the hopes of retreating. I invoke the dust of the sandman putting the robber leader to sleep. Fernando throws his hand axe but it ricocheted off a large gravestone. I swiftly move and place cuffs on the sleeping thief. The others allow the remaining men to flee believing only one prisoner is needed for our investigation of the body snatching thieves. Franz interrogates the thief while I invoke some insight into his responses. Before the interrogation begins, the guy exclaimed, “You guys really are from the grave diggers union!” Franz and Anna propose a few simple questions to the man. He earnestly explains that a Dr. Sydel pays them to bring bodies to his mansion. The group devises a plan to deliver the supposed body(Anna’s body) with the robber leader pretending to make a drop off to the doctor. We knock upon the mansion door with no results. We don’t even see any light coming from the windows. We, that is, Kane’s Crusaders elect to enter the dwelling. We discover large amounts of blood splashed all over the entry hall. This discovery does not bode well for those living in this mansion. I ignite a torch and we travel downstairs to the basement with Franz leading the way. The blood appears very freshly spilled and we turn the corner hearing a voice yelling, My darling…no….it worked…it worked….no. A monstrous creation began to slam her fists into a man(possibly the doctor we were seeking out) causing him to slump to the ground in a bloody heap. This patch work female but hideous monster turns and attacks without hesitation. Anna quick draws her pistol and blasts the beast square in the chest. The creature still continues its assault even with the bullet lodged within its chest cavity. I prepare to deflect any incoming attack. Fernando lunges striking the creature with a solid cut to the left arm. I successfully prevent the beasts attack against Fernando using my God given talent. Franz steps up and deals a glancing blow to the creature. Anna swings with both swords, but fails to connect with either of them. Fernando follows with a devastating blow slicing a deep gash to the creature’s thigh. I failed Fernando and the beast slammed a fist into his body causing him to stagger back against the wall. Franz positioned himself between Fernando and the creature and but was not able to connect with the enemy. Fernando tries to defend against the creature, but to no avail, causing Fernando to briefly falter. I speak words of confidence allowing Franz to fight more skillfully. Fernando tries to trip the fiend, but the monster steps over his sweep. The creature steadies itself and attempts to crush the sea dog’s skull, but a ghostly hand stops the fist just inches from Fernando’s head. Franz summons the strength of God and causes a gaping laceration to the creature’s neck. The beast sways and topples backward onto the cold stone floor. The creature remained on the floor ceasing to move ever again. Fernando turns his attention to the injured doctor discovering the damage to be grave. We search the mansion and notice a tome with writings related to creating things from dead bodies. We also discover the doctor’s journal and find that Boris had sold him this tome of necromancy. The groups stops by constable’s home and explains the actions of the doctor. The Crusaders discuss the fate of Boris(I consult the holy warrior) and realize that he may be of use in locating the gems of power. Even though Boris and I have grown apart, I suggest that Boris be released into our custody. We depart the keep with Boris in manacles and leg irons with each one of the group wondering if releasing him was the right decision.

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.

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…..

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 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.

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.

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.

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


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