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Warhammer: Shadows of Empire - Lord of Winter


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Arriving at the gates of the city itself the group split up with vague comments about meeting back up in a day or so. Mikhail and Nayobee headed off together, presumably to find the Tower of the Jade Order, while Diarmuir was simply gone when Wolfgang turned around to speak to him. Shrugging, Wolfgang and Grombar take up the reins of their animals and lead them into the city, hiring one of the many street urchins to guide them to the Temple of Ulric.

Wolfgang was impressed when he saw the Temple, it was clearly a major temple although having seen better days. Leaving Grombar with the mounts outside the front of the temple Wolfgang walks up the steps and asks the first temple guard he meets to be taken to the chief priest.

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The temple guard nodded curtly to Wolfgang but scowled at Grombar ... with his musket, and crossbow, and pistols. Instead of taking him to the the High Priest, the guardian took Wolfgang to a rough looking man with a wolf's pelt, plate armor (sans helm) and a large two-handed hammer. The warrior, a Knight of the White Wolf, stood up seeing the Wolf-priest approach. He stood fully erect and slapped a clenched fist to his breast.

"Lukas, Knight of the White Wolf. Now exactly who would you be?"

Grombar snorted, mumbling,

"This place is drafty," but kept it low. The Knight either didn't hear the dwarf, or pretended he didn't.

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Wolfgang looks the Knight over for a few seconds, "May I ask why I was brought to you rather than to the Chief Priest as I asked? Or does the Order of the White Wolf claim to speak for the Church in Talabheim?"

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The Knight glared back then turned on the hapless guardian who took a step back.

"He brought you here," Sir Lukas spoke, "because I am to see anyone who has business with the temple. That means anyone."

This guy wasn't backing down easily.

"You, go back to your post."

The Temple Guardian almost fled back to his post so fast that Grombar snorted.

"Ill take you to our Lord Fang (a little odd - a lesser priest would have done). Things are a bit different here than in Middenheim. So, did you have the opportunity to spill much blood on the road? It's been dead here."

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"My travelling companions and I had some trouble at the town of Untergard on the way here, but that is in the past, we must look to the challenges of the future. Chaos is not the only enemy, and neither does it always face us across the battlefield. If the Temple is secure perhaps you should consider what enemies the Church and the Empire may have within the city?"

The Lord Fang, well I had asked to see the Chief priest, but I had assumed that would be the duty priest rather than the Lord Fang himself.

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Sir Lukas took him around the altar, nodding to a second Knight of the White Wolf who stood guard over the eternal flame. As they did so, a young novate came up and tossed some more wood on it, whispering a prayer to the Wolf God.

The path led them through a large blue and white tapesty and down a chilled hallway. The door at the T-intersection of the door had a Temple Guardian standing there as well. The man came to attention as Wolfgang and the Knight approached.

"Priest from Middenheim," said the Knight, thumbing to Wolf. Turning to the Priest, he added,

"The Dwarf stays here."

Grombar shrugged off the implied insult.

"I was planning to try some target practice on this here lad," the Dwarf said, waving his hand in the direction of the door guard.

"Now, if these sissy-boys try to bugger you, holler and I'll blow down this here door."

Now he gave a broken-tooth grin to Sir Lukas.

The Knight knocked and a weary voice from the other side commanded, "Enter."

Lukas opened the door and waited for Wolfgang to enter before following in and shutting it.

A weary man sat at the desk. He sat back at attention when he saw Wolfgang's tabard.

"Well, Brother," he began, "what can I do for you? What word do you bring from the outside world?"

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Wolfgang notes the absence of other priests as he walks through the Temple. On being presented to the Chief Priest he salutes the Lord Fang before pulling out and handing over his orders from Middenhiem.

"My Lord, I am Brother Wolfgang, and I've been ordered here to take up a post and any duties that you deem necessary to assist the Church in Talabheim at this time. As you can see I'm a Warrior Priest my Lord, so I'm afraid that I know little of the wider picture. However I do know that two attempts have been made by Chaos forces to take the town of Untegard and it's bridge over the river in the past month or so. It still remained clear of Chaos forces when we passed that way some days ago."

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Takeing them with a worried brow, he reads them then reads them again. He reads them a third time and now a hint of a smile crosses his unhappy lips. The Lord Fang stands, a fist coming across as he beats his breats once with it.

"I am Mannfred Rohm, PRIEST of Ulric, the White Wolf."

His look is now akin to a drowning man finding a large piece of wood to float upon.

"You, Sir, are an Annointed War Preist of Ulric, thus my superior ... Lord Fang!"

Lukas stands to attention, faces Wolfgang, and once more puts fist to breast.

"Lord Fang!"

Wolfgang can feel his world spiralling out of control rapidly. He can also swear he hears Grombar chuckling from the other side of the door.

Mannfred comes around the desk ... which is covered in paperwork, and stands aside.

"What are your orders Lord Fang Wolfgang? Perhaps we can walk the complex and I'll explain what resources await your command."

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As well as Grombars chuckle he could have sworn he heard a short, bark like laugh echoing in the distance...Yeah I get the jokes on me Ulric. What sort of idiot leaves a major Temple in the hands of a Priest. Well it looks like I've got to deal with it now, here goes.

"Hmmm, as you saw from my orders, this is not what I was expecting, nor is it what I am best suited or trained for. However, I believe you are correct so yes it probably is best if you give me the tour and explain what is going on around here. Also I'd like to know the circumstances that made someone think leaving an ordinary Priest like yourself in charge a good idea!"

With that he turns for the door and briskly opens it, "Grombar, you've had your laugh at my expence so get over it. If you still inclined to take my hospitality you can get your short arse back outside and get the mounts and our gear squared away, this guard [he turns to look the guard square in the face to make sure he realises there is no option in this] will show you were to put my stuff and find somewhere suitable for you in the guest quarters."

Stepping further out into the corridor he looks briefly up and down the corridor while Mannfred and Lukas emerge from the room. "Very well, Brother Mannfred, lead on. Lukas, you can go back to your post, you may want to send a message to your commander and have them catch up with us as we do our tour."

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"When High Priest Heinrich," Mannfred began,"heard the news that the Storm of Chaos was upon us, he wanted to immediately strike out with all availabe forces. I raised my hand in objection to this pointing out that the faithful would still need guidance and promptly made his 'Left Behind' list."

"Heinrich thought he would be back in one month - two months tops. As you see, he is late. As for his possible location: I got word he made it to Hergig (Capital of Hochland) and was trying to push on to Wolfenburg (Capital of Ostland). Since both cities were sacked by the armies of Chaos ... things are uncertain."

Mannfred remains surprisingly nuetral in his tone about both his fate and the fate of the High Preist and entourage.

"Don't think ill of the current Knights of the White Wolf. High Priest Heinrich and Master Knight Alder had a major difference of opinion about the role of women in Ulric's service - Master Knight Leoni Alder is a woman. Some knights protested when they found out she was left behind, so they were left behind as well. I don't doubt any one of their's courage."

"Now here is the office of our Chief Attendant," he continued opening the door and the tour went on. By the time Grombar and his temple sidekick/guardian/guide caught up with him, Wolfgang was almost done.

"Stable is full of great big warhorses and some riding one's too. I didn't see any good ale drinking spots anywhere," he added somewhat depressed.

Just then the sounds of hard leather on stone, and the jingling of chain on plate were heard. The footsteps came closer and it could now be heard to be three sets of feet.

Around the corner came one of the talles, and most attractive females Wolfgang had ever seen. A brilliant pale blue flame danced in her eyes and her pale blonde hair seemed to billow behind her. She held her halfted hammer easily in one guantleted hand. The woman pulled up short and the two knights following her almost ran into her.

For a long couple of seconds her eyes went from Mannfred to Wolfgang then back and forth again. Right at the point of insolence, she forcefully dropped her gaze to the floor, hammered a fist against her chest and spoke with a voice tinged with the strenght of a winter blizzard.

"Lady Leoni Alder, Knight of the White Wolf, Holder of the Secret Flame at your service, Lord Fang."

She looked up, the intense flame in her eyes glowing brighter,

"Tell me you bring news from the front. Tell me we are going to war!"

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"Hmmm, so the High Priest and his army are missing and could well be dead. Great. Did Middenheim know that you were in charge here and forgot to tell me, or had the High Priest neglected to tell them? I wouldn't worry about the Master Knight, anyone who can achieve that rank has every right to be included in any battle alongside their peers, and I will tell her so when we meet."

On Grombar's return, "Did you find a smithy here? No good ale spots? You should have asked among the armsmen, now you'll have to go find one yourself."

Wolfgang acknowledges the salutes of the Knights, though he wonders why the Master Knight felt it necessary to bring two others with her and the delay in acknowledging him.

"Lady Leoni, I'm afraid the only front I've news of is battles defending the bridge at the town of Untergard twice in the last month or so. Your enthuisiasm to get into battle does you justice, but the defenceless condition it would leave this Temple in would be unacceptable."

He turns to include Brother Mannfred, "Is there much more to see Brother Mannfred, or shall the three of us retire to the office?"

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At his command, Leoni raises her fist next to her head. The two knights turn away and leave without a word. As they do so, it occurs that had the message been for war, these two would have rapidly rallied the troops for an immediate march. She was really ready to go.

As they walked down the hallway, His Master Knight spoke up.

"Untergard is a town of around 500 with a bridge over the Delb, am I correct? What did you face and who stood with you?"

She couldn't keep the sound of jealousy off her tongue.

As they made their way back to the Lord Fang's office, Mannfred perked up.

"Is that ... is that one of the Twelve Hammers of the Chosen of Ulric? It must be," he continues. "It has the runes. Which one is it?"

Leoni stopped stalk still as well. Cleary neither had seen one of the Relics of the faith, or at least not one of his quality.

"High Priest Heinrich had the Helm of Brilliance, but that was taken from a Myrmidian Champion two centuries ago and was not one of our faith."

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"Untergard was indeed once a town of 500, after the first battle where Grombar and I were part of units of the Army it was reduced to a mere 75 due to deaths and those escaping the fighting. Both Grombar and myself were injured in the fighting and left behind to heal up. We'd just about healed up and met up with a few others who were on their way here when we heard that there was a 200 strong Chaos Warband heading to the town. We constructed some rough defences and sent out two of our companions, a Ghost Strider and a Bounty hunter, to harrass them on their approach. In doing so they were able to kill the Warbands Shaman, and found that it's leader was metallic skinned Beastman who was very difficult to injure. By the time the Warband hit our defenses there were myself, Grombar here, the town Captain, the Ghost Strider Nayobee and the bounty hunter manning the first and shortest wall on the damaged bridge. Eventually we killed the leader and enough of the Warband to drive the others off, helped by the magic of the Master Jade Wizard who lead the few townsmen with bows in assisting us from positions at the rear."

By this time they had reached the corridor leading to the office and Brother Mannfred asked his question, "Yes, it is one of the twelve. This one is named StoughtHeart and without it I would not have been able to kill the metal skinned Beastman aided by the arrows of my companions."

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Mannfred looks at Wolfgang clearly in disbeleif. Leoni on the other hand, has the fevor in her eyes and in her speech.

"Ulric places his Chosen were they are most needed. Certainly this Champion of Chaos was doomed to meet you and he perished under your hammer blows. If only I had been there."

After a moment, Mannfred manages,

"Two hundred is a goodly number to be sure. In battle we always count the heroes and knights. It must have been a tight fight."

Grombar mutters,

"No dumbass, it was the narrowest point, they came at us in waves, this Idiot killed their leader in solo combat then they broke and ran, the scum. Six against two hundred, but we only killed about half that number. That's how real battles are fought."

"Oh, and I wouldn't let their smith shoe my ponies."

They made it back to the Lord Fang's office before another word passed.

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"Any extra help would have been most welcome at the time. As Grombar says Mannfred, it all hinged on being able to restrict the fight to an area where our half dozen best fighters could face a comparable number of Beastmen at the same time. It was helped greatly by the thicket of wickedly barbed and magically active brambles that the Jade Wizard with us was able to set across the width of the bridge. By the time the Beastman got to us they frequently already bore some wounds and had faced extra time when our few archers could try to injure them as well."

He turns to Grombar, "I expected nothing else given your own smithing skills. Could you please see to the needs of our mounts, and when I get a chance to change I'd appreciate it if you could get the last of the dents out of my armour for me."

It was clealy a dismissal, what was to come within the office was for the Church members only. Grumbling loudly about Wolfgang's stupidity in not getting his armour fixed earlier and the indignity of working with the mounts Grombar went on his way.

Inside the office Wolfgang took the chair behind the desk, leaning his weapons against the desk to be comfortable, and waved Mannfred and Leoni to the other chairs.

"As Mannfred knows, but I don't think you are aware Lady Leoni, I was not sent to take command of this Temple, I was only sent to lend a hand due to reduced numbers here. I don't believe they realise the true situation here, and that is one of the things that will need to be addressed. The next main point is that I simply don't have the experience with running a shrine let alone a Temple of this size while Mannfed does. So what I propose is that while I must lead the Temple Mannfred will still end up doing the vast majority of the work, and that we send to Middenheim for a more qualified to take command here as soon as possible."

"Lady Leoni, I appreciate your eagerness to get into battle, and I have no doubt as to your effectiveness in battle, but at the moment i simply don't have the information, nor the numbers to justify sending you out into battle and lose all protection for the Temple. I would hope that wounded would be sent back here and so our numbers would gradually increase to the point that I can release your unit to the front, but I gather that that hasn't been happening. Do either of you know what has been happening with our forces in the front, or who else in the City might know?"

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Lady Leoni speaks first,

"I can task one of my knights to bear the message to Middenheim. It should be a good two weeks before he can be expected back though."

With the shape of the roads, and the things on them, Wolfgang knew that sending a lone knight to Middenland was a good as tying him up and feeding him to the Beastmen. Apparently they had no idea here in the city how bad things had become outside. It would take half a dozen fighting men to have a chance, and his half his compliment of knights and fighting men to guaruntee safe passage.

"Until that time, may I suggest a more aggressive policy?"

Mannfred leaned forward,

"I don't agree. Our political position here in the city wouldn't allow us to flout the role of the army. I have had it made clear that the situation beyond the walls is too ... delicate for us to interfere with."

With far less political experience, Wolfgang really wasn't sure what Mannfred meant. Could the man be a coward? Leoni scowled at him, sure enough, but she didn't show outright contempt.

"Lord Fang, you need to consider the current unsettled political situation in the city. The Count-Elector is missing. It has been our position that as a warrior, we should await his return, or bury his remains. The current power in the City, Countess Elise Kreiglitz-Untern moves to take his place. This has left us in a less than popular position. You may find a way to alter this of course. I did what my concience dictated."

Leoni sneared,

"She is a bureaucrat - a paper pusher who deals with threats with a dagger in the back. She openly courts Taal and Verena. The Sigmarites are openly lapdogs. Only Myrmidia is nuetral."

"There is Manaan and Morr," Mannfred counters.

"Manaan has only one priest ..."

"As did we up until today!"

Leoni snears again,

" ... and Morr never takes sides."

"It is not all bad," Mannfred says after a moment. "We have nearly fifteen thousand followers in the city. Many would come to hear you speak, if you put out the word. You could solidify the moods of many ... but that would be taking a stand."

Just then, someone knocks on the door. It is the guardian at the door who has knocked and he has opened the door for two messengers.

One is a herald in bright livery - a black stag with a crown of fire rampant with a background of yellow. He has a scroll in his hand. The other is a man in the simple robes of an initiate of Ulric, who walks with a limp. The boy has the same pale yellow hair as Leoni. The herald steps forward first and bows.

"Lord Fang, my I present the heartfelt greetings of the Countess Elise Kreiglitz-Untern. She entertains you to accept an invitation to a small dinner function this evening for your enlivenment."

He offers up a scroll with a flourish.

Somewhat flummoxed, but not put off, the Initiate moves next to the herald, but instead of bowing, slams his fist into his breast.

"Lord Fang, there is an Elf Maiden at the front vestibule who claims to know you. Her name is Nayobee."

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Wolfgang takes the scroll, but addresses the Initiate first, "Thank you Wilhelm, please show her in."

As he opens the scroll he glances at the Herald, "Were you to wait for a reply? If so Wilhelm can show you to a room where you may wait on his way out." It is clearly a dismissal, albeit a semi-polite one.

Once the two have left the room he looks to Leoni and Mannfred, "I would like to know how she knows of my arrival when I have only been here a few hours. If we have a leak of information from the Temple we will need to find and stop it, but she may have heard through the bureaucracy or the watch. However, let us see what she has to say." With which he finishes opening the scroll and reads it to the others in the room.

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The Herald departs with a smile still on his face. No doubt, he was good at his job and friendly was his job.

Whilhelm smiled slightly when he was addressed by name. It meant a great deal to be remembered by the Powers That Be. He ushered the Herald out and could be heard shuffling down the hall rapidly.

Once the door was closed and Wolfgang had finished talking, Mannfred spoke up.

"They may be some of the temple servants see no difference between serving the city and serving our God. I will ask around."

The man took out a small measure of string and wrapped it around his ring finger - an unusual display.

Leoni's opinion was voiced next after a little more concentrated thought.

"I would put it on the Taalbaston Guard. They are privy to the martial forces in the city and would know we only have one true priest here at the Temple. They could put one and one together that a Priest of your standing would outrank Mannfred."

"These watchmen are a crooked lot and I would sooner trust our pissboy than one of the Watch."

As Wolfgang mulled this over, Wilhelm returned in rapid step. Though no one could be heard accompanying, but after the knock when the door opened, Nayobee was standing there.

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Wolfgang stands to welcome Nayobee into the room, "Nayobee, please come in and take a seat. These are Brother Mannfred and Lady Leoni. It seems that this Temple is more understaffed than I had been lead to believe and I find that on my arrival I am in fact the most senior Priest present. Brother Mannfred was formerly in that position and I am replacing the majority of that burden back squarely upon his shoulders. Lady Leoni is the Master Knight in charge of the contingent of the Knightly Order of the White Wolf here in Talabheim. Nayobee is the Ghost Strider who stood with us at the recent battle at Untergard, and who has travelled here to Talabheim with her companion the Master Jade Wizard Mikhail. Master Mikhail is taking up a post at the Jade Tower here in the city."

Having moved back to his chair and reseated himself he resumes addressing Nayobee, "So Nayobee, what can I do for you?"

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Mannfred turned and stared at Nayobee when Wolfgang rose. His face was a careful mask of calm. Leoni stood as well, but let some jealousy show through when Wolf mentioned his most recent battle. She slapped her right fist to her left breast - a warrior's salute.

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Nayobee nodded at the humans raising an eyebrow at their odd display of salute. Without giving it further attention she directly addressed Wolfgang ignoring any etiquette, "There is something rotten in this city's aristocracy, Wolfgang. Things that are hidden to the public eye but which may be revealed by the less welcomed trades. I'm sure you understand what I mean - You happen to know where our sneaky companion can be found? The Magister of the Jade Tower seeks to speak with him. I'm sure your presence would be welcomed too, old friend."

The Elven Ghost Strider gave the other humans no attention and rested her cold blue eyes on Wolfgang expecting a positive answer.

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He waved them all to their seats, which Nayobee characteristically ignored before replying, "I'm afraid I don't know where D has gotten to, I assume getting the lay of the land and finding out what predators and prey maybe be about like any good hunter in new grounds. I could ask Grombar to have a look for him, but if he doesn't want to be found for a while I doubt there is much we could do. Perhaps I can get out later or tomorrow to try leaving him a message to get in contact, but I can't be certain it would work."

Looking at the two Ulrican's he pauses in thought for a moment before asking Nayobee a question, "Nayobee, could you please tell us what your associate told you about what happened on the way into the city? I hope to use some of the Church resources to rectify the matter."

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Nayobee gave the two Ulrican's a scrutinizing look and then shook her head. "I cannot do that, Wolfgang. I'm willing to tell you alone, though. With all due respect but I don't trust anyone in this city."

Her gaze never left the two Ulrican's and it showed that she would be willing to kill both of them if necessary.

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The man looked away and did an usual thing. He took out a small piece of string and tied it around his middle finger, muttering something.

The woman in the room met Nayobee's glare and distain equally. She wasn't one to back down easily, if at all. Wolfgang seemed to be keeping her in check.

The man finally spoke.

"We could make an offical enquirery with the Dogfaces - the Watch - and see what they can discover, but this is a very public thing and you can bet two dozen interested parties will know of it by noontide."

"Sadly, our more skilled operatives in that field, or witchunters, left the city with the rest. Something else we must address."

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Wolfgang shrugs at Nayobee's half-accusation, "Very well, but in that case you are limiting what help I can provide you. Regardless I will tell them what is likely soon to be public knowledge."

He turns to face the other two more fully, "As we were coming to enter the crater a man barged through the crowd and in his wake an Elf-maid took aim at him with her bow and fired twice into him. She calmly moved to his body and removed a pouch. The watch quickly apprehended her as she gave no resistance other than to shout something in Elven to Nayobee here and to drop the pouch. From her tone I surmised that the pouch might hold some proof that she had good reason for her actions. I checked the man and found him to be barely alive, although crippled by the shots to his back, and Ulric saw fit to answer my call to ease those wounds. Nayobee recovered the pouch and on seeing the contents became enraged at the man and drew her sword on him. I intervened to stop the watch attacking her while she passed the pouch on to me. Inside I found a number of Elf ears, including several from children! When I explained to the crowd the man's crimes and the reason for the Elf-Maid's attack they became rather less inclined to try to lynch the Elf-Maid, and more approving of her actions. We then accompained the Watch unit to their Watch house during which time Nayobee spoke further with the Elf-Maid. Once there we presented our papers, and the evidence and left the prisoners in the care of the Watch."

Glancing around at Nayobee's reaction Wolfgang notices the height of the sun outside, "Nayobee, you are welcome to join us for dinner, after which will we will discuss this and other matters. Or you can return to Magister Mikhail now with word that I don't know where our sneaky friend went, but that I'll try to get a message to him."

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Nayobee considered the offer and nodded. "I shall accept your offer for dinner. I appreciate very much if you left a message for our companion to seek out the Jade Tower as soon as he can."

She looked at the two humans she just indirectly insulted and flatly said, "If you can vouch for their discretion I shall tell you what I know, Wolfgang. If any of you break this agreement I shall kill you just as swiftly.", by the way she spoke it was clear she wouldn't compromise.

"Do we have an accord?", she raised an eyebrow again at Wolfgang.

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Leoni pops up out of her chair in a rush. At that moment she looks much like the wolf she tries so hard to emulate. For a moment Nayobee thinks the woman might leap on he right there with nothing but he hands and teeth. The moment passes and Leoni masters herself.

For his part, Wolfgang can hardly be surprised. Knights of the White Wolf don't take threats to the church, or their own, honor lightly. If the Lord Fang wasn't here, this would come to blows ... but he is here and Leoni doesn't go off the deep end. This woman is his guest, so she bites back her heartfelt response.

Mannfred doesn't say anything, nor does he move, but his glacial stare leaves no doubt that Nayobee has not made a friend here today. In a way, he's a more dangerous foe, being a patient sort.

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Wolfgang looks a little perplexed, "With threats like that I think you had better explain what you mean by discretion. After all the whole point of gaining more information is so that we can act on it to make sure this sort of thing does not happen again and to gain your Ghost Strider colleague her legal freedom, if that is possible. But if you could excuse me a moment."

He stands and opens the door, addressing the guard there for a moment, "Could you go and tell the Herald that I would be pleased to accept the Countess' invitation."

He then returns to his place, "Now, explain your terms more clearly if you can Nayobee."

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“I gave my word on this matter. Ioriona does not wish to share her knowledge with anyone except her kin. This matter has put a severe strain on the relationship between the local Elven Community and the citizens of this city. The Elves living here have always followed the rules of the authorities that claimed this city their own. The Elector-Count promised them lands who no one claimed and cared for which was a natural addition to the Elven Communities hunting ground. In return my kin would keep the forest clean of cultists and outlaws.”, Nayobee explained quietly yet her eyes burnt with anger.

“I shall not tolerate this insolence. None of your courts can bring justice to this terrible act that has been committed. Blood will be paid in blood Wolfgang and I don’t care who stands in my way. The filthy stink of corruption and greed is all over this city. The nobles who have trespassed started this war, not us.”, the Elven Ghost Strider clenched her fists to channel her fury.

“Now I’m aware that you and Mikhail have ways of finding the perpetrator as much as Diarmuir has ways of finding evidence for Ioriona’s claims. I’ve seen enough to raze this city but I have no say in this, I just gave my word to help her find retribution.”

The next words were spoken through clenched teeth, “I – need – your – help.”, and she hated admitting it.

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Wolfgang's face becomes cold and as hard as the ice that his god brings, "You had better spell out what help you expect from me. But know from the start I will not aid you to commit murder nor shield you from the consequences if that is the route you take. Furthermore if you should seek to harm innocents in retribution for things they had nothing to do with, then you had better pray that you can outrun the seasons themselves for your transgression."

Warming slightly he continues, "It is a heinous crime that has been commited against your people Nayobee, and regardless of what you do I, and through me the church will do all it can to find out who is behind this and punish them for it. If nothing else I personally consider it an act of Treason to willfully go against the word and law of the Elector-Count and effectively, as you have said, start another war, with an ally race whilst in the midst of a war against the Chaos invasion. If I could get my way all those nobles who may be involved would, legally, lose their lives and suitable parts of their lands would be turned over to your people. So I will investigate and make my findings public as I go along."

He takes a deep breath and sighs it out, fearing that he has lost what little of her friendship he had gained over the months they had known each other, "Now, knowing the positiion I must take, how may I help you?"

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Mannfred cleared his throat, looking to Wolfgang

"If I may Lord Fang. Nayobee, if I may call you that, what district of the forest are we talking about here? If you tell us the district we can deduce to a small number what noble families may be involved."

Looking back to Wolfgang,

"With that small a number, we can find out, or at least attempt to find ou, who in the city has been hiring hunters and woodsmen fromt he city to go there. He, or she, may have used thier direct influence to send people out of the city as well. That is two avenures we may approach from."

As an afterthought, he adds,

"If this is a fight we chose to engage in. I would not expect our quarry to sit still while we act."

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Wolfgang turns to Mannfred, "I'm afraid I don't know which part of the forest it is in, but in general that is how I was intending to proceed. I would have thought that it would be a matter of record if the Elector-Count had re-assigned an unused area to an Elven community. I thought that the law firm the Church would be able to find out the location, when it occurred and which nobles have lands bordering the area. After all they are the most logical culprits along with the information you suggested obtaining Brother Mannfred."

Wolfgang nods at Mannfred's follow up comment, " I agree, which is why once the location has been found I propose sending upto one third of Leoni's force out to the region to both protect the remaining Elven community and to capture as many of any hunters that still may be in the area."

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If Nayobee was offended by Manfred using her name like that she didn't show it, "Ioriona did not reveal any names to me. I am speaking of the most southern Wood Elf Community here - I can show it to you if you have an accurate map. She said something about the grand children of the Elector-Count have forgotten their promises. I need to find Diarmuir and visit her in prison to get more information from her. I want to convince her that I can help her my way. She insists on killing that Baron which I understand but I think this won't solve the problem."

Turning back to Wolfgang she added, "I try to help where I can, Wolfgang.", she had relaxed a little but the issue was keeping her edgy.

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Wolfgang was please to see Nayobee relax a little at the suggestions and obvious help that he and Mannfred were trying to provide.

"I think this is going to take us some time and the rest of the residents are waiting for us to start their dinner. I suggest that we adjourn this until after dinner when we can reconvene with the help of that map from your office Leoni."

Pushing away from the desk Wolfgang stands, "Come Mannfred, lead the way and let us find out what culinary delights we can show our guest." He is grining broadly by the end of the sentence, knowing the sort of food that is most likely.

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The dinner had two tables. The higher table was reserved for the Knights, Mannfred and Leoni. Grombar and Nayobee were settled there as well. Wolfgang had the seat of honor,which was a high back chair with the motif of a snarling wolf head carved into it.

The lower table was for the men-at-arms, temple guardians, and the the Initiates. The second table was larger than the first, but they had benches were the high table had chairs.

The faire tonight was pork, fish, potatoes, onions, and garlic soup. Oh, and plenty of bread and cheese. There was ale aplenty and beer flowed freely. Clearly the temple was pulling out the stops for tonights festivities. Had the cooks had more time, suredly they would have slaughtered a cow.

"To Lord Fang Wolfgang!" came a salute from the lower table first. The cheer was taken up.

"Lord Fang! Lord Fang!"

Some men beat their fists upon the table. Grombar rescued his beer and Nayobee felt suddenly concious that she was situated next to the high chair.

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The dinner was rockus and lengthy, lasting well past moonrise. The men were in good spirits. How could they not be? A Lord Fang with the name of Wolf, it had to be a sign of impending glory and battle.

After the men had been dispersed to their quarters and the Initiates to their cells, the three humans, the Elf and the Dwarf retired to Leoni's chambers. The Dwarf made some comment about a "Girlie Chamber" and Leoni refrained, barely from beating him about his head and shoulders.

The concerned parties leaned over the map running their fingers along the Old Forest road past the Fralic hills. That region and south to the River Stir was the region the elves were known to roam by Nayobee. Leoni wracked her mind to recall the noble families that had lands in that area. Chief amongs them was Baron Albrecht Donn of Lieske, but there were others. She made a list and handed it over to ...

Nayobee couldn't read, so it went to Mannfred.

"I will get on this matter at first light, but it will take some time to make the enquiries. It may take four days before we know of anything."

Wolfgang leaned in to Nayobee.

"Meanwhile, if you can locate Diarmuir, it would be much appreciated. I am operating half-blind in this city of strangers and strange intentions. Find him, for me and for yourself and your interests - please."

Grombar gave Nayobee a steady stare under his bushy (and regrowing) eyebrows.

"Find a human guide who knows the city. Humans are always willing to sell each ohter out for some gold."

That he was in a room full of humans seemed to be lost on him.

With that happy note, the meeting broke up. Nayobee made her way back to the Jade Tower while Wolfgang was taken to the Lord Fang's opulant chambers (Mannfred never moved in). As he bent his knee and prayed to Ulric for guidance, patience and a vision to guide him, his bones felt weary and he was soon asleep.

In the morning, he took his cold breakfast and recieved Mannfred who laid out his interary out for the day. There would be three sermons, all that had to be given out by the New Lord Fang. They expected (correctly) that the church would be packed with the faithful. There was no getting out of it.

When questioned, Mannfred detailed an impressive and highly tedious description of what awaited him - meeting with tradesmen on repair projects, seeing to the new coal shipments, meeting with the chief attendent to discuss food supplies (plentiful) and the state of the training for the temple guardians and the initiates.

If needed, Wolfgang could use any of the robes of office the previous Lord Fang had left behind and a tailor sought to adjust it.

Such was the fun of temple life. No wonder Mannfred always looked like someone had pissed in his soup and Leaoni lept at the chance at battle.

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Having seen the tailor as early as practical in order to get something ready for the dinner with the Countess Wolfgang found the 3 sermons and the training discussions to be the highlights of his day. Although he was able to deal with the other meetings in as brief a time as he thought he could get away with, largely he had to rely on a combination of his common sense and the experience of Brother Mannfred.

Click to reveal..

3 sermons = 3 Charm rolls

(23:09:01) (Wolfgang): His Charm is 64% and can effect upto 540 people I believe.

(23:09:11) ChatBot: (Wolfgang) rolls 3d100 and gets 82,40,29.

(23:09:24) (Wolfgang): re-roll the first one

(23:09:29) ChatBot: (Wolfgang) rolls 1d100 and gets 18.

(23:10:09) (Wolfgang): so made them by 46, 24 and 35

Before leaving for the dinner party Wolfgang calls Mannfred and Leoni to him, "I have some other information that we may need to prepare to act upon, especially the last point. When we came through the crater gate one of my companions commented on some things that he had noticed on our passage through the bureaucracy there and the other people coming into the city. The first was a number of people that he considered to be likely smugglers, and given his experience in Altdorf and Middenheim I'm inclined to believe him. More importantly he also spotted a number of people coming into the city with a grey pallor and coughing. I fear that they may knowingly or not have brought a sickness into the city. It may be wise to consult the healing texts as to possible diseases that it may be and to prepare to treat as many as we can, our own people coming first of course."

"Oh, and before I go, I suppose you had better draw up a list of our Noble sponsors Mannfred, I'm sure they will expect to meet me sooner rather than later, and perhaps I can pick up some information about the status of things in and about the city in the process. We will try to arrange for me to meet them all in the next week or so, either here or if we can arrange it at other social events that are already planned."

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"Ulric does not coddle you and treat you like muling childen. Ulric does not dictate that you live your life by one way and one way alone. Ulric does not lecture you about right and wrong. All that Ulric asks ... No, DEMANDS is that you stand up for yourself. He demands that you carry your own wait and expect each other to bear theirs. He demands you live like Wolves not exist as Lapdogs!"

It had gone well, Wolfgang mused as he traveled to the Countess' party with two Knights acting as escorts. Grombar's protestations that he would make the perfect escort to such a shindig had been met with a smile and Wolfgang's diminuative companion was going to miss another opportunity to spread his own perverse brand of cheer to a human gather.

{Continued in Old Friends and New}

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The were late coming back from the party, well fed and a tad drunk. Knights Paul and Jonas seemed sober enough for the job they had been called upon to do. Had they been attacked, Wolfgang was sure they would have equited themselves well. But, a heavily armed man with heavily armed retainers traveling from the Manor District, through the Law Quarter to the Street of the Gods was very safe.

At the Temple almost everyone had gone to sleep. One Knight, Hagan, stood watch over the Eternal Flame, while Heinlich Bach dealt with some late night parishoners. He nodded to the Lord Fang in passing, but seemed in charge of the situation. Not surprisingly, the temple appeared to have functioned well in his short absence.

****************************

One day passed another passed another. Wolfgang got to see his troops practice on the martial field and show the men under his command just what his worth was on the field. He learned the worth of his various Shards, as well as his knights (not a one who could beat him) and especially Leoni (who trounced him). Wolf was quietly dissappointed in Mannfred's martial prowess which seemed to have suffered while he was in the office.

Wolfgang also discovers that his temple lacks minds with the proper critical thinking skills to accomplish a mission as difficult as searching Taalagad. Only Mannfred and Initiates Whilhem Adler and Heinlich Bach seem to have what it takes, mentally, to look into the matter of the plague. You can't spare Mannfred.

He also deals with some of the meetings that only the Lord Fang can attend to. He discovers his 'Heroic Victory' slaying a champion of chaos and saving an entire town has been spread. This has unfortunately made him popular, though there is now more talk of donating the to temple once more now that it has 'proper' leadership.

On the fourth day, Parliment is called into session for the next day and Mannfred goes into overdrive. Late that afternoon, he has his answers. The Countess sends her own message too.

Mannfred discovers the daughter of a major supporter of The Countess has been kidnapped. Her brother, an important man in the government is seeking government action in this matter (how odd) and The Countess has agreed. She is going to ask parliment to pay for ten Verenan Investigators be added to the City Watches (the Dogfaces) on a permanent basis. The message from The Countess is addresses soley to Wolfgang, not the Lord Fang. It explains that her new legistation is to be funded by taxes on religious hostels and reliquaries - essentially an indirect tax on the various churches.

What is Wolfgang, Lord Fang of Ulric going to do?

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Send a message back to the Countess making a couple of points,

1, it seems odd to force new taxes and legislation on the basis of a private individuals kidnapping no matter who they might be, or be related to.

2, While having Verenan Investigators working with the Watch is a good idea it seems to me that they should be doing so themselves as part of the responsibiliies of their church rather than charging the Watch for their services.

3, It hardly seems reasonable to tax the other churches, no matter how indirectly, to fill the coffers of one church.

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