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Warhammer: Shadows of Empire - The Coming Storm (Wolfgang)


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{Continued from Parliment}

The grey of the morning came with Wolfgang having grabbed little sleep. Beyond Lady Leoni and the two selectmen that had traveled under the Wall with him, six other had shown up with the sickness. They had been isolated from the others and the aid of the Shallyan’s sought. The healers, led by a Sister Marta, had been able to cure four of the men temporarily, but they had fallen sick again by the afternoon. The Temple of Ulric would have to find help elsewhere.

Mannfred also relayed basically what Mikhail had told about the Parliament meeting. He also said the other temples had been tossing around a meeting on what to do. There was a fear sinking into the city and The Countess had requested aid from the temples to work with the militia in keeping order. Mannfred had yet to inform her of the level of sickness amongst their armed retainers. What were they going to do about the request? Most likely some sort of command would be offered to Wolfgang, if he stepped forward.

Church attendance where up with the hope that a late spring chill would break the plague before it happened. Barring a supernatural cure, Wolfgang had the name of the Apothecary Daubler and knew that Mikhail has the necessary papers and notes. There were plenty of to go and only so many hours in the day.

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Lots to do for a simple warrior, Wolfgang sighed as Mannfred outlined the requirements. "Ok, Mannfred, keep those currently suffering from the plague separate from the others, lets try to control it's spread within the Temple. Get a runner over to the magister with the name of that Apothecary as someone who might make good use of the information we have. Send another runner over to the Apothecary himself and find out what we can do to help cure our breathren, and anything we can usefully suggest to our congregation."

He rubs a habitual hand over his chin, fingering an old scar there as he thinks, "Send to the Countess that we may be able to provide a dozen selectmen and two knights to aid the militia. Suggest to the other Temples that we met tomorrow night at a time free from services amongst us all. Thank the Shallyan's for their help and put two knights at their disposal to keep their priests safe, having met Skaven in the undercity they may try to attack the Healers directly."

"Now I suppose I should get ready for the first service of the day to try to give some reassurance and message of fortitude to our faithful. Afterwords I intend going to see the Magister myself, I'll return to do the evening service myself if I can, but I think you'll have to cover any others you had planned for the day."

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Mannfred nodded.

"I'll use Shards for the messenges to let people know we are serious. I will go myself to the Temples."

With that, Mannfred bows out and leaves the room. Wolfgang has only a few minutes to prepare his sermon then discovers he has only one Initiate to assist him when the time comes.

The first Shard reports that the Jade Tower was not forthcoming with much information, or much hospitality. They took his information and ushered him out. He met with no Master.

The second Shard tells of reaching Apothecary Daubler's address, waiting in the antechamber and then be hurriedly rushed out of the room and sent on his way. The Apothecary claimed to be done for the day ... with the morning not yet past.

The third Shard, sent to The Countess has not yet returned, but considering the time involved in waiting for an audience, that is not too surprising.

The Fourth Shard returns to tell of the Shallyan's being in a bad way, with nearly half of their Initiates down, and only four Priests functional (from reports). The sole Priestess on duty thanks you for the kind offer of protection but insists they are in the Goddess's hands. Apparently no weapons are welcome, not even those of friends.

Mannfred comes back with assurances that the Temple's of Taal, Sigmar, and Myrmidia will come to a meeting at the Myrmidia Temple(Sigmar wouldn't agree to Ulric, Ulric wouldn't agree to Sigmar, and Taal wouldn't agree to any of those two so ...) He hadn't met with Verena's or Morr's High Preists yet, and Manaan's didn't seem to be about.

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Wolfgang nods at Mannfred's report, "I'll see what I can do to help our brethren after morning service, I have had some training in the healing arts and so it will be better than nothing I hope. Then perhaps I can get to see this Daubler myself on my way to see the Magister."

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Wolfgang got much of the same thing, though most likely a bit more polite.

"No sir, he is not in right now."

"Yes sir, he's been in and got your message, but has since gone out. No sir, I do not know where."

"Yes sir I would gladly take your message. My name is Bertha, and I am the house caretaker."

"No, I don't know were Lady Nayobee is either. She is out very much of the time."

His attempts to contact Apothecary Daubler lead him to the man's door (and ornate stain glass window), but Wolfgang's attempt to contact him was a weird encoutner.

"Sorry Lord Fang, but I am not open today. I don't think I will be open tomorrow and the day after that does not look good either."

"No sir, I can not let you in ... there seems to be a problem with the door that I will have to have a man come by and fix. Nice falconry weather we are having though."

Mind you, why any Apothecary, especailly one of the most renowned in the city, would shut up his practice in this desperate times ... could only mean that Mikhail had been here, turned over the man's notes, and warned him that is colleague Widenhoft had been murdered.

Had the man been hunting for a password that might have identified friend from foe ... or misguided client? Wolfgang would have to find Mikhail to be sure. Now were could he be?

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With nothing to go on and no sign of the others from Untergard all Wolfgang can do is to return to the Temple and await a message from one of them. Doing his best to look after his brethren and congregation in the meantime, and preparing to face what creatures may be found in the tunnels and caverns under the city.

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By the time he gets back, there is his Initiate there with the Countess's reply.

Your generous offer is accepted. Your efforts beyond the town of Taalagad have been noted with deep appreciation. Command your troops to report to the Law Quarter, as this is the key sector of the city. You will join the new militia troops there and be given command of the Night Patrol in the sector, nobles included. If you need any other information, or clarifications, contact General Joerg Hafner.

Please relay your experiences in a report and relay it by the same Shard that bore my your initial missive. Then I will know who to trust.

E_______

Apparently she hadn't understood the intent of his message. Would he join his troops in the militia, or would he correct the Countess on his proper place?

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Hmm, civilians always seemed to think they knew better than the military where the military should go and what they should do. Oh well.

Wolfgang took a walk down to see how the men and knights were doing, and indeed the progress of Lady Leoni as well, then passed on the orders he had recieved from the Countess. Leaving orders for any meassage from or the Magister himself to be sent on after him, Wolfgang leaves the Temple to seek out more information from the General, and perhaps to offer some advice.

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As Wolfgang is leaving the Temple, he is greeted by a strange and (maybe) wonderful sight. Twenty four Knight's Panther are rises up the steps, stop, and greet him.

"Priest!" their lead calls out, "We look for the Lord Fang of Ulric here."

Wolfgang arches an eyebrow, taps his hammer to his chest, and says, "You've found him."

Somewhat put off by him not walking around without his entrouge befitting one of his station, the man clears his throat then meets Wolfgang with a steady gaze.

"In the past, in this city, we have had the our differences with the previous Lord Fang. The Master of our Order has seen fit to not approach you when you first came to office. He has fallen ill with the plague. Now is a time for a change. Middenland and Ulric stood together once. We feel they should do so again."

"Many of our Knights and men-at-arms have returned from the war before the city was blockaded. We can pledge 24 Knights, 23 squires, and 157 men at arms to Ulric's service. Will you have us?"

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Wolfgang grins at the sight and news, "Oh aye, I'll have ye, but before we continue I'd know one thing. Was your problem with Fang Mannfred, or whoreson who abandoned him to lead in his stead? I was just on my way to see General Hafner and hopefully get some better intelligence of the situation. Two of you come with me, the others head back to your barracks and prepare for a night shift."

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"With his predecessor, Lord Fang. Fang Mannfred was merely seen as a caretaker for the previous administration though," the chief Knight grinned.

"I am Sir Adolph. Franz and Gottlieb, go with the Lord Fang and we will make ready to merge with your men ... umm, Lady and men. Will I be working with Lady Leoni?"

"She is not capable right now," Wolfgang responds. Sir Adolph's grin fades.

"Oh. Well then. We are all suffering."

"Heinrich, take Sergei and Freidrick back and bring the men. The chapterhouse should be safe with those who remain."

With his two knightly bodyguards, Wolfgang goes to the Grand Courthouse of Edicts. From what he's been able to gather, this is were the Militia is organized from. He finds some normally, or expensively, dressed young men going in and out with armbands with the city's coat of arms on it. When he tries to get his way in, a functionary stops him and questions him about his business.

A heartbreaking two hours later, a higher level functionary sees Wolfgang, and his letter from The Countess and decides Wolfgang should be seeing the General. General Hafner turns out to be a distinguished, hawk-like man with the air of a hunter about him. Rumor has it he hunts wild boar alone and a boar-hair cloak seems to bear that out. Two milita men stand at the door, and two wild-looking religious soldiers stand behind him, on guard.

The General stands up and eyes the Lord Fang speculatively. Liking what he sees, the man extends his hand to Wolfgang and welcomes the three warriors into his chambers.

"Tell me what you want, Herr Wolfgang? I can already tell you that the God's quarter already has its guardian day and night. I would prefer you here, because if there is disorder here, it becomes very difficult to move to other districts. I need knights here to balance out my mix of nobles, house retainers, and craftmen."

"You will need to divide up commands with your watch commander, Captain Kognitz. Your men will be supporting the Dogfaces. That means some of your men will go into the sewers. Get ready for that fun task," Hafner smirks.

"Also beware that if the order comes to barricade off the Tallows, you will have to use the materials in your section to block off access and allow NO transit. Keep the materials in the alleyways, but know were they are. If this order comes down, it will happen before sunrise ... for less disruptions."

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Wolfgang nods to the two religious guards (presuming them to be Taal given the General's reputation for hunting) and takes the offered hand.

"Thank you Herr General. I would like to understand the position both here in the city and outside it better if you could outline that for me I would be grateful. In addition the Knights Panther, as you can see, have recently put themselves under my command, I'm not sure if that would make any difference as to how you would wish my forces to be used."

Wolfgang grins at the mention of the sewers, "I have fought in such places, and worse, before Herr General and I'm sure my knights will not mind doing so either. Even if I have to jump down there and drag them with me. I doubt you can say the same of your nobles and craftsmen."

He turns more serious as he continues, "I also have reliable word of elements deliberately spreading this disease, perhaps even creating it. Some of these have been encountered in tunnels and caverns under the city which may connect to the sewers. I my self have killed a Skaven, a rat-like Beastman, in such tunnels in the last few days."

"I will set some of the men-at-arms to placing the materials in ready positions. Has the material already been collected, or do we need to go commandeering wagons and pulling doors down to get it?"

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"I don't know much about these so-called Skaven, but if they are Beastmen, we can beat them. All we have to do is keep our heads about us and they will make a stupid mistake."

"As for the barricades, the material is being gathered by other elements of the Watch. The Dogfaces are considered more reliable for this kind of mission," he scoffs. "Do not trouble yourself about gathering material. It had best be there. Again, we don't want to alarm the populace ... or warn the miscreants beyond the barricade what's coming. The last thing we want is for the diseased to flood our streets, now do we?"

"As to your training, there will be members of the Tunnel brigade, along with a good supply of Storm Lanterns, on hand for you to work with. You will also be supplied with some slow match and exta oil for the night's work. Good to see you taking charge of this project. Keep at it."

"Lastly," he turns and plucks a bronze coin-like object, twice as large as a Karl, "her is your commission seal. Send this on a message marked with white wax for my direct attention. Don't clutter up my office with daily reports. This is only for," he drops the coin into Wolfgang's hands, "real emergancies."

"Well," Hafner seems to be running out of wind, "glad to see you Ulricans pitching in with both hands. Get to it then. I'm sure you have a lot to do. Is there anything else?"

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Wolfgang takes the coin and places in a pouch kept inside his jacket, "Only one I think, where do I find Captain Kognitz?"

Once he has his answer he will leave with suitable comments and go in search of the Captain, and to examine the area that they are to patrol, both on the surface and for signs of sewer and other possible entrances into the tunnels below the city.

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The daytime chief of the Watch, Captain M. Hoechner quickly steared the small gathering of 'nobles' toward his counterpart's home in the Guildrow. Fortunately the Captain was already awake and going aobut his 'morning' activities before going onto the night shift. His wife, Sarah, greeted them at the door nervously, several children underfoot.

The Captain requested a few minutes to prepare himself while Wolfgang and the others waited in the street. The man exited his house strapping on his sword belt, with his mail shirt and leather hat. The man just might be relatively non-corrupt because he certainly wasn't spending his resources on his kit.

"What can I do for you sirs?"

"We are here to work with you on the Night shift."

Blank look.

"With the militia?"

Blank look then a spark of understanding, an unhappy understanding.

"Oh Sigmar," he whispered. "They really are going to do it then."

Louder,

"Good to know, Sirs. You will be working ... with me? Good to know. Good to know. Do you know the size of your contribution?"

Since Wolfgang didn't know yet, and doubted anyone knew precisely how many would show up tonight,

"Well, we'll see then ..."

"Wolfgang. Lord Fang Wolfgang of the Temple of Ulric in Talabheim, but Wolfgang will do," Wolfgang said.

"Wolfgang," he said smiling, offering his hand.

The next two hour they walked the patrol routes the routes that the squads will be taking. Kognitz (Walter) told them they patrolled at night in patrols of five and four plus a sergeant, with the Captian and a squad of nine plus a sergeant at the Watch House. He would have sixty men all told. If they doubled up, the patrols could be stronger and they would have more to respond with. After all, wouldn't it be best to keep it simple until the men knew what the routine was?

Then Wolfgang told Kognitz about the sewer patrols and all things went to hell.

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"Sewers ... that's usually the province of the sewer jacks and rat catchers. We've never had to. Do you think they have grates and such ... to keep the neighborhoods apart?"

"I'm not sure how I'm going to be able to handle this with my men. Is there some concrete threat we should be looking for, or is this a case of smugglers and rogues? That has to be it. No one would willingly travel through the sewers, even those with the plague. Were would they hide, stinking like that?" he gesticulates.

"I may have to lead sewer patrol with your recruits. No reason to take my men off their normal rounds to put them in a place were they don't know what they are doing. How many men do you want to put on patrols and what kind of material will you need?"

"Oh, have they told you about the barricades?"

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Wolfgang will make sure they are in a quieter area and not being overheard before he replies to the Captain, "Yes, they have told of us the barricades. If you prefer I will lead the sewer patrols, and I will make sure that there is a mix of knights and squires down there with the men-at-arms. As to a threat, I myself have encountered rat-beastmen in tunnels and caverns under the city within the last few days. It is possible that such as they could use the sewers to move about the city to try to spread the disease."

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The look Kognitz gives Wolfgang says pretty much Better you than me.

"We can arrange contact points were the sewer grates come up to the street so we can know you and your men are doing alright. I suggest scarves for the smell, and poles for your lanterns. I recall the sewers are twisting and extensive."

With that, the meeting breaks up. Wolfgang has about two hours to go before he has to meet his recruits, and its been a long hungry, and somewhat frustrating day. Less he forget, tomorrow he has to meet with the other Priests too. He can only hope the Knight's Panther are integrating themselves well with his temple ... and vice versa. With Lady Leoni so ill, everything seem to be falling on Mannfreds somewhat slender shoulders.

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Heading back to the Temple Wolfgang considers what troops he might have in a fit state to use tonight, and indeed what tonight might bring. Arriving he checks on the ill and meets with Mannfred over dinner to find out how other matters of the Church have gone during the day. He also talks to the other knights, of both the White Wolf and the Panthers, at the end of which he assigns 3 of the remaining White Wolf Knights to the following positions - one to liaise with the Panthers, one to lead the surface patrol and one to lead the sewer force. Obviously Wolfgang will take charge of whatever group he is with once he has been briefed by the leader until he might need to move on.

He will also try to find out why the Panthers have come to him rather the the Church of Sigmar that they are normally associated with.

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The sick were getting sicker and there were three new people down with the plague since sunrise. Lady Leoni was not always in her right mind and was being tended to by her brother, Wilhelm. His cartakers are taking the best precautions they can, but one of them has also fallen ill.

Sir Adolph nods at the question, "Volk, Graf, Sigmar is our creed. We serve the people in the state of the Reik. We serve the Reik in the name of the Graf. In all things we walk with Sigmar's guidance, but we are not his templars."

"Since our inception, we have worked side by grudging side with the Temple of Ulric, because it served the Volk and the Graf. Sigmar himself served Ulric, so we see no harm in it."

"Besides, we largely suspect the Sigmarites won't have us."

A hundred years of penance was not always enough for the powers that be, it would seem.

,,

Franz and Gottlieb, the Knight Panthers assigned to travel with him, face glares and subtle challenges to their position. It is not a good meeting, but no blows are exchanged so things are looking up. Despite the 'low' nature of the assignments the knights vy for the duty. The Knight Panthers seem somewhat let down for not being picked for this nightly duty. In no small part, it will keep them busy.

Krom, the knight who survived the underground trek with Wolfgang, is chosen for liaisoning with the Knight's Panther. Paul draws the surface duty, and Hagan draws the sewer patrol. Hagan seems a bit grim, but the others joke at his 'good fortune' for seeking action. They have all heard Krom's story of the fight against the ratmen.

When he made ready to leave, Wolfgang was pleasently surprised to find ten Knight Panthers, six squires, and thirty men at arms ready to go with him. They seemed in excellent spirits, but perhaps it was because they didn't know what awaited them.

At the assemlby, with his fifteen knights and five select men, five squires, and thirty-five men at arms, Wolfgang confronts fifty seven 'volunteered' militiamen and fifty-nine watchmen. There are also six members of the Tunnel Brigade from the Taalbaston Garrison. They are expert tunnel fighters.

Kognitz confesses that two of his men have called in sick and he means to check on them. Three of the militia have simply failed to show. Five of the Tunnel Brigade (called Terriers) and their Sergeant wait for your permission to begin taking their charges underground.

Once granted, they begin the process of explaining the process of fighting underground. The come up with a supply of scarves and poles for lanterns.

"Only the lead and rear men get lanters. You'll need swords and daggers. If you want to use your axe, mace, or hammer, be prepared to get wet, because you will be standing in 'it'."

"Keep your scarves on tight. Lose them, you lose your lunch."

"Lead and rear man, don't lose your lantern. You'll all die blind otherwise. Second and third man, you fight. First man has a lantern on a pole."

"If you get a wound, pour wine on it. Whiskey is better."

The seem perplexed at what to do with all the knights, but the Sergeant convinces him that the second man is the place he wants to be as "second man does the fighting."

Lastly, they break up the militiamen (with permission) into patrols of ten men plus the terrier. A Terrier goes with each squad, with the sergeant going with the prime squad. In about ten minutes they have formed up their patrols and gotten ready to head out. The spare knights (all three) went with the Watch, as did half the militia.

The Watchmen march of for their duty tossing some 'smelly' insults the militiamen's way. The militia seem sullen and resentful. Each Terrier has his map and is looking it over one last time. They all stand in the third man slot.

The men are as ready as they may ever be. Which direction is Wolfgang going in?

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"Don't worry sergeant if it comes to a decent fight then standing in a stream of shit will be the least of my worries, and if my men are too prissy for such a fight they'll answer to me about it afterwords."

Wolfgang split's his force above and below ground, 8 mixed Knights above ground, 7 mixed Knights plus himself to go underground. The 5 select men to stay above ground, while the 5 squires go into the sewers, in both cases to be split with knights of their own order. And lastly the 35 men-at-arms to be split roughly evenly above and below with the odd man going above.

If they have time he would send runners back to the barracks/temple to equip everyone with a sword and/or spear as well as their preferred weapon and skins of wine for each group underground. He normally carries a sword as a spare for his Relic Hammer anyway, but other might do.

In his group in the sewers Wolfgang will want himself, Panther Knight, an Ulrican Knight and the Sergeant Terrier. Otherwise they can be split however seems appropriate for the number of groups. If given the choice he will head in the direction of where they faced the Skaven under the city.

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Funny that this would be Wolfgang's wish, because the Sergeant takes them on the worst part of their patrol area, the one that abutts the Tallows slum section. It is easy to see the distinction between the two, as the Law Quarter section is large, with walkways on both sides and room enough to almost stand up in. The Tallows section you would have to walk almost bent over (now it becomes clear why all the Terriers are such short men).

The section between the two sections is barred off with metal poles large enought to stop a man from coming through, but not a boy, or a slight woman. The Terrier Sergeant test the bars and finds few of them to be weak and one that can be easily moved aside. Man of over a dozen ways into the Tallows are like that.

Through the night, Wolfgang and his team lose their scense of smell due to the horrific odors they have to deal with. More than one man has to stop and vomit his dinner. The Sergeant says the men will get used to it, but that seems hard to imagine.

They do find one body, dead for several days, trapped against one of the exits. His clothing suggests he was an burgher and a knife wound to the back of the neck the likely cause of death. The Terrier doesn't seem to give it much importance as they find dead bodies all the time in the Ratholds.

Morning finds them up near dawn back on the surface. Kognitz is around with his personal patrol, but tells Wolfgang that the other men will stay out until relieved by the day shift. He asks for a report and gives one of his own. They roused a few dozen drunks, two pairs of lovers out for a late night stroll, and three malcontents who were hustled off to the cell for a wandering judge to deal with.

He'll report the dead body to see if it matches any missing person reported nearby. He also suggest three or for inns not to far away were he can get a bath ... and his men. When the sun breaks the rim of the Crater, the militia begin making noises about going home. They have jobs after all.

Wolfgang's own tunner squads look less enthusiastic than they did last night. The ones on 'above' duty merely seem bored and a bit tired. Time for some baths and breakfast all around. Wolfgang knows that his clothes need a good washing, as does he. A good day's sleep wouldn't be bad either.

It occurs to him that keeping this up for the long term is going to be tough. Morale is relatively high right now. What if this goes on past a week, or two weeks ... a month? He has seasoned fighting men and they need to excercise those fighting skills, not do watch duty. Wolfgang needs to find a way to make this work.

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Wolfgang takes the Captain's advice and considering the number fo men splits them up between three of the Inn's suggested to get a bath and breakfast. In the process he makes sure to have the 2-3 most senior of both the Ulrican and Panther knights with him to discuss the nights patrol and methods to maintain the men's fighting form.

One possibility is to have regular mock training fights at both the individual and team level. To better integrate the Panthers the team level fights should be mixed teams as well as them/us. However, he is keen to get their impressions and ideas as well.

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There is some resistance on both sides between the Knights of the White Wolf and the Knights Panther for cross-training. They both believe they have their own elan that is specific to their orders. Considering religion is also part of their training, they have some reason to feel this way.

Krom and Adolph agree that the Knights should be limited to twelve per night on a rotating basis. That is one per each patrol and inclues Wolfgang (who both agree should ALWAYS have a bodyguard or three) on nights he patrols. They figure that one squire or selectman should be partnered with his knight, and two men at arms be parceled out to each patrol. That makes four men for each patrol with six militiamen roating below ground and four militia assinged to each surface route (since the surface already has ten watchmen assigned).

Krom, it turns out, is a good choice for liason. In the past two weeks he has been in a battle with a chaos raiding force and a skirmish with ratmen. The danger he suspects they face makes him put aside some of his prickly honor for the greater good.

Sir Adolph has the makings of a diplomat, or more likely a diplomant's bodyguard, as he looks for compromises and seems immune to insult. From others in the Knights of the White Wolf, he is also one of the Knight Panther's best swordsman, though he's no considered a member of the Inner Circle.

Breakfast ends and Mannfred returns from morning prayer. He reports that the Chosen of Taal, a Taal Templar order has put themselves at the cities command. Knights of the Ardent Flame (A sigmarite Templar Order) has begun making patrols throughout the God's district, though the Myrmidian's have pulled together the Knights of the Verdant Field to create a comprable force. They have not committed it yet. The meeting with the priests should interesting this evening, given who has done what so far. He is also sure others should be aware of what he did last night, may his actions inspire more patriotism.

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Accepting the Knights wishes to keep the training more separated, as well as the other proposals, he wishes them a good morning and sends them off to their neds while he meets with Mannfred. After hearing Mannfred's news he heads to bed himself with orders to be woken in time to eat and give the evening service before attending the meeting of the Temples. His last question before bed will be an enquiry of whether there had been any word from the Magister?

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That afternoon when Wolfgang got up, a warm bath was layed out for him. As he simmered, Mannfred and his long face, showed up to give him the scope what happened while he slept. A dozen prominent families associated with the church wanted to see him. Mannfred had held them off until Second Prayers (once the sun fully rises past the horizon, after sunrise service). He has warned everyone of the Lord Fang's valiant service to the city, but some people believe they are due exraordinary attention.

A female Magi in blue robes had come by the Church. She relays a message that Magister Mikhail is working on a cure and more information will be forthcoming as he knows more. She also advises us to keep our own council. She would not elaborate.

They had three more cases of the Plague, all in their early stages. It was becoming a drain on their coffers to stock up on the needed remedies, but Mannfred had elected to pay the cost now instead of waiting until prices exploded in the coming days. Already, the Apothecary was stressed with all the activity they were involved with and the temple staff were being drafted into caring for the ill.

A new cadre of men had volunteered for watch duty this evening. Sir Adolph was leading the Knight Panther contingent. Sir Lukas had won the lottery for this night's duty. The men had been selected for the total to be fort-eigth. That would leave twenty-four out of the sewer squad to be given the night off after their duty.

Of course, before Wolfgang could get to the safety stank of the sewers (if he elected to take that duty tonight), he would have to deal with the meeting of the temples. The temple of Myrimdia had cancelled services for the afternoon and evening in anticipation of a long session. Too bad Wolfgang had duty tonight. Wolfgang needed to put together his thoughts on what he would want tonight. He would have to win over Theodoric of the temple of Taal if he wanted anything done, so his speach would have to be tailored toward the fate of Ulric's Brother, Taal.

Then there would be the opposition of the intransigent Temple of Sigmar. The Myrmidians would be wild cards. Verena would be cautious. Maanan would be slow to act. Shallya would already have her hands full. Morr ... may have visions, or he may have nothing to say.

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Wolfgang accepts the news of new cases stoically, there is little they can do at the moment to stop it's spread except the precautions they are already taking. However there was one minor thing he could do, "Mannfred, when I'm done here I'll give you the rest of my funds, it's not much compared with what we need, but even 75 crowns could help."

Get a rundown from Mannfred on the noble families so that I can deal with them effectively. As for the night, I think he'll have to give the sewers a miss tonight to give his full attention to the meeting of temples. He will take two of the services today and spend the time in between refreshing his knowledge of the theology of the other churchs and any useful information Mannfred or the others, including the senior Panthers, can give him on the other High Priests he will have to deal with tonight.

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Mannfred took the money and bowed out to gather the required information. Wolfgang discovered that both services were full, full of worried parishioners and a few he recognized as being in the earliest stages of the Plague. Wolf knew that unless Ulric gave them all a brutally killing frost, the people would have to survive this trial on their own resources. Now was a time to pray for inner strength.

When the second service ended, as in the first, some people came by for personal blessings, as if somehow the Lord Fang's touch could stem the tide of their fears. Wolfgang could only heft his relic and call forth Ulric's fury to devour their frightened countances and supply them with the power to face this Plague alone ... in the same way everyone faced Death alone.

After the last afternoon service, Wolfgang retired to his chambers and Mannfred briefed him on what he knew, or had discovered since their previous meeting. It was a bare-bones assesment of his rival High Priests and Priestesses. Thankfully for himself, this was not Mannfred's battle to fight.

The arrival of Gottlieb and Paul, his two bodyguards, signalled it was time to go. They looked suitably grim and intimidating. Wolfgang stalked down the Street of the Gods to the North end of the holy street and the Temple of Myrmidia.

As he approached he saw the High Priestess of Verena approaching with two armed knights herself, plus a scribe. She nodded her head in greetings. The four knighs glowered. Wolfgang decided to walk in step with her. High Preist Corrine leaned her head in and spoke quietly,

"Lord Fang Wolfgang, I understand you are partially responsible for this meeting. You are already committed to helping this city, so I have to wonder what else you have planned."

She waited for only a moment before she waved a hand between them.

"I suppose I will have to wait ... like everyone else."

The entered together and a Knight of the Verdent field took them to the reconstructed temple interior. Each faction has a banner and and five seats, one more prominent than the rest. The meeting was shaped in a horseshoe, Ulric on one side, opposite Sigmar with Verena on one side and Morr on the other. Myrmidia and Taal held the center positions.

When the last party arrived, High Priestess Gabrielled called the associated Priests and Priestesses to order and promptly handed the chairmanship of the assembly over to Theodoric. Before Theodoric could say any words, a man appreared from behind a pillar. Knights reached for swords, axes, and hammers. The stranger raised his hands up showing he had no weapons.

"Gilbert of Ranald," grinned the newcomer. "I'm sure the ommission of my invitation was accidental. I am here to help, as this is my home too."

Theodoric's lookd went from glare do appreciative look.

"I have no problem with this. Perhaps the Temple of Morr would lend you a chair."

They lone young Augur motioned to a chair and the Priest of Ranald took it, sitting so as to close in the 'U'. Theodoric smiled easily once more.

"I think the High Priest of Ulric should open up this meeting, as he called us all together. Wolfgang," called the fatherly Priest of Taal.

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Wolfgang stand to addresss his peers, "Thank you Theodoric, although I can take little credit other than to propose a date to a meeting that I heard you were already discussing when I returned to the city. I suggest that we need to discuss the current threats to the city and what actions, either individually or as a group that we can take to counter those threats."

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Wolfgang sast back down and Farador raised himself up and looked at Theodoric. The ancient priest of Taal nodded. Farador cleared his throat and looked around the room.

"We must look toward the defense of the people's faith first," he declared with much assurance. "That means the heavy burden of defending the Temple district falls to us and must be our first concern. We must not have our troops being subjected to the base patrols that will surely expose us to plague. Our troops must remain strong, less other elements make coming to the temples unsafe."

"Brothers and sisters, we will come through this with strength and honor. The sick will recover and be welcomed back to the faithful. In that new future, we will be in an unprecidented postion of influence and power."

Farador sat down with a flouricsh, torchlight glimmering of his bejeweled hands.

Sister Karin stood up in her plain robes and sneered.

"If this is all the group of you have come here to discuss, I shall take my leave. We will continue to take our faith, and our healing into the places were it is most needed. We do not hide behind walls of flesh, for we know how well flesh betrays."

As Sister Karin turns to leave, Corrine of Verena stands and is recognized.

"We must not abandon the city, for it is made up of those that make up our worhippers. We came here because it is paramount we work together as a combined force."

The Augur of Morr didn't stand up, but his young voice carried.

"There is no place to hide. I don't yet know the source, but the Enemy is Within, and it feeds on our misery."

The others turned to look at the cowled figured, but he fell silent.

Gabrielle of Myrmidia stands and is recognized.

"To spread out our strength is to dilute our power and that is not wise until we know what enemy we face. Is there going to be a civil war? Is this plague a prelude to other troubles? Until we know, it is not our intent to place our forces outside the Row of the Gods."

Corrine looks flustered. Sister Karin still looks like she wants to leave and Gilbert sits back looking amused. The Churces look disunified.

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Wolfgang stands again, "Well, that was close to what I expected."

He points his Hammer at Farador, "Farador, I have no doubt that Sigmar himself, as well as many of his church would be disappointed to hear your words. Sigmar wielded a brother Relic Hammer of Ulric to my own, he would not cower behind a wall of troops while the people of the Empire he fought to create die by plague and turn on each other only a stones throw away. A few of those fancy jeweled rings upon your hands would be better served in paying for preparations to help cure or stave off this plague. If we do as you recommend we would have no honour at the emd of it and likely no worshipers to provide the influence and power that you would put above the good of your congregation."

He turns then to address Sister Karin and Corrine of Verena, "Sister, Prietess, I agree we need to do what we can to help the people of the city, but Farador and Gabrielle are correct in that the Temple district does need some defence from potential rioters. In addition I'm sorry to say that fanatics and zeolots of some religions have already started blaming others that do not follow thier own faith and begun attacking them on the street. That is something we must all work against, both in our sermons, by our own behaviour and perhaps by lending some fraction of our strength to the watch to help deal with these occurences."

Idly taping his great hammer on one hand, he turns to the Augur of Morr and bows to him, "I thank you Brother for your words. It has come to my attention that this plague is not of natural origins. Within the last few days I have encountered rat-beastmen, known as Skaven, it tunnels and caverns that lie beneath the city. Perhaps Gilbert is aware of them? Regardless they wore the symbols of Nurgel the chaos god of disease. An Apothecary in the Taalbaston who was working on a cure for the plague was murdered, although it can be hoped that if one was working towards a cure then others could also do so."

"In summary, we need to help keep order within the city so that the healers can reach those they need to, and that the life of the city can continue as well as possible. We also need to maintain a force able to protect the Temple district if necessary. Hopefully we could keep things going long enough for an Apothecary to find a cure to aid the Sisters of Shyalla in their work. In the meantime we need to do what we can to find the source of the plague and those that are trying to both spread it and prevent a cure being found. Your thoughts would be welcome."

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Without waiting to be recognized, Gilbert responds,

"I know of these Skaven but doubted anyone would believe me. It has become too dangerous for all but the bravest, or foolhardy, to brave the tunnels beyond the Ratholds and through the wall. The old Dwarven roads are lost to us. None of my faithful that have spied on those ancient routes has returned."

With a mischevious grin he adds,

"On the plus side, victimless crime is up with all the noble manors being vacated. Even crime in the Tallows is approaching record lows due to all of the sickness there. Who wants to rob someone who might well give you their plague along with their purse?"

Few seemed to welcome Gilbert's news, but Corrine's scriber keeps taking notes and Gabrielle seems uneasy. Finally she speaks.

"We know of these Skaven. They are a plague amongst plague's in Tilea and we have legends of them passed down in our doctrines. They are very real."

Farador, grumbles.

"Beastmen warped into rats; not very terrifying. Besides, Talabheim is impregnable. It has never fallen. We are safe in the city. Let them have Taalagad."

"Things are worse in Taalagad," Gilbert interrupts, "the plague takes a greater toll ... it seems worse somehow."

"Fool," seethes Farador. Theodoric clears his throat.

"The prophecy states that the city can not fall while the people remain true to Father Taal," Theodoric states. "I do not see the people wavering in these trying days. If anything their faith grows stronger."

"Most of my faithful are in Taalagad, Farador. We should be trying to do more for them," says Priestess Klara of Manann. "I am here to see what can be done. Is anyone close to a cure, or even a cause?"

Corrine shakes her head,

"We work with many of the city's Apothecaries and so far we have gained no insights. We do have hopes of something soon."

Sister Karin shakes her head as well,

"We try, but something about this plague alludes us. Our medicines do more than our Blessings in the long run of the plague. We do not know what fiendish sorcery this is."

Farador rubs his hands together in worry,

"All the better reason to isolate ourselves away from the plague-ridden areas and mind our own defenses, less we all succumb."

There is a clear air of depression and defeatism on the room as the wait of what is coming for them sinks in. Only Farador seems confident, and only in the hope that the plague can be kept outdoors.

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Wolfgang stands again, "You are a fool Farador, the plague is already in the city, and the city is far from impregnable with the tunnels that these rat-men were seen in giving access at various points. It is probably worse in Taalgad, since if that falls they would have easier access to the city with their more conventional forces, indeed we would be penned in here."

"Gilbert, perhaps a force is needed to investigate these tunnels and perhaps clear them out of the Skaven. Would you or one of your people be willing to help guide the force, at least the the limits that you know about?"

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Farador sputters in imputent rage for Theodoric stairs him down.

Gilbert on the other hand,

"I could find somebody. Their identity would have to be shielded, as what you are asking is ILLEGAL," he looks to Corrine who gives a brief, curt nod.

"He is a patriot of the city. His brother is amongst the missing, and his child has come down with the plague. You can count on him."

"A smuggler," Klara laughs. "The high and mighty are reduced to calling on smugglers to get our work done."

"Order! Order!" calls Theodoric. "Do we have a concrete plan?"

Corrine stands up and Theodoric nods.

"We will contribute an Investigator to this task to gather evidence we can present to the authorities."

"This is madness!" Farador shouts, followed immediately by Gilbert,

"A mage would be nice. I sense sorcerous might behind these troubles and I would have a little to counter it."

"We could provide a Horned Hunter or two for the tracking," Theodoric declares.

Gabrielle and the Augur remain quiet. Sister Karin volunteers, "We have too few already to send on this adventure, but keep us informed. Find someone skilled in the healing arts, or even better, an Apothecary, to go with you."

"Who will lead this endeavor?" Theodoric says heavily. Looking to Wolfgang, "I do not suggest it be one of us. This may well be a doomed mission and besides, some of us have already volunteered for duty in the city."

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"I will add some knights and lesser troops from both the White Wolf and the Panthers. As to a leader, either one of the knights or the mage if we can find one. I know the Magister of the Jade Tower and would ask his advice and assistance in this matter."

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Gilbert speaks up,

"Not too many now. I'm not sure about your knights - all that clunky armor and all. You know, a dwarf would be nice. Two would be even better. Elves, with their ability to see were little light could be found would be nice too."

"The Horned Hunters would be welcome, Theodoric, Ole Man, and much appreciated. I think we should pass on the healer this time around. Maybe once we know we can go and come back."

"All in all, eight to ten people should be the right number for this gamble. Seven to nine more counting my man," he says with a mischevious leer.

"My investigator ..." starts Corrine.

"Fine," Gilber interrupts, "we'll take your professial truth-finder too."

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Wolfgang smiles at Gilbert,"I take your point on the knights, but you might need their weapon skills, perhaps I can convince them to wear mail. As for a Dwarf, I might be able to help there, if I can convince him to join you. I know an Elf or two as well, but I'd have a harder time getting them to agree than the Dwarf I think. Six to eight people. How about two knights, 2 squires or selectmen to go with you, and whatever I can find to agree to go of Dwarves and Elves?"

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Gilbert stands up and nods, keeping that devilish grin.

"Theodoric, I'll need some paperwork to make traveling the streets with a troop of adventurers. Can you do that for us?"

Theodoric thinks about it, thinks some more, and then cautiously nods. Gilbert looks from Corrine to Wolfgang,

"I'll be by right after sunset to pick up your people. They should be gone for about two days. If you haven't heard from me by then, expect the worse."

"Or you've done them in," seethes Farador,"and taken their gear."

Gilbert look truly insulted.

"That would make as much sense as letting my right hand steal the shield from my left arm because it was jealous. My faithful are not warrior's born, but they can serve a purpose in this crisis if given a chance."

Theodoric nods and stands,

"We have met and decided on a course of action all ... most of us can agree on. Let's look at this as a step forward. We can meet again at the end of the week to discuss what more we know."

"Here, here!" says Gabrielle.

Everyone begins to rise. Augur Soleck comes over to Wolfgang and whispers to him,

"I forsee speed being more important than skill at arms. Choose those fastest of foot."

Everyone else was leaving, Gilbert pulling his cloak about him and leaving first. Farador stormed out after him while most waited to see if anything else would be said.

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Wolfgang bows to the Augur, "I thank you for your wisdom Augur Soleck, and will do as you suggest."

"I wonder why the Sigmarites put up with someone like that as their High Priest? Oh well, not my problem I suppose."

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