Episode 5 : As Big As Pussy Cats!
 

An hour later, we were again tramping through the lightly falling snow. This time on our way to the Granary. The sun just beginning to set. Up ahead we heard a scream, Hanz Josephson's sharper ears picked up an animals snarl as well. We rushed forward and quickly came upon the remains of a city guard, who had literally been ripped limb from limb from limb from limb. There was little that remained and what did remain was scattered over a large area. Blood soaked tracks led into an alley. The alley was dark and had some crates at the far end but no sign of the beast. Hanz Josephson loaded a silver coin into his sling. The beast vaulted the crates and slashed at Gunter Hiedricksson, who narrowly avoided the snapping teeth.

Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt brought his longsword down onto the wolf. It shuddered under the impact. Werner Faßenberg's spell bounced. Heinz Meier likewise hit it with all his force, again the beast shuddered. Again Heinz Meier swung and sent a shudder through out the animal. Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt brought his longsword down onto it again. The beast was looking the worse for wear. Gunther Sturmritter strikes but his non-magical sword just slides off the beast's fur. Hanz Josephson slings his silver coin into it and strikes it in the face. It yelps with pain and snaps about wildly. Again Werner Faßenberg's spell fails. Heinz Meier strikes again, and the coup de grâce comes from Hanz Josephson who embedded a silver sling slug into it's abdomen. Before us lies a naked man. Gunter Hiedricksson gathers some of the blood. We put this man and his victim onto Gunther Sturmritter's large shield and make our rendezvous at the Granary. As we appear the ten guards leave without a second thought.

The Granary is situated against the city walls. It has a main storage area having three forty foot grain silos, a stable area, a cart area, and an office area where the guards were milling. There are also two separate rooms coming off this area, each with two silos. The first room contained corn and the second contained maize. As we approached the corner room containing the maize we could hear a low rumbling sound. We left well enough alone for the moment. Heinz Meier and Gunther Sturmritter who were watching at the Granary entrance saw a squad of city guard come by, they hailed them over. We reported the encounter we had on the way here and the remains were recognized as being a former city guard.

One of the city guard, Leo said, "I wouldn't want to be you guys tonight. Not guarding a haunted building tonight. I've seen a ghost, you know, in the sewers it was. There was this glowing set of red eyes, staring at me.". Hanz Josephson said, "That could be a rat.". "Not so, these eyes were six inches apart.". Heinz Meier said, "That could just be two one eyed rats.". "Laugh all you like, I've seen what I've seen, and it wasn't no rat, one eyed or otherwise.", with that the city watch took away the remains of their former comrades and left us alone in the Granary with a rumble coming now and then from the maize silos.

Leaving Heinz Meier and Gunther Sturmritter on guard at the main entrance. We plucked up courage and opened the doors leading to the maize silos. The mechanism was unused but budged under our efforts. It opened to reveal a room beyond with two maize silos. Hanz Josephson spoke, "I'm sure I heard something up there.", pointing to the rafters high above. Our torch light did not illuminate that far. Werner Faßenberg cast projected light and a beam of light sprang from his palm and shone on the rafters. Above we could see something moving along the rafters but we could not make out what. Hanz Josephson climbed up one of the ladders on the silo, to get a better look. Hanz Josephson smiled, got out his sling, and let loose a slug at the spotlighted creature on the rafter. It was hit and it plummeted to the floor, landing with a splat. Brother Otto whispered, "Giant rats as big as pussy cats!". Hanz Josephson continued his pot shooting, sending another nine down the express elevator to the floor, the last was a 9.5 with a double somersault, a half twist and perfect pike. It landed with an enormous splat.

The remaining rats of enormous size fled back down the rafter into the ceiling of the main Granary complex. Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt said, "They must be in the silos.", and he put his ear against the silo wall, sure enough he heard the sound of movement and burrowing coming from inside. He went outside to Heinz Meier and Gunther Sturmritter, "Hey guys, it's giant rats.". This happened just as two rats rush at Heinz Meier and Gunther Sturmritter from a corner of the Granary. One rat jumps at Heinz Meier slicing its teeth into his neck, severing the artery. Clutching his neck Heinz Meier swings his morning star at the rat maiming it. Gunther Sturmritter brushes the rat off his plate armour and cleaves it with his longsword. Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt finishes off Heinz Meier's rat as Heinz Meier drops from blood loss.

Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt holds his hand to Heinz Meier's neck to stop the blood flow. Werner Faßenberg rushes over, "A tourniquet will fix this.", he tightens the tourniquet but released it when Brother Otto questions, "Should he be turning blue?". "Er, no, er, too tight, I think. I'll just back it off a little.". Brother Otto cast flowstop and causes the flow of blood to cease. We couldn't move Heinz Meier till morning. We waited for the midnight meal that was promised. It did not arrive. Gunther Sturmritter and Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt checked outside and found a small cart, driven by a skeleton, in the back of which is strewn what must be the remains of our dinner. Brother Otto said, "Good god, wombat sized piranha! Look at the skeleton, the man's been picked clean!". We retreat to the safety of the Granary and bolt the Granary door and wait till morning. At dawn the next set of guards came and were informed of the giant rat problem, we return to our Inn where we named Hanz Josephson, 'Champion Mouser'.

Meanwhile at the Granary the militia called up reinforcements, and with a troop of 200 men systematically went through the Granary, killing all the giant rats as they went. They lost 26 good men as they went through but the city militia did succeed in killing every single giant rat in the Granary. In the following days the food larders of Haarendorf were to be filled to overflowing with 'corn-fed chicken schnitzels'. The schnitzel burgers were scrumptious, and they even tasted like chicken. The Temple of Axraam was also to be filled during the next few days with city militia carrying bloodied bundles and making dedications to Axraam.

We were informed by the militia that we were to present ourselves to the City Sheriff, Walter Strobe, to claim our reward for services rendered in bringing the giant rat problem to the cities notice and so saving the winter supply of corn for the hungry maws of ravenous giant rats. At the appointed time we presented ourselves to the Offices of the City Militia. We were lead into the confines of the building to a waiting room, before entering some minutes later the chamber of Walter Strobe, City Sheriff of Haarendorf.

Walter Strobe said, "Well done. Your finding and removing the source of the haunting of the Granary is most appreciated by the City of Haarendorf. If the rats had been left to their own devices then all the corn store would have been devoured before the spring. Therefore on behalf of the City I am presenting you with a suitable reward.". He presented each of us with a gold piece, ten times the fee for our services. He continued, "I have also checked out the death of the city watchman, whom you killed on your way to the Granary. Yes, he was indeed a werewolf, and your smiting of him was well justified. This now brings us to a little proposition I have for your group. This watchman had two friends, both of whom are from the same outlying village. The village of Hahndorf, which is three days away. Both watchmen have deserted their posts and left the city hurriedly last night. I wish you to retrieve these deserters by any means necessary, alive preferably, dead otherwise. I also want you to investigate further the possibility that there are more werewolves. Find, locate, and capture or slay them.".

Heinz Meier said, "You are starting to talk big money here.". "You will be amply rewarded for your efforts. To aid you I will give you letters of mark, the first is a commendation for your effort in saving the Granary, the second is your deputization as special investigators empowered to arrest these deserters and those that aid them, a third details the true nature of the threat that Haarendorf and Hahndorf face by way of these werewolves. What do you say? Are you prepared to be deputized and undertake these investigations?". We talk briefly amongst ourselves and are keen to accept the challenge. "Most excellent, I knew that you were men of good stature. You must leave within two days, I will arrange a cart, some wolfsbane, some silvered weaponry, in the forms of sling slugs, arrows, daggers and also two sets of silvered manacles for your quest. The next full moon is in 30 days so get them back by then or there will be more trouble a foot. Here is another gold each for accepting this investigation, further reward is upon your return.". We took our leave.

During the next two days we were to go to Jopbert Kordelling's Arcanaswinkel and pooled some of our monies in the purchase of weapons with a glimmer of magic about them. Jopbert Kordelling also told of the loss of his son's magic ring and a reward of 15 gold he would give for its safe return. Werner Faßenberg continued his weight training at the Temple of Axraam. We went to the Temple of Weldron and found that storms were brewing for the next week. We received permission to delay our trip until the blizzard had swept past.

Hanz Josephson looked into locating the lost ring of Armadas Kordelling, that was thrown into the grounds of the Temple of Hesh. He located the gardener, Max, who tendered the grounds and the glasshouses behind the Temple of Hesh. He was unable to relay any news of finding any pouch tossed into the grounds. The snow still lay thick upon the ground and would only clear with the coming spring. Hanz Josephson looking about the glasshouse and spied a strawberry, he asked, "How much?", "That be for the high priest's table alone. That not be for the likes of us, common folk.". Hanz Josephson left and joined us outside and we set off home.

We turned down an alley to see a body in our path, the throat torn open, and a ferret sitting upon the dead man's chest gnawing at a piece of flesh. Beyond this scene at the end of the alley and on the other side of the street stood a menacing dark and hooded figure. Gunther Sturmritter dashes forward, the hooded figure raised his arm, a wand in hand, Gunther Sturmritter hits him with his fist, while Hanz Josephson sends a sling slug into his chest cavity, severing a heart vein. The hooded figure collapses immediately into the icy snow, a red pool quickly forms around the now defunct hooded figure.

Meanwhile his ferret bounds towards the rest of us, growing a foot in length with each bound. It slashes at Heinz Meier with its razor sharp teeth. The ferret now looks directly into Heinz Meier's eyes. Heinz Meier swings at it with his morning star, there is the dull thud as a rib breaks. Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt whips out his longsword, spins fully about with the longsword, building up momentum, and then with a mighty upward swing connects with the lower jaw of the ferret sending it through the top of the ferret's skull. The ferret drops into the snow and shrinks from eight feet long to only one foot. We fleece the corpses, the magic user had a set of arm braces which were a times three essence multiplier also with access to the Unbarring Ways set of spells. The magic user also had a Wand of Ice Bolts. Both these Werner Faßenberg took. The city streets of Haarendorf always bringing danger and reward.

After two days the blizzard passed and it settled down to a medium snow, we ventured forth to survey the weapon's market. Here in the pit the resident champion, Theo, was fighting all comers. The odds were 25 to 1, the task being to last 5 rounds in the pit with Theo. Gunther Sturmritter ventured forth. We placed our wagers. Ding, round one, Gunther Sturmritter ducked to the side, slipped, spun, landed awkwardly and shattered his knee as Theo landed on top of him and pinned him to the floor. So ended ingloriously the first combat. Gunther Sturmritter was dragged unconscious from the pit and stretchered to the Temple of Agastar.

Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt next ventured into the pit. Ding, round one, he made no fast manoeuvres, but instead went fully defensive holding Theo at bay for this and the next two rounds, before he too was sent unconscious to the floor. Theo placed a gold coin on Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt's forehead and exited the pit. Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt was dragged unconscious from the pit and taken to the Temple of Agastar too. Here Gunther Sturmritter had been treated, his leg now in plaster from hip to foot. The priest said, "It was a nasty wound, the knee joint was completely shattered, it took ages to repair, but it is all fixed now. He won't be able to move it for at least nine days while his body mends.". Hanz Josephson said, "Great, what do we do with the gimp now?". Gunther Sturmritter said, "We can't set out until the blizzard is over anyway and I'll ride in the cart on our journey there, by that time I will be all fixed and as good as new.". "You will always have a permanent limp.", interrupted the priest. "Well, almost then.", sighed Gunther Sturmritter, he was now affectionately known in our party as, 'The Gimp'.

On our last day in Haarendorf, Heinz Meier brought a dozen lovely tarts and also a extremely concentrated prune laxative which he liberally dosed over some of the tarts. Upon our return Beatrice and Gweneth were drawn to Heinz Meier and accepted with greed his gift of tarts. Half an hour later Gweneth was heard to feebly yell from the sick room above, "Heinz Meier, you bastard, just you wait, you're a dead man, you'll never sleep again.". Gertrude gave Heinz Meier a wink. The next day Heinz Meier bought a dozen tarts, gave one to each of our group, gave Gertrude four tarts, and beckoned Hans downstairs with calls of, "Hans, I have a lovely poison-berry tart for you.". Hans wolfed it down and was to spend the next week in bed, having expelled a good deal of his body weight. We left Haarendorf the following day.

 

 
(c) 1998 Hammerstein Rolemaster Campaign Journal by Ross Stopford  
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