‘The Doom of Gotreksson" as recollected by Emeritus Professor Erasmus Leitdorf, in his book "Seven Deadly Perils; Threats to the Empire in the Age of Karl Franz".

Gurin's final journal entry, translated from Khazalid in the year 3434
The battle would later come to be known as the Massacre of Red Hill, one of many such defeats suffered by the Empire in that period. The siege of Middenheim had not yet broken and many towns in Middenland and upper Talabland were put to the flame by the rampaging hosts of Chaos. We knew dimly that the humans’ Emperor was moving north with his army; sadly he was to be delayed some weeks by a self-declared demigod named Valten. Old Johan, a halberdier and sergeant of the Talabtooth Irregulars had strung together a band of survivors from several militia units. I joined him as he took his party west out of Kislev. For a time, we settled in a makeshift camp in the Jagged Hills. Many of the survivors passed through here at one point or another; few cities or towns remained standing in the province. It was here that Jeremiah and his pikemen left us, heading south to join the defense of Middenheim. It was also here that I took the slayer oath. At the last, only Johan, Tercel, Erasmus, Halbarad and I remained of the Prince’s army. My companions were quite taken aback by my new appearance.

At the Lucky Squire Coaching Inn we encountered a gang of finger-men looking to shanghai survivors back into the army. Johan led the fight against them, but a wound from a coward’s knife took him in the back. Such is the end of far too many heroes. We buried his body and moved on quickly, taking an escort job for a man named Aloysius. His daughter was to be married, so he offered gold and a feast in payment for our services.

Upon arrival in Hohlesbruck, Tercel and Halbarad went hunting. They returned later with a boar for the wedding feast. Erasmus and I took to the tavern. I listened eagerly to a local legend concerning a spurned warlord who cut out his own heart with a cursed sword. I began hunting out further rumors, scenting a chance to find a worthy foe. The Scholar spent his time talking to an educated man named Reifennen.

As night fell, the feast began. The bride seemed sickly, and shortly succumbed to a mystery illness. A blonde mercenary named Dionyses rambled to me about the ongoing scandal between the nobility and Aloysius’ family; it seemed that the lord’s boy stood to gain much by marrying the wealthy miller’s girl. With so many guests leaving the feast in fear, there was an abundance of leftovers for me. I filled my pack with dried meats, cheese, and a small cask of ale. Doctor Reifennen was quickly ensconced within the Aloysius Manor to deal with the lady’s sickness. Her brother, a drunkard named Leopold caused a scene outside their door. He had cause, apparently to distrust his father and the physician. Halbarad attempted to break into the manor, but was run off by the guards.

Losing interest, I went to see the Thane. He knew little of the Sword and the Heartless Warrior, but promised to call on me if he needed the services of an adventurer. My companions questioned him about the bride’s sickness; he confessed that his own daughter had fallen ill prior to her wedding with the Ricard boy. Their suspicions were roused. The Thane did call on me later that evening – his maid had disappeared. Suspecting foul play, my comrades insisted on chasing it up. Sure enough, the girl had been abducted by Dionyses the giant. Following his trail, we found him holed up in a hidden cave with a pack of bandits. They were plotting blackmail against someone in town. We never found out who.

After we finished killing the bandits, we found the Lord’s maid in poor condition. We took her to a Witch we had met on the road, Yilese, for healing. She had taken exception to Tercel for his rudeness, but healed the others without charge. The girl would have to stay the night. The hag seemed intent on warning me off of pursuing the legend of the Heartless. It only stoked my interest. Since taking my oath, and despite wandering the farthest untamed wilds, I have met naught but renegade men to test my axe against. Legendary treasures are always protected by fearsome guardians. I prayed to Grimnir that the party would not be delayed too long by this banal human affair we had stumbled on. If the Sword was truly just a legend, I meant to return to the North.

When dawn broke we took the girl back to the Lord . He graciously paid what we were owed and we returned to town. There was some commotion; Leopold had struck the Ricard boy, resulting in a challenge. Humans apparently allow duals to be conducted with pistols. Ridiculous. What skill is there in pointing a gun and pulling a trigger? To top it off, the boy had never held a gun in his life. He turned up drunk, expecting death. Even so, I shall never have it be said that a dwarf interfered in such matters, even in what passes for honorable combat among humans. Predictably, the pistolier won with a single shot and the boy was badly wounded. He asked for the healer woman, being distrustful of Refenen. A man wronged should hope to live to exact his just revenge, so I quickly fetched her and carried her into town on my back. Aloyisus, that mudracking scoundrel of a father sided with the noble over his own blood. He refused to let Yeilse in to minster her healing. I fear the boy is intended to die of infection.

Growing restless, Erasmus suggested that we take up a hunt for the rapist in the woods. We searched the hills north of the town, but instead encountered a fearsome Waste Troll. Doubtless it escaped it’s bondage to the hordes of Chaos and wandered South in search of food. I gladly fed it the edge of my axe. Alas, the creature could not grant me my doom. After the fight I was in need of healing, so we returned to the old woman’s hut.

The witch was dead on her floor, but we managed to find a healing poultice and bandages for my wounds. Halbarad quickly ferreted out a trail of footprints leading to the village fool, drenched in blood. He told a sorrowful tale of Yeilse’s death at the hands of Dionyses. If only I had slain the bastard when I first laid eyes on him. Another damn victim. But we knew where we would find him next.

We caught up to Dionyses as he argued with the Lady of the Manor, ranting about letters and blackmail. I hadn’t the patience to listen. I charged in to confront him but he leapt out of a window and fled like a coward. Esther lent us some horses and we took up the chase. Reprehensible creatures. We were not successful – before we could apprehend him, he was beheaded by a black-armored knight. Perhaps the Heartless Man exists after all. If so, he has no sense of self-preservation; it seems he later mailed me the rapist’s head, an obvious taunt to a Slayer.

Erasmus insisted that we go to the Lord with the tale. The letters revealed that his daughter had enlisted the Doctor to afflict Alexa with a Pox. She was jealous that her precious Ricard had abandoned her in favor of a younger, more beautiful woman. The Lord refused to believe such evil could have been committed by his daughter, but agreed to question the Doctor on the morrow. I went to escort him to the Manor but Aloysius refused to let me take him. Eventually I obtained a warrant for the Doctor’s arrest and took great pleasure in dragging him to his hearing. Typical to form, the idiotic nobleman failed to charge him with anything. Halbarad had been left on watch and saw Leopold attempt to escape his father’s house. Though he had the strength to run he had not the wit the speak; sadly we were unable to learn anything from him in his incoherent state. He was dragged back by his father’s guards. Taking advantage of the empty house, Halbarad performed a quick search. Maddeningly, there was not one sliver of evidence to implicate anyone. The girl was barred within her room, Leoplod within the cellar. Nothing more could be learned. Taking out his frustration, the ranger stole the merchant’s blunderbuss.

On the current facts, I cannot fail to suspect the Doctor and Esther of invoking the Plague God. Whatever the laws of this pisswater province, I mean to kill whichever I happen to see next. I hold no fear of the Lord’s dwindling ring of protectors, nor do I doubt that I will be doing the realm a favor. It is time to put this ridiculous matter to rest.

"Of Gotreksson's death", from the pages of my own journal, the Fourth of Snowfall, 3434

The Slayer truly had made up his mind by this point; the Hoelesbrook Affair needed solving and diplomacy had failed. He seemed to me a dwarf possessed, hellbent on a course of strong-arm tactics that would see the end of the matter despite the recalcitrance of the Lord Veloren. 

Halbarad  woke us in the early hours. His instincts, which we had all come to respect, warned him of some grave peril on the move. Indeed, to our horror, the town square was awash with a ghastly mist and eviler denizens still -  the servants of Nurgle. The party moved into the streets, clearing what enemies we found. Tercel clove a path through the shrieking Nurglings  before succumbing to a paralytic poison; his llife was saved by the beserking Slayer . Gurin  had leapt into action without even pausing to take up his trousers. Naked,  he fought and slew a towering Beast of Nurgle with his axe. I quickly deduced that the creatures had been summoned to enact the foulest of their patron's curses, the Neglish Rot. I feared that I was beginning to suffer it's effects, having suffered a number of grievous wounds. With my condition worsening, our time and tempers ran short. 

Gurin stormed the Doctor's quarters at the butcher's shop, leaving the man and his wife unconscious at the door. We discovered Reinfenen's stash of poisons there, and took them as evidence of his degeneracy. Tercel was in no mood to be gentle, killing the pair as traitors when they refused to talk. Next, we visited Aloysius' manor, which I cunningly infiltrated. As the Doctor led me to his sanctum, I killed his guard and threw open the door to my companions. Again Gurin overpowered the foe, carrying him effortlessly to the roof as more guards quickly arrived. We followed out the window as they battered at the barricaded door. The Slayer was hardly going to let the arrival of a few militiamen deter him from his course; as we ducked arrows and hurled away siege ladders, he began hacking an entry into Alexa's chambers. All our actions were vindicated as we discovered the fresh Plaguebearer Daemon that lay in her place. 

Alas, Mills Veloren proved even stupider than we imagined. He ordered us clapped in irons, burned all of the evidence of the Doctor's crime and appointed his daemon-worshipping daughter as Lord in his stead. He rode off West to call on the Witch Hunters of Sigmar. We later learned of his well deserved death at the hands of brigands on the road. 

A day or so passed before the matter finally came to close. The  guards were apparently quite comfortable with Reifenen openly performing rituals in his cell. Though we shouted ourselves hoarse over several hours trying to interrupt him, he soon summoned the apparition of the Heartless Knight back into Hoelesbrook. Alexa and Ricard, mad with fear,  came to us desperate for protection. Halbarad took the opportunity to kill Reifenen. We observed his death with great satisfaction. The Knight came forth from the mist, calling for his beloved to join him. We were sure by now that this creature was Reinhart, forsaken former Panther, jilted lover and newly a servant of Chaos. Ricard attempted an underhand attack, but his bullets scarcely tickled the armored giant. He fell beneath his cuckold's Daemonsword. A deadly calm came over Gurin as he strode towards the monster. Here, finally was a creature capable of giving him his doom. With a dwarfish warcry he charged the Knight and clashed mightily in the misty street. Five crushing blows he landed on the Daemon-Man, splintering ring mail and spilling it's rancid ichor. Inevietably though, the immortal monster struck a fatal blow. Though reeling, punctured and leaking from many wounds, the Heatless Knight struck down the fearless Slayer and turned on the rest of us. With Gurin dead, any hope we had of besting the creature blade to blade  was gone. In our shock and grief, we could not resist as he took a screaming Esther across his shoulder and returned to the darkening woods. With Yielse, Ricard, Veloren, Reifenen, the Butcher,the Inkeeper, Alexa and our companion dead, we no longer doubted that the town was irreparably cursed. We passed to the East. On the road, we gave warnings to travelers of a plague-ridden settlement. I heard from a pilgrim that the site was later razed by Peninents on the road to Middenheim. Thanks be to Sigmar. 

I sent a letter to Gurin's wife in Talabheim with the tale of Gurin's worthy doom. She and her infant daughter are the last survivors of his line. I fear that the news will do little to alleviate her grief at the loss of her sons and husband. Aye. These are dark days indeed. We can only hope that the war goes better for the Emperor and his armies to the North.

Professor Erasmus Leitdorf

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