8.12.2517 – 8.12.2517
Anierra waited at the door of house Heirranai with somewhat trepidation, how could one be so lucky and yet not so at the same time? She couldn’t believe, house Llefen here in Ubersreik! The entire reason she exiled herself from civilized society was here waiting for her? She was about to resign herself to the inevitable before she had found out that there was another Elven merchant house in town, one that may employ her and halt her gradual decline into insanity caused by excessive human exposure.
The door opened and a elven servant answered, the slightest hint of distaste in her eyes at the sight of Anierra’s dirty traveler’s appearance. Anierra asked to see the Lord of the house and the servant showed her into a sitting room. The house was spectacular; there were was elven furniture, art, tapestries and other wonders that reminded of her at home. Once the initial home sickness subsided upon closer inspection the decorations were rather spartan for an elf and practically deserted compared to Lorith Silberleaf’s abode.
The servant asked if Anierra wished to have a drink and upon her approval poured a glass of Llefen estate rose. Anierra didn’t mind house Llefen’s wine, just the family and began to partake the heavenly beverage.
A tall, regal male elf dressed in exquisite flowing robes strode out to greet her, Anierra bowed in response and the elf introduced himself to be Caoifell L’eth Heirrannai, representative of his house for the region of Southern Reikland. After some friendly exchanging of pleasantries Caoifell politely asked why the scion of such an influential house would turn up unannounced to his doorstep, especially in the dank bog pit that was the Old World.
Anierra responded saying that she was seeking employment, she had left Ulthuan for her own reasons (in which Caoifell told her he knew why she had left) and that she was seeking employment within house Heirrannai. Anierra added despite her emphasis on martial prowess she was trained in diplomacy and courtly manners before she joined the order of the swordmasters. Caoifell responded that her employment within house Heirrani would be both a boon and a hindrance.
Caofell was well aware of the impending allegiance between house Ierroniessa and house Llefen and he knew that of Anierra was the seal to the deal. Caofill said it may cause factional difficulties back home if house Llefen’s prize was to be employed by a potential rival, especially when she could have sought after her future family for support. This however could increase house Heiranarai’s standing amongst other circles.
Caofell also expressed the lack of Elven labour in the empire and any elf willing to spend time in offshore financial operation were worth they’re weight in Ithilmar who were already there. The fact the Coefell had to rely on human’s so much pained him, they were clumsy forgetful and unreliable and for the most part were more trouble than what they were worth.
Coafell also told Anierra the downside of working in his business. House Heirrannai were silk merchants and at one point controlled over 90% of the silk trade in southern Reikland and Bourgon with high quality imported silks from Ulthuan. Over the past eighty years however Elven silk merchants in the empire have lost significant market share since the rise of the ogre kingdoms.
With territorial law and “civility” in this barbarian nation human traders from Cathay are more willing to brave the silk road and trade directly empire and because of their lesser quality they are able to sell at a significantly cheaper price than what any Asur would be caught dead at.
With a sigh Caoifell said he would not be able to pay Anierra what she was worth and he advised her before she made a decision to visit house Llefen and see their proposal, they were far more profitable then he and they were more capable of meeting the wage of such a influential elf such as she.
Friedrich stroked his beard and pondered. Clearly this Farhoff fellow was plowing his extremely attractive servant Hilda. Friedrich wasn’t one to judge on such matters as after all, a man has his needs but it was all rather unethical wasn’t it?
Lord Farhoff continued to show the pistolier about the house, Friedrich declined to comment about the lack of usage of the servants quarters and the overuse of the Lord’s bed but other than that the lodge was reasonably impressive.
Farhoff was a cavalryman, Friedrich could respect that but this rampant cowardice displayed by Farhoff in regards to this ghost could not be forgiven. The man was practically terrified of the thing! Sure ghosts and all are rather bad but showing fear in front of a lady? Far was worse indeed! Friedrich made a mental note to compliment Hilda when he saw her again, maybe she was into sharing eh?
The tour halted in the courtyard garden at the coal pile, Friedrich mentioned he knew a coal miner who was killed a long time ago but Farhoff wasn’t really listening as he noticed something was amiss. Farhoff spotted a disturbance in the coal pile and promptly informed Friedrich who lit his pipe, perceptive this Farhoff isn’t he?
Friedrich got down on his haunches and dusted the snow away from the pile and what was left was a partial foot print. More foot prints? Bloody hell this was getting to be too much thinking, by Sigmar he needed alcohol and fast! Farhoff called for Hilda, he said that they hadn’t had a coal delivery for weeks and Hilda doesn’t go about frolicking in the coal pile. Just in your bed eh? He thought as he tried to figure out what the devil this foot print was from.
Hilda appeared and noted the foot print, she said it looked like a humans with no shoe. What type of crazy man would get about without a shoe in the middle of winter, and then it struck him,. There were bare foot prints back at the Shiergen grave! Friedrich was thinking far too much so soon after last night’s bender and his head started to hurt, Sigmars balls he needed a drink but he was on the job. This was a time for ghost hunting, not alcohol intake!
Hilda said this was very strange and she had no idea who it could be, Frierich puffed his pipe and said he had no clue in what occurred here. He was offered a drink from which he gladly accepted and after complimenting Hilda on her figure he moved inside out of the cold and waited for the ghost to appear. Hilda said she needed to bring more coal in anyway since she was out here and went inside to grab a shovel and put some warmer clothes on.
Friedrich only had to wait for a short period for the familiar scream of the headless woman could be heard from outside the house and Friedrich jumped to action, finally! Something he could shoot!
Friedrich strolled confidently out of the manor house (noticing Lord Farhoff speaking out from behind the curtains) and confronted the creature. The headless ghost screamed a deathly hallow but this did not shake Friedrich in the slightest, he was a soldier dammit! No ghost would scare him! “I name you spirit as Ella Scheirgen!” he called triumphantly. The ghost responded briefly by pausing before continuing to scream. “Well that didn’t work” he said while ponderously stroking his beard while the citizens of Ubersreik ran in terror.
He drew his pistol and talked to the ghost again who simply ignored him. “Well, I suppose I should shoot it” he said to himself but he was interrupted by Hilda calling him inside. Friedrich rushed in and found Lord Farhoff and Hilda clutching an old looking human skull.
Hilda said she found it in the coal pile just then and that she had never seen it before , Farhoff also concurred and almost fainted when he touched it. Friedrich looked at the skull but didn’t know what to make of it and Hilda said it was a female skull but there was something wrong with the jaw as it was far bigger than what it was supposed to be, almost like it was replaced.
Ah ha!! Someone had planted this skull here and that was causing the ghost to haunt the place! These bare footed men were clever but why the Farhoff’s? Friedrich reached out towards the ghost with the skull. The ghost paused for a second and began to reach back before recoiling in fright and screaming again. Hmmm. He thought that the ghost would give out more of a reaction than that, maybe it wasn’t the skull of Ella Shiergen?
Friedrich decided his best course of action was to return to that scruffy chap they called Brieg and to decide on the best course of action. Friedrich exited the Farhoff manor and set off down the road and to his surprise the ghost began to following him. Well well! Looks like this was Frau Schiergen after all! It was good to be right.
The house Llefen servant ran her accusing eyes over the disheveled Swordsmaster. “I will see if master Sere’quen Llefen Sere’quen is available, please come in” she said flatly. Sere’quen. Anierra knew Sere’quen Llefen rather well as a certain someone’s favourite cousin.
Anierra had met Sere’quen before, eighty five years before in fact and still her memory of the elf was bitter. Sere’quen was a snake, a predator. Anierra remembered all to well his lascivious eyes running over her teenage figure at her offering to house Llefen, his suggestive tones whispering in her ear and his wandering hands all over her young body. Sere’quen was an elf over five hundred years, he had no business with a fifteen year old child like her but Anierra practically had to fight him off at the time. She had never mentioned it to anyone else let it brought shame upon her and her house but she had never forgotten how close it came and she never will. Anierra reached back, her hand running over the hilt of Bondbreaker “Guess what Sere’quen, I’m not fifteen anymore anymore” she said with a viscous smile and continued waiting, her dread replaced with macabre determination.The elven servant returned and said Sere’quen would see her shortly and asked Anierra if she wished to “freshen up”, when Anierra declined the servant said it was master Sere’quen’s wishes Anierra replied disdainfully and agreed.
The servant lead Anierra into a wonder to behold, something so alien to her eyes that she forgot it even existed. A actual bath house. The floor was ordained in beautiful porcelain tiles that shimmered a thousand lights and the steam created by the elven woman as she poured the steaming hot water into a dedicated bath was enough to make Anierra swoon.
She couldn’t believe it, she was about to have a bath in a real bath! Not a tub, not a barrel, not a bucket with a sponge, a real dedicated bath and when the servant sprinkled in a handful of Caledor rock salt she almost died. This was it. She could give up right here right now, leave this awful country and return to splendor that was her homeland. Anierra disrobed and sunk into heavenly bliss. The servant brought out a glass of white wine and a bottle of Lothern shampoo and a short time later Anierra’s hair was clean for the first time since she set foot upon this cesspit continent.
The servant supplied Anierra with an alternate dress which master Sere’quen personally requested she wear tonight. Anierra eyed it over and despite it being slightly revealing she didn’t care, this was heaven! She donned the smooth silk gown and the servant did her hair and makeup, and after all that Anierra looked in the mirror and was surprised at what she could see.
She was beautiful.
Had she forgotten she was beautiful? So many years in the Swordsmasters could do that and Anierra hadn’t seen a mirror since she arrived in the Empire. She looked long and hard at the Asur goddess that stared back and something caught her eye.
There it was, sitting on a chair on the other side of the room next to her Ithilmar scale. They were judging her, her sword and her amour, and she knew they were ashamed. Anierra hardened her nerve. No matter what looked back at her in the mirror she would never forget who she was and why she was here. Bondbreaker would be with her forever, long after this floozy of a dress ever would. Bondbreaker was more than a sword, it was her freedom. As long as Anierra wielded it’s shining blade she could not be touched. House Llefen wanted her freedom and to do that they would need to go through Bondbreaker first. After that, when all is said and done, maybe then they’ll take her, but only after they ply her sword from her cold dead hands.
The servant girl showed Anierra through to the main room where she met Serequen for the first time in almost a century. Serequen as a physical specimen was a poor excuse for an elf. For starters he was only 6ft, Anierra was pleased that she was stood a full six inches above him making him look up at her now. His face and features were not high or angular, making him look almost human in appearance, a sign of ugliness within the Asur and his small dark eyes shone with a hint of malevolence.
Serequen expressed his delight at seeing Anierra again and kissed her hand (a little too long in Anierra’s opinion) and they sat down over a meal of roasted duck and a glass of semillon. After some not so pleasant pleasantries Anierra basically said she was here upon Caoifell Heirranai’s request that she come here and see what house Llefen could offer her. Anierra made it obvious that she wanted nothing to do with Serequen and his cousin and at the first able opportunityshe would work as an envoy for house Heirranra during her stay in Ubersreik. She said she would never return to Ulthuan while house Llefen had a hold on her.
Coafell responded by saying that should she disregard her soon to be family and seek employment elsewhere he would write home to his cousin in regards to her whereabouts and he would no doubt employ some unscrupulous types who would bring her back by force. Serequen however who was not unreasonable said that there were benefits for working for him.
Serequen was willing to offer her a position of envoy at a wage far higher than what house Heirranarai could pay, he was also willing to give her all the creature comforts but more importantly, he would not tell his cousin that he had seen her.
Anierra said she must think on it and showed herself out, Serequen said she could keep the dress as a gesture of good faith and Anierra gathered Bondbreaker and her armour and left the building. She considered changing back into her armour but the feel of elven silk against her skin persuaded her to keep it on just a little longer, after all, what would be the harm in that?
Brieg finished his second meal for the night. He was staying at the red moon inn and after ordering a meal a fight broke out. Two men were thrown out of the tavern and Brieg stealthily commandeered their dinner plates. He promptly canceled his meal and ordered a drink of questionable ale to which he thought it was delicious.
Ever since he became an adventurer things were looking up for him. The goblins burning down his farm got him down but when he found Klaus and the gang his fortunes had been rising and rising. Sure he had been attacked by goblins, ghosts, bandits, monsters, zombies and crazy people but that’s what happened when you were an adventurer. The book he “borrowed” from Ricknar was really helping him as well. Almost two weeks ago he couldn’t form a single letter but now he could read whole pages if he concentrated enough. The subject matter was a bit strange, too many words about dead bodies and other macabre but any knowledge is good knowledge right? Especially if it helps you to read! Sometimes he dreamed he was reading the book to and when he was alone the words would whisper in his ears. Reading was great! If he knew it was this fun he would have started reading much earlier in his life.
The party seemed to have a new fellow in it. Lord Friedrich something von something-rauch was his name. He was one of those fancy Lord types but he didn’t act like it, rich people were weird. Brieg took another sip and waited, the mean elf would probably be coming back anytime soon as well as Klaus and Ricknar so he he decided to play it cool until they arrived. Yep. Adventuring was a pretty good indeed.
Brieg heard screaming from outside the inn, he had heard it before it was the ghost of Ella Schiergen! Friedrich stumbled into the inn with a mighty grin and greeted him with an appraised look. Brieg looked past him and could see the tavern’s occupants recoiling in terror as the ghost wailed and waited outside the inn, “Don’t worry” called Friedrich with nonchalant amusement, “She’s with me!” Wow. Friedrich was weird.
Friedrich produced a skull and showed it to Brieg who looked it over with a puzzled expression. Brieg told him that the skull was a female but the jaw was male, like someone switched them. Friedrich’s eyes brightened and told Brieg that the skull was Ella Schiergen’s and he would bet his monthly stipend that the jaw belonged to Uwe, her husband, the second ghost.
A group of men began to surround them and the inn keeper told them to throw Brieg and Friedrich out as they would have no part in black magic. The men grabbed Friedrich and Brieg and strong armed them out, Brieg managed to grab a tankard of ale on the way out and was pleased with his results.
After the unceremonious exit of the red moon inn Friedrich and Brieg stood outside wondering what to do. Brieg removed the jawbone of the skull and asked Friedrich to walk in an opposite direction to him. Friedrich replied and to his amusement the ghost followed Brieg. The absurdity of situation kicked in and the pair began to laugh out loud much to the aghast of terrified on lookers. Several guardsmen were standing away from them and one of them ordered another to go get help, it was time for the two of them get moving.
Friedrich said if they returned this skull to Morr’s field that should stop this ghost’s haunting and the two set off before they started attracting even more attention. The pair headed down to through the merchant quarter before Brieg saw a peculiar sight. An elf was heading down the street dressed in an extremely attractive dress, almost scandalous actually. Did all elves look like this? Anierra didn’t for sure, she was all mean looking, how come this elf looked so nice?
Friedrich let out a cat call and the elf looked straight at them and began approaching them. Oh no, Friedrich had antagonized it! It was probably going to bewitch him or whatever elves do, Brieg was a bit worried and the Elf greeted them like it knew them.
Friedrich’s jaw dropped, “Anierra?” he stammered. Anierra responded in her usual condescending manner. Brieg look confused while Friedrich baited the Elf which responded by a series of threats. That probably was Anierra then, she does that.
Brieg leaned forward and got really close to Anierra who looked at him puzzled, “Anierra” he whispered, “You don’t have to look like a prostitute”. Anierra’s face reddened in rage and she replied back to him but Brieg wasn’t listening, he was more worried about the what he could see approaching them.
Striding down the street at the head of a retinue of zealots and guardsmen was Andre Vogel .