Dark Shadows of Theah

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The Invitation

Greetings and well met, my dear fellow!

Good ___________________________,
You have been cordially invented to attend the Spring Gathering to be held at Schloss Wittgenstadt. This invitation has been extended to you at the behest of Herr Baroness Kessa Wittgenstadt, to be her honored guest for the festivities. Food and merriment will be provided during your stay. Herr Baroness Wittgenstadt anxiously awaits our arrival.

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Bernd's Journal #1

Tirdas 14, 1518
Bader and I finally discovered the rogue’s den in the Walden. To be so bold as to hide in shadows and mythos of the dark woods made them brave fools, the lot of them, yet fools nonetheless. It appears greed can truly cause a man to cast caution to the side if it helps to line their coin purse. The few men we gathered rallied around us, yet their courage vanished when we arrive at the edge of the dark forest. I do not fault them in the least; it simply made the odds less favorable towards us. Regardless, Bader and I pushed onward through the eerie shadows towards our quarry. The forest creaked and moaned in warning to transgression. Never in my life have felt my soul feel so cold in the wake of such a despairing place. I found refuge in reminding Bader to stand firm as he did unto me. We have been forced to make camp in the woods. We need rest, though I fear little reprieve will be given. The forest stirs and moves unnaturally.
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Tirdas 16, 1518
By the next night fall we had found the rogue’s makeshift camp. There were nearly a dozen of them so we had to think abstractly. Bader and I hatched a plan to bait and use the lore of the woods to our advantage. Bader and I drew out a couple of brutes tending watch and subdued them. The fear of their disappearance unnerved several as the lead highwayman tried to hold them together. Two more braved the search and we subdued them as well. Soon, panic arose and several left taking their chances in the woods. The number dwindled and the odds tipped in our favor. We cast stones to cause misdirection and shots rang out wildly. We took the advantage of the reload time and charged. They tried recklessly to surround us, though in true fashion, Bader and I stood back-to-back and took them on. We moved as on; he went high, I went low as we moved like a spinning whirlpool. It was over as soon as it started.
Moments passed in a blinding rush. The leader of the rogues stood his ground like any true Eisen would and would not yield. Bader deferred to me and I squared off with the man. He was skilled with a blade and fought tenaciously. In the end, he was brought down by my axe. I knew not the man’s name, yet despite his thieving ways, he still managed to die with honor. I hope that the people will see this as justice served, though I shall take his body to prove the issue has been dealt with in hopes a latent message will spread to any would be future brigands.
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Tirdas 18, 1518
By the time we returned to gather the men we had subdued, the forest had taken them. I am left to ponder why we were not beset upon prior or post. It was not till later that we discovered what befell them. There was little left to properly identify them. Bader and I were forced to secure the body to a make sled and watch it through the night. All manner of hissing calls and various colored eyes of scavengers glare at us from the shadows this night. We grow weary, yet we remain vigilant.
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Tirdas 20, 1518
We made our way out of the dark woods to find our horses minced and stripped of meat. ‘Twas a long walk carrying this body all the way back to town. Upon arrival we were welcomed again as champions. Praise and accolades showered us. I did my best to suppress the situation as I spoke of the displayed honor of the dead rogue. Bader keeps reminding me that it is ok to indulge in a bit of pride and not be so modest. I do what I must. I need not buffing of glory to remind me that what I do is noble. I prefer to look at what is best for others beyond myself, such as the Good Book says. Personal Glory is a form of vanity, and excessive vanity is a sin after all.
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Tirdas 23, 1518
The town proctor was kind enough to refresh our horses as we made our way back to the barony. We were greeted by heavy rain our whole way back. Bader and I watched as two horses ran hurriedly past us dragging a snapped yoke through the muddy road. Bader and I looked at each other and without word we knew something was amiss and hurriedly made our way up the road. The rain had caused part of the road to wash out and took a wagon with it. We saw an elder man and a young woman crying for help as they desperately clung to a tree. We had to move fast. We secured ropes to our saddle horns arced them over a sturdy limb of an oak to keep them free from the passing debris. We leapt out and used the stuck wagon as our waypoint. The water beat against us violently yet my armor and Bader Shield latched to his back buffeted most of the pressure. We used the drift to sweep us to them and secured them to us; I took the elder, Bader the fraulein. With a crack of the ropes and curt whistles the horses pulled us out of the wake, though a bit waterlogged, to be sure, as were we. The two were victims saved and had Bader not been there, I doubt I could have saved them both as the tree they were on soon snapped and was taken by the torrents as we were pulled away. Theus favored us this day.
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Tirdas 24, 1518
The rain has let up, if only to a little drizzle. With the wash still turning before us, Bader and I each took a turn heading opposing directions to find a viable means cross, to no avail. We were fortunate enough to come across the freed horses that managed to escape. Alas, all we could do was wait for the waters to recede enough to continue on our way.
We attempted to remain as dry as possible given the weather and lack of practical cover. Regardless, we made the best of it and share tales. The elder man, Lon, told us he was a simple cobbler and all his tools, materials, and wares were now lost. I sympathized with him for in one fail swoop everything he had was lost to him, save his granddaughter, Tanja who had accompanied him as his apprentice. She too had nothing as her parents had succumbed to illness years earlier. Bader and I spoke later of the issue and I expressed how I felt obligated to do something. Bader jested that I was only expanding my influence on the people, yet he would support whatever I chose to do.
The waters show to be pulling back slowly now. I can hope they are manageable by morning and I will have any better idea ready to aid Lon and Tanja.
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Tirdas 25, 1518
We managed to ford the washout and free Lon’s mud soaked wagon. The water had warped and mangled the frame and wheels, though it was still manageable to travel, if only at a slower pace. Bader and I secured the horses to the broken yoke and rigged it to be operational. I insisted on seeing them through to their destination. I did not want something else to go afoul and leave them stranded once more.
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Tirdas 28, 1518
It has taken a few days to arrive yet we have managed to deliver Lon and Tanja safely to their hometown. Though Bader denies it, I feel Tanja fancies Good Bader and he her, beyond being her “hero” in saving her. She is an attractive fraulein and only four years his junior. I jested with him over the matter to which he tried to shrug off any notions through embarrassment. Ha-Ha!
I deferred my station in my dealings with Lon and Tanja, simply bearing my name. I gave what coin I had to Lon so he could rebuild his life and livelihood. I was content to leave it be, yet it was not until we prepared to head out of town when someone had recognized me and soon the whole town was in a titter. Lon, realizing who I was thanked me profusely, despite my modest attempt to defer.
As we left them in the safety of their townsfolk, Lon left me with the words that “I have never met a man with such truly noble breeding and humble bearing that I should be the one who is Archduke.” I chuckled at the notion and thanked him for his kind words. Despite my modest attempts Bader used the words at my expense to have a jest over the matter.
I admit I am now torn by the words… I cannot think of anyone I know who would have done such acts, let alone the Archduke himself. Though I could be very wrong and hope that I am.
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Bader's Journal 1549

Bader’s Journal
Tirdas 4, 1549
Here I sit in these sullied walls of stone that once belong to Poor Bernd; my cohort in arms, my dearest friend, my brother in blood, my Rucken. Ah Bernd, I did not want for this… I cannot be you. I am not you in the slightest, nor did I want for all this to happen. Yet, here I sit in your stead and have been given your title and barony, in default. I can only hope to retain some semblance of your memory. I do not feel right donning your dracheneisen. As many good memories it fills with, I also feel much sorrow in your wake. Your son, Pieter, will soon be of age to take this mantle from me. I hope to continue my days and stand by him as I did you, though he will not ever truly replace you.

Tirdas 5, 1549
The guard grow unsettled. They whisper amongst themselves. They say the Griffin sentinels move. I have not seen this though several were found drunk on duty, so be it drunken fools. A few nights on watch should quell it. I look upon these stone guardians and in awed by their presence.
There are pranksters among the lot of them as well. I heard armored boots pacing the hall in the night and saw two suits in the foyer disturbed. I had words with the guard officer and he would be seeing to it.
I am getting better suited to Bernd’s armor. I never knew dracheneisen to be so cold to the touch when wearing it.

Tirdas 7, 1549
One of servants swore they saw a suit of armor move and walk down the main hall. She was so frightened they ran from the Schloss in a panic. It was as if I was watching Odessa all over again. Thankfully, she did not cast herself off. As night fell, I swear I heard Odessa’s scream in my ears. I could not shake it, try as I might.
The bedroom has become the coldest room in the house. I swear I woke up and saw my breath this morning. I cannot explain it. The weather has dipped cooler than I recall for this season.

Tirdas 8, 1549
Four guards were found dead this morning at their posts on the towers. Pieces of the old suits were found by the bodies. The suits themselves showed signs of a fight and dried blood caked upon on the weapons. What madness is this!?! The guard grows restless in the wake.
To add to the mystery, Tanja left the bed in the middle of the night. I did not think much of it, at first. She could not have killed the men, after all; she is not a fighter. She does not recall leaving but I awoke to her movement so I know better. What is she up to?

Tirdas 9, 1549
The mystery of the death’s still haunt me. Was it a prank gone wrong or is something more sinister afoot? The bodies of the dead men were to be taken into town, yet the guard officer, Kern, made the mistake of burying them in the small grove along the way. He reported back that he had found remains already present. Damn, him! He told me he was going to send word to a priest to verify and hallow the land for their disturbance. I told him I would see to it. For now, THAT past can remain buried.
I have been hearing the cries of wolves throughout the day. What has stirred them up?

Tirdas 10, 1549
I awoke to someone speaking my name. It sounded like the late Archduke of Posen or Bernd, I could not tell which. Was I dreaming? My thoughts were of those nights once more. I try to escape them, yet they will not escape me.
I realized that Tanja was not in bed again. I had to clear my head and walked around trying to find her. Tanja was in the room blankly staring at Odessa portrait. She said nothing and no matter what I said she would not stir. As quickly as I found her she turned and went back to bed. Tanja never sleep walked before, why now?

Tirdas 11, 1549
Tanja woke up screaming hysterically as sleep had escaped me. She flew out of bed in a panic. I tried to calm her but only shriek about being covered in blood and it being on the sheets. There was none, I tell you. She ran out of the bedroom and frantically began scrubbing herself down in a bath.
As I descended down to my study, the Kern asked me to follow. We made our way to the front doors and I carcasses of wolves piled in front of the Griffins. There were easily a dozen or so. There was no blood, no cuts, Nothing! They were far colder to the touch than the air outside. Again the guard officer reinforced his request to call upon a priest to investigate or perhaps one St. Gregor’s Order.
What in Theus’s name is going on? I swear there is coup d’état in play…

Tirdas 12, 1549
The voices… the screams… the blood… I cannot shake the visions. I cannot sleep. Everytime I close my eyes I see it… I hear them…
That fool Kern disobeyed me! He tried to leave the keep but I caught him in the act. I had him shackled and secured in the tower. The rest of the guard troop followed my orders, but their eyes cast a questioning glare throughout the rest of the day. I feel they side with the Kern are plotting… I must be watchful.

Tirdas 13, 1549
Kern is dead. This morning his body was found lanced where he was shackled. There was blood on a halberd in the foyer. The guards have begun to whisper. Tanja has been speaking cryptically to my son. Brandt. Brandt’s eyes have gone cold to me. I am being turned upon everywhere I look. I know they are seeking to some sort of ill against me. Should they come… they must fall.

Tirdas 15, 1549
Brandt! You foolish boy! Why you!?! He turned against me. A son should never stand against his father. I raised you better. He drew on me! Challenged me… ME! His own father!
His blood is now on my hands… Tanja will not speak to me… let alone look at me now. I have no words for her as well. She obviously turned him against me. All this time… my own wife… plotting against me.

Tirdas (unknown)
Tanja came at me while I lay in bed; knife in hand. I have come to sleep with the breastplate at night. I know when I started this habit… It saved my life. For once I slept… the voices were but echoes… I was drugged… Tanja’s hand… she gave me the drink…
I swear I saw Odessa when I thrust my blade… she haunts me… he screams dance on the wind. It was not her, but my wife. Through the stomach I pressed the blade… “We are cursed!” she screamed as she threw herself through the window. My wife… Tanja… is dead.

(Unknown day) Night
The guards have turned on themselves. Blood drenches every stone in the yard. Only one servant has stayed loyal to me. I am alone. The blood moves. I hear music…. Troops are marching the halls… I hear them…

(Unknown)
What day is this? I know not anymore. I cannot descend to the lower levels anymore. Too much blood. There is a feast and revelry below… I hear them… I HEAR YOU I SAY!

(Unknown)
Bernd… forgive me… your armor is lost to me… it is too cold to wear. The blood… it has taken it grip on it. I dare not venture in the halls. Waves of blood follow me. I hear them… their blood drenched screams. They are in the mists! I see them on the walls! They are coming! I will them all again if I have to!

(Unknown)
Sleep… I need sleep… the cold is not so bad. I saw my grave dug out this day… it must be time… it is time. Blood on the sheets… it is cold. So cold…

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