All Souls' Night
The moon is in the right alignment for the dark creatures to rise up again, attack Hadesdorff, kill everyone in it and raze the town to the ground. Edward knows it is coming and wants to save the town, but no one will listen to him, especially the local priest and the Baron.
But he knows they must, for seventy years ago the town was totally destroyed in exactly this way.
He must make the Baron listen.
Character Series: no character series
Group Series: Hadesdorff, 6
Author: Taylor Mcconnell
“There is no way you can bury them in there. It is against all the teachings of Sigmar, and a disgrace to his name. Only those who have truly taken him into his heart, have bound him to their very beings, may receive his grace, strength and protection.”
The witch hunter glared at the priest, his moustache stretched tight. “And I don’t think you understand. I don’t really care if they took Sigma into their hearts and souls or not. I just don’t want their stinking carcases lying around as an invitation to the monsters of chaos. They must lie on consecrated ground.”
Olaf Grumerson grabbed the arms of his wooden chair and pushed himself up, his face turning red, his eyes popping out, all offset by a massive beard that flowed down the sides of his face and onto his chest. His massive barrel chest and stomach, lovingly cultivated over too many beers and roasts beef, making him look like an enraged boar.
“And I say to you, Edward Schreiner, Sigmar will not let the heathen scum enter his sacred halls, nor lie on ground that he has blessed. This is sacrilege. How many people have you burned for such an offence? How many people have you dragged from their houses and had them meet the cleansing flames for not being holy enough?”
Edward stayed sitting across the table from Olaf. He stared at the puffing boar long enough for the red face to lighten just a bit. He wiped his moustache left and right to straighten it out, then rubbed his hand down his beard.
Edward was typical of witch hunters. He wore a large full length black coat that covered a chain mail suit, shoulder and arm armour. His several waist and chest belts held pouches for vials of liquids and powders, booklets, swords, daggers and a multitude of ingredients to fight the forces of darkness. Who knows when garlic, silver or wolf’s bane might be needed in the middle of a fight? His entire outfit was offset by the huge black flat topped hat he wore, though not at this moment.
He did not raise his voice. He did not get mad. Quietly he replied, “actually, none. That is your job. I have never burned someone for not believing in Sigmar or any other god for that matter. Such things do not concern me or the Oath Keepers at all. What does concern us is keeping this town whole and safe from the ravages of the monsters of chaos. And I say again having dead people in a mass grave will attract them. Such a lovely pile of dead, of souls that can be harvested, will surely bring them like rats are drawn to cheese.”
He leaned forward, picked up the wine jug and poured himself a glass. He did not bother to offer the priest one. He picked up the goblet and took a long sip while continuing to look at Olaf. Who was starting to feel very conscious, standing up letting off steam with nowhere for it to go. He sat down again.
“Tell me,” Edward continued, “do you really know what happened here, in Hadesdorff, about seventy years ago?”
Olaf rolled his eyes. “Here we go. You telling us all about the great Eberhardt Schriener, your grandfather, great saviour of this town.” Olaf pounded the table. “I do not have to hear this damned story again to know that what you are proposing is heresy, and must be stamped out.”
“No, that is not the story I mean. Eberhardt, my great grandfather by the way, did indeed save this town from the Dark Necromancer who tried to throw down its walls when this town was just an outpost. But that was more like a hundred years ago. No, I mean the story of Odric Schriener, not my grandfather, but the grandfather’s brother, my great uncle. This did indeed happen about seventy years ago.”
Olaf raised his voice again. “I don’t give a damn if it was your cousin twice removed or your grandmother raised from the dead. I don’t want to hear more damn stories about Schreiners and their exploits. It always ends up that the Schreiners saved us all, which makes us grateful maggots, and thus we should do what you want. I don’t want to hear it.” He shouted the last sentence.
“But I do want to hear it,” another quieter voice broke in from the head of the table. “You never know, you might learn something Friar. And please do stop shouting. It is starting to hurt my ears.”
Edward and Olaf looked at the man at the head of the table. He was on the small side, not much to look at. Clean shaven, with short cropped blonde hair, and what one would think were thin and weak arms. But they would be wrong. The Baron of Hadesdorff, Eadric de Südwald, was a master swordsman with the rapier. Many a brute of a man who swung a longsword thought they could best the Baron in battle only to have him spit them like a pig. His arms, rather than being weak, were made of wire and surprisingly fast. Surprising because most opponents of the Baron would be surprised they had a rapier in their throat before they knew they were in a fight with him.
Olaf looked at the Baron, swallowed whatever it as he was thinking of shouting next, took a deep breath, and bowed his head towards the man. “Of course, my Lord.” He sullenly poured himself a glass of wine and sucked on it.
Edward continued. “This request of mine, to have those who are not part of the Sigmar church ….”
“They should be,” Olaf blurted out again, “and the unbelievers burned.”
“Olaf. That is enough.” The Baron raised his voice. Clearly he was used to the fiery temperament of the priest and tolerated this more from him than anyone else. But still. “We all know you want everyone converted to the Cult of Sigma. But can you give it a rest for five minutes so maybe we can learn something new about this?”
Olaf bowed his head again. “My apologies, My Lord. It is just that whenever I hear of this filth, this non pagan …..”
“Olaf. Did you not hear me? I said give it a rest.”
“My Lord.” Olaf slumped into sullen silence.
“So what is this great tale you have to tell, Master Oath Keeper?” the baron asked with a painted on smile.
Edward took another sip. “It concerns what I have already raised here today: what are we to do with those people who die and are not followers of Sigmar? Current procedure is those who are followers of Sigmar get buried in the consecrated graveyard with all the rites and rituals such acolytes get. But for those who are not followers they are buried outside the town in a mass grave, on unconsecrated land. This will attract the monsters of chaos. It has happened before and, unless something is done about it, will happen again. This is because it has happened before and the town, including my great uncle paid a high price. The town was flattened and everyone in it was killed.”
The Baron smiled. “But how can this be, Master witch hunter? I have not heard this story before.”
“Nor would you have because it is not true,” Olaf grumbled.
Edward ignored the priest. “This is because, Lord, ahem, it is not in the town’s official history. Because it was in the interests of certain people it was not.”
The Baron smiled again. “Come now, Edward. What are you talking about? The history says that my grandfather, Robert de Südwald, and your great uncle, Odric Schreiner, defeated the forces of darkness that day and saved the town, just like Eberhardt had worked with my great grandfather, Baron Jean-Christoph de Villiers, and had defeated them before as well. What is this fantasy you are speaking about?”
Edward looked at the Baron sternly. He took a gulp of wine. Then looked at the Baron again.
“Lord, you know, at least I hope you do, that I have dedicated my life, and those of my entire family, ever since Eberhardt saved this town, to the protection of not only this town but that of humanity against the forces of darkness and chaos. That is why I formed the Oath Keepers into a permanent organisation to be a bulwark against the forces of darkness. Rather than being a band of witch hunters that appear when trouble arises, we aim to be here always. Think of it is preventive rather than curative.”
“Edward, you do not have to remind anyone here of you steadfast loyalty and diligence in this purpose. Already throughout your long career you have saved this town from a number of incursions of monsters from the darkness. Why, only last week you routed out a cult of demon worshippers from the woods.”
“It was in fact that very operation that confirmed many of my suspicions. In their possession they had books that told of a very different account of Odric and Robert de Südwald’s defence of the town from the one publically known. I have heard whispers about this for years. It was also my duty to investigate because I knew it could drastically change how we go about combating chaos.”