Brash Young Fools
Something rotten in Ubersreik - An interlude
The shadows of Ubersreik deepen as Morrslieb sinks temporarily beneath the peaks of the Grey mountains on its twisting course through the heavens, its eerie glow banished for now. A sudden crash disturbs the quiet of the night, setting a handful of dogs to barking and howling as the grated entrance to the sewers is kicked off its hinges. A quartet of strangely attired men stagger into the cool sweet night air. “Do you have to carry that foul thing with you?” asks a slender figure covered in muck, of a similarly befouled man carrying a monstrous, severed head who simply shrugs in response. Behind them follow another filth spattered pair, the smaller of the two is leaning on a bowstave while supporting the larger man who is clearly heavily wounded. “Thank you Victor,” murmurs Boris as he collapses to the ground, “this pissing hurts.” He drops a sack beside him, spilling severed hands on the ground.
The slender figure turns to the other three and claps his hands, “well I am for my bed, at least after I have quaffed a bottle of wine to blot out the deeds of this night.” The man with the severed head, Karl, nods his head in agreement, “yes Joachim, I also need to forget this evening, and my weary bones must rest.”
Boris raises his head, his face barely visible behind his soiled hair, “we must go back to von Holzenaur’s place and tell them what has happened, Emming must be told.” He struggles to his feet and starts to make his way back up to the mansion but Victor places a hand on his shoulder, “you are in no fit state to return there tonight my friend, we all need rest, especially you,” as if to emphasise his words Victor erupts into fits of coughing.
“Go to your beds then and leave this to me,” spat Boris as he shrugged off Victor’s hand and staggered off through the streets. The remaining trio watch his retreating form for a moment before heading back to their billets.
Boris finally manages to reach the residence of Manfred von Holzenaur after taking one or two stops along the way. The masquerade ball appears to still be in full swing as Boris approaches the gate only to have his way barred by two guards. “Begone vagrant, you stink of shit!” Yells one of the guardsmen.
Boris’ face darkens at this, “I am no vagrant, my name is Boris Braubach and I am working for von Holzenaur. Step aside, I have urgent business within.”
The guard laughs mockingly, “Von Holzenaur is not in the habit of employing filth covered vagabonds, now be gone with you!” With that he kicks Boris forcing him to his knees. Boris’ head spins and fresh blood wells up in the wound on his chest. His first thought is to run the man through but in his current condition it would be foolish. With as much dignity as he can muster Boris stands and walks away. The guard’s name is Rinen, he had spoken to him briefly earlier, and Boris made a note to ensure that this sleight did not go unavenged. Within a quarter of an hour he has collapsed into his bed in the room he shared with Victor at the Red Moon Inn and sleeps the sleep of the dead.
Boris awakes to find himself alone in the room. By the look of the light spilling through the broken shutters it must be nearing noon. His whole body is alive with pain and for a time he merely lies staring at the dust motes hanging in the shafts of wan sunlight. A rat shuffles across the floor somewhere in the room seeking some discarded scraps. Presently Boris stirs from his reverie and manages to bath his wounds and pays the landlady to have his clothes washed and his armour scraped clean of muck.
As he begins to devour a plate of cheese and week old bread Victor returns with a small sack containing mosses and various ingredients for a poultice gathered from the forest. He is accompanied by Karl who has a length of gauze for bandaging, some of which he has already used to good effect on his arm. The pair set to work tending to Boris’ wounds and were joined shortly after by Joachim and a couple of bottles of wine.
The Temple of Sigmar is a bold stone building near the centre of Ubersreik and even at this late hour is busy with faithful saying prayers and leaving offerings. Boris casts a glance at the Dark Moon, which seems to be more distant that it has been for some weeks now and can’t help but wonder if it the cause of such increased devotion. He enters the Temple bearing the sack he left the sewers with and sees the High priest of Sigmar; Gunther Emming. Boris approaches the man who shows little recognition is his cruel, deep sunken eyes. Boris makes the sign of the comet as he addresses Emming, “Brother Emming, I am Boris Braubach, I was at the masquerade ball last night and gave chase to the intruders.”
“Ah, yes,” replied the priest, “I am sorry you went to all of that trouble for nought.” “Nought? I have yet to tell you what we discovered below the town. There was a nest of creatures, men with the heads of rats, one of them was well over eight feet in height. We killed them and burned their lair. I doubt there are any more of them.”
Emming stared at Boris for a moment, his brow furrowed before laughing. “A good jest my friend, I have heard tales of the like before but it has been a while. You almost had me with that one. There are no rat men in the sewers. The servants were interrogated by Krieger and were found to be guilty of corruption so the culprits have already been found and punished. Now, I am a busy man so if you will excuse me…”
Boris stepped in front of him as he made to walk away, “I do not jest Brother Emming. the things we fought down there were real, as were the wounds we received in ridding this town of evil.” He upturned the sack in his hand and a dozen small, hairy hands fell at their feet. Emming took an involuntary step back, then stooped to pick up one of the paws and examined it closely. “This is good work. You might even fool a few people with these but I can clearly see that they are fakes. Are you a tanner by trade?” He drops the hand to the floor his intense stare fixed on Boris, the mirth now gone to leave a dangerous expression on his face.
“These are no fakes Brother, they are real and I can see that you fear these creatures and that is why you refuse to believe. There is something rotten in this town you must believe me.” Boris could see his mistake immediately.
“I am not afraid of stories and rumours! leave this place at once before I have the Witch Hunter examine these things more closely!” The priest gestured towards the entrance and Boris knew that nothing he could say would change his mind. Without another word Boris picked up the hands and stalked from the Temple and as he walked a burning rage filled him, increasing with each step. He had risked his life for nothing, no reward, no glory, no renown. He had hoped that by ridding the world of these creatures he could find a way out of the gutter. Now that dream had been shattered by the arrogance and ignorance of petty men like Gunther Emming. As he wandered aimlessly through the streets of Ubersreik his rage was so clearly written on his face that all gave him a wide berth.
It was all coming to a head, Boris has drifted from town to town for years, living day to day, from hand to mouth. Never staying in one place for long. He had blocked out the ‘lessons’ of Veidt, the owner of the orphanage he grew up in, and the beatings he had received at his hand. Words like ‘Chaos’, ‘devotion’ and ‘the enemy within’ started to resurface and the twin tailed comet branded onto his chest began to itch. Maybe these were signs from Sigmar; the beastmen at Grunwald lodge, the foul eye in its painting, Morrslieb and the rat-men. All of it meant something. It was a call that Boris needed to answer. This was the way out, this was the path set out for him by Sigmar and he would follow it. He would make men like Emming kneel at his feet and quake with fear at the very mention of the name Boris Braubach.