Author's Notes: Hey everyone. I am so sorry that it has been so long since I last updated, I have had a lot on my plate. I hope that this makes it up to you all. GW owns Warhammer.
The Von Wedekinds' castle proved to be a modest affair, more than a fortified manor than a proper castle. It was smaller than her mansion in Altdorf and the Von Wedekinds had clearly been suffering financially and had allowed their castle to fall into a state of disrepair and the place was cold and drafty, not that either of these were true sources of physical discomfort to Elsa, but they were a source of irritation. No, this place would not do at all for a permanent residence, but the thought of having to move again caused Elsa even greater irritation; so for now it was a place to rest and with winter upon them her human servants would not survive in the wilds. No, for now she was stuck her, but it was not all bad.
The castle had fallen remarkably easily. The Baron had taken the majority of his men with him to face the Beastmen and had conscripted many of the peasants to bolster his ranks and the majority of these had not survived. The castle and the village near it were full, but many of these were peasants who had abandoned their farms and small communities for the safety of the castle, the castle itself being held only by a handful of soldiers. Seeking to cow them into submission Elsa had waited till the sun had set and them appeared before the town gate, her undead at her back and Margund at her side. She had made the same demands of them as she had of the peasants now sworn to her; abandon their old gods and swear loyalty to her.
A priest of Sigmar had appeared upon the wall to denounce her, those who followed her and called on the people of the town to trust in Sigmar and stand fast. He had begun a prayer, the words hurting her ears. A word of command sent Margund shooting up towards the man. As she neared him she unleashed a shriek which killed the man instantly and several of those near him. As the pain receded Elsa looked at the shaken men on the walls and simply repeated her demands. There had been a few moments of silence and then the gates opened.
The ease of it all had surprised Elsa at first, but she soon learned the causes of it. The harvest had been bad, the winter was expected to be harsh, the Baron had taken much of what had been harvested in taxes and, finally, there had been the slaughter by the Beastmen. All this had resulted in few having the will to resist one more disaster and simply yielded without a fight. The final deciding factor was Otto, a man of about fifty who had been left as the leader of the soldiers left behind to guard the castle while the Baron was gone.
He might be a good soldier, Elsa had no knowledge of such things, but whatever else he was, the man was a survivor. He may or may not believe in the gods, but he clearly knew a hopeless situation when he saw it and was quite willing to change his coat if that was what it took to stay alive. A man with skills she needed and completely mercenary, a man after her own heart. Nor were these the only gains that were made through the seizure of the castle.
Though hopelessly out of fashion there were women's cloths and with some alterations, a task which she left to several of her female servants, they were respectable enough and a great improvement on the worn dress which she had been wearing since acquiring it from the merchant's wife, everything from the Baron's estate having decayed to little more than moth-eaten rags. Still, once she acquired the materials she would have proper clothing made for herself. Though they said nothing in her hearing she knew that Clarice was grateful to have clean cloths again and Hans was certainly glad to at last be wearing something besides his nightshirt. Nor was the improved wardrobe the only benefit to coming to Castle Von Wedekind.
While the Baron may have lacked wealth and as recent events had shown a lack of military acremen, he had clearly been a man who believed in preparedness. His cellars were full of food which had been put away in preparation for winter. This, combined with the loses which they have sustained, meant that Elsa's mortal servants would have more than enough to eat throughout the winter. She had secured these supplies as soon as they had taken the castle and had doled them out through the Burgermeister Fabricius. This silenced any muttering about his appointment and bound the people to him and him to her, more importantly it freed her from having to handle the feeding of the cattle and ensured that any blame would fall on him.
She had taken up residence in the Baron's quarters after having heavy drapes placed over the windows to keep out the sun. His library was practically non-existent, something that with her new-found thirst for arcane lore she found to be quite annoying. Still, it was a vast improvement over her previous residence. The room next to hers was occupied by Clarice and Hans as they were her favorite sources of blood and she wanted them close at hand. At the moment they were both sleeping as she did not feel hungry at the moment. As time had passed that she found that she did not need to feed as often as she had, a fact which pleased her as, while feeding was greatly pleasurable, she did not wish to be dependent on it.
Leaving them to sleep she stepped out onto the balcony and looked down on the courtyard were Otto was drilling some of the men, though they seemed to be finishing up for the night. The soldiers who had sworn themselves to her were simply insufficient to guard the castle, especially as she dared not use her undead openly lest someone from the outside see them and raise the alarm, or, possibly even worse, alert her late master's rival and have him come and finish what he had started with De Mont. Additionally, the soldiers had joined her out of fear and desperation and she did not trust their loyalty. The peasants, on the other hand, she trusted more, or at least mistrusted less and she wanted them to counter the soldiers if they should turn on her.
There were still not as many as she would have liked, but it was all that she could do for the moment. The graveyard was duly sanctified and so she could not raise them. She could have ordered it desecrated, but there were two problems. One, if she did so it may push the townspeople over the edge and raise them against her. While she trusted them more than she did the towns people, her trust in them was not absolute. On her orders the Burgermeister had placed the food stores in several large underground cellars which were guarded by the undead to ensure none would be able to steal any of it. As she stared down at the militia yet another problem to her mind. The question of the Beastmen.
There had been few survivors of the late Baron's battle against the monsters and the reports that they had brought back were confusing to say the least. Some said that the Beastmen were moving towards Altdorf while others said that they were heading directly towards the castle and village. Elsa had not known what to do. She had been told that the Beastmen horde was vast and even if it was not as large as she had been told, and as all her information on it came from frightened peasants she was inclined to doubt it, she was doubtful of her ability to defeat them. The only battle that she had won was against Mongo, where she had had the advantage of superior magic. These Beastmen might be another matter altogether. There were many of them and they might have magic users among. Magic users who were likely to be far more powerful than the circus master. No, it would be far better if they came nowhere near Elsa's castle.
On the other hand; even if they did not they could cause problems for Elsa. If they did indeed head for Altdorf she was sure that the humans would see them off in short order. However; once they were defeated then the humans would likely sweep the area around the city looking for any Beastmen stragglers. They may not go out far enough to discover her and hers, but they might. The Beastmen may also run into Van Opfer, assuming that he was still in the area. She would like to think that the beasts would finish him off, but it was also possible that Van Opfer would destroy them and add them to his own forces. She was already outnumbered and if he knew about her the last thing that she needed was for him to outnumber her even more so. So, there would be the potential for danger no matter what she did. Thus, she would have to decided what course of action to take.
She felt again her lack of military skills, as well as her lacking in other areas as well. While her skill in necromancy continued to develop neither her books nor Margund possessed much in the way of knowledge of divination so she could not turn to that quarter for answers. She had considered consulting with the Baron's ghost, but she had discarded the idea. The ghost was no longer sane and she doubted that she would be able to gain anything of value form it. No, there was nothing that she could do right now, she needed more information.
The question was how was she to learn it. She could not send any of her undead servants, the only one capable of independent thought was Margrund and she was far from inconspicuous. Of her living servants most were illiterate peasants with the only one she knew to be somewhat traveled was Burgermeister Fabricius and she needed him to keep the peasants in line. It seemed that she had no options, wait, that was not quite correct, there was another option, one which she had learned of in her studies.
She had read that as vampires and necromancers grew in power creatures of evil were drawn to them, creatures which included ghouls. While they were not the most intelligent of beings they could at least be counted on obey orders, scout around and report back to her what they had seen. She had not sensed any ghouls near her, but that might soon change. The signs all showed that Geheimnistag, Day of Mystery, would soon be upon them. It was one of only two times a year that Morrslieb was full. Margrund had told her that when that happened the Winds of Magic would blow strongly, boosting her abilities and allowing her to summon more undead and if any ghouls nearby.
Even if Margrund had not told her Elsa would have known it. Every night when she awoke she could feel the magic in the air growing each time. She felt more powerful than she ever had; indeed, she felt like she could take on Van Opfer herself and tear him and his army apart using her own power. Fortunately, despite her growing power, she was aware enough to realize that if she was empowered then likely so was Van Opfer. No, if she was going to win then she would have to be intelligent. De Mont had tried to win through sheer power and he had lost and was now truly dead. If she was to continue to survive and make the most of the increase in power she would have to be cunning and prepared for when the moment came. But how were those preparations to be made? To survive she needed power and power would come to her in time, but she may not have time to gain that power. No, she needed power and she needed it quickly. Even the thought entered her mind a solution presented itself and brought a smile to her face.
Returning to her chambers she walked swiftly to the library where her collection of spell books were kept. Going to one that had once been owned by the Baron. Opening it she searched for some time to find what she had been looking for. When she at last found it she studied it with an intensity. Yes, a ritual which had to be conducted under the light of the moons on Geheimnistag. A ritual which, if conducted correctly would give her the power which she needed. As she studied it for a final time she saw that it required one more component: the life-blood of a pure soul. That gave her pause. Was there any among her followers who would fit that description? Then one occurred to her and she smiled again, a smile full of malicious glee, there was indeed one, one living in her household in fact. For who could be purer than a former priestess of Shallya?
Author's Notes: Hey everyone, sorry that it has been so long, this is a chapter which did not want to be written. I will try to make the next longer and sooner. Till then, please pray for all who need it, have a great Halloween and for my fellow Americans, hang on. Next week is going to be a wild one.