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Abbey of Blessed Aethelbert the Vigilant

The Abbey of Blessed Aethelbert the Vigilant resides atop the hill in Siegfriedhof, Sylvania, acting as the headquarters for the Knights of the Raven. The fortified abbey of granite and slate overlooks Siegfriedhof and Lake Svarsee below. A single road descends from the main entrance and branches into terraced streets crisscrossing through the town. Postern entrances to the abbey are not visible from Siegfriedhof; instead, these hidden doors open onto a network of tunnels and catacombs carved into the pinnacle.[1a]

Residents of the Abbey

Priests and anointed priests observe Vows of Stoicism, requiring them to remain serious at all times. The service of Morr is not to be taken lightly. Initiates are given an option of observing the vow, which many of them do.

Annointed Priests

  • Father Gregor (Master of Ceremonies): Respected prayer leader; secret lover of Sister Maja.[1b]
  • Mother Alexia (Master of Arms): Organises the abbey's defences; a tough and cunning woman.[1b]

Priests

  • Brother Horatius (Master of Novices)[1b]
  • Brother Dagmar (Master of Beasts): Handles the animals of the abbey; finds the abbot tedious.[1b]
  • Brother Gottlieb (Master of Letters): Head librarian; doesn’t get along with Sister Tanja.[1b]
  • Brother Heinz (Master Carpenter): Builds coffins, repairs furniture; an all-around handyman.[1b]
  • Brother Erich (Master of Stone): Supervises catacomb expansions; suspects a Skaven plot.[1b]
  • Brother Winfried (Patron of Arms): Ensures that weapons and armour are maintained; has a dry sense of humour.[1b]
  • Sister Hildegarde (Master Mortician): Prepares dead for burial; has seen the forbidden library.[1b]
  • Sister Tanja (Master of the House): Supervises domestic chores; antagonises Brother Gottlieb.[1b]
  • Sister Maja (Matron of Ceremonies): Arranges ritual trappings; secret lover of Father Gregor.[1b]

Abbey Cats

In addition to its Human inhabitants, the abbey is populated by over 120 cats, bred by Brother Dagmar for the benefit of Geistwächt. The pride mother is a large, black, long-hair named Tanira, and the front vestibule of the abbey belongs exclusively to her. All rooms, including the temple, contain one to ten cats at any given time.[1b]

Black Guards of Blessed Aethelbert

Black Guardsmen have taken vows of silence prohibiting speech. The obsidian-armoured warriors of Morr are posted throughout the abbey as sentries. Trained with longbow and great axe, the Black Guard are versatile fighters. Most Black Guardsmen are former squires of the Raven Knights, but some were priests of exceptional combat prowess.[1b]

The Black Guardsmen are nearly identical, being silent men encased in sinister black armour. Each wears a medallion depicting the raven and keeps a flask of blessed water at his side.[1b]

Layout

The Temple

The domed roof of this temple contains an oculus through which the souls of the dead may pass into Morr's Realm. The exterior features fortified battlements decorated with skeletal gargoyle statues. The interior has no seating, only a raised platform upon which bodies are placed during funeral rites. Incense burners are lit during dreaming ceremonies.[1a]

Barracks & Armoury

The front portion of the abbey is designated as sleeping quarters for 14 Black Guardsmen housed on the ground floor, and 21 Raven Knights occupy the upper level (currently empty). Off-duty Black Guardsmen sleep here, meditate in the temple, or conduct weapon drills behind the abbey.[1a]

Lord Voss pores over maps and reports in his private chamber that adjoins the main dormitory. The ground floor armoury contains 6 lances, 7 shields, 11 longbows, 550 arrows, 5 great axes, 5 suits of obsidian plate armour, and 75 assorted hand weapons, as well as sand and oil to maintain them. The sand and oil can also be combined in massive, heated cauldrons to deploy against invading forces. It's important to note that Temples of Morr do not typically have gates. In the event of a siege, a great stone slab is dropped across the open portal as a barricade. The cumbersome slab is very difficult to reset in the event of a false alarm, requiring the combined strength of 20 men and a crane.[1a]

Abbot's Quarters

Geistwächt spends half his time in his quarters reading, praying, and weeping. The room contains a bed, wardrobe, prayer mat, locked desk, two chairs, and a cushioned bench. The room is locked when Geistwächt is absent. The torch sconce in the south-east corner is actually a lever to access a stairway down to the forbidden library.[1a]

Refectory & Kitchen

Six large tables provide seating for 120 people. The central table is reserved for priests, and at the head sits Geistwächt. The Knights of the Raven have their own table, as do the Black Guard. Visitors to the abbey are seated with the Black Guards, whose vow of silence makes for muted dinner conversation.[1a]

The adjoining kitchen is staffed by oblates from the village. The north wall is made of rough, natural stone into which the ovens and fire pits are hewn. Three chimney vents are carved into the rock.[1a]

Infirmary

One half of the infirmary is an open dormitory with cots for the sick and injured. The other half is partitioned into cells for insane, possessed, or terminal patients. This area can also be used as a temporary prison.[1a]

A staircase leads down to the morgue and torture chamber.[1a]

Visitors' Lodgings

The lodgings consist of a single, large room with seven beds designated for visitors to the abbey. The room is furnished with dressing screens, wash basins, and prayer books.[1a]

Cloister

The courtyard is a place of meditation for the priests of the abbey. Anyone making too much noise here receives angry looks. The cloister is also where the abbey cats spend most of their day, lounging under staircases or perched on balconies. Up to 40 of the critters can be found here at any given time.[1b]

Novices' Dormitory

This large hall is the living space for the abbey’s initiates, containing many rows of beds. At the foot of each bed is a locked small chest with personal belongings such as clothing, letters, books, and perhaps a few coins. Many nobles send their sons and daughters to the abbey for education (ten percent of all initiates). There are 52 beds in total.[1b]

Priests' Quarters

In addition to Grand Abbot Geistwächt, there are nine priests, two anointed priests, and Gerhard the Elder in residence. Priests are given a modest room in which to store their worldly belongings (clothing, books, hand weapon, money, etc.). The priests are generally trusting of each other, so there is only a slight chance that any door is locked.[1b]

Morgue

Corpses are brought to the morgue for cleansing and embalming before being taken to the temple for funeral proceedings. All manner of knives, needles, threads, and embalming fluids can be found here. A secret door leads to the forbidden library, but it's cleverly concealed within a bas relief archway similar to the one at the temple. The morgue also functions as a torture chamber.[1b]

Library & Scriptorium

Spanning both floors of the abbey, the library is an open gallery with a balcony on the second floor. The stacks on the ground floor contain history, theology, and philosophy texts. The second floor contains scientific works on anatomy and embalming, as well as stacks of string-bound dream analysis journals and a smattering of literature. Ironically, very little material relating to Undead is available; as well as a lurid Vampire ballad. There are five reading and copying rooms extending from the second floor balcony, each equipped with parchment and writing kits. A hidden panel reveals a stairwell descending to the forbidden library.[1b]

Forbidden Library

Access to the forbidden library is only possible by one of three hidden entrances. The entrance from the morgue has been guarded by Geistwächt's magic alarm spell ever since he caught Sister Hildegarde browsing proscribed codices. Only Geistwächt, Gerhard, and the anointed priests are permitted into the forbidden library unsupervised. Non-Morrian trespassers will be tried for theft if they are lucky, Necromancy if they are not. The second-to-last step of the stairwell is a pressure plate that triggers a swinging pendulum trap. The following items are stacked on shelves.[1b]

  • Five Styrigen Tablets with parchment (mix of archaic Tilean and Reikspiel) pinned underneath one of them.[1b]
  • Excerpts from Nagash's memoirs (in Classical), transcribed by the Necromancer Kadon.[1c]
  • A selection of banned books about Vampires and Undead, including Perilous Beasts by Odric of Wurtbad, Vampires and Their Kin by Maximillian Sommers, Treatis Necris by Gottlieb the Stern, and Encyclopaedia of the Undead by J. Gotthard Melber.[1c]
  • Countless pages of testimonials, diaries, and trial records covering Vampiric and Necromantic activity in western Sylvania dating back a thousand years.[1c]

Stable & Workshop

The abbey’s 3 riding horses, 2 draft horses, and 26 destriers are stabled here, along with tack, saddles, and barding. Currently, only 6 destriers are present. Connected to the stable is a workshop where coffins are assembled.[1c]

Observatory

This domed cupola is accessible by a ladder from the library. The interior is painted with planets and constellations, each meticulously labelled in Classical script. Such constellations include the Witchling Star, Rhya's Cauldron, and Dragomas the Drake. A dozen separate observation hatches open to the firmament.[1c]

The observatory contains a quadrant and a simple telescope (30× magnification). The telescope is useful only for astronomy, its field of vision encompassing just one quarter of a moon's surface at any given time.[1c]

Catacombs of Blessed Aethelbert

The crypts within the catacombs of Blessed Aethelbert are well maintained and clearly identify their occupants. Brass plaques list names, dates, and often a short eulogy. Families are interred together in a common crypt, and most are easily accessible. Only after a family line terminates is their crypt permanently sealed.[1d]

The Sequestrium is a specially prepared crypt, built to store the charred remains of Vampires and necromancers. The Sequestrium is sealed with a stone slab and protected by Mother Alexia's magic alarm spell. The Sequestrium and the oldest section of crypts are situated on the first level of the catacombs. New sections of crypts are excavated and expand progressively deeper into the rock. Anyone found guilty of tampering with the crypts is drawn and quartered in front of the abbey.[1d]

Blessed Anton Aethelbert's crypt is sealed but not alarmed.[1d]

Source

  • 1: Warhammer Fantasy RPG 2nd ED -- The Thousand Thrones
    • 1a: pg. 171
    • 1b: pg. 173
    • 1c: pg. 174
    • 1d: pg. 175

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