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River of Echoes location

Far off in Sudenland’s west, deep in the foothills where the Vaults and the Grey Mountains meet, the village of Kreutzhofen serves as an important way station for trade with Bretonnia and Tilea, due to two key geographical features. First is the Montdidier Pass leading to Quenelles in Bretonnia through the Loren Forest, a route that only recently opened up after years of negotiations with the Wood Elves of Loren. Traders passing to and from Montdidier are both protected by and carefully watched by the Elves, lest they leave the road. The other is the Alimento Tunnel, a great cavern and river system that is the source of both the River Söll in the Empire, and the Cristallo River in Tilea, which leads to Miragliano through the River of Echoes. For over 150 miles, traders travel by boat under the mountains from one country to the other, stopping for rest and resupply in the Miraglianese cavern town of Alimento. Both routes have brought prosperity to Kreutzhofen and profits to the Grand Baroness, Emmanuelle von Liebwitz by allowing her to bypass the Merchant Houses of Marienburg and Nuln. This has left some of the houses unhappy, and they would not be averse to something hindering — or destroying — trade along those routes.[1a]

Story

Wissenland and the Growth of Kreutzhofen

The first reliable documents show the existence of a small village in Kreutzhofen around 1614 Ic. At this time there was no defined law in the area and the town was subject to frequent attacks by bandits and goblins from the mountains. Kreutzhofen was abandoned on numerous occasions in these early years, as settlers fled to return later when danger seemed to recede.[2]

Most likely, Kreutzhofen first established itself as a town in 2107. Three years earlier, a Bretonnian scholar and explorer named Marc Oppoleaux had found the Montdidier Pass, journeying from the Forest of Loren through the Vaults to the Empire, reaching Wusterburg to confirm its cartography. The discovery of a possible trade route to Bretonnia was very important to the rulers of Wissenland, and of the city-state of Nuln, especially at this time.[2]

In 2107, no less than three Emperors ruled different areas of a divided Empire. One of them, who proclaimed himself Emperor Adelbert IV, ruled from Nuln, and was lord and ruler of Averland and Wissenland. A direct trade with Bretonnia offered the possibility of obtaining wealth (and Bretonnian mercenaries) to defeat their rivals in Middenheim and Talabheim. With the support of the Grand Theogonist, Adelbert sent a powerful military force to secure the Kreutzhofen area; Only a handful of elite troops were available, but a nobleman recently arrived from Marienburg offered help in this regard. The scheming Count Axel Reichenbach offered help to Adelbert, who accepted it willingly.[2]

The expedition from Nuln soon secured the area, inflicting bloody defeats on raiding bandits and goblinoids. These raids became rarer and, under the protection of Adelbert's troops, a group of farmers and artisans settled in the town. Sadly, the settlers soon discovered that the soldiers weren't there to protect them, but to hold them back.[2]

Count Axel Reichenbach saw many things in this area to his liking. As trade with Bretonnia prospered, he diverted taxes into his own pockets. He who had been an insignificant nobleman from Marienburg, could now have a luxurious manor house built with the work and effort of the people. His position as absolute governor of Kreutzhofen was ruthlessly maintained by his army, whose loyalty was assured by the wealth he provided. Reichenbach's reign became even more suffocating: the younger generations saw their property confiscated and the villagers were reduced to the category of serfs. Those who tried to complain or oppose were brutally eliminated.[2]

The subsequent descendants of the Reichenbach proved to be as tyrannical as Axel was. They also delayed any connection with Tilea, in order to maintain their iron grip on the area. Count Bruno Reinchenbach (2158-2213) even hired an explorer to investigate the underground expansion of the River Sol south of town. The man departed with all honors to return a few weeks later telling a tremendous story of an unnavigable river and savage underground monsters. The explorer wrote a little book about his disastrous expedition, which was nothing more than a pack of lies for which he received a considerable reward from the cunning Bruno. This ensured that no one would dare to explore the route to Tilea again…until the Tileans appeared from the other side.[2]

In the early twenty-fourth century, armies from across the Empire responded to the amazing charisma and leadership of Magnus von Bildhofen. This great army defeated the forces of chaos at Kislev and Magnus became Emperor Magnus I, the undisputed ruler of the reunited Empire. This story has already been told several times, but the fate of Count Vladimir Reichenbach at this time is less known.[2]

The miserable and downtrodden villagers rose up, murdering the entire Reichenbach family. Many decades of suffering fueled his anger, and when the army was called up to fight at Kislev, Reinchenbach was left unprotected. Villagers told the authorities that the Reichenbachs had been killed by bandits, and the same story was repeated by those who fled to Bretonnia or Tilea, far from possible punishment. In an Empire in the midst of cataclysmic change, the story was not questioned.[2]

Magnus' wisdom and acumen are legendary and, when the Empire was rebuilt after his accession, he granted the rulership of Wissenland to the wise Pfeifraucher family. Advised by the Grand Theogonist, Magnus linked the county to the city-state of Nuln, thus preventing a new tyrant from settling in Kreutzhofen.[2]

In the years since, Kreutzhofen's military garrison has declined to a fragment of its former self, while trade with the other lands beyond the Empire has increased and the area has grown more populous. The goblinoids have not attacked the area in a century, and a series of pacts with the Steinkuhler family lands of the Border Kingdoms have contributed to the security of the southern borders.[2]

Kreutzhofen Today

Today, Kreutzhofen is relatively active and prosperous, but not too prominent either. Lately, the Jouinard-Helmgart route to Bögenhafen has taken over most of the trade between the Empire and Bretonnia, as it is a shorter route to Altdorf and the rivers of the Reik. The dangers of the Valley of Yetzin have discouraged trade through the Winter's Teeth route, though efforts to cleanse the valley of monsters continue. Trade with Tilea is reasonably stable, but there are menacing rumors of another war between the northern city-states, and reports of Skaven sightings have been heard in the tunnels near Alimento. This and other factors have confirmed that, despite its strategic position, Kreutzhofen remains a fairly small community.[2]

The military population of Kreutzhofen has also decreased while that of Mortensholm has been reinforced. Currently, only Captain Trottel and a handful of soldiers remain in Kreutzhofen. With hardly anything to do, they are often bored and short-tempered. The village is supervised by a magistrate, the Dorfrichter, appointed by the Pfeifraucher family. He deals with the collection of taxes on imports and exports, and also with taxes collected from the people of Kreutzhofen. The Dorfrichter is also responsible for maintaining law and order in the village. In times of need it may require the help of the militia, but the village guard itself is usually sufficient.[2]

Very few people in Kreutzhofen own their own homes. Some are tenants of houses owned by the Pfeifrauchers and run by the Dorfrichter. However, most homes and businesses in town are owned by a singular man, the hated Josef Gierig. This cunning and manipulative businessman has managed to acquire all the rented goods that were owned by the Reichenbachs in the days of a large part of Kreutzhofen.[2]

Life in Kreutzhofen is good. In general, the people of this village live safe from marauding monsters and civil unrest, so they can carry out their trades in relative peace and prosperity. They are tolerant, liberal and caring people.[2]

International Connections

Alimento: The Tilean Connection

The lands along the coast of the Tilean Sea are dominated by a group of powerful city-states. The northeast of the lands of Tilea remains in the shadow of the The Vaults, and the city of Miragliano is the greatest power in this area.[2]

Miragliano has always been a city of dynamic merchants and traders. The inhabitants of Miragliano sometimes tell a funny story about a foolish merchant who would not sell his own grandmother! Just as Miragliano's ships sailed the seas from Kislev to Araby, Miragliano's merchants explored the north for undiscovered resources and new markets. However, Skaven marauders from Skavenblight made the area virtually impassable until the Battle of the Blight (2192 CI). Duke Alfonzo of Miragliano hired mercenaries from all over the world and organized a huge expedition into the Zombie Swamps. Thousands were killed, but the Skaven were driven back to the Blighted Marshes and mercilessly annihilated.[2]

The Skaven were not destroyed, but little was known about them for the next several decades. Meanwhile, the exploration of the upper reaches of the Cristallo River and the foothills of The Vaults continued rapidly. There was news of a few skirmishes against small goblinoid groups, but the greenskins were quickly wiped out and the area began to populate.[2]

The cracked and stony soil of the northeastern lands was not good for agriculture. However, the Tileans were capable of growing olive trees, raising their robust and woolly sheep and mountain goats, and cultivating the fetore grape with which they obtained the characteristic frizzante wine. But the life these lands promised was very poor, and merchants saw little incentive to explore further.[2]

In the year 2235 CI, the explorer Guido Pasolini mounted an expedition to the source of the Cristallo River, following a strange legend that spoke about a route through the mountains. Pasolini and his men followed the river and discovered that it emptied into an immense complex of caves that seemed to lead somewhere under the mountains. After establishing a base camp at Campogrotta, Pasolini set out to explore the underground canal. Slowly, almost silently, their lantern-lit boats glided into the unknown.[2]

Pasolini discovered that after about 250 kilometers, the cavernous complex opened into an immense and majestic dome three kilometers wide. Luminous mushrooms flooded the place with a permanent twilight, showing a strange spectacle to the astonished Tileans. The chamber appeared to be an immense spring from which the water slowly flowed into the tunnels to the north and south. The ruins of some buildings were found, which later scholars confirmed were old dwarfen ruins. (The dwarves had also adapted the natural tunnels, turning them into easily navigable streams). Following the passages to the north, the expedition emerged into daylight at the presumable source of the River Sol, south of the Empire. Pasolini named this underpass River of Echoes and, although some still use that name, many prefer the names Cristallo and Sol for the rivers west and east of Alimento respectively.[2]

Pasolini made his discovery known to the Duke of Miragliano. Campogrotta was strongly consolidated and began the colonization of the immense room of the springs, which the Tileans called Alimento. Having thus secured mastery of the new route, the Tileans traveled to Kreutzhofen and presented themselves before the shocked inhabitants of the Empire, who had not yet learned of the expedition's departure. As we have already told before, the people of the Empire had remained deceived by their previous explorer and believed that the underground channel of the River Sol was impassable.[2]

The Tilean communities of Campogrotta and Alimento have grown steadily as trade has increased, and Kreutzhofen has also prospered. The Tileans brought frizzante and other wines, culinary specialties, cheeses, high-quality skins, and exotic products from the south and east, such as citrus and spices. They exchanged these products for metal and wood from the mountains and forests of the southern Empire. Expert Tilean boatmen known as sindicalistas efficiently monopolized the underground canal. Accidents (sometimes fatal) are known to have affected those who have dared to try to break their monopoly…the inhabitants of Kreutzhofen allow them to control the underground trade route willingly.[2]

A few Tileans have settled in Kreutzhofen, one or two have married, and a luxurious Tilean restaurant has brought new culinary delights to the people of Kreutzhofen. The sindicalistas are tolerated, although a few frown upon them; But ever since they pay in good gold from time to time for a new barge from the workshop of Gretchen Erdheim the shipbuilder, the people of Kreutzhofen have grown fond of them.[2]

Bretonnia: the Way to the West

As we have already seen, Kreutzhofen is connected to Bretonnia by the Montdidier Pass, which made Kreutzhofen an economically important area. The Montdidier Pass is one of the most recent mountain routes to be discovered by humans and this is because the western end of the pass leads directly to the elven lands of the Forest of Loren. Marc Oppoleaux, the explorer who opened the route, was only able to do so after many years of friendship with Loren's elves, who ended up trusting him more than any other human.[2]

It took the Viscomte de Quenelles nearly thirty years of careful negotiation to reach an agreement with Loren's elves to open a new route for trade and other matters. The route itself is lined by dense barriers of brambles and blackthorn and is patrolled by elven rangers of the Fir Ranmascath, whose goal is to ensure that neither the travelers nor the forest are harmed. Once the route was opened, the Loren Highway developed slowly until the beginning of the XXIV century; traffic has increased notably since the overthrow of the Reichenbachs.[2]

Bretonnian merchants bring in wine, fine cloth and hunting dogs, as well as rare herbs and woods obtained from their trade with Loren's elves. The variety of luxury goods available in Bretonnia - fine ceramics and glassware, upholstery and so on - is very attractive to merchants in the Empire. In return, Bretonnians receive goods in metals and minerals, carved wooden objects, wines and brandy from the Empire, as well as other exotic goods brought to Kreutzhofen from Tilea or the Border Kingdoms.[2]

There are quite a few Bretonnians who live in Kreutzhofen, and they have either married or brought their families there. Bretonnians are quite well regarded by the inhabitants of Kreutzhofen and are noted above all for their culinary arts.[2]

The Border Princes: Lands in Turmoil

The term "Border Princes" encompasses a great diversity of small fiefdoms and rulers. Some regents are daring imperial nobles who have come to subjugate and dominate a new land, while others are renegades from anywhere in the Old World: disgraced nobles, robber barons, bandit kings, and former mercenaries, all trying to build a kingdom in the middle. from chaos and disorder. Some of the attackers who besieged Kreutzhofen once were bandits from the mountainous foothills of the Border Princes.[2]

Although the Border Princes are in a permanent state of change, during the last years and decades the colonization of the area has increased; Though far from completely pacified, the wild lands of the Border Princes now boast a handful of thriving city-states. The Free City of Mortensholm is one of these fortified settlements, situated on the road that comes from the Winter's Teeth Pass, once it leaves the mountains.[2]

This settlement was originally founded by the Norse pirate and merchant Morten One-Eye, around the year 1992 CI. According to Morten's Saga, which is still told around the winter fires in Norsca, the great Jarl plowed through the Black Gulf towards the River Yetzin and continued upriver while navigable by boat. He set up a camp in the place that would later be known as Mortensholm; a plateau full of grasslands on the edge of the foothills. Over the next two centuries, this small camp grew and flourished; Morten and his men cleared the surrounding area of ​​goblinoids and other monsters, and the Norse colony built an important junction point on the trade routes that depended on the Winter's Teeth Pass.[2]

About a century ago, the Yetzin-Winter's Teeth trade route was briefly interrupted by a major goblinoid invasion, and the Norse people of Mortensholm were among the many small human settlements that suffered at the hands of the greenskins. Almost before an expeditionary force could be mobilized from the Empire, the orc army was disbanded due to internal arguments and was destroyed by various Imperial troops and by those of the Border Princes whose territories they had tried to cross. Mortensholm was almost in ruins and the surviving Norse settlers were too few to rebuild the city; thus, in the year 2423 IC, Sven Mortenson, a descendant of Morten "the One-Eyed", sold Mortensholm to Graf Edric Steinkuhler, a landless nobleman from Middenland who had accompanied the Imperial troops through the mountains. The Steinkuhler princes, as they became known, rebuilt Mortensholm and reestablished trade routes.[2]

Today Mortensholm is a remarkable walled city and the Steinkuhler princes have turned their attention to pacifying the Yetzin Valley. The valley, which has always been a lair for bandits and the occasional goblin bands, appears to have been corrupted by Chaos during the orc invasion, and the trade route to Winter's Teeth is threatened by beastmen and worse things. Contact has been lost with the small community of Wood Elves on Sith Fascoluinne, who had agreed to protect the trade route as it passed through the forests at the south end of Winter's Teeth Pass. In 2430 IC, Imperial Grand Marshal Hetzer made an unprecedented decision and assigned three companies of Imperial troops to garrison at Mortensholm under the Steinkuhler command. All these troops, added to the kingdom's own troops and a varied and large contingent of mercenaries, were here to ensure the safety of the trade route and protect this important route to the Empire.[2]

In the Border Kingdoms there is a thriving market for weapons, skilled mercenaries and other military merchandise, as well as other goods of many different kinds. Furs from the Black Mountains are usually for sale in Kreutzhofen, and sometimes exotic products arrive from Araby or even Cathay; these often include objects of doubtful legality.[2]

Despite the efforts made by the Steinkuhlers to dominate the area around the Winter's Teeth Pass, the journey from Kreutzhofen to Mortensholm is still dangerous. In addition to the inexplicable appearance of Chaos creatures after the orc invasion, the forests and slopes of Yetzin Valley are home to bandits, wolves, goblins, and many other dangers. Only a large, well-armed caravan can travel this route with true confidence.[2]

Layout

Kreutzhofen village map

1.- The House of Doctor Entesang

Jakob Entesang's surgery hours are from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. He does not receive visitors in other parts of the house, and the curtains are normally drawn.[2]

2.- The Black Eagle Inn

This hostel can accommodate up to 20 people in 4 single rooms, 4 double rooms and a small common room with capacity for eight people. The owner is Johann Silber, a retired sailor who is very popular with the people of Kreutzhofen.[2]

Johann's waitress, Annalize Hoffer, lives on the premises, a topic that sparks great interest in local gossip. There are also two other residents who are practically permanent: Anders Weber and Gerhardt Stutzer. In exchange for a small rent, the two help Johann at the inn, lifting barrels, cleaning and doing similar tasks. They work in the fields in the summer and also work occasionally on the dock when the barges are moored there.[2]

Few people eat here, so feeding a large group can be tough for Johann. The food is made to order by Britt Stoltenberg, and is simple, but always good. The beer is prepared in Kreutzhofen by Andreas Saufer.[2]

Recently, some of the Tilean sindicalistas have started frequenting The Black Eagle Inn. This started when Benito Sangiovesi was forced to close his restaurant temporarily due to illness, and the custom has remained; Tileans have taken a liking to the Eagle's rooms.[2]

3.- The Helmsman

This inn has a slightly higher standard than the Black Eagle. The owner is Ralf Gross, whose family has lived in Kreutzhofen for about three centuries. His wife Eva is the one in charge of cooking, and his sons Edgar and Konrad help out a bit at the inn. There is also a permanent resident here, Thomas Schutz, the man on duty, who works the night shift. His two guard dogs are in the kennel outside and they are very well trained; They only attack people if they are ordered to do so. As a regular customer, Thomas pays a reduced pension (half the price). Finally, here also lives Ralf's formidable grandmother, one of the three great ribs of the village along with Gretchen Klatsch and Gudrun Mangel.[2]

Ralf's brother, Boris, is a member of the guard, and helps as a waiter in the afternoons. The young Etelka Schmidt, daughter of Nikolaus, the village handyman, now begins to help Eva with changing bedding, in the kitchen and with similar tasks.[2]

The Helmsman is tasked with serving merchants passing through Kreutzhofen, while The Black Eagle is preferred by villagers and those who pay by working. This should be a friendly division, but it isn't. Recently, Ralf Gross has taken to ordering barrels of Bugman beer from his brewery in Wusterburg, much to the annoyance of Andreas Saufer, the local brewer. Gross also sells Saufer beer, but many locals are switching to Bugman's and Saufer is not happy at all.[2]

4.- Saufer's Brewery

Andreas Saufer and his wife Berta make beers that have sold well locally, and they also sell something to merchants from Mortensholm in the south. In any case, the competitiveness with the merchandise imported from Bugman is depriving him of peace and quiet. Their deep cellar stays fresh all the time, and they earn extra money by storing wines and cheeses from local merchants and farmers.[2]

5.- Stables and Smithy

Viktor Schmidt's stables house the horses and mules of merchants passing through Kreutzhofen, they can also house one or two carts if necessary. Viktor is also the village handyman, and can shoe horses, make or repair harnesses, and even make simple tools and utensils.[2]

6.- Diesedorff's Store

The village shop is run by sisters Brunhilde and Selena Diesedorff, who took possession of it when their cousin Helmut retired due to illness in 2507, from which he died the following year. The sisters came from Nuln seeking a new life here, and Brunhilde's good management has ensured continued business success.[2]

7.- The Mill

The mill in the village, run by Kastor Kroeber and his family, is in charge of grinding grain.[2]

8.- The Bakery

Villagers made their own bread until Armand Boulangier arrived in the year 2511. He bought a property that had been vacant since the last goblin raid and is now doing good business, partly thanks to the villagers as well as the travelers who pass through Kreutzhofen.[2]

9.- Guard House and Prison

The village guard is responsible for maintaining order on a day-to-day basis. The guard house has a couple of cells and whoever is charged with a major crime will be locked up there until they are sent to Wissenburg or Nuln to stand trial.[2]

The captain of the guard, Hugo Becker, shares the jail with Boris Gross (when Boris is not helping at the Helmsman's inn). The other full-time guard, Kaspar Erdheim, lives with his mother Gretchen, the shipbuilder, and really only acts as a guard when required.[2]

This small group is able to take care of any day-to-day problems in Kreutzhofen; These are usually no more serious than a runaway child or a couple of drunks. Hugo has the power to appoint guards in case of serious civil unrest.[2]

10.- The Manor House

This imposing building is not officially the manor house, as that distinction belongs to the ruins of the Reichenbach mansions, but it is commonly known by that name (partly also because the villagers want to forget about the Reichenbachs). In it resides the Dorfrichter, the magistrate appointed by the Count of Wissenland to control the future of the village. Sigismund Klippel is one of the most important men in Kreutzhofen, in other tasks he is appointed to supervise the captain of the guard, the leader of the militia, deals with matters such as collecting taxes.[2]

11.- Barracks

This building is occupied by the ridiculous and pompous Captain Bruno Trottel and his assistant Hals Rother. Rother is the brother of Berta Saufer, the brewer's wife. Trottel has a permanent post here, and he had already been assigned to another haven of peace like this one, Immelburg, east of Kreutzhofen.[2]

12.- The Artists Colony

This large house remained empty since the Lindenthal elders (parents of Ludo, the notary) died in the plague of 2506. Ludo sold the property to Josef Gierig who has renovated it and is now renting it. The current tenants, who have been renting for half their year now, are certainly strangers. They have scandalized the people and given them a lot to talk about.[2]

The house is currently rented to a Loren Forest elf, Asterellion Brightblade. Visitors are always welcome to the Brightblade Mansions, the name Asterellion jokingly gives his temporary home. Two artists have settled almost permanently with him and many more pass by; such as Mimi Abelard, Jean-Marie Artaud and María Gambacci.[2]

13.- The Mansion

In this building you can feel wealth and prosperity, something that has little to do with most of the houses in Kreutzhofen. And it could not be otherwise, because here lives the feared and hated Josef Gierig with his hateful bodyguard, the dwarf Stapmi Thundergut.[2]

14.- The Bargewright

In 2509, when her father Axel drowned, Gretchen Erdheim received the title and privileges of being the village's bargewright.[2]

15.- The Wharves

Barges heading to the River of Echoes or the Sol usually dock here for a day or two (sometimes longer, if the captain waits for a buyer or seller from Bretonnia, Mortensholm or elsewhere). At night, the crews of the boats usually stay in them to protect them from possible thieves, although Thomas Schutz, the bridgekeeper, makes regular rounds along the riverbank, as does the watch on occasion (in any case, there is usually no problems).[2]

16.- Taverna Il Toro Rosso

Despite its striking Tilean name, Benito Sangiovesi's Tilean restaurant and tavern is called the Red Bull by Imperial and Bretonnian villagers, as the sign hanging outside is a board cut out of the silhouette of a bull's head painted red. The red bull is the symbol of the Cornuti clan, a family of Miragliano, the most powerful, so the Tilean merchants and sindicalistas consider this irreverent work as a subtle joke.[2]

Benito lives above the premises, together with his Bretonnian wife Eleonora and his young brother Guido. The inn also has five single rooms with breakfast included, and four double rooms. Il Toro Rosso is a lively and always crowded restaurant that does good business.[2]

Typical dishes

  • Coniglio Selvaggio alla Cacciatore : rabbit cooked with oil, vegetables, herbs and wine.[2]
  • Anguille del Lago Monticchio : fried river eels marinated in wine and olive oil, with onions.[2]
  • Soffioncini alla Genovese : savory dumplings served with eggplant, other vegetables, pasta and melted cheese.[2]
  • Pidocchi alla Miraglienese Tartufate : river mussels served with egg, garlic and parsley with a rich sauce.[2]
  • Capretto allo Spiedo : roast goat with vegetables and spices.[2]
  • Bolliti Misti : a mixture of cooked meats served with an egg and herb sauce.[2]

17.- The Widow Drall

Widow Drall is incapacitated by her bronchitis and rheumatism, and her beloved daughter Petra is the only support for the maintenance of the house, as she does the housework and occasionally works as a waitress at Il Tauro Rosso. The hut is in a clearly worse condition than the rest of the buildings in the village, although Petra keeps it completely clean. What no one in the village knows is that the Drall house is owned by Josef Gierig, and he is threatening them with expulsion in the hope of gaining favors from Petra. She has resisted until now, while continuing to do housework for him, as she cannot afford to lose that money. Her position is increasingly desperate.[2]

18.- The Notary

Ludovicus Lindenthal, popularly known as Ludo, lives here with his cat Luigi (a Tilean sailor gave it to him when his cat had kittens while en route).[2]

19.- The Entertainer

This is the home of Siggy Katz, a local worker and entertainer.[2]

20.- The Handyman

Nikolaus Schmidt lives here with his young daughter Etelka, the apple of his eye.[2]

21.- The Thief

This is the home of Hans Artblant, a local worker and hobbyist thief.[2]

22.- The Pensioner

This property belongs to Josef Gierig and is rented to Eckhard Kruppel, a retired scribe from Nuln.[2]

23.- The Demonologist

Josef Gierig has rented this property to Rudolf Furst. He has paid him a year's expensive rent in advance, indicating that he is writing an academic text on theology and that he does not wish to be disturbed. He has brought with him an ample supply of writing supplies and a good collection of books, so his story seems credible. The reality is very different.[2]

24.- The Stoltenbergs

For at least two and a half centuries, this house has been owned by the Stoltenbergs, another long-established family in Kreutzhofen. The current residents are brothers Wilhelm and Erich and their sister Britt. Wilhelm and Erich are plain, humble men who work hard and drink on the weekends while they wait for their sister to take care of the house, make the food and wash her clothes. Britt, meanwhile, has a passionate affair with Armand Boulangier (something the brothers would not be amused about).[2]

25.- The Gossip

This is the home of Gretchen Klatsch, one of the gossips in the village.[2]

26.- The Gossip

This is the home of Gudrun Mangel, another of the gossips in the village.[2]

27.- The Monument

It is a nine foot tall bronze statue depicting Count Reinwald Pfeifraucher (2301-2387) in a dramatic pose holding a scroll in front of him. There is an inscription on a bronze plaque on the granite pedestal, almost illegible under layers of verdigris and bird droppings, and which reads "In memory of Count Reinwald Pfeifraucher, who visited Kreutzhofen in 2355 and was in charge of strengthening its defenses.". A careful inspection will reveal a few words faintly carved under the inscription that say "and the increase in taxes."[2]

28.- The Swing Bridge

This fine artifact was built by dwarf engineers hired by Dorfrichter in 2509. The bridge can rotate 90 degrees, thanks to a complex system of interconnected pulleys and gears. A shilling is charged for vessels passing through it, and wagons and mule trains which cross it are charged a penny per leg; the machinery is serviced by Thomas Schutz, who is also responsible for keeping the bridge lamps lit at night to avoid accidental collisions. At night, the bridge is usually kept shut, as few boats travel at night.[2]

29.- The Warehouses

This small complex of buildings is very secure, with sturdy tall, narrow doors and windows. Thomas Schutz patrols here at night with his watchdogs, and if you foresee trouble from outsiders you can turn to additional help.[2]

30.- The Cemetery

The old gravedigger, August Gruber, died a year ago. The current gravedigger is Boris Hippler, who lives in Weilerberg.[2]

31.- The Hovel

This ramshackle shed is located almost on the outskirts of the village and is the home of Udo Dreckspatz. It's appearance is about as appealing as Udo's. Buried a foot below the floor of the hovel is a jar of Udo's savings for his old age. [2]

Other places

  • Muller's Farm: Many of the fields that surround the village belong to this great farm and are owned by the elderly patriarch Ulrich Muller, 73, who despite his age is still working hard. His sons Georg and Stehmar work on the farm with the old man. Georg married Elsa, a girl from Wusterburg, two years ago and their first child, Holger, was born a few months ago. Ulrich may be fit, but a long day at the farm is too much for him and the brothers need more help on the farm with each passing year.[2]
  • Richthofen's Farm : Magnus Richthofen and his young wife Frida make a good living growing turnips and similar delicacies with the help of Wolmar and Ludwig Jäger, workers who live on the farm and are related to members of the Weilerberg Jäger. Frida usually walks to the village to buy various merchandise and she does not usually lack someone to accompany her.[2]
  • Communal Forest : This narrow strip of forest is the common property of the inhabitants of Kreutzhofen and Weilerberg. In the forest they hunt for acorns, mushrooms and the like, collect firewood, catch rabbits and squirrels, and feed goats and pigs. The Dorfrichter is responsible for keeping the forest in good condition.[2]
  • Virgin Forest : The area is bordered to the west and south by unspoiled low-quality woodlands. In theory, these forests are the exclusive property of the Earl of Wissenland and any other person should limit himself only to walking along the roads and rivers. In practice, however, the locals come and go as they please through these forests. Some forage and feed their animals in these forests, but these are poor and provide hardly anything.[2]

Law

In theory, the basis of law and order in and around Kreutzhofen is very straightforward. The Dorfrichter appoints the captain of the guard and these two men are in charge of recruiting and organizing the guard. The captain of the guard is responsible for keeping the peace, and the Dorfrichter is in charge of settling disputes, collecting taxes, and managing the lands. Everything seems very simple in theory, but in practice there is a problem.[2]

The Guard and the Militia

The problem is Captain Bruno Trottel. Trottel is bored and increasingly frustrated. He has no troops to train, there are no parades to preside over, there are no funds, there is no equipment, and he cannot recruit anyone except in an emergency. Not even the captain can say that there is an emergency at this time.[2]

However, a friend of his in Wusterburg has recently discovered some old documents laying down the rights and privileges that concern the captain of the militia in Kreutzhofen. For example, you can arrest people and hold them without trial for a week if you suspect treason, espionage, or anything else that threatens the military security of the village. This has opened new horizons for the good captain, and the instinctive revulsion between him and the Dorfrichter has turned into thinly disguised hatred.[2]

Furthermore, both the Dorfrichter and the captain of the guard have the right to summon all able villagers to their respective forces in times of danger, and there it seems that the law does not clarify who has preference over the other. Trottel is secretly licking his lips with the thought that if he exercised his right he would render the guard powerless (but it has not occurred to him that the Dorfrichter also has the power to request the help of the militia in an emergency).[2]

Religion

There are no chapels, temples or priests as such in Kreutzhofen. There are several reasons for this situation.[2]

First, the area is not seriously threatened by Beastman, goblinoids and other similar beings. True religious faith tends to be wane with comforts and prosperity.[2]

Second, the village had a cleric from Taal until 2505. Since then, no less than six have died, one after the other. First, the elder Hannes Treuwald died after serving the village for forty years. His replacement was killed by bandits while on his way to Kreutzhofen, and his replacement had not been in the village for more than fifteen days when he fell into a long-forgotten stocks on his way through the woods to Weilerberg; he died of blood poisoning a month later. The next one drowned in his own bathroom in the fall of 2499 (killed by Berta Saufer, with whom he had an affair), and two died quickly during the plague of 2506. The temple of Taal in Wusterburg is reluctant to command more clerics to this seemingly deadly trap, and began to ignore the letters from Kreutzhofen. The letters began to diminish and now most of the priests of Taal have completely forgotten the existence of Kreutzhofen. The few who have not forgotten breathed a sigh of relief when the letters stopped arriving.[2]

Finally, it must be said that the majority of the local people profess the Old Faith, like many other communities in the Old World. In the two years since Wanda arrived in the area, she has become increasingly friendly with the villagers, even accepting small gifts or food from them. However, she is still very nervous and shy and at best has been seen approaching a few meters from the village. The old women of the village (subtly prompted by Claudia Eberhauer) know that she is an agent of the Old Faith; Last winter Wanda left some herbs outside Saufer's brewery when Berta had a serious chest infection. The herbs alleviated her ailment and dispelled many doubts or misunderstandings about the strange and wild girl.[2]

Customs and Festivities

Market Day

Merchants and traders conduct their business at the stalls next to the jetty area whenever there are shipments in the village (which is almost always). However, market days are held on the first Konistag of each month. Market days are special for both traders and locals.[2]

Traders bring their colorful and rare wares to these monthly markets. Rich and rare Arabian fabrics, silks and satin and exquisite spices, Tilea raisin-glazed biscuits, costume jewelery and trinkets for the ladies, ingenious wooden toys for the children. The quantities of these items are always small, but they add color and fun to these monthly market stalls.[2]

The locals, for their part, have stalls with homemade goods; jams and preserves, tools and maybe a puppy (or two) as a pet for a compassionate bargeman.[2]

In addition there is a certain flow of artists, charlatans, pedlars and the like, especially in the warmer months of the summer. The occasional food fight or the fun of placing a drunken sailor in a makeshift stocks for bad behavior add to the party. Above all, market days are good for meeting other people, buying some cheap but flashy things, and risking being robbed out of your pockets.[2]

The Mitterfruhl Feast

The people of Kreutzhofen mark the spring equinox with a strange series of celebrations. The hatching of frog roe in local ponds and streams is a sign that summer is on its way, and the inhabitants of Kreutzhofen roam the territory hunting in large numbers for edible species of frogs.[2]

The great Frog Festival is celebrated on Mitterfruhl day, in which the young men of the village compete to see who can eat the most frogs in one minute (the winner is given the title Frog King, and is paraded around the entire village on a chair decorated by the young women who dress in green and yellow as Frog Maidens). The Frog King presides over the rest of the festivities, which end at sunset with a dance by the Maiden Frogs around a pole full of colored ribbons. Last year, the Frog King was Kaspar Erdheim, whose record of thirty-seven frogs in one minute is likely to last for several years.[2]

Scholars still visit Kreutzhofen on Mitterfruhl's day to observe these strange festivities, and some accounts of these dark and rustic customs can be found in some books; its meaning, if it has any, has been completely forgotten.[2]

Sonstillnacht

The summer solstice is a public holiday, with many festivities and banquets. It is also the time that many strange local beliefs are associated with love and marriage. For example, a legend says that if a girl gets a lock of hair from the man she loves and buries it under her threshold tonight, the man will be hopelessly attracted to her. Another local belief claims that a maiden dancing around an oak tree struck by lightning tonight, dressed only in what Mother Nature brought her into the world, will surely see the face of the man she will marry. The most cynical defend that any girl who does this can be sure that she will see a few faces of men watching her from the nearby trees.[2]

Harvest Day

Nachexeim 17 is recognized locally as the first day of autumn, and the great harvest celebration on this day has displaced the celebration of the autumn equinox. Large parties are held that last from noon to midnight (but no meat is eaten in this period). Local superstition claims that eating meat on Harvest Day will bring bad luck to the entire village for the following year. At sunset there is a torch-lit procession made up of single villagers, each wearing a mask showing a wild animal (these masks are prepared months in advance and the villagers put special care and affection on them). The last thing every villager does at night is to leave an offering of milk, beer or hot bread by their door, for the nature spirits.[2]

Mondstille

The winter solstice is celebrated with more festivities if possible and large bonfires are lit in various places on the edge of the village, which remain lit until dawn. It is traditional to eat goose on these dates, but the main dish of these holidays is the great Mondstille pudding. Made with fruit, tallow, flour, liquor, dried fruit, walnuts, and other rich ingredients, the puddings resemble tiny edible cannonballs and are nearly the same weight. The puddings are made a month or two in advance, hanging from shelves in heavy muslin bags until ripe. Each cook in the village has his own recipe and many keep their secret jealously, even from their own family. Most villagers agree that the best Mondstille puddings are those made by Britt Stoltenberg at the Black Eagle. It is also traditional for the married women of the village to get together and make a pudding that they will take to the Dorfrichter. Each of the families usually contributes an ingredient. Also, in this case, small portions are left overnight for nature spirits.[2]

Husband Exchange Day

The last day of Vorgeheim is celebrated with a joyous custom. The young wives of the village happily exchange husbands on the last day before the most serious Geheimnisnacht fulfillment. Borrowed husbands must be obedient to their temporary wives and, contrary to the usual custom, must perform all household chores and other routine activities. They may also be required to wear aprons and similar signs of domestic service. The bachelors of the village usually stay indoors to avoid falling into this slavery. A young woman of marriageable age may borrow from a husband for an hour or two a day to prepare for her future married life.[2]

In the evening, borrowed husbands are rewarded for their labors with a glass of mead, a honey tart, and a bronze penny. They are then led to their homes and wives with a birch broom.[2]

The origins of this custom are lost in memory, but some scholars have decided that it may be due to some kind of fertility rite. According to popular belief, this would be quite close to reality when the baker's wife lends her husband to Britt Stoltenberg.[2]

Sources

  • 1:Warhammer Fantasy RPG 4th Edition - Archives of the Empire Vol I
    • 1a: pg. 11
  • 2:Warhammer Fantasy RPG 1st Edition - Death's Dark Shadow