As vital as cold steel and fervent courage are to the Reikland’s defence, heroics alone cannot get the job done. Five souls, no matter how valiant, cannot overcome a horde. They must be directed, guided and – on occasion – saved by those whose strengths lie in subtler arts.
Who is Franz Lohner? Nobody seems entirely sure. Certainly he’s not the bluff innkeeper-in-exile he holds himself to be. After all, wasn’t he the brains behind the defence of Ubersreik? And it seems very much as if he’s positioning himself to oppose the latest round of devilry to assail the Reikland.
Such is Lohner’s reputation that most of his acquaintances, from the wealthiest of merchants to the lowliest of beggars, go to great effort to remain in his good graces. Everyone has a theory as to why the innkeeper is so well-connected, ranging from the sublime (he’s actually the legendary blackmailer Rudolph Gestromm, living out his retirement) to the ridiculous (he’s the displaced Graf von Jungfreud, meddling from the sidelines following his removal from power). It’s all conjecture, stuff that Lohner laughs off if ever it’s repeated in earshot, and many suspect he deliberately feeds the most outlandish stories.
Whatever the truth of his origins, it’s evident that Lohner sits at the heart of a formidable spy network – one which rivals that of the Emperor himself. It’s therefore just as well that Lohner has only the Empire’s best interests at heart. Or appears to…
Olesya’s caustic manner enshrouds a soul hardened on the harsh steppes of Kislev. Though little given to discussing her past, a glint of pride shines in her eye when she speaks of the charge at Sebasta, with the banner of Ursun fluttering in the wind. And the dagger seldom far from her hand is a strange blade, more like a hilted lance-point than an old woman’s dirk.
It invites questions, to be sure, but little of Olesya’s manner does not. Why did she leave Kislev? How did she come to be in Lohner’s company? Who – if anyone – does she serve? But Olesya’s past is a closely-guarded secret, and enquiries are brusquely deflected, if they are tolerated at all. One thing that is no secret is that Olesya prefers her own company best of all, and close acquaintances are suffered scarcely less readily than complete strangers.
It should therefore be of no surprise that this bitter-tongued drab conceals a formidable magical talent. This affinity was seldom on display during the battle for Ubersreik – save perhaps Olesya’s ability to sequester a cart in places no cart should readily fit. The reason is a matter of debate amongst those few acquaintances who survived the Vermintide. Some have suggested that her talent was in fact awoken during those bleak days, fed by grimoires and tomes salvaged from the city’s ruins, and artefacts from the bowels of Castle Drachenfels. Others mutter darkly that Olesya possessed such skill all along, wielding it under the guise of the wizard Cristoph Engel…