Episode 16 : The Port Of Robi
 

We climb aboard our boat and the mages levitate the boat above the waves. Our journey begins around the northern tip of the island and we head due east. For ten miles the fly and levitate spells hold, then the boat softly settles into the water and the real effort of rowing begins. Those who are not rowing form the bucket brigade and continuously empty their now full helmets over the side. At this moment we sight to our north three sails, which when they sight us, quickly turn to intercept. Within half an hour they are upon us. There are three ships, each with a large ballista and some 15 soldiers, as well as, sailors and slave rowers. Stefan cast intuition and played though this encounter several times which in reality went much like this.

The three ships closed on us. We had our hands in the air, all except Heinz Meier who continues to bail. The Captain of one ship called out, "Identify yourselves and prepare to be boarded.". We raised our hands higher and Stefan responded, "We are merchants going to Rombyosus. Our ship was attacked by the horned menace but we managed to escape in this vessel.". "Why have you not made for Agusian? It is only half a days travel to the west.". Stefan responds, "This is where we got this vessel. That town is deserted, it has been sacked and laid waste by the menace.". The Captain spoke, "We will tow your vessel to our home port of Robi on the island of Lisboros, it is not two hours from here. I am surprised that you have got as far as you have from Agusian, considering the seaworthiness of your vessel.". Heinz Meier smiles and continues to bail. We are taken aboard his vessel and ours is placed in tow.

Talking with the Captain and crew of this vessel we find out that the island of Lisboros is infested with the horned menace too. The minotaurs are great mind magicians and combined with their ferocity and strength are a formidable foe. It seems that magic is feared on this world and except for the divine, it is mostly outlawed. The island has another city to the north but this one has been overrun and destroyed by the minotaurs about two years ago. The southern city, Robi, is better fortified and has repelled all the minotaur assaults. Within two hours we enter the port of the city of Robi on the island of Lisboros. There are about six sea going fishing and merchant vessels at dock. The city is alive and bustling with its human inhabitants. The white clay houses move from the dock up the surrounding hills. A keep with towers indicates the stronghold of the Governor Filameanus. A wall encircles the main city areas, and beyond are scattered houses and olive groves and vineyards in abundance. Towering above the city in the distance is a mountainous volcano with its red glowing lips.

We enlist the aid of the Captain of this vessel in the sale of our own meagre craft. He indicates that he will speak with Jeromé, the assistant harbour master and arrange things. The Captain also supplies some information as to the best Inn in town and information that in this town there is a trader named Epitiphicus who trades in everything, so he might be of assistance to us. Stepping for the ship we see the local fishermen and townsfolk. They are dressed in a manner that is totally different to our own. They are wearing white robes with blue patterns about the edges. We move done the streets to the "Thunder Inn.", the Captain's recommendation. Here we take board for the night, and sup on fish, olives, cheeses and the local wines.

The next day, as dawn rises in the east, we breakfast upon fish and vinegared olives before going to the docks. Here we meet Jeromé, the assistant harbour master. Stefan speaks, "Sir, we are seeking passage on the first ship to Rombyosus. Can you tell us when the next ship sails?". Jeromé replied, "As luck would have it the next ship to Rombyosus sails tomorrow morning on the next tide. Captain Nemo will give you passage, he is returning to his home port.". "Would he know an Aristotle?". "Undoubtably he would, speak to him about the Astrologer when you are on board. He is currently busy picking up a dozen crew.", our eyebrows raise. "There was an unfortunate incident on the way here, when an octopus swept a dozen of his crew from the ship. Hopefully the return journey will not be as eventful. I will arrange passage for the seven of you. The cost is some 15 silvers a head. You have your papers with you?". Stefan replied, "Unfortunately our ship was lost when we were attacked by the menace, we have lost our papers.". "Well in that case it is necessary to have you register with the harbour master as freemen of Robi. I will arrange that.".

Stefan asks, "How long will the trip to Rombyosus take, how fast are your vessels here?". Jeromé responds, "Twelve days sail will have you in Rombyosus. Here is the two silver drachma from the sale of the boat you came in on. I cannot but help to notice the metal suit that your companion wears.", indicating Yaeger. "I believe that the harbour master would be prepared to pay as much as 100 gold drachma for it.". Yaeger responds, "Unfortunately it is not for sale, it is a family heirloom from which I cannot be separated.". Heinz Meier whispers under his breath, "Ain't that the truth, if only he could wash in it.", rubbing his nose. We thank Jeromé for his time and ask for directions to Epitiphicus's place of business. He says he will guide us there instead. Along the way we go into a money changes shop and change some of the gold dust we are carrying for the local currency. The money here weighs half the amount of Hammerstein's gold coins.

We make our way through the markets of Robi towards Epitiphicus's, along the way {He who goes unnamed} stops at a linen merchant and buys the white robes with blue patterns about the edges that is the standard garb of the locals. We all put on these robes or tunics over our normal clothes, to try and blend in a little more with the locals. We come to "Epitiphicus's Trading Emporium.". Parked outside is a litter borne by a dozen slaves and with six spear wielding guards in attendance. Jeromé indicates that this is the Governor Filameanus's litter. We are allowed to enter Epitiphicus's Trading Emporium. Jeromé sees the Governor and bows. We follow are queue.

Governor Filameanus looks at Yaeger and walks over. He looks at the armour that Yaeger wears. "I will give you 1000 gold drachma for that suit of armour.". Yaeger replies, "No.". "1000 gold drachma and a blessed sword then.". "No.", the Governor appear annoyed. "I will give you 1500 gold drachma and a blessed sword for your suit of armour.". Heinz Meier whispers, " ...despite the smell.". Again Yaeger says, "No. My armour is not for sale.". The Governor looks very annoyed at Yaeger.

Governor Filameanus says, "I understand that you are the castaways and are seeking passage to Rombyosus to speak with Aristotle the Wiseman.", we indicate our concurrence. "Well in that case I want you to take a letter to the Governor of the port of Rombyosus for me.", we indicate our agreement. "Excellent.", he turns to Epitiphicus, "400 gold drachmas is final, I know that you will be happy to accept my offer.". Epitiphicus looks miserable, but nods, "Yes, Governor Filameanus, I will accept your offer.". He takes a small wooden box that was in the palm of his hand and secrets it away in a pocket of his robe. Governor Filameanus leaves. Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt looks at Epitiphicus and says, "That was a right royal price.". Epitiphicus grumbles.

Epitiphicus says, "I can see that you people are off worlders, I think it best I inform you at once that while anything that is non-channelling is frowned upon by the authorities here, it is still capable of being traded, discretely of course. What were you gentlemen interested in?". "What do you have?". "Let's see I have rune paper, lots of that. I also have a set of magical sandals which allow you to walk on water three times a day, for you just 900 gold drachma.". Heinz Meier says, "That's pretty pricey, does all this come embossed with a minotaur symbols like the box you just sold the Governor?". Epitiphicus goes pale, coughs, "I have a very important business appointment, I must ask you to leave.", he ushers us towards and out the door. Just before he pushes {He who goes unnamed} outside, {He who goes unnamed} cast phantasm behind the old man. A minotaur appears behind him. Epitiphicus sees it and as he is pushing {He who goes unnamed} out the door whispers, "Get out of here quickly before I send a real one after you!", with that the door closes, Epitiphicus pulls the blind down and places the closed sign in the window. {He who goes unnamed} turns to Heinz Meier, "Well done.", and stomps off.

We have lunch and see some of the town. We discover the primary gods of this world are Nylonus, God of the Sea, Lumina, Goddess of Life, and Nestor, God of the night and seeker of knowledge. They do have however slightly different names on this plane.

That night Stefan did dream. His dreams were of the box that we had seen in Epitiphicus's. Stefan sees a stone throne on which there sits a crowned Minotaur King upon his hand a ring stands out. The scene is now of an Alchemist slowly banging at this ring to reduce its size to fit a smaller finger. He pinches powder over the ring while tapping away, uttering charms, spells and curses when it reduces only marginally. The dream ends.

The morning sees us at the docks about to board Captain Nemo's ship. Jeromé comes to us and presents the seven letters of citizenship. He also gives us two scrolls. "The Governor asks you to give this one to the harbourmaster, and this one to Lady Effinya, the King's daughter.". Werner Faßenberg says, "Effinya? Effi for short.", Jeromé nods his head and whispers, "Don't call her that, whatever you do. With the letter to Lady Effinya, you must be discrete. If her father sees it there will be trouble.". We inquire from Jeromé, "Is there anything wrong with displaying an image of a minotaur?". Jeromé nods his head, "All imagery and symbolism of minotaurs is forbidden. The King's law forbids it. You can get into some serious trouble if you get caught with something like that.". We thank Jeromé for his time and board the Nautilus.

Our journey is mostly uneventful. At one stage or another most of our group must feed the fish over the side, but otherwise uneventful. During this time Stefan took the opportunity to dream of events, people and places that we will meet at journeys end.

Stefan did dream. In his dreams he saw a dishevelled Aristotle running through a forest. In another he saw a monocled minotaur looking straight at him and pointing. The next gave Stefan a view from on high of an island with a city port, beyond which there was a mountain range with a valley sneaking its way through the range to a forest beyond. Another dream saw Stefan presenting the King with the letter intended for Lady Effinya. He was dragged away screaming for mercy. Another dream saw Stefan with the minotaur ring on his finger, spell casters surrounded him, each had his fingertips touching their temples trying to effect their spells on him, to no avail. The next dream saw one of the witches moving through a forest, remarkably familiar, she is guided by men who seem to merge with the undergrowth. A dream on how to get home, revealed a young Aristotle talking with a wizen old Spellcaster. The next dream on the letter to the harbour master was no more than stocktaking, one sheep, two sheep, a snore comes from Stefan. The next dream, Stefan stands before the King again, this time he hears himself speaking of how the Governor has acquired a ring, again he sees himself being dragged away screaming. Stefan dreams about the other witch, he sees her on a row boat surrounded by minotaurs cutting through the sea.

On the seventh day out some whales start to follow us, but by tacking to and fro during the next three days our ship loses them or so we thought. That night they strike. The ship shudders and lifts from the water. The sounds of splintering of wooden beams fills the air. A torrent of water rushes through the gaps in the planking. Cries come from on deck, "They're attacking, man the lifeboats.". The ship starts to list severely, it's back is broken, we slid from our beds onto the floor, grabbing our backpacks and gear, we grope our way through the semi-light onto the chaos of the deck.

Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt, Heinz Meier and Yaeger emerge onto the deck. "Them's the bastards that's cursed us. Let's kill them all now, lads!", cries a sailor. Splash, a lifeboat hits the water and its crew start to row away from the ship. The sailor and his companions approach. Heinz Meier lashes out with his morning star ripping the ball through the speakers throat, he drops. Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt takes the next one in a series of quick stabs leaving him unconscious on the deck. Yaeger looks about him at the whales circling the boat and the massive bite mark taken from the side of the ship. Yaeger slips on some blood, exposing his neck to a sailor, the man slashes through the neck arteries and breaks Yaeger's neck. Yaeger slumps onto the deck, blood oozes forth from his dead body.

Heinz Meier revenges his compatriot, slaying the sailor outright. Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt chops an arm off another. The rest of our group stumble onto the deck. Cries are coming from below the hold, "Let us out, let us out.", scream the slave rowers trapped below deck. Wilhelm Schults rushes over to the hold and chops the locks from the hatches. The hatch flies open and the slave rowers come pouring forth. The first lifeboat away is swamped by a passing whale and the sailors tossed into the water. Heinz Meier says, "Hey, I wonder if the whales swallow seamen?". Some of the slave rowers jump overboard, others go to a lifeboat. {He who goes unnamed} cast phantasm and a squid appears on a whales tail. Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt cuts his way through the remaining sailors to a lifeboat that hangs over the ships side. "I have a lifeboat, get in quickly.", Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt cries.

The squid enwrapped tail of a whale strikes the ship, sending a shudder throughout the ship and a wave of water across the deck. The other two whales are diametrically opposite the ship, they line the ship up and approach at ramming speed. We jump into the lifeboat, Werner Faßenberg cast levitation and Gabriel Von Hendlebrodt cuts the ropes to lower the lifeboat. Two sailors jump into our lifeboat. The lifeboat falls gently to the sea and remains just above the water. Immediately all our oars splash into the water and our crew quickly pull us away from the doomed ship. Moments later there is again the rendering of wood, as the two whales crash into the remains of the ship. Water sprays high into the air. The ship quickly fills with water and sinks below the surface. The whales turn and circle. Werner Faßenberg and {He who goes unnamed} cast fly and add their efforts to propel our little lifeboat forward. We head for a small island but five miles distance, and pull the lifeboat ashore in record time. Out to sea we can see very little, save some floating debris and the occasional water spout.

 

 
(c) 1999 Hammerstein Rolemaster Campaign Journal by Ross Stopford  
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