Episode 12 : The House In Orchard Row
 

Blue Bigfoot and some of the party went to the Pitt immediately, there might still be a chance to rescue Blue Bigfoot's foster parents. When they approached the entrances they could see that there were twice the number of guards as usual. Near one of the entrances Blue Bigfoot heard some of the spectators as they came past comment on the tossing of the halflings Innkeepers. Events had moved too swiftly, Harpo and Daisy Strongfellow were dead and there was no way that they could be rescued from the maws of the ever hungry Dragons. The group moved on and promised bloody vengeance on the Coven.

It seemed that now our groups position was painfully simple, kill the Coven before the Coven killed you, as simple as that. To effect this end the group decided that taking the fight to the Coven would be the best line of defence, if they could be picked off separately or in small groups, with the aid of surprise each battle would be ours. There were only five of them to the six of us and they only had whole of the Middleburg's military, judicial and nobility complexes behind them. Our first target of choice, well the only one really was the Coven House just off Apple Street, here we would begin our bringing the fight back to the Coven.

We met up with Bobo Fettsson, an old friend of Crayg Rydorsson's who had seen the reward posted for his head. Bobo Fettsson knew that any reward of that magnitude was simply ridiculous, it would not be honoured. The people posting such a reward would not part with that amount and would simply regain it on the sudden and unexpected death of the rewardee. Bobo Fettsson had a talk with Crayg Rydorsson on what was actually going on inside Middleburg. He was also itching for a fight and to him greater real rewards could be had by siding with Crayg Rydorsson in the fight against the Coven. Their members were obviously wealthy and should be parted from their ill gotten gains.

At the Coven House on Orchard Row we first went around to the back and were able to spot an Easterner sailor slumped against the entrance way of the house directly opposite the Coven House. He appeared to be drunk and half asleep. Further observation revealed that he was very much alert and was the rear guard. Grimwold Mindbreaker indicated that there were three people inside on the second level but his spell could not reach all places. There was some debate over how to approach this situation and it was decided that the best way would be a multipronged attack.

We entered the backdoor of the apartment complex next door. Listening at the first door on the Coven House side we heard nothing and then tried unsuccessfully to gain access via picking the lock. This proved to be beyond our skill so we passed onto the next door on the same side. After some time this lock eventually gave way to the skill of the rogues in the party. Having entered we first began the preparatory spells before entry. Vernon Zarck casts fly and shield on himself and the halfling. Vernon Zarck approached the far wall and he created a portal through the wall linking this room to the one adjacent. The room beyond was empty.

The plan of attack began to formulate itself half the group would enter the corridor and advance up the stairs to the second level. Then Vernon Zarck, Grimwold Mindbreaker and Blue Bigfoot would enter the second level via another portal in the ceiling. Crayg Rydorsson advanced into the corridor only to find that the stairs leading up were nowhere to be seen. The corridor had doors at both ends and there were also bars just beyond each door. Crayg Rydorsson, Bobo Fettsson and Garack moved down the corridor towards the rear door when Crayg Rydorsson spotted a discontinuity in the floorboards about halfway down the corridor. He stopped and tossed a copper piece onto the floor ahead, it bounced and rolled down the corridor and vanished. We heard the sound of the coin falling to rest upon the floor. Crayg Rydorsson approached the discontinuity and slowly pushed his hand through. His hand vanished and pushed at a fine wire that snapped. The whole corridor began to fill with a fine white powder.

Crayg Rydorsson rushed forward and vanished from the parties sight. Bobo Fettsson and Garack followed Crayg Rydorsson as fast as they could, the wizards shut the door to the corridor and the halfling floated up to the ceiling of the room. Crayg Rydorsson broke through the line of illusion and saw the true shape of the corridor ahead. The corridor lead to stairs going up there being no rear door. He bounded towards the stairs as the mist slowly rose. He spied notches in the side of each third step and decided to bound over them as he sprinted up the stairs. He reached the top of the stairs as an Eastern clad in only flowing trousers drew a mighty two handed scimitar and advanced upon him. There was the ring of hard steel as Garack and Bobo Fettsson also entered the room to find a second Easterner guard waiting their arrival.

Vernon Zarck opened the portal revealing a separate room and the back of Sabritee Jafnari who, in response to the clash of arms, was moving towards a door leading to the room beyond her silver hand raised for battle. Vernon Zarck pointed his Serpent Staff of Mahaaran and let slip a charge. Bang. A fire ball surrounded Sabritee Jafnari, her hair and clothes were engulfed in flames, her foot melted and she collapsed upon the floor. Vernon Zarck pointed his staff and fired another charge. Bang. Sabritee Jafnari was struck by a huge cold ball and collapsed unconscious, the flames dissipated.

Meanwhile the first Eastern guard struck Crayg Rydorsson a blow that sent him senseless to the ground. Garack and Bobo Fettsson were barely holding their ground against the second Eastern guard. The Eastern guards had the strength of two men and their blows were unbalancing the fighters. Garack was struck down by the first Eastern guard breaking two of his ribs. Grimwold Mindbreaker entered the room and took control of the mind of the second Eastern guard, and had him turn upon the first Eastern guard. Bobo Fettsson did a slashing blow and removed the arm of the first Eastern guard and the second Eastern guard cut off the first's hand. The first Eastern guard collapsed and the second dispatched himself. All was quiet. Time to survey the scene. Vernon Zarck and Grimwold Mindbreaker came to the unconscious form of Sabritee Jafnari and showed her as much mercy as she had shown Thor Frekwaldson and his blink monkey.

We looked out the window and checked the rear guard. He had not moved and did not realize that he was now unemployed. In this room stood three chests and a large statue of some unknown God. Serra Ibin Raaviat casts detect essence, detect channeling and detect mentalism spells and determined that there were a number of magical items about the place including a small chest, containing a set of Unholy Magical Manacles, on an invisible table on the floor above. She said also that the wrists of the Eastern guards contained magic bracelets that were both enchanted and cursed. She removed the silver right hand of Sabritee Jafnari.

The halfling seemed fascinated by the statue and could not help but notice that the belly button held a small switch. On longer inspection he saw that the tongue could also be jiggled. Serra Ibin Raaviat said that this statue was both magical and a trap. Blue Bigfoot having covered his face with a handkerchief, for what it was worth, started pulling at the tongue and pushed the belly button switch. The top of the statue raised slowly and revealed its insides. Inside the statue was a sphere on a pedestal, a book, two small sacks, five ceremonial daggers, and another smaller sphere attached to the switch which contained some nasty looking liquid. The halfling placed his hands upon the large sphere and said, "Show me the Ibn-Fatwaani.". The sphere filled with mist and a sight of a ship upon the oceans revealed itself, it was the Ibn-Fatwaani racing through the waves. The halfling after prompting, requested the sight of Zandhurst the Astrologer again the mists filled the sphere but now we hear the sounds of the ocean and the creaking of ships boards but it is almost total darkness.

The halfling then said, "Show me, Hashem.". Not one of the halflings brightest moves. The mists parted and there appeared a rich bedroom with flowing silks and tapestries. There is a bed fit for a king. Upon the bed lay Hashem, his eyes closed. He was not alone in the bed, there were also two dark other worldly women. Their eyes slantly and their skin ebony. Hashem opened his eyes. The halfling said, "Hi, boss.". Hashem, using leaving, leaped at the halfling. Crayg Rydorsson who was watching all the time whipped Blue Bigfoot hand from the sphere. The sphere went dark as Hashem's face had appeared closer and closer. Crayg Rydorsson chastised the halfling. "Never do that again or you will be death to all.". The halfling mumbled something about only trying to help.

Now the suggestions began to flow, is it just a scrying device or a portal as well? Crayg Rydorsson threw his sword across the room and saw it in the sphere, he reached in and his arm appeared disembodied across the room. The halfling advanced to where the sword was and saw a window floating in the air with Crayg Rydorsson reaching through to grab the sword. He tried to pull the sword through but it would not go. The halfling touched the surface of the portal and suddenly appeared standing on the sphere. Well, it at least works one way, and it seems to be halfling size. So standing on the sphere the halfling opened the portal to the next room and walked through but everything that he tried to bring back would not go. The Sphere would let you pass though and back but with only what you carried. The portal would let anyone go through who wished to go with whatever they are carrying. So the halfling conjectured, if he could get into the royal mint he could get out using this scrying device with anything he could carry. The trick is to get in.

Grimwold Mindbreaker and Serra Ibin Raaviat said, "Let me see where the spellbook of Sabritee Jafnari is kept.", again the mist parted to reveal darkness. Vernon Zarck arced up a light spell, his hand as the source. He let the light shine into the room beyond the portal. The halfling's jaw dropped and eyes widened. Before the party stood a chamber festooned with gold and silver, gems and jewels, weapons and armour, and glass cases containing spellbooks and one containing the silver left hand of the late Koormana Jafnari. The vision panned about to reveal the whole chamber containing more wealth, some boxes with the Imperial Seal of the Noble House of Middleburg and finally a closed steel door. The halfling's mouth watered, he said, "Show me the royal treasure chamber of the house of Middleburg.", again the same room was revealed. "God are we in BIG trouble.", whispered the halfling.

Where to next? Dragons maybe? The thought of the blink monkeys can to the halfling's mind but just as he was voicing this thought he felt very sleepy and fell over asleep. Vernon Zarck had had enough of inquisitive halflings for one day and had cast sleep on him. They put the halfling to bed in the next room and continued searching the Coven House by using the sphere.

Two floors above lay a 15 foot Iguana with a diamond studded collar around its neck. Well, this looks like target practise so Crayg Rydorsson pulls out his bow and shoots through the portal. The arrow goes so far and then slowly is pulled back and pops out of the sphere. Well here seems to be the best place to spend the night. Serra Ibin Raaviat reaches into the statue and tried to pull out the scrying sphere it only moves fractionally but a gong sounds so loudly it deafens Serra Ibin Raaviat and draws the attention of all in the street below and wakes a sleeping halfling. Again Serra Ibin Raaviat touches the sphere surface but it remains dark. We check to see if the guard is still in position but he is gone.

Crayg Rydorsson goes downstairs slowly only raising dust to knee level and goes to the first door on his left, he listens, he hears soft slow breathing beyond, he raises his bow and waits, the person behind the door does likewise. Vernon Zarck creates a portal in the floor and sights the backdoor guard just below. A fire ball streaks down but only singes the guard who races back to the door he originally can through. He is shot by Crayg Rydorsson. Crayg Rydorsson shoots again but he does not drop, with the spell leaping, he leaps across the room into the opposite corner. Crayg Rydorsson fires again and this time brings him down. "Wow he's tough, three arrows!". Crayg Rydorsson searches the body and finds a headband that he pockets that may come in useful later.

Now just to search the building and deal with Garack's pet lizard. Grimwold Mindbreaker first uses mind lock to subdue the lizard. Crayg Rydorsson goes to a quiet corner and pulls out his mirror, his demon appears and inquires about his three babies. Crayg Rydorsson inquires from the demon about the scrying device. "Yes, I know about it but it will cost you." Crayg Rydorsson inquires, "How about a Iguana heart?". "Hmmm, ok. The scrying device cannot be moved out of the statue, it will take a week to renew itself, and the liquid in the sphere is a neurotoxin, one whiff and you are history." Crayg Rydorsson yells out, "In the name of the Demon Humzaar the Magnificent I make this sacrifice.", and he cuts out the Iguana's heart, a green hand three times human size with ten inch razor sharp talons appears though a rip in the fabric of the air and snatches the still beating heart. The sickly sound of munching and swallowing fills the house. Garack is quite indignant, "You killed my pet Iguana for no good reason, where am I going to find another one and what am I going to do now!".

Blue Bigfoot is disappointed that the sphere remains dark even to his touch. He investigates the pouches that were in the statue one reveals a large quantity of uncut diamonds and the other has 15 enchanted silver coins, finally there was a book. Grimwold Mindbreaker cast item vision a spell that reveals some significant event in the life of the silver coins. The spell reveals Hashem entering a chamber deep underground where heated rocks glow in the walls. He is with six slaves and he instructs them to take the silver ore from the wall, one terrified slave refuses to obey and is reduced to a pool of liquid by Hashem, the others obey. They chip the silver ore out of the rock and put it into bags. Serra Ibin Raaviat removes all five ceremonial daggers, puts them in a cloth and wraps them up and hides them away in her robes. We turned to examine the book, we were to find it contains all the dark sorcerer spells up to 25th level, the sorcerers in the party jumped for joy!

The night passed uneventfully. The morning brings a herald. The Middleburg printing presses have been working overtime.

The group split up in the morning each going their separate ways. Crayg Rydorsson cut off Sabritee Jafnari's head and took it to the middle of the market square and stuck it on a post with a sign bearing the words to the effect that the 250 gold reward is now unavailable. This produced screams and brought the attention of the city guard. Crayg Rydorsson leaping into the air flew off as arrows from the city guard flew up to him but fell far short of hitting him.

Crayg Rydorsson landed and was going through the side streets of Middleburg when he saw ahead of him an impoverished girl carrying a baby. His bargain with the Demon Humzaar had been for three babies, here he saw an opportunity to get a baby. Crayg Rydorsson went over to her and explained that he was in the employ of wealthier Middleburg families who were unable to have children. He said they were looking for a child of their own and were prepared to pay to get a child. Crayg Rydorsson continued saying he was prepared to offer her two gold for her child, with the promise that the baby would be well cared for and would be raised in the wealthier quarter of Middleburg. The girl parted with her baby and received the two gold.

A few side streets on Crayg Rydorsson again encountered a similar situation. He approached this girl with the same story but he had one baby in hand already. This girl parted with her charge for five gold. Crayg Rydorsson went on down the street with a baby in each arm. He entered the Coven House and went down into the cellar. Drawing forth the silver mirror the Demon Humzaar appeared. "I have two babies for you.", said Crayg Rydorsson. "That's excellent.", said the Demon Humzaar, "But our bargain was for three.". "I know, I'm working on it, this is the, err, downpayment.". "Well I'll take these two then, but remember you have only got a week to get me the other one.". Crayg Rydorsson said, "Right, I know.", and he began the ceremony, "In the name of the Demon Humzaar the Magnificent I make this sacrifice.". A rip in the fabric of the air appeared and through it a green hand with ten inch razor sharp talons snatched both babies. Crayg Rydorsson is covered completely from head to toe in blood sprayed out from the rip and Coven House is filled with the sickly sound of munching and swallowing.

Meanwhile that morning, Grimwold Mindbreaker took control of a peasant, via subjugation, and had him enter the Coven House to try and carve the wrist bracelets of the guards from out of their wrists. The man however was to be zapped when he touched them and he was left to die on the floor. Grimwold Mindbreaker decided that the only way to free the bracelets from the wrists was to boil the wrists. This is what Grimwold Mindbreaker did, the unfortunate side effect was to add material evidence to the charge of cannibalism.

Meanwhile that morning, Blue Bigfoot thought that we really needed to get some money. So he took some of the uncut diamonds and went out to see how much he could get for a couple of them. Looking through some jewellery stores the halfling was able to get a good estimate of how much the diamonds would bring. The bag consisted of 40 medium sized diamonds and turned out to be worth about 220 in gold depending on how well Blue Bigfoot could haggle with the jeweller. The halfling went to the fence he usually used for jewellery, Wingo Cidermaker. As he entered the shop Wingo Cidermaker looked up, "Hi, Red.", and went back to work. The halfling said, "That's Blue actually.". "What was that Red?". "I said my name is Blue.". "Red, Blue, what's the difference?", then he winked at the halfling.

Blue Bigfoot decided to get down to business quickly, the blind was pulled down and the closed sign put up. The halfling pulled out 8 diamonds, Wingo Cidermaker appraised them and said he would take them in exchange for 44 gold. The halfling accepted the offer. While talking Wingo Cidermaker mentioned that he had not expected to see the halfling alive and he had a safe house in dwarf town that the halfling could use as a bolt hole if things became really bad. Wingo Cidermaker passed Blue Bigfoot a piece of paper with the address on it saying, "If things get hot, go there, Red. Nice doing business with you, I'll see you around if you don't get tossed.". The halfling left the store, mumbling, "Names Blue, not Red.".

Later that day Blue Bigfoot purchased a few small items, in the way of hair dyes, different clothes and a hat, at shops around Middleburg. The halfling also bought for 5 gold a very fine lock picking set that would give him a +15% bonus when picking locks. He bought 10 wineskins and filled one with the fine Eastern wine from the hip flask. Going into one of the more respectable Inns in this area he caught the barkeeps attention and offered him a wineskin of fine wine, after some bargaining the barkeep offered 8 silvers which Blue Bigfoot took.

Going around the halfling noticed that all the people were extremely suspicious of strangers and that there were roving mobs lynching people. There were reports of three halflings answering to the name of Red having been lynched last night. Blue Bigfoot gulped. There were also reports of witches that were similarly given rough justice and lynched. Passing by a gathering crowd Blue Bigfoot saw that the crowd was out for blood and was assaulting a house. They broke through the front door and raced inside. A series of flashes of light appeared from the windows of the upper stories which soon ended. The dismembered body of a sorcerer was dragged into the street and lynched on the nearest lightpole.

It was approaching evening as Blue Bigfoot decided that the Restless Pig would be a good spot to store the remaining diamonds and Hashem's coins. Coming to the Restless Pig all that remained was the smouldering ruin of the building. Two city guards stood watch. The building had collapsed upon itself, the halflings precious store hole in the cellar now had five stories of still glowing ruin on top of it. Blue Bigfoot just stood there in shook and disbelief, with his mouth open, for a few minutes before coming to his senses. Blue Bigfoot though that he had better go to the shop of Dram Wirmson the Alchemist and get some healing herbs, this might be the last chance for awhile. Blue Bigfoot came to the Alchemist's shop only to find it was completely vacant. All Blue Bigfoot could do now was to wander back to the Coven House.

Back at the Coven House, in the afternoon, Grimwold Mindbreaker spied a woman with a baby in the distance and taking possession of her, via subjugation, brought her into the Coven House. Grimwold Mindbreaker having guessed Crayg Rydorsson need for the baby handed it over. The Demon Humzaar inquires of his babies, Crayg Rydorsson reminds him there is only one more. "I can try.", says the demon, "I thought you might forget.". Crayg Rydorsson performed his ritual sacrifice downstairs and the Coven House was filled with the sound of munching and swallowing. The flesh on the forearms of the two Easterner guards, after standing overnight in boiling water, had boiled away. At the bottom of the pot were two pairs of bracelets of similar design. Grimwold Mindbreaker made the woman take the bracelets from the pots and separate them from the remaining flesh. The bracelets were of a simple hinge and clasp type, the trick was to put them on without being zapped.

Crayg Rydorsson decided to have his way with the woman and placed on her wrists the Unholy Magical Manacles that had been in the chest in the upper storey. The Unholy Magical Manacles snapped shut and could not be opened by any person bar the one who had placed them on. In the Hall of the Damned at the base of the Pillar of Damned Souls another name appeared chiselled into the rock that name was Crayg Rydorsson, now damned for eternity. Afterwards he left the gagged woman to sob in the bed on the floor above. Later that night Crayg Rydorsson took the woman from the Coven House and strung her from a lamppost so that when she was found by the city militia she would appear to be just another foul witch caught by the populous of Middleburg and lynched.

Garack had left the Coven House early in the morning to get his two broken ribs attended to. He went with Vernon Zarck to the Temple of Lumina. Garack went inside and negotiated with a cleric present to have the healing performed, a simple matter of praising Lumina and tossing three coins into the fountain. Garack advanced to the fountain and mumbling the words "Praise be to, err, what's his name?", he tossed in the first of his three silver coins. Garack now looked up and saw that many people were now looking towards the entrance to the Temple, framed in the entrance were a dozen city guard. The crowd had miraculously parted and the guards were looking straight at Garack, in one voice, they cried "Get him!". Garack spun around and bolted for the nearest door.

Garack entered a dormitory, raced through, passed through another door into the garden beyond. He slammed and wedged the door shut and sprinted around the corner. The garden was a sealed enclosure with a 20' high stonewall upon which grew large vines all the way round. Taking a running leap Garack sprang onto the wall, the vines he grabbed gave way and he found himself on the ground again unsteady upon his feet. The city guard appeared from around the corner Garack sprinted to the door closest and entered the kitchen. There were a dozen people in there and general confusion as Garack rushed through. Garack ran to the next door kindly opened by a city guard, the man was given a swift stunning blow from Garack as he passed through back into the main Temple chamber. In the entrance stood nine city guard.

Vernon Zarck stood in the plaza opposite the Temple of Lumina and was quite mesmerized by a snake charmer who's snake had more interest in Vernon Zarck than in the charmer. There were the sounds of whistles and a commotion began around the Temple entrance as city guard entered or watched and waited. The snake charmer grabbed the snake as it left its basket and came toward Vernon Zarck stopping the piping of his music. Vernon Zarck snapped back to reality and now saw what was happening opposite him. In a blink his staff was with him and he leveled it towards the Temple. A grouping of city guards was just too much for Vernon Zarck to ignore. Bang. A mighty cold ball landed in the front entrance and knocked six guards and three clerics off their feet. Bang. A fire ball flashed across the plaza and the three guards dropped from fire and steam burns. Garack sprinted through the now vacant entrance and down the streets as fast as his feet could carry him. Vernon Zarck eyed those around him and with a hiss, using leaping, leapt into the air onto a rooftop and leaped away.

The next day brought a small mob outside the Coven House. The mob was slowly building itself up into a frenzy. "Burn the witches.", the chant had begun. Crayg Rydorsson heard this from below and looked out of the window. "What do you want.", "Witch.", screamed the crowd. "We are not witches.", said Crayg Rydorsson, and drew back his bow. The apparent leader again said, "There all witches and must burn.". Twang, thunk. As Crayg Rydorsson let loose an arrow, it hit the leader in the upper leg severing the main vein. Crayg Rydorsson watched on as he expired. "Anyone else think I'm a witch?". Another of the crowd shouted "Witch.", and expired as an arrow entered his chest. Again Crayg Rydorsson said, "Anyone else think I'm a witch?". "There's a witch in Apple street.", a voice in the mob prompted and the mob began to move in that direction before dispersing. Later that night there came a gentle rapping at the windows of the Coven House. Outside there was a bat holding a small scroll which it dropped at our feet as we went to investigate. The scroll read,

 

 
(c) 1997 One Night in Middleburg Rolemaster Campaign Journal by Ross Stopford  
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