Episode 20 : The Fortress City Of Tornburg
 

At lunchtime the druids took luncheon beneath an acorn tree within the grounds. Here lunch of berries, rice, fruits and other non meat foods were available in plenty. Grimwold Mindbreaker talked to one of the druids about the dream he had had that night. He found out that the druids did worship the trees, and that today was the day of worship of the acorn tree, and so this lunch beneath its folds. He however did not find out anything of the tree that he had seen underground in his dream of the night before. Grimwold Mindbreaker found out of the druids dislike of Tornburg as it was a cesspit of evil and wickedness and that one needed to be watchful when there. They also spoke of how the Tornburgers considered the druids to be weird.

Later as we were preparing to leave to enter Tornburg, the druids gave us some herbs. The herbs were all healing herbs to assist in the clotting of bleeding wounds, the repair of shattered bones and finally one of whom we had not heard the name before, the druids stated that this one is extremely potent and that it will close and seal any bleeding wound and provided the patient does not move it will stitch together the wound to which it is applied. The druids gave over a root that when powdered would provide enough for two doses. The druids also thought that it would be best if Vernon Zarck entered the town in disguise, they provided a cloak and a wooden facemask, stating that the druids always wore these in town to both ward off the evil that they saw and to indicate to the populous inside that the druids were all one.

Tornburg could be entered via three separate gateways. Each gateway had a tollbooth. The party split up, Grimwold Mindbreaker and Harry Mata entering first. The fee for entry was one silver, the guard looked disinterested and asked their business, where they were from and if they had the entry fee, then after receiving the fee raised the boom and waved them through. He began again with the next wagon to enter. Serra Ibin Raaviat walked up to this tollbooth and they seemed surprised to see her and eyed her up and down. The standard phrase was uttered, she replied in Eastern tongue, they looked at her and raised a silver coin and spoke louder, "One silver to enter.". She got the message. The guards spoke again "You don't see this everyday, woman from the Inns of Happiness usually move in groups.". Serra Ibin Raaviat tossed the silver in the collection box and spoke to them again in the Eastern tongue, smiling all the time, she repeated insults that would have made their mothers blush and walked on.

The halfling approached the tollgate. "One silver, boy.". "Ugliest boy I've ever seen, hey, just a second that is one of those little folk.". "Well they are made of money aren't they.". "Your right, hey you, its two silvers for you.". "But I'm only half the size.". "It's still two silvers, hey, I think we should just grab him by the ankles and shake him up and down, we will be showered in silver.". The halfling quickly pulled out two silvers tossed them in the collection box and ducked under the barrier and raced into the city proper. The tollgate guards chuckled with laughter as they watched the halfling flee into the city. Next along was Vernon Zarck dressed in the robes of the druids, the tollgate guards just waved him through. Vernon Zarck pocketed the silver that the halfling had supplied for entry.

Inside Tornburg proper past the outer defensive wall the city proper consisted of buildings about four stories high. The buildings were mostly stone near the outer wall, but were made of wood near the eastern cliff face stretching around to the stone walls of the fortress. Grimwold Mindbreaker inquired of the whereabouts of the "Green Griffin.", the Inn where he had seen Axel Rohansson in his dream. The Inn was located on Drunk Street, an appropriate name as all the Inns were along this street.

The group made its way along the street to the "Green Griffin.". Upon entering the Inn a hush fell and the people inside stared at the newcomers. We pulled up chairs at an empty table, sat down and ordered drinks. Harry Mata ordered "Four pints of ale for us and a glass of milk my son here.", indicating the halfling. Grimwold Mindbreaker tried to make discreet enquires about Axel Rohansson and was met with silence. The locals seemed very suspicious of strangers and one did mention the "Bard's House.", as being the place where they should be. Now loosing patience Grimwold Mindbreaker stood up on one of the tables and said, "Does anyone here know of Axel Rohansson, I am looking for him as he owes me something?". Again he was met with silence on the part of the locals. "Bunch of local hicks.", he stated as he walked out into the street.

Grimwold Mindbreaker walked along Drunks Street until he came to an Inn by the name of the "Bard's House.". Grimwold Mindbreaker entered the Inn and inside he could see lots of "Foreigners.". On entering the Inn Grimwold Mindbreaker could hear the sound of Old Island Speech, the language used in the halfling islands north of Middleburg. There were at least five halflings, with one behind the bar, four dwarves, Northmen and Easterners all seated at their respective tables. In one of the corners there was a common man plucking a harp badly, he was also singing, this he was doing fairly well.

Grimwold Mindbreaker went over to the barkeeper and struck up a conversation. The barkeeper was Ham Cidermaker, one of the clan of halflings that usually ran the Inns. Grimwold Mindbreaker inquired "Any relation to Harpo Strongfellow, the owner of the Restless Pig in Middleburg?". "No, sorry to say I have not heard of him. I had been meant to go to Middleburg but I for some reason thought that it might be safer here so this is where I set up shop.". "You are right its safer here, Harpo Strongfellow was tossed in Middleburg about a month ago in the crackdown that swept across the city, his Inn burnt to the ground.". "That is indeed sad news.".

Grimwold Mindbreaker was fingering his Mentalist necklace, containing his stored spells, and inquired, "You would not happen to know of Axel Rohansson, would you? You see I'm looking for him as he owes me a debt that I'm currently trying to collect.". "As it happens I do, he was arrested about five nights ago and sentenced to the Tornburg coal mines. In this city it pays not to ask too many questions, especially about the coal mines. The coal mines are a very touchy subject with the locals at the moment, it seems that they are loosing soldiers in the coal mines. A word to the wise, in this city foreigners behave because if anything does go wrong we are the first to be blamed.".

Grimwold Mindbreaker said, "Tell me would you have a spare room for rent here for me and my four other companions? One happens to be a halfling, Blue Bigfoot, do you know him?". "No, I don't know a Blue Bigfoot but I know the clan well enough to know you need to keep an eye on your possessions.". "Well he's not that bad and he knows not to misbehave when he is around us.". "I see, well I do have a room going for six, that would probably suit you fine, where are your friends now?". "There down at the Green Griffin.". "That dive, I think I had better pull them out of there before they get into trouble with the locals.". Ham Cidermaker called over a man and instructed him to pull some new arrivals from the Green Griffin.

At the Green Griffin, Blue Bigfoot sat next to the coal fire and prodded it with the poker, trying to separate a piece of coal from the main body. He had heard stories of how this Tornburg coal burns cleaner, hotter and brighter and hotter than normal coal. Tornburg coal was also unavailable to non-Tornburgers, its sale to or possession by non-Tornburgers was a criminal offence. As the halfling continued to prod the fire a man came up directly behind him and said, "Master Bigfoot you are cordially invited to the Bard's House by Ham Cidermaker and your tall companion.". Harry Mata polished off the remaining ale and stood up to leave. About two dozen locals began to applaud, with fairy claps, Harry Mata was not amused and sent some evil looks their way. As he left he could hear, "Your a traitor to your race.", "Country hick.", "He is just a weak farmers son.". Harry Mata looked back at the faces of the people here, he would be back later with murder on his mind.

Now in the Bard's House Serra Ibin Raaviat inquired of the owner of the Inn and found that it had changed hands since she had last been in Tornburg. Serra Ibin Raaviat also inquired with the barkeeper that if she were to play and sing would she get reduced rates? The barkeeper indicated that they sort of already had a singer and pointed to the man plucking at the harp. "He was mugged last night and is looking to earn his keep by playing and singing.", at this moment the man took a break. Serra Ibin Raaviat lifted a lute and began to play and play well. The Easterners turned to her and said, "That's pretty good, how about coming and sitting on my lap afterwards?". Serra Ibin Raaviat smiled "I don't think so.", the Easterner turned to the others "She can play the lute but can she cook?", they chuckled. Serra Ibin Raaviat said, "I don't cook.".

The table of men from the West Rose said, "She's good but she is not as good as Axel Rohansson.". Grimwold Mindbreaker went over and asked about Axel Rohansson. "Well it was a few nights ago that some of the local hicks came in looking for trouble, Axel Rohansson got into an argument with them and it happened one of them was an off duty constable. So they charged Axel Rohansson and sentenced him to the coal mines. If I were you I would do my business in this town and get out as fast as you can. They don't like foreigners, and they have hundreds of rules and regulations, you break one and your in the coal mines. There really jumpy at the moment because of the losses of soldiers in the coal mines as well as the strange lights coming from the keep. We are on the next boat out tomorrow morning. By the way be nice to the druids, they are just about the only healers around here, and don't hurt animals when there around.". "I think you can make an exception for wolves.". "Oh.".

That night Grimwold Mindbreaker did dream of Axel Rohansson and the coal mines. The dream began in a dark tunnel in the heart of the coal mines, Grimwold Mindbreaker could see men labouring with sacks filled with coal, others leading mules that pulled trolleys full of coal. Off down a tunnel there was a figure lying on the floor, on approaching closer, Grimwold Mindbreaker could see it was an East Rose soldier knocked unconscious. The soldier let out a moan, Axel Rohansson slipped away from the still form, he was carrying the soldiers shortsword and spear. He also had his spell lists on the beads about his neck. He went down the passageway until he could see a distant light, the light was coming from a room which had its entrance guarded by a dozen East Rose soldiers. Axel Rohansson could see that the room entrance was stonework and not hewn from the rock as were all the tunnels. The dream ended.

Just before the coming of dawn, there was a knock on the common room door. Upon opening the door Grimwold Mindbreaker saw the waitress from the Green Griffin. She spoke hurriedly and asked, "You are friends of Axel Rohansson, you will help him, won't you, he will not be able to survive down the mines for long and he has been down there five days now. He spoke to me and told me that he was going adventuring down the mines, he wanted to know what has been killing all the soldiers, and he can never stay put in one place for long.". "He owes me, so I'll find him.", replied Grimwold Mindbreaker. "He really is an honest man.". "Is there anything you can tell us that will help us get to him?", the waitress thought then replied, "He did talk to Wart Boldarsson before he was sent down the mines, he might know more, but I have to go now or I'll be missed.", with that she turned and raced down the stairs into the predawn light.

After breakfast Grimwold Mindbreaker made inquires as to who Wart Boldarsson was, the information he received was that he was one of the three apprentices to the three court magicians. We would contact him later but first of all we wanted some information on the coalmines and the only way to get it was to go in. The entrance to the mine was in the south of the city and the coal docks were at a base of the cliff in the north of the city. We decided to check out the coal docks.

The area directly above the docks on the cliff face was made up of derelict wooden buildings, we chose one just off the docks. Grimwold Mindbreaker casts fly and invisibility on himself and floated down the 50' to sea level. At the dockside there stood a dozen militia type guards, standing around looking bored. Everything here had a fine coating of black coal. Grimwold Mindbreaker floated into the largish cave mouth in the cliff face, passing down the tunnel he encountered a widening of the tunnel that was used to house mules, their feed, a campfire and about another dozen men, however this time the men were East Rose soldiers and not militia. Grimwold Mindbreaker floated on down the tunnels and down the levels as well, his encounters were sighting of groups of miners with coal but a lot more East Rose soldiers in groups of 20 to 30 resting but prepared to move at a moments notice.

Going down the levels Grimwold Mindbreaker could determine that there were six levels below sea level, of these levels numbers three and four seemed to not be in use. There was about a separation of about 30' between mine levels. At the sixth level he saw a group of East Rose soldiers that looked as if they have just come from a fight and that they had at least given as good as they had gotten. There were lots of soldiers and there were also lots of bodybags. Grimwold Mindbreaker managed to open one up without being noticed and saw inside the remains of a East Rose soldier, he had been ripped to shreds, he had claw like wounds, but they would have had to have been done by a large human. On some of the other bodies he saw that they had wounds that were inflicted by weapons. It seemed that while digging for coal Tornburg had unearthed something that wanted to be left undisturbed. Grimwold Mindbreaker having seen enough for the moment floated back to the coal docks and up to the derelict building.

When Grimwold Mindbreaker arrived back at the top of the cliff he found that there was a new addition to the party. Domund Garsson had followed the group when they had left the Bard's House and watched as Grimwold Mindbreaker went exploring. Domund Garsson was a Warning Ranger of the Empire of the Black Rose, these rangers are stationed on the Warning Islands that lie between the Empire of the Black Rose and the Troll Lands in the Cold North. Domund Garsson indicated that he had been in the employ of Axel Rohansson doing "Odd jobs.", and that before Axel Rohansson was sent to the coal mines he had checked into a deserted Temple of Nestor, the God of Wisdom and the Night, for Axel Rohansson. He and his buddy, Vecket a dwarf, had also checked out a building in the south west of town that had a secret entrance that might have lead to the coal mines deep underground. This building is guarded by at least two East Rose soldiers and Vecket did not make it past the encounter.

At this moment a group of seven guards came marching past the deserted buildings, they would pause momentarily to check each building out, looking for people who should not be here. Serra Ibin Raaviat cast an illusion of wall across the back of the deserted building we were in and stepped behind it herself. The guards entered our building looked around and stepped out again then continued their progress along the street.

Grimwold Mindbreaker, who had been flying high above watching the guards progress turned and looked out to sea, in the distance he could see a coalbarge making its slow way to the coaldocks. Upon reaching the docks the coalbarge undid its covering tarpaulin and disgorged about 100 East Rose soldiers onto the docks. Coal was moved onto the coalbarge by miners. The miners were shackled together and whipped along by militia. Then wounded East Rose soldiers were moved into the coalbarge and also bodybags were dumped under the tarpaulin. The tarpaulin was pulled back across and the coalbarge headed back out to sea. The coalbarge headed east running parallel with the coast.

The halfling indicated that one of the bags that they had taken aboard was twice as large as all the others, so it might be worthwhile checking out. Grimwold Mindbreaker floated down to the coalbarge and tried to locate the large bodybag. Moving to the rear of the coalbarge he heard a low deep growling coming from one of the compartment beneath the tarpaulin. Looking through a crack in between the edge of the tarpaulin and the coalbarge, Grimwold Mindbreaker could see the dark form of a troll sitting up half out of a bodybag. The troll was chained from head to foot, he shielded his eyes from whatever light came into the room. Also in the room were two guards both with swords drawn. Grimwold Mindbreaker thought that he might find out more information if he were to befriend the troll and help him escape.

Grimwold Mindbreaker found a nice concealed corner for himself on the coalbarge and cast his spell. Grimwold Mindbreaker cast demonic possession on one of the guards guarding the troll. The spell took hold. The demon looked around grabbed up a spear and thrust it into the troll's left leg, blood spurted forth, and the troll let out a roar. The second guard turned and looked at the first "What the f...", his voice was cut short as the spear base is whipped around and brought down heavily upon the second guards skull, smashing it open. The demon chuckled away to himself and thrust the spear into the right leg of the troll, blood spurted forth, covering the demon completely in blood. The blood pooling in the centre of the room. The demon turned towards the troll again, it was struggling in vain against the chains that held him the troll let forth a cry, that Grimwold Mindbreaker would later find out to be "Help!", this is a very rare word to hear a troll speak. The demon drew the broadsword and thrust it into the trolls left leg opening the artery, troll blood flooded forth, and the demon lapped it up.

The demon opened the tarpaulin and ran onto the deck. There were two other guards coming with heavy crossbows, the demon caught them unawares as they were expecting trouble to be coming from the troll and not one of their own. The demon charged. Both heavy crossbows fired and went wide, the demon brought his sword down on the first man, lopping his arm off. Other guards were now about and one sent a heavy crossbow bolt into the demons back dropping his legs from under him and leaving him flailing upon the ground for a minute before he expired. Grimwold Mindbreaker, his rescue attempt having failed, floated off the coalbarge just a light drizzle fell. He was back at the cliffs soon afterward to find the halfling had been silenced by the rain, the halfling lost his voice whenever it rained.

Serra Ibin Raaviat now wanted to go visit the deserted Temple of Nestor that Domund Garsson said he had visited five days ago for Axel Rohansson. Going down the street they could see that all the buildings in this sector of town seemed to be deserted but they were still maintained. They finally reached the Temple of Nestor, this was an abandoned stone building, the central building was domed, although holed, surrounded by a courtyard that was surrounded by the perimeter buildings and finally the perimeter wall. Serra Ibin Raaviat not wanting to be seen entering, used leaving, to appear across the street. As the down pour had become heavier, even the street sweeper down the street took shelter.

Serra Ibin Raaviat checked out the rooms of Temple of Nestor, she looked in the library, priests quarters and main Temple itself. She found that below the Temple of Nestor there was a crypt that contained pedestals for ten sarcophagi but only seven sarcophagi. The main Temple was clean and undisturbed for the most part, she could see the mosaics on the walls and they were undefaced. Serra Ibin Raaviat could determine that the Temple of Nestor was still consecrated and undefiled. It was time to talk with God.

Serra Ibin Raaviat went up to the Brazier at the Altar and having found some cleaning implements, cloth, alcohol and some coal she placed these into the Brazier and started the fire. The fire burned bright, and outside the rain became torrential, very dark clouds hung in the air above. Serra Ibin Raaviat took out a spelllist that she had long ago memorized and flicked the paper into the brazier. A bolt of lightning arced down from the clouds avoided the Temple of Nestor's lightning rod, arched through the hole in the dome and twisting down slammed into the Brazier, vaporizing the spelllist and forcing Serra Ibin Raaviat to jump back from the Brazier, sparks still floated about the Brazier minutes later. Almost at once the rain abated and the clouds lifted from Tornburg.

They returned to the Bard's House. Inside the halfling talked to the Innkeeper about why there were so many empty and deserted houses in Tornburg. Ham Cidermaker said that about 50 years ago the people of the Temple of Nestor left Tornburg, that is why the area about the Temple is deserted. The reason that they left was because of local prejudice against them, it was also at this time that the coal was first discovered below Tornburg. This prejudice continues to this day, most of Tornburg even now is xenophobic. Serra Ibin Raaviat inquired after any people here looking for work, she was after the muscle bound type. The Innkeeper pointed over to twin Vikings sitting at one of the tables, they had emptied their purse to the Innkeeper this morning and would be staying for four days. The Northmen were Sven and Svall Strong-Arm, about 30 years old and both were 6' 6" and carried the standard Northmen double bladed axe.

 

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