Episode 21 : The Backdoor To The Troll City
 

We slept the afternoon and at about 2 am headed to the south western corner of Tornburg near the palace walls. Here we came to the house with the secret access to down below. Grimwold Mindbreaker cast presence and detected that there were two guards inside and one below the building. Grimwold Mindbreaker cast mind typing and determined that these were two third level soldiers up top and a fifth level soldier below. Domund Garsson told how in order to get in the first time they had to create a distraction, this distraction was to burn the next door house down and was quite successfully. There was only burnt out remains were the neighbouring house had once stood. The only thing that remained was the cellar, and into this the party slipped.

Grimwold Mindbreaker cast subjugation on the guard at the same level in the next building, the guard stopped whittling away. Vernon Zarck cast portal and opened a way into the cellar of this building. The guard staring blankly ahead as we entered. In this room there were stairs leading both up and down, the guard faced the stairs going up. Vernon Zarck cast sleep on him but failed. Grimwold Mindbreaker thought that some questioning should be the order of the day instead. Grimwold Mindbreaker allowed the guard to speak in a quite whisper, "Help, help!", the guard whispered softly. The dagger in his hand slowly came up to his throat and the guard desisted with his cries for help.

Grimwold Mindbreaker began "Where does this lead?". "To the trolls, its the back entrance.". Serra Ibin Raaviat said, "How many of them are there?". "Lots!". "Where is the front entrance?". "We don't know, we haven't been able to get very far, the other entrance we made was by accident, the wall just collapsed, and the trolls came through, we've used the back entrance sometimes, well three times, they don't know about it, its six years old and would have been sealed long ago if they knew about it.". "Tell us more about the specifics of this tunnel.". "It goes down about 200' and into a river and there are burial chambers down there, dead troll kings, but no trolls.". "What about the other entrance?". "Lots of trolls, we hit an outpost there, we managed to clear out a suburb but next day its filled up again, we think we hit a city, they have entered our cave system but we haven't been able to enter theirs!".

Grimwold Mindbreaker said, "Are they shy of the light?". "No, we have been getting some really big trolls lately, there using chainmail, there not scared of the light at all, and there are even bigger ones which seem to have metal growing out of their skin!". "They must be Wartrolls.", comments Serra Ibin Raaviat. "Is the troll city in the coalseam?". "No, we were looking for a new seam when we got more than we bargained for!". Grimwold Mindbreaker said, "What's in that hole that stinks?". "Dead trolls!". "What is your name?". "Jarad.". Serra Ibin Raaviat cast truth and said, "What lies have you said during our questioning?". "None.", replied Jarad. "Would you be interested in joining our group when we leave the city in a few days time?". "I don't think I will get the chance, I'll be dead by then!", the group moved down the tunnel leading down, when they were just beyond sight Grimwold Mindbreaker cast forget on Jarad and Jarad forgot the questioning session and resumed whittling.

Vernon Zarck removed his druid's robes and summoned his Serpent Staff of Mahaaran, a silver staff of two snakes entwined together. Domund Garsson eyes widened as he caught sight of the scaly part of Vernon Zarck that flashed into view for an instant. The wooden scaffold stairs spiralled slowly downward into the darkness, lanterns had been brought out and lit, a draft rose from the shaft. Vernon Zarck decided to fly and put the halfling upon his shoulders so that when they reached the bottom there would be two people present instead of one. Vernon Zarck stepped into the centre of the spiral and floated down the 200' to the bottom. The tunnel leading down was walled with large slabs of stone fitted together. Getting closer he saw the flicker of a fire and he arrested his descent. In the fire light was a soldier half asleep, nodding in a chair, with a large bell between his feet, he was watching the stairs going up, the man was armed with a heavy crossbow, spear, sword and shield. The halfling was set down at this point and Vernon Zarck floated up to tell what he had been seen and to return with a sleep scroll. Vernon Zarck flew down again as Grimwold Mindbreaker used levitation to descend. Grimwold Mindbreaker cast mind invasion and sent the guard into a zombie like state. Grimwold Mindbreaker floats to the floor.

Grimwold Mindbreaker is standing now in a small chamber, in the centre of which is the fire, to the side in an alcove is the guard and further on is a corridor with torches spaced at regular intervals into the distance. From the alcove the guard cannot see, the entrance to the corridor. Vernon Zarck walks straight down the corridor, at 100' he encounters side passages going left and right which end after 10' in crumbled walls, this looks like it is as far as the digging progressed before a halt was called. He goes a further 200' down this straight corridor and encounters the same at each 100' interval. Vernon Zarck returned to the party. The guard in the bottom chamber was put to sleep, and the party advanced up the corridor. The corridor went 800' before there could be seen movement about the next light 100' ahead.

Grimwold Mindbreaker cast intuition and raced forward, he came to a four way intersection in the middle of the intersection stands a guard facing down the corridor, at his feet a bell. Grimwold Mindbreaker cast mind invasion and succeeds. Grimwold Mindbreaker races past him and straight ahead to have the corridor end after 20', coming back the left passage ends also after 20', the right passage went on into the darkness. In the right passage is a cot in which there is a sleeping guard, as Grimwold Mindbreaker moves past the man, he wakes. Grimwold Mindbreaker comes to the end of the corridor, here there is a set of stone stairs leading down. The bell rings, Grimwold Mindbreaker, using leaping, leaps down the stairs into a natural cavern system, the floor has been worn flat and the whole cavern is bathed in an unnatural light. Grimwold Mindbreaker's options are left or right, looking down both he sees that the right one narrows, this is the one that he follows, it narrows and narrows until he simply cannot pass not matter what contortions he tries. The intuition ends.

Time to do something in real life, Grimwold Mindbreaker heads down the corridor and at 65' he is spotted by the guard standing at the intersection, the guard goes for the bell. Vernon Zarck cast sleep, the guard resists the effect of the spell. Grimwold Mindbreaker cast mind invasion, again the guard resists the effect of the spell. Serra Ibin Raaviat cast jolts and zaps the guard, he is stunned for ten rounds and the hair on his head stands on end for this time, small blue sparks arcing across his form. The halfling checks his purse but only finding seven copper puts it all back where it came from. Vernon Zarck cast sleep and the guard crumples where he stands but does not awaken the other guard with his fall. Vernon Zarck cast sleep on this one as well and succeeds. The party makes its way to the fissure in the rock on the right hand passageway.

Serra Ibin Raaviat cast illusion and made the fissure end ten feet before it should, this should provide sufficient space for the party to rest for the remainder of the night and for people to get back their spell points. Domund Garsson considers his current situation and conjectures that this tunnel has put them, far to the west of Tornburg and that they are at least 500' out to sea, and about 150' below sea level. The fissure leading to the left would be now running parallel with the coast.

The party camped the night in the fissure. The fissure was not lit by the natural luminescence of the caverns beyond the stairs and was as dark as midnight. On our posted watchers, the watchers were only disturbed at about 4 hours after our last encounter. Two men came down the stairs, talking and laughing, then there came the sound of their feet ascending the stairs again. The remainder of the time was undisturbed.

In the morning Grimwold Mindbreaker casts fly, invisibility and presence. He floated down the fissure leading past the stairs. He detected a guard near the top of the stairs above and one further down the fissure, he moved on towards this guard. Ahead he heard the sound of snoring. Coming around the corner he saw the guard slumped in his chair, mouth wide open, some drool coming out of the corner of his mouth. The guard was fast asleep. He had at his feet a large bell. The cavern he was in lead to a small passage, that ended in a stonewall. Grimwold Mindbreaker got the halfling to have a look at this, the halfling knew there was a door there but did not know exactly where or how to open it. Serra Ibin Raaviat pointed out the edges, the door opening mechanism and the disarm trap button. The trap was a 3' block of stone that would drop from the ceiling and again block the passageway.

How to get through? We could use the door but that would probably wake the guard. With Grimwold Mindbreaker and Harry Mata standing over the sleeping guard, Serra Ibin Raaviat cast portal on the door and the doorway vanished. Beyond the doorway there were a number of sarcophagi, this area ended in a ledge, beyond which a vast fast flowing turbulent river rushed. The sound of the rushing river outside awoke the guard, he snorted in his sleep, stopped snoring, remained in the position he had been in and looked for his opportunity to act. Grimwold Mindbreaker however had been paying close attention to the guard and when he stopped snoring he cast sleep upon the guard, who immediately fell under the spells effect and began snoring. This little interlude just a bad dream, if he remembered it at all.

The party quickly went through the portal which after a minute snapped the stone passageway back into place. The group stood in a huge alcove in the side of a passageway. A vast and very fast flowing river ran through this passageway. The alcove had sufficient room for 7 sarcophagi that were troll size. They were placed side by side, their heads at the back of the alcove. The whole area was lit by the soft glow of the lichen that grew along the banks of the river, the moss grew to about 25' above the bottom edge of the alcove and about 10' from the ceiling. The river ran 2' below the bottom of the alcove.

In the soft light that was available we could see that the river was at least 100 yards across and that there was an alcove upstream and one downstream. The alcove downstream had two sarcophagi and the passageway came equipped with iron rungs embedded into it every 20' We looked downstream and could see on this side of the passageway had also a 2' wide ledge that ran off into the darkness beyond. Serra Ibin Raaviat looking upstream caught in the corner of her eye movement and turned to see the last 6' of a lizard or snakes tail enter the river. We waited expecting attack but none came.

Grimwold Mindbreaker casts invisibility and darkvision on himself and Serra Ibin Raaviat cast fly on him. He now went exploring. First he went upstream, he floated to the alcove upstream, he could see that the stone work of the alcove had been broken, a 3' high and 4' wide hole had been made in one of the corners, it lead deeper into darkness. Around the edges of the hole was slime and in the other corner were the remains of troll bones. Grimwold Mindbreaker also caught the glint of something shiny and metallic inside this cave.

Grimwold Mindbreaker went further upstream. The steel rungs stopped after 300' and the passageway was no longer straight, the passageway became more like a natural cavern winding its way into the soft mossy light. Grimwold Mindbreaker cast intuition and raced forward with abandon. He could determine before this spell ran out the passageway through which the river flowed started in a waterfall, about 900' ahead of his current position. As the intuition was still running he returned to his present position and flew straight into the cave.

The cave led down into a small cavern, inside there were about eight long salamanders between about 15' and 20' long. Scattered about the cavern Grimwold Mindbreaker could seen gold pieces, approximately 90 or so. The salamanders appeared to be disturbed by Grimwold Mindbreaker invisible presence and started to hiss. Grimwold Mindbreaker popped into the next cavern just beyond, this cavern had multitudes of very small salamanders and loads of eggs, a pool of water formed at the bottom. Grimwold Mindbreaker cast demonic possession on one of the full grown salamanders, he appeared in the cavern, the remaining salamanders attacked their possessed companion with spray and began biting. Grimwold Mindbreaker flew into the water at the bottom of the cavern and was immediately surrounded by squirming, biting creatures. He began to cast watervision when the intuition ended.

With his current fly spell failing Grimwold Mindbreaker rushed back to where the party still stood and landed. Serra Ibin Raaviat recast the fly spell and sent him exploring again this time downstream. Grimwold Mindbreaker flew down the river, after 1000' he could see a flickering light up ahead at river surface level, he continued on for another 1000' so he could distinctly make out what was there. He could hear the clang of metal and the smell cooking in progress. The river curved to the left but the passageway continued, this presented another ledge. On the ledge Grimwold Mindbreaker could see toilet facilities downstream and water collection buckets upstream. There were also three female trolls who were in the middle of preparing a meal over a flickering fire.

Grimwold Mindbreaker decided to follow the river further downstream. The river split, to the right Grimwold Mindbreaker could see a bridge in the distance, as he got closer he also made out a big armoured male troll standing on the bridge armed with a large war mattock watching. Grimwold Mindbreaker floated by him, the ends of the bridge lead into corridors, to the right Grimwold Mindbreaker could see a vast chamber at the end of which stood three big armoured male trolls standing to attention and blocking entrance to stairs going down, they faced the bridge. Grimwold Mindbreaker could make out mosaics on the walls and the floor. Looking left Grimwold Mindbreaker could see the corridor continuing in the distance, with alcoves going off on either side. A troll, not in armour, came out of one of the alcoves on the left and crossed the corridor into another alcove on the right while bearing a troll size pot. From the alcove this troll had entered Grimwold Mindbreaker could hear the sound of trollish laughter. Grimwold Mindbreaker's estimate was that there were at least 10+ trolls in this room, it sounded like the mess hall.

Grimwold Mindbreaker floated down the river again, to his right he came to another ledge in the passageway, at the back of the ledge was a corridor that went into the rock, this was guarded by 2 armoured male trolls. Moving along Grimwold Mindbreaker could hear in the distance the crashing of a waterfall, he also came to another alcove to the left, this lead into a corridor, and stood unguarded. The passageway from this point also had along it a 5' wide ledge that continued downstream to the waterfall. Grimwold Mindbreaker entered this corridor and quickly found himself floating at the entrance to the troll mess hall, there were 10+ unarmoured trolls inside eating, they sat on large wooden benches and ate at a huge roughly hewn table. Grimwold Mindbreaker slipped by and out into the corridor beyond, he entered one of the alcoves ahead of him, and exited at the river. Upstream Grimwold Mindbreaker could see a huge trollboat, it was 50' long, flat and was a crafted boat and not just a raft. The trollboat was tied to the huge steel rungs that went along passageway. Upstream Grimwold Mindbreaker saw the split where the river forked.

Grimwold Mindbreaker went up the river and down the other fork to come to the bridge again, he floated by the guard and entered the vast chamber that lay behind the bridge. On the floor of the chamber was a huge rectangular mosaic, it showed an archway on either side of which were two Dragons, a host of Type 1 demons danced about the arch. From the entrance of the chamber Grimwold Mindbreaker could see that the walls were lined with mosaics. The chamber had a corridor going off in the top left hand corner, another leading off in the middle of the bottom wall, and a final corridor leading off in the bottom right hand corner, this seemed to lead to a kitchen, beyond it was guarded by two armoured trolls.

The mosaics depicted going around from the right the following. The first showed giants wading into battle, the next showed troll kings, crowns upon their heads wading into battle, the next showed demons of all sorts and sizes in a mixed whirl, Grimwold Mindbreaker could make out the Ice Demon from Hashem's Silver Coins amongst the throng depicted. Next came the mosaic of Dragons flying across the sky, next depicted Knights and warriors which a multitude of crests and emblems bowing down and submitting, amongst the chests were the emblems of Middleburg, Lumina and Wendinni. The last mosaic, just at Grimwold Mindbreaker's left hand showed an exceptionally tall Elf, in scintillating flowing robes, in his hand a thin beautifully crafted spear, at either side upon a distant hill there were two Dragons waiting in the distance and watching over the Elfin Sorcerer Fyndarenöl.

Grimwold Mindbreaker shuddered, it was time to leave. Just as he was going from the chamber he turned back and saw coming out of the corridor in the top left hand corner a huge male troll, this troll stood higher than all the rest, he was in glowing metal armour which seemed to be part of his body, on his back he carried a huge two troll handed sword. This could only be one of the Wartrolls that Serra Ibin Raaviat had spoken of, there could be no mistaking one of them.

Grimwold Mindbreaker went upstream and landed on the 2' wide ledge that lead all the way back to our starting alcove. He started along the ledge and at about 500' upstream he slipped and plunged towards the water, as he fell he cast fly and hovered just above the torrent. Grimwold Mindbreaker manoeuvred back onto the ledge and sprinted upstream, using the ledge to give himself momentum, as his spell is not as powerful as that of Serra Ibin Raaviat. He quickly returned to the party, and recounted what he had seen and emphasised the fact that he had visual confirmation of no less than 32 trolls, he dared not guess how many there actually were downstream.

The general consensus was that perhaps it is best to leave well enough alone. We considered that perhaps we should take some items for our troubles. Serra Ibin Raaviat knew that one of the sarcophagi with a troll king inside also had a channeling magical item. Most of the group now flew across to this alcove and took up positions. Harry Mata and Domund Garsson stood prepared to move the stone lid, Grimwold Mindbreaker was busy preparing his intuition. Serra Ibin Raaviat watched from a distance she casts her detect essence, detect channeling and detect mentalism spells while the halfling crouched behind the other sarcophagus.

Grimwold Mindbreaker cast intuition. Harry Mata and Domund Garsson slide the lid off the sarcophagus. Grimwold Mindbreaker could see that inside were the remains of a dead troll king, upon his head a gold crown, at his side a war mattock and across his breast a 6' round metal shield. The muscle moved the lid from the other sarcophagus revealing much the same but not as decomposed. Grimwold Mindbreaker touched the shield. There was a blinding flash and Grimwold Mindbreaker's intuition spell was abruptly broken by his death. Grimwold Mindbreaker was not damaged in the spell backfire, but he was some what startled by the abruptness of the spells end. Grimwold Mindbreaker said, "Perhaps its not a good idea to disturb these.".

We moved back upstream towards the other alcove. Grimwold Mindbreaker knew what was inside and he waited until he saw the glistening of salamander in the cavern beyond, on this he cast demonic possession. Chaos broke out inside, the smell of acid reached his nostrils, he cast this twice more when he saw a glistening form from the cave. After a while the movement inside the cave stopped. Grimwold Mindbreaker used his presence spell to determine that all the demons were dead. Grimwold Mindbreaker case intuition and entered the cave, 4 salamanders remained alive, but wounded, the pool was red with blood. Grimwold Mindbreaker cast transferral and took control of one of the salamanders, he spat and bit the others then rushed through the cave mouth and plunged into the river below. In salamander form Grimwold Mindbreaker could determine that these salamanders were exceptionally quick in the water and that the river had created a tunnel for itself whose bottom was 35' below the surface of the torrent.

Vernon Zarck flew to where the cave mouth was and cast stun cloud, the cloud entered the cave and started to zap all that were in contact with it. Three salamanders were fried in the cloud, the forth fell into the water and escaped the fate of its family. It waited. Grimwold Mindbreaker entered the cave after sufficient time had passed for the stun cloud to end, inside he saw many salamanders floating belly up at the bottom of the pool. Then the last big salamander lunged from the water at Grimwold Mindbreaker, Grimwold Mindbreaker cast subjugation and the salamander froze in its tracks. "Yes I wanted one of these alive, and I think some of those eggs would also bring a handy price in the market of Tornburg this fine day.". The intuition ended.

Vernon Zarck now flew to where the cave mouth was and cast stun cloud, the cloud entered the cave and started to zap all that were in contact with it. Three salamanders were fried in the cloud, the forth fell into the water and escaped the fate of its family. It waited. Grimwold Mindbreaker and Vernon Zarck were now outside the salamander cave and the rest of the party were back with the seven sarcophagi.

 

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