Episode 22 : Axel Rohansson - Verifier of Legends

Carried far downstream by the passageway and the flow of the air from upstream came the sound of creaking of wood, splashing, troll voices, and the sound of trolls rowing in rhythm. A trollbarge was on its way down to us. Serra Ibin Raaviat cast illusion and had illusionary writing appear next to Grimwold Mindbreaker and Vernon Zarck stating, "Trolls are coming from upstream, stand next to this sign and I will hide you.". Serra Ibin Raaviat cast illusion again and produced the effect of the alcove appearing 10' shorter, so concealing those two. She repeated the process for the alcove that the rest of the party were standing in. Harry Mata did however have his head projecting beyond the illusionary wall and sighted upstream to get a good look at the trollbarge as it came toward us.

The trollbarge was coming down the river fast. There were five trolls on board, a Wartroll with a two handed troll sword standing at the bow, two trolls sitting in the middle armed with mattocks watching three bound human prisoners and a further two trolls at the stern with large poles that they use to manoeuvre the trollbarge, keeping it in the middle of the river. All were wet. Looking closer Harry Mata could make out that one of the three prisoners was none other than Axel Rohansson, bound in ropes from head to foot. Our party began preparing spells and bows, the halfling cringed and could have sworn he heard in trollish "Fee Fie Foe Fobbit, I smell the blood of a hairy toed hobbit, be he alive or be he dead I'll grind his toes to make my bread.", but he was mistaken.

The trollbarge drew closer and Domund Garsson could hear what the Wartroll was saying to his companions. "We will rest at the outpost up ahead before we descend and hand in the prisoners.". Axel Rohansson spoke up in trollish with infinite sarcasm, "I hope there is edible food.". He was ignored by the Wartroll.

Vernon Zarck cast stun cloud and placed it above troll waist height, it crackled over all five trolls causing them damage. Grimwold Mindbreaker cast subjugation on the Wartroll and succeeded. The Wartroll continued in the process of whipping out his two handed sword. The Wartroll approached the troll directly behind him and struck him with the two handed sword, the troll staggered under the blow, blood spewed everywhere, but the troll just managed to remain on his feet. This troll turned and drew his war mattock. Vernon Zarck cast breeze call and had the stun cloud follow the trollbarge downstream, zapping the last four trolls again. The Wartroll struck its companion again and felled him. Two of the other trolls drew war mattocks while the third continued to sit where he was, wide eyed with a "What's going on?", type expression on his face.

The trollbarge slammed against the side of the passageway and began to scrap past the alcove that held the seven sarcophagi. Blue Bigfoot and Domund Garsson brought their bows to bear on the trolls, and Harry Mata prepared to slash at the trolls as they went past. The Wartroll chopped at the next troll that came toward him, damaging him. Blue Bigfoot saw the glazed look of the Wartroll, "Don't hit the Wartroll, Grimwold Mindbreaker has got control of him.", that was just before Harry Mata struck the Wartroll, for his second blow he struck at the troll the Wartroll was fighting. Harry Mata could boast that he had struck two trolls in one round and lived to tell the tale.

Blue Bigfoot shot at the troll and saw that his arrow managed to only just stick into troll flesh before falling out. The Wartroll is quickest again and hits his former companion, who staggers back from the blow. The halfling fires ineffectively again. The trollbarge has moved along the alcove and the last troll in the trollbarge stands directly beside Harry Mata, Harry Mata hits him, Domund Garsson shoots him and the troll prepares his war mattock. The human prisoners are now seeking protection afforded by the crossbenches of the trollbarge.

Harry Mata now alone against a troll goes full defensive and parries the troll's blow. The troll drives through with his sword, jarring Harry Mata's sword arm and landing on his chest. Harry Mata staggers back. Serra Ibin Raaviat cast leaping on Axel Rohansson. Axel Rohansson leaps across to the alcove where Serra Ibin Raaviat stands. He cries out, "Untie me, save my friends.". Blue Bigfoot effectively bounces his next arrow off of the troll. The Wartroll delivers another blow to the troll he fights, sending it reeling. It returns the blow, hurting the Wartroll, knocking him out of position, he strikes again, hurting the Wartroll more. The Wartroll returns a mighty blow knocking the troll senseless to the floor of the trollbarge.

The troll Harry Mata is fighting, steps across into the alcove. Harry Mata chops at him as he crosses. Vernon Zarck cast shock bolt at the troll. The troll stands in the alcove and brings his war mattock back over his shoulder, his intent is to pile drive Harry Mata into the stone beneath. Again Harry Mata goes full defensive, parries the blow aside but the war mattock grazes along his side. Harry Mata strikes hurting the troll, Domund Garsson is fighting at Harry Mata side, he strikes, hurting the troll. Vernon Zarck directs his stun cloud at the remaining troll that is engaged by the Wartroll, the troll falls due to the stun cloud into the space only recently vacated by Axel Rohansson. The Wartroll slashes and cuts a bleeding wound in this troll, he rolls about for a few seconds then collapses.

The troll in the alcove is attacked by Harry Mata again, hurting it. Blue Bigfoot has worked his way behind the sarcophagi and is directly behind this troll, the halfling thrusts his shortsword as hard as he can at the troll. The troll brings his war mattock down at Harry Mata but at the last second as the halfling strikes, the blow is diverted into the floor. Harry Mata uses this opportunity to strike again, hurting the troll. Domund Garsson strikes at the troll, the damage he does just enough to make the troll fall unconscious. Quickly Domund Garsson dispatches the four fallen trolls. The Wartroll pulls the trollbarge to at the alcove. Grimwold Mindbreaker orders the Wartroll chained, as he cannot concentrate on the Wartroll forever.

Serra Ibin Raaviat casts detect essence, detect channeling and detect mentalism spells and determines that the former prisoners have the following magical weaponry. A longsword, shortsword, dagger, shield, headband, chain armour, and a quiver of arrows. Axel Rohansson calls out, "Your all a bunch of thieves.". Domund Garsson replies "You owe me, you left me for dead.". Grimwold Mindbreaker cuts the bonds of the prisoners and lets them collect their weapons. Grimwold Mindbreaker said, "Where have you just come from and how did you come by here from the mines?". The reply is, "We came through a tunnel under the waterfall, just upstream, there are two sources of water, you know, one leads back to a whole set of other caverns, they lead back to a lake which has a village about it. It is a small corner of this village that goes into Tornburg's mine system. I guess there are about 200 trolls there.". Domund Garsson said, "You should have used the secret entrance you told me about.". "Where is it?". "Just there.", pointing to the secret entrance just behind the third sarcophagus.

Grimwold Mindbreaker said, "Tell me why you are down here, what is it that you hope to gain?". "Well, you see I came to the conclusion that there must be a great city of trolls down here because they helped the Elfin Sorcerer Fyndarenöl in the War of the Roses. Well you must have heard the stories of the sacking of the city of Tornburg, you know, how out of the ground the strange race of trolls just appeared. Well there is also the story of a volcanic island 150 miles north of here where trolls also just appeared from the ground. Well, q.e.d. the trolls must live under the sea, they must be pretty deep down as well. When the city of Tornburg was retaken the trolls and the lieutenants of the Elfin Sorcerer Fyndarenöl disappeared. Where you ask? Well back underground is the obvious answer.".

Axel Rohansson pauses for breath, "Now we know that both of his lieutenants must have been pretty well rewarded by Elfin Sorcerer Fyndarenöl for their service. Now the lieutenants, an Elf and a Northman, were mystics and so by rights should have a lot in the way of magic. This is why my long term companions here have braved this trip. Oh, by the way this is Ham Stollsson, a Northman fighter, and Fentor Pearlson, a rogue at heart.". Serra Ibin Raaviat asks, "So what would you term your profession to be?", she also cast truth, so Axel Rohansson cannot lie, his reply is, "I am a verifier of legends.". Grimwold Mindbreaker cast mind typing and determines that Axel Rohansson is a 12th level Northman Bard, Ham Stollsson is a 8th level Northman fighter and the Fentor Pearlson is a 9th level Northman thief.

Grimwold Mindbreaker asks, "So what do you want down here? I know that there are more Wartrolls here and I know that there is a Great Staircase leading down further, could we aid you, would you want us along?. Axel Rohansson said, "Let me consult with my colleagues here.", he moves off to a corner and cast silence so nobody can hear their conversation, that is except Grimwold Mindbreaker who uses a spell long ear to hear what is said at the spot where Axel Rohansson is standing. Axel Rohansson said, "Well guys what do you think, should we tell them? I think that there is no way in the world that we are going to be able to get down the Great Staircase without their assistance. I suggest we use their help, and we will consider what to do with them later once we have got the Wand. Everybody agree.". There is a nodding of heads "Ok then.". They come back to the party.

Axel Rohansson said, "Your in, we need your help to get down the Great Staircase. Right, here's some background information, legend has it that a Great Staircase below a mural room leads down many leagues. This mural room is meant to be located at an outpost where the trollkings are buried. Well, I believe that is this outpost here. Now the Great Staircase leads down to the Great Underground Highway. To the north the Great Underground Highway links up to great Troll Kingdoms in the Cold North. The underground troll kingdoms have had long standing wars between each other and might not even know of the trolls on the surface in the Kingdoms of the Cold North. To the south I don't know where it leads. The Great Staircase continues down, legend has it that it leads to the very gateway to hell, with all that conjures up in one's mind. When the trolls started to fight each other at the end of the War of the Roses, I think that the lieutenants of the Elfin Sorcerer Fyndarenöl headed down the stairway and then either to the south or further down.".

Grimwold Mindbreaker said, "Do you follow any Gods?". "No, best to leave well enough alone.". Grimwold Mindbreaker said, "I think we will be aiding you, I need some rest first before we head downstream.". Blue Bigfoot spoke up, "Can I make a suggestion?", then continued on, "I suggest that we use the Wartroll to lift the lids on the sarcophagi's and loot this place first, I also think that we should also go into the cave opposite and get all the gold coins out while we can.". Fentor Pearlson said, "So where is this cave, we'll help you get the money out.". The halfling "I don't think so, we found it first.". "But we are part of your party now, you know, equal shares and all that.". "You weren't part when we found it, from now on, yes, ok, but not the coins, and well if you are going down the stairway to hell you will not be needing money will you?". Harry Mata whispered, "Hey, blue your going red.". Blue Bigfoot "Yes, very funny.".

Vernon Zarck became agitated and did something random, he used summons to get a type 2 demon and with divine providence also managed to control it. The shadow demon came over to him, "Yes, oh, hated and loathed master, what is it I can but with great reluctance and malice of forethought do for you?". Vernon Zarck looked at the silhouette and said, "That cave over there, go in and sit down and if anything attacks you, kill it.". The demon went inside and sat, the one remaining salamander, looked at it petrified and did not even twitch a muscle all the while it sat in the cave. Vernon Zarck called the demon back out and said to it, "Bring out all the coins in the cave.". The demon responded by bringing each coin out, individually. There were 22 gold, 9 silver and 61 tarnished silver coins that Grimwold Mindbreaker had mistaken for gold. Domund Garsson indicated that the tarnished silver coins looked like they were of ancient trollish origin. They were placed into a pouch and given to the Wartroll.

Grimwold Mindbreaker still talking to Axel Rohansson said, "Do you know I have not been able to find a teacher for some of the higher realms of mentalism and I have hit a point where I cannot advance without the tutorage of another mentalist.". Axel Rohansson tightened his collar concealing the three mentalism spell bead necklaces that were around his neck. Grimwold Mindbreaker continued, "I know about them, and as you know could have taken them, but I need the teaching, so I propose that for our aid, you be my mentor.". Axel Rohansson scratched his chin, "Hmmm, if you get us past the Great Staircase, I'll give you one set of beads, I have a complete bard list, a complete lay healer list, and a complete mentalist list. What I would find really useful myself is say fly and haste spelllists.".

Grimwold Mindbreaker said, "How about this for an idea, we use the Wartroll to escort you in as prisoners. Only problem here is I don't speak trollish.". "But I do, I'll throw my voice onto the Wartroll, and we have Fentor go by invisible, but we will still need a distraction. I could create the sound of a human breach of the troll tunnels, that might do the trick.". "I was just thinking how about an invisible flying Wartroll.". "Nasty.". "I think I'll use transferral to get into the Wartroll, then rest, that way I get my spell power points back over night.".

At this point Harry Mata and Domund Garsson broke in, "Any chance of somebody healing us, we did get beaten up, you know.". Serra Ibin Raaviat said, "I can fix that, give me a few minutes.". Grimwold Mindbreaker cast subjugation and took control of the Wartroll. He walked up to the sarcophagi and lifted their lids. The first four sarcophagi were empty, the next held a silver crown and a jade ring, but not for long, the sixth was empty, the seventh held a trollsize gold ornamental chain armour, that we left for the moment. Across the river to the other alcove we opened these sarcophagi's, the first held the trollking with shield, mattock and crown. Axel Rohansson read the inscription on the shield, "Shield of fire.". The second held a suit of jet black plate armour, its crowned helm having slits for eyes.

Vernon Zarck turned to his demon and thinking of the last salamander said, "Bring me the last salamander in the cave, bound up.", tossing the demon a length of rope. The demon dutifully returned a few minutes latter with the salamander, beaten, bruised, and very dead, all four feet, its head and its tail were tied together at one end and bound with rope. Grimwold Mindbreaker looked at Vernon Zarck and said, "That worked really well, didn't it, I wanted that one alive.". Vernon Zarck said, "These things happen sometimes.".

Serra Ibin Raaviat said, "So do you think there might be more stuff inside?". She casts her detect essence, detect channeling and detect mentalism spells. An essence source came up in the second cave just beyond the first cave. Axel Rohansson said, "Well I'm going in, it could be a silver scroll case that the Elfin Sorcerer Fyndarenöl brought with him from beyond the Western Veil. If it is it is probably trapped, you know.". Serra Ibin Raaviat cast detect traps "Well if it is trapped its not magically trapped.". Harry Mata said, "Hey, Blue Bigfoot you better go in as well, you might learn something more on disarming traps.". The halfling gave Harry Mata a dirty look and followed Axel Rohansson and Domund Garsson into the cave.

Inside they found a small silver box with intricate silver designs inlaid. Axel Rohansson drew his longsword and waved it over the box and pushed a small button on the hilt, "If its trapped the sword glows bluish.". The sword did not glow, they found trinkets of armour and a small necklace but only the silver box and necklace had value so we took them and left to join the others. The salamander eggs inside seemed to be in liquid in incubation, if we were to remove them they would simply die. Axel Rohansson translated the Elvish inscription on the box's side it said box of dreams, or box of dreams.

Serra Ibin Raaviat cast disarm and on the third try succeeds. The panels on the box start to slide and as in a Chinese puzzle they shift positions with one another until the jumbled maze of the pattern on the outside of the box takes form. The box inscription depicts three people standing in a forest glade and as the final panel moves into place the box issues a soft click. Axel Rohansson opens the box and inside is a fine white powder, he puts in the tip of a finger and casts a series of spells over the box of dreams. After about 10 minutes stops and says, "Well, this is snuff, it has major benefits for the dream spell, a really large bonus. It is actually the ground bark from a Elvish tree across the Western Veil, some of the wood itself lines the inside. I have never even heard of it before. It is very addictive and if used more than a couple of times can be damaging. It, by default, lets the recipient dream as per the spell. It also has some bad side effects if the recipient does not know how to dream properly. Oh, the trap just causes the box to give out a really heavy dose of the snuff, and so the recipient snuffs it. Bad joke, I know, but it had to be said.".

We decided to rest, but first of all we thought that we should string an invisible rope across the river so that the next trollbarge coming downstream will have its crew knocked into the water. The thief Fentor Pearlson cast unseen upon the rope and it was stretched taunt across the river at about troll chest height. Watches were set but nothing came down the river in the next 8 hours. We had arrived at the decision that we were going down the Great Staircase into the bowels of the earth, the tricky bit was to get past the troll outpost up ahead and so down the Great Staircase.


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