Episode 3 : Roses In The Night

All had now returned to the Restless Pig and were upstairs in our room looking at what we had brought back from the Ibn-Fatwaani. Serra Ibin Raaviat began the inspection of the items by casting her detect essence, detect channeling and detect mentalism spells, they at least would tell us what items were magical. However spell told her neither what the magic of the item would do or if it was cursed. There were the two chests, one had Martin Astonsen's demon crossbow and the other had the Golden Goblets each of which had a sting of pearls embedded about the lip, the only difference between them being that one goblet had white pearls and the other red pearls. We did not know it but imbuing liquid from the Red Pearl Cup allowed one to speak with Dragons, and the white to speak with Wyverns. There was a holy dagger with an ivory hilt, that could dispatch demons in a flash, it was held in a slender ivory case. There were the two books, one the Log of Halaana - The Sea Witch. This was the log made by the first owner of the Ibn-Fatwaani detailing her journeys after the Ibn-Fatwaani was first commissioned to sea. The other book was on naval warfare tactics.

Crayg Rydorsson went into the bathroom. He pulled out his small face mirror and looked deeply into the mirror. The thing about this mirror, and well all mirrors, is that for Crayg Rydorsson they produced no reflection. Instead the image Crayg Rydorsson could see was from beyond the veil. It showed a vast flickering wall of fire and usually at the centre of which sat a demon. The Demon Humzaar was always there and it was only ever him and never another. The Demon Humzaar would always talk to Crayg Rydorsson, and now that they had establish a rapport, Crayg Rydorsson found contacting the Demon Humzaar useful. The Demon Humzaar could provide that extra planer insight and knowledge that had kept Crayg Rydorsson alive on at least one occasion.

Crayg Rydorsson had first established contact with the Demon Humzaar initially by just opening and starting to read a book. This was no ordinary book however. The book had once belonged to a sorcerer long since dead, it had lain lost and long forgotten in a building of Middleburg itself long since abandoned. Crayg Rydorsson had slipped in one night to avoid a pursuit and had decided that he might as well look around while he was here. In the dusty cellar, long since cleared out, he came across a brick in a wall that he had accidentally touched but which had given slightly to his touch. Taking his knife he removed some of the mortar and levered the brick out of place. Reaching into the hole, created, his hand touched a book, this he removed. He checked the hole for more, but it was now empty.

In the low light he opened the book and had began to read, as he read, the words on the page vanished, this could bear more investigation, he quickly flicked the pages and as he did so the words on each of these pages also vanished. At the end of ten minutes he held, in his hands, a blank book which slowly crumbled. Crayg Rydorsson thought nothing more of it until he looked in his dresser table mirror the next morning and saw the smiling face of the Demon Humzaar, grinning back at him from the fifth level of Hell. After the shock was over and a few months had passed Crayg Rydorsson became quite indifferent of his friend or fiend as the case maybe. The Demon Humzaar could be quite handy at times when he needed information of a magical or supernatural nature. One of those times was now.

Crayg Rydorsson pulled forth his little silver hand mirror. "Friend, friend, are you there?". "Yes, I'm here.". "I need your help, I need some information about some items we have just come across.". "Indeed, I have heard something on this side as well.". "What's that?", "Well, how can I phrase it, I think its time for you and your friends to sit up and smell the roses!". "What is that meant to mean?". "Lets just say I have heard that the Captain of the Ibn-Fatwaani is really upset with you and he has sent you some roses, I think he wants something's back.". "You know of our raid on the Ibn-Fatwaani?". "Oh, yes of course.". The Demon Humzaar now had in his hand a rose and he starts pulling the petals off, "There's one petal and there is another and here is a concealed third.", as the Demon Humzaar pulls the third petal concealed by his palm into view. The Demon Humzaar lets the petals drop from view. "Crayg Rydorsson, what, you're still here, time is running out to warn your friends!", and he threw the remaining rose petals across the mirror's face, which then went dark. Crayg Rydorsson burst from the bathroom.

"Quick guys, get ready, petals, roses, there coming, something's coming!", shouted Crayg Rydorsson at the party who were either sitting or standing around the table in the centre of the room. Initially the group just turned as one to look at Crayg Rydorsson in befuddlement. Then they saw a glowing start to emanate from the goblet case that was upon Thor Frekwaldson's lap, a similar glow began around the money sacks on the table. Thor Frekwaldson jumped up sending the goblet case and it's contents to the floor. In a blinding flash of light the goblet case and content's, both the books, the ivory case holding the holy dagger and the money sacks, vanished. They were each replaced by a stream of black rose petals that appeared in midair and fluttered towards the ground. The petals began to consolidate into form and the form that they congealed into was as black as pitch and had demon written all over it.

Thor Frekwaldson stabbed at the demon that was forming next to him. Vernon Zarck cast shock bolt sending flashes of lightning arcing over the demons black form. Crayg Rydorsson struck at it with his sword. The blow that he delivered went clear through one side and out the other. Before it had time to be fully formed, the demon sank to the floor, it grabbed at Crayg Rydorsson's sword just before it winked out of existence. A flurry of burnt rose petals covered Crayg Rydorsson from head to foot.

Thor Frekwaldson and Martin Astonsen had drawn their swords when Crayg Rydorsson had first rushed out and could strike at the demon forming on the table before the demon had fully formed. They both struck the demon and sent it reeling backwards. From behind and partially concealed beneath the table the halfling stabbed at it with his shortsword. With a pop the black demonic form vanished from existence and left behind a flurry of burnt rose petals that gently settled onto the ground and over the halfling.

Crayg Rydorsson said, "Quick, check the other room there is a third somewhere.". Thor Frekwaldson, Martin Astonsen and Crayg Rydorsson burst into the adjoining room in our chambers and saw the third demon lurching toward them. Vernon Zarck cast shock bolt at this demon, sending electricity arcing across its black silhouette like outline. The demon slashed with its clawed hands at Crayg Rydorsson and Thor Frekwaldson and tied to bite Martin Astonsen. The three of them had the demon surrounded and with a few short sword blows they were able to send it back to hell.

People paused to take stock of what had just happened and to check there were no more demons lurking. The halfling had a quick look in the bathroom, Crayg Rydorsson certainly had a revelation in there! The bathroom and the two rooms were devoid of demons, but the place stank of burnt roses. The Captain of the Ibn-Fatwaani had taken back everything that was uncursed and left only that which some form of curse or magical restriction on it, namely the demon crossbow. Hashem's Chest had not returned, Hashem had seen to that. The incidental items taken by the halfling, a cutlass and Eastern silk shirts, had remained also in the room.

There came a knock at the door, "Its me open up.", said Harpo Strongfellow. After a minute of concealing various items brought back from the Ibn-Fatwaani that still remained here and trying to conceal the rose petal dust, the door was opened partially. "What been going on in there, I heard a hell of a racket downstairs?", "Nothing really, we promise to keep the noise down in future.". Sniff, sniff, "What's that smell, it smells like burnt roses to me.". "Serra Ibin Raaviat had an accident with her vase of roses, they, err, fell on the stove and we had to put them out quickly. We are real sorry for the noise, it won't happen again.", "Ok, see that it doesn't, and don't burn the place down.", said Harpo Strongfellow going back down the stairs.

That morning at the crack of dawn brought Harpo Strongfellow back upstairs, knocking at our door. Harpo Strongfellow looked concerned and said, "I've had a look downstairs fellows, there is no barrel of ale.". Crayg Rydorsson said, "We can explain that.", handing Harpo Strongfellow a gold coin, he now looked less worried, "We arranged the purchase of the barrel of ale just like you wanted but when it came time to collect the barrel of ale our contact just did not turn up.". Martin Astonsen said, "Was he the one smoking the pipe?", "Yes, that's him.". Martin Astonsen looked guilty but said nothing. "We went to the ship anyway but they would not hand over the barrel without the contact, what we will do is go there tomorrow night and get you a barrel of ale, right.". "I guess that is the best I can get for now, we still have some ale but I'll be needing more before the week is out.", said Harpo Strongfellow. He turned and went downstairs again.

The next few days were relatively uneventful. We went to the docks to collect the barrel of ale, rolling it all the way back to the Restless Pig. At the docks we found out that the Ibn-Fatwaani had sailed that morning. Having sailed so soon it would not have had time to send people looking for us or to see if we had survived the attack of the demons the night before. In the next few days Serra Ibin Raaviat did some research and study at the Temple of Zuuchi. She worked at the birthing centre in her spare time. The others spent the time looking at where we could get a piece of Dragonbone and an Astrologer's Crystal Ball for the cat, Hashem.

We went to the shop of Dram Wirmson the Alchemist. We had taken the line of reasoning that seeing we would more than likely be involved in fighting in which some of our people would get injured then it might be wise to invest in some healing herbs, poultices and potions. On going to the shop we entered through the small entrance door, down a stairway, which lead directly onto a very large room. The room was lined with glass cabinets that held all manner of strange potions, herbs, roots, shoots and leaves. At the end of the room there was a dark curtain that closed off the remainder of the room from view. We looked at the cases and the herbs inside them, looking at the prices and what they could do for healing wounds.

From behind the curtain at the end of the room out came one of the Alchemist's Assistants. He did not push the curtain itself aside but walked straight through it, it rippled as he passed. The man approached the party and asked if he could be of assistance, what manner of herbal product were we interested in. We indicated that we were after basic wound healers and blood stemming healing devices. As our budget was servery limited for the moment we chose some of the less expensive of the healing herbs available. On establishing our order the assistant stepped through the curtain and returned a few minutes later with the materials we had requested. He turned to the next group that had entered a couple of minutes ago and served them.

Thor Frekwaldson was standing with the halfling down the road from the establishment of Dram Wirmson the Alchemist, the rest of the group having gone inside. A group of Northmen came past and bumped into Thor Frekwaldson as they went past. The Northmen grunted at Thor Frekwaldson and walked on, they stopped just opposite to the entrance to the Alchemist's shop. They produced a money pouch remarkably similar to the one that Thor Frekwaldson has or more correctly had. The Northman opened up the money pouch and viewed the coins inside, he looked across at Thor Frekwaldson and laughed, the other two then also laughed.

Thor Frekwaldson indicated that he was going over to talk to these Northmen because that looked like his money pouch, which was missing. The halfling walked over to near the entrance to the Alchemists to be behind the Northmen and to watch developments. The halfling idly fingered a belt at the leatherwork stall he stood beside. The stall keeper came around to where the halfling was and stood over him, watching intently. The halfling absentmindedly looked up at the stall keeper and put the belt back, "I'm, err, just looking thanks, I don't need any help at the moment, ta.". The stall keeper smiled and said with contempt "Yea, right.", and stood there watching over the halfling.

Thor Frekwaldson wandered over to the Northman group. He smiled and said in Tradetalk "How you going, mate.". The Northman with the money pouch held it close to himself. He glared at Thor Frekwaldson and said in North Tongue "What you want, Nancyboy?". While Thor Frekwaldson had Northman blood flowing through his veins, he had lived all his life in Middleburg, and had never learned much North Tongue. Thor Frekwaldson's vocabulary in North Tongue was almost strictly limited to a few swear words but he chose not to use them at this moment. Thor Frekwaldson's reply was "Nice looking money pouch you have there, I have one just like it.". The Northman looked at it and pocketed the money pouch inside his jacket and said in contemptuous North Tongue "No, speaka da lingo. Me always speaka da North Tongue, you a stupida?", the other two burst out laughing at his comment.

Thor Frekwaldson smiled, "My money pouch was just like that one but hey now its gone, I could swear I had it a few minutes ago.". The Northman's reply in North Tongue was "So whata you going to do about it, stupida pretend Viking?". Thor Frekwaldson looked about him, there was only himself and the halfling, the rest were inside the Alchemists, this seemed like a good way to get oneself killed if he were to press the matter. The Northmen waited fingering their two handed battle axes just waiting for an excuse. Thor Frekwaldson said, "We are all friends here aren't we, lets have no unpleasantness, what's a few coppers between friends.". Thor Frekwaldson backed away and went to where the halfling was being watched over. As he left he heard the Northman say in North Tongue loud enough to be heard "No balls!", at this comment all three Northmen burst into laughter. They headed to the nearest Inn to drink to their new found wealth.


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