Episode 4 : The Sewers Of Middleburg
 

Later that day, Blue Bigfoot went to a fence he knew, Wingo Cidermaker, a Jeweller in District A. Vernon Zarck went with Blue Bigfoot and stood outside a little way down the street while Blue Bigfoot went in. The halfling entered the shop and started to look around. There was no one else in the jewellers apart from the owner. He went to the door and put up the "Out to lunch.", and came over to the halfling. "Blue Bigfoot, what can I do for you?", "I have a cutlass that I want to sell.". "I don't usually trade in weapons but lets see it anyway.". The halfling pulls out the large cutlass with the small gems inlaid. "What do you think?". "It will need some rework. Yes, I'll take it.". "So, how much?". "How about 3 gold, that should cover it.". "How about 4, I think those gems are worth more?". "Sold for 4 gold then.". The cutlass swiftly disappears under the counter and 4 gold coins are put into the halfling's hands. Wingo Cidermaker opens for business again.

In the meantime we thought that we should seek gainful employment, so that we could pay for next month rent. Our coffers at the moment were largely skint, apart from those of Thor Frekwaldson. Since a blink monkey had become his constant companion, no matter what he did about it, he had about 60 gold. After some enquires we were told that there had been some attacks on the sewer workers in District F of Middleburg and that the District Council had decided to employ some people who could hold their own in a fight. They had been sending down pairs of sewer workers but two men were not enough to return to tell the tale of what happened. Consequently they were finding it extremely difficult to get people to go down the sewers, so they were calling for troubleshooters.

On applying at the District F Council & District Militia Offices we found that we were the only group. The terms of employment were that we would be paid a gold per week each, maximum of two weeks, and the bonus of two gold each if we found and stopped whatever it was from killing any further sewer workers. Proof was to be provided by way of the body. Losses were not the Council's expense, anything we find we keep as booty. So we accepted the honorary positions of sewer workers and prepared ourselves for the decent into the sewers running beneath Middleburg. While in these offices the militia warned the halfling not to go into District D as they had a crackdown on halflings in that area, the Militia Chief in that district does not like halflings and arrests them at a moments notice.

We approached the sewer building entrance, we had been told that they had lost a team here only a few days before. Since that time nobody has been down to investigate. We went through the building to the basement and to the sewer access point. We were all prepared. We went slowly down the rickety stairway leading into the sewer proper. The stairs lead down to an alcove, in the alcove were large lanterns filled with oil, we lit some of these and distributed them amongst the party members. The alcove was directly off the sewer proper. Going to the edge of the alcove we could see the sewer running north south. To the north the sewer ended about 20 yards along in a grate, beyond the grate was the sea. The sea current flowed basically west to east across Middleburg. The sewers had been designed so that the tides would flow in from the northside and the westside of Middleburg and flush the sewer system out the exits in the southside and the eastside.

A ledge ran along both sides of the sewer, that was approximately 4' wide, the sewer course itself was 20' wide. Having no other real choice we headed to the south. We had gone about 100 yards when we came to a narrowing of the ledge on this side. Examining this narrowing we saw that it looked like a 4' wide and 2' deep section of the ledge had been bitten or gouged out. We worked our way carefully past this narrowing of the ledge and continued to a crosspoint with a west east sewer. At the crosspoint were a series of bridges crossing between each of the corners, each bridge was about 3' wide.

We had found nothing unusual, except for the narrowing, and were about to press on to the west. Thor Frekwaldson, Serra Ibin Raaviat and Martin Astonsen were first around the corner and about 20 yards west, following up at the corner itself were Crayg Rydorsson, Grimwold Mindbreaker, and Vernon Zarck, finally lagging in the rear was Blue Bigfoot 20 yards back from the corner. Grimwold Mindbreaker had cast presence and was the first to know that there was something coming toward us from the sewer that lead south, and actually in the sewer proper. Everybody drew their weapons and stepped away from the edge of the ledge. We all waited to see what our opponent, who had been eating the sewer workers, actually was.

From the sewer crosspoint a scaly head broke the sewer surface and lunged at Thor Frekwaldson. It landed heavily cracking the top of its head into the sewer ledge itself, the ledge partially collapsed sending some of the stonework into the sewer. The giant turtle snapped about itself as it tried to reorientate itself and lose the pain at the top of its head. Thor Frekwaldson came forward to the giant turtle, Serra Ibin Raaviat stepped back to cast spells, Martin Astonsen came forward and brought the demon crossbow to bear, Crayg Rydorsson struck at the giant turtle with his sword, Grimwold Mindbreaker stood back and cast spells, Vernon Zarck likewise, the halfling drew his trusty rusty shortsword and moved forward.

Thor Frekwaldson and Crayg Rydorsson slashed down at the giant turtle but their swords, only just drew blood. Serra Ibin Raaviat and Vernon Zarck cast fire nerves on the giant turtle causing it to lose half its constitution in one round. Martin Astonsen lined it up with the demon crossbow and fumbled, slipping on the algae underfoot, he sent the bolt into the wall opposite, it took him a few moments to regain his balance. Blue Bigfoot found that there simply was not room in the confined space ahead for him to fight so he waited and decided to be useful and looked to the north. As the halfling watched he could see a wave of water coming down the sewer from the grate, he could also see that something dark and menacing was underneath causing the wave.

The halfling moved north up the sewer to meet the approaching wave and to put a little bit of distance between himself and the party, he had a surprise for this giant turtle which would hold it long enough for his friends to make soup of the first giant turtle and come and make soup of this one as well. However there was another, a third giant turtle, this one coming again from the south sewer tunnel. Grimwold Mindbreaker saw it and he could deal with one by himself, his next spell might hold him from participating further in the combat but one giant turtle would also be definitely out of the running as well, held by his spell.

Grimwold Mindbreaker cast mind lock on the giant turtle coming from the south and succeeded. The giant turtle came to a halt at the crosspoint and slowly sank to the bottom of the sewer. Grimwold Mindbreaker concentrated on his spell and so maintained the turtle there as long as his concentration held. Crayg Rydorsson and Thor Frekwaldson kept on striking at the first giant turtle, but only inflicting very minor damage. The fire nerves spells Serra Ibin Raaviat and Vernon Zarck were casting were causing a lot more damage and so enraging the giant turtle. The giant turtle could only see the physical damage hitting it from the two swordsmen in front of it so turned on these two, snapping viscously away. Martin Astonsen again lined up the giant turtle with his demon crossbow and again fumbled dropping the demon crossbow at his feet and sending the bolt into the wall beside Grimwold Mindbreaker, who was not impressed. Martin Astonsen said, "Bugger this for a joke, bloody demon crossbow.", as he pulled out his longsword.

The second giant turtle coming from the north at the halfling was now 20 yards away and had started to rise from the water, its beak snapping at the halfling. As it came in earshot Blue Bigfoot let out a hideous scream that echoed through the sewer. As the giant turtle was close enough to be affected by the scream it was rendered immobile for a few rounds while it sorted itself out. The halfling ran up to where it floated and twice stabbed at it with his shortsword before he went up the north sewer, he turned and stopped, waved and shouted at the giant turtle, and sent an arrow at it for good measure. The giant turtle moved its bulk around in the sewer and started coming after the halfling with speed. The halfling turned and bolted, hoping that he did not slip. He raced into the alcove leading up into the sewer entrance building and started up the stairs. At the top he continued to fire his bow at the second giant turtle as it emerged into view. The giant turtle remained in the sewer.

Crayg Rydorsson and Thor Frekwaldson finally delivered two blows that knocked unconscious the first giant turtle, it slide to the bottom of the sewer crosspoint just below. It was now that a fourth giant turtle raised its head and was coming from the sewer to the east. It reached the crosspoint and again like the first giant turtle attacked Crayg Rydorsson and Thor Frekwaldson as they stood at the corner. It's first lunge saw it bite away the shield that Thor Frekwaldson had been holding. Vernon Zarck and Serra Ibin Raaviat again cast fire nerves on the creature, Crayg Rydorsson and Thor Frekwaldson stuck it causing a bleeding wound. Martin Astonsen stepped up to the fourth giant turtle and struck at it, hurting the creature. The fourth giant turtle thought that it had had enough here and began to descend below the sewer surface. Crayg Rydorsson stabbed forward and sent his sword a full 2' into the giant turtle left eye, the giant turtle jerked momentarily then was motionless.

The party turned toward the second giant turtle that had come out of the north sewer. Vernon Zarck and Serra Ibin Raaviat cast fire nerves on it, and it submerged. The wave the giant turtle created went north and through the grate and out to sea. The third giant turtle gave up a rush of air to the surface and drowned, all the while Grimwold Mindbreaker maintained his spell in force upon the creature ensuring it died. The trick was to get all the giant turtle bodies out of the sewer. We tied ropes about each turtle and using a combination of the spell levitation and brute force brought all three to the base of the stairway leading up.

The District F Council were delighted with the results of our handy work and paid up the money they had posted for the identification and removal of the threat to sewer worker safety. The bodies of all three giant turtles were hauled up and placed on large wagons, which were use to transport them through Middleburg. The party thought that they could get even more money by offering the three giant turtle bodies to Dram Wirmson the Alchemist and also to a number of restaurants that could now have on their menu the special dish "Giant Turtle Soup.". Both were happy to pay for the giant turtles. Dram Wirmson the Alchemist decided to pay in kind and gave us some of his healing poultices and tablets.

Martin Astonsen now started to make discreet inquiries into persons who may be after a demon crossbow. He had come to the conclusion that it might have been fun for awhile but he just could not control it. Martin Astonsen did not know the exact nature of the curse placed upon the demon crossbow and so could not avoid it fumbling. In the heat of combat where your next moment could be your last, Martin Astonsen did not want to be remembered as the man who fired his demon crossbow and somehow managed to kill or maim himself with it, sending his opponent into stitches of laughter. Grimwold Mindbreaker was also in hearty agreement that if Martin Astonsen could not control the demon crossbow he should sell it off. Grimwold Mindbreaker's opinions were however tainted by Martin Astonsen's wild shooting in the sewers the day before.

Eventually Martin Astonsen did find a buyer for his demon crossbow. He first made his inquires with Dram Wirmson the Alchemist. Dram Wirmson the Alchemist looked over the demon crossbow and said he would take it. He would provide a straight swap. In exchange he would give the group a cup of healing. To use the healing cup you simply had to drink from it. Once per day the healing cup would provide a draught that would heal all wounds and stem all bleeding. The healing cup also had some additional properties in relation to healing. The healing cup disappeared in the folds of Serra Ibin Raaviat robes. Rather than take the demon crossbow himself Dram Wirmson the Alchemist asked that the demon crossbow be delivered to another Alchemist, a Grimbol the Old.

Grimbol the Old ran an Apothecarist in Middleburg's District B, right around the corner from the Pitt. Grimbol the Old looked as if he were 90 years old and not a day less. His Apothecary had a film of dust covering all the items in it. There were the usual display of potions, poultices, powders, bottled liquids, and the aroma of many exotic spices all mixed together giving the shop that special aroma distinct to and only found at an Apothecarists.

Grimbol the Old greeted Martin Astonsen as he entered. Martin Astonsen said, "I have this crossbow for you from Dram Wirmson, I hear that you interested in it?". Grimbol the Old went to the door, flipped over the out to lunch sign, pulled down the blind, and said, "Is it cursed?". "Yes.". "That's excellent, show me the crossbow.". Martin Astonsen opened the box and pulled out the demon crossbow which automatically assembled itself. Grimbol the Old looked at the demon crossbow and said, "Wonderful, what's the curse?". "I don't know, it just keeps fumbling for me.". "What you don't know the curse? Well then its not going to be worth very much is it, you know that, don't you?".

Martin Astonsen says, "We have already swapped it for another magical item with Dram Wirmson the Alchemist. I'm just here as the delivery man. He did not want to handle the crossbow himself.". Grimbol the Old said, "I see, he's paying off his debts. Yes, this will do just fine. You can tell him that from me. Who else would want cursed items when they don't know the curse, I ask you?". Grimbol the Old gives Martin Astonsen a sly wink. Martin Astonsen hands over the demon crossbow and prepares to leave as he does Grimbol the Old says, "If you come across any more cursed items I'll buy them from you.", and chuckles, "This will be excellent in my collection.". Martin Astonsen said, "I suppose you can find out the curse?". "Oh, yes, it just takes time. Tell you what I like your face, so just call me a good natured old fool, come here tomorrow and I will tell you what the curse is.".

The next day Martin Astonsen returned to Grimbol the Old's Apothecary. Martin Astonsen said, "So do you know what the curse is?". Grimbol the Old turned to Martin Astonsen and said, "Yes, I do, now tell me, did you pick this up on a ship?". "As a matter of fact I did.". Grimbol the Old said, "Then I would have thought that the curse would be obvious? No, still no idea? Its simple really, its a sea demon crossbow, you just have to be standing over water when you fire the thing.". Martin Astonsen thought to himself, "I don't bloody believe it, I should have stood on the bridges across the sewers when we fought those giant turtles, or brought along a bucket of water to stand on!", then said, "Just my luck to find the only weapon in Middleburg that is best used when sitting on the toilet! I suppose there is no chance of buying it from you.". "Well that all depends if you have the 50 gold pieces to buy it with.". "50 gold pieces!". "Yes, that's about the right price.". "That's highway robbery!". "Do you travel on highways a lot then?". "I can't afford that price.". "I guess I will have to sell it to someone who can.". Martin Astonsen turned to leave. Grimbol the Old said, "Pleasure doing business with you, I'll still buy any and all cursed items you can find, bye now.". Martin Astonsen muttered to himself as he left.

That day our group had started to make some discreet inquires into how many Astrologer's Crystal Balls there were in Middleburg and who had them. There turned out to be a grand total of three. They were held by Zandhurst the Astrologer, the Noble Astrologer Mordred Vaarnsson and finally by Hexgora. We thought about sending a person to each of the three to "Case the joint.", but decided that if they were an Astrologer worth their salt our one chance to get at their Crystal Ball would be blown just like that.

While we were around our table discussing our various plans as to who to hit first we all heard a voice in our heads speaking to us quite clearly. "My name is Zandhurst the Astrologer and I understand that you are after a Crystal Ball. A word of warning, my Crystal Ball is not to be touched. I would speak with you at my house, would you come at once, I think we need to talk, face to face.". Grimwold Mindbreaker said, "I guess that rules out Zandhurst the Astrologer, we aren't going to get surprise there. Lets go around and see what he wants.".

The group stood at Zandhurst the Astrologer's front door and knocked. A guard appeared and ushered us inside. The room was simply adorned, rugs, curtains, simple lounge chairs and a small table. There was a fireplace with a shelf having a few trinkets. In one of the chairs sat Zandhurst the Astrologer, he beckoned us in and waved to the chairs. "Greeting, I am Zandhurst the Astrologer. I have called you here because of your need for a Crystal Ball. Firstly let me say again mine is off limits, as to the other two Crystal Balls in Middleburg, I do not care.". He waves his hand.

"What I will say is that I would think again what you are doing. I see that he has impressed you into his service with some well placed threats. What I will say is that while the threat from Hashem may be very real while he is in the form of a cat, if he were in human form again he would be ten times more powerful. I do not know if it is your intention to pit him against the Coven again but I do not want to be around if he does change form and wants their blood. Since you have worked for Hashem you will, or maybe have already, earned the enmity of the Coven. I have no doubt that you will have to deal with the likes of them sooner or later. Be ready, there are nine left in that little group. But it really all depends on what they find out about Hashem and what actions you take that interfere with their plans for control of Middleburg. I will not give you away or tell of Hashem to them if you do me a small favour for which I will be grateful.".

 

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