Return of the Long Night
Volume I – Phoenix Rising
|Chapter 2: Trials||6051 Winter, Kyayen 17 – Aryen 38 (Rolemaster)|
Mining for Special Ore
Luarto Shang stares at you, as if weighing up difficult options. “Come he says, we should be off. Your success in the White Wood is impressive, but I need to check something”.
You wonder where he wants to go, when suddenly a portal opens and a Navigator, someone different to others you have met, steps through. “Norek”, is all the the Sage says, and he moves quickly through the portal opened by this Navigator. No introductions are warranted it seems, and so you all quickly follow him (for fear of being left behind, if for no other reason).
As you appear on the other side, you find yourself in the City state of Norek. Luarto Shang is nowhere in sight, and you wonder where he may have rushed to. After searching around for a brief period, you decide there is no point in standing in the middle of an open square, so you set off for the nearest inn. Surely the sage can find you, like he has done previously, especially as you are “the ones” he was looking for…. whatever that means.
As you start to explore this major city, you wonder at the marvels of large buildings and the hustle of a true metropolis. Norek is known for many wonders, but before you can even consider them, you find yourself being accosted by a party of town guards – 15, all armed with crossbows drawn and aimed at you. Believing they mean you no harm, you step to the side to let them pass on their business, but it seems you are their business, as the crossbows follow you.
Noticing another squad of over a dozen guards similarly armed, you decide maybe it’s best to talk rather than fight, especially as Drulle is still unwell following his mysterious adventures. After a very brief conversation, you are ‘escorted’ to the town jail, there to wait the magistrate’s attention so you can find out what is going on and probably explain the mix up that has led to your arrest.
In the cells near you (you are split into 3 cells), there rests a large man – somewhat beaten and not so well for wear, he eyes you suspiciously as you are brought forward. Reluctantly you watch as your gear is carefully stored in lockers (locked and within sight), so you turn your attention to your new ‘prison companion’.
The tale told by your companion is at first uninspiring, but you get interested when he spins his yarn around a strange quest – for a rock of mystical properties. He says that he was an adventure (though more likely a sell sword, and a drunken one at that, is his profession. He was working for someone here in Norek who runs a knick knack shop, seeking some wanderer who had found this magical rock.
Your fellow prisoner thinks that this story is a hoax, but Wezmer, the owner of the shop was willing to pay him, so he took the opportunity to look into it. Unfortunately for him, the details of his investigations took him to an inn (the Red Headed Lady) where he got into a misunderstanding with one of the serving girls, and landed himself a few days rest here in jail.
After a few hours rest, you are released from your cells and brought before a magistrate who asks your business, slaps some trumped up fine on you and sends you on your way. Norek legal system has much to be reckoned with.
As you leave the jail/court house, you note a sign that matches the description from your jail cell companion, so you decide to visit this Wezmer, get the story from him and see if his “rewards” are worth your time.
Wezmer is a wide man, full of airs and appearing of regal standing, though obviously of low birth. He wears robes that are more tattered than he admits and sports a sparse goatee. He tells you of a wander, who brought a rock in to sell that had mystical properties (which he refuses to elaborate on). After a few days, when he discovered that the rock had valuable properties, Wezmer sought this wanderer to find out where he found it, but he had already left town. He will pay for the location where the rock was found or mined, or if you bring back Guff, the vagabond.
With a bit of pushing (and some threats from K’undee), you learn that the rock is Rularon, a special metal that can inhibit mental powers (Mentalism). This is valuable to learned metal smiths, so Wezmer needs the location of the mine or vein. He offers you 20 gold each (and gives you 5 gold each now) to do this and will pay you the rest once you return with the information and/or guff.
Your investigation, not surprisingly, starts at the Redhead Lady where you learnt from the barman Pith Elbon that Guff had indeed been here and had spent the afternoon with the barmaid, Dehl. He seats you at a table and sends Dehl over to take your orders. Plying her with your charms (and more successfully with your money), you learn that Guff intended to move up the river Alunn looking for work in the north, so next day you set off after him.
During the next few days, you travel north seeking information on Guff. You get hints and some clues from people he interacted with as he travelled this way, on foot initially, and then later on horseback in the company of a band of travellers. Someone suggests that they were heading up towards the forest, just south of the swamp lands, as workers were needed there in the logging camp.
After a number of day’s travel you come across the logging camp, just outside the village of Tharp and you note a man that fits Guff’s description – large, brawny, scruffy and apparently in trouble, as you note his ankle chain that shows him for a prisoner in the labour camp. Your enquiries confirm this and you are sent to the major of Tharp for further details.
Village of Tharp
You head straight for the Justice Hall in Tharp, assured that the Mayor of this small village is the only one who can provide you with the details on why Guff is chained and working in the camp near the village.
The Mayor admits arresting Guff for vagrancy and sending him to work at the logging camp, but he refuses to let you talk or free him (and he lets you know that he is doubling the guards on the logging camp following your interest in the “criminal”). He does, however, offer you a deal – his advisors have had stories of an obelisk in a swamp not too far north that has the locals concerned, and he offers you the opportunity to free Guff if you investigate this obelisk, return with the information and then pay Guff’s 5 gold piece fine.
Your journey north to the Yusthin Swamp is uneventful, but after a day’s effort you fail to find the obelisk so you camp for the night. During the early hours of the new day, you are ambushed by lizard men, who swarm easily across the soggy ground. Though being seven in number, you easily repel them and they flee back into the darkness. Next morning their tracks further into the swamp signify that there maybe a link between these lizard men and what the town of Tharp knew, so you follow the tracks deeper into the swamp itself.
Within a few hours, as the sun is still rising, you come across an opening in the stunted trees and on solid ground, standing fifteen feet tall, is a black obelisk. On closer examination, you note runes and symbols etched into the smooth surfaces of the stone which are too faded to make out. You also “feel” a low pitched hum, emanating from the spear like stone edifice, and Lerandur is quite uncomfortable anywhere near it. In fact, Drulle takes small amounts of damage as he tries to push the stone obelisk down, which Lerandur clearly recognises it as magical in nature.
Marking the obelisk’s location on your maps, you start to make your way home when you are again accosted by Lizard Men, who rush out to attack and seemingly defend this stone monument. You note their observance, and decide it is best to leave the area as quickly as you can, so once you again repel them, you start to make your way through the swamp.
As you make your way out, you note your presence being marked by more Lizard Men, and you do see some of their camps, which you avoid (but do note down).
When you return with this information, the Mayor is more than happy to release Guff to you (after you pay his 5 gold fine), and Guff is more than happy to show you where he found his “special” rock, though he does warn you, it isn’t easy to get to. “Thar’s stuff in the way”, he tells you, “large stuff”.
Dealing with the Norek Council
After you return with Guff to see Wezmer, you expect to be warmly greeted (and rewarded). After all, that was the arrangement. yet Wezmer is distracted, almost to the point of rudeness, as he seems uninterested in Guff or whatever you may have found. You decide some gentle persuasion may be warranted, so you pressure him until he breaks and confides in you the situation he has found himself in.
Wezmer has been threatened, his family threatened and warned that if he pursues this metal, evil tidings will behalf them all. He is genuinely scared and knows not what to do. He has thought about approaching the militia or city council, but is scared to leave his home and now wants nothing to do with this “cursed rock”. He refuses therefore to deal with Guff or yourselves.
Leaving his shop, you wander what is your best action from here. Ravena suggests that perhaps you should approach and tell the militia or council what Wezmer told you, and get them to resolve the situation. Sending Guff off to the Red Headed Lady (with instructions to stay there and talk to no one), you head off to the Council Chambers to report this extortion (and seek some way of gaining a reward for yourselves).
After a few hours of dealing with ‘underlings’, you eventually find yourselves in front of Dunna Revin, Council Lady, in the audience chamber within the Hall of Law. After hearing your story, she promises to look into the allegations raised by Wezmer and to protect his business and family. More so, she is also interested in this mine and asks if you would go verify Guff’s claim of both the mine and the “monsters” guarding it.
“And for what reward”, asks Kundee, seeing opportunity here to recoup the lost reward promised by Wezmer. After a brief negotiation, she promises you 20 gold pieces each for such verification. You get the feeling that this is not a negotiation, as she mentions to you the power she wields in the council and running of Norek, the issues of taxation, business fees and the many fines that “normal adventurers” are often unaware of that can easily be levied.
You, therefore, agree to do this task and set out after a brief rest, fully supplied and eager to find this mine of Rularon.
The Ogres Lair
Travelling to the area in the Brank Mountains where Guff found the rock is not uneventful – a few bandits, a pack of large wild dogs and a brief encounter with some playful gremlins are all easily overcome. You wander who or what Guff meant when he described “large, men with rough beards and ugly faces” who chased him away after he found this rock that everyone is so interested in. He tells you that these things were living in an ancient mine and that is where the rock vein, or whatever is left, must have come from.
As you get to the area, you move cautiously along, ensuring no other ambushes will arise and shortly you come to what must be the mine entrance Guff described. A clearing leads  along a steep cliff , where mine cart tracks have been laid up to a cave entrance that you assume is the entry into the mine proper.
Sneaking up to the cave entrance , which sits on an irregular plateau some 50’ by 70’, you notice a terrible odour that leaks out from the 10’ by 20’ cave. Within the cave complex you see flickering light, perhaps torches, that casts gloomy shadows here at the entry way. Moving quietly inwards, you approach the first large hall (the Great Hall  of this lair), which you can see is the den of some large humanoids.
A large boulder rests, with its flat surface acting as a makeshift table, with discarded bones and fur strewn randomly around it. The chamber is large (90’ by 100’) and the ceiling extends 15’ above you. Tunnels lead out from here in many directions, each showing signs of torch light. Within the room there is no life, bar a puddle on the ground that is vaguely humanoid and large.
A quick search shows you much about the complex; discarded and rusted tools sit near the dead end of what might have been recent excavation [6 and ], which seem to have been hurriedly dropped. One room is awash with frigid air, with carcases well preserved and some form of magic cast to do so (or so thinks Lerandur).
Scraps and rubbish fill other rooms, and a cursory glance shows you little, though you do find a necklace in one chamber  which has the initials L.Z. etched on the back. As you approach one chamber near the back end of the complex , a large female ogre rushes to attack you and prevent you going further inside. Quickly dispatching her, you find that the cave is blocked by a large boulder, which when shifted reveals the ogre’s treasure store. Random cookware, home items, loot from travellers and many items are scattered in this cave chamber and you leave them for now to keep searching the complex.
Other ogres are found in other chambers and the fights here are more severe, causing significant injury to both sides. Some ogres flee, rather than face death, and you find yourselves fighting the last few brave (or foolish) ogres with your failing strength and final spells.
After you clear the mines, you know you don’t have long before the ogres return with reinforcements, so you quickly check the remaining rooms. In one chamber  you find scorch and claw marks that you initial fear might be caused by some mythical beast. The walls of this chamber are also scorched and a strange musty odour permeates the room. However, it is here that you also notice a small vein of strange metal, embedded in the rock walls that have collapsed over time and revealed what you believe is Rularon, the metal you came to find.
Successful, but fearing another conflict, you scoop up what treasure you can and flee the mine complex, heading back to Norek with the news.
On your return to Norek, Dunna Ravin is very pleased with your report and gives you the promised reward. She also tells you that if you ever need assistance, to reach out to her and she will use her council or other connections to help you (as long as it’s legal).
She offers to pay you a similar wage to return to the mine, with some soldiers, to clear it of the ogres. You say you will consider it, and if Luarto Shang does not return shortly, you might take her up on the offer.
So you retire to the Red Headed Lady inn to rest, recuperate and spend some of your loot.
Whilst there you hear a rumour that The Leader of the Arcanus had died recently of old age. Procedures for selecting a new Leader are proceeding smoothly. Not sure of the significance, Lerandur decides to pay a visit to the Arcanus to enquire on the procedure, but before he does so, Luarto returns and summons you to attend him.
“It’s time to tell”, he says….
|Wan Hung Lo||2||Laan (Man)||Monk||Nick|
|Lerandur||2||Iylar Linaer (elf)||Magician||Mike|
|Special Item Found||Owner||Location Found|
|various sundry loot items||Party||Ogre’s Lair|
|Currency||Party Total||| Each:||Platinum||Gold||Silver||Copper|
|Wezmer’s reward||25 gold|||||5|
|Guff’s fine||-5 gold (payment)|||||-1|
|Silver Necklace||15 gold|||||3|
|Dunna Revin reward||100 gold (payment)|||||20|
|Special NPC Encountered||Race||Status||Location||Notes|
|Luarto Shang||Human Seer||Ally||unknown||Disappeared|
|Guff||Human||NPC||Logging camp||Wanderer, found Rularon rock sample|
|Wezmer||Human||NPC||Norek||owner of Wezmer’s Trade Emporium|
|Pith Elbon||Human||NPC||Norek||Barman, Red Headed Lady|
|Dehl||Human||NPC||Norek||Barman, Red Headed Lady|
|Dunna Ravin||Human||NPC||Norek||Council lady|
Next Chapter 3: Visions – Attack on the Vault of the Sea-Drake Helm