Hello everyone, this is Asclepius, with a wonderful story from Blaquerogue, entitled
Chapter 1 – Torniquet – a Twist of Faith
“My name is Torniquet – I was born a “Warsworn”. My father was one of the greatest of his time. We come in many forms, and I happen to be a “Warsworn Hospitlar”, a Cleric of the highest degree. The king would always call upon my Father to lead his battles for most were won with him in the lead. My mother passed away at a young age, so my father decided decided that it would be best for me, to be put into the local Monastery St. Agnes, since he was rarely home, and always out fighting the battles that raged around our kingdom during the Orc wars. I would be well taken care of by the monks and priests and educated in our religion, and the monastery would get a fine donation from time to time.
I’d love it when my father would come to visit he would teach me how to speak Orcish and how to speak Drow, those two languages in particular he insisted I learn. He also taught me the art of combat, and would tell me stories of the wars he’d been in! Tactic after tactic! Sometimes he would bring me special items from across the land. One day he brought me a war hammer and a golden broach with a rubies in them, telling me that there was something special about both (I wouldn’t find out until just recently how special the war hammer was!) but it was the finest craftsmanship I had ever seen. Definitely made by the high dwarves far to the North. They crafted the finest of wares there! Hence the name High Dwarves.
That very day Father Desmond tried to take it from me after my father left! I swung that hammer out of anger and shattered his leg! Needless to say, I spent a few days in the lower cells, I didn’t understand because I didn’t really hit him that hard with it? The next time my father came to town, of course the priests pulled me out of the cell a day before and did healing rituals on my arms and legs to make the bruises disappear that they had given me over the weeks prior, but they never tried to take that hammer again!
Money has a way of forgiving wrongdoings I suppose? They were happy to take the large donation from my father and forgive me. As I grew older I decided I wanted to become a cleric so I studied more often always making the highest scores on our tests, I’d pray to St. Cuthbert every night that my father would be spared in war. Upon one of his visits at age 16 he arrived with a small army of Warsworn and told me today would be the day I become “Warsworn Hospitlar” They took me to a secluded area far from the monastery where there was a small army of Warsworn already there waiting. They put me through many rigorous tests of strength, intelligence and faith; I was finally branded “Warsworn Hospitlar!” Unfortunately, that would be the last time I saw my father! for he he did not show up on our regular weekly visit, instead a “War Sworn” Messenger and Priest of the king showed up. That is when I heard the news my father would not be coming to visit me anymore, he had been slain in battle. Now an orphan, the door slammed shut, I was stripped of my robes and put into the servant quarters, destined to serve the priests for the rest of my life (or so I thought at the time).
Over my years of servitude I learned that money is what made the difference here, no matter how dirty or bloody it may have been. I watched the priests cast spells on people that didn’t need them, just to make the priests look good. I watched money being exchanged for lives; you can’t stay in a powerful position if you’re dead! These priests ran everything outside of the city of Waterdown, and Father Desmond was the center of it, he commanded his thugs the crooked priests, to lay waste to a band of innocent travelers one time, just because they were going to report him to Lord Turner. Pay offs were made to cover up the disappearances of innocent people, and mercenaries were hired to do the job! This is not what being a servant to St. Cuthbert was about! It was time for change I had to get out of this place as soon as possible, but there was one Priest I had to pay a visit to first, Father Desmond!”
It was late into the night and most of the monks and priests were asleep except for one.. Father Desmond was in one of his secretive meetings. Torniquet watched a mercenary come into the church quiet as the wind. As he and Father Desmond moved into the office, he heard the click of the lock. “Well now father I suppose you were happy with my last job since I was called back for another”? With a merciless smile across his face the mercenary moved closer to Father Desmond’s desk. “Ah yes I see your as confidant as ever McLaughlin, but yes I was rather pleased, especially how you made it look like it was a bandit kill from some goblins and Orcs, disgusting creatures they are! The king seems to believe the Orcs have started attacking again, so yes job well done, but I have another job I need your expertise in. There is a family that lives down the road from here they seem to have.. how should we say this? Decided that it would be in their best interest to report the monks and church here, because we decided that it was a waste of our healing spells to cure their youngest son who is a mongrel and a bit slow in the head who would be of no use in the future for anything but a lowly servant! A waste of our energies! I want this family killed and their property burned to the ground, oh yes…make it look like another Orc attack! The towns people will flock to us for prayers and when there are no more attacks they will think we have cured this land, and give us contributions and mostly respect! Here’s half of the money now and you will receive the other half after the job is done”. “ Oh, and one more thing McLaughlin, tell the mother and father right before you take their lives that Father Desmond sends his regards!”
At that moment the huge oak door exploded into wooden shards one of them piercing the right eye of McLaughlin, the orifice was filled with blood before he had time to react. The last thing he saw was the top of his head meeting the bottom of his chin as Tourniquet’s hammer stuck true. The mercenary lay motionless on the floor in a pool of blood. As Desmond backed into the corner consumed with terror, Torniquet threw the desk to the side and grabbed him by his robes with his left hand and pointed the hammer glistening with blood and grey matter at his face. Desmond’s voice cracked ”oh please don’t kill me Torniquet, I will give you anything you desire, forgive me for what I’ve done, gems, gold, look there’s lots of it here you can have it all please forgive an old soul who has made mistakes in the past, I will change I promise you, just forgive me please.”? Without a blink the blood splattered face of Torniquet replied “Your forgiveness lies on the head of this hammer Priest!, your pleas lie upon deaf ears, and maybe your god will forgive you? But I will not!” Take one last look at me! I am Torniquet the Hospitaler! The hammer impaling the priest’s face made a cracking and squishing sound. Torniquet gathered his belongings and headed out of the monastery stopping only once at the altar. “I hope you can forgive me , I have heard your calling and I now understand what needs to be done.
As he headed out the front gate of the towering Monastery two things were on his mind, the location of the bandit camp just outside of the family’s farm, and what great adventures awaited him. His adventures would be slightly delayed but only slightly!
Chapter 2 – Vengeance has a name.
About an hour out of town he sighted the first fires of the bandit’s encampment cleverly disguised as a traveler’s camp, he even noticed the lady of the Johnston farm bringing extra bread to those poor travelers. To the right just across the road, he noticed the farm children getting ready for bed. Little did the Johnston’s know that other plans had been laid for them this night!
Torniquet saw the two scouts in the distance hidden but placed perfectly for the beginning of the ambush, watching closely for the last candle to be blown out in the house for the night. “Hmm, very nicely hidden these two are I wonder how I should go about this?” Torniquet thought. The first bandit would be closest to him so that would be the first victim!
As Bandalore was perched he heard someone coming down the road whistling a tune vaguely familiar from childhood, he looked up and straightened himself out brushing dirt from his pants.“Hail fine citizen of Cartador! Beautiful night is it not?” Torniquet said. Taken by surprise Bandalore didn’t know how to reply, “Well met priest I am quite busy at the moment so if you could move along that would be much appreciated.” “Oh now there is nothing more important than a good blessing!” Torniquet smiled. “The Gods told me there was a man in dire need of a good `ole blessing here! And be sure that the Gods know these things well!
“No, no priest they might be mistaken this time! Good night to you then!” Tourniquet’s smile slowly went to a frown! He grabbed the surprised man into a headlock covering his mouth so no screams would come forth (for they would have if they could). The bandit looked into Tourniquet’s eyes and slowly faded into unconsciousness, the huge fore arm crushing him like a giant constrictor, With his ribs cracking ever so quietly, he heard one last thing “ My title is “Hospitaler, not Priest!” and his life was sucked out.
Torniquet laid him down softly crossing his arms over his chest. He made a sign of the gods and asked them to forgive this soul, and continued along the road whistling his child hood tune. As he approached the second scout he could tell this was a poor kid straight from the streets no older than ten winters, nervous as a small puppy, “this would be the one I will have mercy upon, it is not too late for him to change” Torniquet thought.
“Son come here!” the boy jumped five feet, “Yes sir, and how are you priest?” “I am fine this night boy, come here let me talk to you” the boy ran up to him, “yes sir?” Torniquet looked him over and could tell he really needed some food and probably a place to stay, and a bath, this poor child was a sight for sore eyes. “What are you doing here?”
The boy replied “ I wasn’t going to do anything but just watch, they were going to give me two silver to keep watch but I wouldn’t have to do anything else, please don’t kill me!” Boy if I wanted you dead you would be trying to explain to your gods that you have no clue of how you got there! I want you to do the right thing, for that I will spare your life tonight, and I will give you these two gold coins so you may take refuge in an Inn. Hopefully you will get an honest job! For tomorrow this area will be soaked with blood and I do not wish your blood, to mix with the blood that I spill here tonight!
What is your name boy?” Apparently shocked at the conversation the boy looked up and shook off the terror “I am Jason and I’m not a killer like these men I promise! With a smile Torniquet said” I believe you son, Torniquet is my name, tell them tomorrow when you can that I spared your life this night, so that you may walk a righteous path and that it was too late for the poor souls over there! (pointing his hammer in the direction of the camp) now here’s your two gold I promised, well here take five, you must promise me to be kind and take care of the weak no matter what! I’m trusting you young Jason for if you don’t I promise we will meet again and then you will be able to explain to your gods how you arrived at their doorstep!” with that the boy ran off down the road yelling “you can trust me sir, I mean Hospitaler!” A grin spread over Tourniquet’s face he turned towards the bandit camp.
The moon cast its soft glow over the bandit camp; the activity was growing as they were preparing for the ambush. As Torniquet scouted the area he noticed one of the grunts barking commands to the others. He would be the target this night, others would fall in the wake of the slaughter or retreat to the woods, and either was fine for Torniquet. As he walked down to the bandit camp he got dirty looks from the others, but they dared not make a move without the command of the relatively large Orc that stood in the middle of the camp for fear that the ruthless leader would crush them!
The orc looked at Torniquet as he made his approach and grunted, a few commands to his initial entourage to step back but to keep an eye on this human. Torniquet knew this for he had learned the orc language in the monastery, since most attacks were from these creatures.
“A wise decision Orc” said Torniquet fluently in Orc. The Orc was surprised that this human knew his language. “I come with a message from McLaughlin, whom I believe commands you and your band of “beggars”. There will be no attack tonight. Your half of the gold will be waiting for you in the “good fathers” office at the monastery. I suggest you not make him wait he is a very impatient man, and he talked of not giving you any gold for your services because you’re a disgusting abomination, oh yeah and you “stink”, I believe is how he put it, and I have to say I do agree with him”!
The orc stepped forward and hissed “watch your tongue cleric or I will have to cut it from your mouth”! Clearly agitated with that comment the Orc grabbed one of the nearest mercenaries by the throat and crushed it! The others started to move back and away from the Orc not wanting to be the next outlet for his aggression. He threw the lifeless body to the ground and began approaching Torniquet. Torniquet knew this would be a long night…….
The giant Orc started into a charge, Torniquet readied his hammer, when the two hit there was a loud thump as the bodies met! Torniquet was knocked back about 3 feet and landed on his rump, righting himself from the fall he was up on one knee, and sprung forth with great strength, shield leading the charge, the hammer hit its target! The orc fell over dazed by the hit, but he too was back up on his feet in a flash! The Orc swung his battle axe, but only to have it deflected to the left then down, Torniquet immediately followed through with his hammer smashing the orc in his ribs, a definite crack was heard!
The orc was holding his side as he yelled at the other bandits to attack but none came forward instead they backed away; the orc was on his own. He swung his axe up and around to the side, but again metal met metal with a loud crashing sound! Tourniquet’s hammer swung straight down on the orc’s shoulder clearly dislocating his defensive arm, as the Orc rolled off to the left Torniquet followed mirroring him perfectly shield thrown out to the orc’s face and stopping his motion instantly!
Again the orc swung his axe but this time to the side leaving a bright red flow of blood on Tourniquet’s leg. The orc had clipped him but it was just a flesh wound! Torniquet fell to the left and rolled with the fall out of the deadly axe’s range! Immediately Torniquet rolled back then forward coming up under the orc’s chin, hammer leading the way! It caught the orc square in the chin and knocked him off his feet, he landed with a thump! The orc did not move, his tusk jammed up through his face.. he was dead!
Torniquet turned to face the rest of the bandits, not a peep came from the crowd of onlookers, then a smile came across their faces as they turned around and starting packing practically tripping over each other as they moved out and away from the farm house, and especially as far as they could from this cleric that just destroyed the one orc that they feared so much! Before dawn the camp was empty except for the body of an orc that lay in a pool of blood, steam rising in the morning cold.
Torniquet decided to take some bandages from one of the chests that lay around the camp and wrapped his wound and he concentrated on his healing spells. As he looked around the camp he noticed on the Orc’s right arm a red scarf tied around it a single emblem on it, a black crescent moon, he would take this and put it in his back pack. He found an empty tent and laid out his bedroll, to get a few hours of sleep until morning came.
The next morning as Torniquet started to move up the path he noticed one onlooker at the top of the path, it was the man that owned the farm. As Torniquet approached him he said, “Well met Hospitaler!” Confused by the right titling, Torniquet looked at him, “The boy Jason I believe his name was, told us of the plight of these so called “beggars” last night after you had finished talking to him, so I took me family to the wood line just in case things didn’t work out, not that I didn’t trust you would take care of this problem, but I had to protect my family I hope you understand I mean no disrespect.”
Torniquet replied “none taken my friend, I knew the danger you and your family was in long before I arrived last night, unfortunately I recently resided under Father Desmond and I overheard about all this, our gods do not allow this kind of tyranny, people should be good to one another and take care of each other, not the blasphemy that Father Desmond spoke of, and as of right now you are free of his grasp and you and your family may get on with daily life. Without the fear that you have had in the past, Father Desmond now pleads with his god for forgiveness, for he is no longer with us!” You and your family are safe!”
The farmer replied “We are forever in your debt! We do not have much but we can offer you a meal this morning, my wife is preparing breakfast as we speak, if there is anything you ask of us it will be given “Hospitler”! Torniquet shook his head you do not owe me anything, but there is one thing I do ask of you, please have an open heart for weary travelers and treat them with the kindness you are treating me, my name is Torniquet and I am happy to have served you and my god today, and I am especially hungry, so breakfast sounds great! I would be happy to join you at your table! The smell coming from your kitchen is quite enticing!” with that they headed off to Farmer Johnson’s house.
The food was excellent the best Torniquet had ever tasted! Upon finishing they sat around talking. Mr. Johnson said “I can’t help but think I know you? Was your father the king’s knight a few years back a “War Sworn? What was his name? Sir Treadwell, yes that’s it Sir Treadwell was he your father? “Torniquet felt a lump in his throat “you, you knew my father?” Torniquet was all ears now!
“Yes son I knew him, he had stopped by here a couple of times on the way back to the King’s, always for breakfast” (ha-ha, “he loved the food and we loved the company, he even brought us some medicines from faraway places in hopes that he could cure my son even if those medicines were outlawed! Your father was a great man young Treadwell, carry his name with honor!
If you noticed, me boy didn’t talk very much this morning, he has been mute and deaf for 12 years and nothing seems to cure him, we went to the monastery many times asking for help but they always turned their backs on us saying it was a waste of their time” (Torniquet remembered this conversation in the Father’s office) so we haven’t been able to get any help thus far, but we do love our boy, he works hard on the farm and cares for his little sister, we will stop at nothing to try and get him some help sometimes he murmurs words but, they just don’t sound right and when we call him, sometimes he doesn’t even notice, we don’t know what to do? We want to help him but we cannot find any help.” a tear ran down Mr. Johnson’s face, and his wife went to the kitchen and started crying.
Torniquet asked Mr. Johnson” to go retrieve the boy and let him take a look at him”. Mr. Johnson jumped up and ran out to the crop field where the boy was working. Meanwhile, Torniquet sat at the table with the sound of Mrs. Johnson crying in the background and the younger girl trying to comfort her.
He prayed as hard as he could to St. Cuthbert “Please give me the power to help this child, he has needed this help for a long time, he will grow to be strong and take care of his family as his father does, I ask this one favor of you to help me, help him”. A voice resonated in his head deep and caring “this boy is not dumb or mute, he is only deaf I have granted you power to cure this ‘tis the simplest of the powers you have” and with that the words faded off.
Somewhat surprised by the voice and the tingling feeling inside, Torniquet knew that his Deity was alive and well, there was no other explanation for it, none that he could think of!
The father and son returned to the table and the boy looked up at Torniquet, a gentle smile on his face, he tried to say something that sounded like a greeting but Torniquet couldn’t make it out, Torniquet returned the smile and said “come here young man let me take a look at you” he turned the boy around and snapped his fingers, no response, he turned him around again to face him and snapped his fingers, the boy copied him but barely, Torniquet pulled his holy book out of the back pack and recited some words, laid his hand across the boys forehead and then waited to see what happened.
Immediately the boy looked out the window and mocked the sound of a cow, he was excited, he yelled out mom! The crying stopped in the kitchen and His mother and his sister came running, looking at him with astonishment his mom uttered one word “Billy”. Billy smiled and hugged his mother and sister in unison,” Ye..Ye..Yes mom!” His mother immediately burst into tears of joy the boy was cured!
Mr. Johnson jumped out of his seat “by the gods the boy speaks and hears! How did you do that? What did you do? Torniquet replied “Faith, this is the work of a good god! He has smiled upon you and yours this day embrace it and never lose faith! In times of darkness there is always light! Never forget this and all will be well for you!” with that the Farmer hugged Torniquet and said “our home is always open to you and your friends may you be blessed in your travels” Torniquet brushed the boys head and gave a slight group hug to his mother and sister, and said “I must be off now for I need to report the corruption that plagues our land with these priests and their mercenaries! May you and your family be blessed and may your crops be fruitful, I will stop by every now and then to have a good breakfast!” with that he walked out of the house and started up the road.
His travel was uneventful except when he passed by the Monastery where he stopped for a moment to take in the site and witnessed the the looting, bandits and priests fighting! He thought to stop, but decided he would let fate take its course here and continued up the road leaving the monastery far behind.
It was about midday when he arrived at the part of the road that led through the forest. He knew very well that ambushes were frequent here, with the concealment of the woods. He took a deep breath and continued, the sun gave way to shadows of trees that towered over the road like giant sentinels ever so vigilant, as if they knew the dangers of this road far better than anyone.
As he went deeper into the wood the open fields disappeared behind the curtain of trees. He heard a scream and birds took flight away from the danger, but Torniquet went forward toward it. As he approached a clearing he could see about five or six bandits attacking a poor traveler and his family, One guard was already down for the count. He charged in exploding the first bandits head with a swing of his hammer, the bandit never saw it coming, and it was a quick death!
The other five turned toward the explosion and charged! Torniquet shouldered the first, lifting him up and propelling him over his left shoulder, he landed with a thud, The air knocked out of him! The second came charging in, the Hospitlar side stepping him as he went by, the third would be the receiver of the hammers head! Torniquet hit him square in the chest knocking him back 5 feet and to the ground gasping for breath, little did the bandit know he was drowning in his own blood as lungs filled with fluid!
The fourth came forward slashing like a wild man with his long sword! A quick turn of the hammer had the blade flying through the woods that lined the road, lost in the foliage. Torniquet brought his hammer down with a fierce force, the last bandit crippling under the weight of the blow, a dent in the side of his head, he would not be getting back up again! Torniquet turned just in time to catch a swing of a long sword from the first bandit that took flight; apparently, he had his breath back.
The sword met the hammer with sparks flying off the blade as metal ignited metal! The sword came down, then back up, and around, blocked this time by a shield, that opened up a perfect shot that would later prove fatal for this bandit! As the stricken bandit crumpled to the ground the wheezing commenced! There were two more bandits left, sweat and dirt covered Tourniquet’s face, the sweat burning his eyes, he was now facing two bandits at once! He wiped the sweat from his head and, charging in with three giant steps, he leaped up catching one bandit square in his chest with his foot, and forearming the other! His foot never left the chest and all his weight landed on this bandit! He dropped the hammer downward and crushed the bandit’s face, with a loud cracking sound!
While Tourniquet’s foot still firmly placed on the bandit’s chest, The other bandit went flying back! As the last bandit recovered from the forearm, he came charging at Torniquet! The bandit’s face was met by a steel shield crushing his face, it exploded in a shower of red mist! The bandit hit the ground unconscious! The fight was over. The travelers thanked him for being there when most needed, and offered a payment which Torniquet did not take. He told the family to head down the road to the farm house where they could get some rest and food, He said to tell the farmer that “The Hospitaler” sent them, and they would be taken care of, and the travelers were gone in the distance as fast as they could go.
Torniquet grabbed two of the dead bandits at a time and dragged them to the side of the road followed shortly by the other two. He laid them down and crossed their arms over their chests and said a prayer. He walked over to the last bandit, who was now gaining consciousness and poured some water over his face to wake him up. When the bandit saw Torniquet standing over him, he was terrified! Torniquet leaned down towards him and said “Today your god or gods have watched over you, I want you to tell your master and the priests he beds with, that judgment comes their way! Now get out of here before you join your friends!” The bandit jumped up and ran as fast as he could up the path faster than a rodent when the lights are turned on!
Chapter 3 – City Of Waterdown
The city of Waterdown is best known for its port. Trades from all over the known worlds come and go through Waterdown. It is known for its exotic trade anything you can think of comes through here, the prices are higher for exotic goods but well worth it!
A lot of black market items also come and go through this port; needless to say there is definitely a Thieves’ Guild somewhere in this city well hidden from prying eyes. Much of the shops dotted through the city are actually fronts for shady businesses, guards are paid off to look the other way on many accounts, around the docks.
Away from the docks the law is upheld to the best of the city’s ability, crimes are relatively minor and infractions of law carry heavy monetary fines. Any crimes above minor get you thrown in jail from one month to several years; the punishment usually fits the crime here. They believe that hard work turns a criminal into a working man or woman eventually, and most of the city was built by this type of labor, and the approach has proved successful.
In the middle of the city is the Bazaar, There are booths set up daily for trade and sale. From common folk to exotic folk all races come here to trade and make a living honestly. There is a two gold piece a day rental for booths in the city, and most of the merchants are fair when pricing their goods. There are weapon dealers from exotic to fair, basic adventuring gear dealers, and magical dealers, as well as a healer’s hut lining the streets of the Bazaar, it goes for three blocks in any direction, and there are many food and drink dealers as well. Anything a party would need for adventuring can be found here!
Guards patrol this area heavily, always on the lookout for troublemakers, and are heavily armed as well. They travel in teams of three walking up and down the Bazaar; they carry fine swords or maces and are armored to the teeth. If something breaks out in the street, you can count on at least six guards to respond at once. They are paid well by the city and are quickly let go if they do not hold up the law here. Being a guard is one of the well-paid jobs here and they normally live in luxury. It is almost impossible to bribe one of the guards here, as the offence carries a heavy fine, and always jail time.
The City is run by Lord Turner, a very stern but fair man who leaves no room for error. He was a captain in The Kings Army, when the Orc wars were going on, that practically devastated the land around Waterdown; he is a “War Sworn” by Cartador the King himself! A “War Sworn” is signified by the “blazing sword” marked above the heart on the armor or a burning shield on the right side of the neck, it is the highest award for valor that can ever be given. It is said that Lord Turner’s army pushed the hordes of Orc’s back into the ocean on the very place that marks the port area; he was awarded this City on that day! The Orcs, from beyond “The Sea of Unknown”, in Karrig and Karrag which make up the Orc lands of Kohmesh, never tried to overtake this land again, at least not from this area. The name Turner is used on tongues of Orc parents to discipline their children!
King Cartador rules over these lands from his kingdom far to the north named Turion in the Plaines, he has guards that walk the roads from Turion to Waterdown keeping the peace, most of whom are “War Sworn” and are small armies. You will eventually come upon one of their encampments while travelling the roads. Their encampment consist of Hospitlers,Warriors, and Priests as well as mobile merchants. There you can find healing and basic food all of which are given free to those of good intent. Waterdown is one of the largest cities in the Kingdoms of Cartador and well-defended.