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ForgingtheRealmsArchive|5/7/2014 New!

TheTraitors'Mill
ForgottenRealms
ByEdGreenwood

HowandwhereandwhendidtheForgottenRealmsstart?What'sattheheartofEdGreenwood'screation,andhow
doestheGrandMasteroftheRealmsusehisownworldwhenherunsD&Dadventuresfortheplayersinhis
campaign?"ForgingtheForgottenRealms"isaweeklyfeaturewhereinEdanswersallthosequestionsandmore.

lthoughhardwintersandmonsterraidsoftendamagemillsalongtheRiverDessarin,atanytimeduringthe
later1300sandthroughoutthe1400sDR,adozengristmillsexistalongthelowerreachesofthatmightyriver.
MostofthemclingtothewesternbankthankstotheDessarinshabitofscouringitseasternflank(sothe
waterthereismoreladenwithpebblesandsiltthanalongthefarsideoftheriver).

ThesemillsgrindgrainfromGoldenfieldsandthemanysmallprivatesteadingsthathavebeenestablishedin
increasingnumberseastofWaterdeepdownthepassingyears.Theyarehardworking,unglamorousplaces
remarkableonlyasemergencysheltersduringwinterblizzardsorwhenbrigandstakeoneoverasabase.

Exceptforonemill:TheTraitorsMill.

NofewerthanfivepitchedbattlesragedherebeforethecityofWaterdeepreluctantlyestablishedastandinggarrison
inthemill.

AldredsMill

heTraitorsMillbeganasAldredsMill,thoughitsfounderUrlburtAldredfrozetodeathduringthemillsfirst
winter.Itisalarge,ramshackle,untidytimberstructurethathasbeenexpandedseveraltimessinceitwasbuilt
in1364DR,andithasbeenpartiallyrebuilttwiceafterfiresdamagedit.Agristmill,itusestwoundershotwheels
(inarow,eachturningitsownaxle)tomovegrindstonesthattransformlocalgrains(mainlybarley)intoflour.

TheHundarstonefamilyofdwarvesownedandoperatedthemillforsomeyears,beforesellingthemilltoahuman
whohadmoreambitionthanstamina.Hesoonsoldthemilltoanotherhumanoflikecharacter,andinthismannerthe
millpassedthroughasuccessionofshorttermhumanowners.
ThenitfellintothehandsofMelderBardrasklo,aweatherbeaten,unscrupulousveterantravelingfactor(tradeagent)
forcertainambitiousnoblesofWaterdeep.Itseemshewasactinginaccordancewiththeirspecificdirection,notjust
pickingupusefulpropertiesforresale.

Thenobleswerealljuniormembersofnoblehouses,notheadsorheirsspecifically,theywereKhalamdar
NethercoatsMassalan(anotoriouspranksterandbrightbladeamongtheladies),HethekoNesher(adabblerinthe
ArtwhohasmanyshadycontactsinBaldursGate),DarraskPhull(ownerofseveralfishingboatssuspectedof
makingsmugglingrunstoMintarnandBaldursGate),andMelthroSnome(asadistsuspectedofworkingfora
summerasanassassinamongandforthewealthyofSembia)anditseemscleartheyintendedtoequiptheirown
privatearmiesoutsidetheregardoftheOpenLordofWaterdeep.

Undertheirownership,withBardraskloinstalledasmillerandascommanderofamotleymillstaffcumgarrisonof
hiredadventurers,themillgroundverylittlegrain.Itsgrindstonesinsteadservedtosharpennewlymadeswordsand
spearheadsthatwereforgedinsmithiesoutsideEverlundandSilverymoonthathadcomeunderthecovertownership
ofvariousofthenobles,andfloateddowntheDessarintothemillontimberraftsoiledtoinhibitrustingandhidden
betweentwolayersoftimbers.

Somesicklesandscytheswerekeptonhandatthemillforshow,soifthemetaldustproducedinthesharpening
wasdiscovered,thebladedtoolscouldbepresentedasthereasonforit(ratherthanswordsandspearheads).The
millgroundflax,anditsoilwasusedtocoatthenewlysharpenedweaponstoinhibitrusting,beforetheywere
wrappedinragsandscrapsofcheapclothacquiredinWaterdeepandsentontheirwaytostorageinScornubel.

TheCityWatchofWaterdeepbecamesuspiciousofthepurchasesoftheserags,followedwheretheclothwentand
sostumbleduponthetruenatureofthemill.TheWatchofficerswhomadethatdiscoverywereattackedbythemill
staff,andonlyoneescapedalivebacktoWaterdeep,badlywounded,toreportwhatshedseen.

Waterdeeppromptlysentoutanarmedforcetothemill,andthefirstBattleofTraitorsMillensued.

BattleAfterBattle

hemountedWaterdhavianforceoftwentysixWatchveteransinfullarmorhadaWatchfulOrdermagistandher
apprenticealongasobserversbutthevolleysofarrowsthatgreetedtheattackersfromthemillconcentrated
onthemagist,andthreeshaftsmetinherhead.

Herapprenticepromptlyfledthebattletoreport,asperinstructionsthemagisthadmadehersweartofollowearlier,
andwasshortlyfollowedbyfoursurvivingWatchwarriorstheonlysurvivorsofthecitysforce.Somehorseshad
plungedintoconcealedpits,thearcheryhadbeenwithering,andtheattackershadntevenreachedthemillwalls.So
endedthefirstbattle.

Thesecondbattlecametwodayslater,whenamuchstrongerforcehadbeenassembled,thisonelackingmagesor
clericsbuthavingfortyheavywarriorsandadozenarchers,pluspackhorsescarryinglargesquareshields
(rectanglesfashionedtobeproppeduprightandboltedtogether,overlapping,toformadefensivewalltoshelterthe
archers.Operatingunderorderstonotburnthemill(soathoroughinvestigationcouldbemade),tocapturewhoever
wasinchargealiveforquestioningifatallpossible,andtotakeminimalcasualties,thissecondforcewithdrewwhen
theirforemostrankswereshreddedwithshrapnelfrom(presumablymagical)exploding,filledwithnailsmetalballs
shotforthviaarrows.

Thethirdbattlehappenedtwodaysafterthesecond,theWaterdhavianforcesthistimebolsteredbythreewizards
whocreatedstrongshieldingspellstorepelarrowsandothermissiles,thatcloakedtheadvancingforce.Asmaller
contingentwassentnorth,tocomedownthewesternbankoftheDessarinandattackonlyafterbattlehadbeen
joined.

Thistimethedefendersletlooseapackofhungrydirewolvesfromcages,andwhentheattackershadbeen
disrupted,asmallforcesalliedforthfromthemilltoattackthewizards.Onewaswoundedbeforethemillsdefenders
retreatedbackinsidewhentheattackerschargedafterthem,theyfellintoextensiveconcealedtrencheshardbythe
millwalls,andassaultedwithfireandoil.Similartrenchesslowedandbluntedthesneakysideattackalongthe
riverbank,andwhenthisattackreachedanoutlyingmillshackandenteredittouseitascover,theshackprovedtobe
atrapexplodingintotheairanddestroyingalloftheWaterdhaviansinornearit.

Thatsenttheattackersfleeing,andendedthethirdbattle.Itwasalmostatendaylaterwhenamuchstrongerforce,
includingsixWatchfulOrdermagists,arrivedatthemill.Theyweremetbyawaitingmercenaryarmyhiredinfrom
Scornubel,equippedwithsixtrebuchetssetupontheeastbankoftheDessarin,whoseoperatorshadevidentlyputin
enoughpracticehurlingrockloadsacrosstheriverandoverthemillatthegroundimmediatelywestofthemillthat
theycouldaccuratelyputbouldersrightwheretheywantedtointotheheartoftheattackingforce.Afterthat
devastatingvolley,themountedmercenaries,whodbeenwaitingamongtherollinghillssouthofthemill,chargedthe
Waterdhavianforceandroutedit.Thoughtheattackersralliedtofightoffthemercenariesandavoidedbeingharried
allthewayhome,thefourthbattlewasover.

Thefifthbattlehappenedthenextnight.Anticipatingdefeat,theWaterdhaviancommandersbackinthecityhadgiven
theforcethathadsetouttomakethefourthassaultonthemillspecificinstructions.Accordingly,theyscatteredand
tookcoverintheaftermathoftheirdefeat,butregroupedthenextdayandadvancedtowardthemillagain.Asthe
commandershadanticipated,themercenaryarmyhadsetoutsentinels,andmusteredtomeetthemwellbeforethey
reachedthemillandwhilethatbattle(orrather,aseriesofskirmishes,astheWaterhaviantroopssplitintosmall
groups,scattered,andkeptonthemoveamongthehillswestofthemill,andthemercenariestriedtochasethem
down)raged,ascoreofWatchfulOrdermagistsandsevenhiredandhandsomelypaidadventuringbandsattacked
themillfromnorthandsouth,alongtheriverbanks.Themagistsusedmagictoblastopentheouterwallsthistime,
andtheadventurersstormedtheexposedinteriorroomsofthemillbuilding,capturingMelderBardraskloandalotof
weaponssharpenedatthemill,nottomentionfoodassembledforthefeedingofthemercenaries.HustlingBardrasklo
andahandfulofsurvivingmillstaffaway,theyhidthemselvesandkeptquiet,awaitingthereturnofthemercenaries
andtookgreatdelightinusingtheirowntrebuchetsonthem,whenthehirelingsappearedonwearyhorses,seeking
theirbaseandtheireveningmeal.SothefifthbattleofTraitorsMillendedinvictoryforWaterdeep.

FellTraitors!

ollowingthereturnoftheWaterdhavianforcetotheCityofSplendors,andswift(almostundoubtedlycoerced)
confessionsfromBardraskloandhisfellowmillstaffers,thenewsracedacrossthecityleakedbywhom,no
oneknowsastothefournoblesinvolvedwiththemill.

Almostasswiftlycamespiritedpublicdenialsofanyinvolvementinwhatwasgoingonatthemillbytheheadsofthe
noblehousesofMassalan,Nesher,Phull,andSnome.AlloftheminitiallyblamedMelderBardraskloformisuseof
thepropertyhewasbeingpaidtooversee.

ThatcutnoicewiththeLordsofWaterdeep,whohadlearnedrathermoreduringthoseconfessionsthanhadreached
theearsofthecitizenry.Thefournoblepatriarchsgottheirwaywardkinoutofthecity,fast,andadoptedafallback
position.Eveniftheiryounglingsweredabblinginweaponssales,ithadnothingatalltodowithWaterdeepthese
weremerelythehonesteffortsofambitiousyoungmenseekingtofoundsuccessfulbusinessesoftheirown,rather
thanlivingasidlewastrelsanddrainingthecoffersoftheirfamilies.Thenoblehousesproclaimedasmuchin
broadsheetstheyhadpublishedanddistributedaroundthecity,notjustinlettersdeliveredtothepalace.

Thatverypalacewasinanuproarofitsownduetojustrevealedcorruption:Bardrasklohadcalledinsomefavorsand
beenhelpedtoescapefromcustody.Hehadthenpromptlyvanished.

AlthoughthefouryoungnobleswerepubliclydubbedtraitorsbytheOpenLordofWaterdeep,noclearevidence
indicatedthattheyintendedanysortofcouporarmedoperationswithinthecity.Whatlittletheysaidoftheirintentions
beforefleeingthecity(ifthebroadsheetspublishedbytheirfamiliescanbebelieved)wasthattheyintendedtoinvolve
themselvesindisputesandconflictsfarfromourfairCityofSplendorsfortheirownamusement,andperhapssome
plunder.

SubsequentinvestigationsbyagentsofWaterdeeprevealedthatallfourhadbeguntorecruitandhirewarriorsin
BaldursGateandScornubel.Itseemsthenobleshadrealizedtheydhituponasidelinebusinessthatcouldgreatly
swelltheircoffers.TheycontractedwithDereldCuttertheCutlerKutkutlarbur,thenotoriousarmsdealerof
Scornubel,tosellmostoftheweaponstheydwarehousedinthatcityslowly,insmallamounts,atgoodhighprices
ratherthantoanypurchaserwhocoulddemandadiscountforabulkpurchase.

DarkerDealings

aterdeeppromptlyinstalledagarrisonatthemill,becauseitwassuspectedthatsomeoneelsemightuse
thebladesharpeningsetup,anditwasdeemedtoousefulandtoowellbuilttodestroyoutofhandwhen,
afterall,thecitycouldmakeuseofit,orallowotherstouseitunderWaterdhaviansupervision.

Thegarrisonhadbarelysettledinwhenamongthefirstwagonsofsuppliessenttothemfromthecity,agrislycargo
wasfound:theseveredheadofMelderBardrasklo.Hismurderershaveneverbeenfound,butarewidelysuspectedto
beagentshiredbyoneoftheheadsofthenoblehousesinvolved.

KhalamdarNethercoatsMassalan,HethekoNesher,DarraskPhull,andMelthroSnomehavealldisappeared,buta
certainArrmurthofBaldursGateplacedanadvertisementinaWaterdhavianbroadsheetnotatendayafterthe
discoveryofBardrasklosheadthatofferedachangeoffaceandnameforanyonedesiringanewlife/escape
unwantedentanglements/newbeginningsforthosewithcoinenough.

WaterdhavianagentsandprivatecitizensoftheCityofSplendorsalikehavediscovered,upontryingtofollowupon
theadvertisement,thatArrmurthisafictitiousname,thatsomeoneinBaldursGateseemstoknowindividual
WaterdhaviansverywellandtobewaryindeedofanyonelearningtoomuchaboutArrmurthbutthattheoffered
changeisveryexpensive,involvesmagicaldisguisesandreadymadecareers(someinvolvingcaptainingmerchant
shipssailingoutofBaldursGate),andcaterstonobleclients.

Arrmurthcanapparentlybecontacted,iftheonecontactinghimdoesntarouseArrmurthssuspicions,inthesmall,
littleknownOldAnchortavernanddancinghallintheLowerCitydistrictofBaldursGate.

AbouttheAuthor

EdGreenwoodisthemanwhounleashedtheForgottenRealmssettingonanunsuspectingworld.Heworksin
libraries,andhewritesfantasy,sciencefiction,horror,mystery,andromancestories(sometimesallinthesame
novel),butheishappiestwhenchurningoutRealmslore,Realmslore,andmoreRealmslore.Hestillhasafewrooms
inhishouseinwhichhehasspacelefttopileuppapers.

19952014WizardsoftheCoastLLC,asubsidiaryofHasbro,Inc.AllRightsReserved.